Monday, February 2, 2009

French hip hop and the Novel

Ever since I got an itunes gift certificate as a belated Hanukkah present, I've been binging on trashy French hip hop. I can't help it. If there isn't anyone around to speak to in French, at least my ipod can sing to me in French. And besides, with a name like Henri*, he is Meant to play French music.

*I name all of my favorite things. My hot pink ipod is Henri, my house plant is Hejin, my coffee pot is Bernie, my computer is Hermione....I also name hated things so I can more aptly swear at them. For instance, the printer/photocopier at work is Bellatrix. My left foot/ankle is Richard (think of that great nickname) and so forth.

I wrote the opening page to my novel at my desk this morning before classes. In all likelihood, I will rewrite every word before I get to page 5 but I'm doing it. I think I want to do a highly fictionalized account of my time in Korea, with nonlinear jumps to the character's childhood....scenes that relate, themes that repeat in her life, etc. The more I write, the less she is me and the more she becomes her own person. I couldn't stop thinking about what I wanted to write next on the bus home, and I would have pulled out my notebook and jotted down notes but it was rush hour and I didn't have a seat! I practically ran home from the bus stop, trying not to forget the details of the scene I had set up but by the time I got home it was already jumbled and frustrating to remember what it was I wanted exactly. I think I need to outline things better so that I can forget and change details at will.

Actually, writing about my frustration with forgetting the details helped me remember them and I just went back to a word document and outlined what I wanted to do. The thing with doing something nonlinear means that I need to plan much more carefully or it will just end up being confusing and muddled.

I think writing will inevitably increase my reputation as a bit of a nutter in my neighborhood. I was definitely muttering to myself as I dashed home. To be honest, the muttering was the least of it--I was also gesticulating wildly. There was definitely a crazed look in my eye when I sprinted up the 6 flights of stairs to my apartment. It is entertaining that the words seem to be bursting from the seams and yet each spurt seems to result in so few pages. However, I have always had the hardest time with beginning papers. Setting up my thesis and introduction for research papers always took me longer than writing the body of the 5 or even 20 pages. It's just that a perfect beginning makes everything else flow with minimal effort, at least for me. I'm not sure if that logic quite follows with fiction but we'll see.

In the mean time, I will enjoy my French hip hop and smatterings of indie rock that I downloaded. I have strange taste in music but somehow it all works out.

Currently reading: The Garden of Eden, Hemingway. I tried to start Friedman's The World is Flat but I disagreed with the introduction so violently that I had to put it down. I like reading works that contrast with my own worldviews but jabbing angrily at my book and scowling while I'm on the bus is a little much for Korean bus patrons. I tried Hemingway as a kid and hated it but have been persuaded by a friend here to give his prose another shot. Considering my love of modern literature, it is a bit of a travesty that I haven't really read anything he's written. After all, my 12 year old self probably found his world of sex and booze a bit much to overlook. I didn't love the first few chapters but it is definitely growing on me and suddenly I realized that I'd read 60 pages without noticing. The plot line is fascinating but the characters are hard to empathize with and leave me wanting to smack them around the head a bit.


Josh said...

I'm glad that we were able to contribute to your musical indulgences!!!! Great entry, I've got these wonderful mental images of your insane-o gesticulating and muttering..... all the while confused (and maybe a bit scared) koreans watching you storm by on your way to creative outlet. When you said how you were dressing down your book as if it were the person who wrote I laughed quite hard...


Josh (the guy who is wondering whether he will come back home tonight or go to Florida.... ahhhh life is good)

Alex said...

*giggles*. I hadn't thought of my reaction to the book as 'dressing down the author' but I suppose it is what I was doing.

I think I scare people, no matter what country I'm in. It's just that I tend to stick out more when I do it here...

Anonymous said...

I bet your cell phone has a digital recorder, I know mine does as it turns on at random times. You could mumble your thoughts into your phone

Alex said...

HAHAHHAA. That is a fabulous suggestion. I have the sneaking suspicion this might be even crazier than mumbling to myself BUT I can hold it like I'm on the phone and no one would no the difference! *ponders how to do this*

Christopher said...

You're awesome, I'd like to reconnect with you. You can e-mail me at, aim at thesanctumxd024, or my myspace which I couldn't imagine you having, is

By the way, in case, you have no idea who I am, which may as well happen, it's Christopher Shepherd from ENC! ^0^

Christopher said...

My email is actually, sorry.

Alex said...

I remembered as soon as I saw the 'shepard' in your email address! Glad to hear that you are enjoying my blog! How did you hear about it/discover it anyways?