’ve often wondered where I get the ideas for the manifesto. I’m sure you have too. Well, not really. I’m sure you’re thinking something like, ‘Oh no, what the hell is he doing now?’
Come on. Admit it. That’s exactly what you’re thinking.
But, I shall answer the question posed of me by… me… I don’t really know where the ideas come from, but I think it has something to do with Douglas Coupland, author of such important Generation-X literature like, Generation-X, Microserfs, Shampoo Planet and All Families are Psychotic.
I vaguely remember high school… conversations. I remember a project for an English class where someone did something about Douglas Coupland, who at the time, meant nothing to me. It would be like me mentioning Michael Turner or Chuck Palahniuk. Some might know who he is, but for the most part, people have no idea.
Whoever did this project talked about how Coupland sometimes found doing some of his best work came from stream of conscious writing. I was intrigued by the whole stream of conscious idea; writing down on paper whatever came through your head and then seeing if any of the pornographic thoughts that normally crowd your brain would make a good story.
I tried it out then and there and came to this amazing conclusion: I couldn’t string two thoughts together that made any kind of sense whatsoever.
Thought One: a man sitting on a train reading a newspaper, as he looks out the window of the speeding locomotion he sees…
Thought Two: …Godzilla eating the biggest hot dog you’ve ever seen. Godzilla seems to really like the hot dog when…
Thought Three: … three gorgeous women begin taking their clothes off…
Well, you get the idea. It didn’t make much sense, so I tossed the idea.
It didn’t really come back to me until a while ago. I’d read Coupland’s Shampoo Planet and thoroughly enjoyed it, although not as much as Microserfs. The stream of conscious idea popped back into my head and I was off. This time equipped with a new computer and more of what I like to call ‘half decent ideas.’
I sat down, and began to write a story. I told myself, no matter how long it took, as an exercise in writing, I wouldn’t stop until I was finished. The product of this first retry at stream of conscious writing gave birth to a little ‘half decent nugget’ titled, Those Damn Devils (see Wilson Manifesto archives).
Not to say that I wasn’t writing in between the time I first tried the idea in high school. In that time I managed to fill two spiral notebooks of really bad poems, short story ideas and various little tidbits of information that I thought would be neat-o to include in some piece of writing. Also in that time, I spent a solid month from July to August of 2001 beginning and finishing my first novel, tentatively titled, underdogs.
But I found myself liking the stream of conscious idea. I liked the feeling of sitting down and accomplishing exactly what I set out to do in the first place without leaving the chair, except for bathroom breaks. And the odd drink.
Usually armed with a nice glass of soda pop and a couple of ‘half decent ideas’, I’ll sit down and attempt to construct a manifesto, which I hope someone other than my wife, mother and I end up reading.
Sometimes something good happens. And sometimes, something bad happens.
Good: Those Damn Devils.
Bad: Remember That Time I was a Teenage Bubblegum Pop Princess.
Really. I wrote that. It’s still somewhere on a disk here. I vaguely remember writing it when I first realized I have a crush on Christina Aguilera. But that’s a whole other story…
Stephen King said that when he writes, he likes to play the loud music to completely block out all outside noise in an attempt to clear his mind to let the ideas flow.
I heed this advice, although not limiting myself to “loud” music, finding that a good “story song” will bring out some decent ideas. I seem to get a good amount of writing done while listening to Bruce Springsteen.
As I write this, Guns n’ Roses are singing about someone named ‘Mr. Brownstone’, but I don’t think Mr. Brownstone is a real person. Psst, I think it’s a metaphor…
Anyway, what’s the point?
Did I have a point?
If I did, it’s gone now.
I shall chalk up The Wilson Manifesto: How it all works? as one of the bad stream of conscious exercises.
Or was it bad…?