Huckleberry Hostel Commission: Day 49

What we don’t understand:
1) Who is Emmaline?  How can she connect more to the story? Why is she a stereotypical morbid artist?
—notes on first draft

Yesterday was a productive day of writing. Basically starting over, I wrote a little over half (let’s say three fifths) of the one-act “Two Sisters in the Boys Dorm” (a title which will probably have to change). As predicted, I kept a bit from the first draft, but not much. I got to a good stopping point and decided to, rather than try to bust out the ending, switch over to “Cardiff Hill Blues.”

But first I had to edit Rachel’s 10,000-word thesis about creating a design of conversation that undermines both the design of communication (the selling of ideas) and the design of persuasion (the selling of products)—within a society that is supersaturated by the chaos of design (which itself is a filter for the even more overwhelming chaos of ideas)—through the case study of promoting conversation on the truth about soap (did you know Dove bars are not technically soap, but detergent) and America’s obsession with hyper-cleanliness. Academic writing: how I miss thee. Nowhere else do you find such a beautiful juxtaposition between intellectual theory and the mundane. When I was teaching Freshman comp, I used to love the day in class when I would undermine the notion that academic writing required less creativity than creative writing. There is an intellectual playfulness to academic writing that, anywhere else, would read as haughty and off-putting, but works in the realm of the nerd.

So my writing muscle was called away from Huckleberry Hostel last night and today. Now I am looking for a way back in. The new structure for “Two Sisters in the Boys Dorm” has necessarily changed the structure of “Cardiff Hill Blues,” which is fine, and rather than trying to create two distinct energies in each room, I think I will let them bleed more. But the problem of where this play now starts rests solely on the shoulders of our friend Emmeline. My collaborators politely asked, “why is she a stereotypical morbid artist,” and the answer is (as you those of you who have been reading know): because in Huck Finn, Emmeline Grangerford was a stereotypical morbid artist. But what the question is really asking and should be asking is, “Why would we want to see a stereotypical morbid artist in this play?” As an artist who usually finds art about art distasteful, I really don’t. But the question now is, which part don’t I like: the “stereotypical” or the “morbid artist”? Would I be okay with Emmeline if she were a specific morbid artist?

Asking this of myself while I cleaned my apartment—doing chores, I have found, is a really good way to keep your mind engaged with the writing while giving your body (which is screaming for a nap) a break from sitting in front of the computer—I came across Lilli Carré’s Nine Ways to Disappear as I put away Powers Vol. 11. It caught my eye first because the design loosely reminds me of Emily the Strange (another Emmeline-inspired piece) and because disappearing is a theme that keeps coming up in Huckleberry Hostel. Rereading it quickly, I found “Sleepwalker” the tale about a man who sleepwalks a little deeper into the lake every night . . . could be a good starting point in creating a less stereotypical morbid artist.


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