This is one of my favorite quotes about novel writing.
Mewguistics (catfinition) – the study of cats’ meowing to understand what their meows mean.
In use: “Listening to Quinn’s running conversation and noting the many inflections the cat employed in his mews, Michael attempted to employ his mewguistics techniques of associating sound and behavior to understand what Quinn was saying, but the cat’s utterances were beyond his skill level.”
I would dream, awaken, and think, and then return to the dream. The dream series had so much detail, it was like immersive virtual reality. To capture it all would require hours of thinking and writing, so I give this sparse version.
The dream sequence began with me as an adult being invited into a special program. In the dream, I had the ability to see patterns and intuitively meld data, at times doing so as fast as people say, “Hello.” I can’t claim to understand the talent completely; it permitted me to almost instantly know people’s name and history. People were in awe of it.
The special program was an experiment in three phases. First, an operation. Second, a test of complex data to evaluate results. Third, to let me out and see what happens.
The place was an old medical office building now used as a school. The halls were tall, crowded and narrow. There were many small rooms, and the sheer density of teachers and students created havoc trying to get around. I arrived looking slovenly, joking with them, pleased to be invited, and not at all intimidated. There had been one person like me who’d gone through the program. His name was Carrie. He’d done it decades before, before anyone was even sure what he was.
Put into a small, crowded bedroom also used as an office, I demonstrated my initial skills. The project members were amazed. I’d been through this before with others. People were always dubious of my skills and wanted demonstrations. They thought the data and situation was extremely complex but it was amazingly simple to me. My time for going through it was less than a few seconds. It was slow by my standards. I bragged that to them.
We agreed to go through with the operation.
The operation seemed to involve crunching down on my thumb nail hard with something that looked like a wired hole-punch. Two tall white guys, young and casually dressed, did the operation. It went off as specified but the results afterward weren’t overly impressive. Yes, I had an improvement in my ability to intuitively gather and analyze data, but the scale didn’t increase as much as we’d expected. I was disappointed, and so were the program administrators.
Another thumb punch was proposed and accepted. They found another place on my thumb nail and punched.
I felt stunned, both connected to the world and released to be outside of it. I could see the data in a way I never had, but I was exhausted and in pain. Bent over, holding my thumb, I crashed to the floor.
I awoke in the same room, but in a white hospital gown. I remained desperately enervated and in pain. I wanted to sleep. They told me that I’d been working in my sleep. They were amazed. I had no knowledge of it. I wanted to sleep more.
I also wanted to know what was different about the second operation from the first. It had seemed exactly the same, only administered in a different location. The two male ‘operators’ wanted to talk about it, and began by explaining that they’d probably just found a sweet spot, but the administrators didn’t want them disturbing me. Everyone was whisked out of my room.
I slept again, but then, half-awake, felt the need to leave the room. No logic supported my desire. I just needed to go. The door was partway open; I went through. On the other side were the administrators and operators, along with other people. They argued about whether I should be let out, but decided that if that’s what I wanted to do, they shouldn’t stop me.
I left. My thumb ached. I held it out to one side and coped with its pain.
The rooms and halls were packed with children. Male and female were there. Most were between eight and thirteen years old. None were poor but all seemed dressed in a style I associate with middle-class America. White children dominated but there was a wide variety of ethnicities present.
The children didn’t know who I was, but they thought I was the guy, the special guest. They were too awed of me to speak with me. They became silent wherever I went, watching me as I went by them, through rooms, and up and down steps and halls. I noticed one child because he seemed different. Black, he had a narrow face, a tall, poofy afro, and wide solemn eyes. I saw him several more times, and sought reasons for why I was seeing him so frequently. Others spoke about him by name. I engaged in the conversation, and then decided to look for him.
I began walking around again. I was often noticed because I remained in my white hospital gowns. I didn’t like that, so I stopped off and changed clothing into my usual style. Then I resumed roaming.
Bulletin boards filled with photographs were on some hall walls. I stopped to look at them sometimes. The boards had hundreds of photographs of individuals and groups. Nothing was labeled but looking at the photos, I knew who people were.
One board had a small black and white photograph of the great Carrie. He wore a straw hat and appeared to be in an Hawaiian shirt. There were several photographs of me when I was younger. I didn’t know where they’d gotten them.
I kept roaming the building through crowds of students and rooms of teachers. Picking up data, I realized the projects full scope was to analyze the group patterns and assess and predict who would be successful. I knew I could do this. The more I walked, the more I learned. As I learned, I realized the children and teachers were arranged in a pattern.
Squatting against a wall, I paused to rest and think. This crowd of children weren’t sure of who I was. They mostly ignored me. But then an administrator entered. She walked around with internal mail. Calling my name, she passed me a thin folder. “Nine comments,” she said. “Impressive.”
I studied the comments. They were complimentary but not helpful. I resumed walking around. I thought about the black kid again.
I entered a room. Children were lying on the floor on their backs. I stood by the entrance, looking at them. One boy beside me kicked me in the leg.
I was furious. I grabbed his shirt and pulled him to his feet, asking the others who he was. He was unapologetic, unafraid and indifferent to me. He wouldn’t talk.
Ten years old, he was white, slender with a thick bush of black hair and dark eyes. He wore blue jeans and a sweater. I wanted to know his name, demanding it off of the other children present. I was angry that he’d kicked me, but there was more.
I couldn’t get anything off him.
He was outside the data. That was how I’d begun, I realized, as a person outside of the norms.
The dreams ended.
I hold to Wally’s words, but they trouble me. I write for myself, so the book has an audience. I’d like my novels to have more than an audience of one.
Know what I mean?
Floofgent (catfinition) – a cat with an expressive and especially plaintive quality.
In use: “We were awakened by beast requesting with a floofgent meow that they be fed now.”
You ever read something that you wrote and think, “Wow, this is terrible,” and then read something else you wrote, and are astonished to discover that you wrote because it seems so amazing?
Yeah, trick question, isn’t it?
So much is written about money, right? About needing it, hating it, not having it, and wanting it. It’s the root of all evil, yet churches are on net, television, and radio, begging for it. It’s not the money, though, right? As Marie (Bernadette Peters) said in The Jerk, “I don’t care about losing the money. It’s losing all the stuff.”
Today’s song is one of my all-time favorites. Why? I like the clashing drums, screaming guitars, and scathing lyrics. “Money. Get back. Keep your hands off my stack.”
Here’s Pink Floyd with “Money” from waaayyy back when I was young.