I posted this over a year ago on my old, now abandoned blog. The novel — whose name I changed from the incredibly boring and vague Smile to the slightly more interesting A Chronicle of Miles + Mona fucking forever ago — has since gone from “draft #3 complete” to “currently on hold for serious renovations.” At some point in the future, most likely after I start my new job waiting for me down in San Francisco in June and I get all settled in to a new city and whatnot, I will revisit the monster I created and chop it down from 800+ pages to around 250 to 300 pages. I’d (re)start the project now but I’m working on another manuscript at the moment and it’s eating up a majority of my free time already. I just don’t have the time to do it, so it’s on hold for right now. The main reason for this massive amount of cutting is that I want to change the book from a monster to a pocket symphony, a lush and quick little book that appears small on the outside but becomes massive when you open it up and start reading. It’s just like it’s author: a work in fucking progress.
— Jackson Williams.
I am a romantic: hopelessly, endlessly, and most of the time recklessly.
I want to talk about the novel I just finished writing, and I will, but first I must begin with an anecdote: a few weeks ago my car was stolen from the parking lot of Community College That Must Not Be Named, Because I Fucking Hate It So. While my car was being stolen I was in class, giving a triumphant speech; in fact, I bet I was reaching the climax of my awesomeness at the exact moment a tweeker was ripping out the stereo before dumping the car in Springfield (where all stolen cars go to Heaven). Whoever they are, a master thief no doubt, they also managed to make away with a lot of other valuables: my favorite flannel shirt, my staggering collection of loose change in the ashtray, aviator sunglasses, a fairly good-sized portion of my CD collection, random sneakers I had in the trunk, and various other items of many different sorts, all of them too poor and unimpressive to list at this moment. To be honest, I figured that what really pained me was that getting my car jacked while being at that particular school was a lot like being mugged while your standing outside the gates of Hell — really, all you’re doing is adding a cutting insult to my cruel, uncontrollable injury. I inspected the parking lot and found at least two dozen cars exactly like mine of various colors, and somehow I end up being the one kid who has to rue the day he was born with terrible taste.
Three long and very boring days passed, nothing to do but watch out the window as rain fell on the spot where my cheap, foreign car used to wait. It was so adorable having it ask me eagerly every morning to stop being such a cheap bastard and put more than the bare minimum of gasoline in it. I didn’t want to spoil the car, so naturally I just stuck to what me and my car operated best on: fumes and prayer. Like a poverty-version of Knight Rider, I guess. Anywho, after three days and lots of frustration, my phone rings and it turns out my car has been located. It’s in Springfield (of course) and I should probably pick it up before the tow-truck gets there, which only says to me that the Springfield Police Department are somehow no match for the powerful, ubiquitous tow-truck industry and they can hold them off for only so long.
I find my car, the police leave, and I begin to inspect the damage. The CD’s are gone, goodbye Weezer and goodbye Nas and goodbye to you as well, The Rolling Stones. Goodbye flannel shirt, my hipster street cred now lacking. Goodbye to the loose change in the ashtray, dashed now are my dreams of you one day being the funds for my next vehicle. I searched the inside high-and-low and I stared at the desolation of the trunk, now suddenly spacious, very items remaining except for the things that were too poor and unimpressive to list just a few moments ago.
But, to my endless amusement, something finally did catch my eye: a drawing of a piger.
What the hell is a “piger,” you ask? Why, it’s a cross between a tiger and a pig, that should be obvious enough. It also goes by the name “tig,” but those people that call it a “tig” are crazy and we should probably just ignore their insistence on brevity anyways. Now, I did not draw this particular strange and awkward animal but I know the person who did. Below this rendering of a crude, and more than likely horribly depressed animal, was a poem of 16 lines addressed to yours truly. The artist/poet happened to be an ex-girlfriend, one who you will soon find monumental and soon get tired of because she happens to tie in to this blog post (for the most part) and I also happen to be a rambling and long-winded dude. So it goes. First off, I want to remark that reading a love poem through convulsive fits of laughter is an awfully weird sensation, especially one brought on by an animal you would run far, far away from if you had happened to have come across it in the jungle. Or would it be the woods? or maybe the plains? Just where the hell would a piger feel comfortable? I have no answer to this question simply because I am not a scientist and you’re not one either, so just stop thinking about it because the piger is not really all that important in the grand scheme of this introduction to a novel you will probably never read anyways. What’s really important is the memories this drawing-with-a-poem triggered, ones of a beautiful girl I had gotten over quite awhile ago and yet still liked to revisit in my mind from time to time, usually followed by a quick bite of nostalgic yearning that makes me feel I’m drunk. I read the poem again, get back in my car, start the engine, and then, like aftershocks following an earthquake, I begin to laugh once more. I imagined that the thief, master of stealing the easiest car there is to steal, had found this drawing/poem from my ex-girlfriend and then felt compelled to stop for a moments to just marvel at how weird of a person I was for having that in the trunk of my car. I understand the assumption completely and I will not even try to argue. I believe that everyone should at some point stop what they’re doing each day and admire for a few moments just how weird the people of this planet actually are. Then, hopefully, they realize that they’re pretty damn weird too and just go back to whatever it was they were doing before they decided to become self-aware for those few fleeting moments.
This is really about a novel that for right now is titled Smile: A Love Story. I finished writing it back in mid-September after one last all-night madcap session, my fingers finally retiring from exhaustion as I reached page 803. In fact, I ended up falling asleep in my chair, if you can believe it. The title of this novel is simple by design, and I feel that the only way to defend my title is to illustrate my reasoning behind it, which should be protocol anyways, hence the reason this blog post even exists in the first place. No foolin’. What is even more important for my defense of the bland title is that it also directly ties in to this particular ex-girlfriend, the piger artist, the one who inspired to me to write the damned thing in the first place. Whatever my intentions were back then or whatever my feelings happen to be now, it does not matter; what mattered was that I finish the novel, foolish heart and foolish soul, and just be at peace with the past. I came to terms with the past many, many, many silvery moons ago, well before I finished the novel, but what connects this newfound comfortability with myself and the completion of Smile are one in the same.
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