Second-Quarter Interlude: July Breather

Being A Writer The Memoir

I've posted a chapter of my memoir every week since January. This will be the first week I skip in five months. I think I'll take a breather next week too, and then I'll return with Chapter 24 the week after.

Some have asked me how I manage to keep up this pace, and wonder if I'd begun some of this writing before. I have not; it's all new. If you're reading a chapter of my memoir on a Wednesday night, that probably means that I spent the prior Thursday night to Monday afternoon in a state of advanced writer's block. I then finally started writing late Monday night, scrapped it and started over Tuesday night, and wrote the whole thing on the train in to work Wednesday morning. I then revised it all day, posted it at 5, published it at 7, and fixed the spelling errors and factual mistakes by midnight before I went to sleep. This has not been an easy schedule to keep.

From the beginning, I intended this to be an automatic writing project, though I didn't realize it'd turn out to be such an exercise in brutalism. I'm sure I would never have revealed certain things that I've revealed in these pages if I hadn't turned off certain filters. It feels fine. But if it isn't obvious that the method I'm using here was inspired by Jack Kerouac's experiments with automatic writing, then I must not be doing my job very well.

Some have asked me why I think this memoir has any importance, suggesting that I'm just reminiscing about old friends and old places. I'm not writing this for nostalgia, I assure you.

But I might be writing it as a form of self-therapy. I sure have learned a lot about myself. Some times I like what I find, sometimes I don't. It's a little scary when I try to explain some decisions I've made and realize I can't.

We've now time-travelled from 1993 to 1999, where we'll pick up in two weeks. The years coming next are the apocalypse years, the Y2K years. The years I got rich and then got broke. The years I scuttled Literary Kicks (first) and then began rethinking it (second). The years I walked away from a relationship that was supposed to last forever, and then met and fell in love with the person who's sitting next to me right now, playing Wii Golf as I type.

Life beckons, and I need a break. Hope you'll keep reading my story, which will pick up again in two weeks, and here's a new landing page to make it easier to read it from the beginning, if you wish.

This article is part of the series The Memoir. The next post in the series is LIKE IT'S 1999. The previous post in the series is JOB-HUNTING: BROADCAST AND IVILLAGE.
17 Responses to "Second-Quarter Interlude: July Breather"

by TKG on

"...suggesting that I'm just reminiscing about old friends and old places. I'm not writing this for nostalgia, I assure you."

I see nothing wrong with writing something just to reminisce about old places and friends or for nostalgia.

I'd think that was great, in fact.

And I think just writing for nostalgia or to go back down memory lane ipso facto has a greater meaning.

by Duncan Brown on

'Manage keep up this pace' that's impressive.

For myself 'panic' is an excellent motivational tool. Then I wonder what Freud or Foucault would make of that 'tool' and I laugh about it all.
Writing gets done the way writing gets done, and we are all the beneficiaries of your generousosity.

by judih on

i'm enjoying it all very much - amazed at your recall of detail, thanking you for remembering moments that are truly historic, never again to return, in the process of web communication.

That you were inspired by kerouac's experiments in automatic writing is totally believable (who can read it and not be inspired?), yet your style is your own. another phrase for 'writer's block' might be intense underground secret rumination of which the ruminator is left totally out of the picture. Sudden bursts of concentrated writing have always left me in a dizzy world of feeling 'normal' in an otherwise abnormal existence.

In short, have a good vacation. Thanks again for posting your memoir in such consistently interesting installments.

by Levi Asher on

Despite my comments about nostalgia, it's so great to hear from old friends (Judih, TKG) and new ones (Duncan) as this goes on.

The comments you and everybody else have been posting are a big part of this whole experience -- thank you.

by Gary Sides on

I have been enjoying your memoir immensely, and cannot begin to tell you how much I look forward to reading it. Part of my personal enjoyment of your memoir is probably because I am in Nebraska which has its moments, but is not all that exciting, and you are telling an "exotic" New York City story, at least to me.

The other and most probable reason that I so enjoy your memoir, besides the warm, easy to read, fluid, writing that you do, has to do with the last paragraphs in Allen Ginsberg's "The Vomit of a Mad Tyger" in which he describes the Bodhisattva aspect of writing poetry:

"If you have an interesting and vivid thought, notating it, particularly the sequence of thoughts that might lead other people to notice their own mind. In other words, if you can show 'your' mind it reminds people that 'they' have got a mind. If you can catch youself thinking, it reminds people that they can catch 'themselves' thinking. I you have vivid moments that are open and compassionate, it reminds people that they also have those vivid moments."

By showing us your memoir, you are enabling us to recognize that we have a memoir, too, through our familiarity with life, and that our life, too, is worthy of appreciation and affection.

So, for heavens sake, at least for us in Nebraska, keep up the memoir.

by Bill Ectric on

William S. Burroughs once asked Jack Kerouac why he included certain things in his books. Kerouac answered something to the effect that "Someday it will all be clear."

Just keep writing.

For one thing, Levi, your memoir is interesting and fun to read. Not to everyone, I'm sure, but what book is interesting to everyone? Secondly, your story is a fresh and unique addition to the other books that deal with internet boom history.

You have a solid work going here.

by dlt on

Memory Babe's include what they wanna include and leave out what they wanna leave out. "It's my movie, baby," said Charles Bukowski to Taylor Hackford.

I send my memoir-fiction out. It gets rejected, most of the time. Boo hoo, and fuck em

by dlt on

Memory Babes

I have really enjoyed your memoir. I did not realize that you were writing it as it's being posted - that's some dedication (and a little gutsy).

You deserve this 2 week break, as much as it will pain me to have to wait 2 weeks to find out what is going to happen.

Please keep up the excellent work! Reading your weekly installments is truly one of the highlights of my week. I hope that when the memoir is finished, you make it available as a print book, or even better, as an ebook.

by mike on

Ditto ! I second what everyone else has said, especially Gary, although I'm in Michigan. It must have felt like you were at the epicenter of the digital revolution. Thanks for sharing this wonderful effort with us.

"...amazed at your recall of detail..." j

This was something I also had a question about, your method of recall, were you keeping a diary ?

Well, whatever the method, it served you well, great writing and interesting subject.

Levi: Truth is often very difficult to write about -- particularly when it is pain within recent memory. If it takes you a little longer to approach a certain fractious period within your life, then why not switch it to every two weeks? That way, you meet the terms of the automatic writing approach and you control the speed of grief.

by warren_weappa on

I do not wish to inflict bad luck--Taipei's denizens feel it is bad luck to say anything about the future because you could cause less than desirable outcomes to come about--but whenever I have something to write, I try to get the thing done and also agree with Ray Carver's commandment about daily writing but also remember Updike saying to write, as long as you write, you are writing, a tautology, because I think the desired result should be something that, if not haute cuisine, should at least seem like down home cooking rather than airport food. Good luck!

Levi, you are not just writing reminiscence. You are describing a strange, exciting period of our history, and in addition, you are describing yourself and your little part of this history and the changes (growth?) that it put you through. And we see that the average cube-jockey (you) is much more aware of what is going on and what the potential of the internet is than the clue-less suits who bang back the serious k and no doubt have a house in the hamptons an a boss apartment in manhattan, in short, everything but a clue.

I was at the Chicago Humanities festival a while ago, and Tom Wolfe spoke about writing a book about Silicon Valley and the entrepreneurs there. But he was going to write about the people like Ellison and other capitalists whose main ingredients are ego, not intelligence or ingenuity. But that's the kind of book you would write when you go around wearing a white suit. A better story would be to write about the coders and tech people who put in long hours trying to prove a critical piece of software, or the guy who, late at night, puts two and two together and comes up with, say, a browser, or XML.

Corporate america has long looked down upon coders, engineers, software developers, and any one who gets his fingers dirty writing code or integrating machines. The paradigm for the corporation is to become CEO, not the best C++ coder in history. Yet the internet runs on technology, not corporate BS. We have been vindicated to an extent, but there is a long way to go. People - CEOs are hollow men, stuffed suits. The technical people in the trenches succeed despite the CEOs, as you can see in Levi's memoir.

Well, the memoir is approaching the big bad Y2K - remember that old crisis? Can't wait to see what happens to our hero as the universe as we knew it implodes.

by Bill Ectric on

damn straight, dlt.

by mike on

I just wanted to say I think the pacing is good for both reader and writer. Of course the summer hiatus is cool, just ask yer congresswoman. Our calendars and lives are broken down into a weekly cycle. 'sides nothing inspires like a deadline. And I think you can appreciate the continuity and expedience of taking off the badage in one fell swoop.

by Duncan Brown on

'Corporate America' that is so true.
It was all summed up in a single image on 911.
Everything in a suit was running away from the building- I don't blame for that- everyone in overalls from the public sector was running towards it.
It was the first time in my life we'd seen the American working class take centre stage, and they really rose to the occasion.

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