Alright, this post doesn't intensively involve House of Leaves or any of its contents--as typically discussed on these forums--but rather the style in which it is written. This post involves my study of Danielewski and his writing style, and using his novels to help me in developing my own. (Incidentally, it's a drag encoding correct punctuation into one's posts, so, beyond marks and capitalisation, I give up.) I’m an 18 year old guy from the Chicagoland area who, come hell or high water, will someday see print. And not just see print, but hopefully create a work as remarkable as that of House of Leaves, because, as bullshitty and stupid as this sounds, you folks have no idea how beautiful and profound all of the rigourous discussion, contemplation, and reflection aroused by Mr. Danielewski’s two novels—just two novels—seems to me. And to date, they're still a puzzle we’re all trying to figure out. This is, for those as myself who loathe finishing a book, saying good-bye to the characters and places therein, the perfect novel, because one is almost required to read it multiple times to gain even a nominally decent understanding of the whole, and with each successive reading one finds greater fulfilment. I would like someday soon to write a book of comparable worth and uniqueness, but first have questions to ask of the reading/writing community. In a way, I guess, this is a call to fellow writers for advice. If none of this is of concern to you, then I implore you, please, to disregard this post.
To date, Chuck Palahniuk and Mark Z. Danielewski are my favourite authors. Chuck Palahniuk is a minimalist, and easily one of the foremost writers of our day. Danielewski, while still a prevalent member of the writing community, is the polar opposite. His style ranges the spectrum, utilizes elements not only of prose, but of poetry as well. While I don’t have a copy of House of Leaves on hand (the copy I purchased off eBay should be here any day, now, but that still leaves dangling the matter of The Whalestoe Letters), I do recall that a good number of Johnny Truant’s footnotes were astounding in their use of imagery and structure. The structures, they must each have distinct literary names, but I’ve never been involved in any intensive studies of the like. Anything I’ve learned in regard to style, I’ve learned from reading, like most people, I suppose. I’ve found grade school and high school proficient only in teaching me the most rudimentary precepts of writing, but nothing in the way of developing a narrative or critical thinking beyond the commonplace, or how to analyse a body of work—certainly not one so mind-reamingly complex as House of Leaves. Online writing tutorials, in fine, PISS ME OFF, because they're so rigid and objective, like the instructions for creating weapons of mass destruction, only after a page or two of the like, I'm the one who's blowing his top. Interviews with Palahniuk have yielded that he only started writing when he was 32, but up till then, studied the works of minimalists as Amy Hempel and Denis Johnson, while also mimicking the narrative styles of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Bret Easton Ellis. And even today, he says, he reads their works over and over again to prove to himself that narrative can be clean and concise. For Mr. Palahniuk, these writers are the corner stone of his now widely acclaimed writing style. And in case you’re wondering who exactly is Chuck Palahniuk, he’s the guy who wrote Fight Club, which at the box office wasn’t such a smash, but later developed quite the following upon recognition of the literary genius who actually thought up the tale.
Mark Z. Danielewski, he’s my corner stone. It seems unhealthily obsessive, I realise, but I go to bed each night ruminating over how outstanding a piece of literature House of Leaves is, and this leaves me, at times, a little deflated at the seemingly zero-probability of myself, or anyone else for that matter (but most especially myself), writing a piece of comparable excellence. Upon the advice of a close acquaintance, I no longer compare my work with that of the aforementioned authors—especially Danielewski—as this is in a very real way psychological suicide. When I receive my copy of House of Leaves, I intend to read it through a second time, not looking to so much mimic Danielewski’s writing style, but to use it as an augmentation to my own, which, presently, might be counted amongst the likes of your castaway penny dreadfuls.
Where this concerns any of you is your advice. Any advice you could offer in developing my style of writing, please, do not hesitate to assert; I would greatly appreciate it. In August I begin college. As of yet, I'm undecided on which classes I'll take. A few writing classes may be of some use, but I know for certain that majoring outright in literature is most probably a bad idea, since I'll need a profession to provide substantial income while I'm working on my novels. I don't want to be a teacher of any sort. I’m sure that some of you are college professors or writers yourselves, and have much to share of your knowledge of the craft and maintaining a safe balance between work and writing.
[ July 25, 2002: Message edited by: Arkady ]