On Mark

Writing is hard. I mean, yeah, it’s cushy and fun and I shouldn’t complain as a young white male about anything in my life. But it is hard though. A long time ago I finally got around to writing a novel and it went pretty well and I enjoyed it and a lot of ‘myself’ aged whatever was put into it. I’ve been told it’s pretty fun and the whole rhythm, patterns and humour that came from the character Mark was something I enjoyed writing. The whole affair a meta-inter-textual literary romp through romantic tropes and half-assed jokes. In the end, I’m still proud that I told a consistent story with actual characterization, but I’m a bit sick of white males dealing with white male problems in stories. At least he should deal with something interesting like an intergalactic war or superpowers that make him a timebomb or a world full of dead Presidents. Trimalchio, though, was once a one-off and then it became a stamp. I intended, at one point, to take Mark forward along with myself.

I planned to write a sequel called Under the Red, White & Blue after Fitzgerald’s other other title for The Great Gatsby but this time without so much allusion to Carraway’s lust for some rich guy. Broadway & Beyond was even hinting at it. As you’ll find out, Mark is gone now. I believe a lot in the fact that the author is dead and he/she shouldn’t really know what happens to his/her characters after stories, and that he/she isn’t really the authority of ‘meaning’ even in their own work. But that’s just me being me.

But I did intend to take Mark into a whole rut of writer’s block. The characters of Melanie, Nick and the other ‘Trimalchio’ cast would end up as singletons spread throughout the globe with the play as a roaring failure in the eyes of the Tony awards and the wider audiences. Frankie and Gerry would break up, with Mark estranged from both of them. Nelson, the sort-of-not-really antagonist of Trimalchio would string Mark into a sea of book deals and playwright contracts, before concrete writer’s block breaks him and takes us to the events of Under the Red, White & Blue.

So much more carries on in my notes, and so much of it has been dropped and reshaped. I intended for it to be two narratives side by side, with them meeting by the way of dreams and writings. Nick Carraway would turn up, forlorn and looking for purpose, into the harbors of Havana, whilst Mark would lock himself in a hotel room but find himself wandering the town, bumping into old people, stories and young women, with one of them, a Canadian college drop-out on the run from her parents, leading him into a sense of hope and belonging. I then dropped the Carraway B-story and had Mark writing Furnished Souls inside the story, which was to be my own novella of The Great Gatsby set from the POV of Michaelis. I then dropped that and made Furnished Souls into a two line joke. I then dropped- and you get the picture. Under the Red, White & Blue was to tell the story of Mark trying to find his project, to find his purpose, and rediscover what is truly magical about writing, creativity and the whole fruits of life, all ending in the beginnings of a genuine love story.

It was a happy ending, ending on the note that Mark wanted to write something more serious, with all of the personal fused with the wider world he had encountered. Frankie would rear his head, calling out of the blue and invite Mark to Thanksgiving, alongside his ‘friend, nothing more’ of Gerry. Melanie would post engagement pictures and Mark would still see pieces of his one-time-love on the internet, after attending her wedding and running away from its own ending. But it would end happily. With two people holding hands.

I even planned for another story, Among Ash Heaps, told Hangover type style as Mark, awoken in a tuxedo on a Central Park bench, tries to play detective with his own life and find out about the night of his 29th birthday and the drunken disaster that he made it into. It would even end in the Newark Theatre, where the bulk of Trimalchio took place. He’d be holding a bottle of wine in one hand and a ringing phone in the other.

See, I stopped writing Mark not out of losing his voice but out of realizing that he was a part of my past. He was forged within a very vulnerable period of my life and that’s okay. He was a fun distraction, something to pour my worth into, but I’m much better now and I’ve grown up a bit. The humour, vocabulary and all sorts of things that were ‘in’ Mark will crop up again, as it’s my very writing style. Mark won’t, however, because those works are a bit too indulgent for me right now. I just wanted to share where I would’ve taken his story, in case you cared about him as a character.

I do want to write more serious ventures, but I also want to write more seriously. This doesn’t mean abandoning the jokes or monologues, but it does mean changing a few things round here. I won’t be announcing things off the cuff and then writing a giant few page spread about why it’s cancelled or delayed. Things will be said to be in the making when they’re mostly done. Concrete release thingies will be with them. I may play around with Mark in the future, I may finish Tears In Rain 2 (which is the exception to this new rule – I haven’t done the bulk of it but it will be finished) and I fully intend to write all sorts of new fancy things and perhaps some surprises. The future is bright.

Mark is, for the most part, finished for me though. His story was once mine but now it’s his. His future is whatever you want it to be. He is not my protagonist or really ‘my property’ (he is my intellectual property though so don’t sell my novel or its pieces or I will find Charles Dance and make him Tywin Lannister all over your face). I’m Nathan Hardisty and I’m a writer. I intend to entertain you, beguile you and maybe learn you good a few things.

Cheers.

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