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The Lost City of Shambhala

I continued in a skittery, jittery, nervous mood all yesterday.

Impotent. I felt impotent.

I spent several hours trying to write a paragraph that’s not at all important – in fact, it’s the type of paragraph that any sensible reader would skim over in his/her haste to get to the good stuff.

Our heroine has been hired to be a hostess at a sex party in Port Washington. This is in the 1920s. The aim of the party is discreet blackmail, but my heroine is merely tasked with keeping the girls in line. She does not drink, and she’s a habitual early riser. So on her first morning there, she walks to a beach on Long Island Sound. She was raised in a Brooklyn tenement, so this is the first time she’s actually seen the ocean. And she’s in that sort of pre-love narcosis where everything she sees is part of a mental conversation she’s having with the mental intraject of the man she’s almost decided to fall in love with.

What does she see?

All I could come up with is fog, driftwood that looks like bleached bones, and little purple crabs with egg sacs on their legs.

The paragraph is mildly important in context since it’s the opening to a passage in which the reader discovers that our heroine is a raging kleptomaniac who likes to steal things of sentimental and sometimes monetary importance from the people around her.

In the last third of the book, after our heroine goes mad and ends up having electroshock therapy at Bellevue, this behavior is actually reversed, and she starts making these little… well. I guess one might call them shrines. Which she leaves in all sorts of weird places throughout New York City. Hence the title: If You Find This, Take It: It Was Meant for You.

As a matter of historical fact – for she is loosely based on a Real Human Girl – our heroine ends up as a social worker in Phoenix, Arizona. Which is a very unlikely place for her to have ended up.

The novel is written in the first person singular, which ought to make it very easy to write, right? Except that the narrative voice that’s emerged is kind of weird. Our heroine is not a native English speaker. She reads a lot, though, and her thoughts emerge as a mélange of vivid imagery, strange disconnects, and formal, almost stilted prose.

When I’m in the Zone, it all comes spilling out.

But the Zone is the Lost City of Shambhala so far as my present mental state is concerned.

I suppose the sensible thing would be to say, Fuck this, and just focus on making money right now.

But that’s how you get out of practice when you want to do something creative.

Maybe I'll reread White Oleander. The narrative voice is not dissimilar.

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