Friday, February 02, 2007

The Nixon Interview: Post-mortem

Well, that was an interesting exercise. There is something to be said for posting a work-in-progress in daily chunks: the imperative to get the next bit of rough draft ready for release now does stimulate the literary glands. I produced 5,500 words of fiction in five working days (excluding two days right in the middle that were consumed by a personal issue and thereby made unfit for writing), meaning I hit my goal of 1,000 words daily with room to spare. And, by the way, I produced those 1,000 words daily in roughly 90 minutes of working time daily, split into two approximately 45-minute chunks of time, one first thing in the morning and the other last thing in the evening.

I'm also fascinated by the way this piece changed and evolved in completely unexpected directions during the process of transitioning from my original hand-scribbled notes to the daily postings. For example, that whole "Ghost of Elections Yet To Be" shtick was completely unplanned, yet popped out of my imagination nearly whole during the writing of that final chunk. And I never did get around to addressing the one thing in the President's State of the Union address that really triggered my Inner Dick in the first place.

I'm not entirely satisfied with the ending. If I were writing this for publication, I'd take at least one more stab at re-writing the ending — but since I think this has about as much chance of being published as I have of throwing the game-winning pass in Sunday's Super Bowl, I'll probably leave it as-is for now.

Er, I'm not sure if this needs to be said, but, "The Nixon Interview" is a work of fiction. It's history-based fiction, but fiction nonetheless. For example, the real Nixon apparently had a very poor relationship with Eisenhower. The real Eisenhower was a quintessential RINO, who didn't even join a political party until after he'd already decided to run for president, and then chose Republican because he liked their tax policies slightly better (even though he ended up governing like Harry Truman lite). For his part, Eisenhower apparently considered Nixon a despicable REMF and mere politician, while Nixon apparently was deeply disappointed that Ike used the Republican party machinery to get elected but in return did very little to help other Republicans. Still, when your daughter marries his grandson, it's probably best to keep those kinds of disputes in the family.

It's also perhaps necessary to point out that my Nixon is not an entirely trustworthy eyewitness. I don't much believe in the myth of objectivity; all narrative voices have subjective viewpoints, it's just a question of whether or not they recognize their own subjectivity. This Nixon may be dead, but he still has axes to grind and self-interests to serve. What he says is based in history, but history as viewed through his lens.

I continue to find Richard Nixon a fascinating character. He's a spectacular example of the truism that history is written by the winners — in this case, by his enemies — and yet a powerfully intelligent man, with a distinctive voice that survives now because of his extensive writings after he left office. If you want to understand foreign policy, far better you should track down a remaindered copy of Nixon's Real Peace or 1999: Victory Without War than read any tripe the intellectually inadequate Jimmy Carter may have happened to spew out lately.

As for me: in the final analysis, I'm decently happy with the way this piece turned out, and it was nice to see Richard Nixon back in action one more time. I have a feeling that he may visit again.

P.S. And for all of you who wrote to ask: sure and if "Saint Jack" isn't our very own blessed martyr John F. Kennedy, don't you know.