Friday, November 26, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
He talked passionately about the vampire novels/romances, wondering why readers have stopped wanting the secrets of how to escape the ploys of society and seek your own happiness. Instead they want to pursue dreams, and not their own dreams, the dreams that others foist onto them. It's as bad as craving a frog prince. No vampires out there, sorry. One student (male) suggested these novels are making young girls think stalking is romantic. Argh!
While I am not convinced that embracing rampant materialism would make people happy, or that realism is far more useful and powerful than romance, I do think this man cares deeply about his subject. I'm glad to be able to hear his thoughts for a semester.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
One of my students, many years ago, told me he thought we should all decant our brains into servo machines and forget all this physical activity. At the time, I thought he was a bit cold and techno, but I didn’t think his idea was totally out of the range of possibilities. I didn’t much like sweaty exercise myself and thought doing without all that might really save a lot of trouble. Not long ago, I ran into his essay again right after I had reread Thoreau’s essay on Walking, where he said, “I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields absolutely free from all worldly engagements.” What is it that Thoreau was collecting or soaking in during these long walks that my student felt was expendable? I’d guess, connection to nature, a sense that I am part of something larger than myself. It would be hard to get to that feeling if I were a brain in a servo mechanism as Chris had envisioned.
One thing I’ve noticed in my reading is that I appreciate breaks that show me what a character is doing and feeling in the world. A glimpse out the window, a flash of yellow leaves blowing in the wind, the warm vapor of a cup of tea, swirling around the character’s face, the taste of a wild blueberry just picked on top of the mountain, the wind gusts that push hard against the body and then let go with no warning. These mini-descriptions that authors place in long sections of dialog or of interior monolog make me feel embedded in the character. Why? Because that’s how I experience the world. Read, read, read, then look up for a sensual input. The rhythm is familiar and takes me right into the story, has me looking out through the eyes of the character.
I’ve been trying to teach myself to be aware of my bodily sensations and use those in my writing. Gayle Brandeis’ Fruitflesh book, her earliest one, is great at increasing sensory awareness. I’ve heard that when she talked with California Writers Club, Inland Empire, about that book, she handed each person a strawberry to experience. Many people in the group had never encountered a strawberry with such intensity in their lives. Smelling, close examination by eye, feeling, tasting. I’m not sure about hearing. If you heard the berry, let me know.
Gayle, a dancer as well as an author, and many writers I’ve heard talking about their processes, say that a walk is one of the best ways to stoke up the brain. Walking with the sense on high amplification is a great experience, very relaxing and also, paradoxically, invigorating. So, nowadays I wish I could talk with my former student again and say, “No, don’t decant your brain. You would lose way too much.”
Friday, May 7, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
I am looking for some good sites for writing retreats. You know, those apply-for-free- housing-at-spectacular-location deals. You submit your writing and a bit about what you want to write, and then if you're selected, you go to their spectacular location and write for two weeks or a month or whatever. I don't want a workshop; lots of those call themselves retreats, but I don't need more instruction and inspiration. Some conferences call themselves retreats, and they are the very opposite of what I am looking for. I just need more time, quiet time to reflect and connect the jigsaw puzzles of my book-in-progress. I have applied to Djerassi (near Stanford in the Bay Area) and to UCross in Wyoming. I guess I'll apply for Yaddo this summer. Tell me of others you know about. I'd love to hear about any in the Pacific Northwest, or anywhere near the beach. Watching water stimulates my mind!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
The replies veer off into writing books, of which Stephen King's has been recommended the most often. Personally, I like William Zinser's On Writing Well, and several others of his books, far better.
But Nathan himself said it was The Great Gatsby. I suppose nothing is more inspiring than a great novel you can return to year after year, seeing new layers of meaning each time. People who teach great literature have this experience, and writers can too if they reread great books every so often. Others suggested The Bible (diversity of plots and characters), The Complete Works of Shakespeare (same but also the writing), The Sun Also Rises, Of Mice and Men. I would consider Little Women, Mrs. Dalloway, Pride and Prejudice but probably would choose a book of Chekhov's short stories.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
"Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else." by Gloria Steinem
"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect." by Anaïs Nin
"I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear." Joan Didion
"In my view, a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway." Junot Diaz
"When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." Audre Lorde
Do you have a favorite writer you'd like to quote on writing? Please post in the comments!