Restrepro--A New Kind of War Movie by Tanya Paperny But a different approach to war reporting may be necessary in the Korengal Valley, a place where men were in the line of fire four to five times daily. Nearly 50 U.S. soldiers died from April 2006 to April 2010, when the U.S. Army had an outpost there. One of the soldiers interviewed reflects on the impact on men who had seen so much fighting during one tour: "They don't know how to deal with us." Read more here.
The Multinarrator Novel--Slaying the Beast by Kathleen Crowley. The idea of writing a novel with many narrators began growing in my mind years ago. I blame it on Faulkner, specifically on The Sound and The Fury, which I read at an impressionable age. "Caddie smelled like trees." Yes, that may have been the line that suckered me in. The beauty, the puzzle-like complexity of fitting the various stories and voices together. And it didn't look that hard. How about this ENTIRE CHAPTER from As I Lay Dying: "My mother is a fish"? I mean, REALLY.
I suspect this was all hanging around in the back of my mind when I made the step from short story writer to novelist. Like the teenager with artistic aspirations who looks at Jackson Pollock and says, "Nothing to it," I remembered the mother and the fish and thought, "How hard can it be?" Read more here.
Pushing Your Characters by Mylene Dressler. For a week or two now, I've been taking a break from writing fiction, resting, writing other things, doing other things--I took the puppy to the lake, where he learned to swim--is there any greater joy than watching something you dearly love, something shaky and timid and excited and awkward take his first great flying leap into the deep?--all of this while waiting for a friend of mine to read over some of a very rough manuscript I've been working on.
"You're pushing your characters around," she told me yesterday, flatly.
My pup came back to me, flailing madly, struggling to hold his head up with the float in his mouth, wide-eyed, wild-eyed, delighted by what he'd learned.
This proud old dog took him home and sat down with her manuscript again.
The Skinny on Poetry by Terry Kirby Erickson. If you want to clear a room, most people would agree that yelling “Fire!" works nicely. However, if you don’t mind a more leisurely exodus, the word “poetry” will do.
Although poetry doesn’t inspire dread like say, Ebola or April 15—it certainly seems to make a lot of people nervous. “That stuff is over my head,” I've heard some folks say, if poetry comes up in conversation. “I had enough of poetry in school,” is another well worn comment. Such attitudes make a poet’s job tougher when it comes to marketing our collections. We have to sell poetry in general before we even begin trying to sell our own books.
Since my second collection, Telling Tales of Dusk (Press 53), came out in September, 2009, I’ve been trying my best to dispel the myth that poetry is just for academics and that it’s too abstract or difficult for the average person to understand. Read more here.
Holding Butterflies by Maria Clara Paulino. This week was too full of things to do, to think about, to muddle through. I came to the end of Sunday without a weekly blog. I tried to catch some words to write an entry, but they eluded me.
Have you ever tried to catch a butterfly? Not with a net but with bare hands, to hold it long enough to feel its fluttering wings? It is very, very difficult – it is the same with words. Read more here.
Are Older Writers Really Washed Up?/ by Melina Selverston Scher. I am usually a fan of Sam Tanenhaus, but concerning his recent essay about the New Yorker “20 under 40” list, I beg to differ. And maybe it is because I am a woman. Or maybe it is just because of the notable absence of women in his essay (NYT book review, 6/20/10).
Mr. Tanenhaus argued that most writers peak when they are under forty years of age. He believes it is erroneous to refer to the New Yorker writers as ‘up and coming’ since they are likely to have already came and went. He presents an historical list of authors who wrote their masterworks while in their twenties as evidence. You can guess who they are. From Flaubert, to Kafka. And the American writers include Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Faulkner. He even argues for post-war writers citing Roth, Updike and Pynchon. Almost as an afterthought he included Joyce Carol Oates. Because, oh yeah, she hasn’t written anything noteworthy since then when she was 31. Really? Read more here.
Recently, I was facing four different writing deadlines, and I knew I needed to work on them in advance.
However, when I sat down to work, seemingly out of nowhere I just didn’t feel like writing.
I wanted to meet my deadlines, but I felt completely uninspired to actually do something about it. And tellingly, as I stared down those impending deadlines, my apathy was fast becoming an actual aversion to writing.
Ruthless Revision: The First Steps by Randy Susan Meyers. Just when you think you’re done with revision, guess what? There’s room to do one more (or maybe two, or three.) The smarted thing my agent did for me recently (uh, except for selling my book) was suggesting that one more revision on my recent book would be beneficial. (Her words were a little more pointed, actually. But that’s why I love her.)
I don’t know about you, but I read books with an eye towards how well-revised they were. Not well-written, but well-revised, because it’s between the first flashes of imagination and the last comma-switching that the magic occurs. Sometimes I think the formula is this:
For those of you who aren't in the publishing or bookselling business, I had no idea what an advanced reader copy was before my first novel was bought, so: it's a paperback copy of a semi-final version of a book, which is used for early publicity. A publisher sends it out for reviews, and sometimes also to generate early bookseller enthusiasm. They're sometimes plain wrapped versions of the "first pass pages" - more on that in a later post - but mine have all come wrapped in pretty covers. Someone once told me that the pretty cover makes it an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) as opposed to an ARE (Advanced Reader Edition), but it seems to me people in the business toss the terms around like they mean the same thing.
For years I've had visions of a residency in a bucolic setting, where I would sit in an antiquated room, with my computer as the only sign of modernity, and write my Great Novel. As a devotee of Austen I've nurtured fantasies of long walks, pensive…See More