I got an e-mail from a blog reader and its subject head was: "Evil, Painful, Convoluted First Chapter."
The CIA believes a White House operative may have revealed one of their covert agents' names as revenge for her husband's undermining one of Bush's State of the Union claims about Iraq. I know this isn't a political blog, but this seems important so click if interested.
You know, literature (all writing of any type, in fact) has been gradually going to hell in a handbasket since the days of Tacitus. Just ask any critic. I'm not sure if I would want to denigrate JK Rowling or discourage children from reading her books, though. I grew up reading Readers' Digest (my mother-in-law still cringes at that). It is the first material I can
ever remember reading, and I did it because I liked the stories. It wasn't until about 10 years ago that I realized the stories are abridged from other sources.
I don't think it has affected my taste in Literature for the worse. My favorite book, after all, is The Sound and the Fury, closely followed by All The King's Men, not The Green Mile or Hollywood Wives.
Harold Bloom, I don't know who you are, but you are a stuffy, pompous ass. *Nothing* is going to lead today's kids to pick up Kipling. Got that? Nothing. Is he living in the same era as I am? Does he actually know people with children, and I'm not talking about children of academics and politicians who live in Westfield, NJ. Kids do not want to read Kipling -- they want to watch their DVD of Disney's "Jungle Book." Ditto for "Alice" and any other book that has had a cartoon rendering. And to think otherwise is only an example of how completely out of touch you are.
"Literature" as a 73-year old knows it went the way of women making sure their husband's slippers were waiting at the front door and his dinner was ready for him when he got from a hard day at the office. No one wants to read anything anymore. Everyone wants to watch reality shows, blow up stuff in video games, and then look for porn on the Internet -- even kids! (And people who don't believe that THEIR kids are looking for nudie pics -- or worse -- on the Web, I pose the question: why then is there such a market for parental controls? I have very rarely stumbled upon porn I wasn't intently seeking out in the first place.)
My feeing is that if kids want to read a book where all the characters "stretch their legs" too often, yet it stretches their imaginations and gets them interested and excited about something (even if it's the occult) isn't that still better than playing Grand Theft Auto, where you get extra points for beating up and robbing the hooker you just hired and climbed with into the backseat of a car?
My teacher friends were all so thrilled when the Harry Potter phenom started. Kids were reading something, anything, *and* now, maybe they could slowly nudge them into reading something else. How can you suggest that it's not a good thing?
You have to work within the confines of the reality you've been given -- it's a more productive use of your energy than whining about "the old days" and being horrified by the popularity of Stephen King -- that's *so* 1985.
Kids are not going to pick up "Moby Dick" and start reading it unless it's assigned to them in a class -- and even then some of them won't read it. (It was boring! I couldn't get through it myself. Apparently I was too busy reading "The Stand.")
Pop culture is King in the 21st century. Get used to it.
Queen Bitch is a very rare female name.
Very few females in the US are named Queen Bitch.
Be proud of your unique name!
Scum Bag of the Week is a very rare male name.
Very few men in the US are named Scum Bag of the Week.
Be proud of your unique name!
Busty Babe with Great Ass is a very rare female name.
Very few females in the US are named Busty Babe with Great Ass.
Be proud of your unique name!
Carie Pilby is a very rare female name.
Very few females in the US are named Carie Pilby.
Be proud of your unique name!
Most of it was written on a computer, but still, there were some parts that were scrawled extensively in a notebook first, particularly if I was on the road or at a temp job at the time. I don't have a laptop.
I was thinking this novel is the only one I struggled with, but I guess it's always this way, especially in the beginning. (The scribbling you see if you click the link is part of Carrie Pilby.) Which is a good reason to record my thoughts on it here -- so I'll remember next time.
6:30 a.m. When I am reading this in 1995, where will I be? NY? NJ? PA? DC? Calif -- no, never mind. Ugh! The sour taste of indecision.
By writing in this journal, do I really help get myself a job and published? No. I just write incredibly boring passages.
Okay, by Wednesday I will have something interesting to put in here. If not, I'll just have to hang myself.
7:11 p.m. -- Bill's got some real young-uns working for him. Geo Stephanopolous & Dee Dee Myers are only 31!
[Note: for you sensitive types, I meant the hanging thing as a joke. Thank you.]
Besides talking about writing and publishing with folks, I was happy just to get to the suburbs in general, particularly a main street of one of New Jersey's many old colonial towns. I just don't frolic in suburbia enough. In fall, it's nice to see the windows of colonial homes shining through the darkness, the brown leaves skipping across streaming grass and people leaving their porch lights on.
Anyway, to put in a plug, I had a delicious seafood sandwich at the Cafe - very fresh and filling. Womrath's Bookstore, I found out, was moved from another town where it had been for more than fifty years. I can't wait to stop in. Thanks to all who came and participated.
I'm not sure there's a correlation. But it's an interesting question.
Those 15 pages were tough this weekend. There was a point at which I was so tired I got into bed, but I knew the pages weren't good enough so I got up and worked on them some more. They're definitely in better shape now, although far from perfect. Introducing characters in third person is hard. Now I know why writers take seven or ten years on a novel. Sometimes there's a little elusive detail that would make the story much more interesting and suspenseful, but we're not destined to come up with it until we've thought about it for months.
This story has been in my head for so long, though, that it doesn't necessarily need ten more years. I'm not rushing it, but it's not going to wait until 2010 either.
GIRL ON CELL PHONE: We've got a real jumper up there. Look on the news.
GIRL: Oh, get down from there. Or jump. One or the other.
GIRL: Just jump already.
GUY: He's not gonna juuuuump.
Apparently no one was taking it too seriously. If he had jumped, you would have bet there would have been blood-curdling screams. I decided to leave in a hurry. Hearing one massive group-scream (two years ago) is enough to last a lifetime.
However, I didn't say I wouldn't talk about nor'easters...
The only problem is that with each revision, I lose perspective on whether what's left is fun to read or not. It's hard to get pleasure out of writing I've changed 40 times. I don't think I've ever read the published, final version of Carrie Pilby all the way through, because I read the advanced reader's copy and the revised copies so many times. The passages that are still enjoyable to me are the ones that I added later in the process -- probably just because they seem fresher.
Got some work done on novel 3 last night. It will still take so long to finish it. That's what happens when you're doing research and learning about and shaping characters who are very different from you. I feel so frustrated when a writing project isn't at the juncture at which it's flowing smoothly, but there are always painful periods in writing. They just have to be worked through, and in the end, when the final project is done, no one should be able to detect where the ripples of torment were.
-"Publish my book"
-"Getting an agent"
-"Getting a book published"
-"Get an agent"
-"Get my book published"
Let's see what happens.
Second novel has officially appeared on Amazon.
For those who've asked me if it's a sequel to Carrie Pilby --- nope. Quick synopsis (sorry for the self-indulgence): It centers on a 29-year-old woman whose husband died in a car crash 1.5 years ago, and her friends try to drag her out to start dating again. She was with her hubby since college, so she's never really had to date. As her bitter friends get her out in NYC, she's appalled by the scene, but since she's always been easy to get along with, she meets a good guy pretty quickly. She, of course, isn't really over her husband, so she doesn't know how to date this new guy. And her friends' past resentment of her comes out again. So it's about issues of love, loss, jealousy, friendship, etc...it doesn't get depressing despite the subject matter.
Well, enough about me. Have a good Monday. And batten down those hatches.
There were a few things I wanted to put on the blog this weekend, but as usual, I've forgotten them. I did just hear this conversation on the PATH train:
GUY: Where do you live?
GUY: I was just in Queens on Tuesday. I was at the [Such-and-such] Church.
GIRL is shaking her head.
GUY: You don't go to church?
GIRL shakes her head.
GUY: Do you know the story of Jesus?
GIRL: I've seen the movies.
On another note, Hurricane Isabel is quite powerful and could slam into anywhere on the East Coast -- too early to tell. Here's the five-day forecast graphic. I will put descriptions here or on the Blog of My Barometer if it hits.
Last Monday, Hitler's filmmaker, Leni Riefenstahl, died. Tuesday night, at trivia, two very clever teams had the following names: "Triumph of the Won't," and "Triumph of My Willy." There was also a team called "Racism is Gay." My co-host for the night, Valerie, is normally on the team that used the "Racism" name and said she kept telling them not to use that name, so the instant she became co-host rather than player, they defied her and used it.
What else? Read a really good book called "Riding with the Queen" by Jennie Shortridge, which she sent me after hearing about my book - it comes out next month and I'll change that to a link to it on Amazon later. J. Robert Lennon's "The Mailman" got an "A" in the new Entertainment Weekly.
Yesterday evening, I walked past a church in New York and there was a huge, beautiful wooden table with a "free" sign outside of it. It was too big to fit into a regular car. There was a guy next to it frantically talking to someone on his cell phone, and other people were looking at it intently, trying to figure out how they could get it home in a city with no cars. It's a good practical joke: Put something great but too big in New York for free and see if anyone can get it home.
I will be taking a rest from blogging for a few days in observance of Sept. 11...there are so many people who have important things to say around this time, so I don't want to take away from that. Nothing I could say would be as important as some of what others will say, particularly those who lost someone. There are a million stories of the people close to it. Hope everyone has a good rest of the week.
Today's Times "Vows" column has not only a same-sex female couple, but 1/2 of the couple is a celebrity! (Janis Ian). For some reason, the Times notes that she sang "Society's Child" in 1967, but doesn't mention "At Seventeen," a much bigger hit in 1975. Maybe the writer is a Baby Boomer.
A young relative of mine writes:
"guess what 1 of my friends read your book and 1 of my friends moms did to and they llllllllloooooooooooooooooooooovvvvvvvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeeedddddddd it"
She also Instant Messaged me the other day to say, "Hi. G2G. Bye."
(For you old-timers, G2G = got to go.)
As someone just said in an e-mail to me, we can really feel autumn nipping the air this morning. It's lovely!
Attention: I apologize to everyone who thought the poem below was meant for them. It was inspired by someone who doesn't even read the blog, a writer who probably never will. It's not you, I swear!!! Write what's in your heart, even if it's turgid. (Ha ha).
Jayson Blair has an "It Happened to Me" piece in the JANE Magazine I just got. It's titled, "Oops -- I fabricated dozens of articles in the New York Times. Don't do what I did."
Always happy to help.
Speaking of accoutrements, I'm going to be buying a gel-burning indoor fireplace, I think. Maybe it will help if this winter gets frozen like the last one.
I watched "The O.C.," the new 90210-ish Fox drama, Monday, and was shocked by something. Both Peter Gallagher and Tate Donovan were playing fathers of teenagers. Before that, I had always considered them young guys, possibly even members of my generation. Peter Gallagher has played the same "Single Guy" role in a string of movies and shows. So it's frightening to see both of them suddenly taking "Dad" roles. A check of IMDB shows that Donovan is 40 (still fairly young) and Gallagher is 48, which I wouldn't have known. Another sign I'm aging.
The hurricane is now a top story, but still isn't expected to hit us. But one new turn and...pow!
Forecasters predict that Hurricane Fabian will keep heading north, miss us, and maybe affect Maine and Canada a little. But it's too early to know.