…but I think it’s worth linking here: Walt Disney’s 1956 letter to the people of 2006. Swap out a phrase or two (maybe by 2056 people will have given up on solar power…) and the irony of reading it the way we are becomes abundantly clear.
Archive for June 2006
Anyway, I did a presentation on his grandfather in graduate school — judging from the article (and previous knowledge, actually) I was a hair’s breadth away from having the guy swoop down from the rafters and cackle maniacally before slicing me in half. With Roddy Doyle and Undead Flann O’Brien as his sidekicks, I guess.
Knowing a bit about James Joyce’s personal history makes his work that much more fun to read. (It also provides some interesting insight on his last living heir.) With Bloomsday just around the corner, Wikipedia might be a good place to start — but despite Steve’s stranglehold, there’s plenty more out there.
Typepad annual subscription, one author/one blog: $49.50
Domain name: $10.00
Cup of iced coffee from local purveyor, light and sweet: $1.85
Portion of Connecticut Light and Power monthly bill that can probably be attributed to household computer usage: $20.00
Amount of money received from associate program referrals of any kind in the last year: $0.00
Finding out that by having a literary blog, you’re a money-grubbing scumbag? Priceless.
(Be sure to also read Ed’s damning expose.)
In the process of putting the living room back together after painting it, my copy of The Portable Graham Greene ended up on the floor. So in my adult ADD way, as I was picking it up I sat down and read some. Short stories, mostly. And now I’ve got "The Destructors" on the brain even though I haven’t seen Donnie Darko in ages. Looking it up on Wikipedia let me find We All Fall Down. Haven’t read it but have read his other stuff, so clicked over to Robert Cormier’s entry. Brief note there makes me wonder: was Cormier Catholic, like Greene? Google says yes.
And I think damn, there’s another reason to go back to graduate school.
New York Times blogger best work since 1980 results are in, and the winner is Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy.
I liked Oracle Night. I liked The Book of Illusions. I REALLY liked his essay "Why I Write" — which used to be on the NEA’s website and I am pretty sure is still in Hand to Mouth. I used to give it out back when I led workshops, and other people really liked it, too.
But City of Glass, which is the first book in the aforementioned trilogy? Meh. I wish I had it in front of me, then I could explain more fully…but I don’t. I just remember reading it, thinking "Well, whatever" and taking it back to the library. Given that I’ve liked his work since, maybe it’s time to give it another shot.
My pick was Enormous Changes at the Last Minute by Grace Paley, which as I mentioned a couple of days ago, is essentially the same as Rick Moody’s pick. What’s interesting to me is that Auster and Paley do both tinker with reality — in the same geographic locations, even — but in dramatically different ways.
As for the points winner, Infinite Jest? I guess this is where I admit that I’ve only read some of David Foster Wallace’s shorter works. But this is also where I admit that I absolutely loved his short story "The Depressed Person". I suspect if I tried reading anything longer than that of his, disillusion would start to seep in.
I’ve been glad to see Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin on a lot of people’s Best Since 1980 list. Had my choice been limited to novels and expanded to North American writers, I probably would have gone in that direction myself.
Which reminds me…I got a kick out of Alice Munro’s New Yorker short story, "Dimension". It’s as if someone challenged her to write like Joyce Carol Oates.
Here’s the thing about Richard: There are plenty of people out there who have memoirs. Then, there are memoirists. When you say something like this…
But the greatest part was simply the feeling that I’d used up a part of the life I’ve been given. That’s the fantasy, for me at least: to write my way through my life, until my life is all used up.
…and when you write through your life the way he does? You’re a memoirist.
He has a piece of writing advice that would fit on a t-shirt at top level, and expands exponentially beyond that, the sort of thing one could ponder for years: Write what is uniquely yours.
I should probably hide this study from my husband.
I once cut my hand trying to open the packaging on a cell phone charger. Apparently, I’m not alone.
Even though I’ve been quiet, I’ve been pretty good about keeping up with the blogosphere. I’ve been following the NYT Best American Novels since 1980 hoo-ha and discovered that once again, I agree with Rick Moody. If I find out we both have the same favorite flavor of Doritos, I’m going to be officially spooked.
I’ve been pondering the Kelly Link manifesto, too — particularly in light of the fact that I haven’t been workshopping my stuff much. I generally fly it past one or two of a few people who I know will tell me if they don’t get it. Some of these people are great help for working out issues, some are more helpful if they see stuff later in the process.
I’ve been thinking that it wouldn’t kill me to get back into a live workshop — mostly because my own skills need to be resharpened. I get asked to look at things sometimes, and I have a bad habit of saying “Well, what would you think about trying this, this, and/or this?” Being in a non-Internet workshop environment would do a lot to shut down my deluge of freeform suggestion, I think.
(There’s also the whole Workshops Make You Accountable thing, of course, which can’t be underestimated.)
I don’t think I’ve seen Paul Fussell mentioned in a George Saunders interview before. That strikes me as strange, for some reason.
And finally, don’t forget: Tomorrow is National Day of Slayer.
I have a file on my computer called “House Journal”, though it’s not about my house. I store it in the midst of my other writing. It’s usually a place for me to offload the weariness of the day before I roll up my sleeves and get to business with Real Writing. Sometimes there’ll be a paragraph entry, sometimes two or three pages. I’ll go for months without using it, and then use it three days in a row. I’m very, very likely to repeat myself in it. I’ve always passworded it, though I’m not sure there’s much in there that would be a surprise to anyone.
Until last week, it’s never had an entry that was interrupted by something else. Such is life, over the last month or so.
Last month, I went from unemployed slacker enthusiast to full-time work in a job that is genuinely engaging and interesting. Add to the mix that I haven’t had a job that even approached that since, oh, 1998 or so? Poof, big adjustment curve.
It seemed logical to shift my Real Writing to evenings, after my daughter goes to bed. But there’s tiredness and books and my rediscovery of television and old friends who want to storm castles and gossip. In other words, very little done.
I can hear a few voices. One or two are echoes from the actual past, even. Hmph. Poseur. Dilettante.
I’ve always envied writers who are able to separate themselves from the noise of daily life on any kind of regular basis. It must feel like jogging, or eating right – an accomplishment of wholeness, of being who it is that you really want to be. When I get up from hours of writing, I get a taste of that. It feels wonderful.
And yet, it doesn’t compel me to make the changes that it demands.
Some of that is ordinary inertia, of course. I don’t deny that. But over the years I’ve come to realize that some of it is just the way I do business. I love researching the obscure. I love listening to dilemmas. I love analyzing situations. I love finding out what makes people tick. I love finding out what happens next. Because of and sometimes in spite of all that, I love writing.
I’ve tried to quit before. But when I’ve been saying that I want to be a writer since I was five years old, it’s not easy. It really is like ripping a piece out of myself – sometimes it even feels good, at first.
In the end, though: If you told me with absolute certainty that I’d never be published again, or that no one would ever read anything I wrote again? It wouldn’t matter. I’d still do it. Honest. And there are senses of relief and disillusion that go with that.
So, maybe tonight.