Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Various Benedictions

Finally, finally, finally, I wrote something over the weekend. On Saturday night, when I was all by myself. It's not the main idea I've been suckling for far too long, but an idea that occurred to me only a few weeks ago that was much easier to get at. It felt exhilarating going on the page, and I hope it'll feel that way when I pick it up again to revise after my mandatory two-week waiting period.

I've spoken before about how much of a relief it is to write when it's been a while since I've written. How my cup runneth over with anxiety that the machinery just won't start again, and how like a cool rain on a hot day it is when the words finally patter out in ink. Yes, it was the same way. And the resolutions were just the same, too; this time I'll keep up with writing at least some fiction at least once a week. Even if it's just an exercise. I will, I will. And, increasingly, I know this is a lie before the thought has even finished its circuit. (It must be like what alcoholics mutter to themselves in the harsh morning. This time I'll do it right. I won't fuck it up. I'll keep to the program. Oh, Christ, what'll I do?)

Aside from this writing goodness and...mixed emotional reaction, I got some very, very, very good news on Sunday: one of my shortest and most recently written stories has been accepted. At a literary magazine that is established enough to have a Wikipedia page and a couple thousand followers on Facebook. This may seem to be rather an empty honor to you, but to me it is a benediction from heaven.

Ah, how well you capture me, Mr. Lichtenstein

I'll keep you posted as to which magazine and what story when it appears. It is a pretty black tale (unsurprising, since I wrote it), but I had fun playing with the concept. It was the first story I've ever written into a final form and then rewritten from scratch, trying a whole different direction.

In social media news (shudder), I've opened my own Facebook page to followers. And consequently I'll try to write some public posts.

Have you read or seen the play or movie Proof? We just finished a unit on the play in my literature class, and I'm freakin' gobsmacked at it. Layers upon layers upon layers. The play has a precision that's just breathtaking as you circle closer to its heart. The movie is okay, but doesn't communicate this quality as well as reading the play does.

I recently read another book that I adored in exactly the opposite way: with my heart, my whole heart, instead of mostly my brain. It was Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity, a historical YA novel set in WWII - and two out of three of those criteria make the book really not my sort of thing at all. Still, I'll never look on its like again. What a treasure. I don't want to tell you about the time that my heart stopped and didn't really get going again for another two chapters, or the time I cried, or the other time I cried. It's all too spoilery. Just read it, one page at a time, and DON'T read the summary on the jacket.

Again an accurate depiction of my emotions

The tour de force of Code Name Verity was why the book I finished over the weekend was such a disappointment. Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, a finalist for the Booker and a big hoopdy-hoop book back in 2005, was an obvious allegory on the macro level and a pale copy of other IP I've encountered on the micro. It was written in a very simple and repetitive style, which was almost certainly part of the point re: the main characters, but the effect was dull and irritating. Everybody loved it, critically, and I'm at a total loss as to why. The YA book of the previous paragraph, which hasn't won anything like a Booker nom, was superior.

Do snooty lit critics just not read decent genre fiction? Ever? Because seemingly if you mix one mediocre speculative element into an otherwise very blah book by a big-name literary author, critics just seem to go insane. I can't think of other examples of this phenomenon right now, but I know I've read a couple. I want to grab these critics by their lapels and scream THIS ISN'T THAT GOOD, YOU DUMMIES. Read some damn Bradbury. Read some Valente. Read some Tobler. Read some LeGuin.

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