Monday, December 15, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
A post on The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: an analytical review.
A post on readings and refusals: case study of authors and hubris.
A post on my near-death experiences with cabbies (yes, Mr. Terry -- they do exist).
A post on a writing exercise: corpse poems.
In keeping with my promise post, I think I'll get down to business fairly soon. First, though, I'd like to say I have no idea how I can possibly still have outstanding blog assignments when I have been blogging each week. I should have probably done multiple entries every week, instead of just some weeks. Anyway.
This is a link to my close-reading review of The Tenant. It's a plot spoiler; I read through the whole text and tried to figure out if it really was about drunks or if it was about marriage; I figured it was more about the rights of Victorian women, so I wrote about that. A lot of quotage. It's probably going to be a waste of your time to read. Good book, though. Very appropriate to Victorian literature. Another good read is The Woman Who Walked into Doors. There's a sequel to that called Paula Spencer. Something like that, anyway. (Spencer's the main character.)
As for attending literary readings or author seminars, I can honestly say I have been to quite a number of them in the past. Before college, I was bored and didn't particularly like the things that were going on in my neighborhood. I was close to Philly and decided what the hay, may as well kill some time. I think it's for that reason that I have the opinions and perspectives on writing that I do; I would go to more of them now if not for the fact that the ones I did attend after I moved up here were in New York... And I swear. They were pompous. I'm sorry, they were - don't kill me. I'm sure it was just the night, my mood, the author - I'm confident that there are other readings and events out there that I would prefer. But I just can't get that mood up.
It takes quite a lot of effort for a New Jersian to travel into the city... Quite a lot of money, too, if you're going to make a "day" of it. Well... Maybe not. I guess it depends on what you do that day. But! In general, I have noticed that every time I go into THE BIG APPLE I return home significantly lighter in the wallet department and with at least three more tally marks on the "near-death experiences" scoresheet. (Yes, I keep one. You should, too. It makes for better tasting cereal in the morning.)
Yes. It's true. I have been nearly killed almost every single time I go into the city. It all started with a young lady, myself, hitching a ride in a cab from East Harlem to the Village and not having the money to pay the fare. I was forced to kill the cabbie but was seen by a cabbie on break; I didn't see his dimmed car on the other side of the street. I've ever since had my picture posted on the walls of every cab dispatch station, for knife-throwing practice purposes.
I am such a liar. Truly, though: I've had three accidents in my car, all because of cabbies rear-ending or cutting me off. I then stopped taking my car into the city and became well acquainted with the dangers of cabbies who run red lights to catch a fare ride standing on a nearby corner. I have tried to stay away from the corner whenever the light has just changed, only to be steamrolled by pedestrians and almost shoved into the street.
Perhaps I just look like I should be maimed and killed? I would love to know. ...Really.
Maybe it's just the way I do things; maybe there's some sly secret guide to surviving in the city, both monetarily and bodily. Is there? Please let me know. I'd love to expand my horizons. As for readings... I just really hate that face. You know the one. Everyone who has ever been published gets it. Even Billy Joel gets it, when he plays his own music. (If you don't believe me, watch the A&E special on him.) It's the "I'm totally doing my own stuff" face. The face that says, "This is what I did and it is inherently awesome and moreover from that it is recognizably awesome as you can probably tell by the clearness of the letters that spell out my name on this book cover, on the table of contents, on the page at which my piece appears."
I hate that face.
That's one of the top reasons I stopped going in the first place. That, and hearing a poet I shall not name talk about trees, constellations, and sex. Old sex. Ahem.
That sort of reminds me. That whole poem exercise where we folded up the papers and whatnot - I REMEMBER! It was "corpse poems," right? Is that correct?? - was interesting. Like the aforementioned poet, it seems sometimes like poetry really can be unrelated sentences of seemingly nonsense... All it takes is a reader to apply some deeply imbedded meaning they might have been looking for in the first place, even without fully examining the entire piece. Do you know what I mean? I liked the deconstruction of the art that I perceived while doing the exercise - especially after the reading of the completed poems, which seemed to be as deciferable as certain other poems about Iraq that I've recently heard.
A surprise post.
- A post on The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, paper-style.
- A post on readings and refusals: case study of authors and hubris.
- A post on my near-death experiences with cabbies (yes, Mr. Terry -- they do exist).
- A post on a writing exercise (skeletal poems).
- A surprise post.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Every time I go there, a cabbie tries to kill me.
(No offense, NYers.)
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
In my writing? Yes, I use emotion. I think I'm better at emotion in poetry because I think like a poem. Everything is all images and sounds and smells and association. I couldn't remember a conversation properly if you put a gun to my head. Just a lot of pieces. I guess I think in emotions transcribed into things.
Authors... I feel sort of hazy here since I'm not 100% clear on whether it's an author that writes emotions well or one who writes emotions well. As in writes about them, writes based on them, etc. If it's just writing an emotion, well, there are a ton. As for writing about a specific emotion? I think Emily Dickinson did it. I'm sure Shakespeare has it floating around somewhere. And scores of other authors who have written a poem called "love: what I did in the shower" or something ridiculous like that. (However, recently I came across an author that wrote an emotional situation exceedingly well but I actually have to save it since it falls nicely under a requirement post fulfillment.) Anyway. Here are a few poems based on a particular emotion. I'll get to the stories and books later. I'm really tired right now and I need to get some sleep. More posting, later, tomorrow.
What I Remember- Leon Knight
Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note- Amiri Baraka
Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror- John Ashbery
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Please also note that the ending IS condensed. I will be revising and expanding this story for my 10 pager. The "end" is not complete. Kk?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
So, as Krista was concered (and as far as giving Prof. Quilan my reason), this post will be about my delightful little somewhat-somehow self-inflicted adventure last Thursday. As Waker knows, I foresaw "issues" with my car. I really do think that some force in the world listens to me when I say such things; you ever see those cars at the side of the road with their hazard lights flashing? Someone looking helplessly at the vehicle, maybe? Yeah, well, for the second time in my adult life, that person was none other than hapless, helpless little ol' Lacey Lee - I spent the bulk of Thursday evening/late late evening stuck on Route 80 West.
The first time, which I'll make short news of, was actually on the NJ Turnpike, south-bound. A van full of nice fellows helped me move my car from the fast lane to the shoulder. Much obliged, guys. People on 80 are not so yeilding. I was driving along my merry little way at about 5:30pm when I heard the most terrific death rattle you'd ever want to hear. It involved a delicious grinding and a huge metallic clang. The car jerked over to the left (I almost sideswiped some poor car) and fishtailed a little before I finally got it to shrudder over to the shoulder.
I leapt out of my car and stared at it for a while. The passenger-side front wheel was all bent out of shape and there was a loooot of smoke coming from under the hood. Luckily, after some initial texting about the incident, my phone went dead. It has a great habit of listing three bars worth of power, and then spontaneously crapping out. So, I'd only said in my texts that I had been in an accident and that my car was dead. No one knew where I was on 80, not even a ballpark.
So I stood there, staring at my car. I thought about why it was I didn't have a newer car, bemoaned my existence and its existence, and thought more about why oh why I couldn't have been born rich or, at the very least, financially stable. Then I realized I was actually pretty cold and should probably get back into the car before something flew off somebody else's vehicle and then, folks, I wouldn't just be missing one class, I'd be missing them all.
By that time, the smoke had died down substantially and I bet to myself that I was out of the bulk of the being-burned-alive sort of danger. I got into the car and started thinking about what to do next. Have you ever been in a situation like that? It sucks. Don't do it. (As though anyone has a choice.) So I sat there, thinking and chain-smoking, watching the stars come out.
I'll be nice and fast forward this a bit. My wonderful and logical partner in life, Steven, decided to drive down 80 in hopes of seeing my car. I really think if he hadn't done that, I would either still be sitting there or I would probably still be walking to the next exit. Okay, maybe not still walking... Or waiting. I'm not that stupid. Anyway, he saw my dinky little car and picked me up; he's a AAA member so he called and had my car towed to the mechanic.
Do you ever wonder about the importance of oil in a car? Do yourself a favor. Don't even ask. Just keep it full of that wonderful oil and more importantly, make sure it's the right kind. Know your car. Know what it needs. In about the end of August, or the beginning of September, I had gotten an oil change at LUBE EXPRESS. They told me they'd put in synthetic oil and it should last me for about 7,000 miles. I think the mileage to change was 178,000 and change. I was currently driving at 172,000 and change. What had happened waaaaas they put not the more viscous oil that an older car needs but instead a thinner oil intended for a newer car. It blew out every single gasket in the engine, cracked the oil pan, broke some pin or another (the mechanic went into details but I haven't much mind for such things, that's all Steven), there was oil in the exhaust system and gas in the oil system and end result: blown out engine, ruined suspension on both the front and the back because of the extra stress on the car and the ruined wheel courtesy of a thrown front tire rod. Yeah, I could have died. But I didn't. I'll just pay out the ying yang for the repairs (Which are still being done! Nearly a week, and still not done! Glorious! Oh god, the labor costs.) because I can't afford NJ full coverage insurance for a financed vehicle.
The moral of the story (and we don't even need the Wheel of Morality on this one, guys) is:
Don't go to Lube Express.
Oh, and check your oil.
I will at this time impart on you, if you wish to read, a small list of the morals from the Wheel of Morality:
-People in glass houses should get dressed with the lights out.
-Brush your teeth after every meal. [This moral brought to you by the American Dental Association]
-Do not back up. Severe tire damage.
-Don't eat with your mouth full.
-Early to rise and early to bed makes a man healthy but socially dead.
-If at first you don't succeed, blame it on your parents.
-If you can't say something funny you're probably at the Ice Capades.
-Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
-Never ask what hot dogs are made of.
-Possums have pouches like kangaroos.
-The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. (Except for in New Jersey, where what's blowing in the wind smells funny.)
-Vote early, and vote often.
-You can teach an old dog new tricks, but you can't teach Madonna to act.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Frm: Director Sabraw
Hi Lacey,Great blog. I tried to leave a comment on your mention of my article, but couldn't make it stick.I have taken your blog address down because I am going to be teaching a class on improving writing through blogging. I will read your earlier posts!
Thanks for the mention of my article about cliches.
More on the day later. I have to go to bed.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Even though the month has already started, I can't resist the urge to talk about Nanowrimo. It's a literary website in which you can actually write and publish your novel online. The catch? You only have one month to complete it. For some writers, this pressure helps in the writing process; those authors who sit on a book for months because they know there isn't a deadline and allow their characters and the emotional attachment they have to the plotline to get dusty, the authors who painfully labor over each word above and beyond what would be logical even for someone like Joyce, etc etc. For newer authors especially, the time constraint can help to bypass angst on things like form, allowing them to do the hardest part: get the idea down on a page. There are also lots of tasty little additives on the site such as actually getting to meet up with other authors! How cool is that? Imagine, a website dedicated to the sorts of things you can get out of a class, workshopping and literary discorse. How utterly awesome.
Continuing in that thread, I suppose that is what makes or breaks outsider literary blogs for me - accessibility and what the reader can actually get out of the experience. Is is interactive, in a sense? Does it make the reader truly think?? It could just be "This is my poem/story/etc. Have fun." That, to me, isn't exactly what I want to hear. I could just buy a book for that. What I yearn for is literary discussion, to talk about the things that people write and why they write them. I also love to hear about the dissection of everyday literature, the things that most people take advantage of or just don't even notice. I love the forgotten themes of life. One blog that I stumbled across while clicking the "Next Blog" option on the banner at the top of my blog's page was Cheri Block Sabraw's Notes From Around the Block. (Interestingly enough, she was also chosen for the Blog of Note distinction, which I guess is why it came up within the first 20 of my "New Blog" clicks.) She writes about things that she, as a teacher, sometimes comes across as well as general literature-related issues. I suppose I will link to her most recent post, as it pretty well illustrates my prior points anyway (Prof. Quinlan, you might like this, if you haven't seen it already.): it's titled Cliches are a Dime a Dozen. Neuroscience, the bloody task of grading papers, and small children spearing a teacher with a good point: what's not to love?! Oh, a PS if you actually read that post (which I sincerely hope you do) - we Southerners are just fine and dandy, thank you very much; no mutated DNA here!
Speaking of spearing people with good points, on to the blogs of 332-60! [If you are not from this class, please see the blog list on the rightmost side of this page.] I can't say enough how great it is to be able to read about the thoughts of my classmates on their writing and the writing of others, to see how these literary ideas take shape and livable, breathable form for my classmates. I have had a few really good back-and-forths with classmates on their blogs as well as on my own. I would probably advocate for all classes to require this if I didn't think it would involve my assassination somewhere down the line or at the very least my being ostracized. Anyway, I also like being able to see how different personalities and priority sets affects the writing process as well as what things in the world we choose to pick out. As a future teacher, I suppose one of my biggest likes for this whole blogging thing, in terms of reading all of yours, would be that I am able to understand why some students might not like an assignment or a certain genre. I think it might actually help me a lot later on down the line. With that, I hope this was read with the knowledge that I actually and to the bone appreciate being able to see what everyone else in the class thinks about the process of writing as well as some of the finished product.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
That's the question that I have been sitting on like a mother duck for about two weeks. It's difficult to answer. What does that even mean, to have something save your life? Can something save your life at one certain time, only to have something else save your life later on? Is it possible to only conquer one danger to your life, one aspect of threat? If that is the case, we could be saved millions of times over.
Maybe I overthink things sometimes.
In that vein, I was laying in bed doing my nightly wet-matter arranging. This, for me, entails a mental list of the things I had needed to get done the present day, picking out what was not completed or not touched at all, a list of what needs to be done the next day, tacking on whichever tasks from the present day seem important enough to roll into a new day, and a general cleaning out of old thoughts and feelings; I turn them over like a found penny and look for usefulness, bits to wipe off, and the year on the front (or the significance, where it fits in with all the other crap lodged in there).
So, I was thinking about being on vacation from work this week and how I will spend the days before school each night when I remembered my outstanding blog suggestions from Prof. Quinlan's page: the one on literary excellence and this one, on which piece of lit has saved my life. I laid there thinking about it and tried to get past what had been giving me such a headache since I read her post, which really comes down to: how many times did something save my life? That question lead me to other places, like why I needed to be saved or how I was saved (as in which part of me/my mind), etc ad infinitum. I guess the difference tonight was realizing it would probably be best to go back to the start, because nothing can not start at the start.
I can't remember too much of being little. There is a lot, yes, but it's all fragments. Here-and-there's of kindergarten and things that people who read this blog really don't need to know. Pictures, snapshots. Enough, I'd say, for me to be who and what I am. I reviewed what I could call to mind and I think I can definitively say I have pinpointed when I first stopped floating, if that makes sense, at least in my own personal world.
My family moved around extremely often, so I was a newcomer at least twice a year. There were also a lot of months between first and fourth grade that I flat out didn't go to school; we were just too much in flux. Anyway, I guess this one teacher (I'm pretty sure it was third grade but it might have been earlier... I really can't remember) saw how much I kept to myself and how little I knew to interact with the kids around me and in contrast to everyone else she didn't force it on me and she didn't ignore me, either. She gave me the gift of finding another way out. Or in, if you prefer. The teacher gave me a Ramona Quimby book.
There was a nice inscription in it that she'd written for me. I read that inscription over and over before I even cracked the first page of the book. I remember looking at the inscription better than I remember which grade I was in. I remember how the teacher looked when she gave it to me. I also remember how I felt as I read it. Unfortunately, I can't remember the inscription (I can see the script on the page in my mind's eye, it's red and very beautifully graceful, but I don't have total recall and can't focus the words exactly). During one of our moves in high school, it was, unfortunately, left behind. The timing, I guess, tells you exactly how much I loved that book, and that teacher. I kept tabs on it until that move, which I wasn't even around for. (I was at summer camp and wasn't involved in the weeding and sorting of possessions.)
When I started to read that book, something just sort of slid into place in my mind. Beverly Cleary, I can say now, is a pretty good author for a little kid; the images and the characters were fleshed out vividly enough. A lot of showing, a lot of clear descriptions. I'm not saying I found anything incredible in Ramona Quimby, it's just that I didn't have to think about the things that were going on around me in the same way that I could think about Ramona and her father, Ramona and her school. I could spend so much time thinking about those things, that nothing else could have room - at least, nothing that was unwanted. That teacher, for better and definitely not for worse in my opinion, gave one scrappy little kid the most precious thing for kids like that: a place to hide.
I guess it's from that simple act of kindness that everything else grew. I started looking for better imagery, longer sentences, bigger words, more characters; I started reading more and more, trying to challenge myself to find an even better corner of the world. Because of that teacher and her infinitely wonderful gesture, I was given a chance to improve myself... Probably the only real chance I had. I really do believe that. If it weren't for her, I might not have wanted to read, I might not even have realized exactly how precious knowledge can be or where you can go if you have it.
That teacher, I am telling you, was one smart cookie.
I don't hide in books anymore - not like that, anyway. I still find it quite easy to "lose myself" in a book, to be so deeply engrossed that I forget that my lunch hour is close to being up, that I have a class in a few hours, or that laundry needs to be done... But I think that the savior quality of books has run its course for me. Have there been other versions of some piece saving my life? Surely. But nothing, I think, so significant. Things like that, I think, matter more when you're young. Besides, it's no good to hide from the world when you're older... You get too big for under-the-bed habits. Something else taught me that, but that's another story entirely.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I turned on my computer to check my email, pay some bills, whatever. On the AOL start page, there was a link that said
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Or not so much.
I'm going to be posting a little bit of my short story, which I believe is due this Thursday, on my blog, in accordance to the requirements of posting. Just so everyone is caught up, I am going to post the requirements again and let you know which ones I have done so far.
"1 review of literary reading/event
2 reviews of writing exercises
2 reviews of what you are reading in other classes
1 imitation of someone else's blog entry
1 short story segment
1 extensive (1-2 paragraph) comment on other blogs, in the form of initiating a dialogue with the author."
1 of 2 reviews of writing exercises
1 of 2 reviews of other readings
1 short story segment (tonight)
-1+ extensive comment on other blogs*
-1 review of writing exercises
-1 review of other readings
*I say that I have done -1+ of the comments, because I have commented on a number of your blogs, classmates, but I'm not really seeing a lot in the way of replies. I sometimes forget to click the little "e-mail notification" option when I am done commenting, so it's completely plausible that I just overlooked any replies. If this is the case, I would super really awesomely appreciate a comment letting me know which entry of yours we've initiated dialogue on. As for those who have commented on mine: Terry, check for replies.
SO. As Norberg so nicely put it, I have a "Daria-esque" story I would like to share with you all. I don't know what to tell you about it, the background or what I aim to do. I think that's cheating. (Shrug.) Read, if you would like to, and comment, please, if you have anything to say about it, good or bad. Or indifferent! I would like to know if it leaves you cold. Have fun reading it, if you do, and I look foward to reading your comments (:D). Warning/Disclaimer: I haven't looked over it to see if the seams are showing aka if it makes sense cohesively. As in... a lot of editing has to be done. So, yeah. Watch out. I'm piecing together their puzzle and these people aren't very cooperative!
"He grabbed my hand and he said to me,
‘Talk. You can talk about anything you know.
I mean talk about any subject in the world –
don’t worry whether it’ll interest me or not.
Just talk so I won’t break down.’ He couldn’t
bear to be alone with his thoughts. It was too painful."
They stood there, a group of terribly extraordinary people, smoking cigarettes. Watching as lightning bugs blinked their signs to one another, lazily drifting around the bushes and trees lining the condominium complex, the group silently took in their surroundings. Trees outlined the inky purple-black sky of a night slightly cool for late July. David’s porch was sizable enough for the four of them to stand beneath the overhang ceiling’s single covered light by the front door, and so they stood there idly talking and taking in the air. Looking up to exhale, Saul noted: "You have bees in your light. You should take care of them."
David replied, "We tried. The nest was right at the top corner of the roof. My dad sprayed them down with pesticide one night; easily one hundred bee corpses lay on the porch the next morning. And there were still many of them alive. Literally at least two hundred on our lawn and the neighbors complained that they had them, too. We had to get an exterminator to come and spray everything with some white powder. My family has probably sent over five hundred little bees to the grave."
They all looked solemnly up towards the light, at the bodies of bees writhing around within the glass fixture. Jediz furrowed her brow, as though considering the bodies and their tiny minds. "I never knew what to think about exterminators," Jediz said absently, dropping her cigarette and grinding it under her heel. Picking up the filter, she continued. "There was something about going into a place and killing off what was probably there first. If I had to do it, I wouldn’t do it out of menace but like… A mercy killing. I’d say a bug prayer over them, let them know they’ll be happier when they’re gone. Less fleeing, less hiding, less foraging."
Lindsay laughed. "Forget mercy killing, I just want the uniform. They’re awesome – very Ghostbuster!" Grinning at Jediz, she mimed pointing a gun at the porch light. "I would have loved that job!"
David, looking at Lindsay, said very gravely, "You know, I always wondered what happened to the spirits they vanquished. How cramped was it in those containment fields? They must have felt like bugs being squashed, themselves."
Lindsay looked over at Jediz, who was still staring up at the porch light. "You’re going to ruin your eyes, you idiot," she said, gently shoving Jediz. Smiling absently, Jediz said, "My eyes are just fine, thank you. I can very clearly see the other side of the lawn through your ear."
David snorted, "I don’t think I’ve heard that in years. Probably since that year I lived with my grandparents." Laughing, Lindsay grabbed Jediz’s hand and pulled her down the porch step. "Time to go!" Dropping their cigarette butts into the trash bin beside the porch, the four walked along the pathway of the complex to the parking lot, shooing away mosquitoes attracted by the dampness of the lake just beyond the trees.
Saul started his car and placed his hands on the wheel without shifting gears, to let the car heat up. David sat beside him, quietly looking out of the window. Lindsay and Jediz sat in the back, equally as quiet. The engine ticked and rumbled as it idled and a CD faintly rattled in the console between the driver and passenger seats. Minutes passed. The car idled. The CD rattled. The tempurature gauge read the normal degree, and still the car idled. The CD, of course, still rattled. David turned slowly and purposefully to the back of the car, placing his hands on the shoulder of his seat and Saul’s, and slowly inched his face close to Jediz’s. He stared at her. She looked at him blankly.
"You can be angry, but only quietly."
Jediz blinked owlishly at him, and after a pause, burst out laughing in big hoarse guffaws. Lindsay howled with laughter. Saul snickered and patted David on the shoulder. "Ever the peace-maker. You could make a living off of solving the problems of the world."
"I don’t aspire to be this guy, but it’d be pretty okay if I were him," Saul said to Jediz, who was still giggling. Lindsay had quieted down a bit and was smiling at Jediz, though watching her carefully. David patted Jediz on the head.
"See, it’s okay! If you can laugh, you’re good. If not, you’re screwed." Jediz looked up at David and smiled wryly.
"It’s not that I don’t think it’s okay. It doesn’t have a choice. There is nothing but this, and I’d like to call it love, but it’s covered in stupid memories and hurt – none of it is mine, it’s not even nearly what I imagined the outcome would be." She smiled again and waved a hand to dismiss the conversation. Saul threw the car into gear and headed towards their restaurant, where they had gathered so many times before. For a few long minutes, no one spoke. Their heads were full of images of Jediz’s father, six weeks dead on the bedroom floor.
"They were alone in their principles." Lindsay slapped her open palm against the table and repeated, "They were alone in their principles! How could they not understand people to be so disassociative?!" David slowly pushed his empty coffee cup aside and leaned over the table, staring at Lindsay.
"There is absolutely nothing isolated about it. ...Incidentally."
"Do you honestly mean to tell me that you are willing to believe even for a second that--"
"Can I buy you a cup of tea?" Saul waved a menu at Lindsay. She viciously batted at it as David laughed.
Jediz looked up from her coffee. "I think that David is right. Every stranger, no matter how familiar, is essentially no better and no worse than you in not assuming the person right next to them might be thinking the exact same lonely things."
"What do you mean, no matter how familiar?" Lindsay frowned at Jediz.
"Well… There are a lot of degrees. Technically, a familiar stranger is someone you see day in and day out, doing whatever they do… Walking the dog, taking the same bus… It could even be people you work with but never interact with. It does go deeper than that, though."
"You’re a stranger."
"What? Get off! I've known you for over ten years!"
"Sure, but I didn’t know about your uncle being in the army until yesterday. And I’m sure I don’t know what you fantasize about when you’re masturbating. Don’t make a face; do you see what I am saying? No matter how much time you spend around someone, no matter how long you have known them, you don’t know them. You just don’t know what is going on in their mind."
"I guess that explains the ‘no better and no worse’ part."
"Of course. Any time you feel like the unconnected party in a room, someone else is looking at you and wondering how you got to be who you are. The thing is, they never stop to ask. That's what makes The Stranger real. That divide. It breeds unintentional self-alienation."
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Ah. Well. Conflict. My writing is the conflict, my own fiction writing. I purposefully did not workshop my fiction piece because quite frankly I don't trust it. I don't know what it is... I think my work is in proper form and whatnot... But I have a really hard time actually writing it. I can see the entire scene in my head, I know where I want to take it.... But I fear that in writing it, I am going to lose something. I am going to slice apart some image or trample over some character and it will just wind up being some stranger, a cardboard cutout of the picture in my head/heart. (Sure, in my heart; I feel something for the scenes I want to write, I feel for the characters in it... I don't think it would be worth writing if I didn't.)
I suppose I have a problem with tying together the elements of character and scene. I am pretty good at imagery (as evidenced by my comfort with poetry, I suppose) and I am fairly comfortable with moving my characters around, giving them action... But dialogue? Transition of scene? Not so much. It always seems just a little stilted and flat. I don't understand why, really. As for workshopping to find the solution, I have found that mostly, the things I worry about, people pass right over. Am I my worst critic? Every author is that to themselves -- but I think that what I am seeing is more of the picture in my head than what is actually on the page. Maybe people reading what I write are making their own picture and that helps them with my flat bits?
That being said, I notice that the fiction of other people sometimes does the same thing I worry about -- it brushes over a piece of concrete with spraypaint and you can sort of still see the sidewalk beneath it. From my own experience, I think that my stories do this because I just get irritated with my [inability] to get out the words, and I just move on. Laziness. Maybe if I really sat down and concentrated, I would be okay? I have no idea. I need an intervention. I have noticed, though, that particular stories in our class do a wonderful job of introducing dialogue and transitions of scene. I think it's introducing the transitions with a new plot element...? As for dialogue... I don't know. I don't talk too much, in comparison to all of my friends nearly, so maybe it's just my inexperience with speaking that makes me self-conscious when it comes to my characters - they all wind up sounding like I'm trying to write.... if that makes any sense.
I just hope that I can take how well my classmates have written their dialogue and transitions and maybe learn something from that. Every writer has their own way of writing, obviously, but maybe in looking at what they are doing, I can figure out what my own way might be.
Oh, why-oh-why am I so comfortable with blogging but not with writing stories? Maybe it's because I don't have to worry about characters. Or scene. Or anything. Except: the minute clittering and clattering of my fingers flying across the keys...
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I think that one thing I don't see too often is what a person can't do. A way of living they can't get a hang of, no matter how hard they try - not necessarily being with someone they love that doesn't love them or being around a group of people who really can't be bothered... but a steady way of life, a consistent mode of character that you can't deviate from or that you can never attain. Interesting!
I once resolved to write a poem each day of the business week devoted to the senses - it didn't last long (duration withheld!), but it made me see what was around me in quite a different way. I've always been a sucker for olefactory reminiscence. I love being able to walk into my house and feel comforted because it smells like my grandmother's house (it took me YEARS to figure out what she uses, that woman never gives up a secret!) or remembering something so vividly out of the blue that it literally stops me in my tracks, all because of some smell that smacked me in the face. I think our senses, oddly enough, are highly taken for granted but can give us, if we appreciate them, a greater sense of the world around us.
Aaaaand onto The Big Window. (When talking about this blog with my friends, I think I actually try to put those capital letters into emphasis.) I will just say this: I REALLY LOVE JACK KAROUAC. I'm sure a lot of you have been to the bar with pictures of him alllllllllll over the wall - I'll buy you a drink if you can name that bar! Anyway, I enjoy this prompt because it really pushes active living, which inspires active thinking. Note: "Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea." How beautiful is that? Have you, as a writer, ever felt that middle eye, that place that if you just concentrate a little quieter and a bit less strenuously, that you might be able to spread that way of thinking across your entire brain, and then, just maybe, you might be amazing? Or, "Accept loss forever." Anyone who has ever lost anyone, or anything significant, gets that. It's not even a question. You just get it. And that's good writing. You feel the statement, you need to write what you see. You need to share.
That, I whole-heartedly believe, is the basis of a good writing prompt. It makes you realize that you truly do have something worthwhile to share. There are some pretty lame writing prompts out there that, while good at stretching that move-the-pen-across-the-paper muscle, don't really quarrel with restraint of personal issues or denial or unashamed joy. The things that come out of some certain writing prompts such as "pick an inatimate object in the room and write about it," which I won't even bother linking to becuase it'd just be an embarrassment because there are hundreds more like that on the site, can drum out some pretty cute poetry. Prompts are good for helping you figure out how to get started. You look at a chipped square of linoleum and wow, a poem about gnomes building a fort. Or something "deeper," whatever - some bit of words that you can fan the wet out of and know that you put a goodish amount of work into making. Okay. It can produce some writing that you are proud of because it's technically a nifty piece... But I think it will rarely say anything you weren't already looking for an excuse to say. That's okay, too. Some things need saying. But, I think, some of the surprisingly good better best poetry a person can write will come out of what they, the author, didn't direct themselves to write about. The nakedly honest.
What else can a writer be?
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
This is what I typed before I realized that I should probably pay a bit more attention:
After searching for a few days, the most I probably got out of researching James Joyce's "project" was this quote:
Writing in English is the most ingenious torture
ever devised for sins committed in previous lives. —James Joyce
From what I have gathered, he was born into a fairly wealthy family and later became poor; his father drank, neglected his affairs, and borrowed money from his office, and his family sank deeper and deeper into poverty. Joyce stayed at home in later years and tried to educate himself. In April 1893 he and his brother Stanislaus were admitted, without fees, to Belvedere College, a grammar school in Dublin. Joyce did well academically but left under the impression that he had lost his Roman Catholic faith. He entered University College, Dublin, which was then staffed by Jesuit priests. There he studied languages and reserved his energies for extracurricular activities, reading widely—particularly in books not recommended by the Jesuits—and taking an active part in the college’s Literary and Historical Society. Joyce was leading a dissolute life at this time but worked sufficiently hard to pass his final examinations, matriculating with "second-class honours in Latin" and obtaining the degree of B.A. He wrote verses and experimented with short prose passages that he called "epiphanies," a word that Joyce used to describe his accounts of moments when the real truth about some person or object was revealed. He went back home in April 1903 - his mother was dying. He had begun writing Stephen Hero, based on the events of his own life. Joyce began writing The Dubliners when he was offered money for some short stories with
And that's about where I gave up, thinking that if I was unable to find ANYTHING about him attempting to screw with the minds of his critics... then I was probably barking up the wrong tree entirely. Also, it was getting to be a really lame post. I've had beef jerky that was less dry than that post. (Wah-wah-waaah.) I think I was just pissed off that I couldn't find what I was looking for.
Anyway - onto a notable project of his: I maintain that James Joyce's Ulysses is a fantastic work of art. I read Ulysses for a class that specifically used it as an example of stream of consciousness writing... Maybe that biased my reading of it (probably in the way that it should have?) but I was so taken in by it, by the amount of perspective that it lent to the reader. I got
a true glimpse total immersion in the character's perspective, the way they actually thought. Not just "Leopold thought, 'Huh. Imagine that. She's a gimp.'" I received the truest path of thought that can come from a person, the unbroken internal dialogue running through the mind while accepting external stimuli. It was riveting.
As for Joyce himself, I chose to snippet his early biography becuase so much of it resonates within my own experience (I verbally told a friend earlier, "it set my heart a-knockin'"). I also find interesting the struggle with religion that he faced as well as the tragedies he'd seen. That's not entirely fair, I guess -- perspective, as I was telling a professor some weeks ago, is a point of great interest to me... The fact that Joyce could so accurately and in so many different ways encapsulate that infinitive concept is nothing short of awe-inspiring; I assume that the things he experienced somehow developed his distinct style...
Am I actually getting across a point here?
Read Ulysses, if you haven't already. Then we'll have lunch. And talk.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
But I don't know about this one. I need some guidance, some input. Some English Majors that can hear me out.
In another class, we are reading some of Lord Alf's poetry. Now, I've read his works in other classes and it went pretty well. I guess it was more open to interpretation or something. I don't know. All I do know is that we were to read "The Lady of Shalott" as an assignment and discuss it in class. We had to write a brief response on whether it was agreeable for The Lady to look out the window. I didn't really understand why the professor would ask that, given I was under the impression it was helpful for her to do something active instead of sitting around looming art and gathering wool in her head. So, I wrote what I thought on that and handed in my paper. ...Then on to classroom discussion. Of course, I opened my big mouth because Little Lacey Lee was confused, and it all went downhill from there.
Apparently, my reading/understanding of the poem was COMPLETELY off the mark. I truly don't know. I have line for line support of my interpretation, but was shut down on the basis that it was assumed I didn't. The problem is... I wasn't given a chance to support my view.
The "Proper" reading was that The Lady was placed in the tower by "someone," and was given the task of weaving works of art. She is forcibly isolated from the world, weaving and watching the world through the mirrors on the edge of her loom. She covets the outside world and wants to be of it, finally getting up from her work and seeing the back of Lancelot travelling down the road by her tower. She abandons her work, gets in a boat, writes The Lady of Shalott on the bow of it, and then lets the boat float down the river, singing a song. She dies, presumably from the cold. Lancelot sees her corpse and says, "She has a lovely face;/God in his mercy lend her grace,/The Lady of Shalott."
Okay. I understand why everyone who spoke up in class from that point on would read it such as they did, but one thing gets me. Okay, a lot of things about this really get me. But first and foremost... What evidence did they have that she was forced to be in that tower? Where anywhere in that poem does it say that she was required to do that work? Where, also, does it say that she was actually producing works of art? Specific art? Or, even, that she actually completed anything on that loom??? Also, she FELT as if there was a curse on her, but was there REALLY a curse on her? Or was it just that she couldn't get the courage to go out and live her life? Even when she sets sail, she's not rowing. She's just letting the current carry her. Wouldn't it stand to reason that if she knew she was going to die, and she did this all "for the love of Lancelot," as was said in class, that she'd rush to see him before she died? But she doesn't. And she drifts into the night, singing mournfully, and freezes to death.
Someone, anyone... Please read that poem. I swear on my degree audit that I have reasoning that she was actually freely living in this tower. PLEASE NOTE that imbowers means resides or rests in a bower, which is 1 : an attractive dwelling or retreat 2 : a lady's private apartment in a medieval hall or castle 3 : a shelter, as in a garden, made with tree boughs or vines twined together). Before I go on... Does it or does it not stand to reason that if she were being HELD there, Alfie would have used another word? Come on. Agree. You know it's tasty.
Moreover! I have line-by-line notes in my handy-dandy text here that completely agree with my reading of the text. I simply need to know what other people think Lord Alf might have meant in writing this poem. Honestly and sincerely, I want to channel Lord Alfred Tennyson. I need a Ouija board. It occured to me during class that it would probably be the only way to get a clear answer on my reading. Or any reading of the poem, for that matter!
I will say that I honestly do enjoy Tennyson's poetry (lest I actually get ahold of a Ouija board and he tries to kill me), but this one throws me for sort of a loop. I don't know if I'm just insane or totally disengaged from reality... But I swear. I saw it as a fantasy on Lady Shalott's part, assuming she was unable to get up.
I know that this post wasn't exactly helpful in understanding why I thought The Lady was weaving fantasies instead of actual works of art, so if you're incredibly curious I will go through it line by line. I am not going to do that off the bat because the purpose of this post is to react to something a reading in another class, not dissect it in yet another epic day-long post.
They are completely ruining my journal layout.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I can't say that I'm wild about this exercise, but not necessarily for the reason that it was difficult to picture things I associate with the abstraction. I simply thought of extremely personal and seemingly unrelatable images. I would prefer not to write a poem that includes such direct emotional images; I think less of the poetry I write that comes of these direct images and more of the poems that come from parallels to the emotional images that I do have, for reasons I will later explain. I will give one example, which is in the last abstraction list: the word was Rage and one of the images I came up with is someone laying in a casket - I was so very angry at the visible glue applied by the mortician to keep the mouth of this person closed, that they were not more careful in their work. How much effort, really, does it take to align the glue with the lips so that it may not be visible to those viewing the body? (See, here I am, still getting indignant. Sorry.)
In any case, this image alongside spaghetti on a wall and a payment slip for a broken window, which actually do relate directly to the previous image but have no real business being in a poem without directly linking the two in the way that they deserve to be linked, which is clearly and plainly, made it hard to write what I consider to be a significant poem. ...So I would have to write one that is less personal, one that is more accessible. One, also, that won't expose those things to someone who may read it. I wonder if anyone else feels this way: I'd rather have anonymous readers to ones that I will see every week. Even of that means just one reader, the teacher. (They look at you, you know, at least once, while they're calling roll! I'm so prone to feeling exposed.)
The nature of poetry taught to me, which sometimes just sucks, comes down to what some professors have blatantly and religiously drilled: You Do Not Now Nor Should You Ever Write Exactly What You Mean. There's always the directive to write in images that serve as a metaphor (or similie or a metonymy or whatever) to the actual thing you are trying to say. This makes me trip and fall on my face while doing the abstraction exercise poem. That being said, here are the first drafts, which I do dislike and feel strongly that they likewise fall flat on their faces, if poems can be said to have such a thing.
Was that a good and proper introduction? I will guess that even if someone might like something of these, they'll be less likely to enjoy them after all of that ranting. ...Oh well. Without further distracting, the format is
Broadway Musicals Include Nothing of This
A child's too-big headphones slip
as fields whirl by bus windows,
a padded jar in her lap full of ash a
nd Fabergé-egg dreams
that cut when they break.
Crystal chandelier jingles softly
above a family saying grace.
Later that night the child kneels
saying prayers on a rosary.
The nightlight is too bright,
the orphan's eyes complain;
she sits up, calls out to answer,
but it's only the last-stop call.
Her silence is then consent.
Dusk, Somewhere in Middle America
The horse knows no better
and eats a four-leaf clover,
while the puppy lays its nose
across its folded paws.
They both watch the road.
A speeding car passes
kicking up dust and beetles
crossing the packed dirt.
Smoke spirals slowly
up the windshield,
waltzing through the cab
and out the cracked window.
A flicked cigarette rolls
to the edge of the wooden gate,
glowing dull red still.
The horse knows no better
and reaches for the butt,
while the puppy turns its head
towards chimney smoke,
trailing in from the West.
Spaghetti stains the wall
dripping thickly down,
cleaned by trails of salt.
Holding her hand,
you see, it felt
like a second.
I lay on her chest,
my head, you
see, I heard
Mortuary's glue shines
thickly at the mouth corners,
only to be melted away.
I broke the window,
you know, I had
to do something.
I needed the pane
know, to see
A basket of palm sits
next to the music box
with a wedding ring inside.
I get the feeling there will be many, perhaps countless, revisions.
Oh, also: sorry to the person with a similar title to this; I drafted this at some point last weekend after class but never posted it.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Now that I have that bit of "aw-shucks" out of the way, I'm going to fulfill our first assignment. As I said in my Introductory Entry, I will be clearly stating what the purpose of my entry will be before I begin just ranting for pages into nothing-ness. If you look at my title, it begins "A01." This means: (A)ssignment One (01), as it appears on our syllabus. Logically, then, Suggestions will begin (S) and our Required posts will begin - you guessed it! - with (R). The Required posts will also follow with a number system, as we have multiples of some types [note introentry] Now, onward and upward:
Initially, I found it hard to post about work I found inspiring simply because there is too much of it - what should I share for the class, which of these things can I select if I consider writing in all forms to be a gateway to perspectives, to emotion, to the human condition and therefore inspiring for their Then, there is the question of what IS artistic writing? Is one poem or prose piece better than another for concrete reasons? Interestingly enough, I think I found my personal answer of preference.
Works that I find inspiring - To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), The Daily Mirror (David Lehman), The Agony and the Ecstacy (Irving Stone), Working (Studs Terkel) - often have an emphasis on some aspect of being human. They illustrate a struggle or an epiphany or even just a steady walk through the task of being on this planet and being in this life.
To Kill a Mockingbird isn't even what the author intended it to be - which was a love story. Instead, it became for many people a very accurate depiction of the societal issues of Lee's time. That's not entirely accurate; on a grander scale, it very well shows how cruel we can be to one another for the sake of our own denial as well as how wonderfully compassionate we can be and also, one of the most exquisite qualities that children possess: worldly impartial love. (Reading Rainbow Moment: Does the divide between classes or races of people bother you? Do you find the adventures of children coming of age interesting? Do you feel anything when you think about injustice? Read this book!)
The Daily Mirror, a poetry journal, was the first book to show me that writing could be a part of my life in each and every day that I draw breath. I never expressed myself when I was younger, to the point of being mostly silent and not even responding to my own name with a word. I would smile and simply wander away. I don't think that it ever occured to me that I could safely access the things that I thought and felt, that I could share them in a meaningful way. Lehman's book opened that door for me. (Reading Rainbow Moment: Did you ever wonder what you'd write about if you had to write a poem a day? Do you enjoy jazz music or the New York scene? Then you should look at this book!)
The Agony and the Esctacy helped me to better understand the great undertaking that art, in every discipline, truly is; there is a divine awesomeness to the creation of art, the struggle within finding the right way to express a concept, obstacles to overcome in the life of the artist to even attempt finding the concept or the passion to demonstrate it to the world... It made me respect the fine arts. (Reading Rainbow Moment: Do you want to know what it takes to create some serious art? Have you ever felt awed by a work of art? Then you'll love it even more after you read this book!) I should add, by the way, that I stole this book. Half of the best illegal activity of my life, the other half being
Working, which fortified my opinion that we should be actively interested in the lives of others, both in just the most mundane of senses as well as the more psychological aspects. Terkel interviews people from many different types of labor and asks them what they do and how they feel about it. That's awesome to me. It inspired me to continue questioning the way other people see things, to delve into perspective as a concept to be applied to almost every aspect of life. (Reading Rainbow Moment: Have you ever wondered about what the person sitting next to you was thinking? Do you look over to people riding on a bus with you and wonder where they are going, why they are going there? Then you'd enjoy this book.)
Now - are these books also artistic? I think so. The definition of "artistic" pretty much says all something needs to be artistic is to relate to the arts themselves or meeting certain standards of the asthetic. I guess that last part is where it gets fuzzy -
Words are so open to interpretation! What is artistic to me isn't going to necessarily be artistic for you. I think that artistic writing conveys a true IMAGE of the emotion or value that they're touting around, inspiring the reader to think, to feel. But - that's for another blog.
I will be very proud of you if you read this entire entry.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
We have a standing assignment to post blogs for our professor, including some required substance entries:
"1 review of literary reading/event
2 reviews of writing exercises
2 reviews of what you are reading in other classes
1 imitation of someone else's blog entry
1 short story segment
1 extensive (1-2 paragraph) comment on other blogs, in the form of initiating a dialogue with the author."
We also have to include on our blog 10 links to admired writers - they don't count as entries. The professor also listed some suggestions as to what we could use to fill some space in these things - good suggestions; I'll note at the beginning of each post as to what the nature of the entry is, be it an assignment, a suggestion, or a required post.
I hope that this has properly introduced any non-WPU affiliates to www.quaffcrux.blogspot.com.