Vantage

Jul. 12th, 2017 10:42 am
pjthompson: quotes (quotei)

Random quote of the day:

“The disadvantage of men not knowing the past is that they do not know the present. History is a hill or high point of vantage, from which alone men see the town in which they live or the age in which they are living.”

—G. K. Chesterton, “On St. George Revivified,” All I Survey

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

pjthompson: (lilith)

Random quote of the day:

“The artist is the only one who knows that the world is a subjective creation, that there is a choice to be made, a selection of elements.”

—Anaïs Nin, February 1954, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 5

 subjective4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

pjthompson: (salome)

Random quote of the day:

“The artist is the only one who knows that the world is a subjective creation, that there is a choice to be made, a selection of elements.”

—Anaïs Nin, February 1954, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 5

 subjective4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

Meaning

Jul. 31st, 2013 10:33 am
pjthompson: quotes (quotei)

Random quote of the day:

“It all depends on how we look at things, and not on how they are in themselves. The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.”

—Carl Jung, “The Aims of Psychology,” Modern Man in Search of a Soul
   (tr. Cary F. Baynes)

 meaning4WP@@@

 

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

Meaning

Jul. 31st, 2013 10:33 am
pjthompson: quotes (quotei)

Random quote of the day:

“It all depends on how we look at things, and not on how they are in themselves. The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.”

—Carl Jung, “The Aims of Psychology,” Modern Man in Search of a Soul
   (tr. Cary F. Baynes)

 meaning4WP@@@

 

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

pjthompson: (Default)
Every time I try to write literary fiction, I think of that old Barbra Streisand movie, The Owl and the Pussycat, from back in her still-Brooklyn phase when she was less Important and still hilarious.

I don't know if the movie holds up any more because I saw it a lifetime ago, but one of the characters is an unpublished writer named Felix (played by George Segal) who has been writing the same novel for years, never trying anything else because he's struggling to "make it right." I'm not saying literary writers are all like this, but Felix is Very Serious About His Art, and feels Very Misunderstood. Thinking of Felix helps me avoid certain pitfalls of the writing life—and frankly, to be proud that I'm a genre whore.

In the movie, after much cajoling, Felix finally agrees to read his masterpiece to Streisand's character, Doris, an actress and occasional prostitute. He never gets beyond the opening line, to much hilarity all the way around. Her acting out of that opening line for him so he can visualize the metaphor, and his reaction to it, has stayed with me since forever.

It's all about living inside your head, taking yourself too seriously, lacking perspective. The movie is also about accepting yourself for who you really are and not being ashamed of that, which is a good thing. But there's a subtext that also makes me cringe and has also stayed with me since forever: "If you've tried to live out your dream and it goes nowhere, give up."

I think about that one a lot, too, and to this day I'm not sure if it's ever right to give up on your dreams. You may be that geriatric dreamer out there still plugging away, but as long as you're still trying, you're still living. You may never get the golden ring, you may not wind up on the top of the heap, or even stuck in the middle or squashed on the bottom. You may have to modify your dreams, "modestify" them into some form you can live with, but giving them up entirely seems a bit like saying, "That part of my soul looks a little tawdry. I think I'll cut it out and throw it away. No one will notice I've patched it with naugahyde."

Live your dreams. They are who you truly are.
pjthompson: (Default)
You're writing along, minding your own business, when all of a sudden you can't tell if what you've written is original, too-too-ordinary, lame, or totally ridiculous. I have come up with a couple of "devices" in my latest chapter that make me much afraid that the ridiculous one may be true. But I don't really know what I've got. I just want to stop writing now, please.

So closing in for the kill on this story, but it's like bricklaying at this point. I keep waiting for the yay-i'm-almost-done excitement to hit, but it steadfastly refuses to hit. It's just going to be one of those kinds of books, I guess.
pjthompson: (Default)
I got a perfectly lovely rejection from Strange Horizons today for "Eudora's Song," the kind of rejection you want to paper your wall with. They liked it, but it "didn't quite fit." Alas, it boiled down to "beautifully done" but "too slight." Which seems to be something of a consensus opinion for most of the Dos Lunas County story cycle. And I can't say I disagree. With the possible exception of the first story in the cycle (as in the one I wrote first, the one my gut wanted to expel), "A Tale of Two Moons," I'd say the rest of the cycle doesn't have the oomph that would make them the kind of stories you love rather than just like.

I say that not in an "I suck" vein but in a writer's judgment vein. It's taken me awhile to get to that place, but I rather like being there. A great deal of hard work was involved in achieving some kind of writer's judgment. When I first starting receiving editorial criticism on "Eudora's Song," for instance, I thought, "X just doesn't understand!" With much writing under the bridge, many other projects, I got to a place where I could see X's point of view—because it had also become my own. These stories have some fine writing in them, I think, but for the most part they are more incidents in search of a novel than true short stories.

I'm a long form writer, not a short story writer. I don't "get" short on some fundamental level. However, making attempts at them does appear to be part of my process. This Dos Lunas cycle is searching for a longer plot, but I don't think all of them will ever be folded into a novel, certainly not in their current forms, but they are explorations of some sort. I have a kind of plot for two or three novels based in this universe, but I don't think any of them really holds up, plot-wise. Not yet. At least one of them will get there eventually. There's a novella, "Hortensia's Man," that is already 30k and has some oomph—but I'd say it's currently unmarketable.

But I'll keep trying to market the other stories. It's good exercise—and I have gotten some really quite lovely rejections on some of them. Who knows? Maybe next time.
pjthompson: (Default)
I came across some very interesting sites this week which kicked up a lot of dust in my psyche. I thought I'd share:

http://postsecret.blogspot.com/

You may have heard of this one if you listened to NPR this week. This is a site where people anonymously send in their secrets to be posted.

It made me hanker after doing conceptual art again...

The Post Secret web site is all about communal art, about making an art installation without any physical space, and I just loved it. It's cool to think of random strangers sending in bits and pieces of themselves for a collaboration; because they needed to share and felt safe to do it here; because they just couldn't resist. I wanted to do something similar using virtual space instead of physical, but I haven't thought of anything yet that isn't derivative. Got a little notion of something this morning (based on a random event in my vicinity), but it's not fully formed yet.

I used to do visual art along with the writing, but I reached a point of diminishing energy and had to choose between the two. I knew that the time had come where I had to focus seriously on the writing if I was going to take it to the next level and for me, because of that limited time and energy, that meant laying aside other things. It really wasn't too difficult: writing gives me the fire in the belly, visuals and conceptual art are things I like, that are fun, but don't instill the same kind of passion. So I set aside my plans for art installations and thing-making (I was a sculpture and textile arts girl rather than a drawing/painting girl). For the most part, I haven't looked back. I pull out a project now and then when I just want to relax and work on something, but I'm not filled with longing for lost art projects.

As I said, this secrets project has me thinking about doing art installations that don't take up physical space (always a problem for someone living in a one-bedroom apartment). I used to make plans for installations, even started a couple—artworks where viewers could actually walk into and participate in—but I'm a non-affiliated artist. I didn't go to art school, don't know the right people, have no gallery or museum hook-ups. So the chances of getting anyone to let me have space to set up one of these is next to nil.
If I'd really had the passion for it, as I do with writing, that wouldn't have stopped me. Which tells me more than anything that it wasn't my passion, wasn't meant to be, wasn't where I needed to focus.

http://www.foundmagazine.com/

Related, in a way, but different. This magazine is also something of a communal art project. People send in notes they find on the streets, or pictures of the notes they've found if they don't want to give them up. These are alternately moving and hilarious, sometimes creepy as hell, sometimes cute—and utterly absorbing. At least for someone of my proclivities.

I wanted to go out immediately and start searching the streets...

One of the things I used to love to do was found object sculpture. I'd incorporate random things found on the streets, garage sales, thrift stores—wherever—and make them into interesting object collages. I L-O-V-E the work of randomness in art, love to take disparate things and make them into something new, or take something old and give it a new perspective. This is a very powerful pull for me and this site really kicks that excitement up. I'm a big fan of Betty Saar, who did a lot of this in her work—often intimate and delicate and female. A lot of artists have done this and I recently saw an exhibit at the Norton Simon of just this kind of thing—but can I remember any of the other artists??? A mind is a terrible thing to waste...

Lost but Found: Assemblage, Collage and Sculpture, 1920-2002 It just ended, so they don't have the exhibit info still up. There were big guys like Picasso and Duchamp as well as others less well known. Some really good stuff.

You know, I guess it's not really all that different from your crazy Uncle Ned who likes to make lawn decorations out of hub caps, et al. Just a different perspective on the same idea, really. But whether it's Uncle Ned or Betty Saar or Marcel Duchamp, there's a power to this stuff, something that declares, "Look here! Everything has its own beauty (even the ugly stuff). Everything is just a matter of how you look at things."

In honor of this, I pulled out a broken dish mosaic that's been in the back of the closet for ever so long. I really don't have the time for it right now, but I'm thinking maybe I need to at least fiddle with it a bit. Even if it's just to look at it and say, "Huh," and put it away again. Creativity feeds creativity. Everything we do to nourish our souls inevitably gets returned to us in our art. Especially when we're in the saggy middle sections of our novels and feeling frustrated and restless...

Our blackest stuff, our brightest stuff, our random occurrences, all go into the making of who we are and have to be accepted as part of the toll we pay for a rich life. Sometimes it makes one seem foolish, that enthusiasm of the true geek, but being a Fool isn't such a bad thing. I think if we were more willing to be foolish now and again, to live out our geekage unapologetically, we'd have fuller and more complete lives. It's that trying to be cool all the time crap that really impoverishes us.

But there's foolish and there's foolish:

http://www.livejournal.com/community/customers_suck/9865898.html?thread=10778282

I sure hope you can open the sound file on this. When you read it in transcript it sounds like a hoax, but when you hear the tape it seems all-too-horrifyingly-real. It has nothing to do with the other two sites—except maybe in an absurdist, randomist kind of way.
pjthompson: (Default)
I usually don't post progress notes because it's always the same story with me: I grind it out day to day, averaging between 500-850 words. Not a blistering pace, but steady and cumulative. Sometimes I write 1000, 1200, even 2-3000, but mostly it's just grinding it out. But I thought it worthy to note that I have just completed seven chapters of my new novel, Night Warrior. Okay, most of that was rewriting and editing old text to make it come up to my present standards, but it does mean that I am well and thoroughly launched on this new novel. I'm in the zone with it, can feel it spinning out ahead of me and delving deep inside me.

Pam's lessons learned.

Recurrent themes emerge from the darkness. Scenes involving transformative experiences, for one. In my novel Shivery Bones I had a scene where a wounded and desperate man crawls through a gap in a hedge and emerges into a place that will thoroughly change him. Apparently, my Backbrain liked that scene so much it copied it from this older work, ten years before. I'd completely forgotten I had a scene with a boy who crawls through a gap in a briar patch and has a transformative experience until I read it again. Too bad. I think the metaphor works even better in this one. Are metaphors like rivers, I wonder? Can you wade in the same metaphor twice or must they constantly be changing? I suppose it's failure of imagination to reuse such a distinctive one, but *sigh.*

But the positive thing about revisiting this old work after a flood of water under the bridge is that even the things that made me despair and abandon it all those years ago are just not that big of a deal to me this go round. Perspective. Learning more about the craft. Water under the bridge.

Having completed three novels now (and countless stories) I think it's finally sunk in to my creative spirit (and not just my brain) that first drafts are not a life and death proposition. You don't have to get it right the first time—in fact, that's virtually impossible. The job of the first draft is just to be there, a repository for the things inside yearning to get out. Writers have the great luxury of revisions and levels of approach. Here are my hard won (and not profound) lessons learned:

● First draft—just get it done.

● Second draft—fix those plot holes and character inconsistencies and pacing issues—the big ticket items.

● Third draft—maybe concentrate on the language this time around, make it pretty and bright.

● Fourth draft—no, don't go there, you'll get stuck in the never ending revision cycle.

Send the damned thing out and move on to the next thing. If it comes back to you rejected, you always have the option of doing that fourth draft, but if you have well and truly moved on to something else, your perspective will be so much better when the old thing returns—and you can do a much better job at revising it. And anyway, all your eggs won't be in one basket and it won't hurt as much if one of them breaks. Only like wrenching off one of your fingers instead of the whole limb. (And now I'm mixing my metaphors which has got to be as bad as reusing them.)

Your order of dealing with revisions may be substantially different from mine, but this is what's working for me now. As W. Somerset Maugham said in the blog of [livejournal.com profile] matociquala (as well as elsewhere):

"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."

Of course, the immortal words of Han Solo are also coming back to me at this moment, too: "Don't get cocky, kid."

On another note: You may recall that the last we heard from Boyfriend and Girlfriend who live upstairs, Boyfriend had filled the back of his truck with dirt which then turned to mud when he drove home in a rain storm and drained all over the garage when he parked it in Girlfriend's parking space. The truck's been there ever since, round about a week and a half I guess, and the mud has dried and turned to stone (lots of clay in local soil). But sometime between 6:45 last night when I got home and 8:30 when I left this morning, someone had moved the truck out of the garage and onto the street. By Imperial order of Yuri? I don't know. And after they moved it, the City of Los Angeles came along and put a boot on the wheel for unpaid parking tickets...

I tried not to laugh too much because that would have been wrong, wouldn't it? I don't need the bad karma. But sometimes, ya know, life is just very funny.
pjthompson: (Default)
I suppose I should talk more about that writing thing here, but it's so boring.  No, not other people's writing things, but my own.  Because, basically, I'm just slogging away right now, getting through the heavy revision phase of the second draft.  Not much to report day-to-day except that I'm doing it.  Besides, I'm just not the faithful diarist type. 

However, yesterday I did accomplish something of note:  my word count actually went down.  Yes!  I managed to cut something.  True, it was only about a page and a half worth, but the word count on this beast has been slowly creeping up—which is seriously not a good thing.  That's mostly due, I think, to clarifying and straightening out some very twisted timelines.  I haven't been too worried about cutting this time around because the problems in other areas, in mechanics, seemed larger.  So unless something is clearly superfluous  fat and padding, I give it a reprieve until next time.  Once I have a straighter ms., timeline-wise, backstory-wise, I can worry about the other stuff.  I find that if I try to accomplish too much at one time—take on all monsters in one battle—it can weaken my efforts.  I get a better rewrite if I offset my battles.  So I make one pass to clean up mechanics, followed by another to clean up aesthetics.  Then I sincerely hope it's time to send the sucker out.

This story was a really complicated one in which what happened in the past was just as important as present action because what happened in the past is the root cause and prime motivator for the story.  (Though some may argue with me there.)  And since what happened in the past was often complicated, the timelines, et al., got complicated.  Sometimes overly so.  And sometimes I fell in love with peripheral characters and didn't know when to keep them down to one or two succinct paragraphs; and sometimes letting them have their say illuminated new aspects of the main story.  It's always difficult to walk the line between intrusive tangent and deepening  a story.

But there is no better remedy to "my precious prose" syndrome then to give myself a little space.  Time is the greatest editor of them all.  Things that I wouldn't have dreamed of cutting a year ago now seem perfectly disposable to me.  I doubt I can hack 25k off this beast, but you never know.  Once the cutting starts, sometimes the blood flows freely.

And on that happy metaphor, adieu...

Finished through:   chapter 28

Left to go:  seven chapters  (Groan) (Technically, six chapters plus an epilogue)

Word count: 149,800--ugly, ugly

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