Monday, October 31, 2011

Engender

Another subject in writing that can be as imagination destroying as the technique of characters describing themselves through a mirror is the idea that you can't write outside your gender.  This would also extend to ethnicity, class and species - if Orwell can put himself in the head of talking animals, why should it be impossible for a woman to do so with a man?  Or vice versa? 

I see warnings against this every so often.  There was a little bit of this when 'The Help' came out (the book), and some reviewers expressed concern with the author writing in the voice and from the perspective of a black woman.

A failure to place yourself as a writer in the mind of someone utterly apart from you in background or biology is a failure of imagination.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lift Off This Blindfold

I had been on something of a tear back in September on the next novel.  Then I realized it would be next year if I was lucky before it saw the light of day, and I wanted to have something out there in the cloud since all the advice I get about this digital publishing era centers on volume (woe is me: I write like a snail).  So I thought, I'll collect my published short stories.  And then I thought, I'll include something new.  Like a new short story in the Elizabeth universe, because it's going to be even longer before I get back to that.  So I started writing the short story.  And then I went to New York City.

So here it is the end of October, and I haven't touched the new novel in over a month. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

Recently I bought a copy of a pretty well reviewed and promoted speculative fiction novel.  About two chapters in, the main character looks in a mirror and describes themself.  I literally closed the book and stopped reading.  The novel had other issues, but this put me right out of the story.  This technique - being generous here - occurs a lot in first person narratives, about as often as a story beginning with the main character waking up from a dream.  The mirror device is best avoided, but not necessarily because it's so overused - it's best avoided because simply put, it's so easy. 

A character, especially a protagonist, should never be described; they should be imagined.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Through Chaos As It Swirls

Listening to new Coldplay.  So many great songs - something feels missing.  Could be first listen jitters.

Lull in posts.  Went to NYC and had a truly incredible, really meaningful trip.  Some of the best four days of my life.  I visited the Statue of Liberty, Zucotti Park and the Occupy Wall St. protesters, and the WTC memorial all in one day.  A rain storm stopped long enough for me to enjoy each.  I caught up with old, dear friends and made new ones.  I can't write it all here, but that old Tony Bennet song about SF - I left my heart in NYC.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Wapusk


The criminally underappreciated Kathleen Edwards returns with one of her loveliest songs yet, Wapusk (below). I have been playing this and the B-side over and over today. I can't wait for the record, which is due early next year. I saw Kathleen in Chicago a few years back when she was touring to support 'Asking For Flowers.' During the opening act, she came out to watch in this hooded sweatshirt and I totally blew her cover by introducing myself. It was worth it.