Veronique Darwin

Archive for July, 2013|Monthly archive page

I’m not Sleepy!

In Dreams, Thoughts on Writing on July 29, 2013 at 11:48 am

I don’t sleep around full moons or after late afternoon coffees. I continue to drink coffee on certain late afternoons and I continue to live through full moons. I know I’ll stay up at night but I think: how productive tonight could be! Maybe I could read a whole book.

But when night comes around, my heart beats in my chest and my mind runs everywhere. I lay there yawning, restlessly wishing for sleep. But this weekend (waning half moon and no coffee in the house) I just wasn’t sleepy. I never got sleepy!

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What I could have done this weekend, had I thought of it. Instead I lay there, peaceful in my thoughts. What happened? Have I changed people?

I remember studying Shakespeare at high school and university and getting quizzed on whether I knew that insomnia meant that the character was troubled. Well, I thought. Is there more to it than that?

But maybe there is. My thoughts at night weren’t troubled. I thought a lot about The Bachelorette, about Harry Potter, about where I would walk the dog tomorrow and would I go swimming before or after dinner? I was interested in a lot of different things but I didn’t feel like reading.

What I didn’t think of doing was writing. I’ve been writing one hour a day (which is great!) but when that hour is up, proud as I am, I move on. I read or I watch television or maybe I do my school work. Or, like, I leave the house! But I think I’m scared that if I go back to writing then maybe I’ll max myself out and I won’t do my hour tomorrow. And if I don’t do my hour tomorrow then will I do it the next day? I am so easily persuaded, so influenced by my worst self.

Maybe I’m up at night because I’m supposed to be writing. Maybe one hour a day has put me on some roll! Maybe the time I have invested in my writing is spawning more creativity – nervous energy that keeps me up at night because it wants to be used for something. And because I’m lazy and it’s dark in the room I am not reaching for a pen and am thinking instead. And yes, my dreams are really creative, but could I be using this for writing?

So I plan to never sleep again and write a lot! And with that decision is born a writer: insomniac, paranoid, probably alcoholic.

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A New Philosophy on Owning Books

In Book Club on July 27, 2013 at 9:53 am

Become more liberal about buying and exchanging books.

Always buy used ones and give away those I have read and can part with to used book stores.

Search for good copies of my favourite books. Buy hard cover, smelly copies.

Lend out books on a whim. Don’t ask for them back.

Let books flow, always living and being read by new people.

This would allow for ever-changing book shelves and not hoarding.

It would give me more excuses to go into used bookstores and support them.

I would be better connected to books, more excited by them.

And think about how often I could alphabetize.

153 (photo from gelaskins.com)

Orange Fisherman Coat

In Literary Events, My Writing on July 25, 2013 at 12:20 pm

I introduced an orange fisherman coat into my novel!!!5232423911199_Orange_m1(photo from http://www.urbanoutfitters.co.uk/content/ebiz/urbanoutfitters

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Shouts from your editor

In My Writing on July 22, 2013 at 5:06 pm

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(photo from flickriver.com)

WELL, COULD IT BE SOMETHING RECOGNIZABLE THAT TELLS US SOMETHING IMPORTANT ABOUT GIL?

WHAT WAS THE PAMPHLET?

THEY ARE ALWAYS FACING EACH OTHER

THEY ARE ALWAYS TAKING CARE OF PARTS OF EACH OTHER

WHAT DO THEIR EYES DO IN THE PRESENCE OF THE OTHER?

JILLIAN HASN’T NOTICED THAT GIL IS A PART OF HER!!!!!!

JUST TAKE ALL THIS OUT. MESSY.

PARIS

JOB INTERVIEW

WHO MEA IS

EAST VS. WEST COAST

AND HAVE THE TWO OF THEM MOVE AS THEY TALK! AND DO GESTURES! THAT ARE REPRESENTATIVE OF WHAT THEY’RE FEELING!

HOW DO THEY RUN?

WHAT MAKES IT LOOK LIKE A LIMP PIECE OF CAKE? IS IT TALL AND SORT OF LEANING?

WHAT DOES JILLIAN FEEL WHEN SHE PICKS LI UP? WHAT DOES LI LITERALLY FEEL LIKE?

THAT PEOPLE ARE FROZEN ON THE SPOT AND MAGICALLY TRANSFORMED WHEN THEY MEET SOMEONE NEW (WHO THEY WILL COME TO KNOW VERY WELL AND WITH WHOM THEY HAVE A SPECIAL CONNECTION). SOMETIMES COULD THEY JUST NOT REALLY NOTICE THEY ARE MEETING ONE ANOTHER?

WE NEED TO LATER SEE WHAT SHE MADE FROM THE MIXING BOWL

MEA DOESN’T CLEAR HER THROAT.

AND WHY IS JILLIAN SO LIFELESS AND CAVALIER ABOUT THIS!!!

AND? WHAT DOES SCOTCH DO TO HER?

WOULD IT BE BETTER IF PEOPLE WERE SCANDALISED? WHAT’S THE POINT OF NO ONE BEING SCANDALISED?

BE ATTRACTED TO GIL! OR NOT ATTRACTED TO GIL.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? WHO WANTS WHAT AND WHO IS GETTING IT?

WHY SUCH A SHITTY ENDING?

Dreams to write

In Dreams, Thoughts on Writing on July 21, 2013 at 8:17 am

I wrote a short story out of one of my dreams. Is that allowed? It seemed like cheating, like the story came out of somewhere magical instead of me. It’s about a blind woman who listens to birds, and a husband who has learned to imitate her favourite bird call. I can’t dream that stuff up. I don’t even know the name of any birds!

Dreams are great because they come pre-packed with thematic content. I have a sixth sense when I exist in dream world: I know why everything is happening. I know what everything means.

 

There was a while in which I didn’t dream. I was too busy with school and I guess I just forgot. I made a sign (“Dream!!”) and put it on the ceiling of my bed. I started writing down my dreams and they came back. Isn’t it funny that it’s that easy to get in touch with our subconscious?

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I’m experimenting at writing at different times of the day. Right now it is the morning and it is awful. Evenings I am sometimes tired. Afternoons I am SO boring. So we’re trying things out. I wonder whether I age throughout the day? I start the morning off stumbling around, speaking in a soft, childish voice, eating cereal. I end the day an old man, drinking a glass of wine alone, falling asleep in front of the TV, wise, maybe.

So I’ve been wondering if we need dreams to write, if they are our most primordial writing coach. They have awful plot structure. Characters are not distinct (in fact they often morph into other characters). Setting is often interesting but impossible. But the feelings!!! Dreams exist on theme and emotion and that’s what I want out of a story.

Falling out and in

In My Writing on July 18, 2013 at 8:18 pm

 

I read this on the bus this morning. I was supposed to be reading Harry Potter 2 (The Chamber of Secrets) as per a roommate Harry Potter reading challenge, but I had also brought along this book, On Becoming a Novelist. It’s my third time reading it. I’ve started developing a habit where I keep it next to me when I’m writing. I thought that maybe instead of looking at Facebook I could look at a book called On Becoming a Novelist.

 “If the promising writer keeps on writing – writes day after day, month after month – and if he reads very carefully, he will begin to “catch on.” Catching on is important in the arts, as in athletics. Practical sciences, including the verbal engineering of commercial fiction, can be taught and learned. The arts too can be taught, up to a point; but except for certain matters of technique, one does not learn the arts, one simply catches on.”

So this explains it: I’ve lately begun to feel that I’m catching on. The feeling came from writing every day for one hour. And one full hour! I could fold laundry or eat a snack in that hour if the temptation so struck me, but I would keep my mind immersed in my novel for that hour. Then Monday came along and I broke tradition. I wrote for forty-five minutes. On Tuesday I broke the hour into two halves. And I have since lost the feeling of catching on, and instead I’m catching up.

It’s weird that I’m writing a novel! What better, more regular things I could be doing with my time than trying to remember a secret world I have created and am trying to express to you through poorly turned phrases. And then I go back and I try to make the phrases turn nicer. And why should you even care, I made up this world! It is of no interest to anybody, including me. I have to force myself to live in the world for an hour a day, and still I fold laundry and I eat snacks! Shouldn’t I be spellbound by this magical world I have created?

I wonder how JK Rowling did it – I mean how she really did it. Yes, she thought up the story on a train, and yes, she planned the whole series of books out before beginning the first, but really: how could she have done it? How could Snape’s character and story line be so complete from the first book? How could clues and minor characters be introduced so early and then play such a large role later on? How the heck did she think up the Voldemort-Harry thing? Most importantly, how did she possibly invent things like a whomping willow or howlers? Did she not have Facebook? Did she write for more than an hour a day?

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(from en.wikipedia.org)

There was a time last Spring where I stood at my dad’s drafting desk with this repetitive playlist on and papers spread everywhere. And I loved it! I worked for four hours at a time.

I think I forget about what it is to catch on when I feel like I’m catching up. It’s like love: how could that possibly be a thing? It’s like childbirth; it’s like the Grouse Grind. You don’t remember how bad or good something is when it’s a completely immersive experience. It completely owns you and you are in it. I need to go write a novel!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poor Quality Book Reviews #2

In Book Club, Thoughts on Writing on July 14, 2013 at 11:58 am

Number one of my poor quality book reviews can be found here. These are copied out of my Moleskine book journal, which I fill in when I finish books, late at night, delirious.

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When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

“Oh how I loved laughing along with David Sedaris, my new best friend. My new cynical, lovable, laughable best friend David Sedaris. I laughed out loud a lot, and it was because things were so dead on because they were honest and therefore embarrassing.”

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Solar by Ian McEwan

“Character was off. Who would John Beard appeal to? I hope that’s not what Ian McEwan is like.”

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Shopgirl by Steve Martin

“Steve Martin’s writing is not somehow comedic but has all the perfections of his comedy: it’s precise, it’s well-timed and it connects with the audience by going into and through them, to a place from which we all come. The humanness of it all that he observes and translates is somehow perfect in comedy and in prose fiction.”

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Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic

“Very informative and enlightening.”

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Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat

“This book was so easy and kind but still revealed so much about something so incredibly obvious: wolves are just dogs, and we already know dogs.”

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Islands in the Stream by Ernest Hemingway

“I loved this book and couldn’t believe it existed and didn’t have everyone talking about it. It was so much about Hemingway and from Hemingway that I felt he was whispering to me.”

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

“Captivating. I stayed up wide awake until 1:30 a.m. reading this book.”

“One year later, I can’t believe how much I seem to have liked this book from my prior review. I have since convinced myself I hated it.”

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Dracula by Bram Stoker

“This book could have been a lot shorter with a lot fewer characters.”

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Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

“I kept telling people ‘I’m still at the crime part,’ then I realized most of the book is about the internal, moral punishment of committing a crime and that the joke was on me. Russian names posed a significant comprehension problem for me.”

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

“I liked Alice’s spunk, but sometimes she was just rude.”

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Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann

“I keep trying to catch pages of this journal where I have not yet filled in my review because a book felt too big to write about so close after putting it down (or I was lazy). Now who knows what this book is about. I know that I loved this weird book I had never heard of.”

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The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

“I did not actually fall for any of the characters (not even Jeffrey Eugenides). The ending was memorable but felt like a cop-out.”

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Away by Jane Urquhart

“I didn’t finish. I got lost in this book and not in the sense that I was consumed by it. In fact, I was rejected by it. I liked it at the beginning for its writing and then it turned into a poem. I try to like poetry.”

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It Chooses You by Miranda July

“Miranda July feels like my best friend, and this book her latest hobby. I am amazed at how creative and lovable my best friend is and though I don’t really know where the hobby’s going, of course I’m interested.”

(photos borrowed from dalaigrandma.blogspot.com, bookreview.mostlyfiction.com, avonellelovhaug.com, blsciblogs.baruch.cuny.edu, wolvesontario.org, desktopretreat.blogspot.com, goinswriter.com, serendipity3864.files.wordpress.com, 25.media.tumblr.com, wendyvancamp.files.wordpress.com, claudiobadii.altervista.org, dana.deathe.net, englisch.schule.de, laimyours.com

Just writing so much

In Inspiration, My Writing on July 10, 2013 at 10:05 pm

If you ever get lost as to what to do with your life, pick something you love and make yourself do it for an hour a day.

Then you start doing it for an hour and a half or two, because you get lost in it.

And then a few weeks later you’re doing that thing three hours a a day and it becomes what you’re doing the most, besides sleeping.

And since sleeping isn’t your passion or your calling, you start to value the thing that’s taking up all your time.

And then you start going out and meeting people and instead of telling them that you sleep all the time, you tell them that you do this thing that is your passion.And they say “that’s what you do?” And even though you know that you sleep for longer each day than you do the thing you chose to do, that is the one that you get taken away with; it’s the thing that drives your days. So you tell them: “Yes! That’s what I do!” And you hear yourself say it and you start to believe it.

So when you’re at the bookstore or you’re meeting new people at a party or a new workplace, you find yourself attracted to things and people that are like you. So you become more invested in this passion that takes up your days.

And the more you talk and learn about it, the more you become adept at it. The more you become an expert. And there even comes a time where you’re doing it so much (maybe you’re sleeping less!) and you almost go overboard and you realize that you need to let some of it out.

So you begin to branch out of that thing and maybe you teach it or maybe you use it for a different purpose. And all of a sudden you’re not just doing one hour or three of that thing a day, you’re doing it for six or eight hours, which is possible because the thing itself is happening in so many different forms.

And you forget that the thing is a thing at all, but instead you start calling it your life.

And good, amazing things come from it. You get recognized for your dedication to it. You get told you’re talented and lucky and born to be at this thing, when really it’s either that or you’ve just been doing it so much, how could you not be good?

And every night when you go to sleep you’re ready to sleep because you’re so spent, so content, having done the thing you love all day long.

And you meet someone who gets the thing and who loves the thing (and loves you doing the thing) and that person becomes complementary to it. And soon you associate the two because they are the things you love the most. And you become a part of them like them a part of you.

And then you’re seventy or you’re eighty or you’re ninety and you’re getting a bit more relaxed and ready to look back at your life. And something strikes you all of a sudden.

You remember the blog post you wrote where you were contemplating giving yourself in to this thing. And you think it is so silly that there was ever a time where you thought you weren’t already in it.

Because you were little and you wanted to be a writer. And you were little and you were writing and you were always in it, always doing it. And there was really no transition point, just more of a realization, where you let yourself become the writer instead of trying to become it.

And you lived a happy life because you let yourself be guided by what you knew was your calling. And that was that.

Phoniness

In My Writing on July 7, 2013 at 11:24 am

It’s what makes The Catcher in the Rye so good: a teenager can so clearly see the inauthenticity in everyone around him. I realized today, when looking up the spelling, that phoniness is also a big part of my novel. Who are you if you’re born in a place you should not have been born? What if someone else made the mistake – how do you fix it?

I’m a phony when I go to a bar and I dance and my arms don’t know what to do. I’m a phony when I stand in front of a classroom and talk about historical events (or current ones!) I’m a phony when I put exclamation marks in my text messages and when I wear a small bikini on the beach and when I drive with my arm hanging out the window.

Phoniness is everything that feels wrong but you find yourself doing because we’re monkeys and we mimic. A good formula to stop being a phony is to close your eyes and start dancing.

My dad loves a quote by Thoreau:

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

I like that. Your music could be so far away that you haven’t heard it yet, but somewhere out there it’s playing. Maybe you have to go back to where you came from or maybe you have to find the place where you are going, and it is there that the music will be playing.

walden-pond

(Photo of Walden Pond in the fall, taken from http://www.shutterfeet.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/walden-pond.jpg)

Being on Time

In Thoughts on Writing on July 4, 2013 at 11:34 am

I grew up in a family where we had to be early for everything or we were late. I don’t know why! I need to be on time for everything, and if I’m on time I’m late. I think I would be a great professional, but something about me desires to work in a profession where timeliness is not an issue. Why, that urge to be everything I’m not?

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Writing is a job where being on time is ridiculous. What are you rushing for? Would I even be a writer if my manuscript was ready on time for my (imaginary) editor? I’m embarrassed about my eagerness, my need to please. All I am pleasing is the ticking pit inside of me that replaces the necessity for a watch.

Two days ago I made a goal to write for one hour every day. What made me do that? No one who wants to publish it is aware I am writing a novel. No one knows what I do with all the hours of my day. No one knows!

But I think I need a ticking time bomb inside of me or I would never get anything written. I am self-employed, and I need to be on time to get to work in the morning. The  thing is, my work is made up.

I wish I could sit with a glass of wine on a back porch under high trees and just listen and talk until the mosquitos start biting me. And then I wish that I could wander slowly inside through the open patio door (not glancing at the clock above the oven) and grab an oversized sweater I’m not sure where I bought years ago, and I could wrap it around myself and sit back out on the same chair. And I would fill up my glass of wine and squint out at the fading light and be in the company of someone who, at one point as the night grew quieter, would ask “I wonder what time it is,” not really wanting the answer.

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