Veronique Darwin

Archive for the ‘Literary Events’ Category

Preparing for a 3-Day Weekend

In Literary Events, My Writing, Teaching on August 24, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Next weekend I write a novel in 3 days. Not this novel! I’ve been working on this one for 2 years. Three days to finish it would be ridiculous. But a whole new novel? No problem! I speak of the 3 Day Novel Contest, something I didn’t make up. It’s a thing! Click on the link! I’m paying money to do it!

My mindset going into it is one of naive confidence, something I’m hoping to cultivate for my first year of teaching, which starts the day after I finish my 3-day-novel. It’s a frame of mind I’m actually trying to cultivate in all areas of my life.

I spent a weekend by a pool in the middle of summer. I kept cannonballing into the pool, telling myself before I took the leap: this is you jumping into everything.

penguin-jumping

(from http://www.hiren.info)

I know that for my first day of teaching I need to look like I know my stuff. I need to have the right amount of desks. I know that for the 3 Day Novel contest I need to have an outline. I need a main character with a cool name.

But there’s something else I need for both these journeys, something so much more important than anything already mentioned. I need to be absolutely crazy! I need to go feral. I need to trust my instincts before my tired, sketchy, rigid mind. I need to keep doing cannonballs even if no one’s watching, even if I’m paying thirty-five dollars to sit alone all weekend writing something that will undoubtedly have such poor grammar.

But that’s what it seems to come down to. I need to keep doing what makes me happy, in the strange, clumsy way that I do it. It’s only then that I’ll find the things I’m looking for (or what I didn’t know I was looking for, but happened to find). If I don’t whisper maxims to myself before jumping into a pool by myself, then I’m not being me! I’m not putting all of myself into it. And what better thing to teach, to write about, then the feeling of power that comes from giving it all?

Advertisements

The Reading Fad

In Book Club, Literary Events, Literature on August 15, 2013 at 10:57 pm

I admit I walk around carrying a book in my  hand more than I used to, though I used to read more than I do now. I admit I don’t read as many classics as I should, but I always name classics as my favourite books. I admit I bought glasses that make me look like I’m reading and I get shivers in trendy used bookstores. But I will not admit that I am a part of this new trend called reading.

I’ve had a few different people lately tell me they are reading a book out loud as a couple. That’s great! I wish I was in a couple in which we read books out loud! But it also seems to signify something: is reading a becoming a novelty?

When someone walks by me wearing a Great Gatsby tee-shirt, I’m usually pretty sure it’s not an English Lit major. Why would someone who studied English feel the need to wear a tee-shirt announcing they like books? They decided that already, probably early in life, and it has since been their identity.

Second question: why am I so defensive of books? I didn’t write any of them! Maybe I’ve read more than some people, but I’ve also not read most of them, and I read them pretty poorly.

But books are my thing. They are a thing for people who don’t have many other things. But someone who rides a funny-looking bike and sketches and, like, has a horse, already has so many things! You can’t take books too!

So I propose this: we just all keep reading. Don’t stop when the other member of your couple has moved on to partner yoga (even though that’s so last year). Just keep reading until it stops becoming a trend. Until you missed the next trend because you were so busy reading.

80963

(from crazetees.com)

Until you become a real smoker, not just one who smokes at parties, you don’t know all the downsides of the trade. You don’t know that you slowly lose your eyesight. You don’t know that there are some books that will plague you, consistently looming over you to get you to finish them. And even if you’ve seen the Dracula movie and you read all of Atlas Shrugged except for the 100-page-long speech by John Galt, you know that one day you will just sit there, miserable, reading those two books instead of whatever book is on everyone’s tee shirt.

And it will become a part of you (not every book you read, but the fact that you do weird little things, like accidentally buy two copies of the same book or bring ten with you on a trip) and you will never stop reading, because it’s the best trend ever invented. It offers a way of seeing the world and of seeing yourself: through words, beautifully arranged, on these little sheets of paper you carry around in your hand for everyone to see.

HP Sauce

In Book Club, Literary Events on August 4, 2013 at 9:57 pm

A couple friends and I are rereading Harry Potter. My friend did this a few years ago and I was so jealous – how did he have the time? He had the time, I realized, by letting Harry Potter and his childhood overtake his life. I grew up on Harry Potter. I left a best friend’s birthday party to go to the midnight release of the seventh book. I like being in on something so childish and esoteric. I like books!

Remember how big Hermione’s hair was in the first book?

And how you never see Scabbers coming?

Remember when you realize that instead of a murderer, Sirius Black is just a sex bomb?

Sirius-Black-sirius-black-7017004-1000-725 (sexy photo from images2.fanpop.com)

I don’t always remember that Professor McGonagall is an animagi!!

Wouldn’t there be some practices where you just don’t find the Snitch?

They don’t even know about the tournament yet!! People are going to DIE!!

Yesterday somebody had a portrait in their room that looked like You-Know-Who but it might have just been a deceased grandfather!

Did Joanne see the Ginny thing coming? Because Harry sure didn’t!

Is it just me, or does travelling by Floo Powder make no sense at all?

Who IS Dean Thomas??

The Day My Computer Slept

In Literary Events, Thoughts on Writing on August 3, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Everyone needs a day off! My computer took an elective vacation day yesterday. It was going through some issues with a new processing system and it just sat there, breathing heavily, putting me out of work.

It took hours before I forced myself to open a notebook and write in there. What? A pen? To write with?

I immediately rationalized my fears of all of my novel being lost with the old “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was thrown in the fire” story, which I think about mostly every day. Did no one else ever have to rewrite a book? I wish there was some more modern example of a computer crashing and a novel living on that I could go to, instead of staying clear of fires.

flames background

(from smehealthandsafety.co.uk)

I wrote six pages by hand in my journal last night – nonsense pages, not prose but explanations to myself, little tidbits of emotions mostly centered around my computer. Then I got to page six and I started doing crazy writing (all over the page! non-linear!) and I came to a revelation that I might not have come to were my computer well. One of my characters is illiterate! She tells her story through images!

And I recognized (and wrote down, in the embarrassing way I do, talking to myself in my notebooks) that maybe every once in a while I need to write by hand instead of with the tips of my fingers. Maybe the circular hover of my palm over the page can create things that the choppy pulse of my nails against the keyboard cannot. Maybe I get at different places, write through different tones.

This morning I felt okay, thinking that a computer in the fire wasn’t the end of the world. If my computer didn’t wake up today, then I still would. But alas, I write a blog post, which means I am either typing on that very small keyboard on my iPad mini or my computer has decided to serve my sweaty palms one more day. And so here are my linear, peckish thoughts, about imagine if I could just write by hand and drop my notes into the fire, instead of allowing them to sit perpetually in the cyber world. How much less embarrassing, how much more poetic and tragic.

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

/invt/5232423911199/5232423911199_Orange_m1.jpg)

Writing about Gatsby to be Relevant

In Literary Events, Thoughts on Writing on May 13, 2013 at 9:38 pm

 

I’m going to write a post about The Great Gatsby because I feel I am falling into irrelevance and infrequency here on my blog and I just want to write something that catches my own eye. I always try and read blogs or the news but it’s as though anything happening anywhere is still less interesting than something happening to me. So instead I read fiction or I sit here puzzled by life or I bury myself in work. That sounds horrible but I am becoming a teacher so that means I cut out coloured paper or plan how to explain something simple.

So the new Gatsby movie was so much better than the last Gatsby movie, which I stopped halfway through. There’s something so bad about a movie following a book so exactly, like someone lost their imagination and then decided to make a movie. Though this movie quotes the book at parts, it strives more to reinvent the mood of the book, which is really what the book is, a mood. I didn’t remember the end scene after the first time I read it; I just remembered how I felt when I read the book. I read it in high school but not for high school and was forever after puzzled about why other high school students had to read it for high school. I couldn’t find the academic merit in it. It was so light; it was so easy. It made me feel so much.

gatsbybook

(photo from youngtopublishing.com)

I had a similar reaction when I read The Sun Also Rises, which I think but am never sure is my favourite book. Somebody wrote this ninety years ago? Somebody became a great American writer for writing this? These books are my twenties though they’re written in the twenties. They are about nothing more than him wanting her and all the seduction, passion, wit, nostalgia and pain that comes with that. They are about alcohol and money and glamour and everything that is misplaced and desirable in your twenties.

It was at some point long after I started writing it that I realized I am writing the book about my twenties. The whole thing seems to lose a little hope when I admit this because I have another six years to go and so then does the book. But I’m doing it whether I want to or not. Being in your twenties is about a certain self-absorption that couldn’t possibly be overcome in a first novel. I can’t write about the thirties until I’ve gotten me out of the way enough. I’m obsessed with me and everything around me and me interacting with it. It’s still sexy, it’s still young. I still want things. It’s why Gatsby is relevant: people have gotten stuck in their twenties.

Think of the good music that’s coming out now. Think of the people who are running big businesses like Twitter and Facebook. Think of who is driving revolutions, good and bad. Think of who are the people who are getting hit in the long run in this financial crisis. It’s us! It’s all about us! At least when we’re involved. To me, it’s all about us. You might have turned thirty.

Gatsby is about wanting love and about losing love and every kind of emotion that comes with that. It gives a mood to that gnawing anxiety we feel. It even makes it fun. This movie was able to sync two generations together: people in their twenties in the twenties and people in their twenties now. A final warning to please read the book first before seeing the movie, for fear you lose some capacity for imagination or maybe just some cachet. Reading is really in right now for people in their twenties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Movies into Novels

In Inspiration, Literary Events, Thoughts on Writing on April 6, 2013 at 12:17 am

I just figured out why I can’t sit through movies, or if I am able to, why I later cannot remember them. It’s because my brain works on novels. And so does yours!!

I am convinced of this because of how people are watching TV these days, i.e. not on a TV. We watch shows on PVRs, Netflix, online streams, illegal downloads and TV box sets. We don’t watch television on television. We’re too efficient. We have too much to do to watch commercials! We’re beginning to realize we like stories in a convenient format. We like to carry them around in our purses. Sort of like books.

I am happiest when I am in a novel, or a long New Yorker article, and I’m just waiting to find out more but I have to do something else with my time like work or sleep or maybe write. I keep the story at the back of my mind. It’s why I like reading more than one book (or New Yorker article) at once: they get to spend time together in my head, making my dreams more creative.

If I watch a movie by myself, I watch it in at least two parts. With Netflix now on my iPad, I watch movies in ten-minute  chunks, filling in the silent transitions of clothes-changes and teeth-brushes. I just figured out why I do it. My brain works on novels. I’m trying to make  movies into novels.

Charles Dickens’ novels came out in serialized format – one chapter a week in the newspaper. Why doesn’t that happen anymore? Wouldn’t newspapers be infinitely more interesting? Wouldn’t writers be infinitely more interesting? Our culture likes to see the ins and outs of the creative process: what if at each week, with the serialized portion of the novel, there was a quick post from the author on what it took to write this chapter this week? What if the audience became privileged to the inner workings of the novel, the way we can on DVD special features and episode commentary?

lost

(photo from digitaltrends.com)

We’re already used to following characters and stories on Twitter and Facebook. We are used to the novel – we’re constantly using the novel format – but we don’t realize it. In fact, we keep talking about how the novel is going out of fashion. People are scared for books now that they’re digital. But what a good thing for the art form that it made it through this digital revolution. What a good thing that it maybe even impacted it.

I would say the nature of the novel, as it first appeared in serialized format, is the inspiration for social media. To engage us as an audience, social media has latched on to our passion for being in the middle of something ongoing, where the characters are developing and interacting and where we learn information through a combination of inferences and exposition. We are consuming novels all over the place without even realizing it. It’s why I’m so excited right now. I fit in! I’m going to work!

I Nailed It!

In Literary Events on March 31, 2013 at 6:58 pm

I just nailed the prologue. I nailed it! It’s right! It’s like I met the man of my dreams, except it’s a prologue. I just swore repeatedly out loud to myself. The dog thought I was talking to him whoops! But I nailed it! I did it! I wrote the real prologue to what might now be a real book! A real book!!!!

In Literary Events on December 20, 2012 at 1:08 am

I got interviewed for this blog post!

the daily creative writer

ReportersNotebook

Asking questions and uncovering stories, one blog at a time.
By Elizabeth Cutright
(Part 1 of a Series)

When you don’t know, ask.

When you’re wondering, pose a question.

And when you feel like you’re stumbling around in the dark, then – by all means – ask someone to turn on the light.
A few weeks back, I contacted some of my favorite bloggers to get their take on what blogging.  I wanted to know what got them started, what keeps them going, and what new and unexpected perks and challenges they’ve encountered along the way.  I’ll be reporting periodically on their responses – they were all so gracious with their time that I’ve got loads of great material – and my hope is that their experiences and wisdom will help you (and me) keep writing, try out new creative endeavors and realize, once and for all, that we are…

View original post 996 more words

Why read about disasters

In Literary Events on December 17, 2012 at 10:10 am

I try not to, but I read about disasters. I listen to the radio and I read the newspapers. We have all heard what happened in Connecticut. Isn’t it enough to be aware that it happened? What could we learn from hearing any more about this horrible incident?

 

People love the news. Thoreau, in the 19th century, observed how people consumed the newspaper: “After a night’s sleep the news is as indispensable as the breakfast. ‘Pray tell me anything new that has happened to a man anywhere on this globe’ “I’ve been trying to stay away from it for the past few days. It’s too hard to listen to.

Then last night I went and watched Titanic. As if enough bad isn’t already going on, I found a hundred-year-old tragedy.

 

 

Why do we watch these things? Why didn’t I shut my eyes as twenty half-filled lifeboats left 1,500 people to die in their lifejackets in the Atlantic Ocean? Why do we tune into the news when we know it’s always the horrors we’re going to find out about?

bp11

 

 

(from http://inapcache.boston.com/universal/site_graphics/blogs

/bigpicture/titanic_040612/bp11.jpg)

 

Thoreau said, “If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter- we never need read of another. One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications?”

 

I know one reason I need to read of all the instances is because I forget. I forget I’m lucky and I forget I need to be careful of what can happen.

I also need to read them because I need to feel it. Something that I think is my human nature tells me that empathy is important.

We want to feel connected to each other, and it’s unfortunate that the only way we can is through the sharing of someone else’s tragedy. We outside get to see the world again through new eyes, eyes that know something they didn’t before. We outside get one step closer to something we know we won’t ever fully understand.

The experience of tragedy is a human emotion, because at one point in all of our lives, we are faced with our own tragic moment. Anything until that moment is practice: empathy for who we will soon need to be. So I feel for you because you are a human, like me, going through the awful things us humans have to go through. The tragic part of it all is that we’re causing most of them.

%d bloggers like this: