Grace’s Bad Date: A Fiction

Last week, Jennifer Weiner asked me how I’d tell the story of “Grace,” the twenty-two-year-old who went on the date from Hell with Aziz Ansari.   I really did try, but the more I tried, the more confused I got.  

The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.   We tell each other stories about something that happened so that we can impose order on the event. That’s why the same event told by two different people can become two entirely different stories: the event was shaped by two different points of view.  I should make it clear that I believe “Grace” was telling the truth in the way she related the events, and I believe Ansari’s apology and his explanation that he saw the events differently.   I understand that real life comes at us fast and it’s hard to think straight under pressure; there have been any number of times when I’ve looked back at something and thought, Why didn’t I do something about that?   Even so, I can’t take the events as listed and make them into a coherent narrative.   Continue reading

Asshat as Signifier

Two things converged in my brain today: I’m reworking Act One of Nita and remembered that somebody here objected to the word “asshat” which is used repeatedly throughout the book, and I found this AV video on the etymology of the word.

BUT it put some people off.  So I should just cut it.  But I need a signifier for Nita, something that’s as sharp and as out of bounds as she is without being off-putting, and I like “asshat” for that because it: Continue reading

An Art-Full February

I tripped over Lee Thomson’s Dancing Crow Postcard-A-Day project in 2008, and loved both the postcards and the idea.  I really loved the idea of making daily art, something I’ve let drop from my life (my first degree was in art, my first jobs were as an art teacher, now it’s all about the words), but I didn’t have the discipline, so I just enjoyed Lee’s work.  I still don’t have the discipline to do one project every day for a year, but Lee has a new, easier idea: Make a Thing a Day for February, 2018.  Here’s her comment: Continue reading

Structure and Nita’s First Act

This is another wonky post about structure, so you have been warned.

I’m obsessed with structure.  Structure has a huge impact on meaning in a story the way that structure has a huge impact on meaning in a sentence.  So when I went back to Nita’s Act One, currently logging in at an unsustainable 37, 236 words, it was time to analyze the structure.  In the beginning, I look for two things: word count of scenes and scene sequences (scenes that grouped together form a narrative unit of their own).  If I’ve planned my scene sequences right, a one sentence description of what happens in each should tell the story of that act.   I do structure analysis in Curio because it’s the easiest way to diagram out and color code a scene.  So let’s start with the Curio doc of Nita’s First Act:

Continue reading

The Minimalist Office

Over the years I’ve posted pictures of my office, usually to the horror and amusement of everyone, especially Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Noted Neat Freak, who always replies by posting pictures of her lavish office which is professional and spotless.  If you haven’t see the pictures ( 2005 here, 2007 here, 2016 here) my office always looks like Staples threw up in it.  But my entire cottage has now reached critical mass, so I’m rethinking everything, including whether I even need an office (“Why do we even HAVE this lever?”). 

I’ve decided I don’t. Continue reading