I’ve been reading D. E. Stevenson thanks to all the recommendations here. She’s one of the gentlest writers I’ve ever come across. She just puts these interesting people on the page and lets them sort of wander around until they find the end. Normally, I’d be all “Get focused, woman” on her, but the books are just fine the way they are. Like pudding. Lovely.
Welp, there goes May and I still haven’t finished Nita. I’m beginning to think there may be a problem here. I have cooked a lot and I finally got the fridge into the kitchen (long story) and the garbage out to the curb and Mona half trimmed (short on top, long underneath, she looks like a llama), so progress is being made, but . . .
I was thinking the other day, “I’d like some Chop Suey like Mom used to make. Except, you know, good.” Jo did not shine in the kitchen. Her recipes are not recipes anybody would greet with delight. Although in my family’s defense, my cousin Russ who used to be the food editor at the LA Times, says one of the paper’s most requested recipes was Grandma Smith’s cranberry sauce, which always boggles my mind because my memories of Grandma Smith are of her eating raw hamburger and missing part of her thumb which had come off in a basement door incident.
I was curled up in bed reading with dogs snoozing next to me and was suddenly struck with the most immense feeling of contentment. Not joy or glee or passion or excitement, just the sense that where I am right now is exactly where I’m supposed to be, that the whole “bloom where you are planted” bit is backwards and what I’ve been doing my whole life is planting myself in different places, making different connections, trying to find a place to bloom, and then suddenly, after decades of re-potting and transplanting, I’ve taken root here in the quiet middle of nowhere and now there are buds all over the damn place.
What I’m saying is, I’m happy. No reason. Just happy. So I’m wallowing in my contentment.
Today is Wear the Lilac Day and also Towel Day in honor of two of the greatest writers of our time, Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, who gave us Discworld and the Hitchhiker’s Guide and many other wonderful worlds. It’s a time to remember things worth fighting for (“Reasonably priced love!”) and not to panic. It’s also Cherry Saturday, but that happens every week; the Lilac/Towel Day is special.
Every year when I write this post, my heart clutches a little at what we’ve lost with their deaths, but as Pratchett once wrote, “Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?” Their names are still spoken, their books are still cherished, and today is the day to remember them and read.
I read a new book this week, but it did not enthrall, so I went back to some old stuff, more Michael Gilbert and Wodehouse’s Leave It To Psmith because sometimes you just need farce. I kept getting visual migraines, which are not headaches but these weird zigzag patterns in my vision, and that made it hard to read, too. I know: audio books. But I hate being read to. Still Psmith was a great comfort to everyone except Baxter, who deserves whatever he gets, including a flower pot to the head.
“I read a recent article from Scientific American . . . with a thesis . . . that the series broke its implicit promise to viewers because when it reached the end of the author’s previously published material, the new showrunners switched from Martin’s more sociological approach to plotting and character development to one that is common to most film and tv writing these days, with a purely psychological perspective. So… individuals moving through their conflicts with others, in place of individuals within a social framework adapting to others and finding their place in a complex social world.”
Criticism and analysis can be thought-provoking and insightful, but it’s rarely good writing advice. It’s not meant to be writing advice, it’s not craft, it’s theory. So while Tufekci’s analysis is interesting, it’s not a practical application for writers (which was not her intention, so not a flaw in her work). The essay reminded me of my PhD course work (no I never finished the dissertation) when I did a ton of literary criticism, then started to write novels, then did my general exams. One of my profs said, “Your criticism really changed once you started to write fiction.” Well, yeah. After publishing, I was on the inside looking out instead of on the outside looking in. Big difference.
Writing process! I’d like to go over the writing process. I realize this is tackled a lot and by varying degrees from many different people, but I still haven’t found my sweet spot. Pantser vs. Plotter, some variation thereof? I’d love to hear about the process of taking an idea to a full-on novel. Maybe using one of your past books as a guide from conception to finished product?
Uh, that would be a book length answer. The short version: