Verify that you’re not insane

I got some feedback on my novella, The Observer, yesterday, and it was encouraging to hear that it was not a completely boring, confusing, self-indulgent mess as I sometimes feel it is in my spirals of confidence.

Getting your writing out into the real world in front of real eyes (not those excessively cruel/worshipfully sycophantic ones of your imagination) is quite helpful, and I highly recommend you find a group of trustworthy people to tell you what’s what about your writing.

Thanks writing friends, for all your help!

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Cultural evolution produces hot garbage

Evolution is not a ladder. Even the tree metaphor is flawed because it gives the faulty impression of ‘progress’ upward. Evolution is only change in whatever direction leads to the most reproduction.

Cultural evolution is the idea that our ideas and way of life evolves generation to generation much the way an organism does, based on how easy the ideas/traditions/etc are to imprint on the next generation.

In much the way that you could sit down and design a self replicating organism that is way better at existing than a lot of life on earth, you can also come up with ideas and art that are way better than whatever music/art/entertainment gets passed on and on and on.

If evolution produces junk so often, maybe it’s time we start trying to influence it. Biologically, we can do this by editing our own genes. We are well on the way to doing this already.

But culturally, how do we do it? How can we change what is popular so that it’s something beautiful and meaningful that is gets created, instead of Transformers 8, season 10 of Jersey Shore, or a billion copies of 50 Shades of Gray?

The answer is probably education, as it seems to be with almost every problem in society. Someone who’s read history’s greats, and seen the most elegant art and been taught enough about the world to appreciate its most amazing creations, is going to have a lot less interest in the basic, surface level schlock that floods the market every day.

 

A draft!!

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I sent out my finished draft of The Observer to my writing group! Now, to await their ever useful feedback! It took a lot longer than I imagined to send it out, because every time I thought about doing it I would realize some other thing I wanted to change. I still have more things I want to add/change even now, but at some point, someone just needs to read the damn thing…

I wonder if that is a useful way to self edit… by imagining someone, or various specific people reading your work along with you…

King, Queen, Knave, by Vladimir Nabokov

This fun, funny, and darkly interesting novel is another masterpiece in the seemingly endless line of masterpieces from Nabokov.

This book has made me decide that I will no longer listen to any Nabokov books, and will read them all instead, because I am endlessly wanting to highlight things.

This story is about a woman’s affair with her nephew, Franz, and her husband, Dreyer’s, blissful ignorance of her, the nephew, and anyone’s needs or desires or thoughts other than his own. It’s about the Franz’s, inability to make decisions on his own, and his increasingly autonomous life. It’s about the woman, Martha’s, greed and distaste for her husband that consumers her both literally and metaphorically.

It’s also about the delicious, lyrical, humorous prose that always shines in every Nabokov novel I’ve had the pleasure of perusing.

So excited that I’ve got more Nabokov in my future…

The Great Gatsby. Still not sure if I read it.

Well, now I’ve finished it, but I still feel like I haven’t. I had a terrible time trying to pay attention to this one, but I think that was mostly the fault of the narrator. Jake Gyllenhaal (in a trend of having famous actors read classics) gives a dull, monotone reading that would put you to sleep if not for the constant, piercing s-whistles sprinkled throughout.

I already feel I’ll have to give this one yet another try, but next time I’ll be sure to do it in text form.

The parts that I could stay alert for were good, but anything can be boring when read in a tired, simple tone. It reminded me of a ninth grader being forced to read in front of their class, something they have no concept of or interest in understanding. Just words on a page, with no change in pace or rhythm, even when moving from describing a sunset to describing a deadly car crash.

The words will slide right off your brain into oblivion.

 

What to ask…

I’m writing a list of questions to ask people who read my novella… and it is making me think a bit more about what I was actually trying to achieve by writing the thing…

Maybe I should have thought about this before writing it, but that’s just not how I do things!

The Observer second draft is finished!

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I have finished a first pass through of my novella, and fixed all the problems I had highlighted! Now to read it again and find a whole new slew of them (I’ve already found a few, sigh.)

I know it will never be ‘done.’ It will only ever be ‘good enough.’

But it is still frustrating noticing new problems. Why couldn’t I have noticed them before? Or while I was writing the damn thing?

But I guess that’s just not how it works.

The next step is to make a nicely readable word doc and get it out to my writing group to get some feedback! Also, I made a cover for fun (that’s it above) 🙂

Looking forward to sending this out somewhere, sometime this year!