Admitting defeat

Well… I must embarrassingly resign myself as uncultured, and impatient. Swan’s Way by Marcel Proust is just too boring for me to continue.

I think I am missing something, because I don’t understand the draw. It’s not that I can’t handle writing without a narrative, since I loved The Peregrine… but, the lack of narrative in Swan’s Way is not made up with exceedingly beautiful writing… or, not beautiful enough for me anyway. There is just nothing to bring me back to it, or hold my attention once I grudgingly start again.

I think, it is likely something that needs to have attention given to it. But I don’t want to have to give attention. I want my attention taken, and held hostage!

Maybe I’ll try it again when I’m older…

A different brain

I was out at a karaoke bar recently and someone sang ‘What It’s Like’ by Everlast. This somewhat cheesy, quintessentially 90’s song came out when I was a teen, and I’ve always known all the words but somehow I’ve never really heard them before. Or maybe it’s that, being older and having a bit of experience in the world, I can identify with them in a way a 16 year old cant. Because, hearing them sung, off key and in a cracked voice by a tipsy stranger, was somehow as if actually listening to the words for the first time, and I almost wanted to cry.

What could have changed in my brain to cause this song I’ve heard a thousand times before and never really thought about, to suddenly have an emotional effect on me?

Brains… are strange…

Words to Control + F

When in the process of splashing out words for a new story, we all find ourselves writing words we don’t need, repeating words, and being hacks in general. I’ve composed a list of these ‘filler’ words that I’ve found most often in my own work. Search for, and delete!

Very: Delete any that aren’t in dialogue.

Almost: Delete unless it is specifically necessary for a thing to almost be, instead of just being.

Nearly: same as above

Really: Delete if it’s being used as an adverb, unless in dialogue.

Still: When used to show something is continuing, you can delete it 90% of the time. To show something is motionless, often you can use a better word. (I bet you’ve used ‘still’ a dozen times for that already.)

Toward: Can almost always be changed to ‘at’ or ‘to’ or be removed.

Turn: My characters are constantly turning this way and that (even turning toward things!) and most of it is unnecessary.

Feel/felt: Jane felt the water lapping gently at her feet. versus The water lapped gently at Jane’s feet. The only reason to say feel/felt is if the character wasn’t feeling it before and now is, otherwise it is sort of taken for granted that they can feel it…

Watch/see/saw: Same as above. Unless there is a real need to make it clear that the something is visible to your character, it is kind of assumed that the viewpoint character can see what you are describing. Jane saw and heard the waves splashing, and felt them lap her toes. Seems silly now, right?

 

I miss Thinking

In my late teens I used to go sit in all night cafe’s by myself and think for hours on end. I imagined ways in which the world could work, other universes, strange consciousness, other creatures, alien landscapes–all without a smartphone or even a book. Just free refills of coffee and my imagination.

I miss that kind of driven mind-wandering. It wasn’t idle thoughts while waiting for time to pass–I went there specifically to sit and do some hard thinking. That was often my plan for the evening…

I only wish I’d written some of those thoughts down. At the time they seemed unimportant, or things that anyone could be thinking.

But I don’t believe many people think very hard about anything anymore.

I hope thinking isn’t a lost art. Perhaps I just need to meet more thinkers…

Proust: Rambling thoughts, or more?

I’ve started listening to my first Proust, and it’s not very engaging. It is interesting though. Mainly I’m thinking “this guy is just going on about inane memories that can have no importance to anyone other than himself, and yet this is a classic.”

I think that goes to show that you really can write about anything, even thousands and thousands of words about the feeling of drinking a cup of tea, and it will be good if you fill it with passion.

I am early in the book, so maybe it pulls together and connects in some overarching way, or to tell some story. But so far it seems very self-indulgent and meandering. I’m still listening, though….

365 posts

With this post I have gone 1 full year in a row of posting every day.

views

And that, is the result.

I’ve had almost double the number of views this year than I had on my last highest year. And I’ve had more LIKES than I had views last year.

And… I don’t see a reason to stop! Though, I admit after passing the one year mark I don’t feel as much pressure to keep it up, but in reality it hasn’t been that difficult at all… so why not?

I’ve also read more books this year than any in recent history, and written more too… probably, though I haven’t kept close track of that.

All in all, a good year for the written and read word!

Thanks to all who read my words, and I hope to read more of yours, too!

Language is a tool not a box

After much recommendation, I am reading a book that on the surface is about a subject (American History) that holds mostly no interest for me. But boy is it good and weird and written in a strange way.

Would you read a novel made of citations? That’s what this seems to be… a large portion of it anyway. Also, the point of view changes every paragraph almost. And each paragraph (each POV, that is) is written in a different style. Some of them with no punctuation, misspellings, or odd capitalization, and each one signing off with their name at the end.

Example of citations:

The rich notes of the Marine Band in the apartments below came to the sick-room in soft, subdued murmurs, like the wild, faint sobbing of far-off spirits.

-Keckley, op. cit.

Willie lay in the “Prince of Wales” bedroom with its dark purple wall hangings and golden tassels.

-Epstein, op. cit.

The cheeks of his handsome round face were inflamed with fever. His feet moved restlessly beneath the maroon coverlet.

-In “History Close at Hand,” edited by Renard Kent, account of Mrs. Kate O’Brien.

Example of POV changes:

The lad, overawed, followed close behind us, looking this way and that.

-hans vollman

Well now I will give you A part of, or all of, if you like it, a Song my dear husband used to sing. Cauld it Adam and Eaves wedding Song. This Song was Sung by him at my sister’s wedding. He was much in the habit of making Songs and Singing of them and— Oh no, I won’t go no closer. Good day to you, sirs.

-mrs. elizabeth crawford

We had reached the edge of an uninhabited wilderness of some several hundred yards that ended in the dreaded iron fence.

-hans vollman

And the entire novel, so far, is written this way.

‘You can’t do that!’ shouts the English teacher. Well, the point of writing is to convey ideas, and this does that well, in its own way. If it works, it is allowed!

Why should we treat language like a fence around us? Uproot that fence and use its posts to carve your message into the ground!

Language is for using, not for obeying…