mamculuna: (mandala from GleefulFreak)
( Aug. 24th, 2006 09:49 am)
Writing and gardening, and a chance to weed?

Right Here )
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( May. 14th, 2006 01:30 pm)
Someone posted an excerpt from an Old English poem (The Wanderer) in [livejournal.com profile] old_english. And that made me start thinking about the next thing I want to write--something set in that time, working around the hints of a story in Wulf and Eadwacer, a poem that seems to be a woman's lament for her exiled lover--maybe.

Here's Wulf and Eadwacer in OE
And here's the translation

I espcially love the last lines:


þæt mon eaþe tosliteð þætte næfre gesomnad wæs,
uncer giedd geador.


One easily slits what never was joined:
our song together.



I know Tolkien pretty much covered the OE territory with the Riders of Rohan, but I love it so much. I think that's what drew me to Tolkien in the first place--I'd just finished a year of OE and Beowulf and was so taken with the language and atmosphere in the poems.

So: does anyone know if this has already been done, exactly (I mean a historical novel set in OE England, drawing on these poems, with a woman as the central figure)? It'll be a while until I get to it, since I'm still a-revising of the Alice story, but I think that's what I'd love next.
mamculuna: (Default)
( May. 6th, 2006 03:37 pm)
I've been thinking about revision (a sure sign that I'm not doing it!) I guess everybody finds revision the hardest part of writing, so sure I'm not alone in these feelings.

I'm convinced revision can make the difference between a fine book and a barely readable one, but I'm not convinced revision can make something worthwhile out of something that...basically sucks. And that's what happens to me. I can hate the first draft and still get it down, telling myself that the revision's going to fix everything up. And I can get lots of very specific and helpful critiques, and plan changes that will deal with the giant plot holes and implausible characters along with the lapses in grammar, memory, spelling, typing, general cluelessness, etc., etc.

And then I start work, and I start getting images of silk purses and sow's ears. It begins to seem that the real problem is not so much any of the ways I've worked things out as it is the whole concept.

And then I reach the stage of not trusting my own judgment, of not being able to tell if the rewrite is better or worse than the original.

Bah! there's got to be a way to keep on revising in spite of all this.

I remind myself about yoga lessons and try to think about writing as a practice, not an acheivement, but you know, eventually I keep wanting readers.

I also recall that the mind never tires of finding reasons not to do hard work, especially when it has boring moments.

However, you'll notice that I'm currently over here doodling around in LJ instead another place in my computer...
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( Aug. 11th, 2005 09:37 pm)
Odd movie: Roddy McDowell's Tam Lin AKA The Ballad of Tam Lin AKA The Devil's Widow

So after working on the Tam Lin story I googled around to see all the various versions, and in addition to Pamela Dean's wonderful first novel, the Fairport Convention song, Jane Yolen's novel, and many others, found this weird movie. Glad I didn't find it before writing, as it's also set in the 60's--but in England and Scotland, so quite different from mine.

It's Roddy McDowell's only directing effort, and one can see why--not great cinema, but at the same time so strange in some ways that I didn't regret the time and money it took. I suspect Ava Gardner (one of my favorite actresses) wished this hadn't been her last leading role--Night of the Iguana was a much more fitting swan song for her--but she was perfect, and the very strange, Timothy Dalton-looking Ian McShane made a great Tam Lin. Some of the dialog is horrendous, some of the shots too hokey to watch, but the whole thing is intriguing, esp. the scenes with Ava, of course, and the shape/shifting ending. And some of the shots really work well, for me, at least. Martin Scorcese liked it enough to revive it--that's something.

McDowell and/or the writers chose to make it all realistically plausible, which works OK for them, but not my choice. Nor is the idea of the Faerie Queen as the Older Woman (Mrs Robinson and then some) what I did, but now I contemplate telling the story from her POV, though after Valente's Ice Puzzle and all the Wicked hoopla, I guess the whole witch-view thing has been pre-empted.
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( May. 6th, 2005 09:13 am)
I have one question but may need two different answers. Mostly, I'm looking for ways to learn to be a better fiction writer, both for myself and for a friend.

My friend is actually a friend of my son--he's a young man with a good journalism degree and job on the west coast, but he's written a couple of science fiction books and really wants an MFA in Creative Writing. He got turned down by Iowa and something similar, and wonders if any of you can recommend good programs that are open to science fiction writers.

I don't need a another degree, thank goodness (have MA in lit and PhD in linguistics and don't ever plan to use them again!), and don't want to move anywhere and go to school full time, but do think I could really, really benefit from instruction and workshops. I have one writing buddy, but we're too much at the same level to be as much help to each other as we need. So I'm looking for courses, workshops, or even low-residency programs. Currently I write mysteries and fantasy, but sometimes other stuff.

Any suggestions will be very welcome! I'll be out of computer range for the next few days, so if you make a suggestion and don't get an immediate response, please know that you are greatly appreciated and will soon be thanked, when I'm once again online.
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( Apr. 28th, 2005 10:27 pm)
If you write or want to, and don't read [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna, you should at least read this:

http://www.livejournal.com/users/yuki_onna/198349.html?style=mine#cutid1
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mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 21st, 2004 09:08 pm)
Good friends out there, this is a request for advice. I know some on my flist are professional writers and teachers of writing, and I don't expect you to give out advice for free online--I know that's your profession! This is directly to others who are more closely in my own situation, but maybe know more than I.

I've written my first novel and had some readers who've encouraged me to try publishing. I'm feeling hestitant about the best way to do that. I've gone to the online sites (Mystery Writers of America, etc.) and I've bought and read Writer's Market and Guide to Publishers and Agents, but still feeling a bit unclear.

I read and hear that you should look for agents, but then others say, nah, go straight to the publisher. I read and hear not to send any chapters, etc., with the query letter unless the agent/publisher says that's the way to start, but others say send a few chapters, it won't hurt. I've started my second novel (these would be a series)--is it better to market one or two?

Anybody know anything about this? (and if anyone out there is in a reading mood... but be warn, this is cozy mystery with regional setting, not fantasy...I'd be most grateful)

ETA: Been forgetting to post my version of this: the reading meme )
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 4th, 2004 10:34 am)
Sorry I've been absent from so many interesting discussions--I went to the beach for a week, most of it alone without a computer. Also without a hurricane! I haven't spent that much time alone in a long time--even when Bill's not here, I'm seeing friends, etc., and spending lots of time writing or online. I rediscovered how wonderful is time on your own.

I can remember a time, right after my first marriage broke up, when I was terrified to spend the night alone--every sound seemed like an imminent attack (of course in those days I slept in a first floor bedroom on a busy street and several times woke to find concrete blocks stacked under my window. Now I sleep on the second floor of secure houses in quieter neighborhoods). And I'd grown up with so many ghost stories at the beach, for a long time even the alarm system didn't help (trusting all you fantasy readers/viewers will understand that).

Now the nights alone mean drifting to sleep with the sounds of crashing waves and whip-poor-wills, and waking to the misty sunrise and the chatter of blackbirds and cardinals. Days alone mean reading all morning, going for long slow kayak rides, wandering the beach, going to art galleries, painting windows, writing backstory for the bad guy, and sitting on the dock with a glass of scotch, watching the tide come in and the sun go down.

Maybe someday I'd get lonely. Not yet. But for some reason I made plans so here I am, back again, and glad to see Bill, chapter five, and all of you.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Sep. 28th, 2004 10:11 am)
You never learn how to write a novel. You just learn how to write the novel that you're on.

--Gene Wolfe, quoted on the [livejournal.com profile] neal_gaiman feed.
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( Aug. 23rd, 2004 11:43 am)
Well, not much. Still not unpacked--that's not just all the stuff I took to Italy in June and Chicago for the rest of the summer, but also all the boxes of stuff I put away to give the sitter some shelf space.

more on my so-called life )
mamculuna: (Default)
( Feb. 29th, 2004 08:56 pm)
I am now at a wonderful and terrible place with my novel.The temptations of a would-be novelist )
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( Jan. 10th, 2004 04:26 pm)
So glad to get back to my yoga class. This morning I moved myself up to the "intermediate" class--that may be a bit of an exaggeration. Some tough-for-me vinyasas, because balance and upper body strength are not my strong suits, but then a lot of hip openers-flexible! That I am. The new studio is warm!!! and beautiful (warm orange walls, painted with Moroccan designs and jewels)!! I am so grateful to have such a great resource. And I met someone who I've seen in class but never sat near in the old class. Turns out we do the same work and have many friends in common, so that was a pleasure. Makes it more sangha-like.

Now I've come home and written fairly diligently for the last couple of hours, and realized that I've done 3 chapters over Christmas. I'm beginning to see the end--it is incredibly exciting to think I'll finish a whole draft of a novel. I've done short stories and poems all my life, but this is a new experience. It basically will never be great, and needs lots of revision, but it does exist.

But so does this empty feeling in my middle--hmm, smoked gouda and pesto? Is that a possible combination? Wonder if that avocado is still in existence.

The last week has really been a lot of stress, so I decided that the dieting would go on hold until the semester gets started. I'm still trying to keep teachers in all the classes, but they keep quitting faster than I can hire. Herding cats? Yes. Underpaid, whiny, brilliant cats.
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The holidays gave me a chance to get back to my novel in a more concentrated way. I did a chapter at a sitting yesterday. I'm feeling very ambivalent about the whole thing. It's a mystery novel with lots of local color, pretty much in the cozy direction, with amateur female detectives, etc. I had two goals when I started--to see if I really could get through a project that size, and to try to write something that might possibly sell. And then I added some other goals about learning to manage plot, multiple points of view, etc. I'm beginning to believe I will finish, and have learned to write more calmly when I know the end is not in sight--I just try to get the next scene done, and write some notes about how that changes where I'm headed. Read more... )
I will finish this one just for the discipline and the knowledge that I can do it, but I wonder if it's a good idea. My yoga teacher quotes a master who says that anytime you practice and don't reach for your personal edge, the most you can do, it's unethical practice. Maybe that's what this book is.
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