Proofreading…

“Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.” ~Author Unknown

cute image via Minta Hall

Renvoyer L’ascenseur…

I decide to move to Paris because of its cafes, its writers, and its cultural life. I discover that none of this exists anymore:  the cafes are full of tourists and photographs of the people who made those places famous. Most of the writers there are more concerned with style than content; they strive to be original, but succeed only in being dull. They are locked in their own little world, and I learn an interesting French expression:  renvoyer l’ascenseur, meaning literally “to send the elevator back,” but used metaphorically to mean “to return a favor.”  In practice, this means that I say nice things about your book, you say nice things about mine, and thus we create a whole new cultural life, a revolution, an apparently new philosophy; we suffer because no one understands us, but then that’s what happened with all the geniuses of the past: being misunderstood by one’s contemporaries is surely just part and parcel of being a great artist.

They “send the elevator back,” and, at first, such writers have some success: people don’t want to run the risk of openly criticizing something they don’t understand, but they soon realize they are being conned and stop believing what the critics say.

The Internet and its simple language are all that it takes to change the world. A parallel world emerges in Paris: new writers struggle to make their words and their souls understood. I join these new writers in cafes that no one has heard of, because neither the writers nor the cafes are as yet famous. I develop my style alone and I learn from a publisher all I need to know about mutual support.

~from The Zahir, A Novel of Obsession by Paulo Coelho

The secret of keeping writing a secret…

….for starters, you don’t fucking tell anyone! Here’s the thing, if you are a writer, you’ll know what I mean, if you are a “commoner” be warned!, we writers have to, positively, absolutely, keep our stories a secret. Sharing your story is not the thing to do as you wait in line to get cashed out, it is not the fun tale we tell on the long drive to Aunt Grammie”s house in God-Knows-Where, Michigan, and it is not the fodder for dinner conversation with co-worker/friends, who, if I quit my job I may never see again. Let me explain.

Last night’s Mad Men episode, brilliant once again, brought this musing/ranting blog post idea into my world this morning, when the character, the young Ken Cosgrove, got his story-writing and publishing revealed during a dinner party. His stupid girlfriend started bragging, of course after she explained how they met, which was when he was at the publishing company that she works for getting rejected. She just felt so sorry for him, she gushes, that she had to go out with him. (cringe, cringe) Whatever. Anyway, she tells the dinner party guests all this, then, then….THEN goes to tell them about his latest short story that’s being published. Mind you (and isn’t this mostly true for all of us?), the dinner party mainly consisted of non-writers, and, dare I speak it, non-readers (I cringe to think it!!) who have no idea what a short story is, especially a sci-fi/ fantasy one that poor Ken had written. After she exposes his brilliant baby, the stunned faces of the guests are enough to make any writer jump from the nearest bridge. Good-bye cruel writing world…was it me, or are most of the people I know idiots?? Main Mad Man, Don, interjects with a not-so-bad comment, we all know he can wondrously save any uncomfortable situation, but otherwise I felt true sympathy for Ken.

I keep all my stories a secret from the civilian populous that I must contend with on a day to day basis or weekends. I guarantee you that most of my family do not even know a shred of one word of even one of my stories, and so do not many of my acquaintances. It just isn’t worth explaining things to anyone when you know that they just won’t get it. Which is why dear Ken from Mad Men kept being an author to himself. He did end up sharing his secret with Peggy, but she is a writer, and a reader, and he shared his pen name and she even looked up one of his published stories and told him she loved it. Great! But before this, he got nailed by one of his bosses, who heard the word (word had spread quickly) that poor Ken, want-a-be writer, was moon-lighting on the side, publishing sci-fi shorts in magazines. Writing here at work should be enough for him, right? Poor Ken tells Peggy, the only one who perhaps would understand, that his fiction writing days are over and done!

Last scene, Ken in bed, his girlfriend asleep next to him, with his notebook on his knees, writing away! Brilliant. Next step, tape the girlfriend’s mouth shut or break up with her!

Do you keep your stories a secret? I do claim to be a writer when I explain what I do to others, but I don’t share a sniff of anything story-wise if anyone asks. Do you do the same? Do you trust people’s opinions if they are not writers? What if they don’t read fiction? What reactions do you get when you share if you do share? I am truly curious…

America’s Next Top Author (and other fantasy programs for book lovers) (via Here’s To Us)

This brilliant tongue-in-cheek article makes me smile and cheer. Enjoy!

America's Next Top Author (and other fantasy programs for book lovers) Think about it: in the realm of American TV, we have reality contest shows for just about everything, whether it’s cooking, modeling, singing, or navigating ridiculous obstacle courses and falling into giant tubs of mud and/or shaving cream. And that’s not even mentioning the realm of non-competitive reality programming à la the Kardashians. Here’s my question–why don’t we have anything for writing? My solution is “America’s Next Top Author.” Cu … Read More

via Here’s To Us

Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel

Those of you may remember my ultimate favorite book is Life of Pi, and for those who are fans of this book there will be disappointment, for Beatrice and Virgil is nothing like the previous Yann Martel lit.  This statement, I must say, is nothing against the great writer, whose delectable ability with words and storytelling stands firmly intact—but more in that, for me, Life of Pi was life enhancing (I won’t say life-changing) and doubt provoking into wonder…it altered my assumptions of survival, religion, and writing, so much so, that Martel of course, could not be expected to achieve this again.

But…since I was told years ago that in a previous life I was a victim of the Holocaust, the end of Beatrice and Virgil scared the shit out of me and produced that knot that’s hard to shake off in the middle of my chest…an emotional rendering. And the retelling of the obscure  Gustav Flaubert story near the beginning of the book made me ill.

Well, that said, I guess you should read it anyway.  Let me know…perhaps my emotional literary habitations altered my diplomacy here.