Latest Time Saving Measure

March 28, 2016 § Leave a comment

Is knitting while watching television, which has always doubled as dinnertime with the Spousal Unit. Now it’s triply efficient! I might even have my Backbay sweater in a few more months at this rate. Next in my queue is the Mother of Pearl sweater for Bean, whose birthday is conveniently enough in the fall.

In theory I have always liked the French People As Depicted In Lifestyle Books approach to savoring life and food (usually as a metaphor for life), but 1) it presupposes a level of contentment that I will never achieve, regardless of finances or responsibility levels, and 2) actively partaking in leisure requires actual effort, plus it’s an art unto itself, one I have not perfected. And 3) my superpower is that I can turn anything into work, as you see here. XD

Sensaplace

March 23, 2016 § Leave a comment

Spousal Unit was recently in Venice for work. When he came back he said that he couldn’t figure out how a place built like Venice could possibly exist. I said, it’s no wonder Italo Calvino wrote Invisible Cities; Venice almost seems to demand it, and he happened to be the person who could do the job.

(I had requested a copy of Le città invisibili as a souvenir of his trip, but alas, it was not doable. I hope that just means I’ll get to pick out my own copy on an Italy trip in the distant future: Rome, Florence, and Venice. Spousal Unit’s contribution to this discussion: “Yeah, you need to visit Northern Italy–it’s all the parts of the Frick you liked, only everywhere and all the time.”)

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I’m taking a break from SFF reading and scanning my bookshelves for something else. It will likely be “period” literature–perhaps something Italian or Japanese. Something that lovingly renders silken embroidery, gilt wood, etc.

Jeanne talked about books, mostly urban fantasy ones, having or lacking “sensaplace”, a favorite feature of mine in stories. An urban fantasy story, to me, is a love song to cities, and they must have foundations in solid bedrock as well as scrape the sky. That’s why I don’t seek out a lot of contemporary literature. They assume their default is the reader’s default and so the resulting book feels ungrounded. I am uncomfortable, physically, reading a book that I can’t visualize. One gets motion sickness when the inner and outer perceptions of movement clash; it’s the same feeling but with text on a page. This also applies to SFF. I had an incredibly hard time getting through Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand because it was impossible for me to envision.

There’s a trick to minimizing the amount of set-dressing for maximum sensaplace–the semiotics of ballet made me think of this the other day as I was dreamily perusing rehearsal pictures. A hairnet on the ballerina means Romeo and Juliet. Frenchiness means Sleeping Beauty. (Coppélia and Giselle can be hard to tell apart in the beginning! Peasant bodices everywhere. But of course they diverge wildly after Act I or so.) Mental macros, if you’ve got them installed.

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Then again, I’m writing a historical fantasy set in fake-Florence, so maybe I should be reading history books instead. Haha.

New Story! “A Study in Bronze”

March 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

“A Study in Bronze”, my retelling of Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle style) combined with a fairytale that I shall not name because spoilers, is now live on Mirror Dance!

If you read it, thank you ♥ and please do check out the other pieces in the Spring 2015 issue!

Marble

February 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

There’s that famous quote from Michelangelo to the effect of he simply looks at a block of marble, sees what doesn’t belong, and chips it away.

For a long time I thought that was fluffy inspirational nonsense. And besides, he was a genius. I’m just an ordinary person, it has nothing to do with me.

But actually, that just meant I didn’t understand how much hard work it took to get to that point.

The revelation came with I had a particularly fiendish time with a current work-in-progress. (This statement should not be taken to mean that it’s complete by any means; I’m still struggling with it, twentymumble revisions on) Its central premise was the kind that could go off in a thousand directions, and that was one of my problems. It did. I wrote a very scattered story, and although my reviewers said they liked it, they had no idea what was really going on.

I may have writhed around on my couch for a while. But mostly I revised endlessly. And one day I reached a strange zenlike state where I suddenly was able to freely cut this line, delete that whole paragraph, ruthlessly prune a meaningful conversation.

It was because, as Chekhov had it, “everything suddenly became clear” to me and I knew exactly what the story needed. Previously the story had been bloated, confused, tangled, because I didn’t know what to salvage and so I hoarded every single possibility of the story. But once I knew what it was–once I was secure–then I saw. Once the story crystallized, I saw everything that was separate, unneeded. Those were good words–marble is valuable!–but they weren’t needed. Not here.

(This doesn’t apply just to fiction, either. I write non-fiction of all sorts in my 9-5 existence, and it’s the same satisfying deal to see a flabby brochure suddenly become sleek and punchy when I finally realize what the point of the whole endeavor is.)

I’m still not finished, not by a long shot. But I’m no longer blindly hacking, and that’s enough for now.