The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, and A Lament, by Me.

February 8, 2012 § 3 Comments

When I read something of Catherynne M. Valente’s (which I’ve tried to do as often as possible since dying a thousand glorious times over Deathless), I experience two overwhelming reactions.

One: I revel.

Her sentence-level writing, plot development, characters, narrative voice, etc. all thrill me—not only because she’s very good at all of them, but also because she takes every opportunity to surprise and delight and to reach into collective memory and yank on something meaningful while doing it. Valente holds no punches–her character meets her own Death, and sings it a lullabye!–and I worship her for it.

Two: I despair.

There is nothing left to write. Catherynne M. Valente has written all the words–her character meets her own Death, and sings it a lullabye, you guys.

Seriously, why try to write in a wry, self-aware narrative voice (which I spent much of my MFA trying to do, not always successfully)? Catherynne M. Valente does it with more aplomb.

Why even attempt to write knowledgeable folklore retellings? Catherynne M. Valente has, or is in all likelihood about to; I mean, the woman is prolific. Anything I might be thinking of writing right now, she has probably already written, or has in her head to write, oh, sometime this afternoon. Just look at the woman’s list of publications, all within the last seven years.

No really, click on the link. I’ll wait. « Read the rest of this entry »

The 13th Post: Stephen King’s On Writing, and an Excuse for Genres Everywhere

January 11, 2012 § 6 Comments

A milestone in the young life of my blog is reached: the 13th post. Superstition tells me not to make it a long or arduous one, because as soon as I have it all written, wordpress will find a way to destroy it. That, or turn it into some kind of hidden, haunted gem, findable only by the most specific and evil search terms.

What better to write about in a 13th post than Stephen King?

I’ve just finished the Master of the Macabre’s On Writing, which I got as a Christmas gift from my parents. It was a fitting gift–before traveling up to Maine to visit said parents for the holiday, I had been reading King’s Bag of Bones. The goal was to finish it before the miniseries premiered so I could write here on the blog about the adaptation (you know  just love picking apart adaptations) But the miniseries came and went (to little acclaim, I hear), and I resolved to save the book instead for December, and to start a tradition of reading a Stephen King novel every Christmas.

Here’s why: my parents live on an unassuming street in Bangor, Maine. If you walk out their front door, you’ll see a neat little park where two roads come together in a triangle. You’re walking your dog, say. The dog pulls you across your parents’ street into that little park to do her business. From there, at the meeting point of those two intersecting roads, you can look up one block and see a gas station, a row of plain but cozy 19th century houses (one of which is where my parents live), and a florist’s shop. It’s a pretty busy street. If you look up the other road, though, which is a tad more stately, you’ll see at its end a huge red Victorian with white-painted trim and a black iron gate.

Yep, just  an odd triangular block away from my parents’ front door is where Stephen and Tabitha King live. « Read the rest of this entry »

NaNoWriMo and Related Exercises in Wheel-Spinning

November 5, 2011 § 1 Comment

If you are reading this blog, the likelihood that you are already aware of what NaNoWriMo is is quite high.

On the off-chance that you aren’t, here’s what this strange acronym stands for:

National No-Good (Times Trying to) Write (Anything Halfway Decent) Month.

No, no, OK, it’s really National Novel Writing Month, and it’s a real deal. It has a website and urvythang. And I’m doing it for the first time this year. A NaNo-Novice! Or at least I am signed up on said website, and have a decent (though far from formidable) word count going already.

NaNoWriMo writers have one goal: to write 50,000 words in one month. This means that you have to aim (aim, I said), for 2,000 words a day and hope that what comes out has the makings of a novel (or memoir or short story collection or what-have-you), which you then edit like the dickens because your fast typing and no time for deleting has left it almost illegible. The point is not to create perfectly crafted prose, each word le mot juste. No, the point is just to get out of your rut (because you’re in one, and you know it) and GET SHIT ON THE PAGE.

Everyone picks a project, and then on November 1st, if you’re a good little NaNo-er, you go! Go! Yes, now! Write! PUT THE WORDS DOWN! Don’t stop and think, just DO IT!

As you may know, I’ve just finished my MFA, which I earned by churning out nine stories that weren’t deemed total bull by my committee. But there was one among the several that I deemed total bull and didn’t allow to see the light of the copy machine which has been nagging at me, mostly because I loved the spooky weird beginning, but didn’t know where it could possibly go.

So rather than, say, using NaNoWriMo to write a brilliant YA coming-of-age novel in which girls turn into cat-wolf-things, which would have been easier (I said easier, not easy) because I’ve had it outlined since I was 18 ( when I didn’t yet realize that said material was YA: younger me just thought it was brilliant), I’ve gone off my rocker and decided to turn the atmospheric, spooky short story that has a beginning but no clear direction…into a novel. I figured, if I couldn’t turn it into a short story before the thesis had to be turned in, I might as well go for broke, throw as much shit at it as possible, like a determined, literary monkey, and see if anything sticks and somehow turns my 3,000 words into 53,000.

Urgh. « Read the rest of this entry »

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with writer’s block at Something to Read for the Train.