Monday, April 30, 2012

The "Snake Fight" Portion of Your Thesis Defense

For those of you about to defend your theses: a little guidance from the folks at McSweeney's.

Job Description: Full-Time Fiction Writer

1)   The majority of your duties are outlined in your title: You are a writer of fiction. As such, you will write some fiction each (work)day, producing significant chunks of new material each week. Your fiction may manifest in the form of novels, novellas, short stories, flash fiction, or even prose poems; any length is acceptable as long as it’s fiction.
2)   Every bit of fiction you write will need revision, most likely in-depth. Revise as the project demands.
3)   Every week, you will read at least one book; these books need not be entirely fiction. Poetry, nonfiction, and plays can supplement your fiction reading and increase the capacity of your fiction-writing brain. Reading fiction is like running; poetry and nonfiction are the stretches you do before and after.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday at the Movies

Ian and I love going to the movies. It's one of the few perks of where we live: the movies are cheap and we get free popcorn with purchase of a drink because of Ian's alumni card. We love our lagniappes.

Last week, when we were in Ireland and getting a little sick of all the tourism, we popped in and saw The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! or The Pirates! Band of Misfits as it's called here. That cost a little more, obviously, but we got our movie fix and saw a British film before its release in the States (or at least its release here, which might not be the same thing). This week, I want to see The Five-Year Engagement. Now all I have to do is convince Ian. Maybe with this:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Six Tips on Writing from John Steinbeck

  1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
  2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.


Yesterday was my first day back in the States after a two-week vacation in Ireland with my husband. We rented a car and drove around the island, starting in Dublin and working our way back there, clockwise. My husband became an expert in roundabouts and driving on the left, we saw about two thousand castles, and we drank our weight in Guinness and Smithwicks. Also, as is my habit, we poked around a couple of bookstores and brought home a few of my favorite types of souvenirs: books.

I was pretty proud of myself for my literary haul. I found story collections by Edna O'Brien and Colm Toibin, plus a novel translated from Irish by Padraic O'Conaire and an illustrated book of Irish legends. Then, in Donegal (pronounced something like Don nay GALL--not DON uh gull), my husband and I stepped into a little pub, and my opinion changed.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Breakfast at Tiffany's

I have a confession to make. I've probably seen the film version of Breakfast at Tiffany's fifty times; I've never read the book. Of Truman Capote's small oeuvre I've only read In Cold Blood, which I would recommend to anyone who isn't too squeamish. But Breakfast at Tiffany's--I believe I once picked it up in the bookstore, read the first page, checked the price, and put it back down again.