Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Impossible Dream? Yes!


The movie August Rush was just on TV. As usual with movies on TV, I missed a huge chunk at the beginning.

I tuned at the point where a committee is informing August that his musical work is going to be performed. And I heard the following exchange [as well as I can remember it]:

How many people will hear it? Hundreds?

No…thousands.

Good. Because I need for lots of people to hear it.

Isn't this is what creativity is all about? Sharing our work with an audience.

We self-deprecatingly say that we don't care whether anyone reads our work (or hears our music, or whatever.) Some of us say this, anyway. I can't honestly say it.

It's not true. It shouldn't be true.

If it is true, we aren't making art, or attempting to make art. We're engaged in a narcissistic exercise, or a hobby. Or we're overcome by fear. The fear of looking like a fool.

And because it isn't a narcissistic exercise—and because we don't want to look like a fool—we work and work to make it as good as we can possibly make it. For our own satisfaction, yes. But for the sake of the work itself. Because it's not worth doing if it's not worth doing well. Because we want to enrich people's lives and challenge their thinking with our art.

The impossible dream? Yes.

Tilting at windmills? That's the insanity of art.

Isn't this what movies—and novels—are all about? (The good ones, anyway.) Reaching for the moon, grasping at your dream. And maybe even catching it.

Speaking of the impossible dream, here's a post from the query-letter trenches, On Hope. This post is from Natalie Whipple (and I found it via NathanBransford's blog).

By the way, I don't know how many of you look at labels. Those categories that Blosgspot lets us create for our posts. Well, as you see, I tagged this post Writer's Diary and Writing Life (yawn) and also Love. Because we love our audience and we love our work (on good days) and we love our characters even when nobody else does. And this is why we do it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Settling in--Revision


Since the beginning of this month, I've been revising systematically, starting at page one of my m.s. And so far I've done a pretty decent revision of 50 pages. At this rate, I hope to have completed a satisfactory first revision by the end of the year.

I hate to tell you all this, because next week I might hit a road block. OK, writer's block. Except that I really don't believe in writer's block. (I might explain in a later post.)

So what was I doing before, you ask? Agonizing about the fact that I wasn't producing any visible revision work, other than a few new chapters.

There are reasons for this apparent inertia. I was getting settled into my new environments. (I've moved three times since coming to Egypt in November.) And I was getting some distance from my m.s.. And my subconscious mind was sifting through the whole m.s. in a miraculous way.

So that now I'm able to be objective about things. See where the order of elements (chapters, paragraphs, etc.) needs to be changed. See what needs to be eliminated. Most amazing of all, I'm seeing gaps. More precisely, I'm seeing the new material that needs to fill the gaps.

OK. So I can't promise to put up regular blog posts.

Because this creative process takes vast amounts of focus and mental energy. As does blogging. And one of the two has to get priority.

Does anyone out there have experience revising any work of art? Any pearls of wisdom?

By  the way, here's a little something from the Barnes & Noble (online) Review.  Effortless-seeming thumbnail sketches of prizewinning books. 44 Bookers in 25 Words (Each) - The Barnes & Noble Review

Friday, October 14, 2011

Settling in--Ramla


OK. There's a reason why I haven't posted lately. Two reasons, actually.

First, I've moved to beautiful Ramla. Which is only about a 5-minute drive away from Medinet Habu. But that's a 5-minute taxi ride which I won't have to hassle with.
Now, when I want to go across to Luxor, I can walk to the ferry in about 7 minutes. Or I can pick up a motorboat taxi after about a 3-minute walk.

I'll miss living among fields and farm animals. (Although my dog won't. She had a terrible infestation of ticks last month. I know, too much information!)

And I'll miss living in the neighborhood of the Pharaohs. The vast Malqata palace site is near Medinet Habu. And all the west bank temples are just down the road. Not to mention stunning Habu temple around the corner.

And I'll miss seeing the mountain out of my bedroom window, in all its moods of light and shadow. The mountain of the dead people. The tombs of the Valley of the Kings and Queens, and other tombs, are carved out of this mountain.

The morning before I left Habu, I received a nice-going away present. The mountain was shrouded in mist. Not a frequent occurrence, these days. In five months living at Habu, I had never seen any mist. Not in the morning, anyway. The horizon is often a little misty in the evenings.

But in ancient times, during the inundation, the mist must have been a usual sight. It was quite something for me, to see the fiery dawn color of the mountain through a thick white veil.

Back to important matters. My dog loves the back yard here in Ramla. She sits on the scraggly grass and surveys her domain.

The yard has lots of shade, including some very clever shrubs with hot-pink flowers that close during the heat of the day and open in the evening. And in the front yard there are a couple of hibiscus bushes with flame-colored flowers.

In case you're wondering, my apartment isn't right next to the Nile. And, being a ground-floor apartment, it doesn't have a Nile view. But that's OK. I'm close enough to the river. I know it's there, just around the corner.

And reason number two─the second reason for not blogging for a little while─will have to wait for my next post….

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

To blog or not to blog?

Nathan Bransford just put up a post about blog-fatigue.
Looks like yours truly is a victim--I haven't posted in a while.
I would be less fatigued if you would comment sometimes!
(And, in case you're having trouble with posting comments, I've added a couple of pointers in the comment window. Hope these might help you solve your problems--with comments, not with anything else!)

My friend hawkeye63 isn't blog fatigued. He's started a wonderful Egypt blog. The current post is a heartwarming little tale of Egyptian hospitality.

And here's a link I've been meaning to share for a while. Not just for parents. This little gem with illustrations is for all writers. The bratty little kid is our nightmare--the kind of writer we don't want to be! Here it is: Pirate Story.

By the way, does anyone know a quick & easy way to get Blogger links to show up in the format you want (color, etc.)? I've revisited the links on this post several times, & still can't get it consistent. So I'm leaving it as is. Of course, if I got a little more sleep, that might help too.