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the wip :: work in progress
Saturday, August 02, 2003
Interviews with Canadian authors:

Margaret Laurence or here
Leslie McFarlane
Mordecai Richler or here
Carol Shields

Posted 6:23:50 PM:: home

___________ Thursday, July 31, 2003
Some Writing Resources

BBC's Books page, more specifically How to Write
BBC's Essential Poems

Posted 8:30:03 AM:: home

Interesting French language corpus.

Posted 8:02:54 AM:: home

___________ Saturday, July 12, 2003
1. A highly personal farrago of stress and tension clutter the mind, leaving little space for sanity or words.

2. I am a farrago.

Posted 8:23:17 AM:: home

___________ Friday, June 20, 2003
Draft for pin city

In an hour or so, she'll be heading out to join the rest of the world in their anticipatory New Year's Eve revelries and all she can think is that it's already happened. The moment has already come and gone, over and over, around most of the rest of the world. So what'ss the big deal, this frenetic rush towards another year, this marking of calendars, turning of pages, and massive morning afters? Time just happens. It moves forward in a relentless, fleeting, elusive manner, both celebrated and regretted, nary a change in course or purpose, assuming it has a course, or even a purpose. She suspects we create the course because we need to feel a purpose, or vice versa. A farrago of emotion, now that's the sort of thinking that happens after watching Wim Wenders' Far Away, So Close.

Time, far away, yet so close.

She stopped wearing a watch when she quit her high pressure, respectable office job about three years ago; yes, a symbolic gesture, but also, she tends to lose or misplace wrist watches. And really doesn't need them, not with her freaky ability to accurately guess the time by watching the sky and looking for the changes in light. Especially now that she's had a few health scares, the kind that make you face the clock and say, okay, one day, it will stop; her personal clock will just stop.

Yet she looks at the beautiful grandfather clock to confirm: This private, quiet hour of hers is slipping away too quickly...

Last night she went through boxes of documents trying to find transcripts from highschool and university, and discovered her old certificates, report cards and awards going right back to kindergarten. Looking through them, she realized that she'd become addicted to achievement, blindly focused, for the simple sake of achieving. She also came across old love letters, emails and mementos, birthday cards, postcards, photographs, so many pieces of paper, dated, signed, stamped, marking her official progress through life. Her time, by most people's standards would be considered "well spent". Her time, by her standards, has been wasted on blind focus and the pursuit of excellence for the sake of excellence, and not for the sake of self-discovery. This, she has chosen to change. For the last three years she has refused to succumb to the tried and true professional choices, which, in her opinion, don't work, not in this modern economy that is sorely ruled by dumb luck. Instead, she has spent more time reading, fretting, recovering and messing around with writing, drawing, thinking, and she has chosen to work the absolute minimum required to pay rent so that she can have all that mysterious and free time to consider where she's going and what she's doing. According to social standards, she's been wasting her time, and yet, and yet ... She smiles.

Small bits of wisdom make her smile. They make her hair turn prematurely gray. What she has learned is that our priorities with respect to time are fucked up beyond belief. Why do we race the clock, sleep less than 6 hours a night, put in 80 hour weeks, become strangers to family and friends, and spend untold amounts of dollars to look young? Why haven't we learned that time just goes on, that racing against it means you will be the stressed out plastic surgery-ed loser asking for a heartattack? And for what? Extra money? Recognition? Achievement? Why do we respect and admire someone who can multitask without frying their brain and get bloody impatient if someone is slow, perhaps even haphazard in his/her methods? Why is the idea of slowing down and watching the clouds drift considered lazy and unproductive?

For every time she sees someone unhurriedly appreciating the moment while others rush off to catch the metro/subway/bus to go to work and be "productive", running to punch the clock, caught up in thoughts of bills and desires to acquire, she thinks of him lying on his back watching the sky centuries ago, this scientific observer who provided us with the basics of metereological study, or that famous painter who understood how to translate what he saw into paper and pigment.

Posted 4:17:13 PM:: home

Reading summer vacation trash, i.e. bestsellers. Brain is simply fried. Good time to mine past writings for bits of gold.

Posted 2:08:10 PM:: home

___________ Tuesday, May 27, 2003
But the language is strange.

Came across the word PORTENT in a review of Lumakick:
"...but the language is strange and the weather is filled with portent -- raindrops, wind and stormclouds are all recurring motifs."
The usage sounded strange, so I went to trusty Bartleby for its definition:
NOUN. A phenomenon that serves as a sign or warning of some future good or evil: augury, forerunner, foretoken, omen, prefigurement, presage, prognostic, prognostication, sign. Idioms: writing (or handwriting) on the wall. See FORESIGHT, WARN.
Still, in context, I wasn't convinced that the reviewer used the best word until I came across this:
The historian’s job is to aggrandize, promoting accident to inevitability and innocuous circumstance to portent. (Peter Conrad (b. 1948), Australian critic, author. The Art of the City, ch. 1 (1984).)
Maybe it was the string of words "filled with portent" and my inability to easily substitute a synonym, i.e., filled with augury, presage, omen, etc., or perhaps it was last night's bad fish that had me wrinkling my brow and nose in skepticism. So the search continued:
Lantern without a bearer, you drift,
You, too, are drifting, in spite of your course;
Unless in the darkness, brightly-crowned,
You are the will, if there is a will,
Or the portent of a will that was,
One of the portents of the will that was.
(Wallace Stevens (1879–1955), U.S. poet. “Variations on a Summer Day.”)
Nice. The portent or portents of in the sense of "phenomenon".
Self-parody is the first portent of age. (Larry McMurtry (b. 1936), U.S. screenwriter, novelist, essayist.)
Now I'm feeling comfortable with the word. Portent as in "an sign of something".
Modern dancers give a sinister portent about our times. (Agnes De Mille on teenage dance fads, NY Times 10 Jun 63.)
Even this makes sense, as inelegant as it sounds. Now back to the original disturbing quote.
"...but the language is strange and the weather is filled with portent -- raindrops, wind and stormclouds are all recurring motifs."
This type of weather is foreboding but is not a phenomenon, or at least with our increasingly skewed weather patterns less of a phenomenon, and in the world of comix, more of a sign in the traditional sense of symbol. Perhaps, for clarity's sake: ...but the language is strange and the weather is filled with ominous symbols. But then, as with all highly subjective qualifiers, there could be someone out there taking issue with "ominous."

Definition and quotes from Bartleby. All thoughtplay, mine.

Posted 9:26:06 AM:: home

Margaret Atwood's "Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing" is on my to-buy list. If ever there were a book all aspiring writers should read, this is the one.

Posted 9:03:39 AM:: home

___________ Wednesday, May 14, 2003
I find it strange and pretentious when writers refer to themselves in the third person in personal blog entries or essays.

Posted 12:20:42 PM:: home

___________ Sunday, May 11, 2003
Reading Stephen King's On Writing and Mario Vargas Llosa's Letters to a Young Novelist; all I can think is how much I have to learn before I dare show my work to anyone!

Did you know that Leonard Cohen did an awful song called "Un canadien errant"?? Ohh, the things we do in the beginning... my, how we are lost.

Posted 10:39:03 AM:: home