Showing posts from April, 2011

What Writers Can Learn from America's Next Top Model: Or, How Watching Reruns is NOT a Waste of My Vacation

I've been on vacation. I worked some, I played some, and yes, I watched marathons of America's Next Top Model. I learned a few things. 1. You put yourself in this position; now make the most of it. Young women try out to participate on America's Next Top Model. Then they receive critiques of their modeling ability. They have the opportunity to develop a portfolio with input and help from recognizable names in their industry. They compete with each other but they also learn from each other, from their judges, and from experts picked by their judges. Plus, they get a makeover! Sounds a little like an MFA program, or perhaps an intensive multi-day writing workshop, doesn't it? My takeaway: when you are in a setting that focuses on learning, spend the time learning. Don't spend the time arguing with the judges (teachers, authors, editors, agents) or bragging about what you've done. You asked to participate; now make the most of what's available to you. Keep your

At Night, with Headlights

E. L. Doctorow, the American novelist, is famous for saying something like this: "Writing is like driving the car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." (Some online versions include fog in the drive. It's hard to get a reliable source.) Fog or no fog, that's how I'm working this week. I have this novel, see, and I have a bunch of pages of it, and I know sorta where one of the threads is going, but not really, and somehow the other thread and this thread relate. Somehow, sorta. I know what does not (absolutely must not, cannot) happen (not because it's too scary but because it's cliche), and I know what must happen for the characters to make any sense at all. But what I really want is a Google Map, a MapQuest map, some kind of detailed map!! Or a GPS with the voice of the Old Spice Guy (James Earl Jones/Kevin Spacey) telling me when and in what direction to turn. The thing is, Doctorow is right. I&

The Opposite of a Platform

Today I spent several hours in a church hall selling a Haitian artist's painted metal artwork. To set up the sale, I exchanged a few emails with the woman who is his representative in Canada. I also put together some information about the event for the local newspaper. During our email conversation, the Canadian representative cautioned me about releasing too much personal information about this artist, especially if this information is available online. The artist is concerned about attracting too much attention. How many North American artists do you know who want to remain relatively unknown? My answer: none. I bet most artists have practiced the Award Acceptance Speech a time or two, in the privacy of the shower at least. (You google yourself. You know you do.) Also, this particular artist isn't concerned about "selling out," or becoming somehow more important than his art, or any other idealistic notion. His reason is purely practical. His community lost one of i

Nobody Told Me

This week has had its share of good news. The main thing for today is that my husband received a grant from the Ontario Arts Council to write a novel he's been puzzling over for years. While the cheque is nice, it's the support that he appreciates most. (Truthfully, we appreciate the cheque a whole lot. Especially because this is tax time and therefore budget time.) He found out maybe Tuesday. Since then he's cleaned his office, which he calls the den, and tackled a couple of other big projects (NOT his novel). Today he decided he needed more file folders. This need required a trip to town, which engendered other errands. Of course. I know what he's doing. I've done it and I still do it. He's clearing his mental decks. It looks like procrastination. It may even feel like procrastination. (In me, it usually IS procrastination.) However, in him, it's really preparation. He doesn't multi-task, and he can't be pondering other obligations or decisions whi