Daily Archives: June 17, 2003

Stalking Authors

When I’m feeling singularly uninspired, I meander about and look at what other writers think and feel about writing.

Jane Yolen is an author I’ve been reading since I was about eleven. On her For Writers page, she says that [t]he Muse is an ornery creature and rarely comes when called. She wears feathers in her hair and birkenstocks on her feet and is often out in the woods when you are home at your keyboard. Which is all too true.

She quotes Gene Fowler: Writing is easy: all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead. Of course, she goes on to point out that writing isn’t agony, and the majority of the time I’d agree with her; I’m not one of those people who thinks that an artist has to suffer in order to create, or to be able to create, good art. Every once in a while, though, yes, it really does feel that hard. Yolen also quotes Roland Barthes: The author performs a function; the writer an activity. It suggests that an author has a job, but a writer is the job. (I don’t remember ever reading anything so inspiring when I read Barthes a few years ago, but I might have missed something.)

However, the nicest thing on the page was this:

A writer has many successes:

Each new word captured.
Each completed sentence.
Each rounded paragraph leading into the next.
Each idea that sustains and then develops.
Each character who, like a wayward adolescent, leaves home and finds a life.
Each new metaphor that, like the exact error it is, some how works.
Each new book that ends–and so begins.

Selling the piece is only an exclamation point, a spot of punctuation.

Which is remarkably inspiring.

O Wall

I somehow fell out of the writing habit about a week ago, and now I’m really facing a wall.

My darling husband, when I told him I’d need to go to France in order to keep writing the Great Canadian Novel with any sense of verisimilitude, offered to take me to Quebec City for a long weekend. It’s the closest we can get to France. I was touched.

In the meantime, I’ve staring blankly at my laptop and feeling singularly uninspired. I scribbled down notes for four (yes, 4) short stories last week, but evidently they’re not write-now stories.

I’ve gone back and done some rewriting and touch-ups and doodled some plans for future stuff to happen in various storylines, but overall, there hasn’t been much concrete production. I re-read the substantial beginnings of an urban fantasy novella about dreams versus reality and I’d love to pick it up again, except the main character’s name is Trinity. With the whole “What is the Matrix?” thing going on, no one will ever believe that I wrote half this novella six years ago. Just change the name, I hear some of you suggesting; and while on the surface that would seem to be a solution, for me (and likely many other writers) it’s impossible. The character’s name is Trinity. She opened a door in my mind one day after a long day of work and came in fully-formed, falling onto the sofa, practically asleep on her feet. It would be like asking you to change your next-door neighbour’s name after living next to her for six years.

I’d say it’s frustrating, but I don’t have the energy to feel frustrated. Forlorn, yes. But not more than that.


Is it too much to ask that people actually do a little bit of research before they post stuff on eBay?

If you’re selling costumes, listing something as RENAISSANCE / VICTORIAN / HIPPY (sic) when it’s a brand new sundress means that either you don’t know what you’re talking about, or you’re implying that your product evokes one or all of these keywords. The only thing that all three would have in common that I can think of is that they have full skirts.

No, wait, there’s a third option — you just don’t care. Or you assume that your potential clients are stupid.

I’m cranky. I was awoken rather rudely at 4.34 AM when a piece of heavy construction equipment trundled down our street, setting off car alarms as it passed. Then the cats woke up. Then my husband woke up and watched the morning news, which I heard very clearly through the pillow over my head.

I gave in, and got up.

The good thing is that it’s sunny outside again, which means my mood ought to correspond shortly.