Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘writing’

You know who doesn’t have a book deal?  Me.

.

.

.

OK, so maybe I’ve never written a book.  But come on.  If you had to guess “Who’d write a better book?  Some lady who’s not famous or anything but writes a witty blog, opera librettos, and poetry that gets turned into song lyrics?  Or Snooki?” you’d pick me, right?

But of course, publishing is a business, a cynical, cold, soul-destroying business, and Snooki’s name and image on a book will undoubtedly sell more than mine would.  So it’s not surprising that a whole raft of celebutantes and reality TV stars have books out.  Not fair, not just to the frustrated authors of this world, but not surprising.

But it occurred to me, as I sat here fuming and looking at Amazon – what if one of those books were actually good?

What if Snooki or Lauren Conrad or Nicole Ritchie had some actual literary talent and wrote a pretty good book, but no one took them seriously because they’re famous for doing backflips in clubs?

I think that would suck more than just being your average unrecognized genius.  Because you’ve already succeeded – you got the book deal and wrote the book.  Only no one takes you seriously and everyone makes fun of you.

See, this is why money doesn’t necessarily make you free.  Snooki has, at the age of 23 or whatever she is, made more money than I ever will in my life.  But if she wants to keep making it she’s stuck acting like the cartoon she plays on MTV.  She has to be a product and a brand, not a person.  Sure, she’s not a baby and I’m sure she knew what she was getting into, but I still think it’s kind of sad.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

*CROSS-POSTED TO PLAN C*

This past Monday my collaborator Suzanne Kilgore and I re-wrote the libretto for “Call of Cthulhu: The Opera” (hopefully coming to the Toronto Fringe and/or Summerworks Festival, 2011).

Act 3, of course, takes place on board a disreputable semi-pirate ship in the south seas.  We felt the evil Sea Captain was starting to sound too PG Wodehouse-y, so the following line ended up being included:

Sea Captain: Put me in a halo and call me Mary!

That, of course, is not genuine sailor slang.

Here’s some genuine sailor slang:

WHIPJACK, a sham shipwrecked sailor, also called a TURNPIKE SAILOR.

BOOM-PASSENGER, a convict on board ship.

LAND-SHARK, a sailor’s definition of a lawyer.

JACK NASTY-FACE, a sailor.

SKATES-LURK, a begging impostor dressed as a sailor.

TO “SLING THE HATCHET”: to skulk.

TRUCK-GUTTED, pot-bellied or corpulent.

YARMOUTH MITTENS, bruised hands.

SKY-SCRAPER, a tall man.

SCOTCH COFFEE, biscuits toasted and boiled in water.  (Editor’s note: EW!)

OH BE JOYFUL, a bottle of rum.

Source: John Camden Hotten’s  1864 masterpiece “The Slang Dictionary”, readable on Google Books.

I’m going to go sling the hatchet with an Oh Be Joyful.  Let’s hope no one gives me a pair of Yarmouth mittens, because then I’d have to hire a land-shark and he’s take all my money so I’d end up drinking Scotch Coffee and going about as a skates-lurk.

(I don’t know if any of this is useful in Call of Cthulhu, but it’s still awesome.)

Read Full Post »

If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that I treat it more like an opportunity for random weirdness and very short-form poetry than a chance to tell the world what I ate for dinner.  All in good fun.  But just now it occured to me that Twitter is actually teaching me to write clear and economical prose.

The tweet I wanted to post just now:

The dogs keep changing places: one is always on the bed, one is always on the comfy chair; that’s where the fans are.  But every time I turn around, they’ve switched.

This, if you’re keeping track, is 166 characters, or 26 too many for Twitter.  Version two:

The dogs keep changing places: one always on the bed, one always on the chair; that’s where the fans are.  But every time I turn around, they’ve switched.

154.  14 too many.  Next try:

The dogs keep changing places: one on the bed, one on the chair; that’s where the fans are.  But every time I turn around, they’ve switched.

This is now 140, but still something made me tighten it further:

The dogs keep changing places: one on the bed, one on the chair; that’s where the fans are.  But every time I look, they’ve switched.

The same thought, feeling, and meaning, but in a tighter and cleaner package.  So, all you similarly self-indulgent writers, start tweeting.

Twitter: It’s not just for losers anymore. 😉

Read Full Post »

Holy crap, if you haven’t seen it already, you HAVE to see the film Mishima: A life in four chapters.

Yukio Mishima, if you’ve never heard of him, was a Japanese author of the kind of fame serious writers rarely reach.  He was sort of a combination, socially speaking, of Stephen King, Alain Robbe-Grillet, and Mel Gibson.  Except that, unlike most North American celebrities, he started his own private army (in 1968!) and wound up taking a general hostage and committing ritual suicide.

I have no idea how accurate Mishima is, but it’s an astounding film.  It combines biography with scenes from Mishima’s work; it’s refreshing to see a film about an artist that connects the artist and their work so thoroughly.  (Unlike, for example, jazz movies that are all about the sex and drugs and never address, you know, PRACTICING.)  It draws a portrait of an extremely complicated figure that’s impressionistic but more complete than a straightforward biography.

It’s also very intense and disturbing, so not a good date movie.

Read Full Post »

What you write goes out in the world.  Whether you like it or not, it travels.  Mostly not very far, but sometimes very far, very far indeed; and when it does, you no longer can stop others from reading into it what they want to see.

“No,” you can say, “no, that’s not what I meant.  That’s not what I meant at all,” but it won’t do any good.  A million scribes with a million pens will keep scratching, scratching, scratching out their monstrous perversions of your work; and those perversions will spawn their own monsters; and the cry of “No!” and the silent scratching continue round and round and round as long as human stupidity and the age of the earth conspire to keep us on this globe.

What you write goes out in the world, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

Read Full Post »

I’ve been tagged!  Thanks to Jack Sender.

WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT OBSESSION?

Hmm.  Podcasts.  I listened to all 33 episodes of “Evo at 11” last week, for example.

DO YOU NAP A LOT?

I am almost incapable of napping.  I have to be UNBELIEVABLY exhausted to sleep during the day, like jet-lag or no sleep at all the previous night exhausted.  I am, however, very fond of lying down and doing nothing for long stretches of the day.

WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU HUGGED?

Person?  My husband.  Creature?  My dog Gus.  He likes to be hugged.

WHAT’S FOR DINNER?

I’m not sure – I’m really busy with lessons cancelled because of Easter today, so I might get something on the road.  Or I might wait until after rehearsal and have chicken wings.  I’m not picky.

WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU BOUGHT?

Jesus…that would have been on Thurdsay…Pants.  I needed nice pants because I was singing the national anthem at a hockey game and since I’ve lost about twenty pounds since Christmas none of my clothes fit me.  It’s either pants or alcohol.

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?

Right now?  The audio podcast of “Democracy Now”.

I told you I was obsessed with podcasts.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WEATHER?

I like the fall, when it’s about twelve degrees and overcast and you can smell winter coming.  I also like the very beginning of spring when the air is still crisp and the little purple crocuses start to come up.  I don’t like very hot or very cold weather.

WHAT’S ON YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE?

My nightguard.  A copy of Cloud Atlas.  I think the EEE is on it right now, though I haven’t used it in a week or so.  Ummm…probably some earrings.  At night, a water bottle.

SAY SOMETHING TO THE PERSON WHO TAGGED YOU:

How do you manage to keep four blogs up to date??????????

IF YOU COULD HAVE A HOUSE TOTALLY PAID FOR, FULLY FURNISHED ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, WHERE WOULD YOU WANT IT TO BE?

Ooo, good question.  New York, but about forty years ago.  Or maybe Paris.

FAVOURITE VACATION SPOT?

I have been on a total of four vacations as an adult; I would have to say Germany, because that’s where two of them were, so I must like it.  Nice biking trails and cheap beer.  What else do you need?

NAME THE THINGS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.

Sleep.  Leisure.  Music.  Dogs.  Carbs.  I would say alcohol, but I have successfully lived without it in the past and will do so again.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE IN YOUR HANDS RIGHT NOW?

A letter of offer for me to sing Zerbinetta with a major opera company.  Or a small one.  Or Ariadne Auf Naxos – On Ice!.  Again, I’m not picky.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TEA FLAVOR?

I’m more of a coffee person, but there’s a really nice almond tea Celestial seasonings puts out.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET RID OF?

I’m going to take this two ways: personally, about ten pounds and a penchant for laziness; globally, unthinking wastefulness and overconsumption.
IF YOU COULD GO ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD FOR THE NEXT HOUR, WHERE WOULD YOU GO?

Back to bed?

No, seriously, I would say a little coffee shop in New York.  It’s just off the Bowery, around the corner from a little hostel I stay in when I go there, on a beautiful little Noho street.  It’s cheap and the wireless is free, and in the summer you might see Natalie Portman pass by, going shopping.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BECOME AS A CHILD?

In this order: a paleontologist, an actress, a mystery novelist, a concert pianist, an opera singer.  Still working on the last one.

WHAT DO YOU MISS?

I miss the sense of time lasting forever that children have – that long summer days felt like they’d never end.  Now I feel like time is constantly slipping away from me.  I also miss not having to support myself financially, but oh well.

WHAT ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW?

I just finished a truly awful mystery novel by Linda Fairstein and haven’t started a new book yet.  I should really go back to Cloud Atlas.

WHAT DO YOU FEAR THE MOST? (Andrea’s question)

I have lots of fairly petty fears – food poisoning, sudden death, bankruptcy, being wrongfully arrested for a crime I didn’t commit, social humiliation – but I think my biggest fear is that I’ll never achieve what I want to achieve in life, never reach my full potential.  That’s what keeps me going and makes me stretch myself and do things that make me uncomfortable, but that I need to do to do the things I want.

FAVORITE MOVIE THIS PAST YEAR? (Joanne’s replaced question)

2008?  Wall-E.  2009?  I actually haven’t seen a new film this year.  Isn’t that unbelievable?  Unless you count Smokey and the Bandit. I watched it on Sunday.  Best film of 1977!
FAVORITE BOOK YOU’VE READ THIS YEAR? (Joanne’s question)

Eminent Victorians.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WERE A WRITER?

Am I writer?  OK, I guess when I was about nine.  I won an award for a poem I wrote about a strike killing another bird.  Really.  It was probably unintentionally hilarious, like everything else I write.

My question: IS IT TIME YET?  No, that’s no good.  IF NOT NOW, WHEN?  No, scratch that.  OK: DO YOU THINK BRAS ARE ACTUALLY NECESSARY, OR JUST THE 20TH/21ST CENTURY VERSION OF THE CORSET?

My answer to that one is “It depends on the size of your boobs.  As I lose weight I lean more to the latter.”

Now let’s see if I can look in my magic mirror and find eight people to meme…

I see Joey Devilla.  I see Justin Beach.  I see Alex Eddington…he doesn’t really blog anymore, but I think he’ll like it.  I need to look at my blogroll…ok, now how about Absolutely Miles Away , Scot, Nathan and Dana, Lirone, and that’s all I’ve got.

Wow, that was a massive meme.

Read Full Post »

While I have some awesome content to add about yesterday’s mammoth bike ride through Toronto (I am actually kind of glad I didn’t get a chance to bike to Waterloo after all – I am NOT in condition for an 80-100 km ride, let alone a return trip two days later), I have to go out now and attend a student production of Les Mis.  (Two of my students are in it.)  Anyway, to keep the content production wheels greased, I hereby include an excerpt from something I’m working on.  I’m writing libretti for a couple of short subject one-character operas.  The character in this little scene is Anna, a Russian poet from the early 20th century. I may not use this bit at all, since it doesn’t seem very sing-y, though it could always be spoken.

*Warning: Theatrical writing ahead.*

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: