94 posts tagged creativity
"Other than that fear and the constant feeling of loss of an essential part of the self, life turns out to be so much easier when you’ve turned off the part of your brain that does writing! I have a job now where I work during the weeks and for the first couple of months of it I was in the library each weekend working on the book, but now my weekends areweekends. I experienced the feeling of “TGIF” for the first time in years on 10/11 and I probably don’t have to tell you that TGIF is A GREAT FEELING. I’ve had so much time these past few weeks to hang out and have fun and organize and clean and budget and transfer balances from one credit card to another and make obsessive plans for the future. Does that not sound fun? It has been GREAT. One of the things about working on a book, at least for me — and probably it doesn’t have to be this way! — is that you spend a lot of time in “finals week mode.” Like, years on end. Neglecting your body, your friendships, your family and your finances because nothing is more important than your book. Some of that damage will take years to undo (financial, mostly), but my skin already looks better. Not writing a novel is a beauty treatment. Not writing a novel is a spa vacation. Not writing a novel is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, except the nagging terror that this happiness is temporary and fake and could shade into misery the minute I try to start another one."
Go read the whole thing here.
I can’t remember the last time I felt TGIF. (Maybe for a week or two after this?) I’m not sure TGIF is even a possible feeling for me anymore. Even when I had a “normal” job, I would still always find ways to fill my weekends and evenings with deadlines and Things I Ought To Be Doing.
Right now, I am kind of content to just bury myself in words, though. Going over and over them with a comb until finally they appear in the right order, with the right heart.
Is anyone doing National Novel Writing Month this year? Or done it before and have tips to share?
I’ve just kicked off the first 1100 or so words of mine. It’s a coming of age story about two young women in their late teens, and the way that beauty, objectification, and their relationships with men and each other shape their entrance into adulthood. They’ve both been hanging out in my head since January or so, and I wanted to spend some time with them on the page, to see if their story has legs, and to invest some time into creative writing that I haven’t had the chance to since I was the same age as the characters I’m writing about.
I don’t expect I’ll make the full 50,000 word target by the end of November – I have another book to edit before Christmas – or to come out with anything publishable (at least not without a few rounds of edits and rewrites) but I figured it’s a good place to start, to quash my inner perfectionist, and a nice way to turn writing into play again.
Excerpt from Conversations with David Foster Wallace, on Farnam Street Blog.
This is basically what my editor told me on our phone call last week.
Adrienne RIch, “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision”
“I’m also not American, and that will always leave me liable to be a footnote. On the internet, people read the New York Times, not the Sydney Morning Herald. They talk about what was on NBC, not what was on Channel 9. They read Pitchfork, and its opinions on bands from Brooklyn, not Faster Louder and its opinions of bands from Newtown. And it matters more when a Newtown band is on Pitchfork than when a Brooklyn band is on Faster Louder. And, yes, there are Australian websites for all these things. But they are defined by their exception. Pitchfork is for a general audience. Australian sites — sites for an entire nation, as real as America — are a niche interest.”
Read the whole thing here.
In short, just as white-ness, male-ness and straight-ness render you “neutral,” so does American-ness.
Back when I was shopping my book around a couple of years ago, a lovely agent (lovely because they bothered to respond with substantial feedback) wrote back to me to say that while they thought my proposal was “smart and original” and “probably right,” it would be difficult to sell because, as a non-American, I wouldn’t have the same understanding of US dating culture as a native would. I wasn’t particularly bothered, as I’d signed with another agent just the day before, but I found interesting the assumption that “outsiders” couldn’t possibly understand US culture (despite the fact that, as Jonathan writes in his post, we grow up surrounded by it), US culture is sold to us as neutral. No one worries whether Ariel Levy or Jessica Valenti or Hanna Rosin could possibly understand Australia or Canada or the UK - at least, not to same degree. It is just assumed that their insights are universal.
But that’s hegemony for you - and that’s why I spent at least a year longer working on my proposal than I otherwise would have, in order to sell to the publisher than I did. Because on the internet especially, the conversations I’m most interested in take place on American cyber-soil; in publications like the New York Times, Salon, The Atlantic, Slate, The New Yorker, Feministing, Jezebel, and NYMag. And being part of that conversation in a non-niche way means being in America: if not literally (although I will probably move there next year, albeit more for emotional reasons than for professional ones - because I can’t shake the feeling that NYC might be my “soul city”), then at least virtually.
That said, I wonder how much US cultural dominance stems from confidence. The fact that it markets itself as culturally neutral. I can think of Australian publications that are just as good as their US counterparts, and indeed which I think could compete with them easily if they marketed themselves as being for a “global” (read: English-speaking) audience, rather than solely - or primarily - for an Australian one. I understand this doesn’t work so well from a commercial perspective, though. That while going global might increase your influence, diluting the national audience is a turn-off to advertisers.
Elsewhere: “To be American on the internet might be like what it is to be anglophone in the world.” (Screw Rock’n’Roll)
English is a dialect with an army. (The Atlantic)