Tuesday, October 28, 2008

OKAY FINE.

All right, Moonie, you convinced me. I joined NaNoWriMo. The problem is, I already have an 11,000 headstart! Is that cheating?

I'll be highly impressed with myself if I can get to 50,000 in a month though.

Okay, how do I go about friending you people?

Monday, October 27, 2008

I guess I just wasn't ready for this book before.

I decided to pick up The Unbearable Lightness of Being again this weekend. The first time I read it was four years ago, fresh out of college. I liked it then, but I don't think I fully appreciated it.

I'm halfway through now, and I realize (to my chagrin) that in the past 5 years, I must have actually become "smarter" or something. Or maybe just more mature. Either way, I realize that the first time I read this book, I didn't fully appreciate or understand the text. A lot of it went over my head, or I just didn't take the time to fully process. Maybe because back then I was still fully engrossed only in books with plot rather than the slow books that Kundera writes, where you spend time digesting its existential content. Either way, I've been so busy flagging passages this time around (with little sticky flags, because I don't like writing in my books), that it's taking me longer to get through this time around. But I really enjoy it.

I wanted to get down some of these passages, but there's so many!

But here we go, to start:

Tomas did not realize at the time that metaphors are dangerous. Metaphors are not to be trifled with. A single metaphor can give birth to love.
--[pg. 11]


Tomas came to this conclusion: Making love with a woman and sleeping with a woman are two separate passions, not merely different but opposite. Love does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for shared sleep (a desire limited to one woman).
--[pg. 15]


Anyone who has failed to benefit from the Devil's gift of compassion (co-feeling) will condemn Tereza coldly for her deed, because privacy is sacred and drawers containing intimate correspondence are not to be opened. But because compassion was Tomas's fate (or curse), he felt that he himself had knelt before the open desk drawer, unable to tear his eyes from Sabina's letter. He understood Tereza, and not only was he incapable of being angry with her, he loved her all the more.
--[pg. 21]


If a mother was Sacrifice personified, then a daughter was Guilt, with no possibility of redress.
--[pg. 44]


But is not an event in fact more significant and noteworthy the greater the number of fortuities necessary to bring it about?

Chance and chance alone has a message for us. Everything that occurs out of necessity, everything expected, repeated day in and day out, is mute. Only chance can speak to us. We read its message much as gypsies read the images made by coffee grounds at the bottom of a cup.
--[pg. 48-49]


The first betrayal is irreparable. It calls forth a chain reaction of further betrayals, each of which takes us farther and father away from the point of our original betrayal.
--[pg. 92]


"Why don't you ever use your strength on me?" she said.

"Because love means renouncing strength," said Franz softly.

Sabina realized two things: first, that Franz's words were noble and just; second, that they disqualified him from her love life.
--[pg. 112]



Happy Monday!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Storytelling

Like I previously said, I've been reading The Hakawati in fits and starts, which is a problem for this book because it has so many characters and stories floating around that I get confused who is who and what's going on. But oh well.

This book is very much centered on storytelling - every section is an addition to some other tale, be it the storyline that's pushing us through the present, the story of how the grandfather came to be, memories of the narrator's childhood, an overarching myth of a slave named Fatima, or one of the many different stories within stories/myths/fables/fairytales that are told by one of the many hakawatis in the book. It's confusing at times, which can be off-putting, but because it's interesting enough, I forgive the author for the most part.

Anyway, I recently finished a chapter in which the grandfather, who is a known hakawati (or storyteller) is explaining his childhood, and how he studied legendary hakawatis before him for their techniques. He tells how two stories, told by two different hakawatis can be completely different.

And then he says:

"Do you know why I'm telling you this, Osama? It's because you should know that, no matter how good a story is, there is more at stake in the telling."
--[pg. 96, The Hakawati]


Rings so true, especially to a writer, right? I just finished taking a midterm where I babbled a little bit about why form is important, how form equals content, etc. And so this totally speaks to me. As writers, having a good story isn't enough. What makes a great book separate from a good book is in the telling. The technique. How we choose to craft it. Anyone can tell a story, but it's how that makes the story worth telling.

Just thought I'd bring that in.

For passage lovers

I forgot to mention this, but my friend Matt de la Pena (who I mention frequently), has a blog on his website... but it's not run by him, it's updated by his dad, who is a big lover of literature as well. And you know what's awesome about this blog? It's just a collection of quotes taken from books. I love browsing through the passages he's recorded, to see if any of it speaks to me. Sometimes, a good line alone will make me want to pick up a book I haven't yet read.

So check it out!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An actual book-related post.

Or, sort of.

NY Mag (whose blogs I still frequent despite being out here in sunny Cali) has been reporting that the on-screen version of my favoritest book EVER, The Road, has been pushed back to a 2009 release date, rather than playing in 08 as planned. Ah, well.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this book being put on screen. I'm afraid what was a beautiful little parable (gruesome, yes, horrific, yes, but beautiful) will just become some freak post-apocalyptic horror movie, where instead of Will Smith and his dog, it becomes the dude with his son. McCarthy pulls off the book with that language of his, the simplicity and beauty of it. There's a tenacity in his writing that I love in this book.

I've mentioned before that the book, for me at least, uplifted me, gave me hope when I was feeling really low (I know, it's a depressing book, but I found it hopeful), and I'm afraid that a movie would offer no such hope. I think because what is wonderful about the book is how it speaks to you differently, depending on who you are, and you can take it from so many angles, and I worry that a poor interpretation of it would strip that away and make it more straightforward.

Coen bros did a good job of translating No Country For Old Men onto the big screen. I hope this guy does something similarly brilliant.

Though I do have to admit, watching people babyeating on screen is going to be a lot harder than reading it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Disappearing act.

WHAT THE FUCK?

I carry all my writing around on a USB flash drive (risky I know, but then again, a computer can crash too). I wrote at a cafe today, and everything was peachy. Just now I plugged it back in and went to the folder where all the novel chapers are kept (including the bits section, which is where I throw all my crap that I'm not using but may keep for later).... THE FOLDER IS EMPTY. Just that folder. The rest of the folders are fine. BUT THAT FOLDER IS COMPLETLY FREAKING EMPTY.

Luckily for me, I've emailed Chapters 1-5 to class so I have what I've written (believe me, I would be BROKEN DOWN AND CRYING if it were gone), but I'm astounded and bewildered, and frankly PISSED that I've lost my bits document and the other documents that were in there (older versions of chapters, etc). WHAT THE FUCK????

UGH!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

I cannot impress upon you...

...how much I hate my writing workshop.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Keeping options open.

After hemming and hawing and talking to my mom, I've decided to reapply to a few MFA programs. This DOES NOT mean I'm necessarily throwing in the towel, but I'm currently unsure if I chose the correct program for me, and I'm not loving what I'm doing, nor am I feeling particularly inspired or helped by what I'm doing. So, I finally decided the smartest thing for me to do would be to reapply to a few programs, so that come the end of the year, I can decide for myself if I am unhappy enough where I am to switch, or if things have looked up and I now want to stay.

Yeah. I don't know. I hate "giving up", so I'd rather avoid the situation if possible, but my mother made a good point in that a graduate degree in a creative field is a big deal - if I don't feel like I'm getting what I wanted out of the degree, then there really is no point in wasting my time. So I'm not going to make a choice now. But it's good to keep my options open.

Ugh, I just hate having to do more apps though.


As for the novel, I have 30 pages right now. I got over my last hump of writer's block. I am not writing as much as I should every day... it's been hard to get myself into the right mood, and I rarely leave my apartment if I don't have class or tutoring to do, and I miss my Starbucks in Union Square and my Hispanic bakery in Jersey. There's no place like that near here. But, I love writing this novel because I've imposed no borders on it, and it's like this work of exploration for me. I'm hoping to get a full draft out by end of next summer. But we'll see.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tragicomedy

Okay, done with Pnin. Dude, it's SAD! I just feel so so so terrible for the poor fellow! Nabokov is so good with his eccentric sympathetic characters. I mean the whole thing is sort of funny, but in that horribly sad sort of way. That last part where he's just finished having this party, and he's so happy, and then he finds out he's getting fired, and he almost breaks his prized bowl? :(!!! And then those mean people who are just imitating him! The worst thing is that you know that sometime during your life, there was that kid/guy/coworker/strange guy on bus who didn't fit in that you totally laughed at behind his back.... so you're that asshole! That strange dude was Pnin!! It's just awful and wonderful at the same time that Nabokov does this.

Craft note: Strange that the whole thing is told from an anonymous first person whose identity we don't learn of until the end. I feel like in present day, workshoppers would jump on the whole, "How can he possibly know all these details? Who is this narrator TALKING TO?" And yet here we go, Nabokov, a great, doing it. Which goes to show you, in creative writing, there aren't so much rules, as guidelines, and as long as you're awesome, you can get away with anything.

Good.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nabokov is so good at eliciting empathy.

Reading Nabokov's Pnin for class. It's not as awesome as Lolita, and there are a few parts where I've fallen asleep reading, but it's still an entertaining read compared to some of the other crap I've had to read for class. The main character is just so... pathetic and sad. I don't know how Nabokov does it, but you just feel so terrible for this dude. Even while you're laughing at him a little (because it's sort of this very sad comedy, he's just so pathetic, you can't HELP but laugh a little), you just want to hug him, except you wouldn't because that would somehow make his pathetic self uncomfortable. I don't know. It's pretty good. First book I've read in class that I somewhat like.

Monday, October 13, 2008

We interupt this blog...

...to be very very sad that Tony Romo will be out for 4 weeks due to a pinky injury. Now my inconsistent Boyfriends will fall apart for the next four weeks. :( Sad...

[not to mention the other many many many injuries we have]

But I'll keep hoping for the best.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Music linky!

Okay I know my blog isn't a music blog, but I just wanted to publicize this:

http://www.myspace.com/worthstreet

It's my brother's music page he just set up. The first one is this weird electronica I'm not totally sure I love, but I'm pretty proud of him, and I really like some of his songs. He's got a talent in music, my little bro does. :) Everyone go check it out!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Humorous

I've been reading The Hakawati in fits and starts since I've got here. Making very slow progress. Anyway, the book is a story of a guy and his storytelling grandfather and current family juxtaposed with myth and folklore (since the whole book is heavy in the storytelling aspect). Anyway, I'm in the section of myth/folklore, about this woman Fatima who is on this journey, and she meets this jinni who cuts her hand off, so she decides to go get it back. And her companions ask her what the point is and try to dissuade her, and she says, "I want my left hand so I can wipe my butt."

Hahahahahaha. I mean, I don't know if it's meant to be funny since I know that in some cultures, that's just a fact of life, you wipe your butt with your left hand. But I mean, of all the reasons to miss your hand? Hahahahah.

Food makes many things better...

The lovely Cindy Pon took me out to lunch at one of those places she talks about on blog - Tea Station. That put a smile on my face. Thanks Cindy! Everyone be on the look out for her debut YA novel next year... I have a feeling it's going to be fantastic! =D

I wrote two pages today and decided they were crap. I think I shall use the ctrl-a-delete function.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Love

This book we're reading for class this week is weird, but it could grow on me.

Random lines:

"Everything we can't bear in this world, some day we find in one person, and love it all at once."
-[pg. 144, Nightwood]

"Matthew," she said, "have you ever loved someone and it became yourself?"

For a moment he did not answer. Taking up the decanter, he held it to the light.

"Robin can go anywhere, do anything," Nora continued, "because she forgets, and I nowhere because I remember."
-[pg. 161, Nightwood]