samedi 28 février 2009

Loose the glasses

I broke my glasses some time ago and I wear my contacts all the time now. I feel bolder with my eyes naked, I feel I throw a challenge to everyone I look at. Meet my stare if you dare!

As a kid, I always went to the optometrist with the hope that, this time, I’d come out wearing glasses. As far as I was concerned, glasses were a must for the face. I outgrew that quickly after getting glasses for real (who doesn't??). These days though, I find it fun being myopic. I can choose between 3 states: with glasses, with contacts, with nothing, and they all come with their own moods.

To go with nothing is an experience of its own – it’s my favourite. I know I won’t be seeing anything, so I don’t try. I just walk around in fuzz, all relaxed, a bit lost, a bit uncertain. And because I can’t go to work like this, it’s a weekend experience; for me it’s related with holidays and taking it easy.

It’s also something the 20/20 visioned individuals won’t be able to live before they hit old age. Ha!

To think that centuries ago, before the use of spectacles was mastered, myopic people went their whole life like this...! Maybe they came to think that this was the world as everybody saw it? ...nah, probably not. They must’ve remembered their youth, when they used to see from afar. And people around them must’ve kept pointing things out:
- Someone is coming... it’s Brother Jehan.
- Brother Jehan? Where?
- Over there.
- Where?
- There! Can't you see him??
- Oh? The moving blob? How do you know it’s Brother Jehan?
- !!!

O-kay. I’d better stop.

dimanche 22 février 2009

Done for and bashed in and turned over

I heard back from the beta readers and it was as bad as expected. My beta readers are smart-asses, spot-on with the sarcastic bon mot. They tore through the story and were so funny about it, I laughed and I laughed. I hurt and I (genuinely) laughed at the same time; it was a very weird feeling.

Then I got home and cried but it's because I'm not used to this yet. It was my first time going through a real beta reading done by critical readers who know what they're about. I've always written, but it was in little bursts concentrated inside short periods of time. The last burst was five years ago, before I got a computer, before I could competently surf the web, and there was no one around me back then both able and interested in commenting on my stories.

Also, I think those who read what I wrote in the past did not dare tell me how bad it was. It's a mental gearing to be able to honestly say to someone's face What you did is crap, especially if they're a friend. I wouldn't be able to.

I took notes. I think I'll put the most scathing comments on the wall, to whip myself into shape every time I sit down to write.

...I recently added a subtitle to this blog, something about stumbling my way through a story... it's gonna take months (if not years!!!) before I get a satisfying story... and it really is all about stumbling!!

lundi 16 février 2009

Done for

I finished the story! Hands up in the air! Whoop! Whoop!


I should've written this post last Friday, when I was actually happy and gratified about it. What happened since then? A whole week-end of edits (yeah, let's use caca green for that word), that's what.

I read over what I wrote (T_T) I try to encourage myself -- it's only a first draft! come on! -- but... but... I felt so good while I wrote it! How could it turn into this clunky, clumsy, boring piece of text...!

Worst thing is, I sent it off to a first round of beta reading. When I went through it again afterwards, it was like a slimy cold shower of tar. They're going to read this?? I guess I do have a fear of judgment after all, and boy is it perking up right now. What bugs me the most is that, since then, every time I try working on the story I feel like I’m swimming in molasses.

dimanche 15 février 2009

Tag Legend

I decided to establish a tag system. Here are my tags:

Writing – bad: when the post is about the exercise and/or experience of writing, and the writing is not going well. This will be to help clear the cobwebs.

Writing – good: see the first part of the explanation above, only this tag will be used when the writing is going well. These posts will probably be all about gloating.

Reading – good: When I’ve read something, and it was good reading. Books I recommend.

Reading – bad: When I’ve read something and didn’t like it. I’ll blast it away in posts tagged “Reading – bad”.

Slice of life: all blog posts are by definition slices of life, but in my tagging system, this means the post won’t be about writing or reading. That still leaves a heck of a lot of things, I’ll probably hone the Slice of Life tag as I go along.

Now, if I could just figure out how to have the tag list appear on the menu bar... (=.=)

mercredi 11 février 2009

Impact of a Name

I read something the other day by someone who chose Reneé Something-or-Other as her pseudonym. For those who know French, I did not just misspell, it really is written with the accent on the second e. Reneé. At first I thought: What a dork, she chose a foreign name, the least she could do is check out how to spell it properly.

Then: No. Careful planning goes into choosing a pseudonym; she surely saw the Renée name, then decided it was visually much cuter spelled Reneé. Okay, I can go with that.

And then: But still. Reneé. It means nothing. I can’t even be said properly. Reu-neu-ay. Oh. Maybe this is how she wants it to be said. Her pseudonym would be “Rene-ay” and not “Renay”.

And finally: ... Reneé... aargh! I can’t stand it, it looks all wrong! It’s so PHONY!!!

Conclusion: I could not read what she wrote. I started but that Reneé kept turning round and round in my head. Because of it, she’d lost all credibility with me and her story was a dud. Now, I can’t even remember her full name or her story.

What an impact a name has. Now, I shudder every time I think about Spanish speakers coming across my name... I hope it only sounds weird and not too fake. Robin Oak. Joan Pine. It doesn’t look awful does it, to have a tree as a family name...? ...except mine would be more along the lines of Elizabeth Cactus.

Darn. It does sound fake.
And it's not even a tree.

dimanche 8 février 2009

Mrs Dalloway

I’m reading Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.

I loved the opening; Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. It is not grand or punchy, but I found it particular for an opening line and so liked it (I think it's the intimacy that struck me, it's written as if the reader know what the flowers are for, and who was supposed to buy them).

Then I got through a couple of pages and wasn’t so sure I liked it anymore, until I read (in the introduction?) about the stream of consciousness narrative. With it, I went back to the text and what I’d before seen as meaningless jumping about became much more interesting, a window to a subjectivity that felt so very personal for not being mine. The way the sensations flit on random links is fascinating.

I love how a character whose strands of thoughts are laid bare for us meets another character and has all kind of emotions and opinions and feelings about that other character; then later on, we’ve moved on to the insides of the second character, and we see how circumscribed our information about this second character was. Was it Einstein that said there’s a big difference between what we are, what we think we are and what other think we are, or at least, what they say they think we are...?

But then again, what is the “real” us; I could go into all kinds of pseudo-intellectual babble asking whether the me in my head is or isn't truer than the me in the other’s perceptions, or - for that matter - who is “the me in my head” and from where does it come, are its origins physical or spiritual... but, blergh, I can never stand my own for long in these talks, I always run out of steam and/or arguments (as I've already determined, I have no staying power) and deep philosophical reflection is not what I want to do with this blog anyway. All I wanted to say was, I’m enjoying Mrs Dalloway.

samedi 7 février 2009

Staying Power

My pitfall in life? I have no staying power. It often blends in with laziness and a general lack of self-discipline and it results in lots of starts but few finishes. The only thing I easily go through are books, and even then it sometimes is touch and go -- but I don't feel guilty about not finishing a book anymore, not since I read Daniel Pennac's Rights of the Reader.

I want to be a writer. I'm only a wannabe now, but I hope to change that one day. That is, if I ever correctly finish a piece (see above, the "pitfall of my life" thing).

See? I'm so much a wannabe, I'm not even at the Why Won't Publishers Publish ME?! stage, but still stumble on the I Hope I Finish Something block. *sigh* It's all because of this story I'm doing; I stopped working on this other story to start on this one, only to run out of steam now that I near the end and I dither and I read and I start a blog and I don't. finish. the story. Darn.

At a class reunion an old classmate asked me: "So, publish anything yet?" and I was kinda dumbfounded because I never talked about it and how the heck did she know, so I stammered more truthfully than I would've wished about doing stuff but nothing done yet and she said: "So you're scared of being judged." Then I thought of not having yet gotten my degree because of never turning in my final reports in most of my classes and thought Oh crap.

I don't know if it's fear of judgement, but I definitely have a problem. I'm working on the symptoms - I've since completed my degree as well as another diploma - but the root cause is still nebulous for me.

Oh well. I don't have time for this now. I have to go and write.