Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bare, ruined choirs

In which we get warmed up

Nothing like fall to turn our thoughts to summer. JUST KIDDING. Our thoughts are always summer-like, because we are one with that sunny season, and consider winter to be the Slough of Despond, with fall being the anteroom to that slough. So we round up a few little things to pack for our journey, as Christian did.

1. J.R. Rain's Jim Knighthorse series of PI books. How many fun little reads have I found in the 'Recommended for You' section of the Kindle store? And now these. Makes your weekend even more worthwhile. Anyone who can come up with a name like 'Jim Knighthorse' is brilliant. Oh plus with Kindle Unlimited they were free.

2. Not all of us are writing novels or participating in NaNoWriMo but you can get a good deal on Scrivener, a kind of word processor/outliner/organizational piece of software here.

3. Longtime readers reader know of our love for listening to Gotye in the winter and it seems our summer obsession with Sam Smith is becoming a fall obsession but discovering Hozier is making the darkening days more tolerable.

4. On Sunday nights. Downton Abbey (thank you, Tunnelbear). Once Upon a Time. Resurrection.

5. This sonnet, my fall anthem. Thank you, Wm. Shakespeare.

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
   This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
   To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Because more Hozier

Her eyes look sharp and steady / Into the empty parts of me / Still my heart is heavy / With the hate of some other mans beliefs

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Brew this

In which we embrace the good things of the season. All one of them.

Oh readers reader, you know this, our dislike of all things fall and what it portends -- i.e., winter. Who can blame us for heating up a little Witches Brew to numb the pain? We knew you'd understand. We surround ourselves with things to ease us through these dark months, the warm wine, the moody music (welcome to the playlist, Hozier), the lamp-lit workspace at the kitchen table, a few binge-worthy shows on the telly. Speaking of beginnings, we remembered what we read yesterday, in the John Irving interview from 1986 in Paris Review
Titles are important; I have them before I have books that belong to them. I have last chapters in my mind before I see first chapters, too. I usually begin with endings, with a sense of aftermath, of dust settling, of epilogue. I love plot, and how can you plot a novel if you don’t know the ending first? How do you know how to introduce a character if you don’t know how he ends up? You might say I back into a novel. All the important discoveries—at the end of a book—those are the things I have to know before I know where to begin. 
We're no writer, compared to Mr. Irving, but we know what he means, about knowing the end before you can write the beginning, although we've read that other authors work the opposite, starting a book without knowing the ending, letting the story take them ... wherever. But then we are the kind of people who read the endings of books first (Hello, Deathly Hallows). Kind of like fall, that idea, isn't it: Winter is a shitload of work; fall is the beginning, but we all know where it ends, don't we? We write ourselves into the light of spring, the warmth of summer, although how odd; endings and beginnings get all mixed up. Or maybe that's the wine.


Now I've tried to move on, but I've made up my mind, / my life without you just feels like time. / Now I don't need some new friends. / I don't need cheering up on the weekends, / I'll drive the shades and pretend that you're mine.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Don't get your hopes up

Although two out of three ain't bad

Writing is more habit than inspiration, right? Not that inspiration is chopped liver. (Note: Unless you like chopped liver.) But anybody can get an idea. It’s the disciplined among us who will sit down at a laptop somewhere -- the kitchen table, for instance -- and put that idea on paper -- so to speak. Because you can’t just wait until, you know, ‘the mood’ strikes to write. ‘The mood’ isn’t like your period or anything -- it doesn’t come around regularly; it’s nothing you can depend on, that mood. So what of an evening when you have a little inspiration, and you have your discipline, what then? Then decisions must be made: What you should write, and what you will write, and what you’re in the mood to write. Crap. Now we’re all moody again. (Maybe we should quit listening to Hozier, he puts us in rather a Gotye frame of mind.)  Maybe I need a fresh sheet of paper. And a re-read of that outline I wrote yesterday. And just the littlest bit more disciple. 

In the meantime, let's finish with an excerpt from a 1986 Paris Review interview with our guy John Irving, always good value; we'll be mining this for awhile:
I don’t give myself time off or make myself work; I have no work routine. I am compulsive about writing, I need to do it the way I need sleep and exercise and food and sex; I can go without it for a while, but then I need it. A novel is such a long involvement; when I’m beginning a book, I can’t work more than two or three hours a day. I don’t know more than two or three hours a day about a new novel. Then there’s the middle of a book. I can work eight, nine, twelve hours then, seven days a week—if my children let me; they usually don’t. One luxury of making enough money to support myself as a writer is that I can afford to have those eight-, nine-, and twelve-hour days. I resented having to teach and coach, not because I disliked teaching or coaching or wrestling but because I had no time to write. Ask a doctor to be a doctor two hours a day. An eight-hour day at the typewriter is easy; and two hours of reading over material in the evening, too. That’s routine. Then when the time to finish the book comes, it’s back to those two- and three-hour days. Finishing, like beginning, is more careful work. I write very quickly; I rewrite very slowly. It takes me nearly as long to rewrite a book as it does to get the first draft. I can write more quickly than I can read.
Well this perks us up a bit

She's gonna save me, / Call me "baby", / Run her hands through my hair / She'll know me crazy, / Sooth me daily / Better yet she wouldn't care / We'll steal her Lexus, / Be detectives, / Ride round picking up clues / We'll name our children / Jackie and Wilson, . Raise em on rhythm and blues.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Everything it's not

In which we practice reverse psychology

Even poor poems are hard to write sometimes. (And this is bad because?) Isn't this what we bought frig magnet poetry kits for? But maybe we are writing the same poem over and over, using the same words. Which got us to thinking about the words that came with the poem kits that we swear we won't use. When we think about using these words in poems -- even bad poems! -- we just laugh. So count yourself lucky, dear readers reader, for these are words you won't be reading: no fertile bees, no noble sanctuaries, no crap pie. No verdant bucolic beautifulness. And thank God, no squirrels.

Because it seems just as random as the words not written and because we're now hooked on Hozier

Feeling more human and hooked on her flesh I / Lay my heart down with the rest at her feet / Fresh from the fields, all feeder and fur tires / Bloody and raw, but I swear it is sweet

Rock, paper, scissors

In which we read all the book things

One time I bought a book by accident. Kind of. I wanted a complete edition of the short stories of Ray -- my Carver library being heavy on his poetry and shorter on his prose (at the time). I one-clicked a complete short-story collection kind of thing, reasonably priced, new, wasn't paying a whole lot of attention. What arrived was not just a book, but a work of art with form and function, a bibliographic treasure.  A throwback book, with a gold-embossed slip-case, cloth-covered in 'Brillianta, a woven rayon cloth made by Van Heck-Scholco Textielfabrieken, Holland,' beautifully typeset in '10-point Linotron Galliard, a face designed for photocomposition by Matthew Carter and based on the sixteenth-century face Granjon.' The paper is 'acid-free lightweight opaque and meets the requirements for permanence of the American National Standards Institute.' Designed by Bruce Campbell, a true artist.  As long as people treasure books, so beautiful books will be produced, on paper, and digitally as well, in new ways, as well as old. Print on demand, 3D printing -- who knows what technology will do for the way we print and consume books?  Why worry about books? This beautiful book thing exists in my hands, and ANSI has promised me it's not going anywhere soon.

We like things old and new

There's an art to life's distractions / Somehow escapes the burning weight the art of scraping through / Some like to imagine / The dark caress of someone else I guess any thrill will do

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ghost moon, bled dry

In which things are transient: seasons, lunar bodies, old poems

You know what's inevitable in the fall? Frost. Frost kills everything -- the last lazy crickets, the damn mosquitos, the fading flowers, the last tomatoes on the vines, green and red. Thirty-two is all it takes and boom. Dead. Not happened yet, but it's coming.

The blood moon bled dry this morning, and we remembered this

Ghost Moon

Ghost moon, barely there,
no more solid than
the thin cirrus clouds
that hang nearby --
I see blue through you.
What lunation brings you
to this light side of day,
where the sky consumes you,
and you become the cloud --
Did I dream of you, ghost moon?

You know what I love? Champagne.

Wake up the dawn and ask her why / A dreamer dreams she never dies / Wipe that tear away now from your eye / Slowly walking down the hall / Faster than a cannon ball / Where were you when we were getting high?