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March 9th, 2008

01:01 pm - . . . Pants on Fire
Last week yet another memorist was outed (this time by her sister no less!) as nothing more than a lowly fiction writer; once again begging the question: why didn't they just publish their works as fiction in the first place?

Ego and greed, probably.

Not discounting these writers' duplicity in dealing with their publishers, what's truly troubling when these contretemps raise their ugly little heads is the press's haughty shock and awe that any half-truths (or quarter- or third-truths) should have wormed their way into the sanctity of somebody's memoir. Literary and social critics alike thump their thesauri and behave as if, pre-James Frey coming along and embarrassing Oprah with his million little lies, every memoir published was letter-perfect when it came to factual matters--that no details were added or enhanced (or omitted), that no dialog was fabricated, that nothing was tweaked to make the piece better (or at least readable).

By its selective nature, a memoir is not journalism; it is subject to the tricks our memories play on us; how and why events took place are filtered, consciously or unconsciously, by our prejudices, belief systems, etc. Plus, let's face it, folks: life, by and large, is boring. Even fascinating people have plenty of downtime where nothing of much interest happens. Knowing what to emphasize and what to ignore, where a chapter--let alone the real story--begins and ends (in reality, most people's lives have very few--and very long--chapters), is the writer's job.

And while we're talking about it, the very journalists looking down their collective nose at these memorists are prone to the same refractions they're pillorying; they shouldn't be, but they are. The truth is never more malleable than in the hands of a writer.

Current Location: Brooklyn, New York

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August 10th, 2007

08:41 am - Good Writing Writ Large
There is a problem with writers. If what a writer wrote was published and sold many, many copies, the writer thought he was great. If what a writer wrote was published and sold a medium number of copies, the writer thought he was great. If what a writer wrote was published and sold very few copies, the writer thought he was great. If what the writer wrote never was published and he didn't have enough the money to publish it himself, then he thought he was truly great. The truth, however, was there was very little greatness. It was almost nonexistent, invisible. But you could be sure that the worst writers had the most confidence, the least self-doubt.


François Camoin made a similar observation in a Writers at Work workshop in Park City back in 1988, noting that those fledgling writers who sweated and stuttered and apologized as they handed in their work were, as a rule, better writers than those who proudly and unflinchingly proclaimed their word-processed scribbles as masterpieces.

Over the years, I've discovered the same to be true. The best writers treat writing the way a truly devout person treats religion: something practiced, not boasted about; lived, not preached.

Current Location: Brooklyn, New York

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April 23rd, 2007

02:02 pm - Everything Is an Afterthought
I recently sold my first book. In conjunction, I've established another LiveJournal to report on the project's progress, occasionally provide links about, and writings by, its subject, Paul Nelson (famous for his Rolling Stone reviews of Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, the Sex Pistols, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, and the Ramones, as well as his cover story about Warren Zevon's battle with alcoholism), and share snippets of information or parts of interviews that may or may not be covered further in the final product.

The new journal shares the book's working title, Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson. Just follow the link.

Anybody interested in learning more about this brilliant critic, whose own life proved just as mysterious and fascinating as the artists' about whom he wrote, is welcome to join. As well, tracking the process of how a book goes from sale to publication should prove interesting. I'm rather curious about that part myself...

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October 30th, 2006

02:24 am - MONEY!!
Here's a place where you can do what you love and actually get paid for it! It's a place that lists several categories of writing markets.

Ralan's Webstravaganza

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October 4th, 2006

10:36 pm - NaNoWriMo 2006
Is anyone here taking part in NaNoWriMo 2006? I'm in!

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August 20th, 2006

10:28 pm - New rules for EGO::Writings
Check the new rules for my writing community at http://www.ego.lifelessgeek.com/writing

Write, review and be reviewed!

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July 22nd, 2006

11:50 pm - To Dance on Sands

Marta Becket is her own best friend, and her splendid autobiography suggests that's how it should be for anybody who fancies herself an artist, dancer, painter, composer, or writer -- all of which, not coincidentally, Ms. Becket happens to be. Beyond mere autobiography, To Dance on Sands: The Life and Art of Death Valley's Marta Becket, examines the ascetic lifestyle she chose and all its attendant self-sacrifices (including, for many years, love).

I first wrote about Ms. Becket and her work last March in my post "Are You Saved?" The subject of Todd Robinson's exquisite documentary Amargosa, Ms. Becket is a New York City-born dancer who almost 40 years ago found herself smack-dab in the middle of some of the most godforsaken territory imaginable -- Death Valley Junction, California -- and never left. Ms. Becket, who turns 82 on August 9th, doesn't rely on the town's population (depending on your source, somewhere between two and twenty) to come see her dance, however. As in Field of Dreams, people come from around the world to witness what she has created. Death Valley Junction is her Iowa cornfield, and the amazing Amargosa Opera House is her baseball diamond.

Fans of Amargosa expecting To Dance on Sands to be fat with tales of her life in Death Valley may be disappointed, as it occupies only a single chapter. What comes before details the road traveled to get there, a path that proved that dancing wasn't her only means of expression, and the decisions rendered along the way that ultimately determined the route she took. Ms. Becket's story is a fascinating and compelling one, so much so that the occasionally clunky writing style is forgiven. What she's writing about rises above any such shortcomings, and provides a handbook for anybody interested in art and the space it occupies in our lives.

Throughout her own life, Ms. Becket again and again confronts the question whether or not it is right for an artist to expect so much of one's self at the expense of others. (While she painted the magnificent mural that graces her beloved opera house, her husband,whose love and devotion was always somewhat suspect, felt neglected and sought attention elsewhere.) She asks if what she does is "necessary" and wonders whether she might have been happier as "someone ordinary."

Marta Becket asks the questions that all artists must ask themselves. Given her life and accomplishments, the answers are contained within her fine book.

Current Location: Brooklyn, New York
Current Mood: soreachy
Current Music: "Maimed Happiness" by the New York Dolls

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July 1st, 2006

01:42 pm - Challenge correction!
You must use the theme as the first line of your story. Você deve usar o tema como primeira linha de sua estória.

The challenge now is due to Sunday, 9 of July until midnight. Até domingo, dia 9 de julho, meia-noite.

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June 30th, 2006

10:38 am - Open challenge!

Only a week to write. Post your stories there.


May 5th, 2006

12:46 am - Re-posting!
Join my new writing community: EGO::Writings!

Post and be reviewed by your peers. Beware the strict Submission Rules.^^

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