Sunday, September 20, 2020

WHAT IT IS, week ending September 20, 2020

It's been a week, and I've kept to my writing habit (I did take yesterday -- Saturday -- off, but I have responsibilities, like mowing the lawn and doing the laundry and being a father and husband, so back off inner-monologue-me, I had shit to do!). I've even begun a new short story, which is exciting. 

Typically, when I've taken time off from writing before, my mind has still been churning with ideas and turns of phrase, while working to problem solve the narrative corners I've backed myself into. But these past three-plus months, nothing. So the return of that was surprising and pleasing (though now I need to prepare for more sleepless nights, but what're you gonna do?). It's like I've written here before, the one way to lure the muse is to make writing a habit, and it worked. 

Also interesting was how the short writing exercise I did here, a couple of weeks back, fed into this new story -- though I wasn't fully aware of it until later. In that exercise I wrote about a character tied up in a completely dark room. Neither the characters nor the setting transferred to this new story -- it's in a totally different genre, for one thing -- but the idea of absolute darkness did shift over into this new story, and it's working out to not only be a perfect setting for a later revelation, but also a fine thematic parallel that should enhance the narrative. Regardless, I find it interesting how one's experiences can subconsciously feed into one's writing. (ah, but I'm sounding a bit pretentious now, so time to split and head on down the list. Follow me...)


My wife and I watched Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Edith Wharton's novel, THE AGE OF INNOCENCE. This movie guts me every time. Daniel Day-Lewis is amazing as Newland Archer, Michelle Pfeiffer is radiant as Ellen Olenska, and Winona Ryder is pitch perfect as May Welland, the vacuous wife of Archer who proves to have more mettle, in the end, than most any of the socialites orbiting her world. The romantic ideal of honor, or giving up that which you so dearly want in order to fulfill one's responsibilities, is epitomized by Day-Lewis's Archer, and yet, one could also say he was trapped by convention in a marriage that, if not as exciting as the one he might have had with Madame Olenska, was, at least, fulfilling with his children and the adherence to tradition and family. So much is said in this film without saying anything at all, and the heartache and sacrifice is palpable. I love this film, and it is easily my favorite of Scorsese's magnificent catalogue of work. If I'm looking for a good cry, this is the one that'll do it. (It's 2020, men are allowed to cry . . . at least, they can do it behind their keyboards, as long as nobody sees them)


From 1990 and Adventure Comics, written by Charles Marshall, with art by Kent Burles and Barb Kaalberg. 
I bought the first issue of this series right off the rack, thirty years ago, and I really enjoyed it. For some reason, though, I never purchased any others (maybe it was a title that didn't sell at the comic shop, and subsequent issues went unordered by the owner). I recently got the next 11, to see if they were as entertaining as that first one, which I've read multiple times in the years since. 
They are.
The art is satisfactory, not great but not terrible, but the story is intriguing and engaging. Caesar's grandson, Alexander, is carrying on the legacy of trying to bring peace to apedom, but while out in the wastes, General Ollo begins a campaign of terror in Ape City, in order to take over the city and subjugate the citizenry to his will. Ollo has no qualms about ape killing ape. 
I'm only a few issues in, but thus far the narrative threads are interesting and sets up nicely the impending conflict between Alexander and Ollo.


Typically, this spot is set aside for inspiration as far as writing and creativity, but we lost a giant, and a hero, this past Friday, in Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Words cannot do justice to her legacy. If you're not well familiar with the late Supreme Court Justice, please do yourself a favor, read about her, watch the recent documentary on her, learn about one of the most important Americans of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. She will be sorely missed. 


An old standby, but a perfect one to write by, Vangelis's soundtrack (the 3-volume collection is the way to go) of Ridley Scott's classic film, BLADE RUNNER. Haunting, ethereal, moving, heartbreaking -- these all describe the sensations elicited by Vangelis's music. Wonderful.


When writing a short story, in particular, you need to capture the attention of your audience as soon as possible. That means, you need a spark of an opening scene, a hell of an opening sentence. I wrote about that here, with able assistance from a quote by Harlan Ellison, a man who knew a thing or two about story openings. 


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