Sunday, June 27, 2010
Just read a great story in the NY Times Sunday mag. It's in a profile of writer David Mitchel, who I've never heard of. If they're interviewing him in the Times I guess I should, but alas, if it comes out in hardcover I make all sorts of assumptions about it, all of which leads to me labeling the book "not for me."
But I digress.
It seems Mr. Mitchell was in New Zealand doing a big event in front of hundreds. Afterward, a woman comes up to him. She's a professor--a medievalist--and she tells him about something called humility topos.
Humility, it seems, was a great virtue in medieval times. As such humility topos were given to a bunch of abbots who were always crying that they served in humility, like Jesus. In truth, however, they were the most arrogant bastards of their day.
In literature, the term has come to mean characters who put on a humble front or pretend to be less intelligent than they are, often to outfox an opponent into underestimating them.
"Beware the humility topos," the prof told Mitchell.
Which is to say that Mitchell's "stage persona" is beyond self-effacing. So far beyond that it seemed to this woman that it had to be a front for the real thing.
Interesting comment, because I, too, tend to deprecate myself in public. Better me than you, right?
In fact, don't we all have public personas that we switch on and off at will? I don't mean we shape shift, but are you really "yourself" in, say, a job interview? In life, your knees don't shake on a daily basis, but some of us shake all over when we have to speak to a crowd.
None of which is to say that the public face is false, as the humility topos implies.
Sometimes it's what we need to get us through a public event. Sometimes it's a part of us that's always there, but may be buried until you need it. I'm a big scowler, as the lines on my forehead prove. It's basically the face I sink into when I'm concentrating, but it sure looks like I'm mad as hell. So when I'm talking to people I try to keep a smile on my face. Am I being a big phony? I don't think so. The smiles are with me--I just don't resort to them naturally (OK, except when I'm watching John Stewart).
But I'll try to keep the prof's warning in mind and not make it sound like I'm a total nincompoop at my next book signing.
Hmm...was that an example of humility topos or not?
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Excited to say I've got 120 pages down for the new book. I can hardly believe it.
So far it's been a very different journey. Things keep happening to these characters--things I never expected to happen.
I ask myself time and again: are you sure you want them to go through this?
And each time I say, what the hell. Fix it in post is my motto.
So it will be interesting to see how much of this will stick.
Today someone suggested a map. I did a map on one of my first ever attempts at a novel. I haven't thought of one since. But I think I'm going to do a map for this one.
A map and tales and linguistical twists. Nowt y f'more. Or sejure e tujur.
Or something ending in ski.
There's a whole new world out there.
And I'm making it up as I go.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Voices from the Great Beyond
The other day my husband and I were talking about something in the newspaper (newspaper, you say. Does anyone read the newspaper anymore?)
Anyway, I can't remember what the subject was, but I do remember him saying: "I don't read the letters like you do." And I thought, he doesn't read the letters--they're the best part.
Anyway, I can't remember what the subject was, but I do remember him saying: "I don't read the letters like you do." And I thought: He doesn't read the letters--they're the best part!
Which got me wondering. What IS is about the letters to the editor that I enjoy so much?
In my local paper, I enjoy the stupidity I read there. In the New York Times I enjoy the erudition. And when it comes down to it, I just enjoy a good argument.
Because that's what they are, aren't they? The so-called "dialog" of a democratic free press.
Ah, the hell with that. It's just fun to see people agreeing and disagreeing with each other.
I especially like it when folks make a point from within their own world view. Like the bible-thumpers who argue a point "because the bible says" so and so. Well, if you don't go by what the "bible says," the argument is moot. It's kind of like arguing against anti-communism by quoting Marx.
I think the letters also bring a bit of humanity to the news, which can often feel large, distant, and overwhelming. But to know that a particular story struck a certain gal in Omaha (or my own zip code) brings it all closer to home. It's a little reality-TV on the page.
And now that I think of it, I don't read LTE in every publication. I pretty much skip over the stuff in Lucky and In Style (Oooh, I loved the article you did on Jennifer Gardner...she's could so be my new best friend...) I pretty much scan over them in the RWA mag. But when it comes to the news, I've got my nose right in there.
So, like I said, I'm wondering. Do other people also read letters to the editor? Am I alone in my obsession? Or are most folks, like Larry, disinterested in what the Great Unwashed have to say?
Friday, June 4, 2010
I know it's been a while. Largely because I'm working on getting my writing schedule under control. Anything that isn't Stella Moon is a distraction.
And I mean a distraction.
This morning I managed to clean up from breakfast, unpack the dishwasher, attempt to take on shopnhl.com (Larry got a gift certificate for his birthday specifically to buy a Team Canada hockey jersey, but they don't have any TC jerseys and they wouldn't refund the $, grrrr; and then I opened my computer to start my writing day, but HAD to check email; saw something I'd forgotten to do, so managed to spend another twenty minutes on phone calls.
It's amazing how one can procrastinate. Or maybe not so amazing. Just predictable.
But I did get a few pages written--a victory for the day--so here I am.
Alas there's not much to tell about the present. My mind is full of the future 500 years hence.
Here and there, however, I am reading a good book. It won the RT Re viewer's Choice award in scifi this year. I got a copy of it at the convention. It's called The Empress of Mars by Kage Baker.
Very entertaining and quirky with lots of great world building and fun characters. Oh, and don't be fooled by the spacesuited weirdos and flying saucers on the cover. The book is not a boy's adventure about fighting insect-looking aliens.
First published as a novella, it won the Sturgeon Award--whatever that is--and was also nominated for a Hugo and a Nebula. Ms. Baker passed away recently and her site is undergoing revision, but it is being maintained and there's a lot about her books and the Empress of Mars. This is not a romance, but then, I'm trying a little sideways jump here myself. Anyway, if you're looking for a distraction (I swear--I'm not...) this is a good one.