Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Meme Raths Outgrabe

Meming time again....

What were you doing 10 years ago?

I had either just moved to New Zealand, or I was just about to move to New Zealand. It was a scary, exciting time for me, and one of the best things I ever did.

Five things on your to-do list for today





Play with the Tiny Dynamo.

(not necessarily in that order)

(What can I say? La Vie Boheme is La Dolce Vida up in here!)

What would you do if you were a billionaire?

Two Words: SECRET VOLCANO LAIR, baby!!!

Seriously, about five years ago I quit worrying about money. My life now is *exactly* what I would want if I had a billion bucks, just with shabbier clothes, house, etc. I do my best every day to humbly serve the talents I've been given, and there's always enough money there by bedtime.

And, while I would like a little pied a terre in Chartres (I could always take the train into Paris), it seems to me that *actually* having one billion dollars would be a job in itself. And not a fun one. Even if I managed NOT to be one of those 'Winning the Lottery Ruined my Life' stories, I do believe the constant demands of dealing with that kind of cash would detract from my art.

What are three of your bad habits?

1. Action. (The title of this blog might just as easily have been Ready, FIRE, Aim!)

2. Horizontal Organization. (Or, as the Tiny Dynamo puts it, clutter.)

3. Coffee rings. (The not-so-secret ingredient to the Full-Throttle lifestyle has a dark side of its own...)

What are some snacks you enjoy?

1. Baby Ruth bars, unavailable in New Zealand (my penance for life in Paradise)

2. Whittaker's Chocolate, the finest in the world imho

3. Coffee. It is snack, beverage, pick-me-up in the morning and relaxing break in the middle of the day. Teacher, mother, secret lover......

What were the last five books you read?

1. Severance Package, by Dwayne Swierczynski

2. Frank Frazetta: ICON

3. Cold in the Light, by Charles Gramlich

4. Shane, by Jack Schaeffer

5. Money Shot, by Christa Faust

What are five jobs you have had?

I've pretty much spent my life doing creative work.

1. Tattooist

2. Illustrator

3. Cartoonist

4. Storyboard Artist

5. Painter (like gallery shows, with the wine and the cheese, not houses, with the overalls and the dropcloths...)

What are five places where you have lived?

1. St. Paul, Minnesota

2. New Orleans, Louisiana

3. Barcelona, Spain

4. Jerusalem, Israel

5. Auckland and Christchurch, New Zealand

And now for the tagging:







I've tried to leave out those of you I know don't like memes...

Monday, June 23, 2008

But Seriously, Villainy

(My humble apologies to all of you on dial-up. Today's post is *very* visual...)

I'm working hard out (full-throttle, as it were) trying to finish the last edits after the MAJOR rewrite. In the meantime, I figured I'd give you folks a little frippery, a tiny something to amuse and confuse.
Then I realized, there's actual, solid, good advice here, both positive and negative, for writing your villains. Or is that just me?

As always, take what you like and leave the rest...


Do Not:
Do:Do Not:Do:

Do Not:
Do Not:


Do Not:And Lastly, DO:And Do NOT:

Monday, June 9, 2008

Write Your Last Novel

My painting teacher was asked once how he planned the stages in a multi-session painting. His reply, "I try to get to a point where, if I died before I came back to it, you'd kind of wish I'd finished."

My skin chilled. I knew I had just found an important life lesson.

In theater circles they say Dance your last dance or Act your last scene.

Walk the Line dramatised this nicely. Maybe the most powerful scene in the movie is where a young Johnny Cash stands in front of Sam Phillips. Sam doesn't want to hear the same old derivative Gospel music, he wants to hear something that Johnny, and only Johnny, has to offer.

Sam puts it beautifully: Imagine you've just been in a car wreck, your body lying broken on the ground. You got just two minutes to sing one last song, something to make the world give a damn that you ever lived.

Or words to that effect. Johnny sings Folsom Prison Blues (In real life it was either the bouncy Hey Porter or the even bouncier Get Rhythm, but that's not good drama), and a legend is born.

Joaqim Phoenix does a fine job of showing the fear and hesitation in Johnny's face at the start. He's utterly convincing as he gradually finds his voice, his assurance, his pure and burning purpose, in that moment of song.

I'm willing to bet that Mr. Phoenix acted that scene like it was the last thing he might ever do.

Because that's the key to success in your art: total committment. Blind, unreasoning, insane committment to let the work be what it must. No holding back.

Money. Fame. Attention. These are not success. These are possible side effects. Success is a piece of work that you wouldn't mind leaving behind when you die.

The only way to do that is to let your work be itself. Let go of all the crap and all the worry and do your best to let the work come through. Quit caring about what people might say, or how silly you'll look. People *will* talk. And you *will* look silly, at least to some. For your art, that's the price you pay.

Some days, the work is crap. It just sucks. Just make sure it's the best you can do, and that it's honest. And come back tomorrow (should you be so lucky) and try again.

Make every novel, every story, every day's session worthy of being your last.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Helpful Google found me this:

ATONEMENT author Ian McEwan got a nasty shock when he read fans an extract from his latest novel - only to be told they had heard the storyline before.
Several members of his audience at the literary festival realised that the incident quoted bore a remarkable resemblance to one from a book published by another writer.

In McEwan's new novel in progress, he describes how a scientist on a rail journey feels uncomfortable when he realises that the man opposite has begun to eat from his packet of crisps.

His character then gets off the train - only to realise that his packet of crisps, unopened, is still intact under his coat.

No sooner had McEwan read out that extract than a man in the audience in Hay on Wye, Wales, pointed out the story had been told already - except that it had previously involved a packet of biscuits.

Stunned McEwan replied that he had heard the story as an anecdote from someone and did not realise it was already in print.

He said: "Perhaps it's one of those urban myths."

Laughing, he asked for anyone who could tell him the name of the book to get in touch.
He added that perhaps the extract would not feature in his new novel, after all.

Ian, if you're out there (and why wouldn't Ian McEwan read my blog, right?), I'm pretty sure I first read about this in a book by Douglass Adams, either the Hitchhiker's Guide series or the Dirk Gently ones. Adams used to say in interviews that the incident (with peanuts) happened to him.

Of course, this has *nearly* happpened to me on several occasions, so it may be one of those incidents that becomes urban legend through sheer weight of constant occurence.

You know, like microwaving poodles....