Vestiges of a previous time

I just finished reading Anita Brookner's Hotel Du Lac--a lesson, if there was ever one, on why a passive character is frustrating/boring. That quibble aside, I found the discussion of marriage and an unmarried woman's role in society fascinating and a little depressing. The book was published in 1984, and though I have never considered myself (happily single) as less than, I have noticed that marriage is still strangely seen as some kind of end-all, be-all in certain circles. The final, wispy vestiges, I hope, of a previous time. (I'm not anti marriage, but I am anti "placing a woman's worth on her marital status.")

Two articles that pushed me towards Anita Brookner (aside from the NYT article I linked to in a previous post):

The Five Best Anita Brookner Novels

Anita Brookner, The Art of Fiction No. 98 (Note a subscription is required to read the whole thing, but even the first few paragraphs are worth a look)

Other bits & pieces I read:

A Look at Hollywood's History of Cults

On "A Lucky Man" by Jamel Brinkley Once upon a time Jamel and I were in a workshop together. He is a superb writer, and I'm excited to read his collection out May 1. (And, yes, I preordered a copy!) Pair with The Art of Staring: An Interview with Jamel Brinkley.

A Smarter Author Platform for the Digital Era of Publishing In my winery ecommerce/marketing career, it's all about lead gen these days, and I had never thought about how lead gen is essential for the author, too. Good stuff but not easy stuff. 

I'm futzing around with some new stories, taking running starts at one in particular, trying to find my way in. This is another way of saying that I haven't really focused (in a "butt in the chair" kind of way) on writing in these last two weeks, and that feels like a kind of failure.


Reading and writing: Week of February 25

This week, more reading than writing happened. I read:

The Likeness by Tana French - Aside from wanting to edit great swaths of dialog at the beginning of the novel, the book crooked it's finger and I became fully absorbed this past weekend, to the detriment of other things like chores and taxes. (Someday I'll pay someone else to get at my taxes.) The protagonist also doesn't gel for me until she's undercover and "playing" another character--intentional? And if intentional could the author have given me, the reader, a wink to show that she knew that I knew that she knew? (I think about these things: how do I let my reader know that this thing I'm doing that might not work on the surface is actually intended?)

Rough Drafts: Writers at Work at the Millay Colony - What writer hasn't dreamed of pushing pause on their day-to-day life and focusing on their creative work at a writers' colony? This new series from Lit Hub satisfies both the residency and seeing works in progress curiosities.

She Didn't Own a Birth Certificate or Go to School. Yet She Went on to Get Her PhD - (Review of Tara Westover's memoir, Educated) This story fascinates and horrifies me--I definitely want to read the book. It is amazing that this woman has escaped her background, but I also wonder what of that background lingers in her life, and whether she addresses this at all in her book. (Pair with Westover's interview on Fresh Air.)

Sherman Alexie Called Out for Sexual Misconduct for over a Twenty-Year Period - Of all the recent news about men in high places using their position to harass and inflict pain, this one saddens and angers me the most.

The Slade House by David Mitchell - Totally creepy, and, like The Bone Clocks, there's something I can't quite put my finger on that didn't click for me.

In Praise of Anita Brookner - Not only did she publish her first (of 23!) novels at age 53, her novels are about women's lives, human complications. I'll definitely check out her work.

Just started: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles - I loved Rules of Civility.

I recently banged a short story into shape and sent it off for it's first round of rejections. It's a story I've been working on for literal years. One of the reasons it took me so long is that while I'm a great admirer of the short story form I did not, in fact, know how to write one. At all. So I've been working on it through heavy revision and angst, and, finally, I think the piece is in respectable shape. It's not perfect, but it may be as perfect as it's going to be. I was starting to fear I would tinker this thing to death and never send it out to greet its public.

There are two novels vying for my attention. I realized one needs considerable research to understand what's been done in the genre (sorry/not sorry I can't be more specific) so I don't unwittingly replicate all that's been done before, so I can break the mold in some way. (If that's even possible--nothing new under the sun, and all that.)

I'm searching for an entry point to the other novel. I should just forge ahead and worry about entry points later. I want to write something seductively lush that isn't overwrought--again, something to worry about later. 

Gah. There are about four short stories in want of editing and polishing and maybe that's where I should turn my attention. Save the novels for later.