writing NOW & THEN: Entries from an author's life
October 31, 2009
I feel a bit transparent this Halloween. You see, for the past six months Iíve been a ghost. That means no habeus corpus, no credit, no identity. Iím so insubstantial I canít tell you whether Iím writing a kiss-and-tell or a how-to or a what-if, or all of the above. I canít name the author of the book Iím writing. I canít even name myself! But worst of all, from my new vantage point I can see that todayís publishing business is riddled with spectral writers Ė some of whom donít even know theyíre ghosts.
October 23, 2009
WHEN I WROTE THIS MINI ESSAY 11 YEARS AGO, I'D NEVER HEARD OF THE TERM "FLOW" -- THAT MAGICAL STATE IN WHICH CREATIVITY THRIVES. BUT HERE ARE SOME PRETTY SPOT-ON DESCRIPTIONS OF FLOW...
Long ago and far away, when I used to paint, I found that my best paintings were blessed by accident. A line would wobble, Iíd use the wrong color, Iíd rub up against the canvas. The undercoat of gesso would go on rough, causing the colors that came on top of it to catch and build in unexpected textures. I would paint what I saw Ė the surface of an enamel sugar bowl Ė and discover myself in its reflection. Unhappiness, too, produced useful effects, and if not accidental, this certainly was unintended. (more…)
October 13, 2009
HERE'S ANOTHER CURRENT POST!
THE OTHER NIGHT I WAS HONORED TO RECEIVE THE ALGONQUIN WEST HOLLYWOOD LITERARY AWARD. I'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOU THE THOUGHTS THAT THIS AWARD PROMPTED IN ME...
It seems to me that literature is teetering on the brink of obsolescence. Youtube and twitter, and facebook, and 900 cable channels are only part of the problem. I am part of the problem, I think. Iím not doing nearly enough to defend good writing.
So I thought Iíd take a few minutes to remind myself why quality writing still deserves defending.
To my mind, the most compelling virtue of literature is that, short of telepathy, itís our only means of inhabiting someone elseís thoughts word for word. (more…)
October 10, 2009
I WISH I COULD SAY MY BEHAVIOR AFTER SENDING OUT MY WRITING TODAY IS MORE MATURE OR ASSURED THAN IT WAS ON Thursday, July 25, 2002 WHEN THIS ENTRY WAS WRITTEN. ALAS, WITH SOME MORTIFICATION, I CONFESS THAT IT IS NOT.
Half a decade ago, when my bedtime reading was skewed to my young sonís, one of our favorite books led off with, "If you give a mouse a cookie... he will ask for a glass of milk," and followed through pages of acts and consequences to the inevitable conclusion, "if he asks for a glass of milk, he's going to want a cookie to go with it." I find myself adapting this classic as I await the reaction of a friend to a sample section of my new novel... (more…)
October 4, 2009
We interrupt this blog to post a CURRENT piece!
THIS ONE IS ACTUALLY PUBLISHED IN TODAY'S LOS ANGELES TIMES, ON THE OP-ED PAGE.
One family finds that a daily e-mail chain keeps everyone connected.
By Aimee Liu
October 4, 2009
Two years ago, following my father's death, my mother found herself living alone for the first time in six decades. The situation, to her children and grandkids, was fraught with peril. (more…)
October 2, 2009
I WROTE THIS ON October 22, 1997, WHILE WORKING ON MY LAST NOVEL, FLASH HOUSE. PERHAPS THIS ENTRY EXPLAINS WHY I HAVE NOT PRODUCED ANOTHER RESEARCH-BASED NOVEL SINCE?
A couple of years ago I heard Oakley Hall, writer and director of the Squaw Valley Writers' Conference, talk about "research rapture," that great black hole that looms over the writing process and too often swallows both writer and work. I knew precisely what he meant. (more…)
writing NOW & THEN: entries from an author's life is a bit of personal time travel that I hope will also be of interest to you.
My mission is to excavate and extract entries from old journals that still resonate and perhaps even offer wisdom or insight into the life of writers today. What changes, and what remains the same? Isn't this a curious question that haunts us all?