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OUT TAKES ...bits and pieces of story, research, and process

Ghost World (By Anonymous)

I feel a bit transparent this Halloween. You see, for the past six months I’ve been a ghost. That means no habeus corpus, no credit, no identity. I’m so insubstantial I can’t tell you whether I’m writing a kiss-and-tell or a how-to or a what-if, or all of the above. I can’t name the author of the book I’m writing. I can’t even name myself! But worst of all, from my new vantage point I can see that today’s publishing business is riddled with spectral writers – some of whom don’t even know they’re ghosts.
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Accidental Art

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, I’d use the wrong color, I’d 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 – the surface of an enamel sugar bowl – and discover myself in its reflection. Unhappiness, too, produced useful effects, and if not accidental, this certainly was unintended. Read More 
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WHY WRITE?

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. I’m not doing nearly enough to defend good writing.

So I thought I’d 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, it’s our only means of inhabiting someone else’s thoughts word for word.  Read More 
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If You Give a Friend a Sample

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 son’s, 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... Read More 
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Hello Today

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.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-liu4-2009oct04,0,97946.story
Opinion
Hello Today
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.  Read More 
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Research Rapture

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.  Read More 
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