Category Archives: creative process

anaïs nin

“Do you know what I would answer to someone who asked me for a description of myself, in a hurry? This:

?? !!

For indeed my life is a perpetual question mark–my thirst for books, my observations of people, all tend to satisfy a great, overwhelming desire to know, to understand, to find an answer to a million questions. And gradually the answers are revealed, many things are explained, and above all, many things are given names and described, and my restlessness is subdued. Then I become and exclamatory person, clapping my hands to the immense surprises the world holds for me, and falling from one ecstasy into another. I have the habit of peeping and prying and listening and seeking–passionate curiosity and expectation. But I have also the habit of being surprised, the habit of being filled with wonder and satisfaction each time I stumble on some wondrous thing. The first habit could make me a philosopher or a cynic or perhaps a humorist. But the other habit destroys all the delicate foundations, and I find each day that I am still…only a Woman!”

e.b. white

“All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world.”

noël coward

“My importance to the world is relatively small. On the other hand, my importance to myself is tremendous. I am all I have to work with, to play with, to suffer and to enjoy. It is not the eyes of others that I am wary of, but of my own. I do not intend to let myself down more than I can possibly help, and I find that the fewer illusions I have about myself or the world around me, the better company I am for myself.”

ivan turgenev

“If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.”

my november

Friends, I am giving myself over to NaNoWriMo for the month of November. It may come to naught, but between that and writing comedy sketches, which, I hasten to add, are like academic-level hard, my frequency of posting will be intermittent at best for the next month or so. If I do it will very likely be whining about process or something like that. It promises to be quite dull.

I have not forgotten you, internet. I will be engaged in a war with some words, of which I am simultaneously the mistress and the bitch. A girl’s gotta be versatile in this day and age.

the great american novel and the internet

So, here we are, internet.

Brief pause to fangirl Jonathan Franzen, because, not only is The Corrections an amazing book– one I would very quickly nominate for Great American Novel, because, OMFG– but, until I saw him on the cover of Time, I sort of did not realize that he is ADORABLE.

What interests me most, though, is as I Try To Write Non-Academic Things, is his relationship with technology. It is Luddite at best, as this snippet from an interview makes clear:

AVC: A lot of writers—if they don’t use typewriters or write longhand—claim to only use computers without an Internet connection, because the distraction is too readily available, and no work gets done.

JF: Absolutely. I have one of those nine-pound Dell laptops you can get for $389 because nobody ended up buying that model, for obvious reasons. I took the wireless card out immediately, and I plugged up the Ethernet hole with superglue. The biggest struggle was getting Hearts and Solitaire off of it. I did work on a DOS machine until about five years ago. It ran WordPerfect 5.0, which is still the best software ever written for a writer, I think. But now, obviously, I work on a Windows machine, and Windows just will not let you de-install a Solitaire program. It puts it back whenever you try to remove it.

I am going to hazard a guess here that JF’s  disabling of the internet is no doubt part of the reason why he has written Great Important American Novels, whereas I can barely make it through a 400 word blog post without falling into internet rabbit holes so deep it’s a wonder I don’t end up in Pyongyang. Actually, just to digress, have you ever seen a picture of North Korea from space? It’s pitch black, hemmed in by the lights of South Korea and China. I don’t know why, but more than the military marches, more than the terrifyingly outmoded Communist regime, that darkness frightens me more than almost anything.

And since there are no traffic lights, of course, this is how they direct the flow of vehicles in Pyongyang–

Um, okay. So back to the matter at hand, which was– I cannot afford to purchase Freedom right now. My ass is broke, and even at twenty or thirty percent off, I so cannot afford a hardback. Which brings me to my next point — not “don’t smoke crack,” although that is sound advice, too. Possibly the only sound advice ever to emanate from an Adam Sandler movie, come to think of it — why are publishing houses even bothering to release hardbacks at all?

According to the Times, Kindle downloads outpace hardcover sales 143:100, a gap which I’m sure will only increase in the future. Stephen Fry just released his new autobiography (WANT!) in electronic and print formats, but the e-version is only available for Apple devices. That seems a bit Not On, if you ask me. Also, why the hell would you want to read an entire book on an iPhone?

All this is by way of saying: Franzen: amazing. Technology: a bitch.  Erin: violently broke. If you’re done with your copy of Freedom, will you lend it to me? Stellar.

You can view Ron Charles’ hilarious video review here, since HuffPo seems to hate embed codes. Whatevs.

You can read the whole interview here.

second city

Author’s note: I am full aware that I am not Nick Hornby. My record collection is far less impressive, for one thing. But what is the point of blogging if you can’t play with narrative conventions, right? So today you can have a list.

Have signed up for sketch comedy writing class at Chicago’s Second City. Class has met twice thus far. They made me do improv, which I have not done since…oh, 8th grade, I think? It’s weirdly fun, kind of zen, insofar as it takes you out of yourself and clamps a damper on your constant internal monologue (just me, with that? doubtful). You have to listen. Not like talking with other people, where you’re just sitting there anxious for it to be your turn again, but truly attentive and in the present moment.* Terrifying, but weirdly exhilarating. Also all about fostering ‘hivemind.’

So I did that, met a bunch of children. Sort of shocked at how many of them had moved to Chicago for the sole purpose of  taking classes there. It felt like the first day of school, I had to amp myself up with horrible tunes. And then had drinks with delightful and funny anthropologists in my OWN AGE BRACKET the next day. Good times.

  • Notebooks purchased for writing class (2, pink, slightly pretentious)
  • Iced teas consumed before class (4 )
  • Times Miley Cyrus’ Party in the USA was played as incentive to walk into classroom (3)**
  • Times Rough Riders rap (Biggie, Eve, L’il Kim et all) was played (10+)
  • Times I remembered Second City’s “no refunds” policy (more than once?)
  • Number of people in sketch comedy writing class (14)
  • Number of girls in SCWC (4)
  • Number of girls in SCWC who went to Harvard (1, not counting my own horrible stint at summer school)
  • Times debated asking this girl whether I could call her “Toofer” (2)
  • Number of guys in class who claim “not to read” (5)
  • Number of guys who clearly want to be the next Andy Samberg (3)
  • Number of guys who actually look like Andy Samburg (0, and a DAMN SHAME IT IS)
  • Drinks consumed with semi-adults (4)
  • Plates of french fries eaten (3)
  • Excellent puns made (1)
  • Excellent puns heard (6, including the fabulous Ms. B’s title for a Marxian porn– “Come Oddity Fetish”)
  • Cigarettes smoked (0, +10000 points of awesome!)
  • Stabbing pains in calves (well over two dozen)
  • Bottles of vitamins purchased (2)

Single best thing about this clip? Animal reaction shots.

*Russell T. Davies has a great quote, which I will paraphrase here. Namely, that when two people are talking, it’s very rarely a conversation. It’s two monologues happening simultaneously. Which, whoa. But, true?

**I know it’s been autotuned to all hell and that it’s atrocious, but if Rivers Cuomo says it’s okay, it’s okay. (From Details: “Miley Cyrus’ ‘Party in the USA” kills me with jealousy.’ The melodies are out-of-control beautiful.” )