Preparing, OSSW Day One

Drove up to Mendocino, which as the crow flies is only 200 miles from Redwood City, but always takes self at least FIVE HOURS.

On the way, she stopped by Yorkville Market and had lunch:

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And then she mulled over the writing exercises she should start tomorrow with.

Should she have the students practice writing one very, very, very long, run-on sentence? With points to whoever can come up with the most run-on sentence?

Or, for fun, should she have them write a piece that’s all bad grammar and deliberately wrong spelling? Hamberder, anyone? Smocking guns?

Should she have them write a piece that’s all dialogue?

Should she ask them to capture every nuance of a piece of reality . . . in one sentence?

Should she have them practice writing a conversation that grows from an association of ideas (like a Harold Pinter play?)

Should she have them practice delaying the outcome for as long as possible?

She can’t decide. She’ll have to sleep on it.

BTW, this is one of the plays being presented by the Mendocino Theatre Company in 2019:

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Mendocino Theatre Company, 2019 Season

Stay tuned.

The Reading List: THE ESSEX SERPENT, p. 52

Self has been averaging 10 days a book.

Her last two books were Anna Karenina and Swann’s Way, and her current read, The Essex Serpent, is definitely NOT a book to be rushed through.

(It was a good idea not to push through with Ove Knausgaard. She might still be stuck on Book 1 right now)

The main character of The Essex Serpent (a novel she’s very much enjoying) is a recently widowed woman whose intellectual curiosity is not looked upon kindly by the society of her time (late 19th century England). She has a son named Francis and has consulted with a doctor about his being different from other children:

  • I spoke to Luke Garrett about him, you know. Not that I think there is anything wrong with him!” She flushed, because nothing shamed her as much as her son. Acutely aware that her unease in the presence of Francis was shared by most who met him, it was impossible to exculpate herself; his remoteness, his obsessions, must be her fault, for where else could she lay the blame? Garrett had been uncharacteristically quiet, soft-spoken; he’d said, “You cannot pathologize him — you cannot attempt to make a diagnosis. There is no blood test for eccentricity, no objective measure for your love or his!”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Definitely the Sentence of the Day

“I do find it absurd that a man of his intelligence should suffer over a person of that sort, who isn’t even interesting — because they say she’s an idiot,” she added with the wisdom of people not in love who believe a man of sense should be unhappy only over a person who is worth it, which is rather like being surprised that anyone should condescend to suffer from cholera because of so small a creature as the comma bacillus.

Swann’s Way

That was hilarious.

Stay tuned, dear blog reader. Stay tuned.

ANNA KARENINA, p. 733

A conversation between Levin and his old beekeeper, Mikhailych. (Even the most insignificant of supporting characters gets vivid description: The beekeeper, a “handsome old man with a gray-streaked black beard and thick silver hair, was standing motionlessly, holding a cup of honey, looking kindly and calmly at the gentlemen from the fullness of his height . . . “)

Levin: “Have you heard, Mihailych, about the war? What was that they read in church? What do you think? Should we be fighting for the Christians?”

Mikhailych: “What’s for us to think? Alexander Nikolaevich, our emperor, he’s thought it over for us, he thinks everything over for us. He knows best.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Work-in-Progress: Speculative Fiction

Self found this unfinished story in one of her old computer files.

An angel is roomies with a struggling college student. “He” is the angel.

He sat down and picked up an apple from a bowl on the kitchen table. “I’m hungry. Feed me.”

“You took an apple,” I said.

“Not enough,” he said. “A gammon joint. With apple and whiskey sauce.”

This is a very demanding angel!

lol

lol

lol

Stay tuned.

 

Self’s Favorite Character in ANNA KARENINA

A young doctor has examined Kitty and prescribed for her a period of travel abroad. After he delivers this news to Prince Alexander Dmitrievich and his wife, Kitty’s parents, the old prince pats Kitty’s hair and says:

  • “These idiotic chignons! You can’t get to your real daughter, you’re petting the hair of dead peasants.”

WAAAH!!!

Stay tuned.

 

Anna Karenina As She Was, P. 68 of ANNA KARENINA

Anna Karenina goes to the Oblonskys to play peacekeeper between Stiva and his wife Dolly. Which, in light of what happens later, is extremely ironic. Her message to Dolly: Forgive him! Because he loves you!

After dinner, when Dolly retires to her bedroom, Anna goes to her brother, “who was lighting a cigar.”

“Stiva . . . go and may God help you.”

When Stepan Arkadyevich (Stiva) left, she returned to the sofa, where she sat surrounded by the children. Whether it was because the children saw that their mother loved this aunt, or because they themselves sensed the special charm in her, the older two, and the younger ones in their wake, as often happens with children, had latched onto their new aunt before dinner and would not be separated from her, and between them something like a game was invented that consisted in sitting as close to their aunt as possible, touching her, holding her little hand, kissing it, and playing with her ring, or at least touching the flounce on her dress.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Levin Again: ANNA KARENINA, p. 35

Levin lunching with his old friend Stepan Arkadyevich aka Stiva, whose wife Dolly has just discovered his affair:

Levin: You can’t imagine how it is for me, a country dweller, all this is as savage as the fingernails of the gentlemen I saw in your office.

Stiva (laughing): Yes, I saw how intrigued you were by poor Grinevich’s nails.

Levin: I can’t help it . . . Just imagine you’re me and take a country dweller’s point of view. In the country, we try to keep our hands in a state that makes them handy to work with; so we trim our nails and sometimes roll up our sleeves. But here people let their fingernails grow as long as they can stand it on purpose, and they wear cuff links like saucers so that they can’t do anything with their hands.

Stiva (smiling): Yes, it’s a sign that he doesn’t need to do rough labor. His mind does the work.

Self is fascinated by this glimpse into the foppish fashion of Muscovites.

Stiva seems like a good guy, a good friend to Levin. Ugh, but he’s really so entitled.

Stay tuned.

Levin: ANNA KARENINA, p. 26

“Well, and how’s that council of yours doing?” asked Sergei Ivanovich . . .

“To be honest, I don’t know.”

“How’s that? Aren’t you a member of the board?”

“No, not anymore. I resigned,” replied Konstantin Levin, “and I don’t attend meetings anymore.”

lol

lol

lol

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Excerpt: First Causes (Quarterly West # 89)

Yesterday, someone on Twitter posted a question to the Asian American writing community: share your 2018 achievements. Self’s response began with: “I am an experimental science fiction writer.” Which she’s sure had people scratching their heads.

To explain what she meant by “experimental science fiction writer”, here’s an excerpt from a story that Quarterly West published in Issue #89. The story takes place in a classroom of the future. The narrator is a boy named Dragon who is NOT a dragon. The professor, who really IS turning into a lizard, is named Fire Lizard. The other characters are Drinker, Knot, and Big. Big’s just gone missing.

Drinker says, low, “Big passed.”

I answer: “Fucker. Big’s not Big. He’s Big XXX. Mark it.” I slash three quick XXX’s across my screen. Knot looks to the side quickly, then glances down.

“The All-Powerful, the Everlasting,” I start to sing, lowly.

Drinker shudders, pulls slightly out of his seat.

“You!” Fire Lizard screams, pointing at Drinker. “What’s your issue?”

“Obscure,” Drinker mutters.

Fire Lizard’s eyes seem to bug out of his head. “Who remembers rain?” he shouts. “Last rain? Who remembers?”

I hold up my hand. “Ghost of,” I say. “243 days since.”

Self would like to take this opportunity to express her gratitude to Quarterly West for taking a chance and accepting this story. It’s wild, it’s crazy, it’s not easy to understand. But did she ever have fun writing it.

Stay tuned.

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