Thoughts, the Hybrid Memoir: TROPIC OF CANCER, by Henry Miller

Tropic of Cancer is one of the finest examples self knows of the hybrid fiction/memoir.

It was published in Paris in 1934. Labeled obscene by American standards, it was banned for the next 27 years (You can read the first half safely; it’s the second half that set the American censors off)

The version self is reading now is the one by Grove Press.

  • I have made a silent compact with myself not to change a line of what I write. I am not interested in perfecting my thoughts, nor my actions. Beside the perfection of Turgenev I put the perfection of Dostoevski. (Is there anything more perfect than The Eternal Husband?) Here, then, in one and the same medium, we have two kinds of perfection. But in Van Gogh’s letters there is perfection beyond any of these. It is the triumph of the individual over art.

Tropic of Cancer, p. 11

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

THE Conversation: June 2015, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig

The Scene: Dinner. Around the table, mostly Irish playwrights. In such a crowd, self does not know why she can always think of something to say. Such as:

Self: I’m stuck writing my novel. I think I’m bored with my main character (Honestly, the things self ends up saying when she’s relaaaaxed!)

Irish Playwright, interrupting: KILL HIM OFF.

Self: ????

Irish Playwright: If he’s boring, KILL HIM OFF.

End of story. Thanks so much for that. Stay tuned.

Connected: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge is:  CONNECTED.

Which is fabulous, as self recently had occasion to quote E. M. Forster in one of her UCLA Extension Writing classes:

Only connect.

Only connect.

Only connect.

Two simple words which mean so much.

Here to celebrate connectedness:

(1) Self met the musical composers/performers Xenia Pestova and Ed Bennett at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre this past summer. Here they are rehearsing a new piece:

Xenia Pestova and Ed Bennett rehearsing a new piece at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, this past summer

Xenia Pestova and Ed Bennett rehearsing a new piece at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, this past summer.

(2) Language connects people. Here, a snap of a page of the Oxford English Dictionary, which self found in her cottage at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig. She kept the dictionary open to the page defining “circumlocution” (a most fabulous word):

The Oxford English Dictionary in Self's Cottage at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig

The Oxford English Dictionary in Self’s Cottage at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig

(3) The Banff Writing Studio (April/May 2015) brought together 24 poets and prose writers for several weeks: This was the official portrait, self’s picture of a picture. Since she was the shortest writer in the program, she was in the front row (in pink and red). The writers were brought to Banff to work on book-length projects. When she arrived in Banff, she had 60 not-so-good pages of her novel-in-progress. When she left, she had 100 pages. Today, she got her manuscript up to 166 pages! Amazesauce!!!

2015 Banff Writing Studio Official Portrait: a picture of a picture, BLURRED!

2015 Banff Writing Studio Official Portrait: a picture of a picture, BLURRED!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

First Sentence, New Story/ And Self’s Discovery of a New Fantasy Book Series

  • Let me tell you about wind.
Self was going to take a picture for this week's WordPress Photo Challenge, instead she got distracted by bars of light . . .

Self was going to take a picture for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, instead she got distracted by bars of light . . .

It is a red-letter day. Self started a new series by Christopher Paolini. The first book of the series, Eragon.

Over the years, she has had much cause to thank various nieces, nephews, sons of friends who tell her, “Read this! You won’t regret it!” She thought it would be fun to compile a list of series she started because niece/nephew/children of friends brought them to her attention. Here goes:


  • The Hunger Games: Thank you to Niece G, who saw self reading Twilight and told her: “You should read The Hunger Games.” Self put off finishing Book 1 (the last 50 pages) because she thought Peeta was going to die. Until, one fine day, she spilled her angst to Niece G and Niece G said, “Peeta makes it.” Then self had to rush back home because she needed to finish the last 50 pages she’d put off reading. For three years. Two books later, self was a goner. How deep into this stuff is self? She even entertained the notion of meeting up in Dallas for a convening of Everlark fan fiction writers)
  • Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief:  Thank you to son of Gayo A.
  • The Infernal Devices: Thank you to niece in Calgary, Karina Villanueva.
Karina in Calgary: So Adorbs!

Karina in Calgary: So Adorbs!

  • Eragon: Thank you to Isaac S. At first self thought she would never get over The Infernal Devices — the angst! The Victorian Steampunk! London and York! — but Isaac thought she just might like this new series, so anyhoo, she gave it a shot. Hoooooly Smoke !!!! The Prologue was — mind-blowing.

Also just began reading Kass Morgan’s The 100 (which she heard is very different from the CW TV series). The plot goes something like this: 100 juvenile delinquents get sent to Earth to re-populate it. YAY!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Juked: “First Life” (Multiple Choice)

Drinker says, Negative outcomes. (How did Big ever make it to Academy? Slow as slow)

Sunlight and glass, prisms and mirrors. My mind is floating out there, beyond the windows. Out there, where swish swish swish goes something, maybe the wind.

Drinker says, That’s the problem, right there. Hello? Dragon? Hey, Dragon?

Am so happy to have “First Life” in Juked this month (also self’s birthday month, Woot Hoot!).

Went live while self was in Ireland, hey good one.

Also love the tag: “multiple choice.”

It’s very amusing to go through all the pieces on the Juked website and try to figure out why they’re tagged the way they are. There’s a slyness involved in tagging. The best ones are brilliant.

Self got her novel-in-progress to a good 140 pages. She cut about 20 pages in the last week, so what’s left is pretty solid.

Bless for picking “First Life” as their Story of the Week and for tweeting about it:

Self loves that the post on “First Life” is tagged Uncategorizable — BWAH. HA. HA. HAAAAA — and that there’s a sentence “love the names, by the way.”

Dear blog readers have no idea — NO IDEA — how hard it was for self to come up with those names, and here self will list them for you for your elucidation:

Dragon. Her. Big. Drinker. Lizard.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Muse 5: Still Writing in Annaghmakerrig

Stayed up all night, writing. Well, mebbe self did catch two hours. But at 6 a.m. this morning, she was back at her desk:

Crushing the Writing: Thursday, 2 July

Crushing the Writing: Thursday, 2 July

Self finds tremendous solace in being able to take a walk in the afternoons and evenings:

The Gate to the Meadow

The Gate to the Meadow

So, even though she is not sleeping, she is still in calm, meditative mode.

Of course, it always helps if the surroundings are as lushly green as they are here in Annaghmakerrig, Ireland!

The Meadow by the Lake at Annaghmakerrig

The Meadow by the Lake at Annaghmakerrig

Yesterday, self saw a whole hillside populated with Jersey cows (at least, she thinks that’s what they call those black-and-white-spotted dairy cows). Self is so amused by these animals.

What if she bought her own herd of dairy cows? She loves Irish cream. It is the best cream in the whole world.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Muse 4: Swans! At the Lake in Annaghmakerrig!

Today, after a hard day of writing, self walked down to the lake:

Swan Sighting at the Lake!

Swan Sighting at the Lake!

And saw her first swans! (Actually, that’s not quite right. She was down at the lake yesterday evening, and saw swans then, too)

Self will share with dear blog readers that it was because of the swans she saw in Ireland that she wrote a story called “The Ark.” And, earlier this year, it was published by Local Nomad. Which, self just wants to say, is a really beautiful on-line journal. And it is all done by one woman: Jean Vengua.

Her story begins thus:

There were great stores of food laid up, for Noah knew that the flood would last a long time. The hull began to groan with the weight, intensifying his anxiety.

Two Swans!

Two Swans!

And here are swans, diving for food:


And now, back to the writing desk!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Judith Barrington

from Judith Barrington’s classic Writing the Memoir

  • What we really need . . . are new images of of what it means to be a writer: images that include healthy food, exercise, a sane attitude, and a tranquil soul — all of which are surely more compatible with great writing than is being a physical and mental wreck. We need to encourage one another in these directions and reject the old stereotypes; we must remind one another that fighting with our families or suffering through a love affair that denigrates us are not essential pastimes for a writer. After all, writing is hard enough without adding alcoholism, drug addiction and angst to the qualifications. There is no evidence that good writing requires any of them. What writing does is require that we nurture the stamina it takes to work hard and that we stay fully conscious — and alive.

— Chapter 11 of Writing the Memoir (“Watch Out for the Myths”)

Randomness: Saturday, 20 June 2015

Today the weather is all mixed up. Self felt cool-ish this morning so she put on a turtleneck sweater.

Sometime in the afternoon, it began to shower. Only briefly. Only the merest whisper of moisture.

Now, it is hot. So hot it is really punishing to keep the sweater on. But since she’s been traveling so diligently, most of her clothes are in need of washing. And she brought very little with her (because she knew she’d be hitting buses and trains and hauling her own luggage all over the UK). And she is also feeling somewhat lethargic. And it is too much bother to change into something else.

It occurs to self that a number of distinct words describing negative emotional states begin with the letter “D.” Such as:

distracted * distraught * distressed

It occurs also to self that it is hard to write without using the letter “E.”

She just tried doing a challenge on Jennifer’s Journal. Here it is, for those who care to try.

And it occurs to self that Word Riot, several years ago, published a piece by her that was a Dictionary of sorts:

It began thus:


Ask. Ask and thou shalt receive.

Assumpta est Maria, you sang every week in the auditorium.

Angels. Angelus. Angelic.

Admit, admit this was all your fault.

Against. Must you always — ?

And on it went, all the way through the alphabet, self pulling random objects from thin air.

And she did it. She got all the way to the letter “Z.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Second (Or Third) Re-Read of CLOCKWORK PRINCESS

Self had quite a busy Sunday.

She went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Then she walked around, taking lots of pictures.

She finally, finally did a little work on her WIP, A Myriad Wildernesses.

She spoke to Joan McGavin.

She heard from Zack.

She began re-reading Clockwork Princess.

(Dear blog readers sigh)

She loves, loves, loves the angst.

Clockwork Princess opens with Tessa Gray in a gold wedding dress.

And Cicely Herondale trying to goad her brother, Will, into writing a letter to their parents, who he hasn’t seen or spoken to in five years.

Cecily:  Would you consider a wager, Will?

Cecily was both pleased and a little disappointed to see Will’s eyes spark, just the way her father’s always did when a gentleman’s bet was suggested. Men were so easy to predict.

Self likes Cecily! Got a lot of spunk, that girl does. Sort of reminds her of Arya Stark.

Let’s see, what else did self do today? She got herself a ticket to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which is showing at the Gielgud. She hopes it’s as good as the Broadway production, which just won a bunch of Tonys, including one for Alex Sharp, who plays the male lead. Well, it should be just as good, since the play originated here, in London.

On Wednesday, self is seeing King John at the Globe (Hurrah!) Self loves the Globe. And this time, she won’t be alone: Joan will be watching it with her.

Self’s first time to experience the wonder of the Globe was last year; she caught a production of Titus Andronicus (which was properly billed as “theatre without mercy”). It was brutal, it was shades of Quentin Tarantino, it had people walking out before half-time. Self nearly barfed at the chopping-off of hands scene.

While walking around today, self saw a huge sign plastering a building: Fifty Shades of Grey, now out on video. Oh my oh my oh my oh my. London is like some futuristic, anachronistic, fantastical Victorian Steampunk city.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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