Monday, April 17, 2006

Defining this blog

I'm putting some thought into what this blog should focus on. For me it comes down to how writing gets done, what it means to me, and trying to find out where it comes from in a time with so much anxiety about the future of the written word. I'm interested in new writing, but just understanding what the present of writing is difficult enough. For the most part, literary study covers the past of writing well enough.

I know I want to process some of the unspoken, unwritten and unpublished thinking I've done on anthropology and fiction. I think both of those genres of writing and thinking are relevant to where we are as a culture right now. Anthropological thinking is helpful as we become less isolationist and more involved in the diverse world, and as American society begins to process the existing diversity. I see fiction as the most flexible and complicated form of writing that we have available to us now. I think the two genres are headed toward an understanding and admixture.

Writers are strongly influenced by what they read, and I've been reading a lot of journalism because of the drama of current events. I'll never be a journalist, but reading the form obviously affects how I'm writing fiction these days, and I want to figure out what that means. My next post will be about the effect of reading journalism on my writing.

Monday, April 03, 2006

How do characters begin?

Department meetings inspire my self-loathing in a way few things do anymore, since I tend to avoid events and places that make me feel bad. Our department is fourteen people, and the meeting consists of us going around the table discussing what is going on with our job that others should know about. Some of us go on for 10 to 20 minutes hitting all the highpoints of our fortnightly accomplishments. Others are mercifully short. I tend to keep it short, but realize that people may actually think I do little if I say little. The work litany becomes a strange genre of defensive self-aggrandizement always in danger of slipping into onanisticly subjective minutiae.
Sometimes it helps to spend meeting time watching my co-workers speak or react to others speaking, and to think about how they might be characterized. I can see how it’s possible to take any small group with intense dynamics and mold it into a little drama with heroes and villains. Who the heroes are switches out from week to week. Is the assistant who scowls at half of the comments the rest of us make simply petty and envious with no self-control or does she harbor the burden of upholding standards the rest of us have forgotten?

Lunch: Homemade chicken mole and rice. It could be a lot saucier. It needs something but still communicates the idea of what it could have been.