Monday, January 31, 2011

Does the Art excuse the Artist?

There was a hypothetical question my best friend and I argued while we were still getting our degrees in Art History: If a building were on fire and you had a choice between saving a Rembrandt and saving a cat, which would you choose?

Okay, besides the fact that those stupid hypothetical questions are always too simplistic, and besides the (also) fact that my best friend HATED cats so the question was more whether she would throw a cat into the fire...

I'd save anything alive before I'd save a painting. A pointsettia. Anything living is more important than art. It was her opinion that Art was superior to Life. And so the argument would begin.

Certain 'great' artists were morally reprehensible human beings. Surprised? No, I didn't think so. Matisse, for instance, who painted the famous "Dance of Life" impregnated his wife repeatedly and then gave his children to an orphanage. They were an impediment to his lifestyle, you see. Keep in mind, orphanages were a lot worse then than they are now.

Kind of ruins his art for me.

The same goes with authors. I loved Dean Koontz for many years. His descriptive passages are vivid and exciting. I could read them over and over. Sadly, he is reported to have said many disparaging things about Asian people. The man is a bigot! Who knew. It has spoiled my enjoyment of his skill. Sadly.

Now, my friend's argument was that all people are wicked and that their art redeems them on some level. She has a point, right? My question is, where do you draw the line? CAN you draw a line (I'd say, 'no') For instance, how can I read books written by mysoginists, given that I've spent most of my life fighting for women's rights? Or how can I read books written by men who subsequently supported Hitler?

Does it ruin books (or other art) for you if you know that the person who created it was an asswipe? Does it matter, or not?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

on Arrogance, Greed, and the Reasons We Make Art

I love capital letters. One of my all-time favorite authors, Jane Austen, used them incorrectly and in excess. They successfully place ones tongue firmly in ones cheek. So when I say Arrogance, I mean it with the capital 'A'. As in 'nobody does it better than I and here I sit on my mighty highchair pronouncing judgment on all of you' Arrogance. I.E., the king of the dump is feeling mightier than his other vagrant friends.

And Greed. I write, currently, in a small pocket of a fan base. We aren't making the New York Times Bestseller list anytime soon, are we? We aren't talking bazillions of fan dollars. Snarling and worrying over a few hundred, or even a thousand, purchases more or less makes us small and mean.

Man makes art for no good reason, evolutionarily speaking. (Evolutionarily? :) Oh, dear.) Obviously, there is a certain amount of ego involved. We slave away and see others (perhaps) getting praise for work we might not like and we feel??? offended??? outraged??? We forget that EVERYONE HAS DIFFERENT TASTES and we get on some high horse and freak out. Writing is insecure and lonely and scary. And we all worry about money. And then there is the Love factor. It's hard to work in isolation and get no Lurve all day. It makes you nuts.

But, I'm lucky, in that my 'day job' is a creative one. I get feedback. I get praise. I get smacked upside the head and I've learned to appreciate that feedback as well because it makes me better at what I do. I observe, every day, how hard it is for creative people to praise other creative people. How difficult it is to accept that someone else might take a concept and use it differently. We are Opinionated. We Care. We are Outraged at Incompetence. lol We are Arrogant and Greedy and have to smack ourselves periodically because truthfully, humility makes us better artists.

Sadly, I don't see as much of that being learned by writers. I am painfully aware of the emotions and feelings that writers suffer. Hey, I'm not immune. But I hope I have learned something from working in Animation. Arrogance and Greed. God save me from it. I mean that. If I ever have an 'off' day and I put down other authors, or set myself up as some kind of standard (trust me, this won't happen anytime soon, but if it does) smack me upside the head and make me go read Thomas Hardy. Remind me to be humble.

Okay. Done. Going off to read some old school BDSM that teddypig recommended.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

omg mom I want to have Taylor Mali's baby...

I Could Be a Poet

by Taylor Mali (

I think I could be a poet because I like to wear a lot of black.
And I can think of incongruous images like a Marxist with a trust fund.
A Porsche pulling a U-Haul, a lobsterman in Birkenstocks sipping a cappuccino,
with his pinkie pointing toward the sky.
I have studied the poets who sing song out their lines
for no other reason than that’s how it’s done,
in love with the sound of their own voices,
ending each line going up,
every single line going up,
as they read, and read, and . . . read?
See, declarative sentences that in prose would go down,
in poetry seem to go up
as if it adds some hidden meaning:
I know what I’m talking about and you should too.

And I am not afraid to get pissed off!
I am not afraid to use that ONE requisite swear word
to let you know I am FUCKING serious, man!
I’m not afraid to




And still you can hear the lines going up.
And the words, the vocabulary words—
Glaconian, distemic, irrepscenteelia—
Thrown in to remind you
“I am a writer! Eat my Verbal dust!”

And then the end
Spoken softly, hauntingly tender,
Though not devoid of irony,
Ending abruptly as if there is more . . .

Monday, January 24, 2011

Plot and Structure

Write Great Fiction: Plot & StructureWrite Great Fiction: Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, I have quite a few 'how to write' books.

Some are awesome to read just because they are inspiring. For instance, "On Becoming a Novelist" by John Gardner, made me feel like it was a holy journey to pick up pen (or place fingers on keyboard) and compose a story.

Some are absolute garbage that tell you nothing you don't know and without any kind of details, so you're left feeling like you just read a synopsis of a synopsis. Or like an Apple software user manual that is nothing but press for the author's other products.

I found this one while going down in the quicksand of a novel in which I knew the characters, knew their motivations, knew the beginning middle and end and yet could NOT find the story in the mass of words on the page.

He spells it out. Yes, it's what you already know. You know good story. You know the so-called "Hero's Journey" But it helps very much to have it pointed out clearly. At least it helped me.

I do love Dean Koontz, and so the frequent quotes from his and Stephen King's books did not bother me. If you are an anti-Koontz reader (I know of a few) then you might not be as tickled.

View all my reviews

Sunday, January 23, 2011

sick again...

I thought I'd gotten over whatever that was, but last night my throat started to hurt and tonight I have a fever and I've lost any desire to move. I've changed the colors of my blog in an attempt to make it easier on the eyes, but it unfortunately resembles burnt split pea soup.


bye bye Bears

The did better than I thought they would. If I gambled on sports I would have made a fortune on my prediction that Cutler wouldn't survive the game uninjured.

the heartbreak of it all...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

I'm going to call it research

I love animals of the canine persuasion. Especially square headed toothy, battlescarred dogs whose backhair goes all prickly when they growl at the man who delivers packages to my door. So some time ago I thought I might try my hand at a sort of were wolf story.

Well, a sort of were dog, weir dog? Hmm.

Anyway, I'm feeling a little better today but not 100 percent so I decided to play with it a little. And I ran into the problem with the images in my head.

Not romantic. I can't even ::shudder:: imagine finding that attractive. So I used goodreads "Genre" search function for the first time. Not only can I look for werewolf stories available as ebooks, but I can see which ones my 'friends' have enjoyed.

This is so cool.

I read Amber Green's "Bareback" today. And now I think I sort of understand how the animal thing can be sexy. Then I downloaded "With Love" by J.L. Langley.

(Kindle via Amazon is wicked. There is virtually instantaneous satisfaction. My card is auto charged and I don't even feel the blood leaving me, so to speak. Evil.)

Anyway, then I purchased Stephanie Hecht's "Primal Passions" (despite the hideous cover)

It's research!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Never read reviews...

I know better. I'm my own worst critic and I agonize over every book. The fact that I write slowly and don't come to it naturally, but by painstaking labor, makes me hyper aware that I'm undoubtedly attempting to do something nature never intended me to do. : )

But I persevere and usually have the good sense not to read my reviews. They will only mess me up in the head and echo there while I'm trying to write.

Maybe I can blame the fever. Or the boredom of being bedridden. But I read a couple of reviews today.

Stupid stupid stupid.

feeling gross

Do we still say 'gross' or am I showing my age?

I feel wretched and yet I can't just hang it up and go to bed. I wanted to finish a short I'm editing (film) and write quite a bit of a book I've got in the works. My head is throbbing, my eyes are burning. If I take my temp I know what I'll discover and so I'm not going to do it.

My stomach is grumbling and feels like a volcano about to blow.

Stress, germs and rock 'n roll. It'll get you every time.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Flashing Teddy-pig

Teddy-pig has a new thing "Show me your Scrivener" He's asking all the authors who use the software to send him a screenshot of their WIP. I'm still in the 'trial' version and I love it to bits. This is the first writing software I've ever found not to be more trouble than it's worth and I sent a screenshot of "If Not for You" to teddy.

And now I feel like I've flashed my undies at the world. There is my novel all naked and stuff. Typos and curse words and all...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Yahoo comments - OR- Has the World Gone Mad?

I have a yahoo email account, so I get the latest news, as reported by Associated Press, right next to my 'mail' box. I often click on the links and read the articles and sometime, if I find the article particularly interesting, I'll scroll down to read the comments of other readers.

Or.. I USED to read those comments. With complete anonymity, the unmonitored yahoo comments section has become a place where people can spew their sociopathic vitriole without ever needing to take responsibility for their words.

The recent shooting of Representative Gifford, for instance, spawned this comment: "shooting a Dem in the head isn't life thereatening. they've got no vital organs there." (sic)

Seriously? You post this on the internet? "Who are these people?" I asked -E-.

"They don't live in California," she tried to soothe me.

I don't believe her.

Well, someone has decided to TRY to get yahoo to at least moderate their comments section. He's started a facebook group here and I encourage you to join. If you're into facebook , that is.

And check out this article:

regarding the same topic.