shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


a few open tab hangovers and wishes of loveliness

Closing out the tabs....

1. The marvelous Jennifer Davidson reviews Malcolm Gladwell's Blink in the Village Voice.

2. Just in time for V-Day, Jeff gifts the world with another Webjay playlist.

3. Susan offers up some advice about writin' (and turns me off framing devices For Life). (Also, you'll want to go read the stuff about not pissing off the editor.)

I had two pieces of real advice at that panel, both of which I still think were pretty good advice. 1) Trust yourself to tell the story you're telling, and 2) trust your readers to follow you when you lead them.

In practice, "Trust yourself" means (among other things) that you shouldn't rely on framing devices--when I see a story that's structured as "this guy goes into a bar, sits down, and tells this really wild story to the bartender", it almost always means that the author didn't trust herself to just tell the really wild story, she had to put a layer between herself and the story. It's as if the author is subconsciously thinking "well, if this sucks, it's not like _I_ was the one telling the story." It's not that framing devices (guy tells a wild story to a bartender, guy in jail tells a wild story to his lawyer, guy discovers a letter or diary from a lost friend or relative in which a wild story is related) never work, or that they're always a bad idea. It's that they're usually a bad idea.

"Trust your reader" is harder to explain, and often hard to pull off. But have y'all ever watched soap operas? Soap opera writers understand that most of their viewers watch irregularly, and most of their viewers aren't giving their full attention to the show while they're watching. Soap opera writers cannot trust their audience to be paying attention, so they constantly recap the action and the backstory. Soap opera narratives spend a lot of time on people standing around and having interior (or exterior) monologues explaining what just happened. I'm okay with this when it happens in soap operas--I watch Days of Our Lives about twice a year, and I appreciate the fact that characters will stand around telling each other who they are and what kind of relationships they have with each other.

But for god's sake, people, don't do that in a short story. Stop explaining every goddamn little thing. Stop telling me how clever you are, while you're at it.

4. Code 46. Eh. Not bad. I don't think I could ever hate anything with Samantha Morton in it. She's the bees knees. If she and Cate Blanchett starred in Sideways 2, I'd watch it. Remember when everyone said her dress was ugly at last year's Oscars, but it was actually this lovely vintage thing and she looked dynamite cool (pic at second row, end)?

5. We really meant to send out little paper card valentines since we didn't do Christmas cards, but missed the window because life it too too hectic right now. Next year. But I love you all and so does C. (We haven't done thank you's either yet, so it's not just you. We have a year! We were told so!) We listened to all 69 love songs today while doing dishes and cooking up lots of good stuff. It's nice to spend a rainy day cooking, eating, drinking, reading Kage Baker and watching movies. I'd wish the same sloth on you all.



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