Saturday, August 4, 2012

Litpalooza in Limboland! Warmin' up the Blabbinator

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull know how much easier that guy in The Shining would have had it with cut and paste? Jeez it pains me to think about it - maybe Nicholsen wouldn't have had to split Scatman Carrother's chest open with an axe if he had been working on a Mac in Word instead of that piece o' shit typewriter. Didn't we have PCs when that movie was made? It was just a few years ago, wasn't it?

Uh huh. Just a few years ago. Yeah. Things were different just a few years ago. Come to think of it, when I started my first novel 12 years ago things were a lot different. I was different. My parents were alive, my Mom's brain seemed to be working though emphysema had slowed her down, my Dad was still on my case, my kids thought I was really funny when I made stupid faces and sang little rhymes. I skiied, jogged, swam, mountain biked, golfed, built stone walls and tree forts, played loud rock and roll into the wee hours and drank a lot of Tequila. The idea of living with a bunch of middle-aged writers and doing nothing but talking about reading and writing literature for 10 days would have been something that sounded good maybe some day down the road.

Well. Here we are. Down the road.

Tomorrow I start to find out if it's still as good as it sounds as I begin a Low-Res (low residency, meaning 10 days of campus life and the rest of it what we used to call a "correspondence course") Masters of Fine Arts program with Rainier Writer's Workshop, an affiliate of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA.

I've done some pre-reading but not all, figuring I can squeeze some in on the plane. Oh wait. That's nap time. Well, maybe between classes when I should be socializing? "Don't talk to me can't you see I'm reading something important?" Actually, I have found that in such cases a good remedy is to simply place the book under your pillow when you go to sleep. Surely you've tried the Osmosis Method? Or is that the Osmand Method, where you sing, dance, and smile a lot with the book in your underpants? Oh well. One can hardly expect the downtrodden advanced middle-aged family man/corporate droid to come prepared, can one? Think of all the blogs and all of the obnoxious irritating book promo spam that wouldn't have been written had I been doing my pre-reading!

Right now, for example, I could be reading a short story entitled The High Road by Joan Silber, who teaches at my daughter's college, Sarah Lawrence, and in a low-res mfa program like mine at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC. The Warren Wilson program is said to be the creme de la creme, and I thought of applying but novels like Hack arent' exactly the highbrow lit a lot of these programs want. Anyway, back to The High Road. The story is written from the point of view of a gay man - a dancer - in NYC, who's true love is a black trumpet-playing men's clothes salesman. It is beautifully written in clear, terse sentences that vary from short to very short. For it to work, the reader has to forget entirely that the author is a white woman, else the story feels like a circus stunt where our primary reaction is "wow, I can't believe a white woman wrote that!"

Okay. I've got 10 days of this academic nonsense stretched out before me and as you can see I'm going to have keep my nose in the air just a tad to keep my head in the game.
Mom always said it's all about posture.

(Stay tuned for Day 1, in which Doris gets her oats!)

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