sophcw at gmail dot com
Scrape your knee, it's only skin.
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Her narratives are chronological and often feel like an assemblage of notes and dialogue with no arc or character development. The men in her vignettes are particularly thin — some by necessity, because they’re strangers and what she knows about them is already limited — but mostly because the narrator is only concerned with her own feelings and reactions. The men exist only as mirrors upon which she can view herself; they are not whole, three-dimensional people but aggregations of reactions to Marie Calloway.
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What her book most amply documents is not sex but trying to fit sex into the life of an ambitious writer. What are the boundaries? What can be disclosed? If you say everything, will anyone take you seriously? The character of Calloway is more consumed, throughout the book, with her career than with sex; it’s the substance of “Jeremy Lin,” which concludes with a friend emailing her, “You should stop thinking of sex as your best thing and realize, like Jeremy has, that writing is your best thing.
Joanna Newsom - Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie
Thanks so much to everyone who read this week and to Hendrik for letting me do this! As many people do, I know I fell off after Thursday but I think I got some good stuff in there. Below are the long pieces I wrote about Joanna Newsom this week. I hope I convinced at least one person who hadn’t give her a chance that it’d be worthwhile. Thank you!
This was such a crazy week, but doing this was an awesome experience. Hope some of you enjoyed it!
(And I can now confirm that yes, I do still want to listen to Joanna Newsom)
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I know basically nothing about visual art. I know the names of some painters and I enjoy some paintings, I’ve had a good time at museums and exhibitions, but if you want to get into why an abstract painting is good or not all I can give you is my gut reaction, and I’m not very practiced at even that. Brian Eno’s 77 Million Paintings, which I was at earlier tonight, helped me understand a little bit why people enjoy visual art so much. What struck me most about it was the center, almost “aleph” shaped piece, which unlike the other screens, remained one solid color throughout, absent of any shapes or designs. It seemed to change colors quicker than the outside screens, which would shift from one pattern to another as pieces were highlighted or darkened, added or subtracted, at an almost unnoticeably slow pace. Staring at the center, which seemed the natural focal point, you could watch it go from bright green to grey, to black, to purple and hot pink, while what surrounded it remained relatively constant, only occasionally revealing something meaningful. I thought about context, how important it is. The center’s color completely changes your perception of everything surrounding it, whether it’s the brightness of color or the lack of it completely. It highlights parts of other pieces you may not have noticed before. It’s all controlled by a complex but chaotic algorithm, which will probably never repeat the same pattern twice. I couldn’t help but think that it was a lot like life: a series of mostly random events colored only by our perception. It’s good to remember that things can look different from the outside, and even if it’s hardly noticeable, everything is always slightly changing.
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Remembering the summer of 2009 when I was obsessed with the song “Sunlight” by tUnE-yArDs and would drive around my town blasting it from one of my parents Subarus, making it sound more lo fi than it already is and screaming along to the chorus.
A once-internet friend of mine turned 21 today and I realized I’ve known her since she was 13, 8 years ago.
Last night my friends and I were talking about someone’s theory that your life totally changes every 7 years. That seems pretty true.
Things could be a lot worse.
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I ran and I ran, drawing great ragged heaving breaths and a kind of ecstasy upon me, like a raving madman on peyote or Old Bull Lee chasing that last hit of junk from the sad little Chinaman downtown, and then I crossed from the plaza onto Fifth Avenue and saw him standing atop the bus like some beautiful boddhisattva, a great childlike dumbsaint of youth and American holiness: Aaron Carter, kid star, tour guide, and he was waving and whooping at me with glee, “Wow! Whee! You there! Get on the bus!
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Mentall illness, depression, insomnia, personal troubles, and financial troubles aside, I do not at all mind living a life where I do something different every day and I have to be resourceful in order to do the things I used to take for granted. I did a focus group on cell phones yesterday (for money, obviously), and it was pretty disillusioning to see how deeply people care about the stuff they own. As right now I can hardly afford to pay for necessities, not to mention, like, a flat screen TV or something, our society’s religious devotion to consumerism is all the more apparent, and even more depressing. If I can make enough money to survive doing things I don’t hate and experiencing interesting art (which you seriously have to try to avoid in NYC, even if you’re broke) with people I care about, I really don’t need much else. Maybe someday I’ll be like “my Google™ brainchip is telling me that I only have 3.7 menstrual cycles left to have a child!” and I’ll need to deal with that, and if by then we aren’t living in The Road or The Matrix or Waterworld or whatever maybe I’ll have to settle down, or maybe I’ll just decide I want to, who knows! I guess the point is believing in things and trying to live according to those things might be worth it, and either way I’m finding out.
These rules were originally tweeted by Emma Coates, Pixar’s Story Artist.
- You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
- You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
- Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
- Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
- Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
- What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
- Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
- Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
- When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
- Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
- Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
- Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
- Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
- Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
- If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
- What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
- No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
- You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
- Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
- Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
- You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
- What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
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It’s almost 5 pm. Today I woke up at 7:15 am and put on the clothes and make up I’d normally DJ in. I took the subway to NYU and walked a few blocks to a casting agency that I’d been called to for an audition (something I’ve never done before). I was early and the people there mistakenly thought that I was a client instead of “talent,” which they found hilarious and I found somewhat anxiety producing. They called my name and took pictures of me and then told me that was it and I left. I took the train back to Brooklyn, got a bagel with lox, organized and promoted several events my band is involved in and hung out with my roommate and her boyfriend before she went to work. I had an interesting Facebook discussion about the morality of porn and was about to take a nap when I got a call from a lady I met randomly yesterday in Rockefeller Center who is releasing an iPad app of poetry for children beautifully illustrated with watercolors. I guess I’m going to do freelance publicity for her. She also invited me to come to her Long Island beach house over the summer, which I thought was a little strange seeing as I’d just met her for about fifteen minutes yesterday and this was the longest we’d ever spoken, but whatever. Now I’m going to clean the litter box and maybe I’ll actually take a nap.
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There are a lot of really upsetting things going on both inside and outside the studio, both on the industry and consumer sides, which are disturbing and decidedly unfriendly to women. The language used to describe them in industry terminology and in social contexts, the attitudes about their worth as human beings, the aesthetics with which they are presented to the world, and the acts they perform raise a lot of questions. I mean, what’s with the fake boobs and nails and eyelashes and tans and hair? Why the no-body-hair rule? And who came up with the idea that ejaculate is the new trend in facial moisturizers? On that note, where is the line between pleasure and degradation drawn, and by whom? Why have the past few years seen such an abrupt switch from full-length feature films to half-hour-long frenzies of manic semen spewing? Is anybody overseeing this whole operation, and if so, can we arrange to have a private sit-down chat?
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