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Archive for the tag “writing”

A First Review of December

A little over two years and I’ve just encounter the first review of December. It’s a single star rating with a scathing review, affirming my sense that December is the book I needed to write in order to grow (in many ways). Nevertheless, I feel I must give this review proper reflection, and give my monster some defense.

First, the  review:

“Cole stood near the pinkish arm chair.” Okay, I thought, he probably could have used an actual color instead of the word “pinkish”, but maybe this will get better. It didn’t. It only got worse.

Just don’t do this to yourself. Wading through this “innovative” piece of garbage physically caused me and my boyfriend pain. I was curious, and now I am left wondering why we hurt ourselves this way.

“Maybe there is no point in life. Maybe.” – a quote from this pile of shit.

From Goodreads.

I wish the reader would have given me more information- but I have to use what I get.  The words that really stick with me are “innovative”, “garbage”, and the phrase “pile of shit”.

My first thought after reading the review was “Where did she get the idea that this is supposed “innovative”?” Innovative implies that it’s new, groundbreaking, or something advancing literature (it’s none of these things). It’s influenced by James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, but, like a child artist copying Da Vinci, it lacks the control and education needed for full effectiveness.

My second thought had to do with “pile of shit”. “Shit,” I thought “implies waste- the left overs after digestion. If anything it’s closer to vomit- the kind that comes after food poisoning. It’s unpleasant but it cleans the system.”  In that sense, it really is a work of therapy and one should approach it like a doctor approaches vomit: with gloves and mask.

Third- “Garbage”. She found this novel utterly worthless- void of any nutrients. Arguably, and I’m no psychologist, it’s as though she was expecting roast beef but received charred cedar instead. A reasonable response. But even to this (and what a defense I’m bringing my first child), I feel inclined to say it’s “junk” not “garbage”- it’s the stuff I’ve outgrown and have placed in the attic or scrap yard.

The final thought on this matter is this: a re-assertion of my belief that December is the novel written for the sake of cleansing. It’s my mental/emotional junk designed in the style of those whose stature I aim to achieve. It’s a reminder to myself that, if I can publish and love such a weak and idle thing, then by my fourth or fifth book I will have gained adequate skill to excel.

Which brings me to my response to this disappointed reader:

Thank you for slogging through my monster of inner monologue- though I’m not sure where you got the idea that December was intended to be “innovative” (or “shit” for that matter). I never aimed at innovation (it’s heavily influenced by James Joyce and Virginia Woolf), and it is, in all reality, a mental scrapyard- it has bits and pieces that are useful, the rest gathers dust and rust. My own description of “December” is that it is the written version of banging your head against a wall: it’s repetitive, goes nowhere, solves nothing, and yet- has some soothing aspects.

The Road Goes On, Ever Ever On

A Draft From nearly two years ago, sometime late July.
******
Today I’ve realized that I want to be an adventurer when I grow up.

I’ve realized this, because in the last seven weeks I’ve traveled nearly 20’000 miles, visited two foreign countries and ten of the 50 United States, and flown from one side of the U.S. to the other; I’ve seen the Northern coast of Ireland and the faint outline of Scotland; I’ve walked the streets of Dublin, Salt Lake City, and Roswell; I’ve seen the lights of New York and Portland; I’ve waded in the Atlantic Ocean off Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula, and swam in a creek on the Big Horn Mountains 7500ft above sea level; I’ve driven from Southern New Mexico to North Central Wyoming in a single day, sleeping little en route, then worked a 10 hour shift as a waiter; I’ve visited the Green Giant, the Corn Palace, and Wall Drug, and soon: Chicago.

I’ve broken down, been caught in traffic, stopped to reminisce, and consumed coffee. I’ve written opening chapters, closing scenes, and wallowed in the divine frustration of writer’s block. It’s like the Walking Song from the Lord of The Rings (musical):

There’s a road calling you to stray, Step by step pulling you away,
Under moon and star, Take the road no matter how far.
Where it leads, no one ever knows, Don’t look back follow where it goes,
Far beyond the sun, take the road, wherever it runs.
The road goes on, ever ever on.

 

So I’ll follow on this journey, and continue to follow these never ending roads, and may God grant me the strength to live, and more, to write.

Finding America: Election Year Reflection.

This year is 2016. It is an election year, and the candidates are concerned with “making America great again”. But as I think over my travels in this country and others, and reflect on my glimpses of History, I have to wonder whether the USA has had the time to be “great” in the first place. We are a young country, still rowdy and teenaged, with an identity built on some vague ideas of “freedom” and a strange nostalgia for a greatness we think we earned during the World Wars.

As I write this series and explore my country, I hope to find the things that make America America today, and the things we can do to shape America for tomorrow. Which is to say, this series is about the inhabitants of a continent: all the passions, conflicts, and failures that have shaped a nation, and my own hope that we will labor to make our country a great nation today and tomorrow, and not mourn some imagined greatness we accomplished half a century ago.

Finding America: The Potato Drops

Finding America (Series I: Idaho): The 3rd Annual Potato Drop

The United States is full of awe inspiring places, people, and things- ghost towns turned tourist trap, archaic worshipping sites, old battlegrounds, vast canyons and mountain ranges, extinct volcanoes, and the stories of the people who have lived and toiled here. Thinking of these things, I realize that I have not yet met my country, and there are a many things to explore. But discovery is a process, and since I cannot learn it all at once I will start with where I am: Boise, Idaho.

I’ve been in Boise since September, 2015. During the past three months I’ve only brushed the surface of the sites and people that occupy this postage stamp of land. Though I could write about the Capitol building, or the Botanical Gardens, I will save these and others for another time. Instead, I will start this New Year with a new Boise tradition: the annual New Year’s Potato Drop.

I first heard about this event on December 30, 2015, and found the idea novel enough to attend. This year’s festival, ringing in 2016, was the Third Annual Potato Drop, and featured a 15ft Potato lowered for the countdown that initiated a fireworks display. Though I arrived at 11:45pm that evening and missed most of the vendors, it was great fun.

In final 10 minutes before the drop there was a short New Years Bachelorette program, where a young woman asked a series of questions to three eligible bachelors. She ultimately selected bachelor number three to sit with during the drop, while the other two bachelors were introduced to the runner-up bachelorettes. Immediately after this, came the countdown for the New Year and the ceremonial lowering of the Potato.

It was a bit silly, yes, and cold, but it was a nice way to remind us that life is more than ceremony. That life is full of cold days, times of loneliness, and other sufferings we must endure, but life is just as full, if we look, of the little things to make us smile, and of the 15 foot potatoes descending on a crane.

Suspense Excercise II

Howard Dow Jones commanded his own tank. He had dreamed of commanding a tank since he was a child, and his dream became real only after a lifetime of hard work. At twenty-seven years old, Howard Dow Jones left his wife and children in Georgia, and went overseas to fight in the same wars that had inspired him to serve. His children, a little boy named Edward and little girl Bernice, loved their father and had dreams of their own: Bernice dreamed of being a pilot while her brother dreamed of commanding his own tank just like his father. But their father will not see them pursue their dreams. Howard Dow Jones will not see them grow, or marry, or graduate, but will return from the war to find his home burned down and his wife and children cinders.

Suspense Excercise I

This story will end with a boom 100 words from now:

We were working on the set for Macbeth, discussing “The Scottish play” and superstitions when our new-hire, Mac, said he didn’t believe in curses. “Hell,” he said, “gods, demons, all that is bullshit.” And he began insulting the superstitions and ended saying: “May those little dreams, the spirits, all meet the same fate as that wretched king Macbeth.” When he said this, the men hanging drops shouted “Watch out! A rack is falling!” We all ran, but Mac tripped and fell on the microphone. And that pole stuck in his chest? That is the boom.

A Writer

Am I a writer?

I haven’t published in over a month, my journal is out of date, my reading neglected, and my next novels languish as half-written sentences and outlines.

Yet I have the gall to tell people I meet that I am a writer.

I give the usual excuses for not placing pen to paper and not opening the computer: I’ve been busy lately; I’m working full time and moving; and, I do think about my stories all the time.

Am I a writer if I neglect my writing in favor of thinking?

I’ve heard that Milton dictated Paradise Lost and never inked a quill; that Joyce spent days thinking over a single sentence; that Austen thought works into being that are subtle critiques of her society. They are called writers, so maybe a Writer is someone who cares for their language and thinks before they pen.

I wonder if they feared to disturb the Universe?

Am I writer if I let life and fear prevent me from writing?

When faced with the uncertainty of the future I find my pen quaking and futility sprawling across my pages. The Universe is far too vast to be disturbed by the symbols of my small ideas, and the marks a mortal leaves are faint, washable things.

Even so, after a while I find my muse nudging me back to the pages and urging me to record her stories and poetries, and to form a linguistic image from the material granted me.

“Silence is a call to reflect” she tells me, “neglect is a chance to care, and forgetfulness the moment to remember.”

I am flawed and inconsistent, but I am a writer.

Caryn Franklin: When Did Fashion Become Porn?

I found a website called “Elance” a while back, which is a kind of social network designed for freelance writers, artists, and other creative types. It’s a bit like online dating, except the program suggests jobs based on your criteria instead of dates.

I found one job possibility today that entailed fashion writing, and since I’ve never considered fashion I started investigating what fashion writing entails. My search brought me to “The Best Fashion Writing of 2013” and as I perused the articles I found one that caught my eye: “When Did Fashion Become Porn?” by Caryn Franklin.

Franklin’s article begins by noticing the sheer accessibility of pornography and the false expectations it arouses. She comments that there is a growing market for Viagara and even penile surgeries.

“Masculinity now, just like femininity,” Writes Franklin, “is prey to a whole host of marketing promises and pressures.”

And it may only get worse, where pornography was presented as “a misogynistic standard from a shabby back-room printing press for most of the 20th Century, now pornography is produced on an industrial scale as never seen before and, courtesy of continually developing digital markets, commands huge revenues although over 80% of young users access it for free.”

And this is problematic for developing healthy, supportive relationships whether sexual or not. According to Franklin, “Boys also have little idea of what makes sex pleasurable for women. And neither it seems do today’s young women, studies reveal girls expect relationships to be controlling and sometimes violent.”

Pornification of our popular culture is happening right under our noses.

But these children don’t necessarily learn these behaviors from pornography, they learn it from popular culture. Franklin writes that “Pornification of our popular culture is happening right under our noses.”

And it takes the form of “Grooming”, a form of media that says, “This new media porn is all a bit of innocent fun, nothing to make a fuss about. Just give us a little flash of your honey-pot and stop being so uptight.” and is presented as little more than “media at its edgiest”.

“That’s how sexual groomers work in both seedy and shiny surroundings isn’t it?” Writes Franklin, “When repellent ideas are given a fun or adventurous spin, they are always easier to carry out.”

And such seems to be our media environment. The slow development of pornographic world where humans are objects of pleasure, and pornography is matter of artistic creativity.

Franklin writes that “Grooming by individuals or an entire industry, is morally corrupt”.

But what can we do to create a popular culture that is morally sound in a world of changing moral ground? And what does it mean to be moral?

Though I can’t answer these questions today, or really at all, I have a few ideas of my own that I will present as an argument towards a new moral code which preserves “old fashions” while challenging the modern morals with reasonable constraints.

I aim to challenge the pretense and superficiality of the mass media and learn what it means to empower women and the human individual, and how to practice that empowerment.

“And so we come full circle.” Concludes Franklin, “Standard viewing of barely adult girls engaging in demeaning acts of sexual posturing, finger sucking, fanny massaging and arse waving. Cheap shots from fashion, a luxury industry loudly trumpeting its taste-leadership credentials, and music, pretending to empower all young women. Not all of us are taking it lying down.”

 

 

http://i-d.vice.com/en_gb/read/think-pieces/519/when-did-fashion-become-porn

http://www.styleite.com/news/the-best-fashion-writing-of-2013/

Michief’s Brewing

I’m terribly behind in my writing. Unfortunately, this seems to be a typical thing in the world of writers. Fortunately for us, however, the good lord invented coffee shops where we may sit and procrastinate in peace.

Better still, we look busy as we procrastinate because people who write often look busier than they really are. It’s the magic of having a computer open before you, and a coffee close at hand.

Moving on.

I have embarked on an incredible journey of unemployment and relocation, and I find myself with a great deal of time on my hands. Theoretically, this means I could work out and finish another book or two in the next few weeks as I apply to jobs and wait for responses. The reality, of course, is that I tool around and haunt coffee shops.

Not that I’m a complete bum.

This particular coffee shop -Mischief’s Brewing- is located in Libertyville, Illinois, and the owners have agreed to host me on August 17, 2014 for a third attempt at a book event. I can’t say I’m over optimistic, given the last two events were about as lack lustre as they come, but I’m content for the opportunity.

The shop itself has an air of a reclaimed train depot, and rests on the corner of Milwaukee Avenue and the Fox Lake-Chicago train line. There are a number of tables strewn along the walls and potted plants in the windows. Across from the counter, is a fireplace around which is a ring of black sofas.  From what I gather, the owners are hoping to become a kind of cultural hub for the city, and are the venue for a number of events each month.

I can’t say I know much more than that, but, if you happen to be in Northern Illinois anytime soon, it’s worth a stop for a cup of coffee, a quick round of connect four, and, maybe, a book signing.

Dear Reader: LoV-Write on Amazon

Dear Reader,

I mentioned before that December is now avbailable on Amazon.com, and now I have an official author page there as well. There you’ll find a brief biography, a link to this blog and my twitter feed. But that’s not all. You’ll also find a picture of me. It’s a self-portrait I took by using my camera’s timer, a tripod, and a mirror; I then edited it on my computer for a sepia tone.

With my updated Amazon, I have also updated the About LoV-Write page. Now you’ll find a more complete explanation of my brand name as well as a short author biography and photograph.

 

Until the previous time,

 

Judah LoVato

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