Thursday, June 14, 2012

Friday Fictioneers--Woods of Danger

Hi readers and writers,

Madison Woods has given us a really idyllic photo of a path in the woods this week.  100 words about this might put me to sleep.  I don't know if it's good or bad, but I seem to have a group of characters in play for the fictioneers, and they want to have a military adventure in the quiet woods.  Okay.
cheers,
Laura



                                         Woods of Danger 
Five Bendizi warriors stood on the path, then they disappeared.  Cosima and Alex darted left, Miriam, Hector, and Wulfram IV dashed right. Cosima and Alex took refuge in thick brush. The others clambered high among the branches.  Tramping feet thundered louder.  The path teemed with armed changlits, marching fast, looking neither right nor left.  After they passed, the Bendizis  saw Brin and Rouxlan’s close advisor, Sevrin, cruising along the trail in an all-terrain vehicle.  Cosima feared the outcome of their conflict, now that Brin was against them.  If only the balloon had landed closer to Bendiz.  

Writing After Summer Special Olympics

Dear readers and writers,

My daughter is an intern at Special Olympics and we went down to Long Beach last weekend to be "fans in the stands" to cheer on all those participating at the basketball venue.  During the event, several insights struck me.  First, while competition seems to be the essence of sport elsewhere, and while there are loud cheers for each team playing at the Special Olympics, after the game no one really focuses on being "winner" or "loser."  Instead, the person who made the 3 point shot and brought the scores closer gets a lot of love, and also the other team gets warm greetings.  I'm entering a bunch of contests for writing this summer, and I have readjusted my mind to be happy for whoever wins.  Feels good!  Second, I noticed that no matter how uncoordinated and slow a player was, everyone kept him or her in the game.  And, that person knew the best player to pass the ball to when he/ she did get it.  Often that pass set up a basket.  Each person contributes something.  So, now, I need to focus on what I can uniquely do and say in my writing.  No, I can't be Louise Erdrich.  But that doesn't mean I can't learn to write what I have to say with beauty and memorable language.  Third, the teams usually had a mixture of men and women.  I'm talking about teams of all ages, up to adults.  I was skeptical at first, but it worked well.  Teams seemed to know what each player could do and capitalize on that.  Who-eee, we saw a girl a foot shorter than most of her teammates dribble down the floor and shoot a no-rim basket. So in everyday life, maybe we should focus on how we differ in order to use everyone's best efforts, not to pigeonhole people and ignore some of them.  I write another blog for women in science, and sometimes I need to tell myself how helpful a lot of men are and have been to women in science.  This cooperation we saw was a good reminder of that.   It was a lovely day, and I only cried once.  I highly recommend it...free, enjoyable, and helps the atmosphere for the athletes.  There's one every six months or so. Keep an eye open!  
cheers,
Laura

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Looking for Meaning in Fiction Today


Dear readers and writers,

This week, I read an essay in an old magazine about short stories today.  It came to the conclusion that writers are constructing their stories with intellectual dimensions that make it fascinating to read them, but without the heart and deep meaning that used to be found in stories. The author thought it a loss, and said that probably the stories won't prove as memorable to the readers.

 I thought about the novels and short stories that we read in my Theories of Fiction class last semester, and what I remembered best was--Tobias Wolfe.  Not exactly contemporary.  Somewhat minimalist but with loads of feeling buried just beneath the surface.  Two of the class members twisted the professor's arm to get permission to use stories by Wolfe.  He had wanted only very contemporary work at first, but he couldn't turn down these stories.  I'm glad.  Each of them made an indelible impression on me.  I chose to present a story by Amy Hempel called "The Afterlife."  It was highly minimalist, but there was a ton of feeling, buried a bit deeper than in the Wolfe stories but there, I thought.  Some agreed with me about the Hempel story, some did not.  But probably most of the class would view the two Wolfe stories as highlights of the course.  So meaning still means something important to the rising writers of the next generation, I'm pleased to find. What do you think?

cheers,
Laura

Thanks to Mark Coggins and Creative Commons/Wikipedia for the photograph of Tobias Wolfe.