sunlight and cameras

January 16, 2009 § 1 Comment

Mim and Lis

Ok,  I miss you girls. I miss you, your cats and your company.

Why does all my best ones live so far away? It’s not fair that you live all the way up in Ume, and Fisk all the way over in Oslo. Not fair I tell you.

I had written a long tirad on how much I hate chavs and woo-girls, but it got lost. If there is something I hate, it’s having to textually repeat myself.

That’s one reason why I have such a hard time working with critique. Often I feel I’m done with the text already when I hand it in for a critique, and end up not having any use of what has been said whatsoever. For me, the dialogue is a better form when working with text, to talk about it rather then just hear the inputs. I often get all nervous and giddy anyway, and it’s good to work in a way that lets me actually talk during the session.

To find the form of critique thats suits yourself and your text the best isn’t the easiest, and to give critique isn’t easy either. To remember to talk about things in terms of own experience, not “when you wrote this, i felt that” but “when the text is like this, i read it into this feeling”. It’s important to remember that the critique you give isn’t made for you, but for the author. You might dislike the text or want to praise it, but that’s not the point. You have to find a way of giving critique the author has use for, a text made for hers purposes.

The hardest part is quite often to find  a way into the text, I know I’ve sat many times with text that are as readable as a pile of old socks,wondering how I ever is going to be able to say something constructive about it. But there are ways, and rule is off course: Keep reading. Re-read until you find the way in, because it is there. It will come to you if you just keep focusing and working with the text and really try to put a side your own feelings for the text. It’s a luxury to be able to do like you do with a book, you know, read it once or not even that and then just put it away. A text that isn’t finished yet, maybe just an embryo of a text needs a lot more reading and focusing.

I’m getting better at this stuff, but I want to get better still. I have two texts today to give critique on, and it’s always a test. I have a friend as well who wanted tips on how to critique a manuscript that was complete crap. Yeah, how do you do that? Does anyone know? I have to say it’s one of the trickiest.

It’s time for camera and sunlight now.


One down

January 12, 2009 § Leave a comment

And finally I finished reading Maryce Condé. It’s always interesting to watch ones own reactions while reading a book that is so far from your own culture. I’m not sure I liked it, but not sure I disliked it either. Crossing the mangrove tells a tale of something I can’t grasp at all. With it’s old school gender roles, its’ racism and prejudice. It is, unavoidably, very far from my world.

I think it’s good to expose yourself to such litterature. For me it’s good for more then one reason. First and foremost off course since it gives insight. Second, because in my work both as an author and a teacher I need to understand these things and be able to read this sort of text, laying my own personal ideas and ideals beside me and just travel within the text. One of the hardest things when working as a teacher for creative writing is that you often come across texts that you simply don’t like. This doesn’t make them bad, it’s simply a matter of personal taste.

To penetrate a language or a way of handling language that is far from your own, you need to have the right tools. These are the things I’m trying to learn now, to not just disregard such texts as bad or too strange. I too write strange texts, mine is just as incomprehensible for many people around me. Do I want respect from them anyway? Yes, off course. Thus, I have to learn how to give that time and respect to others.

Writing fiction is a complex matter. There is so much more to it then just writing down the story. Constantly during the process you end up on a meta-level. Is this text right for my pressumed reader? Do I keep my language on the right track? There is always a risk of slipping into a cliched version of the story, when you just want to get it over and done with, instead of remembering your voice.

However, there’s some tricks to keep it going.
1. Read the text out loud from time to time.
It helps, you get a chance of hearing if you slip in voice.
2. Let someone else read it.
This might be an obvious one. But still, letting someone reading the text and ask them not to critique details but just cheer you on and point out mayor bumps on the road helps a lot.
3. Find music that suits your style of writing.
To me, this helps a lot. During the course of writing a longer story you will go through a lot in the rest of your life, when you change, so does the text. To have the right soundtrack can bring back the voice.
4. Live with your characters.
For me, that means that when I go out in to the real world, I talk to people about the story, or I keep thinking about what they would do if it was them and not me. I internalize them as much as I can. This way, when I write, I can feel when it’s me talking and not the text.

Short list, I’ll add to that later. Now I’m going to write about the book for my hand in.. Have a good night out there!

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