Saturday, May 30, 2009

Etude

Here's the sample bit of dialog I did for the writing class in April. I'm debating whether to let you in on the setting and time period ahead of time. Naw, you tell me what it tells you. Comments welcome!
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"Granny!"

Svetlana startled and knocked her head on the cold iron basin above her head.

"Granny!" the strident voice made her wince again. "What in sam-hill are you doing under there? Get on out!"

Crablike, Svetlana inched her arthritic way out from behind the dishwater-streaked curtains that aproned the front of the kitchen sink. Painfully she regained her feet and faced her daughter-in-law.

"Thelma, I look for--" she began in her broken English, "I try to find-- Where you keep soap, brushes, rags?"

"Why on earth you want any of that clobber?"

"I need to clean house. Floors, walls, whole house!"

"What the hell you wanna do that for?" Thelma’s face hardened. "You saying my house ain’t clean enough for you? I take you in last night and today you start in on my housekeeping?"

Svetlana hastened to soothe her. "No, no, you good housekeeper. My boy Yuri always pleased with you. No, no. We must do special clean. Both together, you, I."

"And what in sam-hill for?"

"You know! You not forget? Is Great Week! We have not much time! In three days only is Big Friday! We must clean and get ready!"

"Granny, stop talking crazy. Get ready for what?" Thelma stood with her arms folded across her large, boardlike bosom, the toe of her boot impatiently scraping the scarred linoleum.

Svetlana stared at her firstborn’s widow with dismay. Did Thelma truly not understand? "Dear daughter!" she exclaimed. "We get ready for Pascha!"

"‘Pascha’!" Thelma spat back at her. "You mean Easter? You old fool, Easter was last Sunday. If you missed it, that’s just too bad."

"But--" The croak in her voice woefully reminded her how old she had grown. "But-- you not celebrate the Pascha?"

"No. Yuri’s dead and I’m shut of that foreign tomfoolishness. I celebrate Easter where God put it, like a Christian, and from now on, so will you. Get it through your head, Granny: this is my house and there’ll be none of your heathen Ukrainian goings-on here. Do you understand?"

Svetlana understood. No home. No sons. No daughters.

No Pascha.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Portrait of a Novice Writer

My operating system is reinstalled, I've got about half my data restored from Carbonite.com, and no, there aren't any residual trojans lurking in it.

I could do a post about the other big chunk of my data and files that have refused to be restored for the past week or more, but this isn't about that. It's about what else I was doing in April when I wasn't posting much.

I was taking a fiction writing class offered at a local church and taught by an author who's a prof at the local branch of the State U.

It was a good class. Good for the discussions on setting, character, plotting, dialog, and all the elements of fiction writing. Good for hearing about and discussing other people's projects. Good to be forced actually to work on a story idea I've had bouncing around in my head for three or four years at least.

What wasn't so good was that nobody else did any work at all. A lot of talking, but no work. I was the only one who actually wrote anything.

And I did. I really did. I spent long hours at it, and longer hours online reading writers' advice blogs and websites.

But because no one else brought in any writing, I never got the in-class critiques I was expecting. The teacher did tell me I should work on my novel (my novel? My novel!?) over the summer and she'd contact me about some writers' groups I might join in the fall. She feels I of all the class would benefit from being in one. But till then . . .

So I get to thinking: Should I-- might I-- would I post my work in progress here on the blog?

And I've decided, No. If it's any good, that'd queer it for ever getting published, because, hey, big chunks of it would be floating around on the Internet for free already. And if it's chozzerai, I've made a blinking ass of myself.

I've seen it happen. I'm thinking of one blogger in particular, who regularly writes bitingly-funny, heart-twistingly poignant nonfiction prose. But when she ventured into fiction, it was painful. It was as if she'd forgotten all the depths of characterization and motivation that made her blog posts so effective. And if such a fate could befall someone as good as she . . . what hope have I?

Nevertheless . . . though I won't post anything from my Big Project, I might publish here a little vignette I did for a class assignment. The writing instructor brought in an amateur oil painting she'd picked up at a flea market. It showed an old woman in a head scarf, and as a group we brainstormed who she might be, what her family, experiences, background, etc., were, and what crisis was facing her now. Then we were told to write a page of dialog based on it all.

This bit of writing isn't going anywhere; I have no wish or intention to develop this story further. So I think I'll post it. When I do, critique away. I can only learn.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

In My Opinion

A special circle of Hell should be reserved for those who misuse their God-given talents to come up with trojans and malware to screw up other people's computers. I had both come to the surface on mine the night of Saturday, April 25th, and I've been living with the effects ever since.

I had to wipe my hard drive and it looks like I'll have to do it again, since things still aren't right. Two examples of this: 1) the system won't read my external hard drive; and 2) it won't accept the files I've stored online.

Last night I was talking with three guys in the choir I sing in, and they all think the trojan has imbedded itself in a data file somewhere and I'll have to junk the lot. Yeah, right. All my financial records, my photo files, my writing . . . Oh, yeah, and the hard drive of the computer itself. It'll be revealing, should they be proved right, to see how well I've really taken to heart Jesus' teaching about "not laying up for yourselves treasures on earth."

But that doesn't mean I can't think hard thoughts against cyber vandals. As long as they don't repent, of course.