Monday, October 29, 2007

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Drunk




I draw the most response when it seems I'm blogging for my life.
I notice this when visiting The Walking Man's blog. Mark does seem to be writing for his life as well.

He has been smacked by SUV's, doctored unto coma, unlucky in the good health sweepstakes, and, almost litereally f*cked by fate, though he proves with every blog that fate herself might be f*cked.
I was genuinely sorry when I read The Walking Man today. Seems that the man with the scythe is very nearly cutting him to pieces and it's really time for "all the king's horses."

I join Mark, though metaphorically.

I am blogging gor my life. My professional life.

There is room for five people at the top of the Canadian writing heap. I pulled slightly ahead of the pursuing pack at the age of forty, but it was a false lead.


Treacher of creative writing. Novel published in large local magazine, a chapter at a time.
Good enough, but it was not the Governor-General's award, neither was it the Giller Prize.

My wife at the time wanted me to get those things at age 33 or I was just plain not good enough, that my talent would not be strong enough to carry me. I you don't succeed at literature by forty--the deadline decade--you would not succeed at all, seemed her reasoning.


Oh yes, there were palliatives. A positive review of my Black Icon novel; A new university degree (largely financed by Wifey's money), an award-winning newspaper column (had to share the award with another writer); some crackerjack features in the Toronto SUN that won me Mr. Andy Donato to illustrate my stories ( Andy Donato is the best illustrator and cartoonist in Canada); all the things you do "instead of" --instead of writing and publishing your Great Canadian Novel..

I had written my first book, The Black Icon so tightly that it was editor-proof, fool-proof.

In what I hoped was my Magnum Opus, THE HAT PEOPLE, I wrote so loosely and so awkwardly (I could never, like a painter "do hands") that there was lots and lots of room for editing. I finally hired an editor, paid him, he did a bad job, but it was good enough to merit me a printing of one chapter hearabouts in TOPIC Magazine. The job was botched, but the botch was what was needed. He had watered down my novel. Watered it down to the point where it could be accepted by a bland magazine.

All this was writing success--sort of. With a little help from my mercenary friends, my bad editors-for-hire.

Now, thirty years later, I am back at Square One.
Or maybe back a bit behind Square One.

I had written a novel of passion, The Fire In Bradford, the fire largely in the hero's pants.
I sent it to an important house. Success, I thought, would bring me a Giller nomination.

It all fell through. My friends in the company were gone, and soon, it seemed, so was I.
The new editors said my book was not up to the standards set by their new line-up of authors.
Ouch.
Double ouch.

Well, like many another egotist, I had made THE FIRE IN BRADFORD rejection-proof.

Before submitting to ANANSI, I went to the owner of my favourite watering hole, RICCI's SPORS BAR and asked the nighclub owner straight out if he would be my publisher. He said he was in the business of booze and cooze, but since I was such a good customer and played guitar for him nightgs, sure, he would humour me. He would be my publisher.
So I put LIGHT OVER NEWMAKET out under the imprint of RICCI'S SPORTS BAR.

Published by Ricci's Sports bar. At least I got somebody else to publish it rather than myself-- my sorry practice up to the point of the magazine serialization that I was lucky enough to get.

Portrait of the Artist as a young drunk.
But again, this was a palliative. I had to get that Giller, I had to get that Governor-General's award.

It was, of course, not to be.
My life style had indeed been that of a drunk and profligate, the university professor getting drunk with his students at the Grey Goat, precursor of RICCI's Sports Bar, eventually to become THE MAD HATTER, a pub placard that was curiously in nomenclature anyway, in synch with my big novel, THE HAT PEOPLE. There was a synchronicity here, but I don't really have the intellectual finesse to propersly describe it.
All in all, I was not a clean-living writer, neither did I stand up for AIDS or all the chi-chi causes. I was, in a word, not Governor-General's Award material as a writer.

What did it matter. My book had been rejected by Anansi, the important arts publishing house. I had failed at this. There would be no Giller, no Governor-General's award.

Creeping up to age seventy, and back at Square One.

How I identify with The Walking Man, who, though younger, is now himself back at Square One, or so he perceives himself to be... Keep writing Mark. But remember it has to be proof copy. No room for the loosey-goosey, the heartfelt expletives.

But over here, I am once again at Square One.

I did send the novel to an important theatre director in my town and here, got the strangest revelation.
"I've got your FIRE IN BRADFORD." "Yes, and...?"
" I am starting to mark it up.".
Marking it up? Me, God's chosen, who writes so tightly. Marking it up?
"Marking it up. There is room for improvement, as is the case with all of us."

Holy crap.
You mean Anansi rejected me because there was "room for improvement"?

Very likely the case.

Oh the ego. Keening, squealing like a trapped jackrabbit.

Still want to be a writer? Wanna quit now?


##

46 comments:

the walking man said...

sometimes you beat your way out of the box and other times the box beats its way into you. Either way yes I quit Ivan, too many people around here (Detroit)want to point out my flaws while they partake of my good character.

O that I could have grown to be the young drunk and the artist at the same moment in time. But my stars didn't line up that way.

I think I am going to go back and sleep for awhile more, it's not like there is anything better to do except watch TV and somehow even the most maudlin of it seems like a Red Green episode.

ivan@creativeriting.ca said...

Ah. Other writers.
They are not always fun people, like musicians.
Go to a party with musicians and you'll have a good time no matter how many times you make a fool of yourself.
Go to a party with writers, everybody will be mum over your flaws and idiosyncharcies.
Then, six months later, something will appear in a slick magazine about what a fool you had made of yourself and how you you now have trouble in "finding work."
"The guy's a nut and his talent is not strong enough to carry him."

All because you had been too intent on having a good time and had refused to bring a drink for the "senior writer".
In fact, you had told him to "f*ck off" and "bring your own drink."
I am talking about novelists and novelist- manque's.
Some of them are little elitists.

Josie said...

Hi, Ivan, I just popped over to say hello, and I'm glad to see Mark is here too.

Anyway, just saying hello.

Josie

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Hi there.
What's your sign?

Come here often?

eric1313 said...

I know hat you mean. Ever been to a poetry open mic where the emcee also reads? Don't dare get more applause or a quieter house than he while you read your work. He/she will imagine you as a target for all their bitterest creative frustrations for 'as long as the river flows and the grass grows'.

When I was twenty six--the last time I read at one--I did this and when the emcee (who went by the name "the balck squirrel army")went up for his second reading, he said "let's hear it for the Nike Sporting goods company!"

He was looking at me.

I was the only person wearing a Nike t-shirt. My multi-colored hair and pierced body part days were behind me, unlike the goons who were my age around me that night, who needed to hold onto their 'rebel individualist past' as some sort of validation. They looked like a noir army of one.

This guy was forty something, to top it all off.

As luck had it, people talked through his performance, clanked glasses and he got a trickle of applause from his friends, once more. I had politely paid smiling attention to his reading and clapped the loudest. Then I walked over to his table after he sat down and told him, "That was really good. It reminded me of sixth grade. I liked it. A lot."

I kept smiling. He had nothing to say. He looked genuinely afraid of me. His friends had nothing to say, either. Maybe their lip-to-tongue chains had something to do with that, but I didn't think so. I'm a stick figure of a person, but my eyes and voice must have carried the weight of Andre the Giant's boot.

That was the last reading I was ever at in a coffee house. I've read at the occasional corner bar open mics, complete with an unplugged band backing me up--again, dressed "inappropriately" in some regular joe streetwear that may or may not have had a totem sports team insignia emblazoned on it. But never again did I have that kind of cowardly disrespect directed at me, especially from a numbskull with a mic.

Shesawriter said...

Just when I think I've finally gotten somewhere I end up having to take ten steps backward. It's incredibly frustrating, so I feel your pain, dude. Seriously.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Eric,
Oh yeah. The coffe house scene.
Mine goes way back, but I too recall an MC, who had been studying film at Boston, and was directing Dylan Thomas' play for voices, "Under Milkwood."
This kind of performance goes over well in coffee houses.
Some of us actors, who were also musicians, tried to take the stage during an inetrmission and he kicked us off, our guitars clattereing after us.
Later, over a beer, he bragged about running some blues players off the stage.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Thanks, Tanya.
This kind of backward progress seems the way of many a writer.
Sometimes, with the right kind of luck or the right move at the right time, you can turn it all around...Like once I was rejected by one house and almost by some sort of weird process, I was immediately taken by another.
But in most cases its a big slap in the face and the writer's reaction is emotional.

Josie said...

Ivan, just popped in to say Hi. I feel like I'm at a cocktail party where everyone is having a conversation that I can't elbow my way into. Heh, heh. All you writers. I'm not a writer, so I have no idea what you're talking about.

How's the weather in Toronto? :-)

eric1313 said...

Ahh, see Ivan? You would fit right in un wednesday night's at the bar. They had an acuostic band with bongos that will let you sit in with them, or you can read short stories or poetry between sets, or with them playing in the back ground. I liked them. It was loud and everyone was drinking and talking, but somehow, they all paid attention. The few times I read there, they loved it. I blew them away with some of my more riske' stuff:

http://lovefromgrandrivertojefferson.blogspot.com/2007/06/poems-poem-or-why-you-probably-dont-do.html

You might like that one.

ivan@creativewriting.cas said...

Josie,
I thought we were making ourselves cleear as writers. To wit:
Life is rejection, failure, pain--the good stuff.
But the weather in Toronto is improving. It had been drizzly for four days, but now, as the moon wanes (an our state of mind improves)the skies promise to be bright in this late October light.

I could handle more of this gobal warming. I've had plants in my garden that shouldn't be there.
And the little suckers are still blooming. Like my artichokes.
Artichokes have this lovely yellow flower. Actually festoons of them, and it is almost November. The aritchoke keeps on giving.
One day I will eat it.
Oh-oh.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Eric,

Yeah, there are places like that in Newmarket (perched atop Toronto) but these are largely jam sessions with a host band. Anybody can play. We lost our coffee house because the owner, some guy named Hawkins, made a mint with his "Missing Presumed Dead" mystery, published out of London.

.............

I can't pick up your html, Eric.

Wanna send it plain?

I am sure your poetry sounds just great read aloud.
Might seem tame in print, but send it anyway.

ivan@creativewritng.ca said...

Hey Josie,
You may get a kick of of Tanya's (SHESAWRITER's blog on on May/Feb romances.
She has a YouTube skit with SNL's
Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey getting pretty hilarious over Ashton Kutcher and Demi's marriage.
Something about Demi having youth in her.
I used to like Fallon and Fey on Weekend Update. Too bad they're gone now.

eric1313 said...

try this. This poem is not for the faint of heart.


A Poem's Poem--Why You Probaby Don't Do Poetry
E1313


You have to become a basket case
so think of your love
cut off at the stump
no tongue to speak the words
of horror you can’t understand

Just don't try too hard
and it’s easy to do

After mentally torturing yourself
you need to go and get wasted
Hopefully you've already had
a love affair, but no matter
you can find those simply by asking
the wrong people
at the right time
which is usually
when they’re drunk

of course
you need to fuck that up, too
I recommend finding their neighbor
or sister or brother
and a twelve pack
before noon on a Sunday
but don't try too hard
and it’s easy as blue bird pie

So become a blithering
hyperventilating wreck
go get bent at your local bar
Fuck until you're useless
to everyone around you
Then sit down and write
Don’t think about writing
Don’t try to become a poet
Its too late for that
Asshole
Just type ideas:
Love cut off at the stump
or pieces of your psyche
in a duct-taped blood stained box
Just don't expect too much
if you try too hard

And whatever you do
don’t forget
to take down that love affair
that you fucked up so good
because you were so wasted
that you called her
by her friend’s name
or her brother's name
or his sister’s name
or his/hers/whatsits
whatever the fuck and how

You couldn’t have been trying too hard
or you'd still be there
fucking up and down in the mud
drinking the last drop from the empties
every morning you wake up
with no tongue
and no words--
only the horror
and the stump of your love

staring you in the face

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Hm.
I think I was right in auguring that a poem like this would work only too well when read out loud in a coffee house.
No pun on the content, but delivered orally?
You've probably delivered this out loud already and I can only imagine the applause.

Anonymous said...

Dear friend,
Please see the encouraging articles below.

How do they apply to Canada? We do not even have a law protecting the unborn or limiting abortion in Canada!

The only difference between the US and Canada is the "culture" created by the Canadian Media Monopoly (and allowed to prosper by a weak political and social leadership).

Without an independent free source of information, the first casualty is the Truth, the second is life, the third is democracy.

We believe our party is right on. We will see the fruits once the truth will come out. It always does.

Giuseppe Gori



Second New Poll Shows Majority of Americans are Pro-Life on Abortion

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
October 29, 2007


Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- A second poll in as many weeks is showing that a majority of Americans are pro-life when it comes to abortion. Last week, a CBS News survey showed over half of the public opposes most or all abortions and now a new poll from Bloomberg News and the Los Angeles Times has found the same thing.
The new media survey asked respondents which of four positions "comes closest to your view on abortion."

Some 40 percent of those polled said abortion should be illegal 98 percent of the time -- "except in cases of rape, incest and to save the mother’s life."

Another 10 percent took a pro-life position that "abortion should be made illegal without any exceptions."

Only 44 percent of Americans favor legal abortions, according to the survey, with 31 percent saying they should be "always legal" and just 13 percent saying they should be legal "most of the time."

The two media outlets interviewed 1,209 American adults from Oct. 19 to Oct. 22 and their poll has a three percent margin of error.

As LifeNews.com reported last week, a CBS News poll found 54 percent of Americans take one of three pro-life positions opposing all or almost all abortions and another 16 percent want more restrictions on it.

The October 12-16 poll asked Americans to tell CBS News their "personal feelings" on abortion.

The survey found that 16 percent of the public only favors allowing abortions "only to save woman's life" and another 34 percent think abortions should just be allowed in the very rare cases of rape, incest or to save the mother's life.

Another four percent of Americans want all abortions to be made illegal.

With the Planned Parenthood-affiliated Alan Guttmacher Institute showing that less than two percent of all abortions are done in cases of rape, incest or to save the mother's life, the CBS News poll shows 54 percent of Americans oppose 98 percent of all abortions.

According to the survey, just 26 percent of the public wants abortions permitted in all cases.

Another 16 percent want abortions to remain legal but to be subject to greater restrictions than they currently face.

In total, 70 percent of those polled want abortions illegal in most or all cases or subject to greater restrictions.

The CBS News poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,282 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone October 12-16, 2007. It has a three percentage point margin of error.



Crteria for voting (US source)
Oct. 29, 2007

A new poll conducted by Fox News finds that almost half of all voters want to know where a candidate stands

--Giuseppe Gori
Leader
Family Coalition Party

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Giuseppe,

This is topical.
On the CBC's award-winning show, THE HOUR, with George Strombopoupoulos (sp?), Dr. Henry Morgentaler was featured.
He did not make a very convincing case. At least, not for me.
He also struck me (and it's not his fault) as kind of an icky man.

EA Monroe said...

Hey, Ivan! Just popping in and out (the boss keeps calling) to say hiya!

What is it with Musicians?

Oh! They like to jam. And drink lots of beer. And have fun.

Maybe writers need to learn how to jam and loosen up. And, play nice.

Hi Mark, Josie, Eric and Shesawriter!

Liz

PS -- I'm still "editing/cutting words" on the epic mini-series.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Liz,
Hi. I'm sure Eric is glad to "see" you, as well as Trevor Record, if he's still around. I certainly am.

Break a leg on that Amazone submission.

You've always got a home here at Island Grove Press...I would love to serialize your book(s).

Ivan

Josie said...

Liz is right. You guys need to learn how to jam and loosen up. Rejection, failure, pain isn't the good stuff. Is that what it takes to be a good writer? I think one of the things I always like about Somerset Maugham's writing and Steinbeck as well, is that they told a story outside of themselves. They weren't in the story, they were observers, telling the story to us. Isn't that what writing should be about? Story telling?

Just my opinion. I never read fiction anymore. Maybe that's one of the reasons why - I got tired of all the angst and navel gazing by the writers. I like a good story. The story you were telling your grandchilden about the alien sounded like a good story!

Just my humble opinion...

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Josie,

I framed an answer for you but it was lost in cyberspace.
This was almost unacceptable, as I had answered your question to the best of my modest abilities.
So I will try again:

We do try to find the story, the song outside ourselves. That should be the quest.
But to tell that story, to sing that song--this requires skill, a kind of musicianship.
So in the building of a writer, it's the same as body-building--no pain, no gain.
We have to experience life, which, face it, for most people, is rejection, failure, pain.
We are looking for the song within his godawful trinity, perhaps like Bette Midler in her rendition of The Rose.

eric1313 said...

Hey--I know how to jam! You should here me play. I'm a cross between SRV, Hendrix, Jimmy Pgae and Dave Gilmour. I can rock a house down!

Any band, any tune, I can fit right in, even if I don't know the song. That's the essence of the jam. To play it by feel, not by technique.

And I like to think my writing does reflect that. At any moment, I can write anything; verse on a whim, exposition, fiction/faction.

Let's jam sometime! I tried to get some others into it, but they don't always flow. They feel like they need to plan oput a magnum opus, when if you just let it flow, some of the best stuff will happen. And as always, the best stuff is often unplanned.

Lets jam, you guys! Sometime, we should set up a writer's jam.

Heck, we can jam right here! That's my favorite thing to do. These comment boxes are all we need to set our words free.

Let's jam!

eric1313 said...

And yes, I'm glad to see Liz!

And Josie,

and Shesawriter

And all the rest.

I think Trevor's around. He's busy with classes, I believe. He was talking about Immanuel Kant last week (neccessary agreement of concepts and experience), so I think the top tier philosophy classes are pulling at his attention like a black hole.

Josie said...

But, Ivan, can't a writer also be an observer of life, and tell that story as well? Can't the writer extricate himself a little bit from the personal, and tell a third party story that is just a story and nothing else? Perhaps that's where the problem comes in for a lot of writers is that they can't separate themselves from the story. Rejection, failure and pain are only three things people experience. There are so many other things as well. One of my favorite short stories was called "The Picasso Summer" by Ray Bradbury, and it was made into a movie starring Albert Finney. Ray Bradbury was a science fiction writer, mostly, but he also wrote other stories, and this story was wonderful. You would enjoy it. Have you read it?

Or Steinbeck. I'm sure you have read all his stuff. You remind me so much of him.

the walking man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Eric,
As a guitar player, you must have been born unnaturally fast.
I can do a Lighnin' Hopkins riff, I can fake Chuck Berry (Johnny Be Good) and I can almost fake B.B. King.
But, of course, I can't even get near Hendrix, or Stevie Ray or Eric Clapton.
The great First Nations player Robbie Robertson also leaves me in the dust.
To do cool riffs and rides is something that takes a hell of a lot of practice and, face it, some technique. I did not put in enought time and have a hell of a problem playing clean with the really good guys.
My gap, I think, is not hearing enough Robert Johnson when younger.
Now there was an architect.
Johnson would have an encyclopaedic knowlegde of all the riffs he guys around him were plaing and then he would add bits of his own, which, of course, were stunning. He had certainly developed technique besides being a great innovator.

On the idea of a writing jam:
This could be fun. I am not especially fond of scat-writing (largely because I have an essay style) but I am impressed by people who can do it, really do it, slick and smooth.
I find your expository writing brilliant.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Josie,
I did see The Picasso Summer, but I had to suffer through French subtitles, so I must have missed a lot of it.
It did remind me of The Magus, a brilliant l962 novel by the late John Fowles.
It did, somehow, remind me of the thing called technique, as the grotesque Picasso shapes took life.

My late father-in-law said to me one day, "You should be a novelist. You have the technology."
I disliked his use of the word teachnology; something in that word of the occult and devil-worship...Maybe the best music is played by the devil after all, and we all-- all of us writers-- fish in forbidden streams and go hunting after moonbeams.
You have obsiously read most of Maugham, but the book you may have missed is "The Summing Up", which, Maugham says, "is not an autobiography nor a confession" but autobiographsy and a kind of confession it is, besides being a great guide for the creative writer.
In the final part of the book, Maugjam makes the startling statement that a writer, after all his work has been done--has only succeeded in drawing his own face.
Now that's a hell of a revelation out of Maugham, whose writings seem so objective, so much about other people. Very likely it's Willie's stuttering which gave him a sense of what it was like to be seen a weird and somewhat alien.
So your hero seemed to have been writing on aspects of his own makeup. Maugham does not lie in this final book and it is a wonderful "how-to" for the budding writer.

Josei, I am greatly flattered that you put me in the august company of
Steinbeck and that you might think I have read so much Bradbury. I have read Bradbury, but not enough.
Bradbure does advise a writer to stay away from journalism.
Oh-oh.

the walking man said...

Ivan...yep I deleted myself because sometimes it's better to say nothing than to say it all and then not be able to back off the statement.

Anybody ever count up all of the writers that lived to a ripe old age and were in good health as they blissfully passed on in their sleep.

I'd be willing to bet the count is in the tens as opposed the hundreds that could no longer live with the demons both real and imagined that made the good writers, worth the read.

If all goes as planned on Friday i will get my drivers license back and will take a few works to the mic and see if I can re-connect the writing with the performing and if not at least I'll see people I haven't seen in 3/4 of a year.

Maybe then I will feel like i have at least a piece of what was me back.

peace

mark

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Mark,

People didn't seem to live as long in the old days. Most were finished by 56.
The good writers seemed on fire and burned themselves out long before this...Marlowe, Rimabaud, Keats, Shelley, even Shakespeare.

Ah that all-important driver's licence and now the poetic licence.
Getting your groove back.

Shesawriter said...

Oh, it's emotional for me too, especially when I get them all at once. It's real tough to take it. I know people say develop a thick skin, but that's easier said than done.

ivan@cretivewriting.ca said...

Tanya,

The hell of it is in spending years and years learning how to write and have some editor tell you your work--needs work.
Seems to take the brain a long time to figure out what happened.
I guess the poor brain is in shock.
I am more and more convinced it was because I met the editor on a night of the fullest moon.
This makes you all the more nervouse, and you go to shake the editor's hand--and he pulls it away and reaches for a drink.
Fok.

eric1313 said...

You know who else was good--BB King. He's the master of the one note say it all school of thought.

I like Clapton, too, Bell Bottom Blues is one of my favorite all time songs.

I'm fast becuase I'm a nervouse wreck! It helps. And, I practice soloing on an acoustic guitar. Electric is easy to handle when you can get them down on acoustic. I can play a perfect Comfortably Numb solo, or Pride and Joy isn't very hard. Hendrix, too. But both those guys, SRV and Hendrix have plenty of things I can't play--I can just play like them. The spirit. And it helps to have good equipment. I have a beautiful Stratocaster and A gibson Les Paul. Both of them I had to have on lay away for years during my teens, working and saving up. My family was always poor. I had to save up for anything nice--although, I did get the occasional nice christmas gift. But my guitars I had to buy.

I just wrote a short for the first itme in months. Take a look, if you dare.

http://www.creativewriting.ca said...

Hi Eric,

Yeah, once you get it down on acoustic, electric is fairly easy.
But I find when I play acoustic, I look at the fingerboard.
When you stand up to lead a band, however, you are not looking at your keyboard and I found this a bit awkward. Had o sit on a stool. (Hm. Sitting on a chair seems a better way of putting it).
I have owned a Strat, but it wouldn't play clean for me, I found... Like wire on a fencepost after acoustic. But then my Strat was really a clone and not the real thing. I guess secretly, I long for a Gretch with a modem, like the one George Throrogood plays...Or is that Colin James--ah, what's the difference.

I will have a look at your story, but in spite of my present bellyaching, Island Grove Press here can be a tough school.
If the writing is too loosey-goosey, I will tell you.


Ivan

eric1313 said...

I should have edited it first. I just finished cleaning up any the tenses--it startedpresent tense and went to past tense on me, but that was only for the first paragraphs. I changed it all to past tense. And I fixed the typos involved, the little things. I should have waited. Anyway, I'm not looking to publish it. One never knows, but I was happy just to write a story with some dialogue.

So was it loosey goosey?

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

The story is good, really good.
But you might have to got to Joyce Carol Oates' Unholy Loves to get a sense of style... There is an eposode there about a trip to Montreal with an errant artist. But I know you are not all that fond of Joyce Carol Oates.

Basically, I think you need a copy-editor. Each sentence, each word has be steamed, and no word wasted. This is what separates the amateur from the pro...Maybe I'm still smarting from a theatre director's comments after he took it upon himself to by my copy-editor!
I could undertake to do the job, but I'm expensive, and I hope , a better writer than an editor.
You story does have the magic.
But it needs to be put through a strainer.
Just a tech too loosey-goosey.

Discipline.

Hm. I can't find any handcuffs around here. :)

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Eric, I'll just reproduce our first para here:
Halloween is my favorite holiday," she said, the wind picking up and making us huddle in our sweatshirts. We were sitting on our front porch as the sun was going down, douncing everything in fire of dying light. I can agree or disagree with her, but say nothing, taking a slug from a brown bottle turning clearer by the second. A black label with a common name written on it, Jack Daniels, sounding innocent, even average, veiling the shotgun kick that it carries, something you won't forget if you ever meet him again.

It kind of peregranates, does it not...And my slight knowledge of middle English does not regiser the word douncing.
I would encourage other writers on this blog to click onto your site and offer comments.

In the meantime, I've almost forgotten my own sunriser of Jack Daniels. Heh.

Ivan

benjibopper said...

i must admit your words give me cause for pause on this writing dream that has haunted me since i was 6. but, then again, what i wouldn't give for a good editor. good editors are worth their weight in gold, they polish out those rough edges without wearing away the substance, and that's their gift.

anyway, right now i'll settle for a decent writing group. this trade is too solitary for my mental health.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Benji,

I have been very lucky in my career to have come across editors who could not only point me in the right direction--they were natural teachers as well.
Should you get an editor, make sure he or she has been around, knows publishing and he media.
This should be especcially true of the creative writing instructor herself. If she hasn't been around, ir's really the blind leading the blind.

(I'm just smarting a bit when I find out that after thirty-odd years of writing, I need an editor myself.
The biggest names, of course, all have their edtiors...Where would the original Thomas Wolfe had been without his Maxwell Perkins and note how tentative John Updike's writng seems to be withouth the top editing talent over at Alfred A. Knopf).
A critique group is fine provided there are some really good writers in it. They can help you along and maybe calm that chill wind of loneliness that blows around an artist surrounded by people who are just hurrying by in life.

Danny Tagalog said...

Hi Ivan,

The 'loosey-goosey' phrase is rather memorable. Means lack of conciseness, doesn't it?

Re: rejections - I guess being subject to the whims of various power-brokers, many of whom have questionable perceptions of what good art entails, can destroy most. But not you, evidently...

Like Josie, I'm not a pro, but gain a lot from eavesdropping here. Interesting point on whether you should write outside of yourself. Musing on that now...

benjibopper said...

Ivan, that response was not only poignant but also unexpectedly poetic.

jason evans said...

Writers have to be crazy to sign up for this...I was going to say rollercoaster ride, but you need to have at least as much "up" as you do "down" in that case. The metaphor doesn't work. Anyway, if I'm destined to be crazy, I'm going to shoot for happy-crazy.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Thanks, Danny.

Power brokers, yes.
The longer I write in Canada the more I get the notion that writing here may be politics. Left wing politics, but politics all the same.
A large seller in Canada today is "The Communist's Daughter." Hey

Living in the Orient, I can see why you are interested in writing outside the sel. The self seems greatly effaced in the East.

ivan@cresativewriting.ca said...

Benjibopper,

Efharisto poli.

Josie said...

Ivan, I just popped over to say hello.

I've been too busy to visit many blogs lately.

Phew...

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

jason evans,

Welcome back. Long time no see.

I was taken by your "The Stairs, Part 7", on your blog.
I read it over Halloween and the conclusion of the story scared the daylights out of me. You did a masterful job, I think.

On the business of being a writer:

Some years ago, a novel of mine was serialized in TOPIC Magazine here. I was thrilled.
I mean, nobody does serialization any more. That was for the days of Dickens. I had scored a coup.
I was up, up, up.
Then the publisher came to me and said, "I'm paying you $340 a chapter for this sh*t?"
I was down, down, down.

Your metaphor may well work.
I felt I was not crazy after all, once the work appeared, illustrations even!
But once the publisher dressed me down I certainly went to the depressive from the manic.
Told him I would cut out some chapters. He was happy with this.

Ah, money, mother and madness.
(At least that's the mantra my analyst was repeating.
I fired him.
Gave him a rejection).

Booga-Booga.

You're only considered mad if you don't succeed, no matter how small the success.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Hi Josie,

I'll float over to your blog to see what's up.