Hesitate #WritersWednesday

Today’s prompt

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“You have to tell the truth,” she said, serious and mocking at the same time, “the truth about me, the person I am, not the one you would wish me to be!”

I was a little peeved about that statement. I thought I was truthful, without hesitation about her qualities and shortcomings, being a cool and objective observer. Now, in the middle of the night, as she looked at me, I was beginning to doubt. Was I writing about her real self, or someone who did not exist? A doppelgänger of sort?

“But,”she continued in her calm voice, “you should know, if you can’t do it naturally, I’ll do it for you. And I won’t hesitate to show to your readers what the truth is about this great author!”

Then I woke up. Her voice was still ringing in my mind. There was a long time to go before dawn. I wished she’d been here, for real, telling me more about herself. My beloved hero, the perfect woman…

Picture: Joanna Pallaris, via  ilpianobis

 

Clean #amwriting

The Prompt

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Each day some words appear on the page, tentative, surrounded in mist,  as if those words emerged from a cloudy landscape, as yet unformed. Summoning a clean page let the characters know: they are not alone, more life is being breathed into their world, a genesis.

Their impatience is a testimony to their precarious existence: until the work is complete, they don’t know for sure that they will survive the latest twist, those nightly revisions, the dreaded editing. For words may disappear, and with them, the reasons for those fragile beings to be born.

Each day, for us too, is a clean page, to be written with care, and attention to detail: for the number of pages is finite, and the Book has many characters.

Resist #WritersWednesday

The Prompt

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The story is there, the characters laid out, not yet fully alive, but stirring. The daily bombardment of falsehoods, the unstoppable flow of hate and lies are the sad background: is it not the writer’s duty to see through, to unravel, to show the lessons that could have been learnt? But who is she to claim to know? Who is he to claim some knowledge, somehow privileged to the “happy few”, as Stendhal once wrote?

Only the story should tell, only the characters should speak. Not by blaming the past – which is our present – but only by imagining what could be, do we have a chance to change the future…

Image: Statue of Liberty, courtesy http://travelhdwallpapers.com/statue-of-liberty-sunset/

Scent

The Prompt

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I love walking in the park, nor so far from our place, early morning, when one meets nearly no-one, bar a few crows and some brave joggers. So, today, I was surprised to see him, a joker-like character, visibly still made-up from last night party, or some other odd activity, whose ludicrous attire could not fail to attract attention. He was looking out toward the lake, and its frozen surface where, later, some skating enthusiasts would perform.

Something in his posture reminded me vaguely of other encounters, for which I did not care much. He saw me, and immediately tried to hide his face: I walked deliberately in his direction, and he walked away, a crooked flight I knew too well…

Abruptly, he started running in the direction of the canal, and I decided not to follow. In his trail floated the inescapable proof: a sharp scent of sulphur.

This, after all, is the City of Faust…

Image: The Joker @http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/the-joker/images/8895447/title/nicholsons-joker-photo

Conundrum #DailyPost #WritersWednesday

When is a logical proposition a conundrum?

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Well, is there such a thing as the writer’s conundrum? That would be, perhaps, a logical proposition as to the role of writers, their responsibility, their freedom. Isn’t it the case that, for example, a writer whose inspiration is drawn from the society of her time, somehow owes that society something in return: her novel, her contribution to the common welfare, maybe the denunciation of evil?

So, how about this writer’s conundrum:

His inspiration came from the characters he created, but, once created, the characters didn’t let him develop the story: they wanted to tell their own… 

Image: Jeanne Mammen, Jüngling, c.1943-45

T-Rain, and a girl named Zula: a reading of Neal Stephenson’s Reamde #amreading

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Every other thing that he had done for the company – networking with money launderers, stringing Ethernet cable, recruiting fantasy authors, managing Pluto – could be done better and more cheaply by someone who could be recruited by a state-of-the-art head-hunting firm. His role, in the end, had been reduced to this one thing: sitting in the corner of meeting rooms or lurking on corporate email lists, seeming not to pay attention, growing ever more restless and surly until he blurted something out that offended a lot of people and caused the company to change course. Only later did they see the shoals on which they would have run aground if not for Richard’s startling and grumpy intervention.”

Reamde is a tough, long, and interesting novel. I had to interrupt my reading several times during this year, and this made following the plot as hazardous as the story itself. I acquired Reamde initially as an e-book. The version I had was poorly edited, and after some four hundred pages I could no longer find my way through the various geographies and characters. Finally I purchased the paperback (in the Atlantic Books edition available in the UK.) This helped me to come back on tracks, as the good ones were getting deeper into serious trouble, and the bad ones were… getting more horrible than ever.
Richard Forthrast is a wealthy entrepreneur, and the soul at the core of T-Rain, a world-class multiplayer (MMORPG) game and metaverse, that transcends all predecessors. Richard is the head of the Forthrast clan, an expanded family of gun-totting characters who include his adopted niece, the beautiful Zula, a refugee from Erithrea. The world of T-Rain is, one day, disrupted by the double event of an internal war – the Wor – and the advent of what turns out to be a deadly virus, Reamde. The plot then develops into two parallel, but eventually convergent, lines: what happens in T-Rain, and what happens in “reality”: much of the book’s interest arises, in this reader’s view, from this double narrative, the journey in T-Rain, and the journey in this world, from Idaho to the Philippines, via China and various airfields and oil tankers, and back again, as Bilbo Baggins used to say. Both are rich in deadly traps, of the explosive and other varieties, such as magic spells.
A good first tier of the book is devoted to a description of T-Rain, its design, history and creators, a medley of British and US genial weirdos, recruited by, and under Richard’s influence. I must admit having lost the thread more than once (a fuller understanding would require a second reading, at least.) The real world’s thread centres on Zula and her companions, and their odyssey. For Reamde, the virus, cuts across the machinations of a criminal gang from the East, whose extortion racket is disrupted by the virus. The consequences of the gang’s brutal intervention, and a chance meeting with a bunch of jihadists, make up the second half of the novel, as the separate trails slowly converge back to the US-Canadian border, and Richard’s eagle nest.
There are hints of Snow Crash, Stephenson’s earlier novel that introduced a proto-virtual world, and multiple references to the world of hacking and virus developers. There are peripheral characters, some roughly inspired by the “war on terror”, and of course, the very nasty, and yet noble jihadist, the infamous Jones.
I only caught up with the female characters, all three of them, once I had acquired the paperback, having to backtrack through the 1044 pages! I think, now, that sometime I will re-read Reamde, when I have some uninterrupted three or four weeks of quiet vacation (maybe when we visit Seattle?) Stephenson lives in Seattle and his geographical knowledge of the region is evidently vast. I struggled with the trails through the mountainous area above Richard’s Schloss! A map would be as useful to the reader as it would be to Zula and her friends.
Reamde is, in turn, hilarious and tragic, a great read, and a milestone for Stephenson’s aficionados.

Photo: [By Ryan Somma – https://www.flickr.com/photos/ideonexus/6191024454, CC BY 2.0, Link]

My reading of Cryptonomicon

Chaotic #DailyPost

Today’s Prompt

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“It’s all about geography,” she said in her quiet, matter of fact voice. “You have to draw the map, polish the synopsis, make sure those ghosts of yours translate into real people, people who live, work, love, somewhere!”

“You’re quite right about the map,”I replied, in conciliatory mood, “and there lies the problem. I have several in mind, dependent on when, and who, on past and present, on today and a fleeting tomorrow. As for them…”

“Don’t tell me,” she snapped, “they don’t know where they are! But it’s precisely your job to show them, to guide them, to organise that chaos they find themselves in! Just imagine, being parachuted on the blank page, out of your world, in a different time, without language, without light…”

“I just need to let it rest, for a bit, you know, without rushing to impose order… prematurely… Besides, who am I to rule them about? They may like this lack of walls, this fizziness, the doors open…”

“That’s what I have always thought,” she concluded with a disarming smile, “You are an anarchic writer! I wish I could help!”

Image: Carl Friedrich Seiffert, Die Blaue Grotte auf Capri, 1860 – Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

From the mist #WritersWednesday

 

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They emerge from the mist, slowly, their shapes and faces only taking colours once the first sun rays appear: they look hesitant, perhaps a little shy. They are not alone, small nebulae surround them: their memories, their secrets, their hopes, often encrypted, not yet readable. They don’t speak, they appear to listen, to sounds we cannot hear, to melodies long forgotten, or voices of others, far away.

Sometime, one of them comes into clearer focus, surprised, but determined to find her way. It is then our turn to listen, attentive to the moves and gestures of the newcomer. It is as if she wishes to communicate with us, a few words at a time, often names. Eventually we know her name, and, later, that of people who matter to her. It is then the start of a journey of discovery. Where does she come from? When was she born, and where? Who were her parents? Who was her first love? Or, if there was no mercy, when did she die?

If she’s dead, already, then she may be coming, from that distant past, on behalf of someone else, her living self, or an old lover, or a child she lost, somewhere. She may be here to denounce some falsehood, some slander she was victim of, some lies people told about her life. She wants justice.

When she starts talking, we are surprised, how young she sounds, how present she is, and we want to hear more, of her life, of her story.

If we are lucky, she will tell us enough, about her life, her loves, her world, for us to write about her, to make her live again.

Photo: Christian Daniel Rauch, Danaide mit aufgelöstem Haar (Danaid with dishevelled hair), 1842-1846 – Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

 

Filthy #DailyPost #WritersWednesday

Today’s prompt

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“Of course, you have to explore their past: those characters of yours have a past, hidden from you, so far. You need to discover it, understand it, get into some of the less palatable truths about them. Don’t just see them squeakily clean on the blank page! Look, look for the filth, the deplorable, the inexcusable.”

She spoke, in this charming but imperative voice my muse has, when the rain falls, and I am stuck in getting the novel back moving again. She’s right, she always is.

“And, by the way, if your discoveries, what they were once up to, the skeletons in their briefcase, lead you to question their virtue, don’t hesitate! The hero is less than perfect! Good! In fact he is a coward, or was, or might be again: lovely! What will attract the attention of a discerning reader is, is precisely what makes her that little better, more adjusted, thus a touch sexier, than that character of yours!”

I will follow her advice, much work in perspective, and maybe, by digging through the filth, I’ll find the gems?

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