May 31, 2009

Novelist Kate Atkinson would rather not be published

Crime novelist Kate Atkinson noted at the Hay Festival this weekend that while she loves to write, she would rather not have to publish. Her position is fascinating to me largely because I just don't get the sense that publishing is something that I *have* to do. I accepted long ago that while I would love to make a living off of my creative writing, it's probably not going to happen. Ever. Heck, I've been freelancing for almost two months and yet to make any real money off of that either (which is a little terrifying - when am I going to figure out how to turn my writing into viable self-employment?). I've always been aware that there will need to be something else in my life for me to make money from. I've just never thought that my creative work would be my sole source of income, so publishing has always been the ideal, the goal I want to reach, but also something I have learned to live without. I just approach my writing with an entirely different mindset.

What are your thoughts and expectations for publishing?

May 29, 2009

On Copyright

The Supreme Court will not hear an appeal in the case of Steinbeck and Smyle v. Penguin Group, a dispute over whether Steinbeck's heirs or Penguin owned the rights to The Grapes of Wrath and other works. Previously, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Penguin owns the rights, and the Supreme Court will not revisit the issue.

I've never been quite satisfied with copyright laws in this country. That's why this blog is issued under a Creative Commons License. I like the freedom that Creative Commons offers. I imagine I will work with copyright in a number of different ways in my writing career. I imagine any books I publish through a publisher will be the traditional All Rights Reserved. And while some magazines and journals are working with Creative Commons these days, most still are protected by traditional copyright. But what about the books I self-publish (if any)? Will I protect myself with traditional copyright, or go with Creative Commons? I guess that's a bridge I cross when I come to it.

One of the things I'd like to have control over is what happens to my work when I die. While I won't be having any children who could have control over my estate, I probably will have some family in one way or another. But I also don't believe that the copyright on my work should stand after I am dead. I'm serious here - I believe that when I die, all of my works should be public domain. What use do I have for them if I'm dead? If, on the off chance, I become fabulously wealthy from my writing, I can arrange to leave money to any family I have. But they don't need to have control over my work after I am gone.

Of course, what happens with publishers is another story. Should I ever be published through traditional networks, I'll have to discuss things with a lawyer, because while I am passionate about copyright law, I admit I only have a layperson's knowledge. But I do know that at some point, I am going to create a document that releases all of my self-published works into the public domain upon my death.

May 28, 2009

Review: I Think You Might Be a Genius by Quinn Collard

I Think You Might Be a Genius by Quinn Collard, 2009. 36pp, $8.00 (also available as an ebook for $5.00).

I Think You Might Be a Genius is Quinn Collard's third collection of poems, and shows further development in her progress as a writer. While not an absolutely perfect collection, it is certainly Collard's best work so far, and represents a new level of artistry. What stands out to me most is that this is the collection with lines which made me pause, think, and reread because of their beauty and power.

This collection has a particularly strong beginning. The fifth poem, "45th Street, Wallingford," has a line I love because it can be taken two ways:

Debating the relative merits
Of charming and calm
Versus the buzzing hive of activity
Our little honeycomb of an apartment is in the middle of now.

On my first reading, I read the last line of that passage incorrectly. But it was exactly that mistake which made me fall in love with it. Rather than reading it as a logical extension of the line before it (as in, their apartment is in the middle of a buzzing hive of activity), I saw it as completely self-contained. "Our apartment is in the middle of now." Their home is present in the moment; it exists in the here and now. I thought it was beautiful to think of a home simply being present.

The poem "Home" also caused me to stop with the third line: "There are parts of me everywhere and nowhere at once." As someone roughly Collard's age, who also relocated about a year ago, who still does not feel quite at home in her environment, this poem stopped me early on because of the way it related to my own experience. Someone who I have never met in person is nonetheless able to articulate how I feel with startling accuracy - that is the mark of strong poetry.

While an overall strong collection, I will say that this chapbook becomes a bit weak in the middle, with Collard beginning to rely on tired, overused images and phrases as well as oversimplification. She has an eye for detail, but does not apply it consistently.

But despite a less-satisfactory middle, Collard's closing poems are also excellent. When I read the final poem, "Pepper," I was sad that I had come to the end of the book. Yes, I can just go and re-read as much of it as I want. But despite that, I was still bummed to realize that my first experience with this collection was over.

May 21, 2009

Taking the Hint

A few weeks back I wrote a post about Hint Fiction. Since then, a Hint Revolution has started making its way around the blogosphere. Now, a bunch of us bloggers are working on a hint fiction serial. Last week, Isaac Newton of more absurd than difficult selected me to continue the story. So below is the serial so far. How does it work? Just post your hint continuation in the comments, and I'll select the one I think best contributes to the serial as a whole. The winner gets to continue the serial at their blog.

Also - big apologies for the delays in getting this out. I've had a distracting week. The short version: I had to reinstall the OS of my computer twice . . . .

The detectives wouldn’t believe he drank the entire bottle of Worcestershire sauce willingly no matter what we said.

We told them he was preparing for the end of the world, we told them it would be coming tomorrow.

The detectives told us to ‘go home and prepare for Armageddon then…assholes’, and proceeded to muscle us off the property.

It seemed to be a big joke to them jeering and cursing us, but come tomorrow we’ll see who’s laughing and who’s dead.

The next morning, it appeared we had been proved wrong. But only we could see that life was no longer business as usual.


May 19, 2009

Confession Tuesday

We've been at our new place for 3.5 weeks and we're still not unpacked.

Despite the fact that I love my books, I keep getting annoyed because I think I have them all unpacked and organized and then I find another box.

Now that I'm taking a break from my novel I feel unfocused and don't know what to work on.

I think I might try to take my scooter more than 5 miles from my house on Wednesday. I'm a little scared.

May 18, 2009

Skin Magazine - Literally

A Swedish graphic designer has issued issue 3 of his zine on his leg. I wish I could get my hands on a copy of the large scale prints when they're released next month.

I love tattoos (I currently have 3 and plan to get more), and I'm fascinated by the blending of the impermanent medium of the zine with permanent body modification of tattoos. I think it's especially fascinating when you take into account that permanent body modification isn't completely permanent in the long run - eventually, the bodies we ink will no longer be around for public view. No matter what techniques we might use, nothing is permanent.

None of my tattoos are of my own design - I can't draw, for one thing. For another, I'm not really interested in having any of my own writing permanently inked onto my skin. Maybe someday I'll write something I always want to have on my body, but that has happened yet. The literary tattoo I currently have is this symbol from Mark Z. Danielewski's Only Revolutions. It's on the inside of my right ankle and was the first ink I ever received. (I also have the phrase "heretic pride" tattooed right between my shoulder blades and the polyamory symbol on the inside of my left wrist.) I'm actually thinking my next tattoo (which won't happen until 2010 because I just got the poly tattoo for my birthday and I'm limiting myself to one a year) might be a few lines from Mary Oliver or Walt Whitman. However, I'm still undecided as to where it might go. I don't want to overwhelm my back with text, but my left ankle might not be enough room. But I can think about it as long as I need to.

May 16, 2009

Adjusting my goals

Yesterday, I finished all the revisions for draft 5 of my novel. And while I made the goal to continue on and revise draft 6 by the end of this month, I've decided to scrap that. I need a break! I was starting to get frustrated with the novel as as result of spending too much time with it. I've been working at it since November (I wrote the first draft during National Novel Writing Month) and keeping a steady pace of revision since then. I need to stop and get some space before I try to work on it again.

This break will be at least two weeks long, and possibly a month. If, at the start of June, I am ready to pick the novel up again, I will. But if not, I will take two more weeks off. I'm looking forward to spending some time away from it, and look forward to seeing what kinds of things I'll discover when I come back after some time away.

May 14, 2009

Drinking and Creativity

The British magazine Prospect has an article entitled "I drink, therefore I can." The article discusses research that suggests some creative people such as Mark Twain might have had a gene mutation that allowed them to process alcohol differently, possibly fueling their creativity. The study is in no way conclusive or definitive, but it's interesting to think about.

If this gene mutation works the way researchers suspect, I probably don't have it. While I enjoy the taste of alcohol, I've never found it pleasant to be drunk. Not only that, but drinking certainly doesn't make me more creative - in fact I can barely work at all.

Looking back, I find that the periods in my life when I drank the most heavily were the ones where I was also the least productive in terms of my literary output. However, I think there are two sides to that story. Yes, drinking makes it difficult for me to work. But I think I was drinking more because I was frustrated with my life, and the fact that the work I was doing at the time was infringing on my creativity in other ways. I was drinking because I was frustrated, but in a way, alcohol probably only aggravated that frustration, because I was already struggling with my creative writing, and getting drunk with friends certainly didn't help.

What are your relationships to creativity and alcohol? Other drugs?

May 12, 2009

Confession Tuesday

Tonight I'll be teaching my first yoga class, and I'm nervous.

I'm not actually teaching a class per se. I just have a friend who wants to learn yoga and doesn't mind that I'm not a certified instructor. Our lessons are going to be informal. But I'm still nervous.

I taught writing in grad school and didn't do a very good job. But I try to remember the circumstances. I was teaching a mandatory writing class, and most of the students did not want to be there. This time, I will be teaching someone who actually wants to be learning from me. I think that will make all the differences. I hope it does.

May 11, 2009

Calling Austin-Area Readers

My spouse and I own a number of degus. We adopted four female degus from a small animal rescue shelter back in Ohio in the summer of 2007. A few months after we moved to Austin, we rescued two more females. Unbeknownst to us, these two were pregnant, and by the end of November 2008, we were up to 13.

Despite getting the males neutered, somehow one of the females got pregnant again, and now we have 17 of these critters. Unfortunately, we are unable to care for that many. We're looking for home for them with people we can trust will take proper care of them. I don't like the idea of selling them to an exotic pet store at all, so we're hoping we can find people to take them. You'll need to provide your own cage/food/bedding, but we will give you the degus completely free. We just want them to go to good homes.

The only condition is that you take a minimum of two. Degus are very social animals and will get depressed if they live alone.

Please comment or email me at dorlamoorehouse[at]gmail[dot]com if you are interested.

Yay!

I won last week's Little Lovin' Monday giveaway hosted at Black-Eyed Susan's. As my prize I've selected Carolyn Forche's Blue Hour Poems.

Here's the link to this week's Little Lovin' Monday. Head on over and share some link love of your own!

May 5, 2009

Confession Tuesday

It really bothers me when parents come into the bookstore, spend an hour reading to their kids from the children's section, and then not buy anything. I understand that books are expensive, but if you can't afford them, you can get them from the library and take them home. This is a small bookstore, and not every patron wants to hear you having story hour. Furthermore, we're not Barnes and Noble. We're an independent bookstore struggling to survive. It just seems rude to read our merchandise for free and not do anything to help support the store, not even buying a $2.00 bumper sticker. Yes, there are people who browse forever and never buy anything. But that, at least to me, seems different from reading three or four books aloud to your child.

I'm sure this comes across as unnecessarily harsh to parents, but it's just one of my pet peeves.

May 4, 2009

NaPoWriMo Reflection

Kelli at Book of Kells has posted a reflection about her experiences with NaPoWriMo, and that post has inspired me to do the same.

I definitely had a better experience with NaPoWriMo than I did last year, the primary reason being that I actually finished this year! I came up with some good writing, some of which I've already started revising and submitting. I'm at the point in my life where I'm committed to re-focusing on my long-neglected creative writing, so I've felt like I'm starting from scratch after all this time. So making myself come up with 30 poems in a month was a great way to make me feel like I'm not stuck at zero. All in all, I'd consider this month a success.

1. Number of poems written in April.
30

2. Number of poems you’ll keep and revise.
One has already been revised, submitted, and is forthcoming at an online publication. I think there are four, maybe five, more that I'm going to keep and revise

3. List the titles of your top-three NaPoWriMo poems.
"Accidental Dancer," "Meeting the Motorcycle," "The Recovered Woman Speaks"

4. List your three least-favorite NaPoWriMo poem
The untitled poem from day 3, the untitled poem from day 11, the untitled poem from day 15

5. Favorite line from one of your NaPoWriMo poems.
"I grew rich on deprivation" - from "The Recovered Woman Speaks"


6. Notice any patterns?
I ended up disliking almost all of the untitled poems, the exceptions being day 2 and day 21.


7. What surprised you most about writing a poem a day?
That I ended up with so many poems I liked. Definitively liking 5 may not seem like a lot, but it is for me. I anticipating having one poem I loved out of 30.


8. Now that you have momentum, what’s next?
Focus on revising; try to come up with a few new poems a week as a matter of habit, but working on refining the material I've just created.

May 3, 2009

Not New York

Not New York

You are everything that is
not New York.

You sleep at midnight.
Sleep through the best
parts of the day.
Refusing to glow.
Or expand from
dusty roads.

You are not oily rain
in Union Square,
Moonlight skating
in the park.
Refusing to tower,
cast a shadow.
Graffiti in the background.

Self-admitted
hick at heart.
Surviving without
the silhouette of
midtown Manhattan
from the Queensboro Bridge.

You thrive in hamlets
where deer cut
through dew.
Occasionally crashing
through windshields
when in season.

You live without
the surprise of
a solitary figure.
With dwarfed buildings
and worldview.
Not even a dust
speck to The City.

May 1, 2009

Goal Setting for May

Review of April Goals
I accomplished 7.5 of my 8 goals! The only thing I didn't manage to do in April was revise draft 5 of my novel; I did manage to mark it up, I just haven't made all the changes yet. Go me!

May Goals:
1. Finish revising draft 5 of my novel
2. Mark up and revise draft 6 of my novel
3. Attend a poetry reading/other literary event
4. Enter the Moon Poem Broadside competition
5. Send out work to at least two literary journals (print or online)
6. Pitch my novel to a publisher
7. Finish at least one piece that I started but gave up on
8. Research area writing groups I might want to join