Monday, February 22, 2010

March 18 Drunken Careening Writers

I've been invited to read from my second novel at NYC's most literary bar, KGB Bar*. It's an honor to participate in the fantastic literary series Drunken Careening Writers, and I hope you'll come hear me read from my new novel!

March 18, 2010
85 East 4th Street, NYC, 10003
(near the corner of 2nd Avenue)
7-9 PM

*Named best literary venue in New York City by New York Magazine and the Village Voice.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why? circa 2004

I was looking for a document on my hard drive and found this; it's old, from 2004. It was an assignment in a Theories of Teaching course in my MA in Lit program, something about writing a narrative of our lives. Anyway, it's about writing, and about me, so I figured I'd share it on my blog.


I write because words are my link to the world…I write because words are illuminating and enlightening…I write because I love to read…I write because a blank page doesn’t scare me…I write because I never made a decision to write—it’s just what I need to do…I write because I have always written, and I will always write…I write because I want to write every day, at the times I choose, for the reasons I choose…I write because I want to support myself by selling novels and short stories…I write because I want to spend my days writing, revising, editing and revising again…I write non-fiction because I have ideas and opinions I want to share with others…I write fiction because I witness stories that need to be told…I write because I crave time; time to talk with friends—mostly writers—about the world, our worlds, and the words we write…I write because I want time to workshop with peers I respect and admire…I write because I want time to read and see movies and drive aimlessly, all of which help me generate ideas…I write because I want time to travel…I write because I want time to hear other writers read their work…I write because I need time to browse through bookstores…I write because it is how I process information, and trauma, and life in general…I write because it allows me to create reality…I write because I express myself best with the written word…

I write because in the eighth grade I learned grammar, and I fell for the logistics and structure of perfect mechanics…I write because in ninth grade I read A Separate Peace and The Great Gatsby…I write because in tenth grade I read Catcher in the Rye…I write because in eleventh grade I took a creative writing class, and realized words were my way out…I write because in eleventh grade I read Macbeth and The Scarlet Letter…I write because in twelfth grade I read Rebecca and Beowulf and The Cherry Orchard...I write because freshman year I read The Sun Also Rises…I write because sophomore year I read Gulliver’s Travels and On The Road…I write because junior year I read O’ Pioneers…I write because senior year I read Wise Blood…

I write because Ernest Hemingway showed me that “simple” is in the eye of the beholder; that often, writing less is actually writing more; and landscape is everything…I write because Edith Wharton showed me the inherent splendor in continuing a metaphor; in punishing and then rewarding a protagonist; and that the old adage “write what you know” can be a path to perfection…I write because F. Scott Fitzgerald proved to me that inserting your heart and soul in your work can be worthwhile…I write because when Edna Pontellier dies in my hands, I feel complete…I write because I don’t know if Young Goodman Brown dreamed in the woods or not…I write because when Hamlet asks “To be or not to be?”, my stomach tightens…I write because I have no idea what happens in The Magus yet I still love it…I write because after I finish Fathers and Sons I am speechless…I write because I cannot fathom creating an unreliable narrator as powerful as in The Good Soldier...

I write because in my twenties I realized it was my way in…I write because the web of words keeps me afloat…I write because there is nothing quite as satisfactory as a seamless transition…I write because I think in paragraphs…I write because I love using semi-colons…I write because I can’t sing…I write because the first time I saw my own byline it felt right…I write because I still love seeing my work in print…I write because winning contests increases my confidence… I write because rejection forces me to try harder…I write because I love to edit and perfect my pieces…I write because a pen fits in my hand….I write because my fingers love the keyboard…I write because words bump around in my dreams…I write because words are my religion and books are sacred…I write because every once in a while I assemble a perfect sentence, and I am addicted to the feeling that washes over me when I complete the puzzle…I write because I cannot help it…I write because of Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Nina Simone and Bob Dylan…I write because communicating is everything…I write because what my characters have to say is important…I write because my soul demands it…I write because sometimes words come uninvited…I write because I can spend a whole day debating between two adjectives…I write because I enjoy losing an hour while I decide on comma placement…I write because I can spell, I can organize and I can surprise…I write because if a day ends without my words hitting a page, I feel incomplete.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Additional Ideas for Insane Characters in Literature

[This is a list of novels and short stories I considered but decided against teaching. In some cases, the reason was as simple as length; I'd rather teach 3 different pices of literature than spend 3 weeks reading/discussing a really long novel, such as Don Quixote.]

I'm sure there are many other novels and stories I should have considered. Feel free to comment and add your ideas so I can improve my syllabus for the future. The only caveat is the literature must be fiction.

Closer to Fine – Meri Weiss
American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Motherless Brooklyn – Jonathan Lethem
The Painted Bird – Jerry Kosinski
Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut
Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy O’Toole
Don Quixote – Cervantes
She’s Come Undone – Wally Lamb
Valis – Philip K. Dick
Crime and Punishment – Fyoder Dostoevsky
Notes from the Underground – Fyoder Dostoevsky
“The Hour of the Dead” - Fyoder Dostoevsky –
“The Fall of the House of Usher” - Edgar Allen Poe
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov – Lolita
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Villette - Charlotte Bronte
Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys
Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier – Rebecca
A Streetcar Named Desire - Tennessee Williams
Misery - Stephen King
Margaret Atwood – Surfacing
Found on the Street- Patricia Highsmith
Postcards from the Edge – Carrie Fisher
The Magus – John Fowles
The Collector – John Fowles
The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka
100 Days of Sodom – Marquis de Sade

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Light

27 Days until the Academy Awards.

Despite the fact that it's freezing out, I pondered spring several times this weekend. It seems as if the light is starting to change, just ever so slightly; the early mornings are brighter, and the sun is lingering just a little later each day. On Friday at about 5:30, it was still light out. Spring is waiting.

My internal clock definitely senses spring. It's been just under a year since I moved into my apartment in the neighborhood I now know and love. The novelty of living in a vibrant, interesting, safe neighborhood hasn't worn off, and when I walk from the subway to my apartment, no matter what time it is or what type of day I've had, I remind myself how lucky I am. I love my building, my apartment, my street, my proximity to almost every other neighborhood; I love my easy commute to work, to visit friends and family, to Grand Central, to movie theaters, to all NYC offers.

I live among artists (mostly musicians), professors, students and families. There is, quite literally, music in the air; I hear beautiful classical music played by professional, near-professional and professional-in-training musicians all the time, both inside and outside.

The parks near my apartment are currently quiet and gray, but I know in just a few months they'll become green and welcoming again, and I'll tote my beach chair outside and plop down in the grass to read, write, listen to music in the sun. I re-embraced my independence in these parks last spring and summer, sitting in my low-slung beach chair for hours, doing what I love most (reading, writing, listen to music in the sun), righting my sense of self and remembering how much I value time alone, time in my head, time on the periphery, observing and writing and soaking up life.

I miss the heat of the sun, and I do hate the cold weather, the layers of clothing, the short days. But I know the winter is necessary, and this winter especially. It's a season of stillness, of comprehension, of contemplation, all of which lead to inspiration. Dinner and wine, a warm apartment with good friends--in the winter, it becomes an art form, a cozy path to stimulating, entertaining conversations riddled with laughter, which leads to inspiration. Movies, plays and music lead to inspiration. Self-reflection, whether nonchalant or astounding, eventually leads to inspiration.

It would be easy for me to use winter as an excuse to shut down, shut off, shut out the connections that inspire and electrify my writing, my life. I don't believe in standing still; progressive connections, internal and external, mark our lives. Disconnecting seems antithetical to the greater purpose, and certainly to the novel I'm working on. My winter is dedicated to re-directing, replenishing, renewing...I can already see the changes in my light.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It Begins...

The countdown, that is. To my favorite day of the year: The Academy Awards.

32 days.

I have a few more movies to see before I comment on the nominations, but two quick thoughts before I return to a formidable stack of ungraded essays:

* I understand the rationale behind the new ten Best Picture nomination system, but it's overkill. Way too many movies. And with a trip to the movies averaging at 12 bucks per person (without snacks!), I don't see ten Best Picture nominations pushing people into theaters.

* On what planet does Penelope Cruz do anything (especially act!) better than Julianne Moore? Oy.

Don't forget! March 18th! I'm reading from my novel-in-progress at KGB Bar, 7 PM, as part of the amazing literary series called "Drunken! Careening! Writers!"