“In order to be clear it is necessary to at least consider the possibility that we actually may not be. It requires stepping outside of one’s self, reading a sentence as if we were another person (not us) who didn’t understand, and even sort of admire the newly minted gold on the screen or the page. It requires a kind of humility, an ability not to take everything personally and to separate ourselves from our work. Clarity is not only a literary quality but a spiritual one, involving, as it does, compassion for the reader.” Francine Prose
My wife and I saw “Bright Star” yesterday. We loved it. You will too, and I’ll tell you why.
On the surface, it’s a typical musical, bustling with subplots about young love, the pains and joys of family relations, and Southern gothic melodrama, all peppered with timely comic relief. But it’s really about writing, editing, and language itself. Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin) wrote the book, and in addition to his accomplishments as an actor, director, and musician, is a gifted writer. He knows what it’s like to be rejected, to hang in there, and finally get that first manuscript published.
Billy Cane, just returned to Zebulon, North Carolina after serving in WWII, has a bad case of the writing bug. It’s so bad, he’s willing to leave his beloved home town and move to Asheville to endure the rigors of pleasing a demanding editor and her good cop/bad cop assistants. All writers will appreciate young Billy’s exchanges with his editor, who’s brutally honest with what she sees as a promising talent. At one point, she shoves a manuscript back at him as if it’s toxic, then lets another dangle in her fingers and says, “This may be acceptable if you delete 300 words.” Poor Billy scans a few pages, scratches his head, and replies, “Could you tell me WHICH 300?”
There are many references to the Southern writing tradition. Steve Martin, who was born in Texas, knows a thing or two about language’s ability to uplift, to wound, and to connect with others, familiar and rich themes often explored in Southern literature. This musical is a celebration of faith in one’s family, in one’s ability to persevere, and to hope. If you get the chance, don’t miss this one. It’s a winner.
The best fiction and writing blog posts from around the ‘net, all guaranteed to make you a literary pioneer. Compiled by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
K. M. Weiland – Writing as the Art of Thinking Clearly: 6 Steps
Hamilton Perez – How to Give Up Writing and Other Bad Habits
Tamara Drazic – Outlining
D. Wallace Peach – My Bossy Muse
Nicola Alter – Knocking People Out: Easier in Fiction Than In Real Life
Didi Oviatt – The Why #amwriting
Jacqui Murray – Series or Not a Series–How do You know?
J. C. Wolfe – 3 Pieces of Advice No Writer Should Ever Forget
… and a special bonus!
You can now pre-order the April issue of Metaphorosis Magazine in paperback, which will be available on July 1. Here’s what’s included:
I’m honored to be included with such distinguished authors. The cover shows Saturn’s mysterious moon Enceladus, the setting of my contribution, “Cathedra.” And I was particularly excited by the reviews:
Metaphorosis offers “well-written stories with humor, emotion, and wit,” and I think you’ll agree they deliver what they promise. Enjoy!
The best fiction and writing blog posts from around the ‘net, all guaranteed to make you a literary legend. Compiled by manly.
Caroline Furlong – Dealing with villains
Charlie De Luca – Editing tips that really work!
Andrew M. Friday – Harmon’s Plot Embryo
Fantac Cisse – The Ultimate Factory for Inspiration and Creativity
thesagaofaelelorad – Swords: The Most Overused Trope in Fantasy
Sierra Ayonnie – The Essential Elements of a Good Story
Kakymc – Writing What You Don’t Know
Jean Cogdell – How to write a good one-sentence pitch
Born in the harsh world of East Africa 1.8 million years ago, where hunger, death, and predation are a normal part of daily life, Lucy and her band of early humans struggle to survive. It is a time in history when they are relentlessly annihilated by predators, nature, their own people, and the next iteration of man. To make it worse, Lucy’s band hates her. She is their leader’s new mate and they don’t understand her odd actions, don’t like her strange looks, and don’t trust her past. To survive, she cobbles together an unusual alliance with an orphaned child, a beleaguered protodog who’s lost his pack, and a man who was supposed to be dead.
And here’s what Kirkus Reviews has to say: “Murray weaves a taut, compelling narrative, building her story on timeless human concerns of survival, acceptance, and fear of the unknown.”
It’s a great idea: an historical novel about Lucy, everyone’s great-to-the-Nth-power grandmother. I loved Twenty-Four Days, and plan to bump this to the top of my reading pile.
Image by Angela George
“Science fiction is a very good way to talk about politics and human systems, by extrapolating them to another planet or into a future where it doesn’t piss people off to read about them. You talk about people’s politics or religion and they get mad because they feel threatened. But you set it on another planet or in some alternate universe, and they can look at it with a more objective eye and maybe look at the world through another perspective, if only for a short time.” James Cameron, director of Avatar, The Terminator and True Lies