Mentoring

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
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Mira
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Re: Mentoring

Post by Mira » June 18th, 2010, 12:08 pm

polymath - I took a couple of days to absorb your post. I don't really have anything specific to say in response, exactly, nothing quite fits......but I do want to say that I found hearing about your journey to be moving. Thank you.

It's funny that you've written non-fiction. When Quill said he would like to read your work, I was going to post something suggesting that you would write awesome non-fiction. I understand that you're plumbing new depths, though, by exploring fiction - I think that's admirable. I can also see you as a teacher. :)

Margo - I'd play dodgeball for half a million.

Just saying.

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Re: Mentoring

Post by Margo » June 18th, 2010, 12:37 pm

Mira wrote:Margo - I'd play dodgeball for half a million.

Just saying.
Our scouts have their eye on you, but we were specifically looking for a player who could stand in front of the opposition and elaborate on the fine points of free indirect discourse until the other player's brain melted, his ears bled, and he started hurling the ball at the faces of his own teammates.

However, we also have a position for someone who can kill goats by staring at them, in case you're interested. Lots of rival teams with goat mascots. Psychological warfare.

-Margo
Spokesperson for the Southern Allied Dodgeball Intermural Sports Team Symposium
Dodgeball. It's not fun 'til somebody bleeds.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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polymath
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Re: Mentoring

Post by polymath » June 18th, 2010, 1:33 pm

Dodgeball, what an apt metaphor for the literature cosmos. We called it murderball in high school. Some rainy days it was a wide open gym free-for-all melee with eight coaches refereeing, a hundred contestants, and four dozen kickball missiles. Short and stocky though I am, I stood my ground, a lone ranger sharp shooting assassin sniping from the sidelines and gladiator duel peripheries, face-to-face taking out quarterbacks and basketball centers. No wallflower splatter target me.
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Mira
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Re: Mentoring

Post by Mira » June 18th, 2010, 2:17 pm

Polymath, you painted a vision there. I still think you are not a crumugeon, and never were. Bet I'd think that even if I could spell curmudgeoneiun.

Margo,

True, if you want an intellectual warrior, I think polymath is your guy.

And I'm afraid I can't even kill inanimate objects with my mind. Goodness knows I've tried to murder my computer more times than I can count, and it just stands there mocking me. I shudder to think what might happen with goats.

But in terms of marketable skills, I can whine like nobody's business. It's truly a gift. So, could you use someone who could whine so loudly, incessantly and in such great detail (especially about medical conditions) that the other team members eventually forfeit the game out of disgust? Because I could probably pull that off.

And if I couldn't, that would just give me more to whine about, so it's win-win.

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Re: Mentoring

Post by J. T. SHEA » June 18th, 2010, 3:22 pm

Mira, Polymath IS writing awesome non-fiction, here on these forums!

Margo, that goat thing could've worked! The military just didn't waste/spend enough of our hard-earned tax dollars on it. See my forthcoming book THE GOATS WHO STARED AT GEORGE CLOONEY.

Dodgeball? I'll compromise at $750,000.

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Quill
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Re: Mentoring

Post by Quill » June 19th, 2010, 8:44 am

polymath wrote:Quill,

If I was much of a belonger, I'd want to be on your team too, and Mira's, and more than a few others here at Mr. Bransford's. But I'm not. I have an irrational fear of groups, the mob kind of agoraphobia.
Same here.
Yeah, there's a lot kicking around in the old brain box. I've just finished reading up on a selection of advanced poetics topics. It got pretty deep, Mariana's Trench deep. I'm spending some time assimilating what I learned while working on applying it.
I wonder what you would say to the idea of writing as music, a pet theme of mine. I can't say too much about it (but I know it when I read it!). It has to do with resonance/harmonics, cadence, and a few other qualities. It is more than the lyrical quality of the words or the rhythm of the prose. There is an overall effect with everything is 'right'.

The screenwriter/director Quentin Tarentino has spoken of it and has mentioned that Samuel Jackson is one actor who gets the music of his writing and most consistently delivers it that way. It doesn't have to be poetic, though I think Shakespeare exemplifies the quality. I have also felt it in writers as diverse as Cormac McCarthy, Annie Dillard, Woody Allen, and John Steinbeck.

For the last decade most of my fiction has been kept private. I send out a piece or two now and then to test the audience waters. No joy yet. Although I believe I've reached the end of my studies, not the end of studying, the end of confusion and uncertainty. I can relax on striving to learn, and get fully into striving to achieve. Perhaps in the near future, my fiction will make its mark. If not, because my preferred themes and messages might not appeal to contemporary audiences, I might become a promotional review critic, or a literary critic, never a lifestyle arbiter of taste critic, one of the few areas where I say never. Maybe a writing and literature professor. Choices.
Good luck and good on ye.

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polymath
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Re: Mentoring

Post by polymath » June 19th, 2010, 10:36 am

Music and narrative arts are perhaps the two most closely related human cultural activities, quintessentially part of social beings' sense of belonging to a large self. Divergent disciplines' scholars assert music led to the emergence of speech. From the monochrome sounds of stick beating to the polyphonic sounds of orchestras. I'm in the camp who believe speech and music evolved in parallel for communicating and briefing, teaching, and debriefing entertainments. Aristotle claims oral lyric and epic poetry's purposes were to record and share historical events by using rhyme and rhythm as mnenonic prompts.

Many of music's and narrative's terms of art share identical meanings and purposes, introduction, tension, climax, transformation, resolution, for example.

English word pronunciations and sentence syntax are mostly in iambic rhythm, stressed syllable; unstressed syllable sequences. She went to the store. ^ u ^ u ^. Choosing an unstressed syllable for starting the next sentence sustains the rhythm. Mr. Keeper washed fruit under the awning. Choosing a stressed syllable instead makes an up beat. But it was closed. Meter or foot, the number of syllables in a repeating rhythm sequence, like pentameter, contributes to pace, rolling gaits of long sentences and polysyndeton or staccatto trills of sentence fragments, asyndeton, and short sentences. One foot is one sequence. A phrase or sentence that ends with a completed foot feels complete. A phrase that ends with an uncompleted foot creates a moment of tension left hanging until the next syllable. Sometimes an unwritten-unspoken syllable is marked with a comma or fuller stop, like a period. To me, it's no coincidence a standard manuscript line averages ten words. Two eyeblinks, each equating to five foot, what the human eye can see in a glance, a pentameter foot, most often in iambus. However, unlike structured poetry and music lyrics, prose benefits from variety.

In Aristotle's time, dramatic poetry emerged, what we today consider a genre separate from poetry and known generically as prose. Critics denigrated prose then because it lacked rhyme, rhythm, and reason. Audiences loved it though. Prose is never far from its lyrical poetry roots, nor its folklore rooted traditions. Prose is poetry with loose rhythm and verse. Rhyme, though, except in prose poetry, can be stifling in prose.

Jack Kerouac's On the Road reads like a jazz song performance. Cormac McCarthy's The Road is rhythm and blues. His Border trilogy is Country and Western. Hemingway's, classical music. Science fiction leans toward heavy metal. Fantasy, folk songs. Rap is poetry with a background beat, rigid, loose, or free verse. I'm not sure I've read a rap story, perhaps Ralph Ellison's "Battle Royal."
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Re: Mentoring

Post by Username » June 19th, 2010, 1:13 pm

Margo wrote:
Username wrote:The only person who can teach you how to write is you - in private study.

Totally disagree. I shudder to think how long it would have taken me to grasp certain concepts and techniques were it not for the generosity of a few professionals who took the time to 'pay it forward'. That being said, the writer must still work to actually apply the techniques, which is entirely a matter of getting in there and writing.
Well I totally disagree with you totally disagreeing - so there.

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Quill
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Re: Mentoring

Post by Quill » June 19th, 2010, 11:50 pm

Wow, polymath, thanks for that great rap about prose as music.

I'll add that a musical quality seems to be one of the last qualities to be perfected in the learning of the craft. Or, at least, it seems to be generally not present in novice writing. This stands to reason; like making beautiful sounds with a bassoon or violin, making the written word sing requires long practice.

Seeing music and narrative arts as parallel, we can hear some music that tells a story. Interesting stuff.

By the way, I'll nominate Elmore Leonard as a writer of rap prose.

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Re: Mentoring

Post by Margo » June 20th, 2010, 5:27 pm

Okay, Quill, polymath, I gotta ask for the sake of life-threatening curiosity...what's the music of urban fantasy? Folk wouldn't seem to fit, nor heavy metal. Plus, I'm assuming it would be different for the two major sub-sub-genres, contemporary urban fantasy a la Charles de Lint and (in Lilith Saintcrow's terminology) angry chicks in leather urban fantasy a la Laurell K. Hamilton. I have a theory I've been developing since I read your posts yesterday, but I want to see what you two think, as you've been thinking about it longer than 24 hours.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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Re: Mentoring

Post by Margo » June 20th, 2010, 5:49 pm

Username wrote:Well I totally disagree with you totally disagreeing - so there.
Suh, you have offended my honor. I challenge you to a duel by dodgeball. I draft Mira, polymath, J.T. Shea, and hereby offer an exclusive contract to Quill. You may have George Clooney and all the goats you can find. At dawn!

Ah, I love the smell of rubber and blood in the morning.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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Re: Mentoring

Post by J. T. SHEA » June 20th, 2010, 6:03 pm

I totally disagree with everybody, including myself. Dodgeball duel at dawn? Done!

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polymath
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Re: Mentoring

Post by polymath » June 20th, 2010, 7:11 pm

Margo,

I'm reluctant to make global statements in general. My verbal form of dodgeball, which seems to have been noticed. I will suggest edgier urban fantasy is a lot like punk rock. I think pop popular literature genres are like pop popular music, their styles of melody fall in an infinite spectrum between extremes ranging from hard-core grunge pop to bubblegum pop, or any other pop extreme. There are several dozen recognized sub-subgenres of jazz alone. It seems there's as many distinguished genre categories of music as there are of literature.

My question is, what's the cultural disapora all about? Artists prospecting for new voices, original art forms, fresh insights into the human condition, self and societal catharses? Art culture does in general reflect social ennui from an individualistic approach, sometimes satire, sometimes blunt cultural commentary, sometimes civil disobedience, sometimes rebellion or outright insurrection. Less commonly, in general, patriotism and other forms of groupthink.

Roughly every hundred years or so in comparatively recent history, at least since the novel form emerged, there's been a peak tide of relative pop cultural commonality, followed by a peak tide of diaspora staggered by half a century. Each commonality period attached to cultural responses to major wars and major cultural and technological changes caused by wars--culturally reflexive and influencing culture in a persisting feedback loop--or comparatively minor wars with major global ramifications anyway.

Each diaspora period reflects and influences the cultural and technological changes a commonality period fostered. There's been minor intervening periods as well, equivalent to a generation's passing from infanthood into adulthood. Oddly, about the same average time period from solar minimun to solar minimum, or maximums, twenty-five years. With stronger resonance cycles, fifty or so years cycles, hundred or so years peak cycles. Those are general enough for a big picture probability thought exercise.

Call it, too, a swinging pendulum, like so much in life, art, culture, society, etc. We're in an upswing period toward a neap tide peak period of commonality. What do artists have to say about being here now? How then is originality best served by striking out and blazing new individual paths or following a pretread path? In the former case, originality goes beyond audience comfort zones onto raw horizons, challenges and excites readers. The latter, narrow boundaries offer as potentially many infinite possibilities as unlimited boundaries.

My biggest question, what will audiences two years from now want to read about that suits my writing comfort zone? Two years is about the time it takes to ramrod a novel manuscript through from acceptance to publication. Is what I'm writing going to fit or challenge readers' comfort zones? Or go too far or not far enough?

Meanwhile, let the murderball melee go on. I'll be quietly uninvolved over here in my corner checking out the competition until I have a working strategy and am prepared to strike. In the meantime, I write.
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Re: Mentoring

Post by Margo » June 20th, 2010, 7:30 pm

Gads, polymath, you keep giving me more to consider. And diagram.

Punk rock for urban fantasy? Cripes, I'm starting to think like you (but in words with less syllables). I'm both delighted and afraid.
Urban fantasy, epic fantasy, and hot Norse elves. http://margolerwill.blogspot.com/

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Re: Mentoring

Post by BlancheKing » June 20th, 2010, 7:54 pm

Margo wrote:
Username wrote:Well I totally disagree with you totally disagreeing - so there.
Suh, you have offended my honor. I challenge you to a duel by dodgeball. I draft Mira, polymath, J.T. Shea, and hereby offer an exclusive contract to Quill. You may have George Clooney and all the goats you can find. At dawn!

Ah, I love the smell of rubber and blood in the morning.
A duel between writers. Sounds like something to sell tickets for...
One manuscript, One dream, One stack of stamps that needs to be bought...
Writing Process: http://blancheking.blogspot.com/

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