As I promised yesterday, I did write a review of Sophie’s World today. I was a little surprised that the review didn’t come out as positive as I expected; I genuinely enjoyed the book, but I’m afraid the review may not come across that way. Thanks to Michael Main for introducing me to Jostein Gaarder’s work. (By the way, Michael, I saw the picture of the neon computer on your site, and I’m suitably jealous.)
I also started reading Bruce Holland Rogers’ Word Work today. I’m definitely biased here, since I’ve studied writing with Bruce, but it felt like he was talking to my soul in the first fifty pages. I didn’t want to return to work after lunch; I wanted to read and write. The man certainly has an infectious passion for his chosen craft.
I also replaced all of the links to my old e-mail address on this website. All new mail should go to firstname.lastname@example.org now. If you see any other e-mail links that I missed, please let me know.
Today an excellent e-mail conversation sprung up concerning a website by a writer named Brian Plante, whose work I’ve never read. On those pages, Plante chronicles his experiences with a local writing group which he basically infiltrates, hiding his status as a semi-professional writer from the participants in the group and then posting comments about them and their practices on the weblog. It seems to me he has a specific idea of how a writing workshop should be run, and he’s unfairly grinding his axe on the members of this unsuspecting writer’s group.
I am a member of three writing groups (and a non-participating member of Andrew Burt’s excellent Critters.org group; I just couldn’t keep up with the pace and maintain the others as well.) It seems to me that the most important aspect of any critique group is honesty. Critiques should be civil, but honest. If a piece is written poorly, the writer needs to know so s/he can fix it; the writer won’t benefit from false “I liked it” criticism. The writers putting their work out for critique have to trust that the other members are going to be honest with them. By posing as a novice writer and then exposing the group’s goings-on in his weblog, Plante is betraying that trust, even if he has changed all the names to protect the individuals involved.
Plante claims to have posted notices about this blog on the Speculations website, but I didn’t see them in the Rumor Mill. If he did post them there, I have to wonder about his motivations; by advertising this, he has to know that he’s coming across as duplicitous. Does he think that other writers — and especially editors — are going to find this to be an admirable trait?
All this discussion about blogs made me question whether I am being fair in mentioning friends occasionally in this creativity log. I think I’m okay, because when I do mention my friends by name, it’s only in a positive context, and generally only in relation to how that friend has affected my creativity for that day. This is not a personal journal, like some blogs. It has a theme, and I think it’s smart for me to keep it that way, after reading Diane Patterson’s excellent essay “Why Web Journals Suck..” I stumbled across that while reading a journal recommended to me by my friend Michael Main. Bluejack is an online journal that seems to be intentionally anonymous; I couldn’t find the writer’s name on the site at all, and rather than dig through the WhoIs records, I’ll just take it on faith that the writer would like it to remain somewhat anonymous. The writer of this journal is currently attending Clarion West in Seattle (lucky dog) and I think I will find his daily journals to be inspirational.
Last night’s writing group was excellent. Only two people showed up, which was monetarily unfortunate for Melanie, but very fortunate for Michael and me. We discussed a short-short that Michael had written, the responsibilities of an artist in recording true-life events, and they both offered wonderful feedback on my “Saint and Cynic” story. After incorporating some of those suggestions, I’m going to cut this one off and start circulating it.
Melanie also wondered if I had done anything with my “Fear Sphere” stories since the last one. I haven’t, other than thinking about them. She encouraged me to write more of them and collect them together. I hope I can get some of these projects rolling when Ryan moves out. Having that spare room for working in the early morning will be a blessing, as long as I take advantage of it.
Tonight, John, Brad and I donned our collective instruments to become Flat Rabbit, and we had a very good night. We covered a lot of material and added a few songs to the list. We played “Sweet Child o’ Mine” better than we ever have, I think, and even went over a bunch of old originals that Brad and John wrote years ago. All in all, it was a fun night, and I was reluctant to break down my equipment.
I did have one problem, though. My Strat started squealing, and I traced it down to what seems to be a jack problem. I took the jack plate off to check the insides but it seemed fine, with no loose wires. It worries me a bit, since I will be trying out for Better Than Nothing on Tuesday night. Later in the night, the Strat played fine, so I may have put off the problem for a little while, but I need to recreate it at home and figure out what’s wrong.
I will be having lunch my friend Michael today, on his gracious invitation. We will be discussing writing in general and whatever else comes up. Tonight, I will be attending Stories for All Seasons. Earlier today, I updated the Stories for All Seasons web page with upcoming appearances. It looks like they are fairly booked through February 2003, with some very big names appearing. That’s great to see.
(Later that day)
Lunch with Michael was good, and we had some Real discussion about artistic inspiration and responsibility. We also briefly discussed recurring themes in our work, which gave me a lot to chew on.
Late in the day, I got an e-mail from John, the bassist for Flat Rabbit. Evidently his other band is in need of a guitarist, and I’m going to try out for the spot. If I do manage to land the spot, it will mean looking closely at my available time and deciding which creative activities I want to pursue most.
Lunched with Michael Main. (There I go, turning a noun into a verb. Shame on me!) We discussed “Saint and Cynic” briefly, and discussed progress on one of his stories as well. In the evening, I worked on “Saint and Cynic” briefly, but quit in favor of spending some time playing Magic: The Gathering with my son. Will complete the revision tomorrow at lunch and in the evening.