Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Book For Bob

Before I get out of this here internet cafe, one quick book suggestion - which, to be perfectly honest, I never read, though it sits on my shelf:

Steven Pressfield's "Gates of Fire"
Got great reviews from the history/military buffs I know. A fictional account of the Battle of Marathon.

Ciao for now...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Newly Linked Mini Post

I finished reading "Out of Egypt" and bawled my eyes out in the process. A beautifully written memoir. Vividly described experiences that my parents have mentioned now and then, but that I have never heard from anyone outside the family. It's by Andree Aciman.

My friend has lent me Lost in Translation - not the Coppola movie, but a book by Eva Hoffman. I've read Hoffman's After Such Knowledge which was an essay/exploration, but I haven't read her memoir.

Hoffman is also in an anthology of "exile" stories edited by Aciman. I won't read either right away. I need to take a break with something light.

I've lent my friend two of the Weetzie Bat books by Francesca Lia Block. He's read one, and I had the other two. They're terrific and set in L.A. I'm hoping a re-reading will help me view L.A. in a positive light. I'm thinking of going there for a few months.

No html links today because I am lazy and in a hurry and I'm posting from an internet cafe. Poor Margaret is in the shop, getting her keyboard fixed. My Mac's name is Margaret named after a very clever and funny woman I barely know. Coincidentally, another friend's mac's name is Pedro. We have the same Powerbook, but his is slightly newer. I thought I was the only weirdo who named her Mac, but I've since discovered it's quite common with Mac users.

I'll add links later when Margaret's back home. Also, my powercord has gone up in smoke. The guy at the computer store suggested that because a new cord isn't covered under AppleCare (extended warranty) I should "call Apple and scare the hell out of them". Which I might do. I'm not litigous, but I don't mind scaring people a little, if they'll send me a new cord.

Anyone wish to share the names of their Macs? Don't be shy.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Joke's On Me

Finished reading The Fat Woman's Joke by Fay Weldon.

As 1960s feminist fiction, it's very interesting. As a novel, it's alright.

The story is told from several points of view: Esther (the "fat woman") tells the story from beginning to end, and it is interspersed with the points of view of her husband, her son, the mistress, and the listener. The listener who visits Esther to find out her story, is also her counterpoint - the character least like her and least able to understand her. Also, the listener ("Phyllis") is the most criticized character through a feminist lense. By thirty she has had her breasts lifted in a futile attempt to please her incorrigibly philandering husband.

Without spoiling it, the ending just didn't work for me. The ending revealed the "joke" - or turned Esther's actions into one big joke, and yet, I didn't feel any sense of satisfaction for her. People say that Weldon was one of the original writers of chick-lit, or a forerunner of the genre. Yet, this novel was much more caustic and bitter than the two modern genre pieces I've read. I'm not even sure that a chick-lit imprint would publish this novel nowadays. Although, the page or so of Candace Bushnell that I read indicated a similar level of literary bile, so maybe Weldon is still within the spectrum of the genre.

Have finally started the other novel I mentioned - "Out of Egypt". Only 1/4 of the way through now. It started off a bit slow, but it quickly improves into a moving study of a family with all it's layers and quirks. It has some very funny obvservations on the nature of Sephardi vs. Ashkenazi familial love.

Others on the reading list:

Christine de Pizan's "City of Ladies"
Woolf's "A Room of One's Own"

Those are both from the Penguin "Great Ideas" series. A series of small pocket books, with beautifully textured matte white covers, embossed with the titles and minimal design. They're really nice to hold.

The Kite Runner
Before she left, my cousin bought it as a gift for my dad.

As I searched for links at Amazon, I mistook this for a "Nightmare Before Christmas" camera! Look at it sideways - that's definitely Jack Skellington!

I'll update my new word count tomorrow. Yesterday I actually hit closer to 2000 by the time I stopped, so I don't feel too lost. Yet.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Back on Track

Wrote almost 1200 words last night of straight prose, with another 150 words of planning the next few chapters. I would've kept going, but my mac's power cable is fraying, and so I keep running out of battery power. (I don't know if I've destroyed the cable by the way it bends when I hold it on my lap cross-legged, or if my cat has been secretly chewing it. If the former, then Apple should really design a better one... that would sit easily on the top of one's lap!)

A while ago I discovered a suggested outline on the web by a successful author of the genre I'm writing in. Someone had taken a workshop with her and posted her notes on the web. Not nice, but very helpful to me. If I sell this thing, I'll send the author a cheque for the workshop I didn't take. Anyhow, in fitting my plot to her outline, I realized that my crisis, which I put at the beginning, had to occur much later in the book. I'd completely ignored my set-up. I think this is a habit from writing screenplays where you always want to hit the ground running.

I've also switched from third person to first person - much easier for me. I have to be careful to distinguish my voice from my other wip. I should be ok - my other narrator is younger and much more outspoken.

Now I just have to figure out how to weave my subplot in. I suspect one subplot will not be enough, but I'll worry about that when I'm further along. Perhaps the subplots will reveal themselves. (I hope.)

B/f is in town and we had a lovely time yesterday, just sitting together with our respective laptops, typing away on our separate projects.

Now I have to call Tarragon Theatre to ask if they will please let me transfer my ticket for today's matinee to another day. The play I'm supposed to see today is Humble Boy, but I don't want to go if I'll just be that girl who coughs all the way through the show.

Hopefully, I'll be updating again tomorrow...

Monday, January 09, 2006

Having a Blog

Means always having to say I'm sorry. I'm NOT WRITING. At all. Blech.

I feel like dreck. The head cold I thought I'd conquered has smacked me down with stealthy vengeance.

All I've done all day is nothing. Except thank my mom profusely for delivering soup. And talking to b/f on phone. OK, it was more like whining.

And listening to music on my computer. I go through phases where I listen to none at all. And then it's like I'm thirsting for it, and can't get enough music.

Now playing (in random order with other stuff): Lhasa.

Listen while happy-ish. Not for that borderline depressive state.

Anyhow. Tylenol Cold is a miracle. I'm going to bed so I can get up tomorrow and buy more Tylenol Cold medication. I love science.

One of these days, I swear, I'll actually write about writing again. Sheesh. Until then, no more entries. This is getting embarassing.

I'll correct links and speling erorrrs when I'm better (thanks to my new de-facto editor). (Is that what de facto means?)

Friday, January 06, 2006


So, I lied. I said I was going to write 1000 words yesterday night.

I didn't.

I went to sleep.

Yes, sleep is necessary. And it was bedtime - I started work at 7:00 this morning - but, one of the things I said to myself when I started this project was that I would work as hard or harder at it than I have ever worked at any previous job. For example, back when I was a production coordinator on children's shows, I often worked hard for long hours. I pushed through the fatigue because I had to - I was paid to. I often wished I could push myself to work as hard on my own endeavours. And until this novel, I never did. I lacked discipline and I was too easily distracted by TV, internet, books, etc - various excuses. Any free time was relegated to fun or seeing friends, not to sitting my ass down and writing.

So, now it's 10:00pm. The choice is the same: sleep or write. As for what I'm going to do, I guess you'll find out tomorrow...

Update - talked to a friend who's only in town for a few more days - trying to get together, but our schedules aren't matching. Ok, attempt number two. I know, this is riveting to read...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Oh Dear

Well. I've shown my cousin around Toronto. The Annex, Queen West, Kensington Market, Chinatown, The Danforth, Yorkville, the underground mall (or "PATH"), the Bata Shoe Museum, Casa Loma, St. Lawrence Market, the Grange. Pointed out the renovated Gladstone Hotel (where I saw people actually checking in!), the Drake Hotel, the Beaconsfield. Ran out of time and gave her a driving tour of Little India (before we continued to the Danforth). Ate at 7West and Flo's. Heard some jazz at the Rex, skated at the outdoor "Natrel" rink at Harbourfront, made snow angels. Saw two movies to keep her from freezing ("Rumour Has It" and "The Family Stone").

My mom took her to the Eaton Centre the day before Christmas, and to Yorkdale on Boxing Day. That was something I couldn't have done even if I'd felt well enough to. I think the word for it is "mishigune" - i.e. CRAZY. I don't like malls - I get cranky and tired in them, whereas my cousin likes them quite a bit. She was delighted by the sheer size of the malls here.

My parents also took her to Niagara Falls, and I joined them for the trip to the Thousand Islands (Gananoque). She did a lot of shopping, which was fun. (I'm just too old to understand the appeal of super-low-rise jeans). Also I got to shop vicariously, watching someone else spend lots of money. She'd planned to travel South America for months and when that went awry, she stopped in Toronto on the way home, and decided to spend the money here instead!

I wish I'd been able to show her more - High Park, West Queen West, Queen East, Entertainment District, etc. but time, sometimes weather, and occasionally inclination did not allow. It was fun to be a tourist in my own city.

And it was nice having my part-time shifts 'cause all our regulars were on holiday and the city felt quiet and cheery. Not enough sunshine or snow, though.

Now... now I have to get back to my novel. You know, what this blog's about? Well, trying to get back into it after interrupting my momentum is brutal. I loathe everything I've written, of course, and am sorely tempted to rent movies and eat SmartFood or chocolate all day. I won't, I won't. But I want to. I decided to just embrace loathing it. To happily hate it and write it anyways. To acknowledge that by my deadline in March, I may have written a novel that is complete crap, but at least it will be finished and improvable. However, the inertia of an object (or a writer) at rest demands that it stay at rest, and so it is quite difficult to get back into the swing of things.

My sister showed me a quote once- something about how you don't have to like what you have to do, you just have to do it, and it resonates now. I'm not filled with glee at the idea of sitting at my computer after my barista hours are up. I am just afraid. But there's really no option. I can't not finish the novel. That means I have to write at least 1000 words... tonight. Like right now. So off I go... wish me luck...

For more about Toronto.

I wish I'd checked that site while she was here! I would've taken her to the Ice Lounge. Looks cool, but a little sponsor-brand heavy. Oh well...