Monday, February 8, 2010

Old School

I had a fairly draining weekend (not fair, right?), so I'm going to stick to another cheater post that's mostly filled with words from a writer that is not me...Oh, and a meme!

Old School by Tobias Wolff 

(I just started reading it this morning and am only 35 pages in, but I've already come across a few passages that really rang true with me, so I thought I'd share, especially considering what my last blog post was about. Enjoy!)

EDIT: Finished reading Old School a few minutes ago and HIGHLY recommend it, especially for us writer-types. 

"How did they command such deference--English teachers? Compared to the men who taught physics or biology, what did they really know of the world? It seemed to me, and not only to me, that they knew exactly what was most worth knowing. Unlike our math and science teachers, who modestly stuck to their subjects, they tended to be polymaths. Adept as they were at dissection, they would never leave a poem or novel strewn about in pieces like some butchered frog reeking of formaldehyde. They'd stitch it back together with history and psychology, philosophy, religion, and even, on occasion, science. Without pandering to your presumed desire to identify with the hero of a story, they made you feel that what mattered to the writer had consequence for you, too."

"All of us owed someone, Hemingway or cummings or Kerouac--or all of them, and more. We wouldn't have admitted to it but the knowledge was surely there, because imitation was the only charge we never brought against the submissions we mocked so cruelly. There was no profit in it. Once crystallized, consciousness of influence would have doomed the collective and necessary fantasy that our work was purely our own." 

I think I'm going to take a break from writing today and probably read all of Old School--it's only 195 pages. 

The Meme

I have a few theories why these things are called memes, but it's strange for me, because Meme is what I call my paternal grandmother. Meme is my grandmother and nothing else....But I digress.

Over at Confessions of the Un-published, Sarah is getting a weekly writing meme going, and I thought I'd jump on board, so here goes:

Where I am in the Writing Process: unpublished and still not sure if I ever want to be...maybe, maybe not, but writing nonetheless. Thirty-two-thousand words into my third novel, a tale of modern-day faerie, evil, family, betrayal, the end of the world, and donuts (hey, could be!) Owner of 3 taped-up boxes holding every scrap of writing I've done since age 9, when I decided I was a writer, as well as careful backer-up of computer documents. 

Question of the Week: Language in mainstream fiction: how real is too real? All 3 of my novels have so far had fairly explicit language, for no other reason than it seemed to fit the character. Two are urban fantasy, the other "literary fiction." Most of the mainstream urban fantasy/PNR/whatever I've read doesn't really have much strong language...why do you think this is? More mainstream appeal? I'm just not sure I can write Payette (my male MC) without his colorful vocabulary... 


sarah darlington said...

Oh. I've been dying to dive into this one. I'm writing Young Adult so its a litte different but basically the same. Here's a link to Barry Lyga's writing blog ( He's a YA writer but it still could apply to you. I asked him that very question last week.

Anyway, what I basically took away from it was. WTF. Why not. I'm just going to write what I feel, curse words and all, and worry about it later. Especially being un-published, right now the only person that has to approve of my work is me.

The same could be said for sex in YA.

Summer Frey said...

That's true--you are your main audience, after all. I don't swear all that often in RL, though I have nothing against it...mostly just for humor and emphasis, but whenever I sit down to write, well...Hell. :-) (I just hope my mom never finds my manuscripts!)

JournoMich said...

Jill Edmondson posted about 4letter words today as well:

But, I really wanted to say that I love the idea of a writer's meme! The only ones I had seen were book-related. I LOVE to read, but really should be concentrating on my writing. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention!


Jonathon Arntson said...

Gosh, why is everyone doing a cop-out day?!

Oh, wait that's just you and me!

Thanks for following my blog and cheering me up!

(your cop-out style is so less-whiny and more brilliant than mine)

(Oh, and vedi, vini, vici)

Summer Frey said...

Taking someone else's words and making yourself sound clever with them is what being an English major is all about! :-) It's just a learned skill...

Kimberly Franklin said...

LOL! Love your cheaters post today. We all have to cheat sometime. : )

Anonymous said...

If it's for YA, that could be because of parents. Maybe?

Unknown said...

I say, if the character needs to use colorful language, let him! I always try to stay true to the people kind enough to star in my stories :))

On another note, please stop by my blog -- I've left you a little something today!

Witless Exposition said...

Write what you want for now. You can always tame it down or leave it as it later.

I know that when I was a ya reading ya literature, I was always put off by the "gosh darn it" type of dialogue. I think that's why I switched to adult literature so soon. Saying "shoot" instead of the real word I knew a teenager would say felt like a cop out to me.

I say go for it!