Sunday, November 02, 2008

Am I Weird? (Part 78)

My brilliant best friend is going to be a guest blogger tomorrow. I'm SO excited! She's the one with the prettiest baby in the whole world. I hope everyone will pop by and say hi. :-)

I'm finally done with the gig that's been taking up a ton of my blogging time, so I should be around more, responding to comments quicker, getting to your blogs quicker! And I stopped following all Blogger blogs because it messed up Google Reader, but know that I am still "following" you.

Onward and upward.

While reading more Margaret Atwood last night, I was mentally flogging myself for not writing better descriptions, for not observing people, life, and the world more closely, for not seeing what others see but don't realize they see until someone points it out. (That's where the cool stuff is.)

And it occurred to me that the fact I find this self-flagellation relaxing might be a little weird.

Not only do I find it relaxing, but I often enjoy a good self-mockery session, with plenty of snark and sarcasm so sharp, if someone else said these things to me, I'd be in tears.  I needle myself relentlessly, point out every single fault I can find. I push myself as I write, taunting myself.

All of this I find comforting. Peaceful. Relaxing, as I said.

It's sort of bizarre. I might even say I take hope in it. As I tell my students, if you can notice it, you can fix it.

Like take Jeffrey Deaver: I thought the beginning of his latest, plot-wise, was just a little weird, but my God! His voice just takes your breath away! It's perfect: the rhythm, the words, the style. It's so alive, so vivid, so strong and polished:

     Something nagged, yet she couldn't quite figure out what.
     Like a faint recurring ache somewhere in your body.
     Or a man on the street behind you as you near your apartment. . . . Was he the same one who'd been glancing at you on the subway?
     Or a dark dot moving toward your bed that's now vanished. A black-widow spider?
     But then her visitor, sitting on her living room couch, glanced at her and smiled and Alice Sanderson forgot the concern—if concern it was. Arthur had a good mind and a solid body, sure. But he had a great smile, which counted for a lot more.

What kind of person am I, to find the fact that I have a lot of work to do relaxing?

Maybe it's because I know I won't run out of things to improve anytime soon. Maybe it's because I know what I need to work on. Maybe it's because when you have some tangible task of improvement before you, you needn't worry about such things as talent.

When a writer really rocks, I get so excited. It's such a cool, exciting thing to read, you know? It's inspirational, too, makes you stretch and discover new depths of writing craft.

So what do you think? How do you feel when another writer kicks your ass?

25 bonus scribbles:

Melanie Avila 11/02/2008 06:02:00 PM  

Congrats on finishing the big project!

I'm still waiting for the ass kicking from other writers. I sent my stuff a couple days ago so I assume in about a month I'll be cringing.

I don't berate myself but I also don't let myself get away with anything half-assed. I expect more from myself so instead of harsh words, I just sigh. Much like a mother would at her children when they're trying to take the easy way out.

I need to work on description too. I'm very observant and picture the scenes fully, but I somehow forget to include the reader.

spyscribbler 11/02/2008 06:04:00 PM  

LOL, Melanie, not a big project, just lots of work housesitting.

I agree on description. I'm always afraid it's boring. It's the stuff I skip. There's an art to making it interesting, but still. I always fear I don't have it.

Melanie Avila 11/02/2008 06:32:00 PM  

Ok, funny story (I'm putting this on my blog tomorrow). I've been trying to concentrate more on my character descriptions and realized I've been envisioning my detective as Barack Obama, lol.

spyscribbler 11/02/2008 06:35:00 PM  

HAH! That's hilarious, Melanie! You don't have the election on your mind, do you?

I am TERRIFIED!

Rick 11/02/2008 08:24:00 PM  

Uh-oh Melanie and Spy, when we start imagining our characters as politicians, we might be going to close to the edge. On the other hand, politicians really are created characters, with scriptwriters, acting lessons, coaching, paparazzi. Yeah, maybe I should start doing this. Only what character would Sarah Palin play?

I was in Toronto this weekend and the men conversing in the restaurant at several nearby tables all that she was very hot. Several wondered what movie she would be in after the election is over.

Eric Mayer,  11/02/2008 09:36:00 PM  

"How do you feel when another writer kicks your ass?"

Sore. :)

Robin 11/02/2008 10:18:00 PM  

Rick, that's the most repulsive thing I ever heard. I just threw up.

Spy, I'm ready for beddy bye, and I check Google Reader for fun. What do I see but the second interesting blog of the day from the Spymeister.

Let's see - you're a fabulous piano teacher, prolific writer, great wife (I don't know, I'm just assuming), and twice a day blogger. How the heck do you even have time for self-flagellation? This must be just another form of over achieving.

Edie 11/02/2008 10:42:00 PM  

LOL at Robin's comment! I know how you feel when you read wonderful writing. I love it that there are authors who make me feel that way, exhilarated as I read them, not wanting to put down the book, but at the same time aching to sit at the computer and make my own book better.

Michelle 11/02/2008 10:58:00 PM  

What Edie said! I just read Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow by Peter Hoeg for the third time this weekend. How about this line from it?

As I'm walking along beside the mechanic, I feel as if someone had unscrewed my lid and plunged a big bottle brush up and down inside.

I love feeling humbled by such great writing. I love going back to my work with the determination to make it better.

Virginia Lady 11/03/2008 09:06:00 AM  

Well, it is a bit of an unusual way to relax. Can you imagine the marketing commercials for your method? "And we even have stereo surround sound for your self-flagellation pleasure. Just record your voice on our state-of-the-art recording equipment and hit play when you're ready!"

Kath Calarco 11/03/2008 09:14:00 AM  

Spy, your blogs are so fun! And I'm with Robin on the barfing, but won't be surprised to see Palin teaming up with the blond from "The View" on a tag-team talk show.

I do plenty-o-beating myself up, but always over my lack of self-esteem. But I do feel inspired after reading some Billy Collins. His words pull me up (and sometimes make me want to light one up...)

As far as writing description, my rule of thumb is "less is more."

spyscribbler 11/03/2008 10:47:00 AM  

Rick, that's hilarious! You're right, they really do have to create a public "character," in a way.

Funny what they said about the movies. I'd rather see her in show business than politics.

Melanie Avila 11/03/2008 11:21:00 AM  

Spy, I met a friend of yours last night. Said his name was Ranger...

spyscribbler 11/03/2008 11:43:00 AM  

Robin, that's funny! And I did the post before the night before, so it just appears I'm a twice-a-day blogger. :-) I just switch up the times, LOL.

I did just write three blog posts today. Don't know why. I gotta get to NaNo, LOL! And I wonder about the wife bit, sometimes. *sigh* Is it evil to hate cooking for someone?

spyscribbler 11/03/2008 11:45:00 AM  

Exhilaring, that's the word, Edie! You said what I was trying to say: "not wanting to put down the book, but at the same time aching to sit at the computer and make my own book better."

That's it! That's it exactly!

spyscribbler 11/03/2008 11:46:00 AM  

Wow, that's one powerful image, Michelle! See? That's the sort of observation I'm talking about. I wish I could do that. I can't wait to try!

spyscribbler 11/03/2008 11:47:00 AM  

Virginia, I'm ROFLMAO! That's absolutely hilarious!

spyscribbler 11/03/2008 11:51:00 AM  

Kath, who is Billy Collins? Wait, you mentioned his poetry before. I really have to get my hands on his poetry, I really do.

PS: I fear I took the "less is more" too much to heart, LOL.

spyscribbler 11/03/2008 11:51:00 AM  

Oh, God, Melanie. I need a Ranger!

Barrie 11/03/2008 12:16:00 PM  

I'll check your blog tomorrow to see your guest's post.

StarvingWriteNow 11/03/2008 03:40:00 PM  

Yes, you're weird. That's why we love you.

spyscribbler 11/03/2008 05:17:00 PM  

LOL, Writenow! It's good to be liked just as you are. :-)

Kath Calarco 11/03/2008 06:43:00 PM  

Spy, Billy Collins is my ROCK STAR of poetry, but other than that, he was US Poet Laureate back in 2002 (I think that was the year). Go to YouTube and plug in his name - there are tons of adaptations of some of his poetry.