Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I spent the last hour jumping from a blog to another for writing various resolutions. A decision I took after 40 minutes of speed thinking about what I am happy I did in 2010, what I would like to improve and what expectations to set for 2011. By now, this is already a long list, with lots of books and articles I would like to write in the next 12 months. In fact, all of my projects are directly connected with writing. 
And, more precisely, I wish for me in the next 12 hours, the followings:
- To continue improving my skills and style 
- To attend at least one conference dedicate to writing, various webinars and special classes dedicated to creative writing
- To read as often as possible articles, blog posts, book reviews and to test as often as possible the limits of my words
- For fulfilling this objective, I would need at least two hours per day dedicated exclusively to writing
- Starting to work on NaNoWriMo 2010 project
- Getting in touch with editions houses and, in general, knowing as much as possible about publishing and marketing in the writing world
- Writing many fillers and books dedicated to children
- Continuing my other fiction book
- The most important of all: doing my best for becoming a freelance successful writer and journalist!
Wish me good luck!
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Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Great House

Cover of "Great House: A Novel"Cover of Great House: A Novel
Writing about Nicole Krauss' latest book - Great House - is difficult for me. I finished reading it less than three hours ago. I tried to think if I want to write a couple of lines about while writing other blog posts. Finally, after deciding which book will fill my next days - one by an author, David Grossman, whose style appears to me very similar with Krauss' in the investigation of the daily mystery - I will share a couple of non-literary and very personal fresh impressions about the book. Maybe I hurry up to start reading To the End of Land.
From many points of view, for me it is extremely difficult to find myself of voice of reviewing novels and, in general, literature. The ethereal idea of writing a review about poetry is almost frightening me. It took me almost one year to improve my style of reviewing scientific - predominantly from the area of political science and history - books. I always been a reader of literature, with minimum one good book per week, and love to talk about and with writers, but the review is coming out of the pen painfully. The main reason: I don't follow the literary canons and I am interested and mesmerized sometimes, about how it is used the power of words for revealing the untold words. 
The book is made up of different stories, not all of them with an obvious end, but all of them are an effort to rearrange - and, by thus, to rewrite Jewish histories. In the old Jewish tradition, you don't learn by heart, but the customs and rules are repeated - and enriched and sometimes even changed - over and over again: by the rabbis, the wise men or by the family members. Each community is having its own tradition and each family its own history. 
This continuity was disrupted by the Shoah, in our recent times. The destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem set the biggest picture of the Jewish narrative: "We live, each of us, to preserve our fragment, in a state of perpetual regret and longing for a place we only knew existed because we remember a keyhole, a tile, the way the threshold was worn under an open door". Because: "Maybe all exiles try to re-create the place they've lost out of their fear of dying in a strange place". This is the sense of the mystery of the writing desk, connecting histories, places, histories and people all over the world. All these are creating the illusion of living in a room with different kind of mirror walls - some reflections are real, some amplify exaggeratedly, some are misguiding and sending a wrong message. 
The book is also a reflection about writing: why do you write - without directly expressing the question if you can't write literature and poetry after Shoah - how can you write and what do you need - and have to renounce, in terms of family life - for writing. In this case, the desk can be read as the structure of the writing brain, with its hidden and locked secrets whose key is in the pockets of your readers.
At the end, when I realize that plan of the book might be to draw back the Jewish history, with its heart beating at Jerusalem, I found that it is too ambitious. But maybe I was wrong.
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Afghan stories

I am not a passionate reader of thrillers and if asked in the middle of the sleep about my favorite writer of this genre I will not be able to answer. I know, nobody's perfect.

As I am equally curious to explore various styles of lecture, I decided two weeks ago that it was about time to start somehow. And, randomly I found at my generous local library two titles, I didn't know they are treating more or less about the same issue: the terror threat against the West, in connection with the London terrorist attacks. And, in this order, I've read: Greg Rucka's German translation Dschihad and Frederick Forsyth's The Afghan.
The same order reflects the order of my preferences: Rucka's book is creative, full of suspense and interesting characters. Forsyth's is very long, with lots of journalistic intros and like looking to cover a certain number of pages. The appeal to the reader is made by various direct introductions of names - not profiles - of the then political and security stars as Stephen Hadley or amb. John Negroponte. 
In the first book, you have a strong spywoman - Tara Chace - descending directly from the pages of the cartoons, killing with cold blod, in various adventures in the Middle East - against and part of intrications of secret services -, in the service of the Queen. The context of the actuality - the terrorist threat, the terrorist attacks against US and London - are the large web where you can knit various literary games.
The Afghan is closely and telegraphically following the news, but excepting the final disappearance of the special agent, at the end of the story, I had the impression of reading a collection of news and opinions. 
For the next days, I have in plan other thrillers on my reading list!
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Susanna Tamaro's book is the second novel in German in one week that ends up by the suicide of the woman. This is just an observation, trying to introduce a bit of order and obvious sense into my relatively unusually messy writing and reading life from the last month or so. And I am still hoping that the whole situation will have an impressive creative turn.
But I liked the book: high concentration of feelings, almost logical ending - what can you do when you have the sudden perspective of the impossible progress. A classical optimist will continue to look for something. In some situations, everything around you - a stone or, like in this case, a parrot found at the garbage - an image of the life of the main character, maybe - it's reminding you the absolute failure. More or less, we are living in a world of shadows, projections, dreams, illusions and educated denials. Often, the border line between the healthy laugh and the deep depression is extremely delicate. 
This book helps you to understand this eternal fragility. 

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Proposals for edition houses

I am preparing to write today a proposal for a non-fiction book and I think I will follow the steps recommended by Writer's Relief. Easy, logical and exactly what I was thinking about me too.

The future of reading?

Interactive novels and stories you can play with or discovering Opertoon.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Call for Submissions: University of Queensland Press

Offer yourself a different writing start of 2011. If you are a writer of YA and children book, this offer might be for you. You still have time, till 14 of January, to revise your manuscript and to prepare the query letter. I already did mine and I will dare to enter the competition with a picture book story I made during a class. Even I am thinking that I have enough time and free days to think seriously about another booklet. 
My conclusion for today is that it is very important to write and be ready with your manuscripts. There are so many opportunities around that you need to be extremely efficient for taking all the advantages for being successful.
Time to schedule the writing wish-list? Not yet, I still have a couple of days from 2011 to finish my projects. 
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

How to deal with rejection?

With optimism. Or, at least, this is my case.
I submit a fragment of my NaNoWriMo novel - that I didn't have too much time, if no time at all, to review and re-proof - to a selection process, and in three days time I receive a nice letter announcing me that I am out of the editorial program. 
First, I was expecting such an answer, because I know that there are hundreds of thousand of mistakes and clumsy expressions (to be modest). I have a lot of work ahead, but only at the beginning of the next year, when I will finish in a decent way the other two editorial projects I have currently in various stages of incompletitude. Second, this answer, though negative, was a sign of life that I did something for my writings: I sent it forward - expecting that somebody else than me read it - and I got a feed-back. It is better than keeping it in my e-file. Third, every occasion of sharing your writing to the others is welcomed - with the condition of always trying to offer high quality work. It is an exercise of style and out of this you are getting some new experience and new ideas.
So, if you want to listen my beginner's advice in the generous domain of rejections: keep going!
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Book review: Karin Fossum - Also, von mir aus

Once, I met somebody who wanted to read at least one author from every country in the world. I found this an interesting project and I am always curious to find out new and challenging authors all over the world. In most part of the cases I am well beyond the one book/one country, but in the case of Norway, the discovery of Karin Fossum is the kind invitation for other books. 
The choice of the book - Jonas Eckel, in the German translation - was randomly, as I was looking for a lecture interesting enough for improving my language. The only recommendation were the 2-3 lines on the back of the cover. (Maybe those writing this should be more careful with such textes and devote more time and imagination to attract the potential readers through them.) 
Although I was tempted to leave the book after the first ten pages (in fact, it was not one of the guided lectures aiming to know more about an author or a topic, but simply an exercise of German practice), the interest for finishing the book increased little by little. (Only today I found out that the strong point of the author is crime novels.) The subject: the rise and fall of a relationship (I wanted to write love story, but don't think that this is the right world). Jonas Eckel (with "ck", please, as the character insist to mention every time) found Lilian, decided to get married and  they start their side-by-side adventure. A monotonous one, when you feel every drop of the minute. This is the story told through the words of Jonas, with the ups and downs, emotions and lack thereof, everything told with the same rhythm, with extremely few dialogues, as a long Nordic ballad. From time to time, the author is throwing some hints: Jonas' discovery that Lilian didn't go to the computer class and preferred to sleep home (or what any other reason), her week-end out with her girlfriends (or maybe was something or somebody else), the mystery of their physical alienation (because of somebody else) and, finally her suicide (why?). And I think that this style is a wonderful recipe for creating interest for following a relationship story. 
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

500-Word Challenge

Enter the competition and share your prose, poetry, fiction and non-fiction on the issue of holidays.
Deadline: January 4, 2011
Good luck, writers!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Creative nonfiction writers wanted

More details - here.
Good luck!

Memoir writing - some advices

Portrait of Jane Austen, from the memoir by J....Image via Wikipedia//A woman on writing

I was inspired enough (see my latest post) to register to a class on children writing on WOW.
And the inspiration continued after the six-seven weeks of the class and the other articles and resources I've found on their site. The lecture of the day were the advices about how to write a memoir and journaling essentials.
I found many good ideas and encouragements to write and document facts of my life. Because every life is precious.
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Some inexpensive collectible booksImage via Wikipedia
How do I find my inspiration for posts, articles?
A couple of fresh ideas:
When I am reading a book, I am taking notes - for the review, for various academic articles. A special category is represented by the subjects I would like to cover extensively after, not necessarily connected with the subject of the book: as a custom, a tradition, a do-it-yourself idea. For each of these subjects I set up separate files at least with one idea about what I would like to search after. 
When I am out in town or during a conversation and I discover an idea about something I would like to write about, I do the same: I am saving the idea on my cell phone or on my notebook and think where I could post it. 
This is a permanent process. I already have more than 100 possible ideas for posts and articles gathered in the last three weeks and I am working little by little for the documentation. Can anybody borrow me some time?
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Bad Sex Writing

LesCorsetsLeFuretParis18cutBImage via Wikipedia
This year price for bad sex writing in the UK is going to Rowan Somerville. It was interesting to read his explanation: that he was, in fact, trying to express the identity of his characters, as victims of abuse. In fact, it was a bad words management. 
In my novel, I avoided too many explicit sex mentions, and one of the reasons was not only the idea of discretion and a certain modesty, but also the lack of experience in dealing with such situations. Maybe the best cure will be to write a couple of scenes and put my words on work somehow.
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Motivated absence

First, it was the post-NaNoWriMo the day after effect. I spent so much energy and resources in only a couple of days for a lot of words that I needed to take my breath and think deep about what I've done and what I really want to accomplish in my next writing life.
Second, two books waiting for me to be finished very soon, and I am still fighting to gather the documentation. I still hope that I will be ready with them till the end of December. 
Third, I am intensively focusing on the current projects while looking a lot after new opportunities for freelance writing.
Also: I am still in various processes of finishing various articles and reviews and blog posts. Very important, in the last three days I succeeded to give a new impulse to one of my oldest online writing project, by introducing a different content, requiring at least three hours of intensive documentation and careful editing. When I am not writing, I am intensively thinking of some video and photo projects, wandering in town for some good shots. After half a year and thousand of pictures I am finally extremely happy with one image. Probably in 20 years I will gather enough material for a small photo exhibition.
Not less important, I am very much in love and I am grateful for the last year as one of the spiritually richest period of my life. 
It is not easy to be a woman, isn't it?
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Short short story competition

Good luck, writers, with this new competition from the Writer's Digest! Hope to be there on Monday!

End of the NaNoWriMo

12 days 1st vsImage via Wikipedia// After writing, more music, please, to celebrate the success!
My newest news: I am done with the NaNoWriMo project. Done how? In the most successful way: three hours ago I finish writing my booklet. 
A short evaluation: In the last two days and half I wrote more than 20k words. Out of the 30 days, I used effectively for writing maybe five full days, maximum two weeks in total dedicated exclusively to this project. 
I found also the idea for the cover, I refuse for the moment to change the title, and I am ready - after finishing soon another book project I started one month ago but left for various busy schedule reason - for more than three months of editing. I need more work to the style and grammar and I have more ideas to diversify the dialogues and the general action. But I needed to finish this 50k marathon honorably and I did. 
I am too exhausted for the moment and I need to work a lot for updating my other blogs plus to write a couple of articles in the next three days. I am incredibly happy I did it and let's organize a bit my mind to do more and more writing in the coming 12 months. It is the only thing I want to work on seriously. This is my new bet. 
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Thursday, November 18, 2010


is the logo of Dadaist ProfesionalImage via Wikipedia/Me, at 3.23 am.
In between some light work, a visit to a friend and a good slice of procrastination, I was able to reach the 30k words. My pathetic novel is having many chances to start living its own life. The editing and writing is going very well, the incoherences and dadaist-wise paragraphs are hilarious and a good example that quantity simply don't function extremely efficient. I added the last 4000 words while working at the first 26 pages, and I am only at the very beginning of my story. Now I am worried that I will finally reach the 50k without reaching the end of the story. My plan is to deliver another 10k during the week-end, althouth the social and reading agenda is already full. Maybe I have to limit at maximum my social adventures for the moment. 
While procrastinating aimlessly on Twitter, I found a motto for my book, from Yeats. 
Other concerns: 
- I am terribly annoyed by the title. 
- I will need at least one week to clear my mind and look for a cover. I am a passionate photographer and I love making sketches in my spare time - the last time I dedicated to this activity was more than half a year ago, when I attended my classes in Chinese calligraphy - and even opened a month ago a blog dedicated to my journey in the world of colours, but I only posted by now the welcoming text. I am easier with words, obviously. 
I wish myself a healthy sleep of four hours and will be back tomorrow with new inspiration for my poor story. 
Good night writing world! Be back soon!
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Verdict about NaNoWriMo

Finish-SprintforSight-LargeImage via Wikipedia//Maybe I will run a real marathon once
I had a couple of empty writing days for NaNoWriMo. But I was writing around, trying to finish - not ready yet - other articles and academic contributions (I promise to share my writing experience sooner I will finish the very painful rewriting activity - as the deadline was already one week ago and at latest this Monday I have to send one of the them). 
A couple of minutes ago, in-between various updates and rapid lectures of my updates and comments, I had a short exchange about NaNoWriMo and how worthy it is to be part or not to this marathon. I am not a fan of counting the words and my days off of this competition are my message of protest of this system asking quantity. But, on the other hand, my ambition to be part of the competition takes it all and I can't resist staying away or leaving before trying to do my best to finish the ride. 
In conclusion, for keeping it short and returning to my virtual working desk: I decided to do my best to reach the 50k limit. I believe my story is worthy and I thought too much about everything for more than half a year to leave it. NaNoWriMo is my occasion to test my literary writing skills - in English - and to reach, maybe, an edition house or at least one person/reader interested in my tribulations. My next steps will be to start from the beginning, fill the gaps, edit what I think it is lacking and go straight to the final word. 
Aux armes, citoyens!
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dreaming in Hindi

My road to open the book

I've heard first about Katherine Russell Rich book on a very interesting blog I am reading often. As somebody working almost daily in at least a bilingual context, I found fascinating the idea of exploring the mind settings we develop while learning foreign languages. I become bilingual at five years old, without being aware of the philosophy of practising another languages. I needed to be able to understand and talk in more than one tongue, and didn't pay too much attention of the details: I was able to switch from a language to another, answering the various contexts I was part thereof. This almost natural-born bilingual structure of my mind was enriched with a new language at the age of 10. English is the fourth on my list - at around 17 -, almost self-taught, after the failure of my mother to play anymore the role of teacher. Years after, I can understand this situation as the result of our second language experience, I didn't want to acquire - who would like at the age of 5, to spend time making conversations in a language spoken exclusively by the adults? But this linguistic experience defines my linguistic history, as until now I am aware by the limitations of fully mastering all the other languages I acquired by now (almost 10, out of which one who required to learn a new alphabet, learned as in the first grade, with pages of hand writing exercises and loudly voice spellings).
Given this experience, I am trying to do not insist too much upon because it is not my book I intend to write about now, the lecture of Dreaming in Hindi had for me the effect of a linguistic therapy.
Entering the dream
I started the lecture with a 75% enthusiasm. The rest of 25% was made by the reserves regarding the topic of Hindi, India. My very recent experience was the Eat, Pray, Love book, an example about the stereotypes of spiritual journeys. We are learning foreign languages because of personal or sentimental failures, we are keen to know the world and other countries because we failed to know ourselves. We are unable to go out of our lonely shells and we recognize the merits of the culture only in direct relation with the success brought in our personal achievement. There are some discrete references to this kind of issues in this book too, but there are wrapped intelligently. Of course we are looking for something when we are travelling or starting to learn something new - be it Chinese painting or Hindi - but this is more than killing some time between two relationships. We acquire knowledge for better understanding the world around and thereafter, using this knowledge to induce change. 
The references to India are well pondered: you will not find here first-hand experiences about illuminations and spiritual awakenings after spending a couple of days, weeks or months in a ashram. In a very journalistic and alert style you will find information about this part of India Katherine Russell Rich is discovering while starting the learning of Hindi, during and shortly after 11/9. This part of India where people are living and making a living, dying or killed, facing terrorism and fearing for the security of their children and their families, getting married, looking for a mate or falling in love, surviving as women, temporary visitors or tourists. The recent history or the history on the making, the ethnic or geopolitical conflicts are reflected at the level of the language. And I am the first to recognize that 
Notes on Dreaming in HindiImage by brewbooks via Flickr/Notes of the author
the success of learning a foreign language rely upon the immersion into the culture of the linguistic family whose richness you want to share. The pages dedicated to the social and historical description are limited by the purpose of reflecting the sociolinguistic processes taking place with the author aka. the Hindi student. 
I found the style sometimes arid, sometimes mid-way between a scientific expose and a journalistic description. In some fragments, it was like recollecting automatically segments from disparate notebooks recording the diary of the year spent in the ancient city of Udaipur. But this gave to the story a mysterious note of authenticity.
Knowing the brain
Udaipur Palace complex at Night. Udaipur, IndiaImage via Wikipedia/Udaipur Palace by nightThe main reason I loved reading this book was the intelligent mixture between the personal discoveries and the scientific research, looking for understanding the mechanisms developed in our secret black box while learning a new language. We are rarely aware of the complicate processes taking place during the linguistic adventures of the brain. I experienced some of them myself - and I observed more clearly to my daughter, who by the age of 12 was overexposed to multilingualism and forced to master daily three different languages. Our brain is both flexible -  adapting to new sociolinguistic contexts - conservative - in relationship with the other languages, including our first tongue. 
And I will give an example: we are aiming to learn a new language, for various reasons. By learning, direct practice, exercises, we could acquire the new skills in a certain amount of time. But, the linguistic structures already acquired, including our mother tongue, will be affected. If not used any more over time, we are forgetting the details of the grammar or our vocabulary is including funny and clumsy 
approximate translations from a language to another. During this process we can experience as well the unpleasant situation of blocking: we are unable to switch immediately, if ever, from a language to another. Or, the overexposure to a certain foreign linguistic environment create difficulties in recognizing what used to be once our familiar context. The social and psychological contexts are playing a very important role in our linguistic development - or blockage. A certain experience in relation with a certain event connected to a language might close the ways of communications in this language. 
More we learn, the bigger our possibilities to make fast connections and to diversify our brain activity - with results including on our life-spam, according to recent studies. With influence on our deepest conscious and unconscious activities, as it is the case of dreaming. The strangest might be to dream in a foreign language without understanding the words you or the others present in the dream are talking. The intermediate level is, according with my understanding of the book, when you are able to tell and understand jokes in a foreign languages, meaning that you acquired a minimum familiarity and subtlety for juggling with significations. As for me, being able to read the newspaper is the best level you acquire before upgrading for having access to the language of the elites. 
As well, being able to read and write on one hand, and being able to speak a language, on the other hand, are two different skills, not automatically inter-connected. In my case, for the non-European language I am in process of acquiring, I was able first to talk and understand the language of the street, but took me significantly more to read fluently while I am still facing problems in writing correctly. For the different alphabets the photographic memory might be helpful. I lived for one year in a Asian country and I was able to recognize a couple of disparate characters, only by over visual exposure - usual signs for "open", "closed", "metro", "street", the symbol of the currency etc. 
The limits of our communications from a language to another are not exclusively limited to the cases when we have to switch from a system to another - as, for example, from a alphabet-based to a sign base.  Not everything can be translated and for some cases the expression of privacy - in the case of Hindi a non-existent term - and feelings differs significantly. It is why we are assuming that some nations are "colder" and some are "warmer": we are what we talk.
My curiosities
The book opened me a series of questions and left unanswered a couple of curiosities. I don't find too much details about the experience of writing in another alphabet. Did she tried to? What are the transformations observed reading in a different writing universe. 
The reader lacking expertise in Hindi is left frustrated with not acquiring any information about what it is this Hindi alphabet about. I found only one explicit reference, at the end, when trying to read the terrible news about the killing of the journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan. Do they read from left to right or from right to left? It is possible, as in Chinese or Japanese to read horizontally and/or vertically? 
Maybe I would like to read and find out more also about the author's experiences with Hindi after this year spent in India: did she continue practising? what happened with the linguistic luggage in her familiar cultural environment? Or did she start to learn other languages too and how she connected this experience with the one of learning Hindi?
My plan was to dedicate one hour to this review. After three long and intensive writing hours, I am approaching "the final dot" moment with a certain shadow of regret. This book made me think about a couple of direct experiences, gave me some hints for reevaluating others and observing some evolutions in my future linguistic wanderings. Enough reasons for encouraging others to read it too and to start learning at least another foreign language than the one used by birth. 
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Vonnegut's tips for writing fiction

Very good tips, indeed, and the right incentive for restarting the NaNoWriMo chores, after two days of lazinesss. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

NaNoWriMo updates

Today, I reached the 25,047 limit of words! For tomorrow and Monday I am ready to start the editing work, as I am more than convinced that my "story", I am falling in love with more and more each day, might give to the reader the first impression of a English composition of a retarded pupil. I will put on hold the jogging for quantity in the quest for the finest quality. 
- I remembered the last days of the words of Zeruya Shalev at a meeting I attended. We, the women, in comparison with the men, we don't have so much time to write continuously, as for example, six hours the day, as we have to face different home tasks. In my case, I sacrificed - again - from the time spent with the kid and with my boyfriend for reaching at least four hours of non-continuous writing per day. 
- I would like to avoid enumerations of words or too many influences from the written register. The book is based on various exchanges taking place on-line - a place where I lost the virginity of my English - and I have to find a middle way to keep a normal level of accuracy and authenticity, without wasting the space of the virtual paper with exchanges of the like: Hi, how are you? Fine, thank you! You! and so on and so forth. 
- I need to work more on some geographical descriptions - back to the documentation, as in my book there are several travels taking places, and at least in one place I never been to. I have to get in touch with my friend who was, hoping to obtain from her some life descriptions. 
- The book is structured as a diary: for each of the 12 sections I need to have approximately equal amount of action and events. 
- I don't know yet if the end would be pessimistic or optimistic. If the two main characters will go together further or if she will cynically watch him arriving from the States in the strange Western European city and will not show up, leaving him completely on his own. I am more inclined for the pessimistic way. 
- I like the rhythm and the surprising episodes I included in my story. But, though, I want to tell more, I have only two more weeks ahead and even if I will go beyond the 50,000 I am not in control of the grammar and style aspects. 
- I am thinking already about my next book: a crime/spy book taking place during the Cold War. Hope to be wise enough to start thinking about this at the beginning of 2011, after at least 20% of my writing projects for 2010 are ready. 
Time to take a break and to celebrate finishing half of the wonderful wannabe book!
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Running away with books

David GrossmanImage via Wikipedia/David GrossmanI love the titles David Grossman is choosing for his books: Someone to run away with, See under: Love, Zig-Zag kid. These three titles are direct translations of the Hebrew variant. The choice for his last one - To the end of land - from the Hebrew A woman run the news - is not so appealing, but didn't read the book yet.
I am not an open supporter of his political opinions. As in the case of Amos Oz, I appreciated him enormously as a writing mind. But I am tempted to interrupt them every single moment when they are talking about politics. Not exactly every single moment, but most part of the time. Equally, he is imposing me the respect for listening and trying to understand the reasons behind these political choices. In the case of Someone to run away with, as in the case of the other books, the conflict from the Middle East is not present explicitly in the book. I've read yesterday a couple of reviews of the book insisting that the story between Assaf and Tamar might be an allegory of the possibility of a get together of the Jews and Arabs. I never thought this story in these terms.
I felt  very happy getting to know his characters: youngsters but still one step into their childhood, looking for social confirmation or unconsciously looking for dangers in order to form their opinions on life and death. I always felt very close to his characters: kids or young adults, even the animals (Dinka, in this case) are courageous and curious and open to discover the reality they are thinking about over and over again. 
The plot of the book - the parallel (film-wise I may say) development of the episodes of Tamar's plan to safe his brother from the claws of the drug addiction and Assaf's efforts to find the mysterious owner of Dinka, a one-in-a-lifetime kind of meeting made - me think very often about the organization of an YA book. And the next step of this thought was that, in fact, the target of a book for me, as an obsessive reader, is not at all important - I am reading everything from the illustration to scientific books. And, in fact, successfully using ideas, style and characters from another theoretically assume literary category is the measure of writer's greatness. I felt the main characters - and the strange Greek self-recluse monk Theodora, who's disappearing suddenly without reappearing after the most important moment of his life - in flesh and bones, authentic and humanly problematic. In comparison, I recognized the limits of having this fantastic repertoire of humans in the book: the high concentration of sq. meter of page don't leave them enough space for breathing. In this case, the parents of both kids are evanescent and I would have been curious to find out more stories about the other inmates from the "colony of artists". 
I've read too that it was made a movie after the book, but for the moment the main characters are still living and breathing with me so I am not interested at all in watching it. 

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The right place with the wrong questions

At the beginning of this week, I attended an incredible public meeting with Jonathan Coe. He had several lectures from his The Rain Before it Falls and answered questions about his books and inspiration. 
My only question I wanted to address, but I didn't was: How much time he spend doing documentation and how often he feel the need to do it. And, by documentation I am thinking about bibliographical research, but also the direct life experience research you need to better understand a certain environment - blind people, for the case of our book. I was too shy to do it? Not exactly shy, but certainly extremely bothered by the curiosities of the readers from the public - Why the women' characters are so bad? Why are they dying at the end of the story? What is the reason behind using the word "to occur" for x times? In a way, it was interesting to observe the differences, sometimes the gap, between what you want to offer as a writer and what your audience is grasping about your writings. And as long as you decided to publish your words, they are belonging to you only from the point of view of the explanation you may offer about your intentions. Free in the public space, anybody is free now to read and understand them. 
I was impressed by Coe' simple way of explaining words: not affected by his status as a creator, very patient in answering questions, very humble and reserved when it was about talking on himself. Introduced by the host as a musician, he insisted to correct this perception, by mentioning that his records were disparate and lacking an impressive record. 
From a book to another, he explained, is trying to change the style, the content and to have each new book as a reply to the other. His newest book, for example, The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim, is the story of the relationship between a father and its son and its using a humorous and ironic style, in comparison with the somber and women-focused atmosphere from The Rain. He confessed that in the case of the Rain, he tried to be visual and the photos used as the main narrative path are part of this plan. For a future edition, maybe he will add some real pictures too. The inspiration for the pictures was his own family photo album and the incredible resources from the Internet. Not a fan of the new social media, he used Facebook in the Terrible Privacy and is having an account - though with a modest friends' record - on Zuckermann's Social Network. 
He used as inspiration fragments from real life - he even modified the end, after discovering that the model served for the blind children Imogen died herself - but transformed through the mind and eyes of inspiration. The title was found randomly, while listening the song with the same name to its iPod. And I love this title a lot, as it's describing perfectly the impression of perfection before something is really happening, the generous comfort of the ideas before being abused by the practice of the reality, the attraction of the dream, before you start the fight to turning forcefully the dream into reality. 
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Going or not to writers' conferences

The Four-spotted Skimmer or Four-spotted Chase...Image via Wikipedia/The fragile writing life
The pros and the cons, with an obvious general conclusion encouraging current and wannabe writers to do their best to attend at least one in their lifetimes such a gathering. 
I feel a kind of frustration from this point of view, as it is not easy to find writers' conferences in English in the country I am living in. But, participating to similar events around the world, would be a professional priority for the next year. Meanwhile I would be happy to update my literary portofolio and, who knows, to be already published in English somehow. 
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Some words simply cannot resist any translation. And this is the glamour and mystery of any foreign language, we are invited to discover. This list is only an approximate listing of these words, as I am convinced that any language is having its own secret reserves of uniqueness. 

Travel Writing

A guest post from Foreigner in Berlin, about travel writing.
Enjoy it and have a nice writing day!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Writing in another language

An interesting perspective, preparing the ground for my lecture of Dreaming in Hindi.

Calls for submissions

200 pxImage via Wikipedia
I don't know yet where exactly I will apply, but I am strongly decided to participate. Many offers for poetry writers.  
Here is another call for posts for University of Venus, "a peer-reviewed blog bringing together GenX women in higher education from around the globe".
Those interested to share their experiences as women writers for NaNoWriMo, they have the occasion to do it here.
Happy writing day anyone! I hurry up to finish some articles!
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The words of science

Almanach2Image via Wikipedia
Every time I need more clarity and concision into my writing life, I am hungry for reading highly scientific works. One day, for example, when the style and the rhythm of my PhD writing was extremely down, I've read in only one night a very sophisticated geology book. Beyond the projection in another universe of thinking I am reevaluating the value of words and I realize the importance of being clear and using simple and proper words. After my hectic writing experiences of the last weeks, I am sure I will be sooner glad to chew a wonderful chemistry handbook. Maybe, one day, in a serious crisis of inspiration I will write my own science book. I am open to any kind of opportunities.
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Writing about music

Neon music signImage via Wikipedia
A difficult challenge I am not able to manage properly for the moment: writing about music. How to translate into words the sounds and the special feelings of these sounds. At this writing moment of my life, I prefer to make drawings instead of writing about my experiences after a long and dream-wise hour spent in the kingdom of music.
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My NaNoWriMo updates

GEISHA IN SILHOUETTE WRITING A LETTER -- An Un...Image by Okinawa Soba via FlickrA speedy update about my NaNoWriMo status:
- I reached the given limit of words of 16,331, the reachable average after the beginning of the competition, nine days ago. I had the familiar feeling of the poor Jack London's Martin Eden, of counting over and over again the words. The biggest pressure is that I will not be able to have enough time for editing, and for this I will need at least four days. My deepest wish is to reach the 50,000 or so words in the first three weeks and then to have seven days ahead for making corrections and polishing the grammar. Today I wrote 10,000 words, which is a bit exhausting, but needed to fill the gap of my writing indifference of the last week. The good news is that I like to organization of the whole narrative and I am convinced that I am sharing very interesting experiences, I never read before. The bad news is that I am too exhausted and out of inspiration now that I am not able to continue. At least, I have one more hour ahead to test my writing with some blog posts. 
- Given all my writing assignments scheduled for this month, I am in the middle of a terrible writing mess, with a couple of articles in various stages of elaboration - the cutest ones are those with only a big inspiring title in the front of the Word page. I know that I have to play strongly all my cards and I don't have time to complain or to say "no" to the impressive volume of writing ideas and publishing possibilities. There are no "buts" in the given situation.
- The competition to reach this 50,000 words limit is very frustrating for the quality of the work. I know that I have to finish it, and in some situation I observed myself writing as a machine, words after words, a veritable example of the Dadaist and Supra realist "automatic dictation". It is like running a marathon, when you run and run and you watch every moment your watch. Me, I am obsessed watching the word count from the extreme left corner of the page.
- I saw today that I have to upload a cover too. I am very exciting about the idea of making my own covers but, by now, the time pressure was too big to have two, three or maybe more hours for being creative artists. Maybe this NaNoWriMo will open the doors for specialization in this area too. This is on the last place on my priority list though. 
And now, some technical observations carefully noted in my writing diary of the last days: 
- When you have more than two characters, be careful about their names. In my case, I discovered how the same male character was given two names in the space of ten pages. Now, for avoiding such embarrassing situations, I wrote down their names and their position within the story.
- I started to think in terms of plot and I can see, in perspective, the evolution of each character and what I have to change or not from their trajectory.
- I am still looking for the rhythm, as under the pressure of writing and writing I am in the stage of simply adding words and trying to discharge the whole history I have into my brains. As for the "voices", I don't hear them clearly, or at all. The characters are starting to get their own lives and have their own feelings and profiles, but cannot map their relations.
- The same regarding the alternation of various personal pronouns - I initially used the third person, but I found more proper for whole idea of my book to use the first person and I made the changes accordingly.
Wish me and to the other NaNoWriMo writers the best inspiring and writing week in their life!
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Green Books Campaign

Writers and bloggers and booklovers are waited tomorrow to take part to the Green Books Campaign, reviewing books printed on environmental paper. This is for me a very inspirational campaign, connecting more than two dots and trying to focus on a principle involving not only one word - environment - but the consequences of applying the policies and ideas in the area on a daily basis. I wish I knew about this project before for being able to participate. Maybe on another occasion.
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Friday, November 5, 2010

The disadvantage of blogging

Since intensively and actively blogging on various playgrounds I consider myself one of the happiest persons in the world. Writing is my destiny and the daily postings are my anchor to keep a social profile and to improve my style. 
But...There are some serious problems here. After a long period of time while I was exclusively focused on editing and over editing my PhD thesis - and shame on me, I still discover various typo mistakes and other embarassing sentences - now I can write for hours on various topics: political science, foreign affairs, books I like, social media, writing. All those aspects are covering small slices of my vaste area of topics I am interested in. I am working hard now to acquire the technical expertise and the knowledge allowing me to make at least two of these products a source of financial benefits. And, what's the disadvantage, I might be asked? The impressive quantity of posts I am able to write during one day is not corresponding to a certain amount of quality writing I am expected to deliver in my articles and academic contributions. The lure of writing at the end of the day 10 posts overpass the need to finish one academic article, of 20 pages. Clearly enough, these articles and lengthy writing contributions are useful weapons in acquiring a future scholarship and a better job. A matter of priority, you might say. And my priority is to become courageous enough for writing in English with at least 70% of the fluency in my mother tongue. 
My plans for the week-end, beside some social events and a couple of reading: continuing writing for NaNoWriMo and proof-reviewing some articles. And, no blogging at all. I still have two hours from this day to finish the whole plan.
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Autonomous writing

Last night, as I was wondering from a blog to another, trying to find the best possible ways to promote my works and my blogs - this issue will be shortly addressed on my PR and Communications blog - I remembered that once, more than one year ago, I set up a profile on Authonomy. Funny to mention how I went back: I received an e-mail from a member of the community asking for reviewers of her new group. My bookworm tendencies couldn't resist such a temptation and wrote her back - still didn't answer, maybe I was too late. Meanwhile, I felt the need to see what it is about with this community and in less than 5 minute I was back, with a profile picture and information - including the address of this blog - uploaded. What it's Authonomy? According to the presentation of the site: an online writing community, a Harper Collins Publishers idea, enabling unpublished and self publishing writers to submit their works. You are enabled to update chapters of your entire book - including the cover - and submit it to the universal anonymous scrutiny. It is like having your own book club, but with a large overseas potential target. Because I don't want to waste any second of my writing life, I already uploaded my short children story I created during my class on children writing at the beginning of this year. And, I am ready to continue focusing for a while to finish another two writing pieces for children I have in various process of editing. I will not give up my clumsy writing world too easy. As an unpublished writer looking for the right market, this might be an opportunity to increase visibility and acquire experience, but I don't play all my cards here. 
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Late start of the NaNoWriMo experience

NEW YORK - JANUARY 13: Hairdresser Aliette Bel...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Late but though a start for NaNoWriMo. In only two hours, I was able to finish the recommended daily ratio of 1700 words, so theoretically I do not have to worry too much about reaching the words goal. Why I was not capable of starting, as a disciplined soldier, Monday, at 6 o'clock it is non-answerable. All I can say is that Saturday and Sunday, when I planned to do extended research for finding a subject, I was either procrastinating about my daily life, or partying somewhere in the big city or...recovering after too many glasses of red wine. It's better to be sincere, isn't it?
As for my novel...But first to say a couple of words about how I found the subject. Most specifically now, when it is time to close a couple of projects I ruminate about for the last 10 months, my mind is full of ideas and unwritten books, articles and blog posts. But, unfortunately, none of them was qualified to stimulate enough my imagination for this competition. So, today, while at gym, I had a brainstorming with my left and write part of the brain and decided to focus on some issues I was covering this year on various aspects: the online life. 
Shortly, my novel - I will finish the damn 50,000 words, promise - will be submitted under the category chick lit. In fact, it is a fiction about a woman from Germany having an online affair with a younger man from Brooklyn. The attempt to translate their hot and passionate relationship into a real-time adventure will fail, because she will leave the online world to fully dedicate to her family and boyfriend. It sounds for me as a stupid housewife story, but I think the experiment is worthy. Excepting the shopaholic books, I didn't read chick lit and the my romance reading background is non-existent. I will then try to be creative and relaxed while keeping a close eye to the grammar and coherence of the writing. In the same time, I had to focus on my other writing projects, with the same tight deadline but as long as this is the theme of this November, I will not hesitate to dedicate my time to this. I already had some little important successes with the blogging pieces I've submitted recently so the good waves are here to take me all over the rainbow of my creativity.
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Friday, October 29, 2010

My writing week

The most exciting news is from today: this morning, I set up the profile and registered to take part to the NaNoWriMo competition. I have two more days for a brainstorming and a bit or organization of my subject. I am for the moment very skeptical about reaching the goal of 50,000 words in only one month - given the permanent need of various proof reviews, other assignments and academic articles, the non-novel book project I started a couple of days ago with a deadline at the beginning of December as well, a possible trip for a couple of days, without too much time for thinking and writing, some job-hunting and a busy social life. But, for the first time in my life I am taking part to such a competition - possible via the wonderful 2.0 world I am proudly part of - and I am ready to learn every single second, or word.  

Another part of my writing week was the official start of my second book project, about 2.0, in English. I started a writing diary, documenting every step I take, to be updated soon on the blog. For the moment, I am gathering tones of documents, bibliographies and to-do-lists. 

And now, I have to hurry up to update my blog posts, with articles about the last 10 days activities. Effective writing and lots of challenges. My writing week-end is about to start! 

Memories about a memoir

I finally succeeded to finish this week a wonderful memoir about the life of Oppie. For the first time in a long long time the lecture took me almost three months. I usually read extremely fast, but this time the information was so rich documenting carefully and chronologically every moment from Oppie's life than I needed more time to think after each chapter. 

I will not enter at all into the details regarding the ideas and the content of the book, but as I am thinking to write one day a memoir myself, I will focus only on a couple of ideas on the structure and writing. 

The book is following Robert Oppenheimer's life step by step, the chronology being followed very closely and carefully. But this doesn't mean that you have a better understanding of the character, but rather must be a sign of difficult management of the material. I prefer the organization of the historical books on themes as helpful in creating a bigger picture of the trends and tendencies and of the genesis of ideas. I am opposing the evenemential history, also because it is dissipating information: there are too many data impossible to have clearly in your mind after reading 600 pages or more. 

The management of an impressive amount of documents: footnotes would charge the page, end notes explaining for each page the sources are more useful. 

The journalistic style, including by avoiding opinions and too much personal observation, is a the best solution for offering to your readers a reliable book. For a successful result, you need the skills of a historian, journalist and good writer. 

And now, time to think about a possible memoir project, in a near future...