Monday, February 27, 2012

21st Century: Novels No Longer Work

Critic Roger Kimball offers up a fascinating, if a bit long-winded, discourse on why the novel might be the best art form for the 21st Century. The article is studded with spectacular insights, well worth your time.

Here are a few:

"The problem with computers is not the worlds they give us instant access to but the world they encourage us to neglect."

"Everyone knows Andy Warhol’s quip that someday everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. Behind the humor—or perhaps I should say “behind the cynicism”—of that remark is the dark prospect of significant cultural diminishment. A quarter-hour’s fame is not fame. On the contrary, it is the demotic parody of fame; it is mere celebrity. It is worth pausing to consider how much of our cultural life—even in its most august precincts—is caught up in the voracious logic of celebrity. It is a logic that builds obsolescence into the banner of achievement and requires that seriousness abdicate before the palace of notoriety and its sound-bite culture."

"It does seem as if there have been important alterations in the relation between life and literature—between life and the world of culture generally—and this is as much due to changes in the character of life as to changes in the character of culture."

Friday, February 24, 2012

Called, but Not Crafted

It never stops grieving me how many Apostolics feel called to the writing ministry, yet so few better their craft by taking workshops once they're out of college. Yes, of course it costs money and time, but most of us take vacations and most of us spend our money on something. Why not our calling? Could we stand to miss a camp or General Conference so that our innate talent can be better-directed by knowledgeable mentors? Are we afraid to be challenged to change ourselves (and our writing methods) so that more can be reached?

The fun of February is in seeing all the Summer Writing Workshops offering their wares. If you want to improve  your craft, then the University of Iowa's Summer Writing Festival offers both week-long & weekend classes, while the Washington University Summer Writer's Institute offers an intensive 8 day workshop worth examining.  For a more general experience in April, check out the Festival of Faith and Writing!

They all exist so that you can be a more effective communicator Christian. Dare to take the challenge?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Big Picture MFA the Franzen Way

Jonathan Franzen offers up a big picture MFA in Creative Writing via a press conference at the world-famous Hay Festival in  Great Britain. Lots of good stuff, like:

A big problem for the novel is that the world doesn’t stop, it’s moving so fast and here you are slowly struggling
. You have to be aware of that, keep it in mind and think about how to write a book that will not already be out of date at the time it’s published. You have to have a lot of patience, you have to have faith that it will matter when you’re finally done with it. If you are writing a novel, that can be a faith in God but it can also exercise the same faith muscles without having a religion attached.

As a practical matter, I think it’s very important not to have an internet connection when you’re working. You have to turn down the noise. The thing about the media is that they say the same thing thousands of times a day. You can cut out 99.9 per cent of that and still get what you need. Because what the culture is telling you is important isn’t necessarily what’s really important. The novel’s job nowadays is to listen carefully, cut the noises down and pay attention when the culture is not paying attention.

The most inspiring thing anyone ever said to me about writing was Don DeLillo, and it was simply: ‘The writer leads, he doesn't follow.’

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Food for Thought: Live to Write, Write to Live

“I shall live badly if I do not write, and I shall write badly if I do not live.” -Francoise Sagan

Friday, February 3, 2012

Food for Thought: Saved By Mistakes

"Sometimes all that saves me is being willing to make mistakes. There are projects that strike me as so beautiful, important, complicated, or just plain big, that they convince me of my own inadequacy. This awful state of reverence leads to paralyzing brain freeze. At times like that the only way out is for me to decide, ‘. . .  I can’t do it right, so I’ll do it wrong. I can’t do it well, but I can do it badly.’ Sometimes, with luck, while I’m sweating to do it wrong, I stumble on a right way.” -Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love 

Quote discovered in Poets & Writers, Jan/Feb 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

It's Not Too Late!

Sign up for Calvin College's Festival of Faith & Writing (April 19-21, 2012) and you'll get the early registration price of $175.

The speaker /session slate is stuffed with biggies like Marilynne Robinson, Jonathan Safran Foer, & Chinamanda Ngozi Adichie, among others.

One of the fun features of this festival is the Festival Circles, where you spend 2 meal periods on a writing topic of your choice. The choices are immense.

This is the premier Christian writing / reading festival in the country. Because it only occurs every 2 years, save your pennies & make an effort to attend in April!