The artistic insights of one age become the cliches of the next.
Fiction has to surprise me. If a character is going around doing only what such a person would do, I get very bored. I want to know more. Or have them come to a point where they’re not what I thought they were. Or that they’re not what they thought they were. It’s probably a form of childish curiosity that keeps me going as a fiction writer. I probably want to open everybody’s bureau drawers and see what they keep in there. I’m nosy.
Margaret Atwood, in a 1986 interview for the book Canadian Writers at Work. (via behindthepage)
I find this so instructive when thinking about writing characters.
Puffer coats and stick legs.
I think [society’s] general attitude towards me when I started to be a writer was that I was crazy or somehow undecorous … I think that’s society’s attitude towards anybody when he’s first starting. But if you become successful, then it’s an okay thing for you to be doing because, as we all know, this society pays a lot of attention to success. But that is not a respect for writing per se as a legitimate activity; that’s a respect for success, which is a different thing. It would have the same respect for you if you were a successful used-car salesman.
Margaret Atwood, in a 1972 interview with Graeme Gibson.
This is exactly why we, in spite of ourselves, continue to accept and even extol the “accomplishments” and lifestyles of Wall Streeters.
It’s probably also exactly why I still sometimes get uncomfortable calling myself a writer out loud, even though there’s nothing else to call myself by now and it’s where my money comes from. Does this mean I am successful, but not quite successful enough?
It should also be said that even the writing industry at large (magazines, newspapers, publishing houses, etc) continues to see the working writer as crazy or indecorous, right up to the moment that writer becomes a household name. To break this attitude in industry insiders is the number one factor in attaining a successful writing career (much more so than the writing itself, I have found).
That Was Dumb
I have so many problems with the way the women’s figure skating shook out tonight. And for once, I am qualified to make such a judgment. See?
In the interest of brevity, bullet points:
- Eventual champion Adelina Sotnikova, in her short program, did a triple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, while silver medalist Yuna Kim did a triple lutz-triple toe loop combo. I’m not sure that most viewers realize how much easier a triple toe is than a triple lutz, but the judges surely should have. Which makes it super problematic to attribute Sotnikova's win to her technical superiority. She should have been way behind Kim after the short program, not even taking the artistic score into account.
- Yuna Kim’s overall level of figure skating is so far superior to Sotnikova’s, Sotnikova should have to land two triple axels to come close to surpassing her.
- Without taking the time to google it, I’m pretty sure the only women who have ever landed a triple axel are Midori Ito, Mao Asada, Tonya Harding and one other. None of those women won the Olympics, because of deficits in artistry, as it should be.
- Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic, the commentators covering the event, should be feeling pretty terrible about themselves right about now for failing to point out the shortcomings of the current scoring system, if indeed that’s what’s to blame for this clearly incorrect outcome.
I am so team Yuna Kim. This was a disgrace.
Tina Brown, Philip Roth Discuss a Green Dildo
Tina Brown: Is it a hard thing to write a sex scene with a woman in a green dildo?
Philip Roth: No. I mean, no harder than writing a sex scene with a woman without a green dildo really.
Saturday Afternoon, Somewhat but not very Sentimental
Sometimes the most miraculous things happen when I’m staring out my window; steam coils up from the top of a building across the great open space of the city, a light goes on in an all-glass apartment as the final light of day recedes, snowflakes as big as a feather float upward before remembering to fall down, seasons change, a flock of birds takes flight from a roof, choreographed, musical, and long after they’re gone, a single bird circles the earth.
Discussing Our Favorite Romantic Movies over on Strolby
Mine’s Eternal Sunshine. Check it out: