Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How to Impress Typography

Monday, November 29, 2010

What are the things that make you panic on the page?

I don’t know about you other writers out there in writerdom, but occasionally, for me, the idea of sitting down and getting to work is absolutely terrifying. I will think of any excuse to avoid writing. I have to work… in nineteen hours. I have to do laundry, go to the store, I’m out of ideas, my back hurts, this book is really good so I’ll just read another few pages and it takes place during the time I’m writing about so it’s for research really, I have to knit and listen to an audio book (delicious indulgence by the way), I have to check cows, floss my teeth, go chop firewood for 2012 wood, etc, etc, etc. And all of it, and I mean all of it, is purely an excuse to avoid that gut-churning, jaw clenching, head-cracking fear of a blank page.

I don’t admit this often. I’m not a person who likes to indulge in fear, even though so much of my daily life, a la my family, is little but an exercise in an existence that disguises our thinly veiled fears. What if we lose the farm? What if something dies? What if the coffeepot/tractor/truck/etc breaks? What if we actually have to make a decision or the economy collapses? So writing and reading, I suppose, have long been my escapes from this. So when Ye Big Ol Blank Page seems an enemy too, life gets interesting.
I mean I have ideas, too many most days, and various projects I’m working on, so that’s not the problem. When I do cardio, I often have to stop and jot ideas, lines, fragments of dialogue or description down. When I’m at work, I suddenly have these great lines in my head and write them on the notepad feature on my phone. I try to start from those notes in the morning, but they seem uninspired by dawn’s early coffee, so I leave them until I can be more impartial, and try to make new words. Instead, I end up searching for more audio-books to borrow from my local library. And when I open a project, I stare at the last thing I wrote and my stomach churns in panic.

So I’m asking you to weigh in. How do you deal with panic on the page? (I’m expecting something like “suck it up, Ax,” but perhaps you’ll be more kind than I anticipate.) And how do you discipline your writing, well, discipline, when even a farmer’s work ethic seems to be defying you?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Books books books

I stole the list from The BBC thinks the average person has only read 6 of the following 99 books. What's your number? List it and pass it on. Bold the ones you've read and italicize the ones you've read an excerpt, summery, or didn't finish. I added my annotations and in a few cases books I’ve read by the author mentioned aside from the one listed.

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien (and the Silmarillion and Tolkien Reader)

3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte)

4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6. The King James Bible

7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8. Nineteen Eighty Four (1984) – George Orwell (Animal Farm???)

9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman (Just the first one, The Golden Compass and the Sally Lockheart series, which rocked!)

10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens (Preferred Bleak House)

11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14. Complete Works of Shakespeare

15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk

18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger (Did catch Frannie and Zoe)

19. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20. Middlemarch – George Eliot

21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

23. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

24. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

25. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh (Does the movie count?)

26. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

27. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

28. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

29. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

30. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

31. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

32. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

33. Emma -Jane Austen

34. Persuasion – Jane Austen (Persuasion and Mansfield Park)

35. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis

36. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

37. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres

38. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

39. Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne

40. Animal Farm – George Orwell

41. The DaVinci Code – Dan Brown

42. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

43. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

44. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins, but did read The Moonstone

45. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

46. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

47. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

48. Lord of the Flies – William Golding

49. Atonement – Ian McEwan

50. Life of Pi – Yann Martel

51. Dune – Frank Herbert

52. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

53. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

54. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

55. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

56. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

57. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

58. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

59. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

60. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

61. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

62. The Secret History – Donna Tartt

63. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold (Lucky)

64. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

65. On The Road – Jack Kerouac

66. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

67. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

68. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

69. Moby Dick – Herman Melville

70. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

71. Dracula – Bram Stoker

72. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

73. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson, I’d put A Walk in the Woods and A Short History of Everything

74. Ulysses – James Joyce

75. The Inferno – Dante

76. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

77. Germinal – Emile Zola

78. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

79. Possession – AS Byatt

80. Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

81. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

82. The Color Purple – Alice Walker

83. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

84. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

85. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

86. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White

87. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

88. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

89. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

90. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

91. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

92. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

93. Watership Down – Richard Adams

94. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

95. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

96. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

97. Hamlet – William Shakespeare

98. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

99. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo (The Hunchback of Notre Dam)

100. Dubliners—James Joyce

Monday, November 22, 2010

Things I Learned Milking and Things Every Farm Woman Should Know

Things I Learned Milking:

  • Expect to catch shit. All the time.
  • Urine happens when you least expect it.
  • Farts happen during sex. Even lesbian sex.
  • And never think a cow will pass up an opportunity to try and go through a hole that is far too small for her. It’s like a fat girl in Spandex. It happens and it’s not pretty.

What every farm woman should know:

  • How to back up a trailer.
  • How to give shots to a rangy bull and not lose a hand in the working corral.
  • How to tell when a cow is ready to calve.
  • How to fix anything with virtually nothing, and make Halloween costumes out of duct tape.
  • How to feed eight or more hungry men when she planned for two.
  • How to pull a dog away from a porcupine, armadillo, dead possum, out of a hole, down from a tree, out from under a moving vehicle, all while wrangling six screaming kids and a husband (make that seven screaming kids).
  • How to change a tire in heels and… oh who the hell are we kidding? Farm women don’t get to wear heels.
  • How to change a tire.
  • How to catch shit and fling it back.
  • And how to have a sense of humor when everyone else has lost theirs.