To boldly go (a monologue)

Wow, I wrote this almost a year ago and never published it? Well. Better late than never. It seems to remain relevant.

A theatrical friend mentioned the quote below to me recently, and I ended up writing the following. It’s a little rough, as monologues go — it probably makes a better blog post. But I’m releasing it into the wild anyway; I’ve included a CCA license at the bottom that allows sharing and remixing.


The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is–it’s to imagine what is possible.
–bell hooks

JEAN: (Enters, wearing Spock ears. Addresses the crowd.) You ask people who the greatest artist of the English language is and people are like: Shakespeare. Or Dickens, or maybe Victor Hugo, ignoring the fact that he’s, you know, French . . . And they’ve all got their good points, but they’re all wrong. I’ll tell you who the greatest artist of the English language is. Okay?

It’s Gene Roddenberry.

And people think I’m joking, because come on, right. “Captain Kirk” Roddenberry? “Live long and prosper” Roddenberry? Y’know, “Khaaaaaaaan”? That guy?

Yeah. Star Trek: The Original Series is the most important dramatic work of art of the 20th century.

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emerge (v).

Here’s a thing I learned today! The verb “emerge” comes from the Latin emergere, from the roots “ex-,” meaning “out” and “mergere,” meaning “to dip or sink,” so the verb “emerge” creates an image of something coming up out of liquid. Snazzy.

This is relevant because next week I get to emerge onto Seattle stages as a writer, as part of the Intiman Emerging Artists Showcase — August 4-6 at the Center House in the Armory, 7:30 PM each night. (Admission is free! Just RSVP here.)

image

Look at this attractive and talented group of artists! Damn, son, that is a fine looking group of artists.

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Revise, rewrite, resubmit

The essence of writing is rewriting

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”

— Terry Pratchett

It’s incredibly cold out tonight, so in lieu of going to my normal coffeeshop writing group, I’m staying in and trying to rework a short story I want to submit for publication.

You know, I hear all these quotes about revision, like the old saw “Writing is rewriting,” and yet every time I hear them I go “Yes, but how do I do that?

Serious question. For some reason, I have real trouble understanding how to revise. (Somewhere my incredibly patient college professors, especially Drs. Chemers and Arons who read a lot of my writing over four years, are going “Noooo, really?” )

I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.

I know, I know, there are books out there that will tell me how to revise, and blog posts, and I should go looking for that, but I’m also just curious what revision looks like for people. Because what I end up doing is sitting down and looking at whatever it is I wrote and going “Yeah, that’s — I mean that’s pretty much it.” I can do line edits, and I can generally do cuts, but I don’t understand how to rewrite, the way people talk about it. I don’t have a process. Something about that eludes me. Unless it’s a complete overhaul, starting from scratch: I’ve heard there was some famous author whose process included writing a novel, locking it in a drawer, writing the entire thing again from memory, locking that draft in a drawer, and writing it again. This is a process I have often considered trying.

So for the writers out there, here’s my question: what are the actual mechanics of your revision and rewriting process? When you sit down with your work, what do you do to make it better?

And in the end–

Well would you look at that!

NaNoWriMo 2013 Winner image

You know, just in case for some reason you hadn’t seen me brag about this somewhere else.

Yesterday I passed 50,000 words around 9 PM, and today I actually finished the story around 4. The whole novel clocked in at 52,150 words, which I think makes it the longest completed thing I’ve ever written.

And the complete is very important to me. It is hard — it is appallingly, tortuously, mind-bogglingly, exasperatingly hard to finish things. “Endings are hard,” says Chuck on Supernatural. “Any chapped-ass monkey with a keyboard can poop out a beginning, but endings are impossible. You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can.”

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A selection of recent Google searches

An adorable puppy.

This was also relevant to a project, but more importantly, it’s a puppy.

Or, how I keep the NSA entertained:

These are only the searches I’ve made for various writing projects, including but not limited to (In)NaNoWriMo. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out what searches have to do with what.

I swear to god, “tom hiddleston leather” was relevant to a project.

Not that it really needs to be relevant to a project. Or it’s relevant to every project. All of the above. What was I saying?

Aside

not a pretty girl, epilogue

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

And I REALLY love Xena and Hilary Clinton and Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and Wonder Woman and Sandra Day O'Connor and Oprah...

Hey, thanks for sticking through all of that!

Because I’m only human and my thoughts on these kinds of identity politics are constantly evolving, and because I ended up covering several more topics than I originally intended to, and because I’ve only had one cup of coffee today (what???), I may have said stuff you disagree with, or stuff you want to discuss more, or stuff that’s just straight-up confusing. I love conversation and I always appreciate the chance to learn more and hear other viewpoints. In the interest of keeping any discussion streamlined, though, I’m restricting comments to just this post.

Thanks for reading!

Further recommended reading/viewing:

Got other stuff we should be reading? Drop it in the comments below!

not a pretty girl, pt. 3

Done looking for the critics ’cause they’re everywhere
They don’t like my jeans, they don’t get my hair
Strange ourselves and we do it all the time
Why do we do that? Why do I do that? Why do I do that?

-P!nk, “F**kin’ Perfect”

Part 1
Part 2

While working on this post (originally it was just going to be one post, WHOOPS), I emailed my mom and asked her what books she read with female protagonists growing up. My mom was (and is) a great reader, and got in trouble as a kid for reading when she was supposed to be napping. So what was she reading under the covers when she was our age? What were the heroines like, pre-1970 and the Womens’ Rights movement? She wrote back:

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not a pretty girl, pt. 2

I am not a pretty girl
that is not what I do
I ain’t no damsel in distess
and I don’t need to be rescued
so put me down punk
maybe you’d prefer a maiden fair
isn’t there a kitten stuck up a tree somewhere

-Ani Difranco, “Not a Pretty Girl

Part 1

We get these ideas from a few different places, I think.

First, we define the Other Girl. We may not even know any Other Girls — I certainly didn’t. Every girl in my class was as smart or smarter, as nerdy or nerdier, as I was, and I can’t think of anyone I knew before college who even got close to the Other Girl stereotype. But the Other Girl is very much what we’re fed as an ideal by all kinds of American media. She’s the Covergirl. She’s bouncing through our movies and our advertising and our books, blonde by hook or by crook and there to attract men. She’s Cosmopolitan, she’s Sex and the City, she’s years upon years of Miss America pageants, she’s Barbie, she’s most of the contestants on America’s Next Top Model.

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not a pretty girl, pt. 1

God help you if you are an ugly girl
‘Course too pretty is also your doom
‘Cause everyone harbors a secret hatred
For the prettiest girl in the room
And God help you if you are a phoenix
And you dare to rise up from the ash

-Ani DiFranco, “32 Flavors

There’s a trope in YA lit that I’ve seen get called out a fair amount in recent months on the tumblogs, arising in part from the boom in YA speculative fiction aimed at girls that followed Twilight‘s success. Our heroine, introducing herself/being introduced, describes herself as roughly this:

  • i just never felt attractive even though by some standards i’m kind of okay i guess i’m thin and white with shoulder length brown hair and big eyes
  • i’m very mature for my age very grown up yes yes serious

That’s from Tumblr user delladilly’s list of tropes that are getting too much play in YA lit at the moment. (The first part is also well worth reading, as are her follow-up posts on how hard it is to find diverse characters and plotlines in YA and why YA is great in spite of the work it still needs to do on itself.)

Bella Swan (and her adult counterpart Anastasia Steele) is by far the best example of this. She describes herself as plain, pale, brunette, klutzy; she has trouble connecting with her peers and prefers to bookworm away with classic literature like Wuthering Heights. She wears flannels and drives a pickup truck and doesn’t like to shop:

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