Writers’ Wisdom

I know I already used a quote from Nietzche, but I just read this lovely article on Brain Pickings yesterday, and this passage just struck me.

Wikipedia photo

Wikipedia photo

“The richness of life reveals itself through a richness of gestures. One must learn to feel everything — the length and retarding of sentences, interpunctuations, the choice of words, the pausing, the sequence of arguments — like gestures.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

NMM

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Story Snippet No. 23

It’s been a long time since I posted one of these little nuggets, just as it’s been a long time since I actually did an interview for a story I was writing.

While I’ve written several stories for TheBlot Magazine, where I am editrix, they were just opinion and listicle pieces, but on Thursday, I found myself in the bowels of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center with Michael Starr and Satchel of the glam-metal parody act, Steel Panther, a few hours before they opened for heavy metal gods, Judas Priest.

Me with Satchel and Michael Starr of Steel Panther (Photo by Tom Roarty)

Me with Satchel and Michael Starr of Steel Panther (Photo by Tom Roarty)

The story will post on Monday on TheBlot.com, but here’s a snippet of something Satchel said to me during the interview that sadly won’t be making it into the story.

“If you don’t know about the other kinds of foreskin,
that just means you need to hang out backstage more.”

NMM

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Writers’ Wisdom

Photo by Ulf Andersen/Getty Images via HuffingtonPost.com

Photo by Ulf Andersen/Getty Images via HuffingtonPost.com

“People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’
I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers,
and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want
to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”

R.L. Stine

NMM

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Bookworm: “Outlander”

I’m a sucker for any type of historical book, and if there’s one that includes someone somehow traveling from modern times back in time, well, you just show me where to sign.

I started hearing a lot about Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series early in the summer as the TV version of the first book hit Starz. It seemed that everyone on my social media feeds were talking about how excited they were about the show and how much they’d loved the books, so when I needed something less heavy and intellectual after my bingeing on Anais Nin and Henry Miller, I thought I’d give the first book in the series a whirl.

I loved the very first line I read, where Gabaldon writes, “People disappear all the time. Ask any policeman. Better yet, ask a journalist.” Umm, hello, brilliant line! Then this came a few sentences later: “International financiers change their names and vanish into the smoke of imported cigars.” How delicious of an image is that?!

The World War II era was always my favorite part of history to study, probably because my Pop-Pop was in the Battle of the Bulge, so I loved that “Outlander” started in 1945. And though I’ve never been to Scotland, I recently visited Ireland for the first time and fell in love with the countryside, like, so much I’d move there in a heartbeat, so as Claire soon began her travels through 1700s Scotland, I couldn’t help but picture all the untouched beauty I’d seen in Ireland, whose gorgeous landscapes seem to be similar to those of Scotland.

As I worked my way through this monstrous tome of more than 15,000 pages on my Kindle, I loved watching the story unfold, but the book wasn’t as great as I’d heard people say or as I wanted it to be. It was good, quite good even, and a gripping story as I was reading it, but as soon as I stopped for the day on my train ride to work, I started thinking about some of the things that bugged me about it.

outlanderIt was a very easy, light read (especially after spending much of my summer reading deep in thought thanks to Nin and Miller), but it bugged me that Claire seemed to acclimate to the 1700s pretty much right off the bat. I don’t know about you, but a 1945 Nikki would probably freak out a hell of lot more than Claire did about the loss of modern amenities like electricity and running water and, oh, I don’t know, everything.
I can only imagine what a 2014 Nikki would do without her iPhone, and I’m not even married to it as much as some people I know whose name I’m too much of a lady to mention. 

While I couldn’t help but love Claire’s sass mouth — I mean, how fantastic a cuss is “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ??” — I’d think that someone who found themselves transported back into such a barbaric time would bite their tongue a little more.

Then there’s Jamie. Don’t get me wrong, I love a knight-in-shining-armor story as much as the next lass, but by the second scrape Claire got herself into, I knew immediately Jamie would show up to save her, and if he was indisposed, one of his cohorts would and for each and every scrape. And I won’t even get into the whole wolf part because, I mean, come on.
Also: Despite seeing Sam Heughan, the actor who plays Jamie on the Starz show on the cover each time I opened the book, I pictured Luke Evans, the lead from “Dracula Untold” while I was reading for some reason. Weird.

I found the story a bit choppy in parts, like I’d have to go back a page or two because I was like, “Who are you talking about?” or “Wait, when did you get there?” and some parts did get a bit long, like when Claire was eavesdropping outside when Jamie was having it out with his sister Jenny after they’d arrived at his ancestral home, Lallybroch.
Maybe it’s just my always-there internal editrix, but I’d read a passage and think, “This could’ve been cut out.” 

Having said all that, Gabaldon did a truly wonderful job capturing that time period of Scotland, especially for someone who never set foot in Scotland until after the book took off.

The story of Claire and Jamie is compelling, and I’m now invested (and nosy) enough to want to know what all happens to them — and catch up with Claire’s 1945 husband, Frank — but I don’t know if I want to cheat and read Wikipedia or invest time into the next seven books of the series, each of which, I’m sure, are of equally ginormous page lengths.

Tis a good conundrum to have, I daresay, and one that won’t be solved for a little bit as next on my To Read list is William S. Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch,” which I’ve borrowed from a friend.

Have you read the “Outlander” series? Should I stick with it? Let me know!

Nikki

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Writers’ Wisdom

ala.org photo

ala.org photo

“It is better to write a bad first draft than to write no first draft at all.”
Will Shetterly

NMM

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The Pen Pal Project

OK, so I don't write my letters with a quill pen, but I totally would.

OK, so I don’t write my letters with a quill pen, but I totally would.

Earlier this summer, I got a letter in the mail.

It was in a dark, almost foreboding-looking envelope, about the size of a wedding invitation. The handwriting and Pittsburgh address were from my dear friend Tiffany, so I knew there were no such events coming up for me to be invited to.

In the elevator up to my floor, I looked at that strange envelope, turning it over and over in my hands wondering whatever could it be, this odd-looking envelope?

Once inside the kitchen, I carefully tore the envelope open. Inside, was a sheet of stationary that featured a fantastic image of a vampire-like fella, and I smiled because it was so us.

“Email and texting has left stationary virtually useless,” Tiffany wrote. “What a shame! I think we should bring it back. Including a few extras for you to share/spread the love.
Write back! xoxoxo”

There were two sheets of stationary and two stickers, including one of a bat(!) also enclosed, and I was so giddy and excited. If there’s anything that I love, it’s writing, as you well know, but I also love checking and getting the mail, especially parcels that are not bills, thankyouverymuch!

The very next day, I sent my reply to Tiffany, and we’ve exchanged several letters back and forth since then — and even brought another friend, Trish, into the fold.

I love this idea so much, especially as someone who still does a lot of writing by hand thanks to my frequent journaling. While I adore my iPhone and computer, there is just something so special about getting an actual handwritten letter or card. My family always sent cards (and often multiple ones for every holiday TBQH), and we still do. In fact, one of my special talents is finding The Perfect Card that suits the person on the receiving end.
It may take me up to an hour in a card store sometimes, but I assure you, I will find The Perfect Card, oh yes, yes I will.

When I was a kid, pen pals were kind of a thing, especially considering that I grew up in the Time Before Technology. You know, that dark era before every man, woman and child had the latest iPhone with every social-media app known to man?

I remember, being the hair-metal lover that I was, writing to a few people I found in the pen-pal section in the back pages of Metal Edge magazine who loved Poison and its lead singer Bret Michaels almost as much as I did … oh, youth, you crazy kid you. What I wouldn’t give to see some of those old letters today! I’m sure I’m a much better speller and writer these days, but I guarantee that my handwriting now is the same big, bubbly girlish handwriting I started perfecting back then.
Long live the bubble dots above my I’s!

The Pen Pal Project, as we’ve taken to calling it, has been such a wonderful addition to my life. It keeps me and one of my dearest friends, who I do not get to see often enough, in touch in a more special way than I do with some of my other friends, who I mostly converse with via text. And it’s helping me reconnect with another friend, someone I’ve known longer than anyone else who’s not family. Plus, I’m totally counting my letter writing toward my daily writing goal as part of my 365-Day Project, so hellllo, keeping my New Year’s resolution!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have two letters to write.

Long live snail mail!! Long live snail mail!! Long live snail mail!!

NMM

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Writers’ Wisdom

Photo courtesy marykarr.com

Photo courtesy marykarr.com

“Most great writers suffer and have no idea how good they are.
Most bad writers are very confident.”

Mary Karr

NMM

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