Tag Archives: The Great Gatsby

Regular Poem: Significant Quotations

20 Jun

Where were we
when we were here
before?

It’s one of those
repeated phrases
meaningful and meaningless
a motif
(bigger than a symbol
smaller than a theme
I used to explain
when I used to do
that sort of thing).

“But can’t
an author just write something
and it’s that something
and not something else?”
someone would inevitably say.
“Yes, but that’s not
why they pay me the big bucks,”
current me would’ve glibly retorted
if she’d been there.
I can’t recall
what I probably said then–
some diatribe
about the merit of literature
some obtuse
thing
to inspire thought
but mostly confound
and that’s why I got fired.
(That’s another motif.)

Regardless
here I am again,
here under a full moon,
a rare astronomical phenomenon,
like so many before–
blood moons and eclipses and super moons–
each coming and passing
and all promising and not satisfying,
romantic yet nothing–
“Do you always
watch for the longest day in the year
and then miss it?”

If my voice
must be full of money
why can’t I be, too?

Regular Poem: The Oxford Comma Did Not Actually Go to Oxford

17 Apr

Disclaimer:  This poem does not reflect my actual feelings toward the Oxford comma.

The Oxford comma did not actually go to Oxford.
(I’ve been doing some checking.)

Oh yes, he’s
a beautiful specimen.
He’s tall, handsome and always looks so
cool.
But he’s pretty common, you know.

Oh sure, he’s
always throwing lavish parties,
hosting big shebangs and
giving fantastic galas.
But if the party’s too big, a semicolon
(a semicolon for heaven’s sake!)
has to
take over his duties.

And another thing!
He’s a bootlegger, you know.
Don’t get too caught up in the logistics.
I just know he makes, sells and distributes
illegal substances of some kind
(perhaps whos that should be whoms is his vile specialty).

Regardless,
he did not go to Oxford, he is a bootlegger and I have no idea
why he insists on calling everyone Old Chap.

Best and Worst of the Third Week: In Which I Fall Really Behind on Word Count, But at Least the Thing Has a Title Now

22 Nov

The other night, I stopped writing in the middle of a sentence.

To my credit, it was a really long sentence, and I was partway through a second beer, and I’m a real lightweight when it comes to alcohol.  I did not have the stamina to be Ernest Hemingway.  And good thing, too, because the character I was writing is the one who uses super long everything, and we all know how Ernest Hemingway feels about that sort of thing.

Anyway, there were a few surprising and delightful developments this week: more of a plot is happening–although currently, because I’m so behind and because I’m so lame, the plot stuff that’s happening is kind of lame; I finally wrote a Henley chapter that I don’t hate/think is garbage; the thing has a name now.

Slowly Tip the Scales of Space Justice.

I wanted it to be super cheesy and pulpy.  If I were any good at art stuff, I would make a bookcover for it that would be super cheesy and pulpy with buxom ladies and rayguns and lots of garish colors.  But I’m not, so I won’t.  Sigh.

And now for the best and worst.

Worst:

Henley (the former chief engineer) is our narrator in this section, and he’s sitting in the parking lot outside where they’re housing the now-home Persuasion.  He reminisces.  Remember, Jeffs = dead XO

Then I thought maybe I was waiting around so I could get a glimpse of Jeffs’s body.  Sometimes I got the feeling he wasn’t really dead.  I had never seen his dead body.  And while we were planetside, sometimes Farren, and the rest of us, too, would talk about him.

About a week into our stay on Mars, Farren had been preparing another trading run to the Martian village.  He had looked at me very seriously and said,

“Jeffs should really sign off on this first.”  I had looked at him and had wondered if he’d accidentally said the wrong name.  But then again, I had thought, what name could he have meant?  He had been acting captain, after all.

“Sir?” I had said, a little alarmed.  He had continued to look at me very seriously for a few seconds, and then he had laughed and had said,

“I’m shitting you, Number 1.  Let’s make this happen.”  And then we had gone out to the Martian village.  But the whole time, he had talked to the Martians about how he should consult with Jeffs about this or that thing and how Jeffs would like this or that item.  I hadn’t known what game he had been playing, and it had made me very uncomfortable, as if I had not been in on some joke that he had thought was very, very funny.  This Jeffs talk hadn’t ended after that particular trade run, either.  He had continued for about two weeks and then had abruptly stopped just as abruptly as he had begun.  I couldn’t figure it out then, and I couldn’t figure it out now.

I had a hard time picking the worst writing this week because a lot of it is pretty lame.  I finally chose this because I’m doing a really bad job of conveying any sense of mystery or urgency or anything intriguing at all about what had happened on Mars to elicit a mission review board.  This is a pretty lame attempt to cast Farren as kind of crazy and Henley as complicit in craziness.

Best:

In this section, Lieutenant Aldridge laments getting a bunch of phone calls early in the morning.  (Bryson Vega = her sometime boyfriend, who works for Charbonneau, the big-shot admiral; the previous early morning calls were from Admiral Stoljarov telling her she was on administrative leave pending investigation and Captain Martel requesting a secret meeting at a shopping mall)

I was beginning to think there was some conspiracy against me.  Not the administrative leave pending investigation thing.  That was to be expected when a gal was on Mars three weeks longer than she was supposed to have been and had killed more Martians than she was supposed to have killed and had made fewer xylenium mine deals than she was supposed to have made and had been a higher position than she was supposed to have been under a woman hardly anybody in the Space Service trusted.

This conspiracy was far more dastardly.  They were conspiring against me to always call me at the exact moment in the morning when I would look my absolute worst.

This time, I had fallen asleep on the couch clutching a half-empty bottle of Martian wine and that novel I had started.  I still hadn’t finished it and had no real desire to do so.  It was, last night, my cover story if anybody asked why I looked like something the cat dragged in.  In reality, the wine had had much more to do with my current state of unsavoriness.

And how unsavory it was.

But, it was seven AM, and, of course, someone wanted to rouse me from my disheveled slumber to talk at me on my data stream.  I didn’t even bother with any beautifying.  I just got up and tried to moisten my mouth so that I might be able to croak something out.  I didn’t turn on the communication screen.

“Hello,” I said, and to my chagrin, I sounded even lower and gruffer than I had thought I would.  It wasn’t even like Martel this time.  It was more Kinjo-ish.  I had to cut it out with the wine!

“Lorraine!” a male voice said.  My sleepy, maybe slightly hungover brain tried to figure out what man it was.  Who called me by my first name?  My dad?

“Dad?”

“No!  It’s Bryson!”  Oh, him.  Of course.  Only Space Service was in on this conspiracy.  Not every person I knew.

“Yes?” I said.  I had still only said three words, so the voice was still rocky.  It was more Martel-ish now, which was a slight improvement; at least it was the appropriate gender.

“Can you– Well, maybe it’s better if you don’t turn on your communication screen.”

“Ok,” I said.  I had no intention of doing so, anyway.

“I’ve got to talk to you.”

“You are talking to me,” I said.  That was definitely Martel.  The voice and the words themselves.  I shuddered and cleared my throat.

“It’s important.  I’ve got to give you something.”  This was sounding bad, as if he might ask me to meet him in a shopping mall soon.

“Ok.  Where do you want to meet?”

“Um… Not at Headquarters.”

“Obviously,” I said.  I was waiting for him to outline all the other places we shouldn’t meet, like his place and my place and Martel’s houseboat and in Rear Admiral Stoljarov’s office and on Admiral Charbonneau’s lap.

“The coffee shop across from Atlanta Tent and Awning Office Suites in half an hour.”

“How about an hour?”  There was a pause.

“Ok,” he said finally.

“See you then.  I’ll be the man smoking two cigarettes.”  He didn’t even laugh, and we hung up.

Lieutenant Aldridge is a gal who likes to do things right; she’s not used to being on the wrong end of anything, and she’s pretending to be okay with the circumstances she finds herself in, but, especially in this section, we can tell she’s using sarcasm to hide some pain.  I think this section is pretty fun and subtle.  Also, Gatsby reference.

***

Current Wordcount: 30,550

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PS Happy Thanksgiving!

The Insider Who Is an Outsider

3 Oct

I was thinking the other day about characters in fiction because I was thinking about how when I write fiction I tend to write the same types of characters over and over, and I was thinking about why I might do this–why I’m  not very adventurous and what attracts me to them in the first place.

And I decided that the character who often appears is the insider who is an outsider.

That is to say, a character who knows about the fictional world it inhabits and is privy to vital information in this world but who is emotionally (or physically, sometimes) distanced from it.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized this happens all the time in fiction–not just my own.

For example, Nick from The Great Gatsby is a part of East Egg culture by birth and manners and means and education, but he emotionally connects with Gatsby and is physically distanced from the East Eggers, as well.  He is an insider to the culture he’s narrating about, but he is also, because of his sympathy for Gatsby and his current location, an outsider.

“I volunteer to be your narrator!”

For another example, Katniss from The Hunger Games knows about this Hunger Game world and participates in it, but she is an outsider for a couple reasons.  One, she’s from the least glamorous district, which distances her from the dominant culture of The Capitol and the other districts that hold The Capitol as their zenith of class.  And two, she is isolated even from the others in her district because she hunts illegally, she’s reclusive and introverted, and she volunteers for the games–something no one in her district has ever done.

But what makes the insider/outsider so attractive?  This character instantly gains the audience’s trust because we’re taken into his or her confidence.  We, the readers, are outsiders to the constructed world and need a guide.  We want an effective, reliable narrator to show us the ropes.  We get just this from Nick and Katniss–someone who can tell us the ins and outs, whom we can trust because they, too, are disenfranchised in some way.  They know the goods and the bads, and they have their own biases, but we trust them.

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