L is for… Le Guin on Writing (The Wave in the Mind) (Book)
This book has been knocking around on my shelf unread for a while too. The Wave in the Mind by Ursula K. Le Guin has the subtitle: Talks and Essays on The Writer, The Reader and The Imagination.
Once again I am led back to thinking that writers don’t half write about writing. This is one of the things that interests me most. It seems like there is a need to explore why we write.
I had a quick flick through last night and Ursula writes about a variety of topics, reading, writing, feet!!
I’ve decided just to pick a few select quotes and note what I thought when I read them.
‘…I tried to figure out what was troubling me. I did it in writing because I think best in writing.’ (p.152)
I feel this way too and wondered how true this is of writers in general. In fact this was one of my arguments for looking at doing online data collection rather than face to face interviews.
She talks, as others do about multiple meanings in texts and that there is no one way to read something explaining that is depends on who is reading/writing, ‘what their relationship is, what society they live in, their level of education, their relative status, and so on.’ Books aren’t there to simply disseminate information or facts. ‘They are full of meaning and of meanings.’ (p.187).
I wonder if this is true of the writer’s relationship to their writing too?
In an essay called A Matter of Trust she says ‘In order to write a story, you have to trust yourself, you have to trust the story, and you have to trust the reader.’ (p. 223)
• You have to have trust and confidence in yourself as a writer – to do this you need to write.
• You have to be prepared to lose control when in the composition phase (control comes in planning and revision)
• In terms of trusting a reader she talks about dancing with them, not attacking them. Trusting them not to give up if your first line isn’t perfect.
I wondered whether getting to this state of trust links to engaging in writing being better able to support our health and wellbeing. I don’t think I have point one yet. I can definitely lose control in the composition phase but struggle to regain in when editing. I hope I trust the reader.
In The Writer and the Character she talks about characters starting to ‘have a life of their own, sometimes to the extent of escaping from the writer’s control and doing and saying things quite unexpected to the author of their being.’ (p.235)
Oh yes this happens – they do things like get themselves killed when you aren’t expecting it too.
Ursula says the question she gets asked most is where do your ideas come from. A comment I’ve heard lots about books are, I don’t know how they thought of that, how odd. It made me wonder about openness. Are writers just more in tune with their thoughts and feelings, even the dark ones that some people repress?
In Old Body Not Writing Ursula lets out a secret, writing is hard work, it is challenging. She describes being in ‘a kind of trance state that isn’t pleasant or anything else.’ (p.283). To me this is interesting because of discussions about occupational flow and its link to health and wellbeing. This ‘trance state’ doesn’t really sound like flow so there must be something else to explore here. This is one chapter I want to read in detail.
The final chapter is an extended poem The writer on, and at her work – I’m just going to pick a very tiny portion of it to conclude.
‘So if I am
a writer, my work
is words. Unwritten letters.
Words are my way of being
human, woman, me.
That certainly set waves going in my mind, especially the pause on the word being – what about yours?
J is for… Journeyman and Joan of Arcadia
Hi everyone – sorry for the delay of the J posts – I had a bit of a grump on but now I’ve had some time with my lovely sis and some chocolate I’m ready – going to try and do the K posts too.
Just the one season of 13 episodes of (in 2007). Kevin McKidd plays Dan Vasser a reporter who travels back in time to ‘right some aspect of wrong’. He jumps back (with only a few minutes warning) and forth to his present life and it shows the affect his extra curricular activity has on his relationships. He isn’t the only time traveller in the mix either. Like many of the shows I seem to like this one was cancelled too soon.
I think the main reason I liked this (other than Kevin McKidd) is that I am interested by Time Travel – so much so that the novels I am working on have time travel featured in them. It also reminded me of Quantum Leap (see my Q post) and Tru Calling (which I’m going to add to my T post).
As you can see I only have my homemade copy but I just found out it is being released on DVD on 29th April – here’s a sponsored link to Amazon. It says there’s a 20 minute feature with the writers etc about what might have happened had it not been cancelled.
The strength of JoA was in its characters – Joan and all of her family and her friends at school seem so real that you just accept that God keeps cropping up (‘dressed’ as a different person each time). Her father is a police chief and her older brother has been paralysed in an accident; life is challenging but God keeps asking her to help other people.
Interesting actually that both of today’s series link to my novel in some way. Ages ago I decided that my protagonist Jane would look like Amber – you can see who else I am picturing on my Pinterest board here. My J post last year was about Jane too.
The episodes that stick out to me when reviewing the summaries on imdb are:
The Boat – Joan of Ark??
St Joan – Joan of Arc
Silence – Joan is ill with Lyme disease – is God just a hallucination?
Queen of the Zombies – Joan tries out for the school play
Joan’s Queen of the Zombies song – yes that’s God boogying along in the wings.
The series also has Joan Osborne’s ‘One of Us’ as the title track. There is something about a title track that settles you in. I like Charmed’s too (but was aware of the song from The Craft soundtrack before I started watching – obviously a ‘witchy’ song).
What do you think of the two shows above?
What time would you travel back to and why?
What form would you like God to take if he/she/they ever popped by to talk to you?
Which TV series title track is your favourite?
I’ve just joined bloglovin to make it easier to follow the blogs I like – it has a tablet app and you should see a widget in the sidebar which will add my blog to your bloglovin feed. Here’s my profile.
H is for… Heroine
I was introduced to the book ‘The Woman in the Story: writing memorable female characters’ by Helen Jacey (Amazon Associates link) recently and was discussing it with a friend when they made a suggestion that has stuck in my mind.
Those writers amongst you will be familiar with the idea of the Hero’s Journey as plotting guidance for writing (here’s a cool interactive website that gives you basic information about it). Helen Jacey starts in the introduction to her book (p.xv) by saying ‘But none of the screenwriting guides have paid much attention to the difference between men’s and women’s lives and to what happens if the hero is a heroine.’
Now, once again I haven’t had chance to read this book but it may be useful to my PhD because of what my friend suggested. I mentioned back in the ‘A’ post that I was planning to use autoethnography as a research methodology and as I’m a woman surely I will be the “Heroine” in my own story so the guidance provided here might help me share that story in an interesting and engaging way.
Thanks Clarissa for the suggestion.
So do you think stories with female protagonists follow a different structure?