inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #26 of 70: Valdemar Francisco Zialcita (dextly) Tue 1 Apr 03 14:36
    
Ooh, a Kelly Link topic!  I'm glad to see there's another book in the
works.

My question is: Have you ever felt the urge to work in another form,
such as, say, playwriting?
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #27 of 70: Kelly Link (kellylink) Wed 2 Apr 03 09:15
    
>Have you ever felt the urge to work in another form, such as, say,
playwriting?

I'm very envious of playwrights. Like songwriters and musicians, they
create a kind of work that changes from performance to performance.
Even accidents and mistakes can become the starting places for
elaborations and improvisations.

There's also the difference between readers and audience: each reader
is alone (or usually alone) whereas an audience participates and
changes the experience. The most fun I've ever had while giving a
reading was opening for Future Bible Heroes at the Mercury Lounge in
New York. I felt as if they'd loaned me their audience: I loved reading
to a crowd of people. Plus, I got to see two sets of Future Bible
Heroes.

I haven't really thought about writing plays, because I write fiction
so slowly. When I'm done with the set of short stories I'm working on,
I want to try writing a young adult novel. Maybe that will turn out to
be faster. Maybe it will end up that the amount of time I spend on each
piece of short fiction will be the same as writing a novel. Unlikely,
but I can dream.

As for plays, when Invisible Cities (hi Wally!) reworked and performed
"The Girl Detective" for the Philadelphia Fringe, I thought that was
fantastic -- somebody had taken something that I'd written, and made it
into a completely new thing. It didn't really make me want to try
writing my own plays, it just made me want to go see more plays (not
necessarily ones based on my own work, just more plays.)
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #28 of 70: Kelly Link (kellylink) Wed 2 Apr 03 09:25
    
>And, since we're in the realms of the fantastic here, what kind of
freelance -- or other -- jobs would you like to do?

Right now I read slush. I've written jacket copy (for a Terry Brooks
novel). I've just agreed to write some essays about comics -- I'm
leaning towards writing about Gerhard, or maybe Linda Barry.

Dream freelance jobs:

--testing experimental trampolines, or maybe testing bathproducts for
Lush
--putting together a YA anthology of ghost stories
--raising smart & attractive chickens
 --putting together Natalie Maines's Presidential campaign
--being part of an advisory panel designed to help Marti Noxon make
unsucky episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #29 of 70: Angus MacDonald (angus) Wed 2 Apr 03 12:23
    

        I've never watched Buffy; is it worth renting the first season to
see if I like it?
        Where will your essays about comics appear?
                
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #30 of 70: Valdemar Francisco Zialcita (dextly) Wed 2 Apr 03 13:06
    
It was a treat to work with your story, Kelly.  And I am actually
speaking to some folks here in DC about doing further development of
the play.  The draft that you saw performed, by the way, is archived
here in the Well in the Theater conference, topic #299.  Feel free to
print out the full text (post #2) if you are curious enough to glance
over it again.  Or go here: <theater.299>.


I'm remembering how, when your book came out and you did a reading of
The Girl Detective at that bookstore in Cobble Hill, you mentioned that
you were tempted to throw the scenes of the story up in the air, pick
them up randomly, and publish them in that order.  (I hope my memory
isn't putting words in your mouth.)  Have you managed since then to
take that kind of liberty with any of your other work?
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #31 of 70: Martha Soukup (soukup) Wed 2 Apr 03 14:17
    
The first season of Buffy is good, but it really gets good in season three.
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #32 of 70: Gavin Grant (gavingrant) Wed 2 Apr 03 15:18
    
I say go for the renting but over time you'll wonder why you're
experiencing this high amount of self-inflicted trauma. That may be
helped if you just stop watchnig after something like Season 5. Except
for the musical and this other episode about an asylum.
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #33 of 70: Kelly Link (kellylink) Wed 2 Apr 03 15:22
    
>I've never watched Buffy; is it worth renting the first season to
see if I like it?       Where will your essays about comics appear?

Is this the Angus MacDonald whom I have read & met? If not, then hello
anyways -- it's always nice to meet someone named Angus.  If you've
never seen Buffy, then you should rent season 1 and wallow in it.   As
Martha says, it gets better as it goes, and then unfortunately it gets
less better, although there are always good bits.

I'm writing an introduction for a Drawn & Quarterly collection, which
will feature three graphic artists. I'm also going to try and write an
essay for a book that an editor/writer named Sean Howe is putting
together. I would love to work with a graphic artist at some point --
one of my most recent stories, "Catskin", had an illustration by
Shelley Jackson, and then a second illustration by Howard Chaykin. It's
great to get to see what your story looks like.
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #34 of 70: Kelly Link (kellylink) Wed 2 Apr 03 15:25
    
>Feel free to print out the full text (post #2) if you are curious
enough to glance over it again.  Or go here: <theater.299>.

Wow.  I completely agree with the actor who said that there are four
kinds of food and one is cake. Does anyone know the band Puffy AmiYumi
(formerly just Puffy)? They have a song that goes "Cake is love" which
is always getting stuck in my head.

Made two cakes this week. Have also been listening to the band Cake.
Cake is the fourth kind of food the way the press is the fourth estate.

More about writing in a bit.  Gavin and I are getting ready to go hear
Leo Kottke play his 12-stringed guitar and tell weird stories about
chickens.
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #35 of 70: Gavin Grant (gavingrant) Wed 2 Apr 03 18:18
    
Leo Kottke is trance inducing. It's one of those moments (hours, two)
when you realize that sound (and the way we hear things) is not often
used to its full potential.

I've seen print outs of the sound waves we make when we speak and they
don't correspond to what we (think we) hear. This was like that. One
guy and a guitar -- but there was so much sound!

Kelly, tell us some more about Kottke. When did you first hear him?
He's a fantastic storyteller, does he write? (Can we publish him??)
Have you seen him often? (Besides tonight and in Cambridge, MA, a
couple of years ago.)
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #36 of 70: Kelly Link (kellylink) Wed 2 Apr 03 18:27
    
Leo Kottke has this weird, gravel-y, foggy voice. He tells elliptical,
oddball stories about other guitarists and about his childhood and
marionette radio shows. The way he plays the guitar is kind of goofy
and dignified (stately) all at the same time.

My first boyfriend was a guitar player and a fan of Leo Kottke, and
took me to a show -- by then, I'd was already hooked. One of the early
albums is one called _My Feet Are Smiling_, and I love the photograph
on it. I think that photograph is where the oranges in  "Vanishing Act"
come from.

I wish I went and saw more live music -- Hem is playing here next
week, but we'll be in New York for a reading, and I'll miss them. It'll
be the second time I've missed them (the first was to go play a game
of Mafia).
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #37 of 70: Life in the big (doctorow) Thu 3 Apr 03 08:50
    
The song that goes, "Every day in the morning and you crawl out of bed and
you crawl out of bed and you crawl out of bed," and "Rings" can both reduce
me to hysterical laughter or tears depending on my mood.
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #38 of 70: JACK CHENG writes... (tnf) Thu 3 Apr 03 09:35
    



From Jack Cheng:



Hey Kelly,



Opinion on Buffy: now it’s ending and lots of loose ends and previous
characters are returning for the end.  The serial nature of television has
already been revamped (sorry) by Babylon 5 and Buffy and 24 into season long
arcs and that was one of Buffy’s strengths, I think. 



There are stories with good endings, and it really feels like the story was
written to get to the end, and then there are meandering stories that sort of
end (Neal cough Stephenson) although the meandering may be terrific.  And of
course, there are meanderings that somehow reach a perfect conclusion.  Buffy
seems like a long-form collaborative meandering and even though I thought
last season sucked, and though many episodes now fall short, I think the
effort to tie up the entire series into a coherent ending is worth watching.



Also, if you end up with too many tomatoes at the end of the summer, let’s
make ketchup!



Hi Gavin!
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #39 of 70: Kelly Link (kellylink) Fri 4 Apr 03 07:57
    
>The song that goes, "Every day in the morning and you crawl out of
bed and you crawl out of bed and you crawl out of bed," and "Rings" can
both reduce me to hysterical laughter or tears depending on my mood.

I get both of those songs in my head, and also "Why can't you fix my
car/what kind of fool you are?". Emmylou Harris sings backup on
"Julie's House", so that's another haunting one.

Sorry to have been away yesterday: an enormous spring cold fell on my
head (that was how it felt). We watched Survivor last night, and I was
heavily dosed with medication -- a little like watching from
underwater, while wearing scuba gear.  I was sorry, in a muffled way,
to see the Rocket Scientist go, but then again, he's a Rocket
Scientist, and will probably lead an interesting and happy life despite
being thrown out of Jacaru.
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #40 of 70: Gavin Grant (gavingrant) Fri 4 Apr 03 07:58
    
Hey Jack, 

TV writing is no doubt hard with the possibility of cancellation
looming over your head all the time. Buffy to me shows the importance
of a good lead-writer to a show and, in latter seasons, I think that
was missing.

We're on our third day of rain here, woohoo.

I have a feeling (ahem, outside email) that you forgot to post your q
to Kelly, which, if you did post it, would go something along the lines
of: 

"What kind of writing do you do: with some end in mind or just set up
a situation and see where it goes?"
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #41 of 70: Kelly Link (kellylink) Fri 4 Apr 03 08:08
    
Hey Jack,

Re: meandering & story arc & Buffy & comics (why not comics?) -- My
big fear is that the upcoming last episodes of Buffy will try too hard
to emphasize the big scary villain/epic end-of-the-world battle between
good and evil, and all the loose ends which have to do with character
and relationships will be reduced to cliches and little, easy, Marti
Noxon-style gestures toward resolution.

The strangest kind of story arc and relationship between creator,
story, and readership has got to be Dave Sim and Gerhard's Cerebus. I
still read Cerebus, but I hold it at arm's length while I read it. It's
like sideways documentary of someone going crazy. Meanwhile, I
continue to read Cerebus for the backgrounds... (or does that sound
like that old excuse about reading Playboy for the articles?)
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #42 of 70: Kelly Link (kellylink) Fri 4 Apr 03 08:17
    
>"What kind of writing do you do: with some end in mind or just set up
a situation and see where it goes?"

Usually, I have some kind of end in mind -- usually something visual. 
This isn't always the case. "Catskin" started off with an image of a
boy wearing a catskin, and pretending to be a cat -- so I had to figure
out why that was the case. "Louise's Ghost" came from listening to
someone explain how they had dated a string of cellists, and then I got
stuck, until I realized that if there could be multiple cellists,
there could also be multiple Louises.

The story that I'm working on now is heading towards an ominous ending
with lots of rabbits. I had the starting place first, with a real
estate agent wearing a tight pink suit, and then I immediately had the
ending as well -- then I went and read Chuck Pahlaniuk's new novel,
_Lullaby_, which also opens with a real estate agent in a pink suit. 
I'm still keeping my pink suit, though. She's a very different kind of
agent, and she goes away after the first scene.

I am having this problem, though, where I start meandering in the
middle of my stories, because I like the characters and I want to give
them room to do stuff. The good news (for me) is that this is probably
how you're supposed to write novels. The bad news is that at story
length, you aren't supposed to meander. Everything has to have weight.
Everything has to mean something, even if I don't know exactly what it
means -- I usually don't, but I can tell that it has the right kind of
weight.
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #43 of 70: Life in the big (doctorow) Fri 4 Apr 03 08:56
    
It's amazing just how good both his lyrics and his singing are -- clearly
Kottke's main attraction is that wild-ass guitar playing, and I've heard him
describe his voice as "goose-farts on a still lake," but it's so very well
suited to his material (sorta like if Leonard Cohen was a virtuoso guitar
player).
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #44 of 70: "First you steal a bicycle...." (rik) Fri 4 Apr 03 10:03
    
That description was something Kottke hung on himself in the 70s.   His
guitarwork is far more subtle and tasteful these days, thanks to a bout of
tendonitis that forced him into a long hiatus that he ended by taking
lessons in classical guitar.   I think he is far better player today than
when he made his rep with the guitar athletics in the 70s, and I also think
he is a fine singer with a nicely controlled low baritone.   And I think he
has taken Keillor-style story telling past Keillor.
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #45 of 70: Kelly Link (kellylink) Fri 4 Apr 03 10:05
    
I like people who sound exactly and only like themselves -- that goes
for writing and writers, as well as for singers.  So, Emmylou Harris,
and Leo Kottke, and Stephin Merritt, and Stevie Wonder, the singer from
Hem -- you (I) can go on and on.
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #46 of 70: The Phantom of the Arts Center (tinymonster) Fri 4 Apr 03 10:11
    
Plate o' shrimp.  I was informed the other day that Kottke's playing
at the Smithsonian this coming Sunday, and that was the first I'd ever
heard of him (though I remember someone covering that "crawl out of
bed" song once).
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #47 of 70: "First you steal a bicycle...." (rik) Fri 4 Apr 03 11:11
    
Re:45

Kelly, you should hear LemonJuJu, which is (cynsa) and (alyn), here on the
Well.  Two wonderful voices, great songs, fascinatingly intricate
arrangements and a twin ukelele front line.    They sound like nobody but
themselves.
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #48 of 70: Martha Soukup (soukup) Fri 4 Apr 03 11:45
    
E-mail from Jack Cheng:

Hey Kelly,

Interesting way to read Cerebus-comics as therapy (or in this case,
psychotic downward spiral).  It is fascinating to try to imagine what
Gerhard is thinking all day.  "Hmm.  need to get the boat ready for a
sail.  Time to design a new building for the aardvark to run around in.
Better not let Dave meet my sister."  What will Gerhard do after issue
#300?

I'm curious if you would be able to explain a bit more about the "weight"
of your writing.  I appreciate the richness of your sentences and
paragraphs but I guess I can't understand how you can write them without
consciously auguring the depth of meaning somewhat (how's that for bad
metaphor).  Are you just hitting various touchstones (must mention sensory
info, then emotional, then establish time/place [although obviously not in
a set pattern])?  Is this just the gut instinct that makes you a writer or
do you feel like you've learned it and could teach it?


By the way, back to the thread about the play, have you read Nick Hornby's
_Songbook_?   He has a sense of wonder at having written a book (About a
Boy) that produced a movie that commissioned a soundtrack with a song ("A
Minor Incident" by Badly Drawn Boy) that perfectly illustrated how he feels
about his son.  (There's more to it because his son is handicapped and is
not at all like the boy in the book or movie.)  Anyway, did you have a
similar feeling about your source material (or yourself) when you saw the
play?  Is this a collaborative form you would be interested in
participating in more actively (rather than just have someone choose to
adapt your work)?
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #49 of 70: Kelly Link (kellylink) Fri 4 Apr 03 13:34
    
Okay, so I'll have to go check out LemonJuJu. Thanks for the tip.

As for "weight" vs. pattern (i think i like the idea of pattern better
than plot), maybe weight is the same thing as resonance -- when you
listen to music, you're moved by all sorts of things that you may not
even be aware of. Most people don't bother to try to figure out why
certain chords played on certain instruments with certain lengths of
pauses and spaces have a certain effect -- they just feel that effect.
I would love to know if musicians are (at least some of the time) as
surprised by their audiences by how songs come together.

(I've been skimming through Nick Hornby's Songbook. I like how
generous a writer he is. I like his explanation of how he listens to
songs over and over again, until he's "solved" them -- it doesn't seem
to be the kind of solving that you can explain.)

When I'm writing, I rewrite a lot, until the story sounds/feels/smells
right.  (Am I sounding a bit synesthetic here?) Not that stories ever
feel completely right -- even after I've published a story, I still
want to go on tinkering with sentences.

As for setting, character, and other kinds of elements, one way to
start a new story, is to strip down one element, and  use the other
elements to compensate. You're starting off off-balance that way, which
is always a good way to begin a story about ghosts, or weird places.

When I'm in the middle of a story, I'm always aware that the stuff in
the middle has to go backwards and forwards -- you're not just writing
towards the ending. You're writing towards the beginning as well. Does
that make any sense? Or else, does it seem too obvious?

The easiest part of teaching writing is teaching other people how to
read their own work -- to see the directions that they're heading off
in, and how to look at their sentences.  And the easiest way to teach
people to read their own work is to have them look closely at other
people's work first, so they can see what works and doesn't and how
they might work the same material differently. I don't know if you can
teach the other kind of stuff. Every single rule about writing can be
broken.

And regarding Gerhard, maybe after Cerebus is finished, it can still
go on without Sim -- just backgrounds. Gerhard is kind of like the
David Macaulay, or David Roberts of comic books.  Wow  -- just think
what Buffy the Vampire Slayer would look like, with Gerhard
backgrounds. In fact, now I'm picturing what life would be like if
Gerhard was in charge of the backgrounds. (Or, for that matter, Bill
Sienkiewicz.)
  
inkwell.vue.179 : Kelly Link: "Stranger Things Happen"
permalink #50 of 70: Gavin Grant (gavingrant) Sat 5 Apr 03 20:30
    
Some random questions:

Name three of your favorite writing rules -- and if you can think of
them, where and why you like to break them.

What are you reading this week?

What is it about bad movies (and books) that you enjoy? (Specifically
thinking about the movie Ghost Ship, as well as others.)

Do Dave Sim and Gerhard live in the same town, or do they do
everything by mail? Are there interviews with Gerhard? Does he ever
work with anyone else?
  

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