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?
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.)
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
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?
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?
Martha Soukup (soukup) Wed 2 Apr 03 14:17
The first season of Buffy is good, but it really gets good in season three.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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).
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.
JACK CHENG writes... (tnf) Thu 3 Apr 03 09:35
From Jack Cheng: Hey Kelly, Opinion on Buffy: now its 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 Buffys 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, lets make ketchup! Hi Gavin!
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.
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?"
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?)
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.
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).
"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.
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.
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).
"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.
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)?
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.)
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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