inkwell.vue.250 : Marisa Silver, NO DIRECTION HOME
permalink #51 of 67: Marisa Silver (marisasilver) Wed 10 Aug 05 16:57
    
No. 

I was going to leave it at that, but I thought it might be harsh. And
that's the thing: I am not particularly sentimental about  my
characters. I have great feeling and affection for them, or rather, I
feel them, but I don't love them in an objective sense. I have great
sympathy for them and I understand why they do what they do, even if
what they do is wrong or misguided. And I never judge them. I try to
think of them as people who are guided or misguided by what is
elemental to them. In other words, they have specific, and I hope
subtle personalities and they are compelled to act certain ways due to
these personalities and the circumstances they come upon. If I have
done my job right, they can't NOT act certain ways. There should be a
certain surprising inevitability to what they do -- an oxymoron, but I
think a valid one as far as character in fiction is concerned. 

And I never indulge them. If I did, I think they would end up acting
in unsurprising and ultimately untruthful ways. It's strange that
paradox - the less surprising a character  is, in other words, the more
you can predict what they are going to do or say, the more untruthful
they are. 
  
inkwell.vue.250 : Marisa Silver, NO DIRECTION HOME
permalink #52 of 67: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 10 Aug 05 17:36
    

Do you ever have self-doubts about your career change, Marisa? Do you have
moments where you long to go back to directing?
  
inkwell.vue.250 : Marisa Silver, NO DIRECTION HOME
permalink #53 of 67: Howard A. Rodman (rodman) Wed 10 Aug 05 21:05
    
I'd ask a related question: do you ever feel like taking what you've learned
about language, about structure, more importantly about human character, and
about yourself, and applying those joys and concerns to filmwork?
  
inkwell.vue.250 : Marisa Silver, NO DIRECTION HOME
permalink #54 of 67: Marisa Silver (marisasilver) Wed 10 Aug 05 21:41
    
Another couple of questions I can answer with a simple "no"!

I really don't. I love the privacy of writing more than I loved the
millions of voices of film. I love wrestling with problems on my own. I
like being in CONTROL! (Or at least, I like the illusion of being in
control.) And, as much as I appreciate and admire great acting, great
cinematography, art direction, etc. I like being able to manipulate all
the fictional correlatives myself. I like words above all else, and I
like to see how much I can do with words - how detailed a picture I can
paint, how subtly nuanced a character I can make. I like to see if I
can draw music out of words rather than have a score laid on top of
something I've done. 

And I guess, as much as I enjoy a great film, I enjoy a great book
more. There is nothing like being swept away in a reading experience,
nothing like the wonderful collaboration between a writer and a reader,
the two imaginations pairing up on this journey through a story. There
is nothing so wonderful to me as finishing the last pages of a book
with that tingling, mysterious experience of having been transported
both outside yourself into the world of a book and inside some deep
part of your soul.

Above all, I like silence. The silence of writing. The silence of
reading. Where the only noise is the noise inside my head.
  
inkwell.vue.250 : Marisa Silver, NO DIRECTION HOME
permalink #55 of 67: Angus MacDonald (angus) Thu 11 Aug 05 02:22
    

        Aside from not having to collaborate, do you at all miss dealing
with other people in a workplace, or do you get enough human interaction 
from the "non-work" areas of your life? 
  
inkwell.vue.250 : Marisa Silver, NO DIRECTION HOME
permalink #56 of 67: Marisa Silver (marisasilver) Thu 11 Aug 05 10:30
    
Well, there are definitely times when, after a bunch of hours alone, I
need a little injection of humanity, when I want to get out in the
world among others. But I don't need this experience during the work,
don't crave the collaborative thing at all.

 I do need to shake up my routine every so often and get out of my
room and out of my head. But one of the things I appreciate about what
I do is that I don't hurtle through days doing a bunch of things and
then wondering where the day went. When I'm working, I feel the
movement of time very acutely -- it moves slowly! And I like that
feeling of time, like having a sense of its weight and intractability.

I'm not an activity junkie. I might be the opposite. I get as much
human interaction as I need, which might be more or less than what
others need.
  
inkwell.vue.250 : Marisa Silver, NO DIRECTION HOME
permalink #57 of 67: surly guy in a tux (kurtr) Thu 11 Aug 05 19:39
    
You spoke of "research" for your writing.  I'm curious what sort of 
research you did for "No Direction Home."  I have the impression the 
characters are patterned on people you knew growing up and trying to flesh 
them out.  I have no idea if this is an accurate impression.  My 
impression was that the female characters Caroline and Erlinda are about 
your age, and in both cases they have youngish children, as do you.  I see 
from your commets that your age is probably pretty close to Erlinda's and 
probably Caroline's.

I'm also curious how you went about shaping the twins' voices.  So far 
I don't find the boys' inner voices very convincing.  Their thoughts sound 
to me more like those of an adult writer than like those of a ten year 
old.

I am finding the book interesting reading so far though.
  
inkwell.vue.250 : Marisa Silver, NO DIRECTION HOME
permalink #58 of 67: Marisa Silver (marisasilver) Thu 11 Aug 05 21:51
    
The characters are not actually patterned on anybody I know
personally. They are all very much invented characters who I invest
with characteristics and personalities that I feel are true and
accurate. Sometimes I draw certain aspects of characters from real life
observations or interactions, but not all the time, and not usually. 

I am a mother, yes, but Erlinda and Caroline do not represent what I
feel like as a mother, they represent what THEY feel like as mothers.

The research I did for NDH had mostly to do with researching the world
I was writing about in Mexico, and researching the border crossing
issues and particulars. 

The twins voices is a good and interesting issue to discuss. Writing
children is a tricky thing. You can choose to write very much from
their perspective in first person, in which case, unless you are
writing about a terribly precocious child (which, you notice, a lot of
writers do choose to do,) you are sort of stuck with the way they might
be able to articulate their thoughts, which might not be all that
articulate. Or you can write from a very adult POV, sort of a backward
looking glance at the child so that you can imbue him or her with a lot
of perspective and awareness that he or she would not necessarily have
had at the time of their youth. I did something different from both of
these choices. I chose to give the twins very age appropriate dialogue
and actions, but I invested their interior life, which is told from a
third person perspective, with a kind of richness that I believe
children do have in their thoughts. They may not be able to articulate
these thoughts as succinctly as an adult would, but I believe what goes
on inside a kid is every bit as textured and thoughtful as what goes
on inside an adult mind. So I made a little leap, perhaps, and, using
the third person, allowed the narrative to open up this richness.
  
inkwell.vue.250 : Marisa Silver, NO DIRECTION HOME
permalink #59 of 67: surly guy in a tux (kurtr) Fri 12 Aug 05 00:32
    
How do you balance time spent promoting your book and taking care of the 
other business aspects of writing with having the right situation for 
being creative?  It seems like the two parts (promotion and creativity) 
have conflicting demands. 
  
inkwell.vue.250 : Marisa Silver, NO DIRECTION HOME
permalink #60 of 67: Marisa Silver (marisasilver) Fri 12 Aug 05 08:39
    
That is another great question. It is very hard to clear your head for
writing when you're thinking about reviews, publicity, touring around.
And even if there is nothing specific to attend to, there is something
about having the book out there in the world that is mentally
distracting for a while that makes it hard to be in that very private
space that is required for writing.

What I do is that when the book is being launched, I don't put a lot
of pressure on myself to do a lot of writing, knowing that I am not
mentally prepared to go into that quiet place. But after a while, it
turns out that I get frustrated enough with not doing anything creative
that I am ready to put the thoughts of the public life of the book out
of my head and get back to work. It becomes a kind of balm to check
out of the business part of the writing life and go hide for a while.

Of course, my "public" life as a writer is minimal compared to best
selling authors, or authors of enormous reputation who are being asked
to lecture or travel even between publications. So, the requirements of
me are not that extensive or pressing. I do my book tour, do whatever
publicity and press is required when my book comes out, deal with
sporadic requests as they come up. But it's not so overwhelming that it
isn't easy for me to pretty much close the book, as it were, on one
project after all that business is done, and move on.

It would be interesting to know how such a writer deals with these
issues. 
  
inkwell.vue.250 : Marisa Silver, NO DIRECTION HOME
permalink #61 of 67: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 12 Aug 05 11:10
    
Thanks for all this thoughtful insight into the process of writing fiction.
  
inkwell.vue.250 : Marisa Silver, NO DIRECTION HOME
permalink #62 of 67: Marisa Silver (marisasilver) Fri 12 Aug 05 11:20
    
You're welcome. Glad you enjoyed the back and forth.
  
inkwell.vue.250 : Marisa Silver, NO DIRECTION HOME
permalink #63 of 67: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 12 Aug 05 12:46
    

What a delicious conversation this has been, Marisa. I thank you and Howard
for joining us for the past two weeks, it's just flown by!

Our virtual spotlight has turned to a new discussion, but that doesn't mean
this one has to end. The topic will remain open indefinitely, so if you're
able to continue, you're more than welcome to do so. Thank you!
  
inkwell.vue.250 : Marisa Silver, NO DIRECTION HOME
permalink #64 of 67: Howard A. Rodman (rodman) Sat 13 Aug 05 12:23
    
I have to thank Marisa for being articulate, honest, brave.  I learned a lot
about her process, and a lot about writing.  If this were a dinner party,
I'd invite her back next week.

Perhaps anyone who has more specific questions/comments about NO DIRECTION
HOME can post them here, and perhaps Marisa will check in every once in a
while to answer them with her customary elan.

To the INKWELL hosts, and to all who posted: largest thanks.
  
inkwell.vue.250 : Marisa Silver, NO DIRECTION HOME
permalink #65 of 67: Marisa Silver (marisasilver) Sat 13 Aug 05 18:01
    
And thank all those at The Well for inviting me to participate, and
thanks ot all those who posted for their good and incisive questions. 
  
inkwell.vue.250 : Marisa Silver, NO DIRECTION HOME
permalink #66 of 67: It's a new sun to me (nukem777) Sun 14 Aug 05 07:13
    
It was a great pleasure to have you here. You are very refreshing in
your remarks and personal honesty as a writer. All the best in your new
endeavors.
  
inkwell.vue.250 : Marisa Silver, NO DIRECTION HOME
permalink #67 of 67: surly guy in a tux (kurtr) Mon 15 Aug 05 01:17
    
So which characters resonate especially strongly with people here?  Which 
seem especially well fleshed out?
  



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