Archive for May, 2015|Monthly archive page

Fit – Basic questions

In Drafts, Hautvoir, Local projects, Revision on May 31, 2015 at 6:51 am

apartment visit on Tuesday: I’d best bring along a tape measure and squared paper. If the place suits all basic needs, more culling awaits.

In story: the basic questions. Why this scene? Why here, why now? Why from this character’s perspective. Necessary? A distraction?

Paper, paper everywhere. What to keep. What to chuck out.


Two seemingly unrelated elements the brain insists on calling up together, this morning. The first, from several months ago, relates to breathing as an involuntary activity where, in fact, the breathing breathes the breather and not the other way round. The second, from this morning’s Astronomy Today post relating to space as an active element in the cosmic show. All of this, a tenuous brain teaser, possibly nothing but a distraction.


Plus a variety of ludicrous pronouncements from a number of news sources. Scandals galore, a headline announcing pornography as an essential component of a couple’s animality, displaced persons as encumbrances, politics, politics, politics.

Fitting the mysteries to the format.  Knowledge vs information overload. Is the tenuous something a distraction or the exact opposite?


Plus, essential goofiness, of course.

this day in summary :

In Drafts, Hautvoir, Local projects, Revision on May 30, 2015 at 1:56 pm

some revision

some packing

some reading

apartment hunting

back to revision with breaks for more packing

delivery of the latest bad news for my Albanian friends: I decide to wait until Monday, since none of us can make anything better over the weekend.

more revision

more packing

more reading

apartment worth visiting : appointment for Tuesday afternoon. Ground floor, smaller, with private garden, next to the circus school.

back to revision



In Artists, Drafts, Hautvoir, Local projects, Revision on May 29, 2015 at 5:34 am

I look forward to finding out what happens in the last few scenes in the story, even if, to all appearances, the goal appears as illusory as the horizon.

Some details from real life illustrate how difficult a task writing gets. If anything, life provides way too much material on any given day. Wasteful, same as trees when providing seed for the next cycle. Yet stingy on crucial, vital information. For instance: is the aggressor on the run or in custody? I hear both versions around town. As for the wound inflicted, I know the number of stitches required at surgery end (88) and enough about the status of the wounded boy’s internal organs to do a credible write-up from a surgeon’s perspective. Real life gets carried away where the mother is concerned. Did she have to break her heel when she fainted at the news? Considering her cancer treatment and her chronic emphysema, a simple wail and swoon covers the issue of plausibility, no?


The man who promised boxes, delivered. Enough things to do in real life (finding my next living space, for example). Crowded in by empty boxes to fill, I feel like Gulley Jimson in The Horse’s Mouth, painting his mural like a madman while the wrecking crew demolishes the wall.

Simplify? Good luck.

perky and cheerful need not apply

In Uncategorized on May 28, 2015 at 5:51 am

at this point, I’m so disgusted with the whole process I have to ask myself what ever possessed me to start writing in the first place. I feel like taking every single attempt at fiction I’ve done and throwing into the garbage.

I won’t, of course. The disgust extends way beyond the total mess of what the hell do I think I’m doing with this draft. One of those existential low points that show up way too often these days. Burn-out or something. Energy petering out because every damn little thing uses up so much of it for nothing.

Case in point: a meeting with a school Principal in two hours from now, concerning a father who could put his destructive impulses to work in real time. The son in need of protection but if you think the father’s going to let that happen, you’d better think some more before training as negotiator in hostage-type crises.

Never mind being tired about people settling arguments with machetes (then having to deal with their younger brothers or sisters). I’m also tired of kids burning cars as a past-time. Tired of their younger brothers stealing the money while their classmates and teachers stage a Race against Hunger – not that the classmates will win the race, but filching the money and blowing it on Doritos won’t do much for humanity either. I’m tired of putting a happy face on a bunch of crap and getting yeah-well type responses. What the hell, you know, that’s life, it’s all going to the dogs anyway the rich get richer, the ozone gets thinner etc and you can count on the media to keep you posted on the seventy million reasons why you should take your pills, and stay out of trouble.

Voilà. I won’t even call this A post to keep afloat. I’m tired. Period.


It’s about predators

In Animals, Food, Games, Hautvoir, Revision, Sanford Meisner on May 27, 2015 at 6:29 am

Let’s start from a known and given fact : my characters are losers. No surprise: the writer happens to be a loser and who wants to read anything written by one of those. The game is about winning, they say. Winners need losers, obviously, or they couldn’t win. Eh.

The game is set up that way. Either you fight, you freeze or you flee. If you fight and you’re the weaker party, fifty to one, you’ll lose. You freeze? Don’t worry, they’ll walk all over you and complain about the bumpy ride. You flee? Well, good luck once you get wherever you’ve run to. Chances are excellent you’ll find a replay of what you ran from in the first place.

It’s about predators. It’s about power. It’s about who gets eaten and how. It’s about idiots who go on pretending it could be about other topics. Without such idiots, life would get damn boring for the predators.

So, onward most unchristian of pacifists, given you’re going to lose anyway, may as well lose as best suits you.

(The Sanford Meisner category is for that great truth about living truthfully in imaginary circumstances. The corollary is scary: if you do so in imaginary circumstances, what’s to keep you from doing it in real time, too? But that’s a brief take on the history of mankind, right there. A game. Only joking. Broke your jaw? Aw, sorry. Relax, relax, right? Right).

Staying, Leaving: the tipping places

In Film, Hautvoir, Local projects, Revision, Sanford Meisner on May 26, 2015 at 6:50 am

pervasive: you want to watch a trailer. First, submit to an ad for a product, any product. You want to read an article: first, answer our survey about internet providers, or forget about reading on. You’ve now read all your free articles for the month. You must sign on for further access. etc.


This message addressed to one of the characters: something happens during that momentous day. Something you haven’t reported – or perhaps, it escaped your notice given all the dramatic events. The something is important to the writer. Without it, your decision to carry on with a job you never wanted lacks an element of solid grounding. Thank you for taking some time on this, despite all the pressures you’re experiencing.


Things that don’t go away: I know my version of our exchanges. It doesn’t jive with what the woman said to me the other night. Knowing my version won’t make a lick of difference. So let’s assume for a moment that she is right. Let’s assume she did read off exactly what she had submitted in writing at a previous meeting. Let’s assume hearing the texts read out loud made them ring less “true” – as in emotionally right. Does it follow from this that value judgments have nothing to do with the writing per se, which is what she claims to be the sum total of what she learnt from those meetings?

The discomfort doesn’t go away, so it’s worth whatever attention it insists on getting.


Howard Zinn, une histoire populaire américaine, seen at this juncture in the revision process and at this time in the political one. Brings me back to the question addressed above to one of the characters. What makes someone decide: this is where I stand, for better, for worse and for every other pleasant and unpleasant consequence in between.


Plus, of course, the same questions, in real time.

Feast day calendar vs the arrow of time

In Current reading, Food, Hautvoir, Revision, Wine on May 25, 2015 at 6:37 am

Pity. Without a paid subscription to the Times Literary Supplement, I can’t access the March 8 2013 edition in which appeared the English version of this article in L’OBS BiblioOBS. The part that most holds my attention isn’t whether our dreams are political or not but the way our dreams treat past, present and future in a non-linear way we find difficult to respect when we attempt to share them. When awake, we are grammatically bound: the past is before, the present is now, the future is later. Anyone who says otherwise may as well walk around with a cuckoo-clock on his or her head. Said cuckoo-clock being perfectly acceptable headgear in dreamtime.


What caused the spectacular allergic reaction that felled me for a few hours last night? My only clue: cherries that didn’t taste like cherries. Why did they not taste of cherries? Because they tasted of pesticide. Therefore: whether the merchant scowls or not, taste before your buy. A mild attack of sneezing from one cherry eaten in public is better than borderline anaphylaxis while alone in your apartment.


But lunchtime was an unexpected treat. I dropped by a friend’s house to deliver a birthday plant bought at the market. Ended up feasting on the terrace and discussing black holes, the drift of galaxies in the Virgo Cluster toward something called The Great Attractor, those pesky quarks and their strange living habits, and time, of course.

Not the usual lunchtime conversations around here. There was a visitor from another town who started the ball rolling in that direction so I hopped on for the ride.


Further work on story made possible by another day off here in France where the month of May is thick with official holidays, some more obscure than others. Today, for instance, we celebrate the Pentecost. According to wikipedia, portal of all knowledge, this is a christianized version of Shavuot, reinterpreted as the day the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles, and other followers of Jesus Christ.

Line by line, word by word

In Film, Hautvoir, Music, Revision, Sundays on May 24, 2015 at 8:31 am

A time of maybes. In the lobby before the film La Tête Haute began, I ran into a woman who may be leaving town and moving out of the large studio with large deck she occupies. Something of life and fiction at crossroads when she tells me this: her studio is in a renovated tannery building that has served as a setting for two stories already.

Of the film itself, the part that resonated most for me yesterday was the educator’s loss of control. After months and months of trying to get through to a badly fucked-over kid, he loses it and rams the boy into a wall. No, not professional, yes, wrong but there you have it: working with badly fucked-over kids makes for emotional overload and/or total loss of empathy.

I find the notion of staying in this town a major challenge right now. But it may well have to be.

Reading the two stories more or less in parallel. The second takes place some six years after the first. The main protagonist in the first gets more or less shoved to one side in the second.

Maybes. Giving shape and meaning. Shape. Meaning. A woman I tried to help with her writing tore into me last night. Once, I’d praised her work, she said; at our next meeting, I criticized the very things I had praised before. Not so, I tried to reply, but gave up. The shape and meaning are fixed in her mind. Whatever I said that day fell into a neat slot. Nothing I do or say will change her opinion.

A small town. I may be here for another stretch. I’d best work my mind around whatever options may offer new perspectives.



Success! Success! the boys rapped last night

In Drafts, Hautvoir, humeurs, Local projects, Music, Revision on May 23, 2015 at 7:01 am

not quite done, but almost. I may need to add a few extra layers of singing through the heartbreaks but there’s not much else I can do with the story.

At a benefit concert, last night. The children of friends and acquaintances on stage. The boys doing rap – single-focus theme on Success, Making it to the Top. The girls singing about the sun still shining through the radioactive haze. hurray hurray. (However, none of them looked anything other than convinced they had every right to be where they were with a crowd cheering them on).

Mixed emotions? Sadness, prevalent among them, this morning.  Because of the fight downtown, for one. Knowing both the aggressor and the one now in hospital is part of it. Knowing it will take something close to a miracle for me to leave this town, for another – still no news from the other town; I’ll have to start a serious search for another apartment soon. Therefore, starting this day’s climb from a place close to despondency. Familiar, familiar. The joke being how, at yesterday’s meeting, people I’d never met before in my life and who work in the judicial part of Child Protection, came over to say hi and how my attitude buoyed their spirit. Oy. Must remember that. A pity buoyant spirits require so much work – and aren’t there as a one-size-fits-all to slip into, first thing at every daybreak.

So. The story in phase-down mode. The apartment also. I walk through and ask myself: Do I really need this? I wish I could do as one of my characters does: pick up the equivalent of one carry-on, walk out and meet up with that buoyant person who cheered up the others yesterday.

She’s got to be around here somewhere. Allez, and so on.


In Animals, Food, Hautvoir, Local projects, Revision on May 22, 2015 at 7:59 am

Of the words and images thrown at me this morning in the news, one item sticks in the foreground: apparently, some thirty-eight million chickens and hens are about to be slaughtered in the States, because of bird flu. Of these, thirty-three million are egg-layers.

The item sticks in mind because at the outdoor market, yesterday morning, someone gave me six eggs, and apologized. Five of them were laid the same morning, but one of them was all of twenty-four hours old.  She has three chickens. In laying season, they produce more eggs than she use at home and in her catering business. Her chickens range and peck at will. In some instances, smaller is much, much better.

Meeting all morning. Then, work on what may be the two final scenes in the story. After which I’ll probably set it aside for a few days before tackling final read-throughs, corrections, synopsis, and so on.

Lunch: the matter’s already settled. Two soft-boiled eggs with fresh naturally-leavened bread.