Special day

30 September 2009 | 5 Comments

It’s Nicola‘s birthday.

Today it’s All About Her at our house; Whatever you say, honey, has long been a part of birthday celebrations for us. The cool thing is, she’ll spend the entire day getting what she wants, but I feel like I’m the one who got the best present all those years ago, one I am still unwrapping, discovering, raising an eyebrow over, sometimes laughing out loud in pure delight. One that still brings me both deep contentment and unexpected joy.

So if you raise a glass of anything today, please think of Nicola and wish her well. Wish her many happy returns of the day; because that will be a gift to me too.

Enjoy your day.

Cellphone Rage

29 September 2009 | Comments Off

No, it’s not what you’re thinking — an over-the-edge moviegoer hasn’t thrown some obnoxious Dude! I’m totally watching Batman kick the Joker’s ass! texter through the screen. This Rage is a movie itself, the first to be filmed for simultaneous release on mobile, online, digital screens and DVD. It’s filmed specifically to be watchable on your cellphone screen. As such, it tells the story completely through a series of monologues. The notion is that a schoolboy is doing a report on the fashion industry… and then something unexpected happens.

This won’t be everyone’s minty chocolate goodness: I can already imagine Nicola’s response (*waves at sweetie through the internet*). But I’m an actor by training and a talker by nature, so the idea of a story that unfolds in breadth (linear storytelling) and depth (character exploration) through monologue fascinates me. And this kind of thing is clearly catnip for actors — watch the trailer and see the lineup for yourself:


And here’s an interview with the director, Sally Potter. Here’s Potter talking about what inspired her to use intimate filmmaking techniques to make a movie intended for distribution on tiny, utilitarian cellphone screens (arguably the least intimate viewscreen ever…)

I do think it is intimate… It is in part my direct experience from being on the internet and doing a blog and making myself accessible to people in a very intimate way and finding that for the first time in all my working life I was having a one on one global relationship with strangers…
– Sally Potter, director of Rage

Interested? You can get the DVD, or you can watch the film in installments over at Babelgum, which is distributing the film on mobile and the internet.

I believe

28 September 2009 | 5 Comments

This is cheating a bit (in blog terms) because I posted this quote over at Sterling Editing last week. But not everyone may visit there; and the SE blog is very much focused on helping or inspiring writers. It focuses out. Here in my little personal corner of the internet, it can just be about me if I like…

… and today I do.

Here’s what Robert McKee has to say about the love it takes to write well. It speaks to me because I think it speaks about me. I recognize myself.

The love of story — the belief that your vision can be expressed only through story, that characters can be more “real” than people, that the fictional world is more profound than the concrete. The love of the dramatic — a fascination with the sudden surprises and revelations that bring sea-changes in life. The love of truth — the belief that lies cripple the artist, that every truth in life must be questioned, down to one’s own secret motives. The love of humanity — a willingness to empathize with suffering souls, to crawl inside their skins and see the world through their eyes. The love of sensation — the desire to indulge not only the physical but the inner senses. The love of dreaming — the pleasure in taking leisurely rides on your imagination just to see where it leads. The love of humor — a joy in the saving grace that restores the balance of life. The love of language — the delight in sound and sense, syntax and semantics. The love of duality — a feel for life’s hidden contradictions, a healthy suspicion that things are not what they seem. The love of perfection — the passion to write and rewrite in pursuit of the perfect moment. The love of uniqueness — the thrill of audacity and a stone-faced calm when it is met by ridicule. The love of beauty — an innate sense that treasures good writing, hates bad writing, and knows the difference. The love of self — a strength that doesn’t need to be constantly reassured, that never doubts that you are indeed a writer. You must love to write and bear the loneliness.
But the love of a good story, of terrific characters and a world driven by your passion, courage, and creative gifts is still not enough. Your goal must be a good story well told.
– Robert McKee, from Story

Reading these sentences makes me feel like a little girl again, wide-eyed in a dark movie theatre on a hot Florida summer afternoon, clapping my hands until they hurt so that Tinkerbelle wouldn’t die: calling out I believe, I believe! And still I am calling. I believe in the heightened life of the imagination, and I believe in bringing as much of that same joy as I can to my everyday life; to this moment as I write about love and story with the taste of tea in my mouth and outside the wind blowing, autumn clouds racing across they sky so it turns blue to gray to blue again, and the rowan tree sags with red berries and little puffball birds, and it’s just beautiful, you know? It’s so beautiful.

It’s beautiful that way inside my head too, in that other life where the only one in the theatre is me, where all the stories are powerful, strong, strange, wild. They roll through me like autumn clouds. The wind blows.

Read 4 pages of the new Stephen King

27 September 2009 | 11 Comments

Here’s a little taste of Stephen King’s new novel Under the Dome, coming in November.

Happy happy happy!

Denzel rocks the apocalypse

26 September 2009 | 7 Comments

I’m a big fan of Denzel Washington: I’ll pretty much watch anything he does because he’s a great actor, and he’s so present on the screen. Some actors disappear into roles. Some actors are always only “themselves” in films. For me, Washington falls into the lovely other space of bringing his personal power and intelligence, a sense of his particular self, to his work. Not in a way that make him a cookie-cutter actor, or Hey, it’s me, Denzel! intrusive, but… hmm, what to call it? A vibration, maybe. A continuity.

Any of these acting styles can work when the right actor is in the right role. I don’t need all my favorite artists to work the way Washington does. But it’s fascinating to me to see glimpses of the artist within/behind the art, as if I’m getting a window into someone’s real-time personal connection to their own work. I love that (and more next week about a truly incredible set of DVDs Nicola I are watching that does it too…).

And then, of course, I just love the heck out of post-apocalyptic lone-hero-must-save-the-world movies with fights and jokes and excellent villains. And when you put that together with Denzel Washington and the fabulous Gary Oldman (whose performance in this trailer just makes me want to see this movie right now), well… friends, I give you The Book of Eli, coming in January just in time to kick the ass of the post-holiday blues.


Enjoy your day.

Short story class in Seattle

23 September 2009 | 17 Comments

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be teaching a six-week class on writing short stories at Seattle’s Hugo House as part of their winter quarter lineup.

Hugo House is one of the premier writing centers in the country, offering classes, residencies and tons of literary events. Hugo House has a national reputation for nurturing new writers and bringing established but lesser-known writers to the attention of a wider audience. These are certainly things that I can get behind, and I’m proud to be a part of it as a teacher.

The class is “The Whole Story.” Here’s the description:

All good stories –“ those that delight or thrill you, make you laugh or cry — are built from the same fundamental blocks. We’ll explore essential elements of good short fiction: structure, point of view, plotting, character development, description and dialogue. You’ll learn practical techniques like specificity, emotional language, anchor points and narrative grammar that you can use immediately. The class will be a mix of reading, discussion, and writing, as well as an hour-long individual conference with the instructor.

The class will meet Wednesday from 4:00 – 6:00 pm, January 27 through March 3. Registration begins December 1 for Hugo House members, December 8 for non-members.

If you’re a Seattle writer with an interest in short stories, I hope you’ll join me. It’ll be fun, and I’d love the chance to help you with your work.


21 September 2009 | 7 Comments

The writer at 49….
…and how she feels today.

Edited to add: I’m sorry to say that I don’t have enough server space for all my audio, so most jukebox playlists become inactive after a few months. This is one. Very sorry. But the music is worth seeking out, it’s great!

To use the E-Phonic MP3 Player you will need Adobe Flash Player 9 or better and a Javascript enabled browser.

It’s a beautiful day here. I hope you’re enjoying yours.

photo by Nicola Griffith

Me neither

15 September 2009 | 5 Comments

I swear I have not absconded with the funds, run off with the meter man, or been eaten by a bear. I haven’t even left the building. I’ve just been, you know, busy with the new thing in my life. I’ll be back soon, I promise.

But in the meantime, here’s something that’s been amusing me: screenwriter Josh Olson’s rant about why he will not read your fucking script. Read it — don’t skip the comments! — and then check out Scalzi’s take on the matter.

I have always marveled at people who think it’s okay to interrupt an actor or a rock star in the middle of their dinner and ask for — or insist — on an autograph or photo. And yet I’ve talked to plenty of folks who think they are entitled to that kind of access whenever/wherever, because that person is, you know, famous! They’re asking for it! The Olson rant addresses a similar issue, I think: there’s a belief in our culture that beginners are entitled to access to experts whenever/wherever.

I know where I stand. I’m friends with a photographer and web dev, for example (*waves at both*) and I still hesitate to ask for professional services as a favor. I do ask, because we are actual friends, but I never assume that even my friends owe me this kind of help.

And I’m also a believer in paying forward to pay back. Many people helped me: however (and it’s a big one), I had some kind of professional or personal relationship with nearly every single one of those people before I asked for help, or before they offered it. I had demonstrated good social skills at conventions or parties, spoken intelligently about their work, not been pushy, respected their privacy and was always courteous to their special people. And I’ve always been clear when I’ve asked for favors that I don’t expect a yes, and that a no will not make me grumpy; that my actual relationship with them is more important to me than the specific help I’m asking for.

If that’s ever not true — if there’s something career-life-or-death about the favor — I’ll be clear about that too. But I still won’t feel entitled to a yes.

Where’s my Red Bull?

12 September 2009 | Comments Off

There are many things I want to talk about, but you know, I’m just too tired right now. Not even the universally-restorative Irish breakfast tea is doing the trick. So I’m just here to say that I’m not here right now. I know you’ll all have a great weekend without me, and I’ll be back next week with musings, music, and maybe even some Megan Fox gossip. Because I like to be versatile (grin).

Enjoy your weekend.

Kickstart something

10 September 2009 | Comments Off

Now here’s a great idea: crowdsource the funding for your art project.

Kickstarter helps artists find small-dollar patrons. They’ve got a pledge approach to funding, an interesting and sensible all-or-nothing policy for the artist, and they’ll take 5% of the money if and only if you reach the full level of funding.

I love that the internet makes this kind of activity not only possible, but inevitable somehow. Artists have always been supported by community, directly or indirectly; and now “community” can be any of us with a computer and some change in our pocket. Go check it out. Be a patron. Post a project. Create, share, connect.

Enjoy your day.

Next Page »