Tradition

Plastic boxes and rainbow baskets sat on the kitchen table, with pastel envelopes leaning against them at various angles. It was Easter Sunday, and my mom’s coworker clearly must have dropped by, because Mom doesn’t normally allow this much sugar in the house all at once. Chocolate bunnies hopped out of their packaging, and tinfoil got strewn across the table, as chocolate eggs were devoured, seven at a time. Jelly beans of all flavors were tossed into hungry mouths as well, all with the sole intent of getting hyper off of sugar that day.

But I was used to this. And I wanted a bit more than food on this day, so I asked Dad to tell me stories about his Easters growing up in a Greek Orthodox household. Dipping eggs in red dyes was his favorite part, he said. He also loved watching his uncle roast a lamb on one of those outdoor stoves. They’d collect pine cones to kindle the fire. Roast potatoes, flaky sweet breads, the lamb, and the colored eggs—that’s what Easter was to him. So after I stuffed myself to the point where cocoa lingered on my breath for hours, Mom decided we’d have a Greek Easter dinner the Sunday after.

This is the same narrative we always hear from the authorities. First, we must submit to their control; then they will address our concerns. All the problems we face, they insist, are caused by our refusal to cooperate. This argument sounds most persuasive when it is dressed up in the rhetoric of democracy: those are “our” laws we should shut up and obey—“our” cops who are shooting and gassing us—“our” politicians and leaders begging us to return to business as usual. But to return to business as usual is to step daintily over the bodies of countless Michael Browns, consigning them to the cemetery and oblivion.
—  What They Mean when They Say Peace
Embrace

The echoes of my steps resonated within the expanse of the hospital garage. As I made my way to the end of the aisle to my stall, a couple caught my eye.

A tall man, his hair only beginning to turn grey, faced a woman of similar age, dressed in a beautiful white summer dress. Next to them a car, its trunk agape, half packed with a box of personal belongings and a white plastic bag full of clothes sat waiting. Still, they stood, pausing, ruminating.

They stared longingly into each other’s eyes, a deep seeded pain overwhelming them as tears trickled down their delicate features. A warm embrace as they held each other tightly and wept.

I wondered what terrible tragedy had befell them. Did a loved one’s health take a turn for the worst? Did a loved one just pass away? Did their mother, father, daughter, or son, just perish from this earth? I could not help but wonder.

But it was not my place to ask.

I watched helplessly as they buried their heads in each other’s shoulders and comforted one other.

I continued walking.

UHG I LOVE LADIES SO MUCH. ladies ladies ladies. it’s not even that ladies are better then men and i don’t ever want to hear about men, it’s just that growing up we’re so taught to only pay attention to male stories and we’re constantly bombarded with that, and getting older and being able to understand that means now being able to consciously consume media about women of all types and stop subscribing to only the male narrative is sooooo delicious. IT’S DELICIOUS. i love finally being able to follow stories that mean so much more to me. men seriously seriously seriously take this for granted and have no idea how debilitating it is for women to never have had hero narratives to identify with.

ladies

anonymous said:

In response to "Too much of a good thing". I'm working on a novel and I'm struggling with this balance. It's very heavy on dialogue and An okay amount of narrative and almost no rumination. Its starting to feel like to me like a glorified screenplay. How do I include more rumination and description without making it boring (which is a fear I have that leads me to not write enough of it) ?

Okay, let’s start by putting narrative and dialogue in the category of “active” and description and rumination in the category of “inactive.” The inactive tools tend to get the shaft because most people feel as though neither one moves the story forward. They’re static paragraphs that don’t advance time, and therefore many people perceive them as being useless and boring. You just need to know when and how to use them. If they’re not well placed, then yes, readers will find them boring.

In the midst of an action scene, you’re not going to use a lot of rumination. Ruminating on something is hard when someone is trying to kill you, so a character is likely to stay in the moment, and what you end up with is mostly narrative and dialogue. And that’s okay! But description can make its case in action scenes, because it can bring the action to life. Narrative would be “he pushed me into a table,” while description would be the wet feeling of spilled liquid on his clothes, the sound of bar patrons’ gasps and yells or the sound of glass breaking. Narrative would be the bartender running to the phone to call the cops, but description would be the way his teeth were clenched, fists balled up, or the redness in his skin because he’s so angry. Description like this can add a lot of richness to an otherwise mundane scene.

In contrast, during a verbal argument, rumination is a much better tool to use. As a character debates something, they can be reflecting on what has led them to their particular viewpoint on the issue. If two parents disagree about the way the child is being raised, and one parent insists they need to be more disciplined, the other parent could reflect on the many times discipline landed on their own shoulders, and how easy it is for their partner to make the claim that discipline is needed when they’re not the one that has to discipline them. 

I think one reason people hesitate to use rumination in the midst of an argument is because they feel it “disrupts the scene.” The way to avoid that is to insert rumination during natural pauses in conversation. If a character asks a particularly tough question that the protagonist doesn’t know how to answer, or when someone says something shocking that takes a moment to respond to. It can go wrong to put a paragraph of rumination in between two lines of dialogue that should have occurred within a second of each other. So just be careful of that. 

*Rumination also doesn’t need to be a full paragraph. One sentence of rumination can work after any line of dialogue. 

As an exercise, write a scene with only one character, and they aren’t allowed to leave the setting. You won’t be able to fall back on heavy dialogue because they’re alone, and because they can’t leave, you won’t be able to do too much narrative. Just write what they’re thinking, seeing, hearing. What memories come to mind as they’re sitting there, does the setting make them sad or cheerful? Does it remind them of something or someone? 

If stories don’t move forward with dialogue and narrative, they will eventually get boring. If stories don’t pause to allow characters to ruminate and describe what they see, they will become two dimensional and difficult for readers to immerse themselves into. That is why we strive to create as much balance as we can, while still holding on to our personal writing style.

Don’t force yourself to use more of a particular device than you feel comfortable with, but definitely experiment with them if you find you’re not using them at all. 

I hope that helps!

-R

15/09/2014 - Post-Script Post-Its

John,

This is a note. A note in which I feel the need to apologise for missing your notes. Had I known there were notes, I would have paid more attention to potential notes. At this point in the note I have written ‘note’ an uncomfortable number of times and I am ending the note because I have nothing else to say.

Yours,

Sherlock

Read More

As I approach my fiftieth birthday, I had become more and more enraged and mystified by the idiot decisions made by my countrymen. And then I had come suddenly to pity them, for I understood how innocent and natural it was for them to behave so abominably, and with such abominable results: They were doing their best to live like people invented in story books. This was the reason Americans shot each other so often: It was a convenient literary device for ending short stories and books.

Why were so many Americans treated by their government as though their lives were as disposable as paper facial tissues? Because that was the way authors customarily treated bit-part players in their made-up tales.

And so on.

Once I understood what was making America such a dangerous, unhappy nation of people who had nothing to do with real life, I resolved to shun storytelling. I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order, instead, which I think I have done.

— 

Kurt Vonnegut, from “Breakfast of Champions”.

It should be pointed out that these words are put forth in the novel, by it’s narrator.  The way it is written, this narrator could indeed be Vonnegut himself, and this could be a diary entry.

Or, they could simply be strange thoughts that Vonnegut has bestowed on one of his characters.  The narrator is not named, and describes the events of the novel as his creations… so it isn’t clear who is speaking.  In either case, these thoughts and observations penetrate.

"I was telling you earlier about the three elements in my morals. They are (1) the refusal to accept as self-evident the things that are proposed to us; (2) the need to analyse and to know, since we can accomplish nothing without reflection and understanding thus, the principle of curiosity; and (3) the principle of innovation: to seek out in our reflection those things that have never been thought or imagined. Thus: refusal, curiosity, innovation."

— Michel Foucault.

                                                             (via fuckyeahmichelfoucault)

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