How to tell if you are in a D. H. Lawrence novel

With more than a hat tip to Mallory Ortberg.
(from a rejected submission to the Toast, but seriously, you guys, D H Lawrence!)
(Put an exclamation point at the end of every sentence. (!))

If you are a man:

You are from a family of farmers in the Midlands, a place filled with the blind pulse of life: the blood of the cow, the cry of the dying rabbit, the sucking throat of the force-fed goose.

When you look over the fields of your patrimony, you can easily imagine them opening into furrows to accept your seed.

Your time at school filled you with despair at your own dumbness, your insensibility to the nobility of books and literature. You are mad with the same passions these books describe and envious of those who can decipher their tiny marks.

You have complete mastery of the tokens of manhood, animal strength, hardness, the easy thrust of power that receives ample welcome from the thick strong body of a full-built woman.

Your rude hot blood is mortified by the dark quick disapproving look from a refined woman.

When you ride a horse you hold surcharged, throbbing life between the grip of your knees.

As you grapple in the arms of your enemy, you wonder, inarticulately, whether you might love him. You fight on, heaving with mixed-up love and hate.

Strong drink will take away sexual desire for a time. As long as life spurts within you, sexual desire will return, along with a bad mood from the drink.

If you are a woman:

You have mixed feelings. About everything. Contempt and desire, rage and happiness, fear and delight.

You are or will become a Brangwen.

You despise poverty and grossness and the squalor of life. You will answer hotly when offended by crudeness or insensitivity, yet be derisive toward the weak and the ignorant.

You may spend your youth feeding on ecstasy, a strange kind of ecstasy that makes the earthy people of the village shrink from you.

When you ride a horse you hold surcharged, throbbing life between the grip of your knees.

Your lover may want to kill you one day for not giving yourself to him fully. Your lover may want to kill you one day for giving yourself too fully, for your self-abandonment. Either way, he will want to kill you. You will outsmart him very brutally.

The challenge of your life is that balance, so desired, so elusive, sought in the heated intercourse between body and soul. You are at a threshold with exaltation and degradation at either hand.

Exhausted, barren hysteria is a distinct possibility, if you cannot or will not find one to accept your sacrifices, to take for himself your Christ-like naked soul. Flowers may help your condition.

You will never know whether you weep for misery or for joy.

Seeing & Thinking Fuzzy — a Photo Essay

I have been a photography enthusiast since I was a teenager, and I love experimental photography. My favorites of my own are abstracts or at least distorted in some way. I haven’t ever really thought why this would be. I recently realized that my writing often has this feature–obliqueness and indirectness.

Looking at things flatly/clearly/plainly just doesn’t do it for me. I like it mysterious, hard to read, hard to interpret.

Here are some pictures I took with a Russian-made medium format camera and nice slow film. Developed myself–no particular care with the timer. Because that’s the fun in it.

kids on bikes
kids on bikes

I like the graininess here. The lines across the top might be power lines, but the ones running across the bottom are probably scratches.

And this one, looking up at the sky. It seems to have been double exposed, but I cannot discern what animal’s curvy leg spreads across the middle.

sky and a sheep
sky and maybe a sheep

Finally, a picture of an immense tree. Overexposed at top, probably when the back of the camera fell open, as it does when the duct tape isn’t pressed tight. The detail on this is very good in closeup despite the deep shadows. A November picture, if I remember correctly.

tree with ladder and plastic chair
tree with plastic stacking chair

to be continued with a photo of a pinhole camera I once made, and a photo from it.

#PitchWars Post-Game

Did you see this tweet a couple days back?


I got picked by Stephanie Scott in PitchWars!!! In preparation for not winning, I had written a short blog post about patience. I talked about the authors’ need for validation, for someone to love them–I mean, love their book. At the same time, I dimly understood that the mentors were looking for books they loved, certainly, but also books that might succeed in the market. Maybe my manuscript had elements that would keep it from succeeding. Maybe the genre wasn’t right for this year.

Winning a writing contest is a powerful boost to the writer’s immune system. A win will keep you warm and cozy for a long time, long enough to push you through your current WIP, long enough to come up with a brilliant new story idea. So if you’re just starting with querying and contests, keep at it! One really complimentary critique or even a few lines of praise erases at least a hundred rejections. I did the math.

And about Stephanie Scott, and what really makes me happy about PitchWars, is that while I was all, I hope someone likes me–I mean, my book–she was looking at pitching and marketing her submissions. I assume all the mentors were doing this. Right here you begin to see the brilliant design of Brenda Drake’s contest. Finding someone who both likes your work AND who wants to find the perfect pitch so you can sell it? It’s genius.

I am so lucky today! I hope that in a few years, I can pay it forward and be a mentor, too. Cheers to the other winners of PitchWars and for the ones practicing patience, may your next contest be the one!

2013 reading list, Continued

28. Sir Edward Orme & The Jolly Corner, James
29. A Woman’s Power, Alcott
30. In One Person, Irving
31. Girls to the Front, Marcus – NF
32. collection of James Thurber essays
33. Julia and the Bazooka, Kavan
34. Child of the Mountains, Shank – YA/MG
35. The Incurable Wound, Roueche – NF
36. In the Heart of the Sea (the Essex), Philbrick –  NF
37. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down  – NF
38. Trent’s Last Case / The Leavenworth Case, Bentley, Green (in progress)
39. Cat’s Table (in progress), Ondaatje

Claiming my Inner Bitch

I really want this shirt, but where would I wear it? I can’t wear it to the 5th grade fundraiser, or to walk in the neighborhood, or to the office…OMG, I’m too wimpy for funny/raunchy tee shirts. If I were enough of a bitch, I’d wear it to all those places.

And thanks, Tina Fey, for the not so subtle reminder that some of us are bitches in a good, powerful, achievement-oriented, way.

Now will someone please rehabilitate the word ‘liberal.’

New Stuff
A big election year is coming up. To keep from obsessing uselessly about national elections, I’ll begin posting about local issues again. This weblog is quite out of date. Changes will be made!