Thursday, March 19, 2015
Sunday, March 8, 2015
Continuing my tradition of writing B-sides to my Hevria posts, here's the latest post and the latest behind-the-scenes story. First, let me apologize for that picture: my friend Harbeer took it on a spur-of-the-moment day shortly before I left the city in 2004. I'd just gotten a college gig performing poems. I had no idea what it meant to have a college gig. They wanted a headshot, so Harbeer and I went looking for the most ramshackle, ghetto background we could find. We didn't have to go far. It was the backyard of his apartment. Later, I used that as the author photo for my first book, Never Mind the Goldbergs. This, I guess, is its third life.
So I really wanted to use the view outside the rabbi's house where I was crashing during this visit. They had the most amazing little room they let me stay in, right on the top of the house, with slanted ceilings where the roof sloped. And outside was an awesome jacaranda garden. But Elad said the picture didn't load -- I wrote the whole post as a draft on Gmail on my phone, which was the first time I'd done that (this is also my first smartphone, and is really new, and I'm still not very good at it, and also that's why there are weird AutoCorrect typos like "mazel tomb" instead of "mazel tov") -- so he stuck that old Harbeer photo on instead.
And I was outraged, and I hated having my picture as the lead photo for something I wrote, because I just want the writing to stand for itself, you know?, or at least use something cartoonlike, maybe stolen from an episode of Scooby-Doo, to show you how funny it's going to be. So I promptly took the photo at the top of this piece -- I happened to be walking through one of the coolest, most graffitied alleys ever at the moment that Elad asked me about it -- because, okay, at heart I guess I am still an egotist.
Anyway, here's the piece. I hope you enjoy it.
Monday, February 23, 2015
It's not properly out until March 17, but I have a short story in a new collection called Jews vs. Aliens. (There's also a companion volume, Jews vs. Zombies, which will be released at the same time.) My story is called "The Ghetto," and I will try not to give anything away but it's about an alien abduction in Crown Heights. And it was just featured on BoingBoing, which for a very small percentage of the population is roughly equivalent of getting a Nobel Prize in Weirdness. Oh, and here's the cover.
My favorite-person-ever (and Big Bang Theory producer) Eric Linus Kaplan also has a story, and so do a bunch of other wonderful people. And the whole batch is edited by Rebecca Levene and Lavie Tidhar, that latter of whom might be the most bitingly satirical and wise Israeli expat science fiction writer ever to exist. Not that there's much competition, but if there was, he'd wipe them out like a bunch of Space Invaders.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Hey! I've been super delinquent about posting. But not about writing, I promise. Finishing a novel, and writing a new children's book, and the regular scribbles. And this.
Basically, Alan told me this story, and I knew I needed to do something with it. The other night, I called him up and spent two hours typing what he said -- not polishing his sentences so they sounded more like mine, not cutting out the prepositions and the passive verbs. It felt good. It felt honest in a way I haven't written in a while, to just take another person's voice and mivatel yourself (um, nullify yourself) to it. Here's what I got.
Thursday, January 8, 2015
So I have this friend who we used to tell each other everything, and now we both have babies and other kids and never talk anymore, and when we do it basically goes like this:
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Monday, September 29, 2014
My amazing co-MFA cohorter Kate asked if I'd used any of these writing programs. I'll copy the list first in case you're looking for one:
- Blogger: This popular Google-owned site is a great place to start your own blog for free.
- Scrivener: This popular, feature-rich program is great for organizing research, planning drafts, and writing novels, articles, short stories, and even screenplays.
- The Literary Machine: This free software allows writers to compile research and writing modules that makes it easier to draw on information collected during research to write an outline or a final draft.
- New Novelist: Created for Windows users, this program is specifically designed to meet the needs of novelists, making it possible to juggle ideas, notes, and more in one place.
- Open Office: Why pay for Microsoft products when you can create free documents with Open Office? This open source software provides similar tools to the Microsoft Office Suite, including spreadsheets, a word processor, the ability to create multimedia presentations, and more.
- Script Frenzy: Scriptwriters will appreciate this software. It offers an easy layout that helps outline plots as well as providing storyboard features, index cards, and even sound and photo integration.
- Storybook: This open source software can make it easier to manage your plotlines, characters, data, and other critical information while penning a novel.
- TreePad Lite: The free version of this software keeps the writing process simple, ensuring that information stay organized and your story stays on track.
- WordPress: WordPress is another popular and free choice for starting a blog (or two).
- Writer’s Cafe: Get creative with writing fiction with this easy-to-use software. Designed by a writer, it features a notebook, journal, organizer, writing tips, and even an e-book all about writing.
- yWriter5: Another word processor for writers, yWriter5 helps break down a novel into chapters and scenes to make everything a little more manageable.
- ZohoDocs: Zoho is another free word processing suite, and like Google Drive, it allows you to write and access your work from any computer with an Internet connection.
Here's what I replied:
OpenOffice is seriously exactly microsoft office. word, excel, all that. it's the same thing. For outlining, I'm partial to regular blank paper -- i make a list of
and then little points
and then i'll indent a little and write scenes i have ideas for
AND THEN MORE BIG POINTS
and do it that way. the more bare-bones, the better. my writing partner Eric tried this iphone app called Save the Cat (the free version, oh, here it is) that gives you a 15-point outline to fill in...you can try that, too. but really just see what works for you.So I guess my big writing secret is, I don't have a big writing secret. I try to be in the moment. Sure, there are some things I know about my characters before the audience knows them -- you can't very well write a murder mystery without having some idea who the murderer was and how she slips up -- but the big, character-defining, wow-instilling moments, I like to come to at roughly the same time as the reader.
But I do spend a LOT of time, hopefully more than my readers, thinking about what's going to happen, and what might happen, and the outliers are always the most interesting parts, al pi Flannery O'Connor's idea that an ending should be both "surprising and inevitable." And those are the chances we get to surprise people. I guess those are the moments that really justify outlining and planning ahead: because you've already anticipated all the expected things, and you've come up with most of the surprising-and-probably-won't-happen endings (the "evitable" endings?), and so what remains -- bizarre, off-kilter, and true to the story -- might be your ending.
(Or it completely might not. Which is why, for the 20 pages I'm writing now, I have four different outlines going. I mean, it's a novel, which means things will get sticky...but sticky is exactly what outlines are made for.)
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