Ow.

Aug. 8th, 2010 02:09 pm
greygirlbeast: (Default)
[personal profile] greygirlbeast
One of the side effects of one of my new meds (Prazosin) is that it can cause hypotension. And fainting. I've been feeling the former for weeks. This morning, I felt the latter. Violently. I woke about eight a.m., only four hours after going to bed (and taking my night meds). I lay in bed two or three minutes. I sat up and checked the clock. And then I stood up, rather quickly...which I know not to do. Only I was still probably half asleep. And I went down like a sack of bricks. Boom, straight to the floor. As I fell, my right ankle folded under me, and I landed on it. Hard. The pain instantly brought me back to consciousness. And I was absolutely certain I'd broken my foot. This was the sort of pain that makes you want to puke. The noise had Spooky awake in a flash, awake and panicked. I managed to tell her I'd fallen and thought I'd broken my foot.

She got me to lie down, and she took my sock off. I lay there on the floor like a goddamn fool while she held ice on my ankle. We waited for the swelling and discoloration to begin. I thought mostly about how I couldn't afford a trip to the ER. But my foot didn't swell. It's not broken. Eventually, I got back into bed and even managed to get back to sleep. I awoke feeling like I'd been in a car wreck. I have so many sore places I can't count them, and I'm having to hobble about with my cane, and I feel like an idiot. I swear, I have to put a big-ass sign beside my bed that says GET UP SLOWLY, FOOL.

I've had breakfast and Advil, and hopefully that will help.

---

My thanks to everyone (even those I disagreed with) for the many marvelous comments yesterday. I tried to reply to everyone, though I might have missed a few of the later ones. I wouldn't mind seeing a flood of comments like that every day. Of course, the truth is, I rarely provide something interesting to comment on. The act of writing is not a terribly exciting subject (though its end result is). Here are a few bits from yesterday I especially liked (so back to the matter of first-person narration and the interauthor).

I wrote, A first-person narrative occurs in a minimum of two time frames: the present (when the story is being written down) and the past (when the story occurred). And [livejournal.com profile] corucia replied:

And the interval of time between those two is also vitally important. If the events are being written as journal entries or the like at a very close remove from the primary action, then the interauthor might be unwilling to write down particularly upsetting events (perhaps only using a "something major happened today I don't think I can talk about" marker) but then bits of the event will creep into the narrative in later entries, possibly with a major unveiling and discussion later. On the other hand, if a significant amount of time has passed and the interauthor is writing down everything to make some sort of record, then she's going to be much more likely to do it in a linear fashion.

To which I can only say, yes, exactly. [livejournal.com profile] dragau wrote:

Another question that generally remains unanswered is why the interauthor is such a good writer in the first place.

This is a very, very important point that I've never seen addressed anywhere. In a first-person narration, the interauthor is usually the most important character. Not just a convenient storytelling device, but an actual fictional person. And, as the writer, I have to fully understand who that person is, their fears and desires, their strengths and weaknesses. To assume that all interauthors just happen to be good at expressing themselves in words— because I happen to be, and because I need the interauthor to tell a story —is to fall into a trap that, at least for me, can kill a piece.

Lately, I've been wondering, why are authors afraid to write interauthors who are much less skilled at writing than they themselves are, people who are much less articulate? That is, write a first-person narrative by someone who cannot write. Certainly, it would, in most cases, be far more authentic and realistic. Of course, there's the lazy fallback of having the interauthor be a writer (I might seem guilty of that in The Red Tree, and maybe I was, but it seems to me that Sarah had to be an author for me to tell the story I needed her to tell). But the message here is simple: The interauthor must speak as the interauthor would speak. If she or he is a cop or a stripper or a construction worker, odds are pretty good the narration will not read as if it were written by an author. And the challenge that a good writer must rise to, in these cases, is to write like X, whatever X signifies, instead of writing like a writer. This is lesson I'm still learning myself.

And there was this bit by [livejournal.com profile] bbluemarble that I have to quote, simply because it's succinct and very much needs saying:

After reading this post and the prior comments I've come to the conclusion that there are (in effect) two types of first person narratives: First Person Found Artifact and First Person Really Just a Bastardization of Third Person Limited.

I think this happened because every writing book ever written tells amateur writers that first person is easier to write and it's a shortcut to reader empathy. These are lies. Writing first person as found artifact is really hard to do well.


Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Most young writers make this very mistake. They use first person, think it's easy, or because some idiot writing instructor told them they should, without ever having puzzled through the inherent difficulties of the voice. For what it's worth, I've had such a longstanding suspicion of first person that I pretty much avoided it until 2003, when I wrote "Riding the White Bull" and The Dry Salvages in first person, eleven years after I began writing for publication, and even then I made mistakes. Oh, I almost forgot. In my first novel, The Five of Cups (written in 1992, unpublished until 2003), there are long stretches essentially in first person, and they're rather dreadful. I simply had no idea what I was doing. Fortunately, I realized and switched to third person in all subsequent novels, until The Red Tree, sixteen years later.

I'm going to paste in the rest of [livejournal.com profile] bbluemarble's response, because it's easier than paraphrasing:

Maybe that's why it's [First Person Found Artifact] all but disappeared in favor of first person bastardization of third. I can't say that I remember the first book I read that didn't explain why it was in first person (remember when that used to be a rule? Explain that this narrative is an artifact and what sort of artifact it is or the audience will be unable to suspend disbelief!) but I do vividly remember the most unrealistic pseudo-explanation for the narrative being in first person that I ever read. It was something along the lines of "I'm thinking stuff. Right now. These are my thoughts that I'm sending out to the world in the hopes that someone will hear them and maybe write them down." Adhering to that convention actually pulled me right out of the story with thoughts along the lines of "What?! She's a vampire that's psychic enough to compel some random person to write her dying-moments memoir but she can't psychic her friends to help her escape? What a stupid superpower." In that case, it would have been better for the story to just dispense with the whole first person construct and do it in third person limited (but I get the feeling that editors/publishers/the powers that be to working writers thought the average teen reader may have trouble empathizing with a sometimes psychotic vampire that goes on occasional killing sprees and feels no remorse so...I know, write it in first person! Instant empathy!).

Really want to be a good writer who doesn't rely on crutches? Want to solve the problems posed by a given narrative, instead of rushing to what appears to be a quick fix? Then listen to all this shit. And think about it.

---

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions, and also at the very cool new stuff in Spooky's Dreaming Squid Dollworks & Sundries shop at Etsy (now including a hand-painted Ouija board!)

Okay. More than enough for now. I hurt, and I think I'm going to take a hot bath and lie down for a bit.

Date: 2010-08-08 07:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] naamah-darling.livejournal.com
I've always been told that first person is bad and horrible and I should never use it and that editors will scream and hiss and throw your manuscript into the nearest incinerator, then come take away your next book so that you cannot re-offend.

Okay, not quite that bad, they would probably stop short of doing the last, but every workshop I've been to, every published author and every editor I have spoken to has said "bad, bad, bad." Obviously I've never read these books that encourage writers to use first-person, so I am a bit perplexed. The idea of someone urging a writer to use first person goes against all of my experience. Some people have said it's a shortcut to a reader's empathy, others have disagreed, but all have said that first person is, industrywide, undesirable and very often a mark of inferior, amateurish fiction.

First person can do some amazing things. Sarah Monette's A Doctrine of Labyrinths series was the thing I've read most recently that reminded me why I like first person, and she did incredible things with it, milked it for all it was worth and played to its strengths so well that it transcended certain of its weaknesses. It was an unlikely and brave and for all I know wildly unpopular choice to have multiple narrators, and it worked brilliantly. I don't think the books would have been nearly as compelling without this. So, those are a good example of what it can do, for people seeking such things.

Found artifact narratives can be really amazing, provided the framing of it isn't too precious, but as [livejournal.com profile] bbluemarble says, it can backfire. In a second-world fantasy, Steven Brust once implied that his narrator was talking to the author via a tape recorder, which broke the fictional dream so badly I had to put the book down for a while. It destroyed my suspension of disbelief immediately. The technique had failed about as badly as it is possible for it to fail. Terrible shame. I enjoyed most of that series, and his engagging use of first person was a big part of that; the framing device (which was not even mentioned until later in the series) was an unnecessary intrusion that added no credibility.

Date: 2010-08-08 07:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Okay, not quite that bad, they would probably stop short of doing the last, but every workshop I've been to, every published author and every editor I have spoken to has said "bad, bad, bad." Obviously I've never read these books that encourage writers to use first-person, so I am a bit perplexed. The idea of someone urging a writer to use first person goes against all of my experience. Some people have said it's a shortcut to a reader's empathy, others have disagreed, but all have said that first person is, industrywide, undesirable and very often a mark of inferior, amateurish fiction.

I will admit here (as I probably should have done above) that I don't read "how to" books on writing, nor have I ever attended a workshop. I had a couple of classes in college, where my instructor did encourage first person. I have never encountered, personally, an industry-wide prejudice against it.

Found artifact narratives can be really amazing, provided the framing of it isn't too precious, but as [info]bbluemarble says, it can backfire.

I dislike the phrase "precious," but yes, as with any literary device the frame may fail if it is not constructed with greet care and if it simply does not make sense. Then again, the personal tastes of a reader may also come into play. Me, I need, always, to know how and why the story via first-person narration has been told and survived.

Though, an exception occurs to me immediately. One of my favorite novels, Jackson's We Have Always Lived In the Castle.

Date: 2010-08-08 08:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] naamah-darling.livejournal.com
The thing is, I don't even know if there's an industry-wide prejudice against it. It's just what I've been told repeatedly, which is even more aggravating and unhelpful and confusing.

Date: 2010-08-08 08:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

The thing is, I don't even know if there's an industry-wide prejudice against it. It's just what I've been told repeatedly, which is even more aggravating and unhelpful and confusing.

I wish I could resolve the question for you. Now, I'm wondering. Certainly, an awful lot of books and stories written in first person are published every year, which seems to argue against an industry-wide moratorium.

Date: 2010-08-08 07:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] karendammit.livejournal.com
I'm sorry to learn about your fainting and your fall. I too have postural hypotension due to taking Effexor. I've had near faints and falls several times but still cannot remember to stand up slowly. Yes, a hot bath and lie down!

Date: 2010-08-08 07:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

I too have postural hypotension due to taking Effexor.

I just love cures that are almost as unpleasant as the diseases they are meant to treat.

Date: 2010-08-08 07:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dragau.livejournal.com
corucia wrote: "if a significant amount of time has passed and the interauthor is writing down everything to make some sort of record, then she's going to be much more likely to do it in a linear fashion."

When I read corucia's comment yesterday, I wondered further whether a writer should consider how time has affected the depth of the interauthor's insights of the previous events, as well as the insights gained during the act of writing of the narrative itself. How important are insights to motivate the interauthor to write? Or, is the search for insight the interauthor's motivation? As a reader, I am primarily concerned with the insights of the writer herself. Hmm, perhaps I am getting a bit too meta about all this.

Note: I have only dabbled in writing fiction and I would not consider myself even an amateur. The only credentials I bring to this table is a 30-year-old degree in pre-20th century German Literature.

Date: 2010-08-08 07:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

How important are insights to motivate the interauthor to write? Or, is the search for insight the interauthor's motivation?

Both are vital.

Hmm, perhaps I am getting a bit too meta about all this.

As for as I'm concerned, there's no such thing as "too meta."

The only credentials I bring to this table is a 30-year-old degree in pre-20th century German Literature.

That's more than many "experts" can claim.

Date: 2010-08-08 08:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dragau.livejournal.com
there's no such thing as "too meta."

In college, our idea of a girls' night out was dropping acid and debating Kant and Nietzsche. I love nothing more than finding a new perspective.

Date: 2010-08-08 09:04 pm (UTC)
ext_4772: (Alt!Scotty)
From: [identity profile] chris-walsh.livejournal.com
As far as I'm concerned, there's no such thing as "too meta."

Maybe if a novelist wrote a novel about a novelist writing a novel about a novelist writing a novel about a novelist...

Date: 2010-08-08 09:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Maybe if a novelist wrote a novel about a novelist writing a novel about a novelist writing a novel about a novelist...

That sounds like a challenge to me.

I already have a title: Regression.

Date: 2010-08-08 09:10 pm (UTC)
ext_4772: (Palindromes!)
From: [identity profile] chris-walsh.livejournal.com
Seriously and For Real.

And come to think of it, I can imagine you pulling that off.

Keep writing well! And sorry about the foot.

Date: 2010-08-08 09:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dragau.livejournal.com
Maybe if a novelist wrote a novel about a novelist writing a novel about a novelist writing a novel about a novelist...

Wasn't that The Dark Half?

Date: 2010-08-08 08:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaz-mahoney.livejournal.com
First of all, I hope you recover quickly. Sorry to hear about the fall - I suffer from low blood pressure, and for a while was on a medication for migraines which had the side effect of lowering my blood pressure even more. Ugh.

Secondly, re. this: But the message here is simple: The interauthor must speak as the interauthor would speak.

Yes! But so few writers actually do this. Something I read fairly recently, where the author tried to reflect the background of his 1st-person narrator, was ELEGY BEACH by Steven R. Boyett. This novel is set years after a magical apocalypse, and the young man telling the story has no concept of things like electricity, formal schooling, political systems, etc. It's really interesting to see how the character phonetically spells out abbreviations (e.g. 'Pee Em' for 'P.M.') and randomly hyphenates words, uses lots of slang, etc. I'm probably not explaining this very well, but the book is supposed to show the contrast between the world we know as readers, and the world post-Change presented in the book through the sometimes jarring narration of the main character.

Some readers thought the book was just badly edited, though! :)

Date: 2010-08-08 08:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Yes! But so few writers actually do this.

Sadly, I know. I don't think it even occurs to them.

Some readers thought the book was just badly edited, though!

That's just sort of...discouraging.

Date: 2010-08-08 08:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaz-mahoney.livejournal.com
That's just sort of...discouraging.

Yeah. There's some irony in there somewhere, I think. Maybe.

Date: 2010-08-08 09:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mastadge.livejournal.com
I hope those readers never stumble across Riddley Walker!

Date: 2010-08-08 08:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] amethyst-clan.livejournal.com
Falls like that suck. I hope you don't feel the aftereffects for very long.
Edited Date: 2010-08-08 08:54 pm (UTC)

Fainting

Date: 2010-08-08 08:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jessamyg.livejournal.com
It's so wonderful regaining consciousness and finding you have injuries you barely remember receiving or don't remember at all. My last two 'events' of this sort have ended up with me coming around in an ambulance on the way to the local hospital with no memory at all of what had happened. Funnily enough, both of them happened in exactly the same comic shop and left me wondering about coincidence and chance as I only went there once a month. Glad to hear that there has been no permanent injury, and that I thoroughly enjoyed 'The Red Tree' - finally finished it this afternoon.

Re: Fainting

Date: 2010-08-08 09:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

My last two 'events' of this sort have ended up with me coming around in an ambulance on the way to the local hospital with no memory at all of what had happened.

Fortunately, this was not the case this morning.

I do not even want to think about the cost of an ambulance.

Date: 2010-08-08 09:52 pm (UTC)
ext_4772: (Cartoon Chris)
From: [identity profile] chris-walsh.livejournal.com
I do not even want to think about the cost of an ambulance.

Plus, sadly, the EMTs in your ambulance are not likely to be hot (http://chris-walsh.livejournal.com/1272760.html).

Date: 2010-08-08 09:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

You'd think they could at least give us hot EMTs.

Date: 2010-08-08 09:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] easter-lane.livejournal.com
As far as the interauthor having an authentic voice, I totally agree, but think it's probably a tricky line to walk. I know when there is a first person narrative and the author throws in a detail that the character would never in a hundred years notice but that the author would it throws me off (case in point, I read a really trashy vamp/detective story last summer. The interauthour would make classy asides like "She took a bite of pizza and all I could think of was that I should be there instead of the slice", and yet in one scene he describes in detail with time period an antique desk I myself couldn't name, despite watching hundreds of hours of "Antiques Roadshow").

But on the flip side, I think sometimes I need the convention of the author being a good author, and maybe smoothing out some of the kinks in the interauthors monologue. It's the same type of discussion I remember having in my costume design classes--it might be 'real' for a carny to have dirt smeared on his face, but from the stage people are just gonna wonder what the hell is that crap all over him. We were always kind of struggeling with the question of what was actually 'real', and what would be percieved as 'real'.

Date: 2010-08-08 10:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

"She took a bite of pizza and all I could think of was that I should be there instead of the slice"

That could be one of the worst sentences ever written in English.

But on the flip side, I think sometimes I need the convention of the author being a good author, and maybe smoothing out some of the kinks in the interauthors monologue. It's the same type of discussion I remember having in my costume design classes--it might be 'real' for a carny to have dirt smeared on his face, but from the stage people are just gonna wonder what the hell is that crap all over him. We were always kind of struggeling with the question of what was actually 'real', and what would be percieved as 'real'.

This is a problem that has occurred to me only recently. I simply can't allow an interauthor to speak out of character, no matter how much easier it might make things for the readers.

Date: 2010-08-08 10:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] easter-lane.livejournal.com
For me at least it's not a matter of making it easier for me, it's a matter of what keeps me in the world of the story vs. what takes me out. But this might be due to my theater training. That was the question that was drilled into us no matter if we were studying acting, directing, or craft. And, of course, putting on a production for a room full of people can be a very different animal.

I HAVE noticed that a good author will find a way to be authenic AND true to the character's set of given circumstances without me popping out of that world, but that may be one of the many things that inherently seperates a good author from a bad or inexperienced one.
Unless, of course, the author's intent is to screw with the world. I guess maybe it comes down to intent and ability.

I love the fact that you're even having this discussion. It's been a really long time since I've gotten to participate in something like this.

Date: 2010-08-08 10:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matociquala.livejournal.com
Ow. Ankle. Ow. Foot.

:-(

Date: 2010-08-09 12:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dragau.livejournal.com
I just realized that no one has used the word "biography" or its variations these last two days. Is its absence significant, something we overlooked, or is the word not relevant?

Date: 2010-08-09 03:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

I just realized that no one has used the word "biography" or its variations these last two days. Is its absence significant, something we overlooked, or is the word not relevant?

That's actually a very good point, and I will mention it today.

Hmmm

Date: 2010-08-09 05:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spank-an-elf.livejournal.com
Geesh, the weekend I devote to driving the sweet sugar sand roads of the Pine Barrens is the weekend the writing forum takes place.

Yet hearing the breeze whisper across the water lily pads was perfect. Finding a large habitat of sundews along the marshy shore was fabulous.

I'll catch up on the verbal fireworks at a later date.

Fainting reply

Date: 2010-08-10 12:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jessamyg.livejournal.com
The only pleasant things about my ambulance journeys is that I live in a country with a National Health Service, no matter how downsized it has been.

Profile

greygirlbeast: (Default)
Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

S M T W T F S
    1 234
56 7 891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
26272829   

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 25th, 2017 12:58 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios