March 2011

The blogger at The Inside Look listed ten questions that Dennis Lehane, in his keynote address at Sleuthfest, suggests writers should ask about their mystery story.

Found on the DorothyL listserv:

Radio conversation between Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler, 10 July 1958

Fleming and Chandler talk about protagonists James Bond and Philip Marlowe in this conversation between two masters of their genre. They discuss heroes and villains, the relationship between author and character and the differences between the English and American thriller. Fleming contrasts the domestic ‘tea and muffins’ school of detective story with the American private eye tradition and Chandler guides Fleming through the modus operandi of a mafia hit while marvelling at the speed with which his fellow author turns out the latest Bond adventure.

From Suzie Quint’s blog:  Falling in Love with Romance

In watching Hugh Laurie play a slang quiz with Ellen deGeneres, I found that I knew the English slang, but may as well have been analyzing Turkish when it came to the American slang.  I don’t know if Mr. Laurie’s list was ‘old fashioned,’ and Ms. deGeneres’s list was trendy, so that my ignorance is generational, or if there is another reason.  In any case, it’s a good thing I don’t try to write contemporary fiction.

I find I can either build stories, or successfully fizz around with social networking, but  balancing the two is a matter of going in fits and starts.

For me, writing fiction requires concentration, and focus.  I must line up all the imaginary ducks in their rows and then arrange them by color, height, width, feather style, or any other categorized tweak needed to Make Art.

With social networking, though, I wave and yoo-hoo my way across virtual cocktail parties as the ducks waddle off on their own.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t line up ducks at a cocktail party.

The growing shift in publishing, from writer writing and publisher doing most everything else, to writers following the corporate model of my husband’s workplace, ie, ‘doing more with less,’ requires writers who aren’t already household names (or at least big genre names) to be a one-man-band about their writing.

“Look at what I did!  Over here!  Hey, look! Over here!  Hey!  HEY! Look over here! It’s really great!  Look!”

Writers must tweet, blog, broadcast, podcast and strew landfills with empty ballpoints, roller balls and gel pens from book signings across the country.  Publicity becomes the job and the writing must be fitted in.  New ebook titles?  My Life in a Laptop, Writing on the Interstate, Auto Aerobics, Hotplate Recipes For One, Weekend Writing for Publicists.

This shift will carry along those who can squeeze themselves into the pigeonholes of the new writing Zeitgeist, and those who don’t find the results of the process, or the process itself, to be to their liking will change their desires until they come across something that suits them.

For those of us working our invisible way through the noise up to “Who?” or maybe even a short nod indicating that the other person has seen us, the job is to balance lining up ducks while enticing readers with sparkle-eyed party talk.

Today the talk is at Meg Waite Clayton’s “Blogger Ball Redux.”  (click on the bookshelves)

Now that I’ve checked off sparkle party talk from today’s to-do list, I need to pursue some poultry.

Here, ducky, ducky!

If you are unable to attend the Edgar Symposium in New York in April, you can order audio or video recordings of the sessions from the Mystery Writers of America.

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love gave a TED talk about how to look at the human relationship with creativity, success and failure.


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