What I’m Doing When I Write

I recently attended the James Tiptree Jr. Symposium at the University of Oregon, which was an energetic and inspiring event. During one panel, Ursula K. Le Guin said that, “New artists often have to teach us how to read them.” My wife, Erica, immediately nudged me and said, “That’s you.”

I’ve been meaning to write about my writing for a long time. It seems like my work is unique, and often misunderstood. This is a common problem for artists whose work does not attempt to imitate other work that has previously been successful. When readers try to interpret such artists’ work through the lens of what they are already familiar with, instead of accepting it on its own terms, it is easy for them to feel that what is different is different because it is bad. Continue reading

What Makes a Character Unsympathetic?

Gosh, I need to apologize for going so long without posting anything here! I caught a nasty flu over the holidays that derailed my workflow and has set me behind on everything. I have several big posts that I was working on for The Granite Notebook before the holidays and will try to get those finished soon.

But today I wanted to write something that is a little bit more extemporaneous.

This weekend my wife and I happened to watch the movie Arthur (1981), which we had never seen before. In fact, although it was a hit (the fourth highest grossing film of 1981), I’m not sure I had ever heard of it before this weekend. Arthur is a romantic comedy starring Dudley Moore (Arthur) and Liza Minnelli in which Moore plays a wealthy man-child whose only aspirations in life are to stay perpetually drunk and party. Continue reading