Archive for April, 2008

XXVIII.

Posted in Uncategorized on 27 April 2008 by ms. v

There’s something about this article and slideshow of Jill Freedman’s work that seems unspeakably sad to me.  I mean, these are beautiful photographs.  The subjects have so much dignity.  To come back to New York and cry at the loss of the grittiness – well, I understand that, looking at these pictures, but it’s also sad, because to me vast change is as much a piece of New York as any one moment in its history.  But maybe if I’d been there then, I’d feel differently.

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XXVII.

Posted in Uncategorized on 25 April 2008 by ms. v

From The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe:

One of the phrases that kept running through the conversation was “pushing the outside of the envelope.”  The “envelope” was a flight-test term referring to the limits of a particular aircraft’s performance, how tight a turn it could make at such-and-such a speed, and so on.  “Pushing the outside,” probing the outer limits, of the envelope seemed to be the great challenge and satisfaction of flight test.  At first “pushing the outside of the envelope” was not a particularly terrifying phrase to hear.  It sounded once more as if the boys were just talking about sports.

XXVI.

Posted in Uncategorized on 25 April 2008 by ms. v

Learning to speak a new language means you have to open your mouth one day, and say something.  Starting a writing career feels the same way to me.  A friend sent a list of magazines that accept essay submissions.  I pored over it, found a few that seemed likely, sat down to write.  Yesterday, I warmed up by sending two “micro-essays” to Common Ties, then crafting a longer piece for Plenty Magazine.  I had to cut so much from the Plenty piece to get it under the word limit, it feels a little constricted.  Everyone says that cutting is the key to editing, and I agree, but writing needs a bit of expansiveness, a pause between breaths.  Maybe the story was too big for the space I had to tell it.  I suspect I will hear nothing – you don’t even get rejection letters anymore – but I can market it elsewhere.  I contacted two children’s science magazines to find out their pitch and submissions guidelines.

Today, I wrote a piece for Skirt Magazine.  It came out right, but so personal.  I felt like I might be selling a piece of myself.  But that’s the personal essay.  I see now why so many writers wrap themselves in humor when telling personal stories: telling it straight is terrifying.  But nothing is coming out in a humorous voice right now, so I took the leap of faith and sent the email.  I can own this story while still sharing it.  If I’ve told it well enough, if the writing is lyrical enough, it will move someone, but it will still be mine.  If it’s beautiful enough, then telling it is not a loss.

XXV.

Posted in Uncategorized on 22 April 2008 by ms. v

I want to create a sort of experiential dictionary for myself. I don’t know the names for things. Fedora, taffeta, tulle, primrose, hickory, wingtip, muu-muu.  I know the names but I don’t know the things.  I need to teach myself whole constellations of description to navigate the writing I want to do. I need to smell spices and write down the feelings and colors of their flavors. I need to touch fabrics and see the grain of each freshly-cut board. I need to record the shape of hats of all kinds. I need to know a Brooks Brothers suit from another kind of suit (see, I can only name one!). Cars. Tools. Houses. Shoes. Breeds of dog. Styles of jazz.