Tuesday, November 17, 2009

TMI, F. Scott, mini-NaNo Blah Blah

1. TMI
Ugh...yesterday I went in for a combined appointment for dental cleaning and an orthodontics adjustment. From basic braces, I am now being initiated into the joys of the ever-so-charmingly named "power chains," which are supposed to close the gaps where teeth were yanked more quickly; and elastics (rubber bands, really) which attach to my eye teeth top and bottom to help move my bite into the right place. The requisite pushing and prodding involved in all this left me sore and cranky, though they're good folks and as gentle as possible. You can replicate the experience, if so desired, by getting someone to kick you in the teeth half a dozen times, and then wrapping a big rubber band around your head top to bottom so you can't open your mouth more than a quarter inch without pressure. Go on, try it! It's fun! Bonus: the elastics are very obvious. 'Cause regular braces weren't dorky enough.

Seriously though, I *am* grateful (and blessed) to be in a place where I can afford to finally do this, before I had more problems. And even after just the five months or so since I started this whole process, the dental hygienist was thrilled that she could actually *see* all my teeth. They were too crowded to get at before.

But it'll be awful nice when it's done. Still a long way to go, but it's happening.

2. F. Scott Fitzgerald
If you're the sort of person who tends naturally toward "melancholy," you should probably avoid reading F. Scott Fitzgerald. If you *must* read F. Scott Fitzgerald, for goodness' sake avoid Tender is the Night. Even just *reading* it will make you feel unsettled, slightly drunk, and a bit insane. But oh, I do love his writing. OK, so his characters are pretty much all miserable, immoral, shallow (yet beautiful and charming) people who I would avoid in real life--as if I'd move in the circles of the rich and famous to begin with. But I'm still drawn in by his writing. His stories are like oversaturated photos: unreal and a little disorienting, but compelling. He uses the most exquisite words, and uses them exquisitely. The often quoted line from the very end of The Great Gatsby is a good example:

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Even out of context, I love that.

Tender is the Night is not a happy book. It's not a nice book. Nobody ends well. But I couldn't help liking it all the same.

3. NaNo
I quick-and-dirty PDFed another big chunk of my manuscript this morning since I had to be in before hours to do server maintenance. Just made images without trying to OCR. I figure it's good enough for a backup. Considering I've not been able to resist scribbling notes and corrections all over my pages (I'd forget 'em if I waited until I finished), I'm not sure I'll be able to OCR anyhoo.

The story is...well...moving. Slowly. I'd do better with an extra hour in the morning. Unfortunately, I don't have a time turner. I will say this: one nice thing about having a writer in the story is that I can stick in occasional venting sessions, but in his voice, and actually add to my word count. Handy. I'll probably have to edit them down a bit in the rewrite, but some of them are dead-on and very well said. Bravo, Marty.


Mike Speegle said...

1. Braces! You're a tougher soul than I. Just reading about it makes me want to curl up under my desk and mewl in terror.

2. Ugh. I guess someone was bound to enjoy Fitzgerald's work. I have to admit that The Great Gatsby was the only book that I have ever in my life well and truly hated.

3. Venting through a character is a time-honored tradition. And on that note, I think I am one of many who wants to read more LFP work.

Elizabeth H. said...

Hemingway gets my vote for most-loathed. I know, I know, he has countless fans who would say I'm an undiscerning idiot who doesn't know genius when she sees it, but I really, really, really dislike him. I can recognize that he has his own distinct style and admire that, but that's as far as I go. I forced myself to read The Old Man and the Sea and A Farewell to Arms, but it was grueling. Most of his main male characters are pompous misogynistic drunks with no redeeming qualities, and most of his women are flat, unrealistic and pathetic.

Oh, sorrry, did I rant?

Fitzgerald also writes about unpleasant people, but he manages to do it so beautifully that I like him in spite of myself.

mpclemens said...

Fitzgerald is one of those authors that I was exposed to as a world-wise high schooler, and consequently didn't enjoy very much (we read Gatsby.) I have a feeling I'd enjoy quite a few of those books now that I'm all grown up and far more ignorant that I was at 15.

Strikethru said...

Don't read Clickthing today or you're going to want to punch MPC. ;-)

What is Tender is the Night about? I was a lit major. I should really know this.

Elizabeth H. said...

Short version: it's about a young psychiatrist with a promising career ahead of him who falls in loves with and marries a wealthy patient of his--a schizophrenic. I think it's pretty obvious that a good deal of the emotions and ups and downs throughout the book were drawn from Fitzgerald's own life...makes it a little painful at times.

And, as I said, there are no good people. And no happy endings. And, in addition to being somewhat shockingly frank for its time, it also has words and mindsets that are pretty jarring to the modern reader.

But I still liked it.