As previously mentioned, Deliberatepixel.com is in flux right now, and, as a complement to preparing for the future, I've done a bit of looking back at the past. The result? I made a print book of my favorite posts from the last two years: Deliberatepixel Offline: 2009–2011.
Raymond Chandler chose a career of writing like a mercenary picked up a weapon. At age 45–an oil executive recently drummed out of his high-paying job for his drinking and philandering binges–he decided to earn a living by making stories, and he pursued that goal with a new discipline and order. He read one pulp magazine after another, noting structure and absorbing style. He enrolled in a writing class, where he dutifully produced essays and stories according to prompts and assignments. Steadily, over the course of years, he moved from pulp fiction hack to successful novelist to Hollywood screenwriter. After his death, he became one of the most well-recognized American writers of the twentieth century.
There isn't an artist, living or dead, who ever frustrated, confused and inspired me as much as Jack Kerouac did. Yes, I crossed paths with him precisely when I needed to, as a disaffected youth obsessed with consuming words and creating meaning. Yes, the passage of time has tempered my feelings for him, and given me a more realistic perspective. But, still, that fascination and affection - it lingers. It always will.
Chuck Jones is to me, first and foremost, two things for which he rarely gets much popular credit: a great film director and an astute, warm and stylish writer. He sometimes doesn't even get credit as an animated cartoonist - the ubiquity and volume of his creations eclipses the work he personally put into them. But while his name is familiar in the cartoon world, and will at least occasionally pop up in the positive opinions of someone who considers him a proper director, there is a decided, unfortunate lack of attention paid to his legacy of written wit.
As mentioned in AlterNet, a new report shows that the overwhelming majority of film critics in US newspapers are men, and almost half of papers print absolutely nothing by women on the subject of film. Wait - you mean women are underrepresented in mainstream film? I haven't heard anything like that before.
I don't really argue with the linked article's argument - in fact, it's exactly right. But there's a missing piece to this discussion, and it's that taking stock of newspaper writing, especially newspaper cinema writing, is hardly taking an accurate picture of the present and and future of film criticism. The landscape isn't quite so bleak if you take into account the women writing about film on the web. Let's face it: for good or bad, newspapers are in a steady and probably irreversible decline. The web is where it's at. It's also where writers like Anne Thompson, Karina Longworth, Alison Willmore, and Dana Stevens are. It's also where I happen to be, a woman writing about film. For once, I'm going to put aside the righteous indignation and focus on optimism instead. It's not great that so few women critics are featured in today's newspapers. But it's not the end of the world, either.
Okay, so I should probably stop linking to every new column Annalee Newitz writes, but she's just so right. Why does it seem no one else is writing about the promises and implications of technology like she does? Anyway, I think she's got a great point about digital publishing versus traditional:
But books can be burned. All copies of a book can be wiped out by one crappy political regime bent on censorship. Online it's much more difficult to burn a book. Just try deleting a book or movie or sound file you want suppressed. Ten copies pop up elsewhere. Then 10,000 copies. And they're stored on servers all over the world, in countries where your shock troops can't reach, in high school kids' closets where even their parents can't reach.
I too would like to see a more legitimate standing for online publication, but I think all it will take is time. After all, it's really only been a few years, hasn't it? It seems like blogs have been around for a lot longer, given the growth they've had.
Some days before, Neil Gaiman pointed out a series of writings by Teller (of the duo Penn & Teller) chronicling the development of his production of Macbeth - which are in fact great, but the whole list of writing, dating from 2000, is just as worthwhile to read through.
Writers don’t make up myths; they take them over and recast them. Even Homer was telling stories that his audience already knew. If some individuals present weren’t acquainted with Odysseus’s wanderings or the Trojan War, and were listening in for the first time (as I was when a child, enthralled by the gods and goddesses in H.A. Guerber’s classic retelling), they were still aware that this was a common inheritance that belonged to everyone. Its single author – if Homer was one at all – acted as a conduit of collective knowledge, picking up the thread and telling it anew.
If you're lagging on your NaNoWriMo novel, or just writing in general, Gretchen at the Happiness Project offers some writing tips from Flannery O'Connor:
Try arranging [your novel] backwards and see what you see. I thought this stunt up from my art classes, where we always turn the picture upside down, on its two sides, to see what lines need to be added. A lot of excess stuff will drop off this way.
I’m a full-time believer in writing habits…You may be able to do without them if you have genius but most of us only have talent and this is simply something that has to be assisted all the time by physical and mental habits or it dries up and blows away…Of course you have to make your habits in this conform to what you can do. I write only about two hours every day because that’s all the energy I have, but I don’t let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place.
It might be dangerous for you to have too much time to write. I mean if you took off a year and had nothing else to do but write and weren’t used to doing it all the time then you might get discouraged.
There's more at the link, too.
Today's entry is a bit late (5:45 AM, instead of midnight before - probably only my fans in Japan will even possibly notice), and decidedly less formal. This serious publishing thing is hard work. But fun work - I wish I could devote myself to publishing for the web exclusively. I could branch out into audio and video content, develop some new projects, lengthen my articles. All just about things that interest and amuse me. My advertising base would number about three.
When I was in my early teens, I created my own magazine. A literary magazine, actually. I used my mad WordPerfect desktop publishing skills to format and print it out. It was an odd mixture of short fiction and essay, complete with special asides for quotes and calendar dates. I think I managed two issues before it got too useless to continue. I don't think I even ever showed it to anyone. I just liked making it.
In that light, I suppose it's not very surprising I enjoy working on a website like this one. It's going to take a while to regularize the schedule, and find a way for everything to flow together. But I'm having fun with it. It's strange how those impulses (i.e. making an early teen zine) will manifest themselves years later without warning or direct encouragement.
With the recent Minneapolis Star-Tribune shake-up, especially as evidenced through the eyes of columnist James Lileks, there's been cause to think about publishing lately. Ever since the internet began, I'm sure there's been terror in the newspaper (and the traditional media in general) business, but it's reached a point where they really can't hold out in any longer. There is an entire generation of people out here who never touch a newspaper, and not wholly on the grounds that news on the internet is just easier. It is easier, but it's also much more in the reader's control. Via the web, I can get different takes on stories from publications all over the world. I can find hundreds of magazines with just as many different opinions and views. I can find blogs and articles written directly by people involved in stories. I can get it at any time, in any place.
And if I so desire, I can create my own publication, and publish it to the entire world.
Who would ever want to go back?
Anyway, to update on a project I introduced earlier this week - I'm transferring my Alice in Wonderland blog into Tumblr format. Eventually, the Tumblr version will live at the original address here on dp.com, but I have to wait for my host to make some DNS changes.
I'm really enjoying Tumblr, by the way. I've been considering starting a "tumblelog" for a while, for experimentation's sake, and I thought the scrapbook approach suited my Alice project. It's insanely easy to begin and customize, and a lot more visually interesting than a blog.
Contact form is working now, also by the way. Use it wisely.