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Elmore Leonard’s Top Ten Writing Tips

elmore_leonard.jpg I have just finished writing an article on crime novel author Elmore Leonard's top ten writing tips, tips which I discovered, and here comes that word again, quite serendipitously after stumbling across a page about George Orwell on the same site. Now I should admit to raving fans of Get Shorty or Maximum Bob that I have never actually read a novel by Elmore Leonard—I had never heard of the man until a couple of days ago; yet don't take that as a conscious or unconscious slight on my part—he sounds like the ideal paperback companion for a round-the-world plane trip, which here in New Zealand is the only way to get absolutely anywhere. On the plus side to my wavering credibility, I can admit to having seen several of his film adaptations, incidentally the same adaptations he also recommends: Get Shorty wasn't bad, although I can tell my attention began to wander by the fact that I can remember nothing from halfway through; Jackie Brown was an entirely regrettable experience, and the last time I take advice from a co-worker about films to watch; Out of Sight however was quite the opposite—and further backs my without hesitation recommendation of every title Steven Soderbergh has ever made—although by way of disclaimer: take the age of any film and the year that I watched it, and you'll end up with some sort of formula as to the reliability of my opinion on it; I have at times been severely embarrassed recommending films that I liked a very, very long time ago. So if my opinions on films are at times a little suspect, what exactly would I know about contemporary America's best-selling crime novelist—also a ‘genre’ writer respected for his technical ability? Not a lot, but I did like his main point of advice on writing: "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."

Your mind has been transported back in time… and to Mars

After ranting about the lack intelligence, thought or anything else vaguely resembling human consciousness in the comments posted at youtube recently, I have to admit an exception to the rule of my thumb. The following are a selection of comments posted about a cartoon called Adventure Time, and in the absence of an already written soliloquy about childhood as the true state of being, including references to Sri Chinmoy and the poet Wordsworth, their quotes will just have to do. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNVYWJOEy9A auracom1: Sadly some people need drugs to be imaginative. This is such a sophisticated animation for today's standards. It embodies pure ingenuous imagination, fun to watch, and appeals to varied audience. I don't think this should be on Adult Swim, it's too good for that. blakeyblakes: nick toons meet crack cocaine. WHOA!!! ALGRBRAIC! lollermachine: You don't have to be on drugs to be imaginative. bonza: I've never seen anything more amazing in my life. Nothing will ever, EVER be worthwhile watching compared to this!! X3 FLIMFLAMBOB: That was MATHEMATICAL! Soaprman:“Your mind has been transported back in time... and to Mars.” —best thing on Youtube ever. Rumour has it that Viacom is taking this video down from youtube shortly, so get in quickly to see possibly the most amazing cartoon ever!

Serendipity

Sri Chinmoy I discovered a new website today; new to me and to the rest of the world, for much like this site it has only just started. Sumangali.org, named after its owner, is dedicated to and I quote:
“...to the spirit of serendipity: finding good-fortune from unexpected sources; discovering the extraordinary in the ordinary, and the new in the familiar, fueled by the sense that all we need is already within us—we only need learn how to look...”
I'm definitely in favour of these sentiments; in fact I think my last post was about them. Now that's serendipitous! In the spirit of serendipity I am now going to post a comment by Sri Chinmoy on rainbows, found by myself in exactly this spirit:
“A rainbow is composed of seven colours and seven rays. A rainbow always means success and progress at the same time, even if that success and progress are not in the outer world. A rainbow signifies success, progress, divine victory—everything positive. When you see a rainbow, in the outer world you may not observe your success, but in the inner world, progress has taken place or is about to take place. Again, if it is not destined for you to have success or progress, then you are not going to see a rainbow. Even if the rainbow is there, you will be looking somewhere else. When you are walking, you will be looking at your feet to keep your balance. The rainbow will be there in the sky, but you will miss it. Then for you there will be no success, no progress. If you are meant to have success or progress, then even while driving the car, you will turn your gaze and you will see it. But if you are not going to make progress, you will be looking somewhere else. So always look at the sky. Do not look at the ground all the time.” From Sri Chinmoy Answers, pt9.
Now that I think of it, I haven't seen a rainbow in a while...

Found poetry

10-things-cover.jpg I read a touching film review today, a“found conversation” on a movie site discovered in much the same way one overhears a piece of conversation, insight gained even though—and probably because—it is completely out of context; the same words heard but quite the opposite meaning to that the original author intended. In reviewing 10 Items or Less, louisecardinal from Canada accidentally wrote a poem... I wish this film was realistic I wish this type of story happened more often I wish we didn't have to go to the movies to realize that we can indeed connect with each other even if we come from vastly different backgrounds The film's message is based in the open heart makes us wonder about the possibility of another world where we meet each other from there a world where peace could be a possibility To be completely accurate, louisecardinal wrote this as a film review rather than a poem; these are exactly her words, but I removed the punctuation and broke some sentences to format them as a poem. I may have to watch this film now, for I don't mind admitting that films with heart are my most favourite films of all. I can fault louisecardinal's English, but on this point I can't fault her sentiments. Yes, I also wish that we didn't have to go to the movies, read a beautiful poem or hear a haunting song to realise that we can connect with each other. Furthermore, I wish that connecting with another didn't need the sanction or binding structure of romantic love—that we could connect with every other. 10-things.jpg I guess that's why I first got into meditation—I've known intuitively since an early age that only loving a single person, a single family or a single country was somehow incomplete. I'm a child of mixed nationalities and two countries, of Canada and New Zealand, an only child of a solo mother, yet because of this I grew up almost a part of a multitude of other families, spending time in households, with non-siblings and their parents I often wished were my own; not exactly regretting my own circumstances, but always wondering why the seemingly impossible couldn't be possible—“Why is my Mother my Mother when I also love my friend’s Mother?” There's something of a koan, or Japanese Zen riddle, to insights gained in this accidental manner. When you put aside the ordinary way of seeing the world, as such riddles ask us to do, quite extraordinary meanings can be found in the most unlikely of places. I'm not terribly concerned with the reality or not of these experiences. Yes, an argument could be made that my experience of reality bears no relation to“actual reality,” that I have abandoned objectivity for a quite delusional subjectivity. So what? It is my opinion that the sooner people realise that life is always subjective the better—our obsession with objectivity is synonymous with the loss of heart and pre-eminence of mind in today’s world. Only you have to find a true subjectivity, a notion of and experience of self based on an underlying spiritual reality. I would call this“Poetic Reality.”

The machine is using us

Imagine the internet as an enormous machine. Do we use the machine, or is the machine using us? This is the premise behind a brilliant video posted on YouTube recently, an imaginative exploration of the ideas behind “Web 2.0” by an associate professor of Digital Ethnology at Kansas State University. At the time of writing it has been viewed by well over a million people, speaking much of the power of internet to connect and inform us. Reading the comments left by viewers of video however speaks something of the opposite. I was fascinated by the idea of the internet once: the convergence of media and content which captivated almost everybody in the late 90's—time of boom before bust for what is now called Web 1.0, and birthplace for champions of an interconnected, permanently connected available-on-demand future is now—a Brave New World. How soon the imaginary becomes the ordinary... The idea behind the video is intriguing—that the internet is slowly evolving into a living, breathing, mindful entity through our use of it; the pathways we take, the content we create, the way we label things all teaching the“machine” to“think.” Is the machine serving us, or are we serving the machine?

Why are they dressed as ghosts?

ghosts.jpg Currently doing the rounds on the blogosphere and rating highly at reddit.com is the following image from Canon City, Colorado, 1926—one assumes not a hotbed of culture and intelligence. Unless... More than the photo itself, my sense of the absurd was aroused by the following comment: Why are they dressed as ghosts?! A comment possibly, hopefully made in all sincerity, I savoured it for a moment, imagining the childlike innocence required to see the world this way, thinking our world a better place if such an innocence really exists. On the other hand it could be the work of a playful, albeit darkly shaded sense of humour, and that would almost be just as good. But what if they were ghosts? What a nice world that would be!