Monday, November 19, 2007

Beyond FUN: A Celebration of Circles

I’ve got a lot going on but feel the need to list a few links to satisfy my own organizational mania. Perhaps these posts also will leave you feeling as inspired as I do by my recent brief but enlightening internet excursions:

Lisa Kenney over at Eudaemonia started a terrific discussion about the challenges so many writers face as they struggle to juggle 1) the drive to learn a new, challenging craft, 2) the desire to work at that craft as much as possible, and 3) the constant distractions and demands of everyday life. She also discusses exploring difficult personal/family issues in one’s writing, an issue I find fascinating. John Elder Robison (JER for the remainder of this post) brings up some interesting points, as do the rest of the visitors who’ve left comments on this particular post. Check out the full piece “Where My Head Is Tonight” and discussion thread here.

I find the comments sections of so many bloggers’ posts just as fascinating as the posts themselves. Over the weekend, Jen P commented on my last post that her husband has Asperger’s Syndrome like JER; when JER noted that he’d visited Jen’s husband’s blog Planet3RRY before, he added “It’s a circle, I guess,” to which Jen responded that she’s happy to be a part of the circle and added: “It feels a lot less isolating!”

So this issue of isolation came around full circle for me since 1) it’s discussed in Lisa’s recent post and 2) it was discussed by many of the moms who responded to my questions about life with children with autism. Author Patry Francis over at Simply Wait has talked about this before, too, referring to her blog and the community it created as a unique alternative to the graduate program in creative writing she’d always wanted to attend. It’s not only the feeling of being in a community that keeps so many of us blogging; for those of us who simply love to learn, blogging leads us into realms of reality we otherwise never would have experienced. It can be addicting, to be sure, which leads me back to Lisa’s original concern about simply juggling it all.

Reading is another addictive past-time. While I love to write reviews of books because the process of writing them helps me revisit what I’ve learned from a work, share it, and put it into a concrete form that helps me remember more details much more clearly, lack of time and the need to move on to new projects (and books!) often makes writing full reviews of every book I read a tempting but tricky endeavor. Not only has Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, for example, been reviewed a zillion times, it’s such a monumental work that I loved so much that it would take me a month to even write a rough draft of a worthy review. So I’ll simply link to a review I just discovered in the New York Times archive and now cherish: “The Heart’s Eternal Vow” by reclusive author Thomas Pynchon. Written when Love was first published in 1988, it’s an inspired tribute. Fair warning if you plan to read this book: some plot points I thoroughly enjoyed discovering along the way are mentioned in Pynchon’s review.

Suffice to say I found Márquez’s writing astounding and his plotting perfect. Every word he writes seems to resonate either with beauty or meaning or hidden implications that may or may not be later revealed. I love his character descriptions, which he bestows on even his most minor characters:

“She attracted his attention because of her mother-of-pearl whiteness, her happy plump women’s scent, her immense soprano’s bosom crowned by an artificial magnolia. She wore a very close-fitting black velvet dress, as black as her eager warm eyes, and her hair, caught at the nape of her neck with a gypsy comb, was blacker still. She wore pendant earrings, a matching necklace, and identical rings, shaped like sparkling roses, on several fingers. A beauty mark had been drawn with pencil on her right cheek.”

As Márquez is quoted in Pynchon’s piece: “In reality the duty of a writer—the revolutionary duty, if you will—is that of writing well.” While Gabriel Garcia Márquez makes this look easy, many of us know and appreciate just how difficult it really is. Which not only leads me to an immense appreciation for a master like Márquez, it brings me back to Lisa’s discussion of what writers do and why the hell we put ourselves through it. What a circle it is, indeed!

Circles Photo from Kensington (Ontario) Festival of Lights © 2003 Tara Kovaliv


Blogger Lisa said...

I have been amazed at the responses my rambling posts about the writing journey sometimes elicit. Truly amazed because I almost always think that whatever I'm struggling with is something happening to just me. It's never just me and I have such affection for the people in this online community who are willing to share my angst and their own and offer support and encouragement -- to me and to each other. Lots of people are beginning to post about Thanksgiving this week. Being a part of all of "this" -- which led me to meeting you, a wonderful new friend -- is something I am really thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

I feel the same way, Lisa: blessed and thankful. Meeting you has been an extra-special blogging bonus! Hope you and Scott have a terrific holiday weekend!

1:25 PM  
Anonymous -Brian- said...

When I read, it is like a search, and, without any "find", I am lost as to what the writer is telling me, and why. Take the example of the description of a person: "Just why am I being described, in detail, about the face and other empirically visual features of this person?" The details seem to fizzle in my mind as I "search" for the writer to give me a hint--any hint--of what he or she is trying to say, in direct language. Often, to my dismay, I am told that these "inuendos" of life cannot be put into direct language, and need the faculties of descriptive influence in a plot to reveal them in any way. That, to me, might be the way it has been for ages, as though no one has gone all the way to say what these inuendos mean in direct language, and therefore, writers are held captive to the need to use descriptions and plots to express themselves.

It's the fact that most (if not all) autistics tend to take things "literally", rather than otherwise, that leaves us in a perplexing and often frustrating dilemma as to understanding others. It's not just the lack of understanding body language, eye contact, and "flirting" (in the broad sense of the word), but also of understanding verbal and written language that does not come forth directly, but in an "implied" way (where we are expected to know, by instinct, just what was meant by the implication). This is very bewildering to say the least, and, as we see it, the sooner that language (and writers) get to the direct approach to all venues in life, the better understanding will be in all phases and genres of people, everywhere.

8:44 PM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

Brian, your thoughtful insights simply amaze me. Thanks so much for explaining all that. While I tend to ramble (and this post is certainly a good example) when writing about personal experiences or epiphanies, I tend to be much more direct when reporting on an effective resource for readers who are here looking for answers about diversity or tolerance issues. My apologies if you found my writing in this instance difficult to follow.

As for writers I consider to be masters, descriptive and other "implied" passages may seem difficult to follow if one is searching for something concrete, some clue regarding what is being communicated and why. The trick here is to simply read for the sake of reading, to read out loud if necessary in order to fully appreciate a writer's unique way with words, to fully hear and appreciate the love and time and attention and effort that went into forming a simply beautiful thing. Does that make any sense? K.

9:02 PM  
Blogger Marla Fauchier Baltes said...

I have been enjoying your blog. Isolation hits home today as we homeschool and try to get out of this house! Maizie seems determined to "scan" every book we own on her pretend cash register before she does anything else for the day! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

7:51 AM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

You too, Marla! Sweet image of Mazie scanning her books. Sounds like she'd love to have her own copy machine. I bet Santa doesn't get many orders for those. :)

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Maddy said...

I've just come from there [followed your comment] It seems like a very positive community.
BEst wishes

5:04 PM  
Blogger Sustenance Scout said...

So glad you stopped by, Maddy. Welcome!

5:26 PM  

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