Blogfesting away

I think I’ve joined altogether too many Blogfests with nearly colliding deadlines. I posted for one yesterday, after a whole day of travelling and so on, and finished by midnight.

And I’m going to write for at least 2 others before the month ends…phew.

If you’re wondering what I’m on about, take a look here. These events are cool, because they’re making me write new stuff, polish up stuff I would have let languish and introducing me to new writers. What more can a green writer ask for?

So this blog will take a bit of a backseat for the moment, because I’m also struggling with other submission deadlines.

But things are nipping along at Amlokiblogs, my writing blog. Hop over there and take a look. In other news, one of my flash pieces got published at Six Sentences. I’d love a visit and a few words.

Writing on Chick Lit

The Chick-Lit Debate

Is this Chick-lit?

I have recently been reading blogs, discussions and articles on what should and should not be called Chick Lit, whether the term has its uses, and if it is being mis-used by editors, publishers and readers.

Tina Jordan quotes Linda Holmes in Shelf Life:

“If you’re going to try to report on the fact that a couple of women who write books have tried to start a discussions of whether the mega-response to Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom is symptomatic of a too-narrow view of interesting fiction, it might be a good idea to stay away from the formless and dismissive term ‘chick lit’ in discussing them.”

To me, genres are something publishers use to classify books, and chick-lit, with the covers full of cartoons, of shoes, bags and women, is their idea of marketing humorous books by and on women. End of story.

Here’s an interesting take on the issue by a chick-lit fan who says:

“I don’t exclusively read chick-lit.  I don’t exclusively read YA.  I don’t exclusively read anything.  You clearly see where I stand on the matter.  I am a fan of chick-lit, don’t mind it being labeled as such, and certainly don’t think having “a female name is like an affliction.”

To me, I’ve read a few chick-lits when I needed a light read, and can vouch for the fact that almost all were witty and well-written. But yes, I would be upset if a fantasy, horror or literary work is labeled chick-lit merely because it happens to be a book related to women’s interests and has been written by a woman. Not because chick-lit  is lowly, but because the label is wrong.

What do you think?

Writing about Decisions, Craziness

Isabel Allende's "The House of Spirits"

The House of Spirits

Life has gone quite crazy lately, what with one thing or the other. While I try to return a semblance of order to things, books keep me company.

I talked about “The Constant Princess” by Philippa Gregory yesterday, and today I’ve decided to pick up Isabel Allende’s House of Spirits and give it a go whenever I have a break.

I’ve watched the movie, so I know the basic story, but I can’t resist the idea of Allende’s writing.

It is still dark out side as I write and is beginning to clear up little by little. A walk may just be what the doctor ordered.

What about you? How is/was your day? Week?

Writing about Blogfests

Despite all renewed good intentions of posting more often on this blog, I haven’t kept up to it, but this time I have a good excuse: I have been blogging on my other blog : Amlokiblogs.

And I’ve been talking about Blogfests. I wanted to repost here the whole shebang I posted there, but then I thought a link is more reasonable. Also more polite.

So if you’re wondering what I’ve been up to, have a read at my today’s Blogfest entry for the Guess That Character Blogfest.

Darcknyt might like it, I think :D

And if you feel up to posting excerpts of your work, or writing flash pieces for a whole gang of people to comment on, you can find out about more Blogfests here.

Now that I’ve said my piece, I think it is back to work, of which I have done very little today.

Writing about waiting like shoals of bluefish

Looking Up and Down

Looking Up and Down

And then they all lay down and prepared to die. There is only death, they were told, the one true thing, the one sure end to us all. Let us learn to embrace it, to find in it the solace it provides, to close our eyes a little and feel the trembling darkness, hear its sighs and splashes. Even in this blue paradise, where light has no beginning nor end, let us lie like shoals of bluefish, quiet in the darkness, waiting for the end.

Writing about Migraines, Method-acting, Writing

Possessed by my CHaracters

Séance Characters

I spent the entire weekend battling a migraine the size of a tsunami, and now my faculties are returning, one by one, like washed-up debris on a devastated shore.

I think one of the major reasons I had such a walloping attack could be because some of my characters are taking over, and I have been expressing ( or struggling not to express) primarily their reactions, not mine, to any given stimulus.

A writer friend called this method-acting– I had not thought of this in those terms before. I’m currently inhabited by an uber-successful closet-lesbian writer whose daughter is making a rash marriage, a self-pitying ego-maniacal cleaner who is worried about how fat he is, and a woman who lost her pregnancy years ago and is still coming to terms with it.

All three took me over from time to time during last week, and made it impossible for  me to push through my real self, and behave as Me, not my characters. Meditation helps, but the effects are not long-lasting, because I’m not  a good monk, I suppose.

This kind of inner chaos is why I think I’ll never take up writing full-time.

I have too much imagination, and not enough good sense, which makes me an easy victim for my characters, who take my head over like ghosts are reported to take over mediums at seances.

If this is true, and not another of my imaginative hypotheses, it bears think about a little.

Write, stop writing?

Especially after I held in my hands a printed book which had my name printed inside it, above a story I’d written some time ago. The book would be available shortly in local bookstores, and it would be a strange thing to walk in and see it on the shelves.

I should probably push the answering of my write/ stop writing question under the house carpet till then. Perhaps by stamping on it repeatedly as I walk around, I’ll be able to get rid of it altogether.

Writing about Coffeehouses and Electronic Devices

Should Coffeehouses Ban Laptops?

Should Coffeehouses Ban Laptops?

Coffeehouses in California are apparently banning computers and e-readers, according to this post I read recently.

Where I live in Kuala lumpur, coffee-houses provide free wi-fi, and from experience, I can say they are very nice to customers like me who want to take their work/entertainment/ reading outside the home. E-readers are picking up, though one does not see all that many in public as yet. But that is changing, rapidly.

The said coffeehouses in California have set themselves up as gatekeepers of “culture”:

The coffeehouse owners interviewed in the LA Times article about the new rules all spoke of the need to preserve the culture of their café as a place of meeting and exchanging ideas. This culture does not have room for laptops and e-readers, but print books and newspapers are still “embraced” by owners and are part of the culture these coffeehouses are hoping to regain. In defining their values and the values of their customers, owners working to remove electronic devices from their cafés have drawn a definite distinction -– print books are cultured, electronic books are not.

Personally, I make sure I order enough for the restaurant or cafe where I’m writing to not resent me, and I can understand the frustration of popular coffee houses with patrons who order one cup of tea and sit around for hours after the drink is finished, without ordering anything else.

But if the place is relatively empty, I don’t see what business it is of theirs  if people sit around, not buying much, reading whatever they like: books, laptops, iPads. They just might become regulars and eventually order more, right? A  sense of community might develop, where the regulars get to know the people at the coffeehouse and vice-versa, which I feel is a nice thing.

Not just that, I don’t see why a shop should ban laptops and e-readers on principle. Who gave them the right to decide what is “cultural” also beats me.

I have seen packed coffee-places in Hong Kong, especially those in the big malls, and students hanging out for hours, studying. I admit it got somewhat annoying when I arranged to meet someone at a coffee place and couldn’t find a vacant seat because earphone wearing, made-up, weird-haired students had grabbed all the places and refused to budge. But in Hong kong, people don’t mind sharing tables with strangers, and though that takes some getting used to, in the end everyone is happy.

So yes, there has to be a balance so business does not suffer and there are enough seats for all. To this end, I have seen signs in cafes and fast-food chain outlets in Singapore saying ‘no studying at such and such hours’, usually the peak hours. These places are only trying to ensure their business does not suffer and that is understandable.

The customers who love free Wi-fi ought to make sure they order a decent amount, and the restaurants need to understand that some/ most of their clients are attracted by the free Wi-fi, and be tolerant of them, within reason.

As long as a customer orders enough to justify the time spent at the table, I do not see why laptops etc should be banned by coffee-houses.

What do you think?