I must admit, most of the reason I haven’t posted for a few days is that I’ve been so busy that I could scarcely think.
On Wednesday, I went to a revision lecture with Rick Moody. I’ve heard him speak on the subject of revision before, and at the time, I was surprised that anyone should go through such a detailed, down-in-the-weeds process of editing. In the four years since I heard him speak, either his process has gotten more detailed or he just gave us a lot more in our 2-hour lecture. In addition to the whole “use each of the 4 sentence types in every paragraph” thing I heard before, he had something like 17 other rules for good writing, each of which he made for himself to address a perceived weakness in his own writing, and each of which he still occasionally breaks when he feels justified. Moody said that what he’s aiming for with each of his works is pushing the envelope of what constitutes “story” and “narrative.” At one point, someone asked him when he addressed larger plot and character issues, and he said something to the effect that if you are down in the weeds enough, paying enough attention to individual word choices, the larger issues will take care of themselves. I don’t know if I necessarily believe that, but there it is.
After another lecture with which I disagreed whole-heartedly (you can’t win them all, I guess), two of my friends and I went to Hard Luck Tattoo Studio in Inglewood. I got a bar in my left ear (here’s a picture of one in someone else’s ear), my friend Susan got three studs in her left ear, and my friend Kat got a lovely tattoo on the inside of her right wrist. I feel that I should mention that my friends are both within spitting distance of my mother’s age, and the three of us had an amazing time. Although my friend Kat, as she was being escorted to her car on the last day by her very handsome husband, said “So long, troublemaker!” But she was smiling.
Normally, I didn’t go to the evening readings because by the end of the day I just felt overloaded and anxious to get back to my room to sort things out, but on Wednesday, I went to the Rick Moody reading. As an added treat, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey was giving a reading. While I thought her poetry was excellent (and there’s so little poetry I really like), her reading had that artificial pace that for me marks bad poetry reading. A SORT…of EMPHASIS…on…line ENDINGS…and…ELLIPSIS. To me, it shows a lack of faith in the listener’s ability to hear the poem’s form and internal rhythms, which goes back to a lack of faith in the work itself. I forgive it in newer poets, but I wouldn’t have expected it of Natasha Trethewey. Rick Moody’s reading of “Boys” bore out so many of the lessons he went over earlier that afternoon.
I went back to my hotel that night after stopping at a taqueria for dinner, and had to sleep on my right side, my left ear being too insulted to allow for sleep.