Gord Downie and The Sadies played at The Sinclair in Cambridge on Saturday. The opening song, Crater, is the kind of music that comes over you and drives hard, perfect for sitting back and imagining that life might not be that bad, that there is joy in the night. View concert clip here.The band offered a superabundance of terrain – rock, punk, surfer, country, folk – melding their new-found energy with sincerity, talent and screams. And all of this, only the band’s third show together. Their cover of Guided By Voices, I Am A Scientist, makes one wonder what might be next, the hot summer nights ahead, when they will get deeper into their groove.
The weekend’s focus on social media platforms and the need to tweet burned me out this weekend, and so I focused on the good stuff today: writing. I tried to follow Mitali Perkins’ advice (Sense of Place in the Novel) in using specific nouns and verbs in a scene:
The patio was desolate – all of the building’s plush chaise lounges and teak tables still stacked away for the hurricane. My hands were sticky on the railing, the cedar trees huddled in the corner like scared kids. The police sirens were more distant now, but the acrid smell of diesel fumes was still there. I dug the ball of my foot into the wood, squishing out the thick brown water and shredded brown leaves.
I was then inspired to write a character description in another class: Val is quick to smile, comically graphic, her whole face stretched out, eyes gone tiny, all teeth, stunning at first, her entire being revealed as a wonder-eyed girl, but arch and sad, needing to be loved and knowing how this was how to do it. She wore little girl jeans, stone washed, and tucked her hands in her pockets, her thumbs out, leaning back, her pelvis girlishly out. She was adorable. And she knew it.
The weekend closed with the amusing and profound words of Walter Mosely: “Writers learn to be ignored and then envied. I turn on the computer in the morning. After that, everything is magic. Writing is my soul.” Finally, in answer to a question about what it was like to grow up with a Jewish mother and black father, he responded, “White people have to learn to stop being white. None of us are the same.” As simple as that.
I learned a great deal on my first day at the Grub Street Writer’s Conference in Boston, including that only 20% of Americans read a novel after leaving high school. 96% of books never earn out – i.e. pay for themselves.
Writers do not make money and that, along with great dreams, they must also set goals which are attainable.
It was in this mindset, and under the guidance of Katrin Schumann, that I wrote a first draft of my mission statement:To harness my no-quarter intensity and provide clarity through my prose, pitching the darkness in each of us, so that we may understand who we really are and what is to come.