This is the Message Centre for Pinniped
nadia Started conversation Jan 31, 2007
Pinniped Posted Jan 31, 2007
Hey, good to see you. Hope the other half's well too.
Pretty quiet, on the whole. If you want to read the best of a few gifted newcomers, I'd said it's probably this gent : U5477852
Waz would be pleased to hear from you, if you haven't already.
Bad timing, I'm afraid. I've got to rush. (Wife's finished with her employer of seven years today. Needs a hug...)
nadia Posted Jan 31, 2007
Ouch, that's hard. My sympathies to the Weddell.
Wifey is suffering a bit of carer's fatigue but nothing that some quiet won't fix.
Thanks for the reading tip. I've been over to the AWW and the number of unfamiliar names is daunting. Good to have a starting point.
Pinniped Posted Feb 1, 2007
OK. Sorry about that little interruption to normal service.
(The Weddell just left for the railway station. Day One in a new company begins, and it's so strange to see a supremely confident woman turn, if only for a little while, back into a nervous girl. Know what? I envy her the journey a little. And I love her to bits)
Are you writing much yourself? I have to confess that very little of my output has gone into h2g2 since around the time you wandered up the hill. Some of the best of the recent stuff I could never post here, because I've used hootoo as a source of ideas. Not plagiarism, not really, but certainly a couple of cases of someone else's Entry taken as a starting point.
It's most of it practice in the end. For what, I'm still not sure.
'Course, I'm always up to try some collaborative writing with a catalytic genius. Do you know any of those?
nadia Posted Feb 4, 2007
Practice for it's own sake, surely? For the joy of stringing words together in new ways, and becausse any writing helps you keep your edge.
No catalytic geniuses here but I do know a slightly rusty welsh lass who'd be up for it. Seriously, I wanted to suggest a collaboration but didn't because I didn't want you to think that was my only reason for stopping by, and because I didn't have anything specific to suggest. Is there anything that's grabbing you?
I hope your better half's new job is going well. Oh, speaking of, the lizard says to say hello.
Pinniped Posted Feb 4, 2007
Hiya Lizardy. The Weddell says hello too, and, no, her new job isn't going well. But I suspect that's mainly because she's too impatient to accept that it takes time to settle into anything.
Writing something together again will be great! I've been coasting; a bit of a stretch is well overdue. OK, let's agree to drop the genius tag, but believe me you are catalytic.
Things I've been thinking about (not from the point of view of collaboration necessarily, just working ideas). All are readily Googleable if unfamiliar, or else ask for a link :
1. Edie Sedgwick. One of Warhol's Chelsea Hotel set, and a poor little rich girl whose decline was charted in celluloid. Thought to be the subject of Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" and symbol of the dark side of the 60s.
Main weakness : too close to Dadd, and perhaps we've had enough mental illness overtones.
(I first tried this as a collaboration with boots, in fact. Very much a Sixties Gel, of course, but she drifted before we'd even started).
2. Facteur Cheval and his Palais Ideal. This guy built a rockery in his garden in the Ardeche at the end of the nineteenth century, only it got out of hand and 33 years later finished up as a fantasy palace 3 times the size of his house. The story is already started : A2993583. I was planning to take 33 years to finish it, but maybe h2g2 won't last that long.
Main weakness : a bit personal? You maybe have to know the place to catch the bug.
3. The B of the Bang. Told from the viewpoint, and perhaps in the person of, Thomas Heatherwick, Madeleine Holt (the BBC Newsnight arts correspondent who charted its construction) and Paul Madin (the chief fabricator). My interest in this one is in the contradiction of a sculpture depicting a fleeting moment, yet needing an elaborate and drawn-out project to realise it.
Main weakness : a lot of engineering in it. You'd have to like steel, probably. But maybe you could do Heatherwick, if he interests you at all?
4. Ten Horsepower. I already did one B17 story (Mi Amigo). This one is even more graphic and poignant.
Main weakness : War story. And depressing.
5. Dylan Thomas. Another abortive collaboration, this time with Ben. I hoped to try write an account of the week of his death in his style. In the end, all that got produced was a very brief poem.
Main weakness : you'd have to like Thomas. And if you did, you'd probably hate the result. And depressing again.
So, just ideas. I don't think any of them are quite right for us. Maybe Cheval is the best, in spirit at least. I think we should write something a little more upbeat than last time. And maybe not so portentous. You interested in Cheval?
Anyway, now I know you're up for it, I can think purposefully without fear of disappointment.
See you soon, Rusty Catalyst
nadia Posted Feb 5, 2007
Great, this will be fun. I warn you, rusty I may be but I am not as delicate as I was. You should start limbering up boyo.
Cheval does appeal most. Amazing place, more amazing story. But I never heard of it before yesterday and have had time for only the most cursory research. How hard will it be to find out detailed information? Everything I read was quite shallow. My only reservation is that you've done a lot on it already. If you're too personally bound up in the piece it probably won't work as a joint project. At least, not as a fully collaborative piece. We could work something out whereby you subcontract specific sections for me to write and keep control over the piece. To my mind that is ultimately how Dadd worked - and it worked well, I've no complaints - but if we're going for a stretch new working practices as well as new subject matter might as well be a part of it.
I didn't do more than dip into the PR thread for the Cheval piece. It made me want to hit Gnomon (among others) with pointy things till he stopped.
I don't mind going over the same turf as we covered in the Dadd piece, but my interest in the subject matter is probably more personal. I can see that it would be a bit of a drag for you. If we did overlap on subject I would prefer to vary the structure and style as much as possible to keep it challenging.
I find it interesting to see the similarities and differences in the way we work. We both like to write on a knife edge between fact and fiction but we come at it from different directions. Your starting point seems to be the life story of people or places, working out to broader themes from there whereas I do the opposite, start with a subject I want to write about and find or make up people or places to fit.
I wonder, do you believe in a divide between fiction and fact? I can't imagine that you do. I certainly don't, which is one of many reasons to dislike the ethos of PR.
Anyway, enough babbling.
Pinniped Posted Feb 7, 2007
I don't goad Gnomon any more. I feel sorry for him and people like him, really. They miss out on a lot.
Do I believe in a divide between fiction and fact? No. To be pedantic about it, I don't think I believe in fact at all. There can't be such a thing as literal truth, because no-one can tell the difference between reality and their perception of it. So everything fits into a category of 'possibly true', including all the stuff we think we made up.
I've even tried writing about this idea, but it always comes out a little odd. Careful, or I'll post a link or two.
My starting point is people, as you say. I'm not sure what you mean by the 'broader themes', even. It's supposed to all be about people.
The same turf as Dadd - not a drag as such; just hard to be sure the writing's any good without the experience to ground it in. I felt a bit safer writing it with you, because I assumed you'd pull me up if I got too far-fetched. If you're asking, though, I'd find something different more fun and a fresh challenge.
I had a decent book on Cheval once, but I gave it to a friend. Come to think of it, it might have been in French anyway. There isn't much source material that's very deep; not without making the trip. I'll try find my guidebook and scan it or something.
I guess I was making most of Cheval up. Not in the sense that events in his life were altered, or that things that are still there on the ground were made to look different. The way I had him feel about things, though, were the way I felt when I tried to see through his eyes. Philomene, for example - I gave her that character. It seems like the right character, that's all. No wonder I can never get stuff into the Edited Guide. It would probably all be fiction, if only there was such a thing.
So Cheval might prove very difficult. Let's not discount him just yet, though. I didn't think I would share Cheval with anyone, but I've found I'm thrilled by the idea of writing him together.
There are a million subjects out there, anyway. What about some of yours?
nadia Posted Feb 9, 2007
Hmm, fact is possibly not the right word. It's just as easy to say I don't believe in fiction as the opposite. Knowing that and writing it in instead of trying to write to one 'side' or the other is where the difference is. Having been unable to trust my own judgement of what is real has probably given me more reason than most to have an awareness of the subjective nature of what is true or real. But, more than that I think there is an inbuilt drive to fictionalise. I wonder if it is a function of thought, language, something else or a combination of factors. I mean fictionalising beyond the subjectivity of perception. We tell ourselves stories about our experiences, elaborate on them when we frame them in precise thoughts and language to tell others about them and elaborate on them even more when we refine that language to write them down, so much so that a purely factual piece of writing is an absurd idea. But, on the flip side fiction is just as problematic an idea. There is nothing that is completely made up, and probably nothing that does not have fragments and traces of its writer clinging to it.
Anyway, there's more to it than that but that's roughly what I think. Do post a link or two. It's a subject I find fascinating, which you probably gathered by the way I babble on.
Yes, in the end it is all about people, but I don't usually start in the same way that you seem to. From all I've seen of your work I've gotten the impression that you start with, well, readymade people and situations. I usually start with a subject or an idea that doesn't have a story attatched yet and fit people and places to it. For example, I've been playing with the idea of writing about virginity testing in Africa and the child rape and AIDS that go with it. As starting points go that's fairly concrete for me, but it would probably be a bit on the abstract side for you. Or am I reading your writing practices wrongly? Lizardy suggests that our differences are the reason we work together so well.
Cheval would be great, and I'm keen on being involved in it, but perhaps we should put it on the backburner while we sort out a way around research (sorry Waz) and concentrate on finding something lighter and fun to warm up with. There is no law that says we can only collaborate on one thing or even on only one thing at a time.
Hmm. I don't generally do light or fun. That alone should make it a change of pace for me, if we can find something. Rules out most of the projects I've been considering though.
I've always wanted to write something about Vita...either the sissinghurst gardens or her elopement with Violet Trefusis. That wouldn't be too heavy but I don't imagine you have the same interest in the subjects that I do, and the other problem would be that there is already a lot of writing about Vita. But then, finding a fresh and original angle could be part of the challenge of it so that might not be such a drawback.
I'll give it some more thought and see if I can come up with anything that fits the criteria light and fun. Lizardy wants to use the computer now, so I'm off. Oh, and she finds the idea of either of us writing about subjects light or fun, let alone together, charmingly preposterous.
Nice to have a supportive spouse. How is yours? I hope work is settling down now that she's had a bit more time to get used to it.
N - with a lurking background presence of reptile.
nadia Posted Feb 9, 2007
See now, I've been thinking about the whole fictionalising thing. That might be fun and light to play with.
Have you ever read Woolf's short story Lappin and Lapinova? It's here if you haven't and want to.
I think it's a good example of the way that couples in particular create fictions that are invested with emotional truths for themselves, and clumsy last line notwithstanding it's an excelent way to depict the death of a relationship.
Similarly, most couples turn events in the early stages of their relationships into totemic stories so that what literal truth there is takes second place to the creation of the story of 'how we got together'.
It's an area that shows off the subjectivity and elasticity of experience, memory and the truth/fiction divide (for want of better language).
Could we do something with that? Something in letters perhaps? A correspondence collaboration might be an interesting way to write.
Do you see what I mean about starting at an abstract point and working my way towards the specifics?
Pinniped Posted Feb 13, 2007
Sorry about that. I've been doing up a room to be the Weddell's home office. Only just back on line.
Some intriguing themes here. Reality as a construct based on perception is pretty much the way I see it too. (Not everyone is a constructor, but the most powerful constructors have huge numbers of people living in their realities. Writing is an honest form of this, and writers are privileged constructors. There are dishonest forms too, in politics and in churches)
Now who's babbling?
Interesting how you see me writing. I don't personally think I have a set formula - or at least I try hard to write differently every time. Real events are a common theme, sure, but the people are usually only real in the sense that the events involved them. I just enjoy giving them a personality.
OK, Cheval waits a while.
Vita - wow, that's a long way out of my comfort zone. Not so much the sexuality as the privilege. I once tried reading All Passion Spent but gave up. The Lappin and Lapinova thing, though, is very good.
At times like these, I habitually make the mistake of consulting the Weddell. Thus Vita is dismissed as an 'adequate gardener'. It turns out, too, that she knew an Hon. Sackville-West somewhat in her Uni days, but has no anecdotes escept a vague recollection of cashmere and ginger cordial. And from this you might guess that our relationship is more the stuff of Lawrence than of the Bloomsbury set, except that might be taking it a bit far. In fact it's probsbly an example of the origin-constructs to totemise a marriage that you talk about.
The correspondence idea is a good one. So what do you propose? We could maybe both compose a letter and exchange them once we're both ready. Then we'd each write back in character, and see where it leads.
That kind of thing what you had in mind?
nadia Posted Feb 18, 2007
We seem to come at class from miles apart and find no middle ground. Odd, too, since I would guess that my background is more working class than yours.
I can see that class arguments apply to Vita, who was inarguably a dilettante, and did not have the greatness of her contemporaries. Her appeal for us is secured by her romantic byronesque qualities, and the incredible melodramatic extremes of her life. Virginia is another matter and I would defend her greatness against just about any criticism.
Anyway, there are surely enough subjects out there that we are both interested in that we don't need to worry about finding compromises just yet.
Yes, that kind of letter exchange is just what I had in mind. An epistolary collaboration is oddly fitting for a work produced online. But that still leaves the subject of subject.
Lizardy has some suggestions. Kesey’s Electric Kool Aid Acid Test. Monterey Pop, less known, more organic and in some ways more interesting than Woodstock which we could also consider if you are so minded. Or Altamont, though that would be a bit darker. Or something Beatley. Any of these could fit in with themes of reality construction if you want to run with that as well.
Listening to Poetry Please last night, which was about Shelley, reminded me of a nebulous interest in writing about the ‘ghost story’ competition which resulted in Frankenstein.
Any other ideas to pool?
N + Fatty.
Pinniped Posted Feb 18, 2007
Sorry if I touched a nerve with class. I don't see it as a background thing, though. I work on steelplant a lot, among steelmen. So did my father, as it happens, but it's my own experiences I go on.
Woolf is in a different league. That I would not dispute.
I'd started to think about composing a century or so of letters, all to the same address, occupied by generations of a single family. You could construct a half-hidden history that way.
The Summer of Love, eh? I was nearly ten at the time, so some of it I have very innocent memories of. Tom Wolfe wrote EKAAT, incidentally. Kesey was featured, as was Garcia, who could be an interesting one to try. Altamont has more shades than Monterey. The suggestion I already made that ties in is Edie Sedgwick, except its East Coast (where most of my own experience lies) rather than West, and it's a story that charts the unravelling of the 60s too. I like the Warhol/Dylan angle there.
Another 60s story, over here this time, that I've thought about trying is the Oz Trial.
Shelley and the ghost stories would be a tough one...
...ooops. The Weddell want the computer. Back in a minute...
Pinniped Posted Feb 18, 2007
In fact she says we should turn in, and she's right, cos I need to be up again in 6 hours and off to the airport.
I'll try get on-line in the interim, but I'll be back at the weekend and hopefully more settled.
Till then, take care both. And if you haven't already seen it and like the style of EKAAT, check out kitboyes' very neat homage to Hunter S Thompson : A4034251
nadia Posted Feb 27, 2007
>>I'd started to think about composing a century or so of letters, all to the same address, occupied by generations of a single family. You could construct a half-hidden history that way.
Now, that's an idea that grabs me. Let's play with that a bit. Would you want to cover 1907-2007 or were you thinking of a different era? That's a lot of ground to cover so strategic lapses and generational resumptions would presumably have to be built in. Is that what you have in mind? If so we'd need to decide which years to cover and which to leave out. Would we both be writing letters to a correspondent who is an absent presence in the story or would you prefer a straightforward letter exchange? I think the former would be more interesting and challenging. The other question I have would be what characters and from that what subjects would you want to cover? Could we decide on the recipient and decide independently on the characters of the letter writers?
N - in a rush
Pinniped Posted Feb 27, 2007
I was thinking 1907 to 2007, yes. I was also thinking of isolated letters to the occupant as an absent presence, rather than an exchange.
The challenge is to convey a resolution to the ongoing stories through single letters, but I think it could be done. We could weave interconnections.
We should indeed decide on the recipient(s) together, but write the letters independently. The first decision might be whether it's a single family or are we making the house itself the common thread? With a single family, it now occurs to me that the family would probably need to be either rural or well-off for a house to be plausibly passed down. But my idle thoughts were of a working-class family in a terrace house. I thought about Cardiff, too, and checked to see if it was bombed in WW2, because there's an almost must-have letter there.
And I found this : http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/22/a3023722.shtml
Not exactly the style I had in mind, but nonetheless making me even more sure that this would be an interesting one to do.
nadia Posted Mar 1, 2007
That all sounds good. This area got quite a bit of bombing, more than you might expect based on population density. The house opposite my mother's was destroyed, that's in Barry which got hit regularly because of the docks. Llantwit Major, where lizardy grew up and we live now got hit a few times, notably the back end of the church was levelled and never rebuilt. Hits around the Llantwit area probably occured because of the proximity to RAF St Athan. If you wanted to go rural Llantwit would serve admirably. Setting it in this area would certainly make research easy for me.
I prefer the idea of the house being the link. But there is no reason we couldn't mix and match, we could have different generations of the same family in the house at the beginning and the end but unconnected families in between. Or are my leanings towards symmetry getting the better of me?
Besides the war and bombings were there any other big events you particularly wanted to cover? Since this is taking shape so firmly we should give some tohught to what we each want to cover. Did you want to place any restrictions on who the letter writers should be?
Again, too pressed for time to say as much as I'd like. Soon though.
nadia Posted Mar 9, 2007
Hey there, sorry to be so absent. Much medication upheaval. Are you and yours doing OK? How is the missus' job going now?
Thinking about it, I've got it backward. Who the letter writers are might more naturally come from the subject being covered in that letter or sequence of letters. That brings us back to what to cover and where to leave gaps. How firm does the time line need to be before we start writing? Would you rather have it nailed down before we start or leave it flexible and see where the writing takes us? The latter option gives us more room to bounce off of each other. Perhaps since we have an agreed starting point with the war we could write that then decide what to cover next and so on, then fill in any blanks that need covering to string it all together at the end. What think you?
Pinniped Posted Mar 10, 2007
We're good, and I'm without excuses. Our own med-issues are minor with Scrof now clear for coming up two years, though I admit I sometimes lack her faith, and fret about what she's holding in check.
Yes, you're right. We're approaching this backwards. We should just write a letter each, then see what we can build round them. The war might work, but whatever comes into our heads will be just as good really, from whenever in the century.
I'll post when something condenses and show you where I've put it.
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- 1: nadia (Jan 31, 2007)
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