Saturday, July 11, 2009

Write offs.

Here's the trouble with Google.

Back in the day, when doing research for a story or essay or whatever, I would get me to the library. And I loved it.

I would fill my little corner with books and bits of paper with card catalog numbers written on them. I might jump on the computer but that was rare. Maybe to see if a book I needed could be had somewhere else...or even delivered via interlibrary loan (1).

But today I am not surrounded by library books. Sure there are notes and bits of paper (2) but my research is happening online.

And when one is researching online and writing on deadline one is also prone to wandering off. At the library this didn't happen.

Okay, maybe there would be a break where The Art Historian and I would devise a new and inventive way of smuggling Starbucks into the stacks...but that was it.

You were there for a purpose. You had work to do. It was a library (3).

Here at home breaks are too easy.

Breaks where I check in on sites like Book Ninja and discover brilliant ideas like Significant Objects.

Intrigued?

I was.

Significant Objects is a site where writers take something that they've found in a charity shop or secondhand store and write a piece of fiction about it. The object and the story then go up for bid.

So you'd get an object and a "secondhand story."

Yes. I just made that up.

What?

Okay. Fine.

Back to work (4).

1. Making the arrival of said book a bit like an unscheduled geek Christmas.
2. Because that's how I roll.
3. That could really have used a Starbucks.
4. But you just know someone came up with Significant Objects during a break.

Think fast.

I love the PRI show Studio 360.

And I'm going to tell you why.

Host Kurt Andersen seems perpetually excited about the stories the show does.

He also has this habit...and maybe it's just me hearing this...of occassionally coming off as being absolutely smitten with the artists and writers and singers that he's interviewing.

This was the case when he interviewed the singer Regina Spektor who, on the radio, sounds exactly like the kind of girl one would become smitten with during an interview.

Bright. Funny. Able to make jokes about the socio-political struggles of the Jewish people in pre- and post-fall Soviet Union.

You know the girl.

In my favorite exchange between Spektor and Andersen, Spektor noted that she had a "three-minute mind" and that she could have a future as a writer if we could start a genre of "three-minute novels."

Having spent some time over the last couple of days listening to a fair chunk of Spektor's music I have to say...she's already writing three-minute novels.

And good ones at that.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Are we hipper now?

Yeah, I know. 

Things have been quiet around here...but we'll soon be back up and running.

And we'll be doing it on our new Mac.

Thank you Leopold.

Though word on the street is that he'll have it repo'd if some kind of book project folder doesn't soon appear on the desktop.

And really, there's nothing more embarrassing than sitting down at Starbucks and discovering your laptop is being towed away.

Monday, July 6, 2009

What do you get when you cross...

So, last week's round of writing prompts was a really good time and resulted in more writing satisfaction than I've had in a while.

Better for the three people that read this blog, it gave an almost one week reprieve from listening to me whine about my job.

And it got me thinking.

What can I do to keep the writing prompt train rolling here at Butchered Paper?

What if, I thought, I bought into the old axiom that "artists don't steal, they appropriate" and appropriated a really fantastic idea?

And so, with all bowing and scraping due to the creative giants at Seen Reading, I'd like to offer "Seen Prompting." Or, something way better when I manage to think it up.

Yes, something significantly better.

BUT...for now:
If someone catches my eye out on the street, for whatever reason, I'm going to turn them into a prompt.

Like this one:

Corner of 14th & K Streets, NW, 4:15pm
Man in wheelchair being pushed by a Latina woman of the same age. Traffic is thick because of the rush hour but moving quickly as drivers run the light to beat the light. The man in the wheelchair is talking non-stop but the woman pushing him is looking down the sidewalk to her right, paying no attention to him.

Now, when I first had this idea and was planning my evening, I was going to come home, take care of dinner, do some laundry, finish the article I'm on deadline for, ignore my column for a bit longer and post this great idea for writing prompts along with a bit of flash fiction inspired by the prompt.

Instead, my city's always reliable subway system completely imploded and I ended up home 45 minutes later than usual.

So, for tonight, just the prompt.

And, as always, a load of whites.