Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Down on Downton

I don't know why I kept watching Downton Abbey this season. The plot was such a disappointment—recurring themes that went nowhere and soap-opera-ish, deus ex machina solutions to what could have been life-changing problems/major plot points such as:

  1. We are going bankrupt because of a bad investment decision. We could lose Downton Abbey! My ex-fiancee's father just left me money. I don't want to take it, it wouldn't be right. But, apparently Lavinia knew I was actually in love with harpy Lady Mary and was totally cool with it. So, I'll take the money and give it to Downton. Downton is saved!
  2. Mrs. Hughes has a lump in her breast. Could it be cancer? She is very worried. We are all very worried. She is tired. It must be cancer. The test results are in. No cancer!
  3. Mr. Bates is wrongly accused of killing his wife. He has to go to jail. Jail is very bad; his roommate hates him. But a former neighbor of his ex-wife remembers that she was making a pie crust the day she died; therefore there is the proof that she killed herself—she put poison in the pie. Mr. Bates is free!
This is bad fiction writing, the stuff of wretched romance novels. It was bad enough last season watching Branson the chauffeur mope after Lady Sybil. The actors looked like they were just hanging around the set waiting for an actual scene to occur.

Scene from a 1988 Calgon ad
And yet, last Sunday night, I felt a sudden emptiness as 9PM rolled by. There was no reason for me to go downstairs and sit by myself for an hour. I realized that Downton had become my Calgon moment, even though I usually spent that hour in the cold basement also sorting socks or opening up snail mail. It was a restive pause in my week. The first few familiar chords of the theme song transporting me to... an unnecessary, yet for some reason, guilt-free indulgence. "I'm going to go watch Downton," was all I had to say and then I would disappear.

Apparently, the lovely costumes and the Dowager Countess's quips were enough to  sustain my interest (or for me to pretend that my interest was sustained) for an hour.

Fortunately, the second season of "Call the Midwife" (plot-wise, a superior show) begins at the end of March, so I have only a few empty Sunday nights until then.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Why I'm not using voice transcription software (yet)

Cleaning  out my Inbox this morning, I discovered this past experiment with the Dragon Dictation app on my iPhone. There's potential, surrealist prose there, maybe but not much else:

I know I'm talking implicitly fit thinking about what I need to get a day that I joined the spider center group provide normal revision Chucky cleaning up the house child in the housewife dream you were some things I thought about writing for my blog work for essay.

I would like to have more on my personal essays Trisha Vine i one possibility about my blog wondering if I should write something about who wants to be a man they're equestrian with the Manale for Steve's angle and also the fact that I'm doing it everyday of the Lycan I got for now as I write this I'm jogging with Wii fit actually I not writing or typing I'm dictating to something and my iPod you'll see the results after I e-mail it to myself and put it up here so the question is is it possible to ride and walk or exercise at the same time and end up with a readable text. I'm not sure it is but it sure would be great if I could walk in right same time I'd like to try to write dialogs or to speak dialogs without typing get this evening sounds like him and everything will be in my own southern accent elk characters perhaps we'll something!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

An accidental hiatus

This blog has been on a temporary hiatus as I deal with several projects and money-making responsibilities that have hit me all at once. I don't believe I've ever gone this long without posting—nearly a month—since I began it in 2008.

I say this, fully aware that using the word "hiatus" in a blog post title is usually its death knell. Bloggers promise to come back... and then the blog doesn't get updated ever. Saying you're on hiatus is only slightly worse than posting laments like "No one is reading this blog!" To complain about lack of readership is to kill a blog... to let it go willfully on hiatus can be equivalent to letting it die from neglect.

My primary aim here has always been to find shelter for whatever I was thinking about or finding in any particular moment (and possibly to start the fodder for potential, longer stories and essays). It has been cool to witness the surprising ways that people have found it.

And, yes, I realize that this sounds like I am saying good-bye. But maybe this blog needs a reload.

I certainly need a reload in my own life. I have been editing/writing at home for the last eight or so years, and writing/blogging and gardening in my spare time. I take walks in my neighborhood and often never see anyone else I know or who will speak to me. Not such a great lifestyle for someone as extroverted as I am—nor the source of good material for someone who wants to write fiction. In recent years, my stories have been variations on themes of isolation. An editor who looked at my children's novel asked how my 11-year-old protagonist could feel so alone. Most of my characters recently have been written from long-standing memories—I am not seeing people interact enough in the present to know how or what to write about them.

So I need to get out of the house and go back to work in a larger environment, even if for only a few hours a week (which is what I've been working on for the week). This is as important to me now, and as soul-nourishing, as writing has always been for me.

After my current work surge settles down, I hope to return to these pages refreshed and ready to find new things to talk about.