October 5, 2012

Psychic Distance and the Novel

I've been spending a fair amount of time working through the "psychic distance" of my narrator in my novel this past month. Not a topic I've specifically considered in the past, but now that it's on my radar it's difficult to read someone else's work without noting its value in a narrative.

Disclaimer: psychic distance is not about Dionne Warwick or The Amazing Kreskin. It is about the placement of your narrator in a story, where they stand in relation to a character, what information they are privy to. It links to who the narrator is and from when they are speaking from. More importantly it identifies a line of sight for the reader.

September 17, 2012

Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Not all lies are morally wrong. At the Barber's this past week, a tubby, mouth-breathing hair-cutter in his 50's asks me what I do.

He asks me this while he fiddles with his iPad before moving to his iPhone for extra fiddling. The plastic poncho for my shoulders almost forgotten when he picks up his scissors.

I tell him what I do...and immediately - before he even responds - swallow a strong instinct to bolt. This guy is not my usual barber. He's a horrible facsimile of a barber. In fact, he may not even be a barber. What if he's a Larper?

I notice a poorly inked yin-yang tattoo on his forearm. Are Daoists offended by bad yin-yang tattoos?

September 2, 2012

The Hawk is Dying But Not in My Backyard

Canadian Writers
Yesterday afternoon, while sitting in the back gardens with Sandra, we watched as a small sparrow hopped from a nearby tree branch onto the ground close to us.

A common enough event that neither of us gave any remark of its passing. In fact the event itself is only remember because of what happened next.

A hawk, lean and fast, tore talons-first out of the sky and landed right where the sparrow was a moment before. It did not catch its prey, and perhaps was surprised to find us sitting there, jaws agape, watching. No eye blinked. And then, with a silent movement of wings, it took off back into the sky.

July 21, 2012

One Week in Southern France - Roman Ruins and Nuns in Cars

Three days in the gorgeous Aix en Provence and a road trip to Arles is now on the menu. Why, you may ask, in a city as vibrant and beautiful as Aix, do you feel inclined to leave?

Because Arles still has functioning elements of the Roman Empire, thank you very much.

I don't mean aqueducts or municipal policing by centurions (perish the thought). I mean a coliseum that hosts bull-fights in the evening, and a Roman theater still used for contemporary concerts. It's also only an hour away.

So, a short trip by car - which includes toll booths and passing a car full of nuns (awesome) - and we arrive. Not joking about the nuns. They were flying down the autoroute in their habits, the driver with her hands at "10 and 2" on the steering wheel. I took a picture. I digress.

July 19, 2012

One Week in Southern France - The First Days

Eleven hours of travel, and a quick car ride from Frankfurt airport, and I find myself in the small town of Aix en Provence, Côte d'Azur, France. Ruddy-clay buildings, tall and crowded and unplumbed, along cobblestone streets with peeling platan trees

The air is sweet, dry, with pine and grapevine and juniper. I set up home base in a clean, cool basement apartment with a backyard and swimming pool. Well, make that half-a-swimming pool as it seems to have been sized to suit. Maybe that's a good metaphor for the trip here: the idea of sizing.