Friday, August 10, 2007

Ghost Post

I'm going to let a dead poet write my post for me today. He is--or was--Richard Hugo. These quotes are taken from his little book of lectures and essays, The Triggering Town.

"I hope you learn to write like you."

"At all times, keep your crap detector on."

"Don't start arguments. They are futile and take us away from our purpose. If you don't agree with me, don't listen. Think about something else."

"In a sense, the next thing always belongs. In the world of imagination, all things belong. If you take that on faith, you may be foolish, but foolish like a trout."

"Never worry about the reader. When you are writing, look over your shoulder and you'll find there is no reader. Just you and the page."

"If you feel pressure to say what you know others want to hear and you don't have enough devil in you to surprise them, shut up."

"Finish the poem first, then worry about being right or sane."

"Don't worry about morality. Most people who worry about morality ought to."

"To write a poem you must have a streak of arrogance--not in real life, I hope. In real life try to be nice. It will save you a hell of a lot of trouble and give you more time to write."

(Following one of his early poems) "I don't even understand that one anymore."

"I believe that it is only in periods when you can transcend your competitive instincts that you can write."

"What endures is your feelings about your work. You wouldn't trade your poems for anybody else's. To do that you would also have to trade your life for his, which means living a whole new complex of pain and joy. One of those per lifetime is enough."

"I've come to believe that one learns to write only by writing. Years ago in the comic strip 'Pogo,' a bear appeared, a creature who could write, but couldn't read. Granted the joke, I'm not sure anymore that the concept is that farfetched."


See you in the comments. Maybe something Richard Hugo said will trigger some conversation in our town today. :)

26 comments:

Nancy P said...

Amazing photos at Olivia's and Knucklehead's places today. Sky and sea.

What's on for the weekend, kids?

GreenMinute said...

From Fam Man: I've read books before that you think the cake (subplots) are are going a certain way and then you find ice cream in the cake. A twist perhaps on a minor character that boosts them to the forefront.

Yes sir, and how do they get away with that? I think there are certain plot/clock workings that can propel a reader through a pedestrian writer's work.

But I think there is something to be said for compelling writing in the first place. There are writers who propel you from sentence to sentence and that's always fun!

Masters, like Nancy, are compelling writers and they don't need to OVER WORRY tiny plot twists and the like. But they don't know that. And I'm not saying a word. Shhh.

Of course, if you're writing myserties you have to have at least two plots... Because the publisher is going to give away one of them in the flap copy.

Meanwhile, Fam Man, I love it when a minor character emerges in a novel to take over for a chapter or two. I think of that as a treat... [ You're analogy is perfect: ] like finding excellent strawberry ice cream in the middle.

Nancy P said...

G'morning, gm. "two plots. . .publishers give away one of them on the flap copy." I'd laugh, but ain't funny. And if the pubs don't give it away, a reviewer will. In my last book I so carefully built in surprises that I hoped would delight the reader (I do think of the readers sometimes), and reviewers gave some of the best away. Spoilsports.

I had an epiphany last night, after reading Donald Maass, that I merely need to rewrite and restructure everything. By Sept 15, if possible. Maass is always right. Maass is god. Some days I hate him. ;) No really, he IS right.

Nancy P said...

Dearest green,please tell us a ghost story. I need a ghost story today. Puhleeze?

GreenMinute said...

When Mary Shelley miscarried, Percy emerged her into a tub of ice for hours at a time [to stem the blood flow] over a period of three days. He likely saved her life (or she by making herself stay in ice). They were living in a rental seaside villa in Italy.

It was the early summer of 1822. The events are chronicled in her letters written at the time of the events.

The night before the miscarriage, Mary Shelley dreamed she walked onto the second-story seaside porch of the house. She was horrified to find a ghost of Percy standing there.

In her letter describing this dream, she emphasizes that Percy was a ghost in her dream, rather than just good ol' Percy. It is unclear how she knew this, but I suspect he looked dead.

In her dream, ghost Percy was warning her to leave the little elevated porch and go immediately back into the house. She realized there was a storm then. Was it a crack of lightning?

In her dream the sea rose up and swallowed her husband. And swept him away. She screamed and then, oddly, found herself wide awake, standing in her night clothes on that little porch. The real-life Percy was there, urging her to go back to the bedroom. The sea was calm.

He carried her to bed. Later, she miscarried.

In his telling of this night in letters, Percy says he was startled awake by Mary's screaming and wandered about the house looking for her. He found her on the 2nd-story porch. She was too weak to walk. He carried her back to bed.

I don't know if this is a ghost story. Mary Shelley dreamed her husband's death on more than one occasion during this period and it was always traumatic. You can almost hear her voice shaking in her letters.

She wrote these events in her letters at the time they occurred (not as reminisces). Percy Shelly, of course, was lost at sea off the coast of Italy later that summer. Is that a ghost story?

Nancy P said...

It's a lovely story, whatever it is, green. Thank you! But we do need a whole new term for such a tale, much as you made up the term Deja View the other day to describe Andi and Jen's experiences of having one illusory "old" scene overlaid on another "actual" one. "Pre-Vu," maybe?

I'll tell you a strange coincidence. I had a dream that either foretold of a miscarriage I had, or else was telling me I'd already had it. In that dream, I, too went to the second floor of a house--where all the rooms were shrouded. It makes me wonder if in dreams the second story of a house might correspond to the middle section of a body.

But that's a mundane reaction to a really lovey, spooky, and romantic story. Contented sigh.

Nancy P said...

That was supposed to be "lovely," but I suppose "lovey" will do, lol.

GreenMinute said...

Wow, Nancy.

"I had a dream that either foretold of a miscarriage I had, or else was telling me I'd already had it. In that dream, I, too went to the second floor of a house--where all the rooms were shrouded. It makes me wonder if in dreams the second story of a house might correspond to the middle section of a body."

AndiF said...

I don't have any ghost stories, though I can tell some horror stories but they mostly involve family and probably only scare me.

But I'd be happy to sit down and watch the '44 version of The Canterville Ghost with you ('44 was a good year for ghost stories -- we can do a double feature and watch The Univited, too) .

Nancy P said...

Neither of which I've ever heard of, Andi. Damn, but all those years when I was a scaredy-cat sure cheated me out of seeing a lot of fun movies!

I'll bring the popcorn.

AndiF said...

I'm kind of shocked that someone in my cohort has never even heard of The Canterville Ghost -- we're talking a Margaret O'Brien classic!

I know my older sister and I had a slightly unhealthy relationship with Bernie Herman's Afternoon Movie but I never thought it was that aberrant.

Nancy P said...

I can see I had a sheltered childhood. I lacked an older sister to lead me down the wrong path.

Family Man said...

Good morning Nancy, green and Andi.

I don't have any ghost stores, but I do have Mr. Wilson. After the civil war Mr. Wilson was one of many wondering around the country to find work. He came upon my Great Grandfather's (GG) house and farm and my GG gave him a place to stay. He lived with the family until he died. Once he became to sick to take care of himself, my Great Grandparents got him from the cabin he was living in and put him in the top back bedroom of the farm house. He died there, but with all of my family around him.

Ever since I was a kid, we were always told to behave or Mr. Wilson would get us. My brother and his friends were staying at the house one time and his wife and the friends wife were at the house by themselves. They said they started hearing things and got out of the house. While leaving they looked up the at windows in the room Mr. Wilson died in and they swore they saw someone staring out at them.

Now I've never seen Mr. Wilson, but hey, things can happen. :)

AndiF said...

It probably won't shock you to know that the one doing the leading down all the wrong paths was me. I was an equal opportunity corrupter, though -- I did for my younger sister, too. And generous soul that I am, I'd be delighted to lead you astray as well.

Nancy P said...

Ah, family man's back home. And that sure sounds like a ghost story to me. But I'll admit, when I read "Mr. Wilson" all I can think of is Dennis's Menace. :)

Andif, I was waiting for you to say that, lol! Not surprised at all, of course, and I look forward to the straying. Note to self: start making notes of these movie titles.

Family Man said...

Nancy about 20 years ago when the farm house was being renovated this was found. It's kind of hard to read, but it has Mr. Wilson's sig and date. The first one is 1882 and the second is 1913.

Mr. Wilson’s writing

I'm with Andi on the The Canterville Ghost. If you look you'll see a young Marcus Welby M.D. playing a lead roll.

Green I agree with you on the propelling you from sentence to sentence. I love a book that will keep me up until morning, just so I can see what the next sentence says.

FARfetched said...

The only scary stories I can come up with involve the chicken houses. That probably wouldn't scare anyone who isn't actually stuck maintaining one. :-P

I'm gonna brew some beer this weekend! Shoulda done it six weeks ago, I could be drinking it by now.

As far as corrupting goes, I led several girls down the path when I was a teen. Something I'll have to work into a story some time: there were some who were interested in me, and some whom I was interested in. The two sets didn't intersect much, or I could have corrupted a few more. I was an obnoxious kid.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

How about this.
It's true.
I had a dream about a year ago.
I woke up, afterwards, with tears in my eyes. And I remembered the dream.
I thought--write this down. You need to remember it.
Then I thought: no, I'm too tired, it's late, I'm sleepy, it's too much trouble to write it down.
Then I thought: how late is it, anyway?
So I looked at the clock.
It was 4:11 AM.
I thought: 411? That's the number for information. That means this dream is giving me information. I better write it down.
And I did.

boran2 said...

"I've come to believe that one learns to write only by writing. Years ago in the comic strip 'Pogo,' a bear appeared, a creature who could write, but couldn't read. Granted the joke, I'm not sure anymore that the concept is that farfetched."

This, for some reason, reminds me of the Woody Allen line, "I don't want to get married, I just want to get divorced." What can I say, my mind works in a convoluted fashion.

Nancy P said...

Hank that is very cool. You are my kind of dream interpreter and sign reader.

Nancy P said...

far, YOU were scary. :)

boran2,I think I kinda lived that Woody Allen line.

Nancy P said...

Back from a speaking gig in a small town about 40 miles south of here. Lovely people, beautiful 101-year-old library. A good time was had by me.

Tomorrow, Harry Potter in 3D!!

'Night, y'all. Sweet dreams and messages to you.

Man Eegee said...

Great quotes, even better stories!

Sorry I've been out of the neighborhood for the past week or so, finding myself sucked into new blogactivism. It's a good thing. Hope you're all doing well.

Nancy P said...

Hi, (((Man Eeegee))). So glad to see you. I've been keeping track on your blog. Hard times for many these days, hard burdens for those who care about them.

Candy said...

that is simply beautifull.
loved it, as i loved your own texts.
congratulations for being a Writer.
check my e mail if you like so we can discuss some topics
maria_biatiz@hotmail.com

keep up the good work
*kate

katiebird said...

I vote spam, because of the grammar, spelling errors and the mismatch between the Username and signature.

And she didn't introduce herself at all.

Still, for spam -- it's very nice.

Arguments against spam, the link goes to a real blog with no ads. And searching on Google, I couldn't find any duplicates of that message anywhere. SPAM is usually duplicated all over the place.