Derik Badman's Journal

2020-07-29 08:14

I have two stories in first draft now, which means it's editing time, a skill I am better at when it is someone else's writing rather than my own. It's so easy to just read what I wrote and just fix spelling or grammar or syntax, rather than actually thinking about what I'm saying and how I'm saying it and if words need to be added, cut, or completely rearranged. It's also where I have gotten into elements of research to try to figure out more specifics about the setting and what I can do to make it more specific without being excessively descriptive and without tons of world building info dumps (a major flaw of much fantasy). I'm loosely using the 18th century and Switzerland as reference points for various reasons, in particular the intro to a Turner sketchbook reproduction I have of work from Luzerne. Some of the details in the introduction screamed D&D campaign to me, so I decided to use that as inspiration for my stories.

This week's library books are so far much more on point for me than my previous selections. Jeanette Winterson's latest novel Frankissstein was intriguing, enjoyable, and even laugh out loud funny at a few points. As the title suggests there is a Frankenstein plot/theme. It starts with Mary Shelley narrating at the point where she first started working on the novel. Over the course of the novel it returns to her narration and life over a long period of time. This is interspersed with a contemporary (near future?) narration from Ry Shelley, a trans man who is in a relationship with a scientist named Victor Stein who is trying to create artificial intelligence. There's also a rather humorous thread going through it about sexbots and a thread about cryogenics. The whole thing revolves around ideas of creating life, ending death, and artificial life of various sorts. It's been a really long time since I've read any of Winterson's work, but this one was breezy and smart. My only real complaint is that the ending felt quite unresolved. Though, thinking about it, there are certain numerous endings/places she could have gone that would have gotten to science fictiony and too... expected from a story on those topics.

Last night I finished up Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric, a strong collection of essays, poetry, and imagery about race in contemporary America. I found the more concrete essays and a series of transcripts for some kind of video project much more interesting than the more abstract poems. Many of the shorter pieces focus on small acts of what I think would be called microaggressions that Rankine (a black woman) has experienced (at least they are written from the perspective of a narrative "I"), her essay on Serena Williams mines a similar territory but covering the element of media and sport rather than personal interaction. I don't have a lot to say about this, other than it is a book that is both enjoyable (as prose, as poetry, as words) and... distressing? eye opening? as subject.