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My Notes on Gorky’s “Reminiscences of Chekhov”

Chekhov was an interesting man, a deep man with very complex thoughts. He wasn’t adventurous, like some artists, but he did love to travel, and he believed in “traveling third-class” whenever he could. Apparently, one heard a lot of interesting conversations that way.

Later on, during his illness, he was forced mostly to stay at home. But he continually urged his friends and acquaintances, especially other writers, to travel as often as they were able. There was something he especially loved about Australia.

Though he spent so much time at home in his later life, he had no shortage of visitors. Everyone thought incredibly well of him, and people called on him all afternoon.

He rose early, especially in the summer. He didn’t approve of lazy habits, like dressing gowns or slippers, and nine o’clock in the morning always found him fresh and impeccably dressed. He had dinner at one (at which he seldom ate much, and hardly ever sat down, preferring to pace back and forth). He frequently had guests for dinner, and afterwards, the visitors really began pouring in.

There were all sorts of people: other authors, military men, clergymen, journalists, teachers and students. He had a habit (perhaps a bad one) of helping students in any way he could, often in ways which were beyond his modest financial means. He was also immoderately kind to young writers. Once, when a writer complained that he was lodging with a noisy Greek family, and could get hardly any work done, Chekhov offered to let him come and work at his own cottage. “You work downstairs,” he said. “I’ll work upstairs.”

But he was also on the receiving end of gifts, and he was always too kind to turn them down. Once, an old lady gave him a yard-high statue of a vicious-looking pug-dog, which he kept at the bottom of the stairs. He admitted to a friend that the expression of the fierce statue rather terrified him, but he wouldn’t take it down, for fear of hurting the old lady’s feelings.

Speaking of dogs (and this may be why the old lady gave him the statue in the first place), Chekhov was awfully fond of them. (Though he despised cats.) At his cottage in Yalta, he had two dogs which he kept in the garden. He professed that one of them, named Kashtan, was incredibly stupid; but still, when the poor creature got its leg caught beneath a carriage wheel, cutting the flesh almost to the bone, Chekhov tended the wound with his tender physician’s fingers. “You silly,” he admonished the dog gently. “How did you do it? It’s all right, silly. You’ll be better soon.”

Chekhov had a lovely little garden. It was not by any means magnificent, but he was proud of it, and he tended his roses affectionately. There was a wooden bench out in the garden, a prop from a production of “Uncle Vanya” which the theater put on for Chekhov when he was ill and couldn’t leave home. He was especially fond of this prop, and of the kind interest that the theater had paid him on this occasion. What author wouldn’t be proud of such an honor?

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Guest Author: Stacy Gleiss

Hello all,

Today we have a guest spot featuring author Stacy Gleiss, who has written an incredibly interesting book based on personal experiences. Here’s what she has to say about her work:

I live fully planted in the fertile soil of my native state; enjoying outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting and watching sunsets over Lake Michigan.  But I wasn’t always here. For many years my soul was elsewhere.  

I was born and raised in nowhere special. A rural Michigander, a real bumpkin whose feet were always black and leathery in the summer.  Culture to me was playing in the woods and streams…that is until a mysterious flyer about an exchange program appeared in our rural route mailbox. This little piece of paper brought a girl named Yuki to our house. The year was 1979 and she became my best friend whether she wanted to be or not.

This is how it all started for me. I was still in high school when I first traveled to Japan and it was mesmerizing. I had only known Japan from old encyclopedias and post war history films. Shoot, I thought Japan was all geisha and rickshaws! But when I got there I could not believe all of the technology, cute character goods like Hello Kitty…and culture up the ying yang! Everything seemed to have significance and meaning. Instantly I was hooked and set out to immerse myself and somehow become Japanese. And as
misfortune would have it, before even leaving Japan, I met a Japanese man who was more than willing to teach a naive American teen how to do things the proper way and two years from that day I married him. Unbeknownst to me he was in fact, a vile pedophile. This I would not realize until five years in.

While I was still a child really when I married, a free-spirited Michigan white pine-of-a-girl, I would be retrained to do just about everything the proper Japanese way and over the span of the next decade I regressed. I  became much smaller in mind…constantly worried about getting too old for him and doing things just so.

By the time I managed to break free from the wires that controlled my branches and the tiny pot that bound my roots, it was clear to many that I was not well. From that point my poor choices cost me nearly everything; but worst of all, it cost someone very important much more.

My book, The Six-Foot Bonsai, is my attempt at piecing together what occurred– what I saw, my warped thinking…and what, in the end, I had to admit about my ex, the culture I adored…and most of all myself.

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“Hello. My name is Stacy and I’m a recovering Japanaholic”– a selfish person who binged on a culture because it suited me. For what should have been the sweetest years of my life I chased moon rabbits…the cute and clever Japan I fell in love with on my first 
trip.  I ignored precarious customs and norms thinking the good demons we invited in for the purpose of exorcising evil from our home would prevail and keep us safe.  But all along, the seed sowing monkey, my ex who controlled us, sat on his haunches and waited for his chance.  To the detriment of everything I chose my drug. 

“The Six-Foot Bonsai: A Soul Lost in the Land of the Rising Sun” is available through Amazon (Click title for link.)

Thesixfootbonsai blog https://thesixfootbonsai.com/

Stacy Gleiss – Author page https://www.facebook.com/thesixfootbonsai/

Stacy Gleiss LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/stacy-gleiss-a-k-a-the-six-foot-bonsai-582a857

Thesixfootbonsai Twitter https://mobile.twitter.com/thesixfootbonsa

Thanks for reading, everybody! Hope you enjoyed today’s author.

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The Importance of Plays

Plays are an important part of every writer’s TBR list. Not only do they constitute an enormously popular art form, but they can also be incredibly helpful for novelists who are trying to shape their new works.

Plays, in essence, must be simple. (Except maybe for Shaw’s, with the many paragraphs of exposition.) For the most part, though, there’s simply dialogue, along with basic stage directions.

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I think the author who shifts most seamlessly between his stories and plays is Anton Chekhov. He believed that simplicity was everything; that nothing should be too complicated. As a result, his stories and plays are effortless. It almost seems like he just breathed them onto the page.

In novels and stories, detail is important — but too many details are overwhelming. That’s why some people don’t like Dickens anymore. (And trust me — as someone who used to try to mimic his style, I’ve gotten some harsh criticism.)

Nowadays, and even back in the old day, people just liked things SIMPLE. Good, but simple. Hence the popularity of Chekhov. Alas, it never helped him to become anything but a poor country doctor — but people did love his work.

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Konstantin Stanislavski as Astrov in 1899 Moscow production of Uncle Vanya

Reading plays can help writers to understand how to get to the heart of the matter — how to get to the core of a scene, without boring your audience. They’re the perfect example of the combination of wit and brevity.

 

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When we say “wit” — who can we be thinking of but Oscar Wilde?

 

 

In a word, plays are a massively useful tool for both practiced and amateur authors. Think of them as a method by which to streamline your mode of thought.

 

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I think Caligula is my favorite play. What’s yours?

 

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Oscar Wilde and the Concept of Literary Criticism

Oscar Wilde Was a Strange and Brilliant Man.

Whenever someone mentions Oscar Wilde, people usually think of one thing. He was gay. He was actually arrested for homosexual acts back in 1895 (yeah, they could arrest you for that back then). He was imprisoned for two years, and after his release, he only ever produced one significant piece of work: his poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol.

 

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Wilde’s cell in Reading Gaol (as it appears today)

 

It’s hard to say whether the abrupt ruination of his career was what made him stop writing. Maybe it was depression, or maybe it was just the fact that he had no more public to create masterpieces for. He was always adamant about the fact that he didn’t write to “please” the public. It’s my opinion that he wrote in an attempt to show them what his idea of a masterpiece was, and to try and get them to agree. He believed that the modern critics of the time should be “educated” – that they didn’t do their work properly, and that they missed the whole point of literary criticism.

“The moment criticism exercises any influence,” Wilde said in an interview with Gilbert Burgess (a contributor to The Sketch, a British illustrated newspaper), “it ceases to be criticism.”

 

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“What do you think, Herbert?” — “Well, Charles, I think people should just buy my damned book and recognize it for the masterpiece it truly is.”

Modern critics could take a few pointers from Wilde. Criticism nowadays is usually just a scathing crap-slinging fest, with no real intuitive observation involved.

 

It was Wilde’s belief that the aim of criticism shouldn’t be the attempt to get someone to change their work. It should simply be an evaluation of the work that already exists – the feelings it inspired, the smells it made you smell, the colors it made you see.

 

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“Yeah, man — this is how reading that last book made me feel.”

 

What do you think? Do you think criticism (i.e., book, film and music reviews) should be made with the objective of making a work more perfect? Any time you point out a work’s shortcomings, you’re giving people the idea that you think something about the work should be changed. Is this constructive criticism – or is it subjective influence? Was Wilde’s idea of criticism too mild? Do you think he just didn’t like to be criticized?

It’s a topic with the potential for heated debate. Sort of like politics.

 

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No caption required.

 

Posted in #ASMSG, #IARTG, independent authors, indie authors, informative, Uncategorized, writing

Re-Inventing Yourself as a Writer

I haven’t been blogging over the past couple months, but I intend to change that today. To start, I’d like to share a few of the things I’ve learned recently.

I think it’s fair to say that every writer who’s experienced commercial success has had to undertake the task, at least once, of “re-inventing” themselves. I came across a really neat writing resource today, called Bookfox, which is written by author John Fox.

Fox explains in his bio that he’s all too familiar with rejection slips. After he got enough of them, though, he started thinking to himself, maybe it wasn’t everyone else who was wrong. Maybe he really needed to work on his writing.

He undertook the earnest office of learning from his failures, and using his mistakes to improve his writing. Eventually, he started winning prizes for his work.

Click here to have a look at Bookfox. (It’s filled with lots of great resources.)

It took me a while to learn the truth: we’re really never at the peak of our success as writers. Maybe monetarily, but not creatively. With every week that passes, and every story that we write, our works grows, takes a more pronounced shape, and gains more vivid colors. It’s like a forever-climbing house of cards that never falls down.

In a word, if you’re not succeeding as a writer, take another look at your work. It may very well be that you just haven’t caught your break yet — but it may also be that you need some re-inventing. I know that was the case for me.

 

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Project Launch: #BeautifulPsycho

For those of you who saw this project on Twitter or Facebook — I’m here to lay it down for you!

The nation’s kind of been in an uproar lately. The election left everyone confused and divided. But America’s about more than that — it’s about everything we already have, not what we wish we had.

So I’m officially launching a new project, hosted by my new indie publishing house LION & LAMB Publications. “Lion & Lamb” represents the duality that exists in everything. In God: the roaring lion with the blood of the lamb; in people, who are masses of conflicting light and shadow.

So this is the idea. Everyone in this world is a little bit psycho; but everyone is beautiful, too. In very different ways.

This is a shout-out for everyone to share your story. Even if it’s just a couple of words. Shout it out on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #BeautifulPsycho. I’ll be tossing ’em out as examples over the next few days.

#GiveElsaAGirlfriend was one of the more recent hashtag explosions. Let’s do the same for #BeautifulPsycho.