Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Essays: More Formal Scribblings of a Future Essayist

I'm in my first "upper division" English class here at school. I'm really excited. It's called "The Art of the Essay." It's taught by a really brilliant woman. I'm in love. Allow me to explain.

I've been fascinated by essays and essay writing since last fall, when I took a personal essay class and wrote some really, really good stuff. I wrote things I'm really proud of as a student and as a budding writer in her own right. Now I'm taking a class that focuses solely on the essay as a form, and its rich history and its uses today and what all of that means. I'm unbelievably stoked. SO, I've added a new page! The page, as you can see, is called ESSAYS: More Formal Scribblings of a Future Essayist. I may shorten it. I have yet to decide. Anyway, each week she assigns an in-class writing assignment, so I will be posting them as regular blog posts, but if you miss one or want to go back (because I have so many avid readers and fans, right?) I'll also post them on the PAGE for essays. Aren't I smart? Yeah, yeah, shut up, Willow, I know.

So here's the first one. It was in response to an essay by Carlos Fuentes entitled "How I Started to Write," and I highly suggest reading it. At least part of it. He's not my favorite person since I'm not a fan of his personality, but his writing intrigues me. I hope you feel the same. Someday soon. We'll see. Cheers...

from: Art of the Essay

response to "How I Started to Write," by Carlos Fuentes 9/01/2010

Carlos Fuentes has a unique, yet definitive sense of self. When he finally figures himself out - a Mexican nationalist with a certain sense of justice - he then tries to make sense of what that means to him as he tries to identify himself as a writer. It happens when he is 14, in Chile, and realizes that his 400 page opus searches for a language that he finds his own. He realizes his urgent need to be a Spanish writer (linguistically, not ethnically. More on that later.).
His sense of self is strongly political, ethnocentric, and geographical. But he also beautifully identifies himself as a writer. He writes in Spanish. He writes as a Latino. He writes critically, with a situational-awareness I admire. He writes himself in a way that makes me want to keep reading.

My own sense of self is both definite and ambiguous, and certainly contradictory. I am at once childish and old for my years. Equally amused by make-believe and tea parties as I am by spending an evening in with a good book and my knitting. I work in the ever-advancing field of advertising - using new forms of technology every day - but do my own writing by hand or on my 1947 typewriter. My sense of self is heavily dependent on my sense of what I do. I am a passionate student. I am a writer. I am a reader. I am a reader who writes.
The writing I want to do is varied. I want to write children's books, chapter books, elementary fantasy, young adult fiction, memoir, poetry, music lyrics, essays, non-fiction researched works that combine personal anecdote with facts and my own observations. Specific to [The Art of the Essay, ENGL 463], I want to develop my voice as an author. Distinct from tone, I feel, which is dependent on content, but my way of phrasing, my kind of topics, my kind of words that speak and echo and mean more than they appear.

Love all, trust few, do wrong to no one. ~ William Shakespeare


Friday, September 3, 2010

Judy Moody: Puttin' Glendora in a Mood, Pt. 2

SO. To finally conclude my thoughts on Judy Moody taking over my hometown, the first two days were rather uneventful. HOWEVER. Days 3 & 4 were much more exciting.

Early morning of day 3, I got to work early (mostly just to find a parking space, secondly to scope out the set - I'm curious, not a stalker. Promise.) and explored a little. I talked to one of their security guys, and apparently I was missing out because MEGAN MACDONALD WAS IN MY SHOP!!! (Again, it's not really mine so much as my place of work, but I feel a sense of pride and ownership sometimes. Get over it.)

So, I ran in, tried to be cool about it, and there she was, standing next to my boss chatting like they were old buddies. She doesn't look like I expected, for starters. She was a little older than I expected, and wore glasses and had curly, slightly frizzy hair. She reminded me a bit of Mrs. Frizzle from Magic Schoolbus. To give you an idea. But a completely different body type. If that makes sense. Her husband was there, as well, and introductions were made. I have to admit, I was a little shy (to those that don't know me IRL, I am NOT shy), not because I was afraid or intimidated, but because I have this thing about meeting famous people that I don't want to make them feel self-conscious or more important than they are. I guess it has to do with getting a vibe that they want to be treated normally, and are just as excited as we are about things, so I try not to treat them like the Queen but rather like special guests from a foreign country who you want to feel comfortable instead of awkward. That was a really long sentence, I apologize.

Anyway, she shook my hand, and we exchanged pleasantries, and then I mostly continued opening the store as normal, turning on lights, speaking when spoken to, commenting on the book and otherwise keeping my mouth shut for fear of babbling like a baboon who wants her manuscript published. Ms. MacDonald was a very pleasant woman who seemed excited to be visiting, and promised to come back and sign our books for sale, which was exciting, but was needed on set.

Shortly thereafter, a small ginger kid was seen bopping around outside wearing the most ridiculously mismatched outfit I've ever seen. Yet it worked. She was wearing a blue shirt and brown shorts and blue-and-green striped knee-high socks and penny loafers. Did I mention she has bright red hair and an Australian accent? Meet Jordana Beatty, the 9 year old Australian bookworm who was cast to play the lead as Judy Moody herself. Unfortunately, I did not get to meet her myself.

Shortly after that, a small boy with blond, spiky hair came buzzing into the store with several adults tailing after them, wearing a t-shirt with bugs on it and khaki pants and asked me if I had any Star Wars books. Guessing at who he was, I led him over, and pointed out some promising titles. Then he turned to me and said, "I'm Parris, by the way. Or Stink. I like both names." I laughed, shook his hand, and then met his mother and several handlers. He seemed like a super nice little kid, and offered to sign all of our books as well. As himself. It was pretty entertaining.

After that, BlueChair became the regular hangout for some key members of the cast, specifically the kids. They were all completely polite and really sweet, not to mention fun to be around. Ms. MacDonald eventually came around and signed all of our books for us, and overall we were pretty busy pulling books and helping various members of the crew find things for their children and other small relatives. I found it very interesting that next to no one on the crew had read the books or even knew the film was an adaptation of a children's series. Disappointing and surprising and generally a bit disturbing. But maybe that's just this bookworm's perspective.

The next day the crew got a really late start, and the temperature climbed even higher (passing sweltering and going straight to Saharan), and the kids (Jordana and Parris, especially) spent almost all their time off-set in the store. Unfortunately, I worked night-shift that day so I missed the afternoon excitement, but instead got the evening surprise.

Zombies. Is that what you think when you think children's movie? Me neither. Yet zombies we had, and copious amounts of them, too. No, they didn't use any locals (that I know of, though they should have and I believe perhaps intended to), but they used our streets. I was very surprised to see quite a few really well made-up zombies hanging out outside the store once the sun started going down, and took up a stake-out position across the street as soon as I closed. I still don't know what the zombie portion of the film is about, only that there is a part in the Judy Moody movie that features the making of a zombie film. A movie within the movie, if you will.

And then they were gone. The next day (Friday), all that was left was clean-up, and they did it rather quickly. The cameras were packed up, the giant lights were shipped off, and the painting and sidewalk chalk was washed away or put back to its original condition. And life went back to normal. Didn't it?

Some people have asked me if my tiny town was changed by this event. I don't think it really was. We were starstruck, to be sure, and a little dazzled by the fact that a very large film was shot in part in our humble village, but we're the same people. We're still quaint, we're still tiny, and the only changes we expect is that they'll be back next summer to film the sequel.

And that's all this reporter has to say. So. What's your mood on the matter?

Love all, trust few, do wrong to no one. ~ William Shakespeare