Thursday, April 24, 2008

Who loves your feets?

So far I haven't blogged much about knitting because...well, I'm still in blogging practice mode, which means I have maybe two-point-five regular readers, all of whom I have already bored with talk of what's on my needles.

I am rather proud of my first pair of socks (pattern by the Yarn Harlot) though. They were for Brendan, but I'm modeling them here (pre-blocking) because I was impatient to get a photo up on Ravelry. He says they fit like a pair of gloves. Hooray!

I can see myself getting totally addicted to sock-knitting. This reminds me of an op-ed (if you can even call it that) I wrote for the Washington Square News entitled "Trash Your Panties: Going Commando with Camille." (I was going to say it was tongue-in-cheek but that sounds a little dirty under the circumstances...) Anyway, towards the end of the piece I suggested that socks replace ladies' underpants as fetish objects:

I recommend socks for their wintry practicality and distance from the danger zone.

I should dig out that piece and post it here sometime. It was one of the better things I wrote for the paper at NYU (sadly enough).

(I've just finished this pair for Seanan. Pattern here.)

Next entry will be all about CĂșirt, the international literary festival going on right now in Galway.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Two Days in Dublin

Brendan and I went to Dublin for a couple of days to see Elbow at Vicar Street Monday night. The concert was fantastic. I've heard it said more than once that the true test of a band's talent is if they sound even better live than they do on the album, and this was definitely the case. I'll write more about Elbow later though. Here is another little photo essay from the last couple days.

Brendan's first ride on the Luas. Weeeeeeeeeeee!

(You know how much I usually deplore this sort of couple-y smugness, but I think the artistic value of this shot makes it worth including.)

Brendan and Diarmuid after lunch at The Bank on Dame Street. Probably the best gastropub in Dublin--food, service, and original nouveau decor all awesome.

Shitmonkey: the only toy Diarmuid and his brother Donnacha ever had, apart from a lego set. caption on this one.

And here are some shots taken from the balcony at the Elbow concert:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thoughts on the Creative Cycle

Until recently my website bio concluded with the following line:

At the moment Camille is working on a new novel that will feature chocolatiers, burlesque dancers, antiques dealers, pyromaniacs, and a runaway snow globe, though not necessarily in that order.

Tongue-in-cheek, but only to a point. At the time I wrote that I was doing a lot of random reading and wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to write about. Since this is novel #3 for me, I have enough of a work history now to notice a pattern of peaks and troughs in my creativity. I have never finished revising one novel and started writing the new one the following week or month (and I’ve always wondered about those writers who say they do). In between revising the Practice Novel and beginning Mary Modern there were a good seven or eight months of trying to develop various ideas that ultimately weren’t viable, at least in the form I gave them at the time. The Mary Modern-Petty Magic interim period was a good deal longer—partly because I was working on Moon Ireland, but more because I was putting a fair amount of pressure on myself to come up with something that would top Mary Modern. All in all, it was roughly a year between finishing up the guidebook and MM edits and beginning Petty Magic.

Even with Mary Modern promotional stuff taken into consideration, 2007 didn’t feel like a productive year for me, although I figured even at the time that “trough” was a necessary part of the cycle. All the false starts eventually lead you closer to what you’re meant to be working on. In 2007, these false starts took the form of seventy pages of a novel I later realized I could have written five or six years ago (fortunately I could cannibalize the strongest parts, and for two different projects), and the start of another more promising novel that clearly needed more time to simmer. I also wrote a few short stories I will revise at some stage. (As my friend Danny put it: stories, like jelly, need some time to set.)

So there seems to be a pattern of filling up (reading eclectically and voraciously; collecting random bits of dialogue/character quirks/fun words/plot jumping-off-points on little scraps of paper – though these bits will eventually work their way into many future stories, not just this one coming up), formulating an idea, writing up a storm, then another eclectic reading and gathering period that well outlasts the novel revisions. (I’ve read that this cycle is personified by a trinity of Hindu gods: Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer.)

It’s that filling-up period that has all the false starts in it. You’re trying to write before you know what you actually want (or need, or should) write about. And you know you’re in the formulation stage when you start to notice little serendipities: books of particular relevance seem to pop off the shelf, and you may notice subtle links between two seemingly unrelated topics that have both intrigued you lately. There is a definite sense of things falling into place, and a lovely tingling excitement whenever you think of your new Big Idea.

That, and relief that you aren't faking it.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

more about Waterford

Towards the end of our holiday weekend in Carrick-on-Suir Brendan and I went to Tramore for the afternoon, and I snapped this photo (he's a teapot, see?) before my camera battery died. I wish I had gotten a shot of the ferris wheel, which we later rode for €3 each (and I think we only went around three times, but it was still worth it).

As you can see, Tramore is on the Waterford coast, eight miles south-west of Waterford City. I didn't write it up in the Moon guidebook because I was initially put off by the rather tacky seaside amusements--a large arcade and an amusement park with enough rides to keep the kiddies entertained the whole day through. Tramore feels like the Irish version of Coney Island. While you're on vacation, I thought, why go to a place that feels so much like an American carnival? You get enough hot dogs and spinning teacup rides at home, right? But that's exactly why I enjoyed myself so much, when I actually took the time to see Tramore properly. The sea views were lovely, and being able to look out over the ocean from the top of the ferris wheel made us a really nice memory. I have learned this lesson several times since publishing Moon Ireland: ultimately I'm not doing my readers any great service by making snap judgments. They might be missing out on something cool because I never took the time to investigate it in the first place. I may know Ireland pretty well, but there's so much I haven't seen or experienced yet. I'm looking forward to working on the second edition.