Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hooked on Vooks?

Colors fade, temples crumble, empires fall, but wise words endure.

—Edward Thorndike

Putting aside all debate on bookstores & libraries over e-publishing & electronic readers, the only sure thing we know is we must adjust to change. It’s not in the air; it’s in the lightning-speed shockwaves of our delivery systems. The metronome of the communications world seems to be on a cocktail of crack, Adderall, and steroids. Ask any kid. Emails take too long these days for those with nimble fingers able to text out their messages in nano-seconds.

Enter the Vook. High concept and arguably the next wave of story-telling, the Vook brings us the opportunity to read and watch at the same time. While reading online text, the user is able to click on high quality video at any time, as it relates to the story.

The advantage in the non-fiction category is obvious. Instructions can be illustrated so that the viewer can SEE the how-to exercise program, they can read the recipes, then see what their finished meal is supposed to look like when plated at the table, they can enter the boardroom, the courtroom, or the classroom, and experience the development of trendsetting thought through graphics and virtual blackboards.

For fiction, the Vook adds another dynamic. Reading becomes a true sensory experience. Imagine highlighting key moments in your manuscript with sound and color that explodes off the screen. Scenes elapsed by time are easily and quickly depicted with rising suns and fading light. Settings, once necessary and time-consuming to describe and often bordering on purple prose, are now instantaneous. This just may be the ultimate answer for the writer battling that age old rule… Show. Don’t Tell!

If you’re interested, Simon and Schuster has a good page on Vooks. Check it out at http://promo.simonandschuster.com/vook/

While we brace for the future of publishing and communication, all this speed, all this business of more and more information delivered faster and faster, can at times be dizzying to the soul.

This weekend we received a beautiful handwritten thank you note from a recent houseguest, via the good old USPS. Breaking open the seal on the envelope caused me pause. This had impact. This was happiness on paper.

Today I hope you’ll explore the arrival of the Vook, and I also wish you a good old-fashioned card, hand-written, in your mailbox. If you don’t receive one, send one. You’ll be amazed how good it makes you feel.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Light Bulb Moments

There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

                                —W. Somerset Maugham

We all have them. Aha moments. Epiphanies. Breakthrough out-of-the-box thinking.

We break the code, come up with an untold story, or finally just ‘get it’.

A lot of what writers write about writing is overwritten. Much has to do with writer’s block. All is well-intended guidance, but the pieces of advice I find most valuable are about staging and observing.

If I need to write a dark scene I set MY scene, first. I shroud myself in darkness. The music might by George Crumb’s Lux Aeterna. The ambient lighting is austere. If it’s a lusty sex scene to write, the candles are lit [even in daylight] and I might choose the sultry notes of Ravel’s Bolero to fill the air. Staging is a valuable tool in order to feel and live the scene before you write it. Music and lighting are a good start, but think about all the senses you have, because when you write, you want to WRITE all the senses.

The second profound bit of advice is to always keep your notepad, be it loose leaf paper or electronic device, within reach, then get yourself out in our world. For people-watching, head for an airport, a coffeehouse, or a crowded beach, and just plain eavesdrop. Maybe you'll only walk away with a unique name you overhear, or a good title for a plot unknown. Sometimes, Holy Moly, you’ll walk away with a well-rounded character, a full scene, or even an entire outline. For me, another important element in getting out into the world is to get out alone. Find quiet and solitude. Convene with nature. Just be. You’ll see!

I found myself troubled to read an interview with Sue Grafton, upon nearing the end of her alphabet series. She’s likely to name her last book, “Z is for Zero”. [Writer’s Digest, Feb, 2010] How sad. I’m sure it’s not writer’s block, per se, as much as dealing with the pressure of turning out 26 books. Grafton is known for her dry wit, and much to her credit her newly released Undertow is some of her best work, but still…

With or without deadlines, remind yourself that the filament is always attached. The light bulb is forever connected to the omniscient source of creativity. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of nourishment and effort to pull the switch.

Today I wish you a shatterproof light bulb, promising you effervescent light, and the shadows that come with it.

Just Be. You’ll See.