June 23rd, 2009

viking princess necklace

Five Things, most of them Fourth Street

1. Before I wandered off to the con, I read a link from somebody else's journal to this Powell's blog entry called "No One In Romance Novels Is Ever Fat." It reminded me of something that worries me when I run into it: every once in awhile I hear writer friends who are more visual than I am talking about casting their current story or book projects with Hollywood actors.

And I think, don't we hand over enough of our visual imagination to Hollywood already, without handing them a piece of control over what is not a visual medium, or at least not in the same way? Of course one obvious (or at least obvious in my social circles) concern is a dearth of actors from ethnic minorities. It's bad enough that there aren't more Asian characters on Eureka. But prose writers can't let that lack keep going into their stories, where you can't have more than a token Asian character because you can only name two Asian actors who could play them. It's not just obvious ethnic minorities, either. I was pleased by Season 2 of The Wire but also completely knocked over, because they got so many of the different visual types of Polish-American you run into if you live in a heavily Polish-American area. Not just the Sobotka family members (all of them, oh perfect casting), but also Horseface and Maui and random guys in the background on the docks and at the bars: none of them looked alike. They all looked right. And Horse, in particular, is a guy I saw four or five of just at my mom's cousin's family events when I was a kid (the said cousin married a Polish-American fella)--none of the faces exactly alike, all interesting--and never, ever see on TV or in movies.

And no, you don't want every character to look like Horseface Pakusa from The Wire. Obviously. But there is a certain sameness, a certain smoothing out of variation, among Hollywood actors, and I don't see why we should settle for that in our inspiration to prose. If you're one of those writers who wants visual cues for character description, please please consider looking at photo websites like The Big Picture, where even their recent dance entry has professionals and non-professionals in a dozen styles of dance from all over the world. The focus of these photos is to be interesting rather than to conform to a particular look of person. In other entries are people dealing with war, natural disaster, and political strife--interesting faces in interesting times. Which is what we want in fiction, isn't it?

2. I had a really good weekend at Fourth Street. I have notes in my journal and notes on PostIts and other stuff just floating around my head, and my library list and my Amazon list each grew by several items. I have come to consider, as a philosophical position, that it's a good thing about a con when I don't get to talk to everybody I want to talk to, or when I don't get to talk as much to everybody I do talk to as I'd liked; but in practical usage this does not actually translate to, "Oh, I'm so glad I didn't get more time talking to that particular friend or cordial acquaintance or new person." Funny thing, that. There'll be a few more opportunities this week, but still.

3. You know what I want to talk about on panels next year? Lots of stuff, in fact, but particularly Work In Fantasy, books that handle work particularly well, not just, "look, our main character is a writer/artist/musician/vaguely creative type, again, and it does not appear to be any kind of work for them." And sort of conversely, I'd like to do a Fun Bits of Writing or a Writing as Play or Recovering the Fun Parts panel sometime. And also maybe Geezers In Fantasy, because old people who are actual characters rather than types are striking me as frustratingly rare. And stuff.

4. I think the weather is trying to convince sheyrena and papersky that they should be pleased to leave Minneapolis. Sigh. This is not June in the Twin Cities! June in the Twin Cities is nice, and by nice I do not mean 80 F by 9:00 a.m. and rising! This is more like August, and nobody wants extra August! (Note: if you want extra August, please apply in the comments section to take mine. Thank you.)

5. I am at that stage of having too much to do where I'm sort of flailing out randomly and doing things that need doing when I smack into them. This is not perhaps optimal, but it also might be inevitable to the level of tired my brain is and the length of my to-do list.