Monday, March 30, 2009

The Crystal Palace

One of my favourite novels is Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.
I've never been able to feel so completely lost in a story until I read that book (3x!). To be honest, Middlesex was the catalyst for my renewed love of writing.

While I always enjoyed putting pen to paper, I never thought I would consider my writing to be publishable. Hell, I still don't know if I have what it takes but I'm not going to let that stop me.

Jeffrey Eugenides made me fall in love with words again. Writing wasn't just something fun to do, it had started to become a serious part of my life. I owe him but sometimes I curse him because the writing life is far from easy. There are times when I would like to throw my laptop out the window. However, there are times, when I'm 'in the groove' and the words are flowing so easily that I feel so good about my life. It's a roller coaster ride.

I heard that it took Mr. Eugenides nine years to complete Middlesex. At first, I thought that was a terribly long time but once I started writing my novel, I realized it's not that long at all. It can take you years just to find the right 'voice', meaning do you use first-person or third-person? I've played around with both. I'm leaning more towards the first-person, this week.

Another part of the novel that takes a very loooong time to write; the first chapter. We newbies have heard this a thousand times; the first chapter needs to be very well-written and must have killer hook.
So, I think I've changed my first chapter almost 20 times, so far. It still doesn't feel right. But will it ever feel right? I'm scared that I may never know if it's good enough.
The rejection letters will be a sign though, right?

I think the most difficult job for a novel writer is to stay motivated and interested in your story. Motivation has never been easy for me. I tend to start projects and then get tired of them if they are not going my way. I've learned (the hard way) over the years that this attitude will not get you anywhere in life. It especially won't get you published.
So, what keeps me motivated is the fact that I have an interesting story to tell. A family saga, a romance, a mystery--all in one novel. I think there will be a lot of people intrigued by the plot and the dysfunctional yet lovable characters.

I read an interview that Mr. Eugenides did for the Oprah show. I wasn't surprised that he too found it difficult to stay motivated. Makes me feel like I'm in good company.

'It's rare for me to get an idea for a book as large and fully formed as the idea for Middlesex. At a certain point early on, I saw the entire structure of the book in crystalline form inside my head. The elegance of this structure bewitched me. When I felt like giving up—and I did almost give up, many times—the thought of that crystal palace in the distance kept me plodding on.'

-Jeffrey Eugenides in an interview with Oprah Winfrey

Monday, March 16, 2009

Organ Donation: Coming soon to a restaurant near you!

I had dinner with a friend of mine the other night. Just after our meal, we stumbled upon the topic of 'weird things that people eat'. My friend heard of a restaurant in Japan that apparently has human intestines on the menu. I can't see how this could possibly be legal unless someone decides to donate their organs to the restaurant industry rather than to Science. Personally, I would never want to donate my body to Science (or to my local Japanese restaurant) for fear of ridicule. I know I'll be dead but who's not to say I won't see myself being made fun of? Nope, I just can't risk it.

I looked all over the internet for the Human Intestine Restaurant to no avail. However, I did stumble upon some other rather strange restaurants. Below are just a few:

Medical Restaurant: Taipei, Taiwan
How would you like your favourite drink to be served by an IV drip? Or how about enjoying your favourite meal while sitting in a wheelchair?
The guy who came up with this idea was a former patient who received great care at his local hosptial. I still don't see why he wanted to place these two 'themes' together but hey, to each his own.

I'm sure this restaurant does well with men, though as all the waitresses are dressed as slutty nurses.

Restaurant in the Sky: Belgium
The only advice I can give is don't drop your fork and keep that bloody seatbelt fastened at ALL times.

Underwater Restaurant: Maldives, Dhivehi
Out of all these ridiculous destinations, I would choose this one. It sits five meters under the Indian Ocean and offers 270 degree views.

Japan: The Cannibal Banquet

This is weird. This is Japan.

So, the 'body' is made kind of like a pinata. The food inside is covered in a red sauce of some kind. They place more of this sauce in between the layers of 'skin' so that when you use the scalpel (yes, this is like an autopsy) the 'body' will bleed.

Last, but not least (back to Taiwan) The Toilet Restaurant:
What's wrong with this country? Is their food so boring they have to come up with appalling ways to eat it?

This is disgusting. Not sure how anyone can enjoy their meal out of something that mimics the place where we do our 'business'.

We Canadians may not have our own 'cusine' to speak of but at least we don't eat out of toilets!