Thursday, September 22, 2011

Personality types and characters

This week I've been in a leadership class. You know, one of those mandatory ones that everyone groans about and drags their feet on signing up for. Well, to my surprise, this course has ended up being interesting. Even useful. Hey, who would have thought. In addition to the useful stuff I've learned for work, I also enjoyed the discussion of personality types and Myers Briggs. We took the tests, confirmed our types, and talked about what that meant. I'm an INFJ - someone who needs to recharge her batteries alone, lives in the abstract, places a priority on feelings and subjective decisions, and is highly comfortable with schedules and programs. What about you?

Aside from the personal and relationship value (like understanding why my husband forgets to shave or immediately jumps into picking apart a news article I thought was "neat"), I found the exercises also useful for my writing. What personality types are my characters? I think my most recent character is an ENFP - she's definitely into the abstract, and does not need to have things planned out. In fact, being willing to fly by the seat of her pants gets her in considerable trouble, when she follows someone else's lead into a very dangerous situation. I like the idea of using this framework in my writing in the future, particularly for helping me understand the conflict between my characters. I know folks out there use character worksheets - what are some of the other tools you use?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Anyone writing about 19th c. farming communities?

I was recently in Canada and visited a sort of Colonial Williamsburg for 19th century farming. They preserved a pre-existing farming community in Orwell, Prince Edward Island, complete with a general store, one-room schoolhouse, shingle mill and graveyard. 

These pictures are of the merchant's house attached to the general store, so a sample of what the richest person in town lived like, and below is the blacksmith and another workshop. (Isn't that dress just darling?) I figured I'd post them here just in case anyone out there was doing research on late 19th-century agriculture, as I know I've relied on others' photos for my own far-flung imaginings!
And if anyone out there knows about the fashions shown here, I'd love to hear about it. Would this be pretty typical for late 19th-century merchant class clothing? 
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Sunday, September 11, 2011

The upside of self-publishing for a reader

A few months ago I blogged about how frustrating self-publishing can be for readers. Without the filtering provided by agents, editors, publishing houses, and stores, we readers are faced with practically unlimited choices and extremely limited information about the quality of what's available. That's pretty daunting, and I'm still wary about how readers are supposed to negotiate that difficult and time-consuming terrain.

But recently I was reminded of the upside to self-publishing from a reader's perspective. Davin Malasarn, of the Literary Lab blog, published a collection of stories titled, The Wild Grass. A good number of the stories had already been published in literary journals, but by pulling them together, Davin created a lovely immersion into his writing and imagination. In "Rivers," we meet a Thai woman who's proud of her newly-electrified house yet so uncertain about its function that she takes care to dry her hand before using the switch. In "Bohemian," Malasarn writes with pitch-perfect precision about the pettiness and joy of a fledgling writer. Who knows if this book could have gotten this published the traditional way - it's certainly possible - but by short-circuiting that route, Davin forged a direct connection with readers and is able to offer his writing at a very affordable price. Since the fragmentation of publishing seems to be with us to stay, I was glad to be reminded of one of the benefits. Now we just have to figure out how to identify all the gems out there.

Princess Nijma

Princess Nijma