Last week, I examined The Blue Angel and Morocco starred by Marlene Dietrich and the element of “gender rebellion” against traditional values in these films. After discussing with my mentor T. Pat, I decided to look at the more profound cultural trend that she both represented and influenced and examine the film Shanghai Express through this lens. Continue reading
Following the study of Casablanca as a sample of classical movie with a traditional gender dynamic, I have started to look at gender non-conformist movies in the liberal Pre-Code (Hays Code) era. The first actress on my list is Marlene Dietrich. Continue reading
Ever since it was invented, film has always been a major source of influence that shapes the public’s image towards others and themselves. In particular, the gender norm in our society was, to a large extent, shaped by the popular films that defined each era. This is why I decided to pursue the study of this topic —– the gender dynamic in classic films and its influence on our society.
For my last blog post, I’m just going to give you guys another excerpt from my work. This isn’t the most recent writing that I have completed, but it begins where I left off in my second to last blog post. It’s been an interesting journey this year. Here it is:
This week has mainly been about getting back into the swing of things after my record-long, 25 day, spring break. However, I did get a little writing and a good bit of editing done. Here’s a short excerpt of my work from this week:++ Continue reading
This week was mostly comprised of editing once again so I’d like to write about something I read for my New York City Literature class. We read James Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues, a short story centering on an African-American teacher in Harlem and his relationship not only with his brother, Sonny, but with the world of institutionalized racism that surrounds him. Of course, this very real world is entirely different than the very fictional world of my novel. Despite the difference though, Baldwin’s masterful storytelling was extremely inspiring. Sonny’s Blues is a tale of suffering, regret, redemption, and occasionally happiness and Baldwin’s depiction of these themes is nothing if not artful. Though the story was so well written and interesting, I, at times, found it hard to keep on reading due to the overall bleak nature of the world of the narrator.
“He stood up and walked to the window and I remained silent for a long time. Then he sighed. ‘Me,’ he said. Then: ‘While I was downstairs before, on my way here, listening to that woman sing, it struck me all of a sudden how much suffering she must have had to go through—to sing like that. It’s repulsive to think you have to suffer that much.’
I said: ‘But there’s no way not to suffer—is there. Sonny?’
‘I believe not,” he said and smiled, ‘but that’s never stopped anyone from trying.’ He looked at me. ‘Has it?’ I realized, with this mocking look, that there stood between us, forever, beyond the power of time or forgiveness, the fact that I had held silence—so long!— when he had needed human speech to help him. He turned back to the window. ‘No, there’s no way not to suffer. But you try all kinds of ways to keep from drowning in it, to keep on top of it, and to make it seem—well, like you. Like you did something, all right, and now you’re suffering for it. You know?’ I said nothing. ‘Well you know,’ he said, impatiently, ‘why do people suffer? Maybe it’s better to do something to give it a reason, any reason’ (Baldwin 17).
Yet, I believe that this misery is precisely what Baldwin wanted the reader to feel, as he was communicating something very real about the world in which he lived. And perhaps suffering, for him, flowed into what he wrote and helped him deal with the suffering. Truthfully, I can’t really identify with any sort of visceral suffering, such as the narrator and Sonny had to go through, but Baldwin makes me feel as though I can understand that suffering. I’ve said before that any good writer strives to create empathy and understanding in the reader, and I’ve seen very few writers who have done that as masterfully as Baldwin. I do apologize that I don’t have more to share, but this past week was a hectic week of edits, so I thought that sharing something that was provocative to me would be a nice change of pace.
This past week has consisted mostly of editing with some small spurts of writing new content here and there. Since my edits aren’t terribly interesting and I have no shocking ideas or concepts to share with all of you, I’ve decided to include an excerpt of my writing. This excerpt is mostly all dialogue and takes place during a meeting of my group’s leaders. Here it is:
I was still smarting from Gormly’s words. I stared down at the table. How could a cook tell me, a warrior, how the mission should have been handled? Sure, he had some years on me, but age couldn’t teach him what we warriors had learned firsthand. The rest of Thane’s team, brothers and sisters I sent with him, were still out there, and Gormly would dare second-guess my decisions? I didn’t know where they were. I had to know where they were. But I couldn’t do that while arguing with Gormly.
I looked up. “Yeah, I’m good. Sorry,” I said. My apology was noted by a dismissive wave of Bazgal’s hand.
Sharpe looked around and said, “Anybody have any more thoughts?”
Silence abounded for a couple of moments, then Alfred spoke up, “Do we know when we’ll be able to question Thane?”
Bazgal and Sharpe both looked to Junger, representing the healers. Junger was a middle-aged, bald, and grey bearded man whose body abounded with sinewy muscle. He seldom spoke when not amongst healers. He looked around, then to Bazgal and Sharpe, and said, “Well, he’s not in good shape. That much we all know. We’re doing the best we can, but the damage from the blood loss alone is huge, not to mention the fact that he lost an eye and will lose a hand. I’d say it’ll be a couple of days at the very least until we’ve finished up our work. After that, I’d give him a couple more days before we can question him. He’ll be very weak.”
Bazgal and Sharpe both nodded solemnly.
“A couple of days? If my warriors aren’t already dead, then they’ll be dead by then! We need to talk to him before that!” I couldn’t believe Junger’s lack of concern for his brothers and sisters.
“Or maybe your warriors will find their way back to us by the time Thane is ready,” Fara said.
“And if we try anything with Thane earlier, we run the risk of making him far worse and not getting any answers anyway,” Said Junger.
I was having none of it. “If it’s his life against the lives of my warriors, I’ll take that risk! Since when were we afraid to—“
“This is the last time I warn you, Carter,” said Bazgal. “You aren’t an Alpha and you won’t tell others of the same rank as you what needs to be done. Hold your peace or leave us and we’ll find a different warrior to advise us.”
“Alright, alright, fine. Let’s just figure this out.” I didn’t want to risk being left out of any decision that was to be made. Those were my warriors out there, and I needed to know how the Alphas planned on finding them.
“Let’s get back to it,” said Bazgal, looking around the table. “We know Thane’s in no position to give us any answers right now. We know that there’s a threat out there, and we don’t know what it is.”
“The Scout’s Vanguard is also extremely vulnerable right now,” said Shane.
“I’d say we call the Scout’s Vanguard back to our position,” Sharpe said.
Gormly looked around confusedly and asked, “And why would we do that?”
“Until we can really understand what did that to Thane and made Carter’s warriors disappear, we need to regroup and be on the defensive. If Carter’s warriors don’t come in anytime soon and Thane isn’t ready to talk by the day after tomorrow, then we’ll gather our things and head out.”
“I think that sounds like the best option at the moment. There’s still a lot we don’t know,” Said Bazgal.
“But why not use the Scout’s Vanguard to find out what the threat is? They’re already out there. They should do what they’re made for,” Said Gormly.
I hope you enjoyed my most recent work at least a little bit! I just started reading a new book, In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson. Larson is a masterful storyteller who makes nonfiction material seem like a good thriller. I try to emulate his storytelling capability in my own writing.
I’ve been thinking about group dynamics recently. How are groups kept together? What makes them stronger and, more importantly, what breaks them apart? Attempting to answer these questions has been important to me due to the nature of my novel. For those of you who don’t know, my novel is centered around a group of nomads in North America a couple of hundred years after modern society has collapsed. Continue reading
As I’ve written before, editing is a massive part of my work in writing my novel. I typically have a call once per week with my editor where we will cover as many pages as we can in an hour. Continue reading
Over this Thanksgiving vacation, I was able to find some time to work on my short writing. Although this writing is not a condensed historical account that covers every aspect of the communist society in China, it unfolds a unique perspective on viewing the history. Given the free time I had during break, I finished most of the writing. In this upcoming weekend, I plan to wrap up this short story, enrich its content and polish its language. As soon as this writing is finished, I will quickly start my study on Eastern European literature because I want to finish reading one more book for my project before this semester ends. In this blog post, I would like to share more about my writing process and talk about the challenges I have met.