The Woolf Ranging the literary landscape
On moonlit nights, the Nuance gals pad through the publishing landscape of Z端rich and beyond, pouncing on anything wordy and dragging it home to share with the pack. Sometimes we howl.
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Welcome to The Woolf. In which the Woolves take a moment to ponder Time.
Ludwig Wicki, Conductor & Founder, 21st Century Orchestra, Luzern. Monica Tarocco, visual artist, Z端rich.
Sound Bites The Lighthouse Making Tracks And other sketches
Bite-sized vox-pops. This month: Meet the editors. Illuminating the landscape: Time. Goings-on in the city of Z端rich and beyond. Short story: Seconds Needle by Rashmi Rai-Rawat.
If you would like to submit a piece of writing for And other sketches September issue, our next theme is: Crossings.
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Editorial team Libby O’Loghlin Jill Prewett Lighthouse operator Liz Henry
“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” —Virginia Woolf
Photographic images in this issue (unless otherwise attributed): Monica Tarocco
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From Series: Via Roma 35
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Ludwig Wicki: Keeper of
Time Libby O'Loghlin interviews the Luzern-based conductor and founder of the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra.
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Images: Libby O'Loghlin
Ludiwig Wicki grew up on a farm in Kanton Luzern, where he began his musical life playing the trumpet and trombone. Wicki travels widely as Founder and Conductor of the 21 st Century Symphony Orchestra, a 150-piece orchestra and choir, acclaimed for their 'Live to Projection' performances with movies such as Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Star Trek.
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Tell us a little bit about what being a conductor involves. As conductor, I lead a big group of strong individuals and very good musicians through a musical score. That means I show them the way. They have the music, and they need someone who can give them the tempo and coordinate things. I'm a coordinator and a creator, and I can shape the music. When I conduct very flat and boring, and then the concert will be boring. When I give passion and tension, or go forward and backward to make it lively, then the orchestra go with me and the audience experience that. It's also the job of the conductor to prepare the music properly, to hear what's wrong, to find problems, solve them, to keep the musicians working, practising properly. Sometimes you have to be a bit direct, to give them deadlines. That's the game. What attracted you to film projects in the beginning? The film music! I love it. Often the music is for me more impressive than the film. If you come from that direction, you can see that our first dream (as the 21st Century Orchestra) was to perform film music live, as music. In fact, that was the idea at the beginning. Then we [with Pirmin Zängerle, business partner] discovered Lord of the Rings and through that we came to the idea of screening complete films with live soundtracks. That's special. There are the two mediums and also the challenge to bring so many things together: the score, choir, orchestra, and the film … all this, it's a very special moment. People often think film music is not as good as concert music but that's not true. When you take the film out, a lot of pieces work on their own, and are very good compositions.
I attended the first performance of Star Trek in Luzern in April this year and was blown away by the power of the choir and orchestra’s performance. To what do you attribute the power of live performance with film? Is it any different than, say, downloading a film from iTunes? Yes, yes! It's much different. That's the luck we have with this kind of project. First of all, you hear the music much more in front of the movie; in the movie itself, the director and mixer often take down the music because they love special effects and dialogue. But we care about the music, and that means that often the music is extremely powerful, and when you bring it to the front, the movie becomes more powerful. The other thing is, when you see the orchestra and chorus positioned in front of the film, you're seeing 3D in an opposite way. It's not in the film it's 3D in front of the film. And that's special for the audience to look down and see 150 people working like crazy and singing: it's such a lively thing going on, this energy. And our orchestra are special; they spend energy, they don't lay back, they are fully into it. And this energy—this force—fills the room. In cinema, you don't have that. It's flat. You have only speakers: membranes. And that's not half. They can bring energy through loudness, but loudness hurts the ear. The other energy comes from the body. I think that's what touches people so strongly.
“Movie composers are fantastic. Especially the orchestrators. They are much better than classic composers.”
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When you entered the Konzerthalle in Luzern wearing the famous mustard Star Trek uniform, the audience was thrilled. Many people took photos, some of which made their way to Instagram, Twitter or Facebook streams. How do you view this degree of connectivity, especially as it pertains to live performance? For me, I don't care about that. It's open, and it's great when these things go around the world. People in Singapore, in Los Angeles, they all know about the 21st Century Orchestra. Without that, we would be only in Switzerland. And that's a gift. On the production side, we sometimes have discussions with musicians about copyright, about the rights to film, and sometimes the musicians say, 'tell them they shouldn't do it', but I know we can't control that. It's a passion. They make a film, they put it on Facebook … They're fans. Some years ago I was afraid after every concert, to see 10 films on Facebook and YouTube especially (when you type in 21st Century Orchestra there are hundreds of films!), but now I think it's positive for us. As long as we play well! We have a very good concert standard, so I'm not afraid of that. We have improved a lot in the last few years. In the beginning we played one concert a year. Then three. … Now we play 40 a year. It's crazy. We are together every second week, and so we get better when we work hard. And we have a very good standard. And you can easily find enough performers who are passionate about film music? If somebody is not into it, they're not on our list. It's very easy. We created here a possibility for a musician to make a part of their living from the orchestra. For them it's a real thing to do now. More musicians stay in this area to be
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freelancers. But now we created a lot of jobs through 21st Century Orchestra, and we give young musicians a chance to learn how to play in a big orchestra. Movie music is for each instrument a challenge to play. Often more difficult than classic musicians think it is. Why? Years ago, the classic people thought movie music was easy. But that's not true. Most of the orchestrators who work in movies are the best composers and orchestrators. And they discovered that there they really can make money, and they will be played and performed. They write for that. There are still two communities. The one side is classic composers who would never write film music, and on the other side there are film composers … which the classic composers think are cheap. But that's wrong. There are fantastic composers who realise that life is more than only writing concert pieces for one performance. They write for business. Movie composers are fantastic. Especially the orchestrators. They are much better than classic composers. Fantastic. High-level.
“In the beginning, I was much more a slave to technology but I've learned to use technology so that it doesn't influence me.”
When you’re ‘on the job’ for Live to Projection projects, you work with the music score, the screen and dialogue, and the pre-ordained timing of the computer software, in order to keep the orchestra and choir in sync with the big screen. What is the most challenging aspect of this? The dialogue is a part, but I can influence that. That comes through my monitor and speaker. I can hear it, it's important for me to hear it. I go with the dialogue, but there are speeches that are whispered, and I have to take down the music to match the whispering. I have to keep an eye on that. The challenge is to keep the 150 people together, and have them always at the right place. I know on the monitor where I should be conductingwise, and I have to bring them to that point and make music. Especially in Gladiator, it is more difficult. Gladiator is a very romantic, passionate score and you have to play that with very strong expressivus, and to create that—this intensity for death and dying—to punch in time to a computer that says 1, 2, 3 … that's very difficult. To ignore that a little bit but to stay on the right place, and to create music like Mahler scores, that's the biggest challenge.
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How much has technology changed the way you work—and indeed perform as a musician—over the years? Not so much. In the beginning, I was much more a slave to technology but I've learned to use technology so that it doesn't influence me. At the beginning I was more in the mode to stick within the rules … now I learned to handle it, I know that I am correct, and I can fly over it, and I can think in musical phrases. There was a technical glitch during the Star Trek screening and you walked offstage to reboot the system. What was going through your mind? Is that a conductor’s worst nightmare, or do you think audiences are used to technology’s foibles? It has happened only twice in my life so far. Once in Pirates of the Caribbean I had monitor problems, and then with Star Trek it fell out completely. I had problems in the second movement; I went on, I conducted 'free', and in the end I was in the right place. But when the screen went grey, I thought, “Oh, come back,” but then I realised, “I should be playing by now, I should go in”, but I also realised it was going to be risky, so I left the stage and talked to the people backstage, and we worked out how to solve it. As conductor, you never worry what the audience are thinking, I'm always thinking about the next step. That's very important when you're leading projects.
“The Alphorn is from the soul, for the soul.”
You started life on a farm in Kanton Luzern, where you learned the trombone. Tell us about your exposure to music as a younger person. My life is not a normal classical route. There were many points of luck. When I grew up I was really a mountain farmer boy. I milked cows and worked very hard. I played trumpet first, then trombone, and I was good in that, and I practised, so I had success. But before that I had nothing to do with the academic world, I was really a farmer. And in my heart I am still a farmer. It was luck that I won a big competition, then the teacher from the conservatory saw me and invited me to have lessons. And through that I came to the conservatory and through him I came to the orchestra very early on. From when I was 19, I was making my living as a musician with an orchestra. Before that, I only knew Ländermusik—folk music—and marching band music. Do you play the alphorn? Yes! That's the only instrument I still play. I don't practise seriously, but I love it. I grew up with it, and also with yodelling. The Alphorn is from the soul, for the soul. It is also a connection to my father. He died last year, and I have his Alphorn now. Life as a classical musician seems far away from the practicalities of life ‘on the land’ and much more (at least in the first instance) in the world of art and ideas. Is this true? My roots are very good for my job. I can get up early and work the whole day, and I'm ready for work. It doesn't hurt me. The normal classical way is more academic. Most of the conductors,
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they do what they do. They study, their parents give them power and strength that they practise and have the best opportunities to study with this teacher and that teacher, and they never have to work for the money before. Most are trained like that, otherwise they'd never get to that point. But the way I did it is a bit rare. I don't have academic parents.
“I still love folk music. I know sometime when I get older, sometime when I stop doing all these crazy things, then I'll play folk music. Only for my heart, not for money. Not for money.”
One could say folk musicians and choirs are first and foremost storytellers. What are your favourite examples of a piece of music without words that tells a good story? There are many. Especially from Ravel and Debussy. Wonderful music, wonderful melodies tell stories. Impressionism: they tell stories, they give impressions. In La Mer, from Debussy, you see the sea—the sea speaks. You have a broad range of experience with musical ‘genres’, from Gregorian through to Renaissance, Baroque, Viennese, to name a few. Does any one particular genre resonate more for you than another? I love too many things. In all kinds. From food to hobbies … I could go crazy with the possibilities. I'm like a child who can't say no! For example, at 5pm last night I came back from conducting Lord of the Rings in Calgary, Canada,
and had a 7pm rehearsal with Venetian Renaissance music from the 1600s. This morning I had to prepare music for three different concerts. Tonight I have a Gregorian chant rehearsal at 7pm, and then a Haydn mass rehearsal at 8pm, and tomorrow I meet with Pegasus, the pop band, because I am helping them orchestrate a concert in the Fall. I do love Gregorian chants. I am Kappelmeister at the Hofkirche St. Leodegar in Luzern. I conduct the choirs there. I often do Gregorian chants on Sunday mornings. And I still love folk music. I know sometime when I get older, sometime when I stop doing all these crazy things, then I'll play folk music. Only for my heart, not for money. Not for money. A Gregorian understanding of humankind’s place in the universe would have been quite different than that of, for example, J.S. Bach. How important is it to have an understanding of historical context about a piece (or genre) that you are performing and conducting? Or do you think the music should be able to stand alone? Bach is very special. He was a genius. His music can stand alone. You can play with a rock band … still genius. Or you can play in an historical, authentic way, and it's also good. But I'm an early musician, and I think early music gets more power and energy when it's played in an authentic way. I played the trombone and sackbut (Renaissance instruments) and this music has more power and energy when you play it in an authentic way. For that reason it's good to understand the time. I study books and I speak often with professionals when I perform early music. Early music that goes from Mozart, Beethoven and back. It's good to understand authentic playing, and I do that in the Hofkirche Luzern, I study authentic ways to play, and historic aspects.
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Giovanni Gabrieli—1600s—is for me a dream time. I love this period. And when they performed it, back then, they had space, they had time. They didn't have a watch, they went there, they'd eat, and make music. They didn't think, 'Oh, I have to do this, and that, and pay taxes'. Nothing! They were part of the church, and they could write music, see how it sounded, perform it … so different than what we have to do these days. And when I do Renaissance music, I feel that spirit, always. Gabrieli is the sound and the space, and you have to give this music that freedom and then it sounds good.
You can experience the unfettered energies of Ludwig Wicki and the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra several times this year, including upcoming performances of The Two Towers, Epic Battles, and Harry Potter. www.21co.ch Check their website for upcoming events.
From Series: Via Roma 35
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“The past is always present …” Monica Tarocco, visual artist
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Self-portrait, Monica Tarocco
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Monica, you have two particular series of images—Via Roma 35 and Past Perfect, a selection of which are presented here in The Woolf—both of which interrogate ideas about time, past and present. What draws you to this theme?
When I was a child my favourite pastime was to stick my head for hours in the old family’s album full of beautiful, old, black-and-white photographs—and wonder who were all those persons that I never got to know. The goal of this game was to find some familiar elements in those stranger faces. Starting from that, the theme ‘Time’ has always fascinated me, especially The Past. I love the feeling of being surrounded by images, stuff, places that have a strong history. In some sense, one can really say that I have an inborn fondness for this theme. You talk about the affinity that can occur between the family photographs you've used in your images and our (the viewer's) own personal history. What 'measure' did you use in order to decide if an image was going to have an element of universality?
In my images I look for what Roland Barthes called ‘punctum’; that is, the stinging particular in a photo, the personally touching detail that establishes a direct relationship with the object or person within it.1 I try to recreate this astonishing sensation by combining photos coming from different ages
“I look for what Roland Barthes called ‘punctum’ … the personally touching detail that establishes a direct relationship with the object or person within it.”
and with different histories and blending them into a brand new image. The friction between these two pictures gives the impression that they are lying in wait to be completed by the viewers own memories. Only then the pictures lose their personal character and obtain the archetypal value of universality. When you are approaching your work, how do you make decisions about the process and medium or technology that you will use?
It strongly depends on what I want to represent in my work. Lately, photography has been the medium that fits for the contents that I want to explore: identity, memories, memento, and the relationship with space. How long have you been producing visual art, and what was the very first medium that you experimented with as an artist?
I've been producing since 2002. I started with painting and drawing, my first and big loves. Do you think the fact that we can publish photos instantly – and everywhere – with apps like Instagram has affected the way people value the art of photography?
Absolutely yes. Photography has become an easy and portable instrument to convey our everyday life to the rest of the world. This has been a big and really fast step in the evolution of photography, as everybody now has easy access to the technology. I do not think this is a loss of value or a wrong way to use photography. I rather think that it is a great challenge for Art in photography, which must have the strength to cope with this radical change and become more solid than ever. In these days it is only up to us and our criticism to distinguish between an art production or a daily life personal documentation.
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From Series: Past Perfect
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How much have the changes in digital technology affected the way you see your subjects?
The changes in digital technology have not affected so much the way I see my subjects, they are only a big help to realize what I have in mind. To what degree do you think the preservation of art over time is important?
What themes are you thinking about for your next project?
I would like to focus on the relationship between identity and the flow of time, by using a mix of drawing, painting and photography. 1. Read more on Roland Barthes' 'punctum' in his book Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, Vintage, 1993.
Monica is a Z端rich-based photographer and visual artist. She can be contacted via:
I think this is an important and relevant matter, especially when we talk about photography. Without our past we could not know who we are, and it is our duty to tell the new generations our present through the arts. www.monicatarocco.com moniemmeti.tumblr.com @moniemmeti
From Series: Via Roma 35
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From Series: Via Roma 35
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“It is the observer who must make conclusions about the work through memories and experiences, by transferring them into these photographic containers, thus allowing the pictures to regain an identity that is both personal and universal.” —Monica Tarocco (From Series: Via Roma 35)
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From Series: Past Perfect
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From Series: Past Perfect
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“The collision of a remote memory with the present generates a brand new image, where both elements act as overlapping layers.” —Monica Tarocco (From Series: Past Perfect)
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The Lighthouse Illuminating the landscape
On “Time” Proust and Madeleines Perhaps one of the most oft-cited passages about memory in literature is Proust's remembrance of the experience of the madeleine tea-cake from his childhood:
“Many years had elapsed during which nothing of Combray, save what was comprised in the theatre and the drama of my going to bed there, had any existence for me, when one day in winter, on my return home, my mother, seeing that I was cold, offered me some tea, a thing I did not ordinarily take. I declined at first, and then, for no particular reason, changed my mind. She sent for one of those squat, plump little cakes called 'petites madeleines', which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell. And soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory—this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it No sooner had the warm liquid mixed come? What did it mean? How could I seize and with the crumbs apprehend it?” touched my palate than a shudder ran through me …
Continue reading this passage from the French Pleiade edition, translated into English by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin. Get yourself a Madeleine pan; here's Julia Child's recette for Madeleines at Persimmon & Peach or from BBC Food's version, if you prefer.
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Marcel Proust's À La Recherche du Temps Perdu translates into English more literally as In Search of Lost Time but since it was inspired by the second line of Shakespeare's Sonnet 30, could also be translated as Remembrance of Things Past. Sonnet 30 When to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things past, I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought, And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste: Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow, For precious friends hid in death's dateless night, And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe, And moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight: Then can I grieve at grievances foregone, And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er The sad account of fore-bemoanèd moan, Which I new pay as if not paid before. But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, All losses are restored and sorrows end. —William Shakespeare How Time Travel Works Flavorwire did a video on How Time Travel Works with clips from all of your favourite time-travel movies. Best Time Travel Fiction Turn to Goodreads for books about time travel. Here are some highlights: The Time Machine, H. G. Wells, 1895 How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Charles Yu, 2010 A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens, 1843 The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger, 2003 A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain, 1889 Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut, 1972 A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L'Engle, 1973 How does a legend begin? The quest for the holy grail has captivated audiences for centuries. There's even an Indiana Jones movie about it. Richard A. Lovett wrote a great piece in National Geographic on the topic: Holy Grail Legend Endures for Centuries Ten Enduring Stories in the American Psyche by William Jackson
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Looking Forward: the Land of Publishing Folks in the publishing industry see that things are changing drastically. Here are some events, conversations, and publications that challenge writers and publishers to think about the future of the industry. If Book, Then, an event for 'the future of publishing, now' Future Book, a digital blog from The Bookseller Publishing Perspectives, a website covering Publishing Trends, a NYC-based website covering news and opinion Book, A Futurist's Manifesto: Essays from the bleeding edge of publishing leads to a conversation about content. A next-generation digital book, a quick TED talk by Mike Matas. London's Foyles Anticipates … “The impending move of the venerable bookseller in London to a new, adjacent facility— the former St. Martin's College of Art in Charing Cross Road—has prompted Robinson and her associates to use the chance to try to develop a reinvention of the bookstore that could become influential in how many other bricks-and-mortar bookselling businesses approach a challenging future.” Read Foyles' Bookshop of the Future social media conversation on epilogger. Planning on writing your memoir? Or should that be autobiography? Before you decide, check out the frequency of the words 'Memoir' vs. 'Autobiography' in many books from 1800–2000 in Google's ngram viewer. (Yes, at Nuance we love a good statistic.)
Tenses and Time When you talk about time, you use language and talk about tense. This means delving into grammatical tense, aspect, and mood. Basics. More. A curious case The Progress of English Verb Tenses and the English Progressive.
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Distractions Humpalicious Steps for Writing Your First Sex Scene, By Delilah S. Dawson (Author Of Wicked As She Wants)http://bit.ly/19joDti (Thanks Max!)
Best site for the (accurate) gory stuff: http://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/
What’s in a title? http://flavorwire.com/389067/the-fascinatingstories-behind-classic-book-titles
The Sexual Politics of BookCovers http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/polly-
Bookshelf porn http://bookshelfporn.com/
Mini-lit quiz What connects Martin Amis, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Stephen Hawking and Edgar Rice Burroughs? Last issue’s answer: Austerlitz, by W.G. Sebald. (Which novel has: a) a sentence that is around nine pages long; and b) is named after its central character, who is an architectural historian?)
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Meet the Editors
In this issue, The Woolf sniffs around some pros of prose
Charles Blass charlesblass.com
How do you immerse yourself in the writer’s voice? I love this question. I have no magic formula, I have many years’ experience and I love language, art and science. I’m continually growing as a human being and this comes into who we are as human beings. I feel I’ve lived enough to have some terms of reference in both knowledge and language, cultures, characters, situations, attitudes, motivations and mentalities. It’s about tuning in and drawing on experience. Talent is a part of it, and I give great credit to my parents and teachers. Voice, words, rhythm, they’re all essential and work together in a grand choreography.
“As soon as the ego comes in, you've crossed the line.”
Punctuation ... I’m a huge fan. It’s microsurgery, but the slightest fixes can do wonders. Keeping the author’s voice is fundamental, but it’s back to the dance. It can be quite a fine line, but if you’re tuned in, it happens. As soon as the ego comes in, you’ve crossed the line. Maintain a sense of perspective as to why you’re doing the work and for whom.
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www.johnhudspith.co.uk I’m intrigued to know how you get into the writer’s voice, how you know what kind of words might work, what sort of sentence rhythm will fit and how you know it will still sound like the author, not the editor. A writer’s voice is the storytelling voice. I imagine I’m sitting across from my writer, staring over the campfire flames, listening to story being voiced out loud, and watching every inflection. Those nuances I mentioned earlier; how the writer subconsciously employs the various tricks, connectors, scene-setting techniques, tension pulls – those are the roads to unique voice and rhythm – writer’s DNA.”
“A writer's voice is the storytelling voice.”
From Series: Past Perfect
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www.lorrainemace.com How would you describe a successful author/editor relationship? For me, trust is the key ingredient. Unless the relationship is built on trust there will always be difficulties. As a writer myself, I know how important it is to seek feedback from people whose opinions I value, but who don’t expect me to follow their ideas blindly. I want my clients to feel the same way. When I make suggestions for changes, that’s all they are —suggestions. It is up to the author to decide how, or if, to follow through on the ideas.
“Trust is the key ingredient.”
Writers often agonise over blurbs and synopses. Would you be the kind of person who could help a writer distil the essence of a story? I have a system where I show authors how to get down to the heart of their stories and will then work with them to produce attention-grabbing synopses.
firstname.lastname@example.org What kind of editing do you do?
“I'm not there to judge, I'm there to work.”
I look after the small stuff. It’s more proofreading than editing, so I’m less of an editor and more of a proofreader with attitude. Typos, spelling, consistency, layout, basic grammar and common sense. I often find myself making suggestions on word-choice and smoothing sentences off a little, but large scale structure, characterisation and narrative arc are not my areas. I’m the guy who polishes what Stephen King would call your little red wagon before you drive it home.
What kind of genres do you prefer to work on? Any type, because I’m so involved in the words that the story doesn’t matter. I’m not there to judge, I’m there to work, so it can be chicklit or science fiction, it’s not important to me. It can even have dragons in it if it wants. The blurbs I do for the German publisher vary wildly from bunny-books for five-year-olds to 700-page treatises on European philosophy through the ages.
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From Series: Past Perfect
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Making Tracks Goings-on in the city of Zürich and beyond
October 12-13 Karl der Grosse
Sign up HERE This year, WriteCon welcomes Joanna Penn (Indie Publisher and Authorpreneur) and Sophie Rochester (The Literary Platform). More details on the Nuance Words website. www.nuancewords.org/projects/writecon-2013
Readings, book premieres, a German comedian who performs in English, and conversation on the Arab Spring. It’s all happening at Kaufleuten this summer. www.kaufleutenliteratur.ch/ Index—a handy site with an overview of events, including Openair Literaturfestival Zürich. www.wortundwirkung.ch/ Richard Wagner is in the spotlight at this year’s Festspiele—check out the programme for various events in English. festspielezuerich.ch/en/2013/festspiele-zuerich-2013/ Writers’ Block? Try the weekly Creative Writing Course in Zürich, with Lihi Ben Haim. And more great writerly workshops with Sonja Bonin: www.sonjabonin.com
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Keeping Track On the trail of some local writers Nancy Freud
Nancy is a member of the Geneva Writers' Group.
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.” —Rainer Maria Rilke There is it—the reason so many of us write. We hope something we write will connect us, our most clear, unique, and poignant thoughts, with a reader who will understand exactly what we have to say. But I have a confession—I only found that Rilke quote because I went looking for a different one. I am an expat writer, and of necessity I join groups, I travel for workshops, I meet writing colleagues online. But when I left England for Switzerland, a dear friend urged me to embrace Rilke, explore solitude, and write accordingly. I want to dig deep within my own soul’s experience and write from my own pure heart. Sometimes I can. But part of the joy of writing, for me, includes presenting it to others. We all are the people we are regardless of the person we might wish to be. And I am a dynamic author, eager for solitude and then eager for conversation. I think the writing and the writer are both stronger for those connections. Nancy Freund’s novel Rapeseed features a synesthetic Kansas woman living in London. It will be published by Gobreau Press in September.
Angie attended last year's WriteCon, and is part of the Zürich writers' community.
My main success is persistence. Double Happiness, Part 1—A masala love story is currently being set as an ebook. My business partner Paul Ruoff and I are planning to start a small publishing firm if we see any progress with the book. In general, the main challenge for me is to sit down and write. Another challenge has been that I wrote in English. There is a limitation to the variety of words I can use in English. I feel that I could do a better job in German but my target market is a lot bigger when I write in English. A third challenge for me as a newbie was to accept the feedback from Beta-readers and the editor. I did not like all of their suggestions. Timing has also become an issue. Probably this is what you learn when you publish for the first time. It is very hard to plan with all the parties involved. At the moment we are aiming to have a sample copy of the book ready for the Women's Expo (May 26 th in Zürich) so that I can show it to people I know. Then we will try to publish through Amazon probably, and maybe one more Swiss platform. We are still discussing this. My blog is on my site: www.angieweinberger.com.”
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Writers on Board Sarah Buchmann gives a round-up of adventures in literature and Zürich public transport
Though I love the heartbeat rhythm of a train over the track switch, writing on a train does no good to my already bad handwriting. More than once I have more guessed than read my notes after a writing session on a rumbling train. But I very much like the idea of writing while travelling—the moving body making the mind flow. That’s how I got the idea to write while taking the long round boat trip on the lake of Zürich. Through Zürich Writers Workshop and Nuance Words I have cast my net and attracted fellow writers to join me.
Writers on Board Upcoming dates are on Sundays: 19th 16th 14th 18th 15th 13th 17th 15th
May June July August September October November December
On board, we will find ourselves a nice table, order drinks, and present our tickets. After departure each participant turns to her individual writing—yes, so far, we have been women only. To our left and right, the soft green hills of the greater Zürich area pass by. I stare at the light reflections on the water, pen and paper at hand, fishing for ideas … The smooth movements of the boat suit me and my cacography very well. The way to Rapperswil offers around two hours of concentrated writing time. On arrival, we pack away our diverse notebooks and the way back to Zürich is declared social time. We will get to know each other and our writing projects, and share tips and tricks.
If you are hooked, you can meet the ‘Writers on Board’ next to the departure board at Bürkliplatz at 13:15 and take the big round trip to Rapperswil departing 13:30 which will be back in Zurich at 17:15. For convenience we treat ourselves to first class. The most economic ticket is the ZVV 9 Uhr pass. Bring a little money as we will buy our own beverages. Contact me: email@example.com
Images: Sarah Buchmann
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Top 10 Things I Learned at the
Zurich Writers Workshop Chantal Panozzo is co-founder of the Zurich Writers Workshop. She keeps a blog about the international writing life called Writer Abroad.
As the co-founder of the Zurich Writers Workshop, besides planning our workshops, I also have the benefit of learning from them. At our Spring workshop, From First Draft to Bestseller with Lee Weatherly, here are ten things I learned about writing fiction: One: Draw out dramatic moments/moments of tension. If a car crash happens in one sentence, you have a problem. Two: Get inside the character’s head and stay there. Would they be thinking what you’re describing? If not, get rid of it. Three: A novel synopsis consists of the main plot points only. It should mainly focus on the action story arc but should also touch on the emotional story arc. (For more on how to plot a novel, see my post here.) Four: Every scene should center around tension and the scene should start as close to the tension point as possible. Five: To discover your character’s backstory, come up with contradictions in your character. If they are stubborn, maybe they are also compassionate. And why? Perhaps because when they were young they were bullied so they won’t be able to tolerate others being treated that way. Six: Holding back information is just as important as telling it. Even if characters know things, they don’t necessarily say them. Resist the urge to explain everything on page 2. Hold back as much as possible until later. It keeps readers hooked. Seven: When revising, look for emotional words, like happy or sad. Then take them out and figure out how to get across that the character is happy or sad without saying those words. Eight: Always stay in the moment. Nine: Let the reader make their own connections/interpretations about what’s going on. For example, you shouldn’t have to say something like “she is in danger.” The reader should get that. Ten: Use specific nouns. For example, instead of saying “expensive car” say “Ferrari.” For those who want more information, check out Lee Weatherly’s book (co-written with Helen Corner) called, Write a Blockbuster and Get it Published. To hear more about events with the Zurich Writers Workshop, join our mailing list.
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From Series: Via Roma 35
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Seconds Needle A tale of ninety-five year old courageous women. Rashmi Rai-Rawat Seconds, Minutes, Hours, Months, and Years, passes from shoulder side like a flash of light. We keep pondering in memory lane meanwhile Present crosses us and until we realize Future becomes Present. But it doesn’t happen with everyone; for few the Seconds Needle moves only when they are moved. Journals suggest Man is competing with Time and trying to win. Is it really true? Is it really necessary? Why do Man and Time have to be competitors? Why can’t they be colleagues? Before the arrival of life nine months feels like nine years, from the birth until old age ninety years feel like nine minutes and from ninety years until the final departure again the days take the form of years. Few say, according to the rule of Nature: Sometimes Life is following Time while Sometimes Time is following Life. In my room nowadays the needle of the clock doesn’t seem to move forward, the journey from bed to bathroom seems like travelling from Japan to America, bones seem to lose the grease and mind doesn’t want to go in the hospital workshop for oiling and repairs. However sometimes, with the arrival of my old friend Sun and young friend, a teenage girl, things seem to change for a little while, Seconds Needle moves faster as we travel together in memory lane. My young friend is excited to visualize the history, while I along with Sun would like to take a nice walk in those adventurous, beautiful, unforgetting paths of my life. Last week we were on a cruise ship going to Casablanca in the 1940s, everything seemed to be perfect. I was dancing and winning the prize, getting attention from the most handsome man on the journey, feeling the pleasure of wearing a light blue dress with ribbons on my skin, the unexpected note of dinner invitation from the Captain, experience of holding steering wheel thinking, the life of two hundred people are in my hands and suddenly losing confidence watching signals going up and down on the radar and instantly feeling I don’t want to be responsible for taking so many people’s lives. And then again feeling pride while receiving the warm comfort and attention from the charming captain and retiring back to my little cabin filled with joy. Oh! What a wonderful days those were. Head was held high, Backbone was straight, Eyes were able to witness each and every artistic movement of Nature, Legs were ever ready to dance on any tune, and Music was always giving company to my ears. I always wanted to stop Time at every beautiful moment but Seconds Needle never listened to me. My curious young friend wanted to know more and more about those Cinderella days. To make her happy, we went back to the Ship and to those unforgettable early mornings where my eyes witnessed one of the most romantic and saddest story of the two lovers, one being my friend Sun. Horizon and cold breeze were busy in pre-wedding decorations, colours oozing out from all directions, fragrance of air filled with soothing scent entering the nostrils, filling the entire blood vessels.
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Environment was finding it difficult to control its enthusiasm to celebrate. Bride Sky was busy getting dressed up in the blue bridal costume filled with colourful VIBGYOR ribbons embroidered with sparkling stars. Best friend Water had transformed itself into Moving Mirror for friendship’s sake. As scheduled the wedding took place at the auspicious time of Sunrise. Every object on Earth was lighted up, birds started singing the Wedding songs, flowers weaved a beautiful carpet on every path possible, branches started dancing and dearest Bride Sky herself had intermingled with the energy of her groom. Glow on her face became so bright that earthly beings were unable to watch this light with naked eyes. It seemed as if every single being in the Universe was invited and every one was trying to make the wedding successful in their small little ways. Sun distributed its sunlight equally to everyone, and Earth was filled with new sparkling positive energy. The happiness had captured the entire planet, every face had a smile, bodies were filled with strength, and minds were busy dreaming, hoping and gathering courage for the upcoming life adventures. Unfortunately, this happiness couldn’t stay for long. According to the Rule of Nature with the Sunset, Sun had to disappear otherwise Earthly beings would suffer. For others’ sake Sun decides to leave new bride Sky alone and the two lovers finally have to part. With the departure of Sun, Sky’s heart was filled with darkness, everything became dark, everywhere it was quiet as if everyone was silently mourning for the sad end of the beautiful love story. My young friend looked at the Sunrays coming from the window of my room, sighed and told me soon he will depart from his beloved again. I consoled her by telling her it is a story of lovers who are married every morning with sunrise but get parted every evening with sun-set. This suffering and sacrifice is actually purifying and increasing the love in their heart every single day. Though, they are trapped in the Time Web Seconds needle has almost stopped for them, their nights are filled with anxiety, fear, pain and loneliness but they never lose hope. Hope to be together again in the morning, hope to see each other, hope to get strengthened, hope to find peace and hope to see every one happy again. This hope is the energy which pushes the seconds needle forward. Its time to depart from my new young friend and definitely old friend Sun. I gave the little girl a hope that tomorrow morning is going to be special for her. She is now aware of being the most respected guest at the Wedding, and this time she could also play an important role in the ceremony, by doing what she must do correctly in life, not letting the sacrifice of the lovers go waste. May be if every single being would do what they must do, the rules of Nature will change, maybe their suffering will be lessened, may be something will change for good! Now I am alone again in my room, Seconds Needle has again started moving slowly. As everyone left Silence captured my room from all sides. I started preparing myself to fight with the night and the invisible beings. Thinking about the sun’s story somehow linking it with the pain and pleasure of old age. I told myself, I certainly have to move the Seconds Needle tonight faster with my courage, considering every night to be the penultimate night. Let’s see who will win tonight—me or time! Dedicated to senior citizens at Wohnheim Mühlehalde, Zürich
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From Series: Via Roma 35
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