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Author
Bruce-Machart
Posts: 64
Registered: ‎07-21-2010

Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?

And I admire what YOU do, MSaff, and I thank you for such a rigorous reading.  The last think that I want to do is err on the side of the defensive.  I am trying to be careful and fair with my language.  I see no fault in your reading; I was simply making a clarification--for my own sake as much as for yours.

 


MSaff wrote:

Hi Bruce,

 

  Thank you for your response.  Just to let you know, I am not saying that your story is brutal, only that it certainly shows a brutal time.  And yes, it does and is bringing about strong emotions as a read the story.  Like you, I do read what I start, and each time I re-read a book or passage, I usually find something new that I missed the first, second or third time I read the story. 

  I admire what you do, and again, thank you for allowing us to read your novel. 

 

 

 


Bruce-Machart wrote:

Hello, MSaff,

 

Well, I hope that the novel ITSELF isn't "abusive."  I think what you mean is that there are some characters in the story who act violently, even cruelly, and that the emotions generated by witnessing such acts are difficult to stomach sometimes.  I agree.  When I read Faulkner or Steinbeck (and I am NOT putting myself in that league...only sharing some books that evoke in me very difficult emotions...) or the play KING LEAR, to name three, I have a visceral, pained reaction.  But I read them...and I reread them...and I think the Greeks were onto something when they suggeted that the catharsis we experience through drama is purging, cleansing, and actually good for us!

 

As for why I chose the story....really, I just chose the character, Karel. I was  total Mama's boy growing up, and I wanted the chance to empathize with a boy who was motherless.  That was something I could NOT understand, and when I don't feel capable of understanding, the best way for me to get it is through story.

 


 

MSaff wrote:

 


 

www.brucemachart.com
Author
Bruce-Machart
Posts: 64
Registered: ‎07-21-2010
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Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?

Good evening, Tylerm,

 

It's so strange a part of south Texas history, especially this far from the border, but it does seem to be true that, while Lavaca County carries a Spanish name, and was certainly populated by Spaniards and Mexican natives in the 19th Century, the work of the Texas Rangers and politics in that part of Texas very nearly entirely pushed these early settlers out of the area.  While we see, at the very turn of the century, several references to minorities (Native Americans and African Americans) in Lavaca County, we see almost no reference to Spaniards or Mexicans until 1910, when the unrest in Mexico sent some wealthy inhabitants back across the Rio Grande in search of some relief from the confiscation of property and the persecution of the landed Mexican gentry (as it were).

 

Now...there may be some hyperbole in that line you quote, but I am working in a POV here that is relatively complicated...one sometimes called the "central consciousness," and at times the narrative voice is meant to sound very much akin to the voice of the populace, and inasmuch as this is true, I thought the line accurate.


tylerm wrote:

Bruce

 

I have lived in South Texas almost all my life and every thing in your book rings true to me except one sentence.  On page 10 you write: "...and until this week there's been neither a man or woman in the county who's often laid either an eye or a thought on a Mexican."  This seems difficult to believe even in 1910.  Was this something you found when doing research on Lavaca County during that period?

 

In the next chapter you write about "Mexican pickers."  Did they only come on the scene in the 20's?


 

www.brucemachart.com
Author
Bruce-Machart
Posts: 64
Registered: ‎07-21-2010
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Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?

Dear Susan,

 

That is delightful to hear.  I am so pleased that the story is coming together for you!

 

Warmest regards to you all (until tomorrow),

 

Bruce


Vermontcozy wrote:

         "SPOILER UP TO PG 225"   Good Evening Bruce..It certainly has been a busy day for you.. One of my favorite passages is on page.224..Starting with pg223.


 

www.brucemachart.com
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hookedonbooks09
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Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?

Bruce, this was an interesting look into why you chose the storyline.  All of these little insights are so very helpful and meaningful to us readers!

 

Barb

 


Bruce-Machart wrote:

Hello, MSaff,

 . . .

As for why I chose the story....really, I just chose the character, Karel. I was  total Mama's boy growing up, and I wanted the chance to empathize with a boy who was motherless.  That was something I could NOT understand, and when I don't feel capable of understanding, the best way for me to get it is through story.

 


 

 

 

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. ~Groucho Marx
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blkeyesuzi
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Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?

Bruce,

 

Thanks so much for joining us and sharing your novel.  It's wonderful.  I wish you nothing but the best of luck when it comes out.  I'm sure it will do wonderfully.

 

My question is this:  What tools do you use in your writing process?  Do you carry something with you at all times in case inspiration hits you?  Do you write using a computer?  Outlines? Authoring programs?  or....A favorite pen...I'm fascinated with the creative processes different people use.  Hemingway was never without his little black book (moleskine).   We had one author who only used a yellow notepad, and always wrote in a particular coffee shop.

 

What about you?  

Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs
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wendyroba
Posts: 58
Registered: ‎02-21-2007
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Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?

Hi Bruce,

 

Thank you so much for being here and answering our questions. I loved the book - I also loved the structure of the book (the time frame changes really worked for me as I felt that technique gave depth and understanding to the characters). I realized when I was part way into the book that I had read a short story you wrote in Glimmertrain (Among the Living Amidst the Trees) which I really loved at the time. So my first question for you is this: Since this is your first novel, would you tell us how you transitioned as a writer from writing short works to writing a novel - how was the process different? Was it a natural transition for you (in other words, was the decision to write a novel a natural evolution from your work as a short story writer)? Do you prefer one medium over the other?

 

Re: The Wake of Forgiveness - much has been talked about re: the characters in this book who I see as very real, very flawed individuals. For me, the relationship between the characters and animals (specifically the horses) in the book was interesting as animals have always been a huge part of my own life. What of your own experiences with animals played a part in the writing of this aspect of the book?

 

I was happy to see you are working on a second novel set in Texas...I'm looking forward to reading it!!

Inspired Bibliophile
Vermontcozy
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Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?

Thank you Wendy for posting about Bruce's short story,,I also read on your website Bruce,which I really learned so much about you and your life, that a Book of Short Stories will be released,I forgot to write down the name and date of the release.If you can post that ,I'm sure we would like to know..Thank's,Susan  This is always the Best Week for us..for Discussion..You have stirred up many emotions,,,As evident on The Character Thread...

Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
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maxcat
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Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?

I really like the descriptions you give for the landscape and the weather. It seems they play a big part in capturing the essence of the book. Why write a book about greed and abuse in such vivid landscape?

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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dhaupt
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Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?

 


Bruce-Machart wrote:

Howdy, dhaupt,

 

I think getting the idiom and diction right is vital to a story's believability (verisimilitude).  It is time consuming, yes, but it's a labor of love.  I couldn't see this story set in a contemporary setting.  It had an old, even timeless, biblical kind of feel.  These are, after all, kind of Old Testament struggles at work.  Sons and mothers.  Brothers and brothers.  Fathers and sons.  It's old-school material.  I didn't set out to write a novel set so far in the past (I never had done that before in my fiction), but sometimes the writer has to bow to the will of the story. 

 

 

 


 

dhaupt wrote:

Hi Bruce, I am really enjoying your novel. What I'm really impressed with is the accuracy of the language from the time period you're writing about, it makes the reading although a little harder to grasp at first, once you get used to it, it adds depth to the understanding of these people, their history and the era it's about.

 

My question is - was it more time consuming trying to be period accurate in your writing, why did you decide to do it.

 

Thank you


 


Thanks for answering Bruce and now that you mention it, it did have an Old Testament sort of feeling to it. All I know is that I'm glad I'm getting to read it and am enjoying it immensely. 

 

Author
Bruce-Machart
Posts: 64
Registered: ‎07-21-2010
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Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?

 

Hi, Suzi,

I'm afraid that my writing life is about as pragmatic and haphazard as the rest of my life.  :smileyhappy:

I sometimes write at home, sometimes at a coffee shop, sometimes in my office at the college where I teach.  TWOF was written, in part, on airplanes, in Boston, in Houston, in Chicago, in the car (not while I was driving), in about a dozen different coffee shops, etc.  The only real constant is that I write on the computer (my handwriting is an abomination, and I type very quickly) and I ONLY write in the early morning.  I like to leave one dream state, pour a cup of coffee, and enter the dream state my my stories.  The only exceptions to this last rule occur when I am nearly finished with a chapter (or a full draft).  In the two weeks when I was nearing the completion of the novel, I often wrote for eight or ten hours per day spread out over two or three different "sittings."  Otherwise, I write slowly, maybe two hours per day.
My process is unusual, I think, because I don't draft all the way through a story or chapter or book and THEN go back to revise.  I can't stand to let mediocre sentences stay on the page for longer than a day or two.  So most of my writing time each day is spent honing and reimagining and revising the previous day's work.  When I finish that, I just keep going, writing a new scene or continuing where I left off.  This is highly inefficient, but it is the only way I've ever done it.

Have I answered your question?

blkeyesuzi wrote:

Bruce,

 

Thanks so much for joining us and sharing your novel.  It's wonderful.  I wish you nothing but the best of luck when it comes out.  I'm sure it will do wonderfully.

 

My question is this:  What tools do you use in your writing process?  Do you carry something with you at all times in case inspiration hits you?  Do you write using a computer?  Outlines? Authoring programs?  or....A favorite pen...I'm fascinated with the creative processes different people use.  Hemingway was never without his little black book (moleskine).   We had one author who only used a yellow notepad, and always wrote in a particular coffee shop.

 

What about you?  


 

www.brucemachart.com
Inspired Bibliophile
Vermontcozy
Posts: 5,276
Registered: ‎10-20-2008
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Re: A word about typos


Bruce-Machart wrote:

Susan,

 

I would LOVE to come to Vermont (and NH, and Maine!), but those decisions, alas, aren't usually left to the author.  I once lived in the Boston area, and I have many friends there...and that figures in to the publisher's decisions about where to send a writer on tour.

 

Maybe I'll get out your way next summer when the paperback comes out!  We can always hope, yes?

 

B.

 


 

Vermontcozy wrote:


Bruce-Machart wrote:

 

 

Friends,

 

You will just have to trust me:  I know how to hit the spell check button, and I do, in fact, know how to spell quite well.  Still, in the interest of using my time here to fully engage with your questions (and hopefully to get to know you a bit), I am not really proofreading my responses.  Nor do I seem to be able to remember to hit the spell check button each time.

 

So...forgive me the writerly guilty pleasure of writing with ONLY content in mind, won't you?

 

With gratitude a-plenty,

 

BDM


Good Morning Bruce..Of course you are forgiven.We are just glad you are with us..It can get a bit overwhelming.I have read that you will be touring and mostly at this point in the West.I will follow your website,because it would be great if New England would be included in your touring as well.selfishly,Vermont..but Boston is probably a better choice..Best Susan


 


Thank you Bruce for responding  That would be great to hear you speak in Vermont,,or close by..Looking forward to your Short Stories coming out as well as Your Next Novel..We are busy discussing much today..See you next week or whenever you pop in  Best Susan

Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
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Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?

[ Edited ]

 


Bruce-Machart wrote:

DSaff,

 

I tend to get emotional when I finish something.  A chapter.  A section.  Certainly, when I finished the novel, I felt a surge of emotion.  But I didn't have a difficult time.  It is the writer's job to empathize with all of his or her characters.  In fiction, unless one is reading really poorly wrought or formulaic fiction, every character gets to be a human being.  Because that is true, I love all of my characters.  I may not like what they do.  I may not like the choices they make.  I may not like how they suffer or cause suffering.  But I do love them because I empathize with them, and because I empathize...yes.  I feel for them as if they lived and breathed. 

 

 

 


 

DSaff wrote:

Welcome to FL, Bruce, and thank you for your time! I have a question for you about emotions. I am feeling very strong emotions as I read this book (only through first section for first week). Did you have a hard time writing about your characters or situations? If so, how did you get through it? Thank you  :smileyhappy:


 


 

Bruce -- thank you for this response.

 

I have been absolutely staggered by what I have perceived as largely a dearth of empathy for your oft-times unsympathetic characters in the comments on this board.

 

A couple of questions, which you may address elsewhere, since I haven't been through this board yet, so if you have, just ignore.  I will get to all your responses eventually.

 

1.  How would you distinguish between empathy and sympathy?  (It may be that I have been interpreting lack of sympathy as lack of empathy, which may be unfair on my part.)

 

2.  You wrote:  "but the truth, Vaclav knew, was that her absence only rendered him, again, the man he'd been before he'd met her, one only her proximity had ever softened." 

 

What did you mean by "the truth" in that sentence?  Vaclav's truth?  Or the objective, factual, omniscient TRUTH? 

 

(I read it as perhaps Vaclav's truth, since at least several of the townspeople had viewed him differently.  But, I perceive many of the readers have viewed that assessment as truth in all caps.  That's not but to respect the view that elements of his personality undoubtedly had continuity from his younger days.)

 

Thanks for whatever responses you have time to make and for all you are sharing here.

 

Pepper

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Author
Bruce-Machart
Posts: 64
Registered: ‎07-21-2010
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Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?

 

Hello Wendy!
I have to say, it's pretty cool that you read that story.  I think Glimmer Train has something like 10,000 subscribers total!  What are the odds?!?
My first love was the short story.  I went to graduate school intending to write stories and stories alone.  Even the idea of the novel was overwhelming to me, though I had always read novel voraciously.  Honestly, I made the switch in part because I had envisioned this character whom I couldn't understand without a great deal more time and space to devote to him, but in part I also tried the novel form because short stories aren't marketable.  It has gotten, sadly, exceedingly difficult to get a deal from a major publisher with "only" a book of stories.
As it happens, I am working on a short story right now (while taking some time to do some cultural research for my next novel), and I am finding it much more challenging that I ever thought it would be.  One of my teachers, Melanie Rae Thon, suggests that the writer must forget how to write after every book so that he or she can learn how to write the specific NEXT book.  She means, I think, that each project teaches us something new.  We are never finished growing as artists any more than we are every really finished growing (hopefully) as human beings.



wendyroba wrote:

Hi Bruce,

 

Thank you so much for being here and answering our questions. I loved the book - I also loved the structure of the book (the time frame changes really worked for me as I felt that technique gave depth and understanding to the characters). I realized when I was part way into the book that I had read a short story you wrote in Glimmertrain (Among the Living Amidst the Trees) which I really loved at the time. So my first question for you is this: Since this is your first novel, would you tell us how you transitioned as a writer from writing short works to writing a novel - how was the process different? Was it a natural transition for you (in other words, was the decision to write a novel a natural evolution from your work as a short story writer)? Do you prefer one medium over the other?

 

Re: The Wake of Forgiveness - much has been talked about re: the characters in this book who I see as very real, very flawed individuals. For me, the relationship between the characters and animals (specifically the horses) in the book was interesting as animals have always been a huge part of my own life. What of your own experiences with animals played a part in the writing of this aspect of the book?

 

I was happy to see you are working on a second novel set in Texas...I'm looking forward to reading it!!


 

www.brucemachart.com
Author
Bruce-Machart
Posts: 64
Registered: ‎07-21-2010

Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?

 


My beliefs about animals tend to upset people, but I will take the risk anyway.  I believe that we very often are guilty of what is called the "pathetic fallacy" when it comes to our animals.  We project our own emotions and motivations and desires onto our animals...especially our pets.  The truth is, of course, that our dogs don't love us.  WE love THEM.  They behave the way they do because they all descend from wolves, are pack animals, and are motivated by instinct and stimuli.
So...personally, I LOVE animals.  I especially love dogs and cows.  They seem affable beyond contradiction.  I find great beauty in the natural world.  I recognize the fact that we, as human beings, are a part of the animal kingdom.  And this is why I draw such interconnected images of people and animals in my work.
But I also pass no judgement on folks who need and use and eat animals.  For my uncles in the country, cows are a way to make a living.  Horses are tools, not friends.  Dogs don't belong in the house, etc.  I don't believe in the supposition that you can tell what kind of man a man is by the way he treats his horse.  There is some truth to this, but are there any absolute truths, really?
So...this is probably a great deal more than you asked for, in part because my personal feelings are complicated.  If I see a beautiful pheasant flushed from a hedgerow, the first thing I thing is, What a wonder!  What a beauty!  The second thing I think is:  Pull the trigger!
But if anyone even speaks crossly to my beloved Brittany, Irma Jean....well, them's fightin' words!






wendyroba wrote:

 

Re: The Wake of Forgiveness - much has been talked about re: the characters in this book who I see as very real, very flawed individuals. For me, the relationship between the characters and animals (specifically the horses) in the book was interesting as animals have always been a huge part of my own life. What of your own experiences with animals played a part in the writing of this aspect of the book?

 

I was happy to see you are working on a second novel set in Texas...I'm looking forward to reading it!!


 

www.brucemachart.com
Author
Bruce-Machart
Posts: 64
Registered: ‎07-21-2010
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Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?

 

The collection of short stories is entitled _Men in the Making_.  It should be out next fall!

Vermontcozy wrote:

Thank you Wendy for posting about Bruce's short story,,I also read on your website Bruce,which I really learned so much about you and your life, that a Book of Short Stories will be released,I forgot to write down the name and date of the release.If you can post that ,I'm sure we would like to know..Thank's,Susan  This is always the Best Week for us..for Discussion..You have stirred up many emotions,,,As evident on The Character Thread...


 

www.brucemachart.com
Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
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Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?

[ Edited ]

I've been though these questions and Bruce's responses now to this point and I'll add a few more questions to the conversation:

 

1.  How did you think of community in its supportive ways during the time periods selected, e.g., neighbors, church, family, bankers, ...?  My feeling is as if I read some of the unsupportive elements -- self-interest predominating, weak leaders, quick changes of loyalty, jealousy, and less of the positive elements -- help in times of need, fellowship, mutual projects carried out together, simple presence at times of especial stress,...   Yet, I realize my assessment may be unfair -- Karel and Sophie do go to the festival, midwives did do their work, Sophie did make food to share, ...  Still, raising a barn, lending a hand for harvest, occasionally tempering decisions about loans, ..., and I don't know exactly what else, except perhaps the value of ritual (its emptiness does seem to be here), have been among the elements I found myself watching for in this harsh environment.  Perhaps more broadly, my question is how did you think of broader community in relation to the immediate story being told?

 

2.  Are you willing to give us another hint on where to watch for changes in tense?   I have a sense of being aware of them, even confused by them, several times, but frankly I never caught that something deliberate was happening, largely because, for me, they got lost in the shifts of time periods -- which occurred both in sections and within a section.  (Yes, I know, I can now re-read and figure it out for myself! lol!)

 

3.  I would have liked more back story on Vaclav -- why was he who he was?  Did you consider providing such?  Or, why did you choose not to do so? 

 

4.  Have you been surprised by readers' reactions to Vaclav here, or are they what you had expected, given the character you created?  How so?

 

Pepper

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
Inspired Bibliophile
Vermontcozy
Posts: 5,276
Registered: ‎10-20-2008
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Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?


Bruce-Machart wrote:

 

The collection of short stories is entitled _Men in the Making_.  It should be out next fall!

Vermontcozy wrote:

Thank you Wendy for posting about Bruce's short story,,I also read on your website Bruce,which I really learned so much about you and your life, that a Book of Short Stories will be released,I forgot to write down the name and date of the release.If you can post that ,I'm sure we would like to know..Thank's,Susan  This is always the Best Week for us..for Discussion..You have stirred up many emotions,,,As evident on The Character Thread...


 


Thank you Bruce..Was everyone in your camp checking us out today.. We are  such an open book,,It must be quite an experience,,I think I am living with your characters ,but cannot feel any affection at all ,ever ,for Vaclav. I did have a  moment,when the picture was ruined,.He knows what he has done to his sons..any sympathy, would for me take up too much of my time..I like focusing on the other characters,unless in the third section,something happens to change my mind...Looking forward to more discussions...Best Susan..

Kindness,I've discovered,is everything in life...Issac Bashevis Singer
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literature
Posts: 499
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?

 

Hi Bruce,

 

I just want you to know how much I am enjoying your book; the story, characters and your style of writing. Depending on how much information is included in a sentence, sometimes I'll omit some of the phrases, and then reread it putting back some or all of them.  The more I reread some of the more detailed paragraphs, the more information I seem to extract from it.  If I came across this book in B&N, I would have purchased it. I'm opened to all genres, it just depends on the author's writing.

 

With that said, did you ever wake up in the middle of the night with a brainstorm of an idea for one of the characters or another idea to write into the story?

 

I am keeping with the schedule so I do not know how Villasenor plays out in the rest of the book.  The only favor I ask of you is that if you write a sequel, or the second book in a trilogy, can he be described as maybe having wind blown hair, mud-caked boots, manure (polished or unpolished) ladden trousers, drivinging into town with the remnants of a dust storm covering his otherwise polished surry or even blessed by a passing covey.  I would like to see Grabiela down and dirty on the farm.  Even Thomas has been transformed into a clean freak.  The only mention of his grandchildren are to Karel.  I hope that these grandbabies are not a cloned product of Villasenor's meticulous state of being.  I realize that Villasenor's description is an integral and necessary part of the story; he just has to learn to let loose.  I still believe that he is keeping his distance from an previous past he's trying to avoid.

 

Congratuations on the fabulous review in The Wall Street Journal.

Sheila

 

 

 

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blkeyesuzi
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Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?

 


Bruce-Machart wrote:

 

Hi, Suzi,

I'm afraid that my writing life is about as pragmatic and haphazard as the rest of my life.  :smileyhappy:

I sometimes write at home, sometimes at a coffee shop, sometimes in my office at the college where I teach.  TWOF was written, in part, on airplanes, in Boston, in Houston, in Chicago, in the car (not while I was driving), in about a dozen different coffee shops, etc.  The only real constant is that I write on the computer (my handwriting is an abomination, and I type very quickly) and I ONLY write in the early morning.  I like to leave one dream state, pour a cup of coffee, and enter the dream state my my stories.  The only exceptions to this last rule occur when I am nearly finished with a chapter (or a full draft).  In the two weeks when I was nearing the completion of the novel, I often wrote for eight or ten hours per day spread out over two or three different "sittings."  Otherwise, I write slowly, maybe two hours per day.
My process is unusual, I think, because I don't draft all the way through a story or chapter or book and THEN go back to revise.  I can't stand to let mediocre sentences stay on the page for longer than a day or two.  So most of my writing time each day is spent honing and reimagining and revising the previous day's work.  When I finish that, I just keep going, writing a new scene or continuing where I left off.  This is highly inefficient, but it is the only way I've ever done it.

Have I answered your question?

blkeyesuzi wrote:

Bruce,

 

Thanks so much for joining us and sharing your novel.  It's wonderful.  I wish you nothing but the best of luck when it comes out.  I'm sure it will do wonderfully.

 

My question is this:  What tools do you use in your writing process?  Do you carry something with you at all times in case inspiration hits you?  Do you write using a computer?  Outlines? Authoring programs?  or....A favorite pen...I'm fascinated with the creative processes different people use.  Hemingway was never without his little black book (moleskine).   We had one author who only used a yellow notepad, and always wrote in a particular coffee shop.

 

What about you?  


 


 

Yes, you've absolutely answered my question!  I can certainly imagine how painstakingly you must have worked on honing your novel as you went along.  It shows.  I'd say your process works beautifully for you.  I'm sure your editor appreciates it, as well. ;-)  

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions so thoughtfully. 

 

 

Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs
Author
Bruce-Machart
Posts: 64
Registered: ‎07-21-2010
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Re: Questions for Bruce Machart?

 


Thanks, Pepper, for the insightful questions.  I'm not sure that I can answer them all without talking about thematics (and I just don't believe it's the writers place to talk about theme...that's between the text and the reader), but I'll do my best below in bold!

Bruce -- thank you for this response.

 

I have been absolutely staggered by what I have perceived as largely a dearth of empathy for your oft-times unsympathetic characters in the comments on this board.

 

A couple of questions, which you may address elsewhere, since I haven't been through this board yet, so if you have, just ignore.  I will get to all your responses eventually.

 

1.  How would you distinguish between empathy and sympathy?  (It may be that I have been interpreting lack of sympathy as lack of empathy, which may be unfair on my part.)

Denotatively, of course, the two words are very nearly synonyms, but it seems fair to say that in common parlance, "sympathy" carries a connotative tinge of "feeling sorry for" rather than "feeling for."  The former seems a bit judgmental (you have to believe one's situation is worse than yours, really, in order to feel "sorry" for them).  Empathy is the purer of the pathos-driven concepts, I think.  It suggests only the ability to relate with, to feel "as" rather than "for."  I may be splitting hairs, but I think this slight difference in common usage is important to note.

 

2.  You wrote:  "but the truth, Vaclav knew, was that her absence only rendered him, again, the man he'd been before he'd met her, one only her proximity had ever softened."   To me, this is a matter of narrative POV.  The narrator here is working with a very tight "psychic distance."  The truth, then, is filtered through character, as all notions of "truth" are.  Tim O'Brien talks about "story telling truth" versus "factual truth."

 

What did you mean by "the truth" in that sentence?  Vaclav's truth?  Or the objective, factual, omniscient TRUTH? 

 

(I read it as perhaps Vaclav's truth, since at least several of the townspeople had viewed him differently.  But, I perceive many of the readers have viewed that assessment as truth in all caps.  That's not but to respect the view that elements of his personality undoubtedly had continuity from his younger days.)

 

Thanks for whatever responses you have time to make and for all you are sharing here.

 Thank you, Pepper.

Pepper


 

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