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Gwen Tuinman

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creativity

Writers Fighting Resistance

Creative process and flow. I’m forever curious about the practices and self-talk that writers undergo to reach that special place where the story rolls out like a movie in their head. The flipside of that splendid flow is the quagmire of resistance. I’m also interested in what holds writers back. 

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Using Quotation Marks: Yes or No

I’ve been thinking a lot about the absence of quotation marks in recent literature. Our current generation of fiction writers is not the first to cast off traditional dialogue punctuation. James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and E.L. Doctorow were among the early pioneers in that regard. 

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy, published in 1992, was the first quotation mark free novel I read. Readers complained about the difficulty to distinguish dialogue from narration. I remember my own concentration being pulled from the story. Oh wait, someone just spoke? Who said that? After a few chapters, persistence paid off. The story’s current pulled me forward.

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The Lost Daughter

On the advice of another author, I read Elena Ferrante’s novel The Days Of Abandonment. Her storytelling is direct, often addressing uncomfortable and socially taboo feelings about marriage divorce and motherhood. Parts left me cringing. The novel reaffirms that a character’s unabashed honesty pulls readers deep inside their point of view.

Netflix is showing The Lost Daughter, a small budget indie film directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal. She wrote the script based on Ferrante’s novel of the same title about Leda, a middle-aged divorcee whose long-awaited vacation leads to painful introspection. I once binged on episodes of Actors Roundtable that featured Gyllenhaal. She asked why women actors arrived on set in full makeup and dress like bridesmaids while male panelists dress casually in T-shirts and jeans. She also pointed out that the male-dominated film industry generates movies to satisfy the male gaze.

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