Thursday, June 15, 2017

Support Your Scraps

I feel freed up to start my own things again, now I have a job--it's such a relief to be starting (today!) this thrift-store job that won't fill up my brain, so I can think about my stuff.
Including literal stuff, as in fabric.
Anyone who sews will already know this, but I've just discovered (as in, yesterday!) the most wonderful stuff:
"fusible interfacing"--fabric you iron onto other fabric to add strength, support, or stiffness.

I'm so excited because vintage fabrics tend to need back-up support. I never really thought about this until I started to work in thrift, but natural fibers break down over time, especially if not stored in archival conditions.
That's why you shouldn't buy old sewing thread from a thrift store--it breaks easily.

Yesterday I went to the fabric store and got 100% cotton muslin interfacing. Yay! This is one of the circus animals I cut out of old curtains that needs shoring up.

Polyester does not break down, of course, since it's plastic, you know, made from some stew of petroleum & chemicals. Amazing stuff--a fleece pullover I've worn every winter for 20+ years shows almost no signs of wear. 
So, that's nice, except that Americans throw out about 85% of our clothes every year.  Well, I don't, but not because I'm virtuous! I'm lazy, and I hate shopping, especially for clothes; I wear mine until they're rags. And then I use them as rags.

Info ^ from blog Good on You (also an app), about  ethical clothes shopping---e.g. this post: "Fashion and the War on Waste".

II. Writing

My brain is free enough to want to write again too.
(That fandom book--I don't know all why it left a bitter taste, but it did. That has faded.)

I'm reading Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder--I got it because I admired his memoir My Detachment so much.

He writes akin to how I'd like to write---he doesn't explain a lot, he just chooses the perfect example. 
Like an Economist obituary.  :)

This scene, for instance, where he's a teenager out  on a sailboat with a girl he has a crush on, Mary Anne:
"As soon as she and her family came aboard, I started acting every bit the mariner, raising the sail, trimming the sheet. Soon we were lumbering slowly up Vineyard Sound. Continuing my exertions, I cut my elbow. I went down to the cabin, where Mary Anne had also gone to have a look around. We were alone. I found the Band-Aids and asked her to put one on my cut. She did. "Could you put another one on?" I asked.
End of scene.

Out of all his teenage memories, to select that second Band-Aid... and--maybe even more-- to trust the reader to get it, without going on about it: I admire that. 
I tend to get all caught up in trying to explain things. It's OK to write it out for myself--writing it out is part of figuring it out--but could I craft it a bit afterward, to create a piece of writing, like a piece of sewing?
I'd like to try.

Dylan, Hutch, & Holly

I have an old idea for a fanfiction about Hutch being at Buddy Holly's almost-last concert in Duluth--(it's Starsky & Hutch canon that Hutch (the blond one) is from Duluth--he would have been fifteen)
an idea that got resurrected when Bob Dylan began his Nobel acceptance lecture with his memory of being at that concert (he was seventeen and came down from Hibbing), which he's talked about many times before--certainly his own original material, unlike, you may have seen, accusations that he cribbed much of the rest from Spark Notes.
And maybe he did, but he put his own spin on it, which I enjoyed!

In fact, a theme of Dylan's speech is exactly that, that artists lift material from others. He says what I said in the opening the Fanfiction chapter of my book: 
Homer did it, Virgil did it, even that estimable bard Shakespeare did it: 
take stuff, . . . and make it your own.

The Atlantic, in their good article about the accusation against Dylan, calls his a "collage aesthetic"--I like that. They also quote The New York Times’ Jon Pareles writing about plagiarism accusations against Dylan’s Love and Theft in 2003
“His lyrics are like magpies’ nests, full of shiny fragments from parts unknown.”

I'm not a Dylan fan--I just don't warm to him--but not for that reason. Fair enough to say the Nobel committee made a mistake in giving this guy the award (though I don't think they did), but geez, isn't it a bit unfair to fault the recipient for a speech for an award he never asked for and didn't even seem to want?

For that matter, should Obama have to give back his undeserved Nobel Prize for Peace? 
No. It wasn't his fault they gave him the thing preemptively.

Well, OK, you could fault Dylan for his speech, but I liked it, even if he did riff on SparkNotes. Yeah, it was a bit slap-dash, but he still made them his own. It's not that easy to re-animate dry prose.

Lots of writers borrow stuff, not many can spin it into something you'd want.

Uh, anyway... writing... I had almost forgotten that last summer I'd compiled some background details (yay research!) for the Hutch & Holly story---including what the weather was on that Saturday of the concert, January 31, 1959:
high 0, low –22, average 11
wind 14-17 mph
no precip

Fanfiction---it's like fusible interfacing: shoring up material, and shaping it again into your own fashion.

Flier from the Duluth concert via News Tribune Attic:


ArtSparker said...

If they were going to give the prize to a writer of popular songs, I would have preferred it going to Shane MacGowan myself. I can see writing about other peoples' enthusiasms might be a bit like that trip to the yummy island in Pinocchio over time.

Frex said...

I don't have a dog in this race--don't feel strongly about the Nobel, or the arguments about it, personally.

Now, fanfiction--that is definitely writing about one's *own* enthusiasms!

Michael Leddy said...

He could've turned down the award, à la Sartre. Plagiarizing a plot summary is, as a friend of mine would say, puh-thetic. High school stuff!

Fresca said...

ART SPARKER: P.S. Actually, it wasn't other people's enthusiasms that were any problem, it was other people's ideologies. Ugh. Not Yummy Island, but Animal Farm.

Heh, yeah, maybe Obama should've turned it down too! :)

I think the Dylan debacle is kind of funny---give a trickster a serious prize at your own risk.