Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Afternoon of Fauns
Originally uploaded by noqontrol.

Recently, Tom tagged me for a meme that asks the tagee to expose five weird habits. Only five? Choices, choices...Hmmm.

Not wanting to overwhelm you with my weirdness (I'm a writer, don't forget. I spend my entire day alone drifting through worlds of my own making) I'm going to give you one at a time.

My first wired habit: I think to music. Whether I'm rehearsing a vituperative dialogue between two characters, thinking about the tropical island south of India that is sinking beneath the sea or just wondering exactly what a friend meant when they made that remark about my hair, I first find an appropriate CD, and start pacing. Then, I can think.

A couple of things I've been pacing and pondering recently:

Gabriel's Son by Damian McNicholl which gave me something to look forward to every night during the turbulent month of December. Like the best fiction, this novel is a spirited glimpse of a world at once distant and exactly the same as my own. Specifically, it's a story of growing up gay and Catholic in Northern Ireland. But the young protagonist, Gabriel Harkin, is so likeable and so very real, his story quickly transcends any such narrow descriptions. In the end, this is the story of growing up anywhere, wanting to be accepted for who you are, and above all, wanting to accept yourself.

In an entirely different vein, I've been thinking of The Joy of Letting Women Down, NatalieD'Arbeloff 's humorous, insightful (and like everything Natalie produces) utterly original look at the perennial power struggle between the sexes. Though small in size, it served as a great coffee table book at my house over the holidays. It seemed that no one who visited could resist picking it up and reading some choice passages aloud. It even sparked a few vigorous debates--always a plus after dinner when holiday languor sets in.

Then there's the topic that everyone's thinking about: Is it okay to call a book that's partially or maybe even largely fabricated non-fiction? The moralists, the lawyers, and the publishing industry will have to answer that one. As for me, I've been thinking that in the interest of greater marketability, maybe I should bill my book as an autobiography. With a title like THE LIAR'S DIARY, I wouldn't even need a disclaimer.

And finally, I've been thinking of everyone who stopped by or emailed kind messages or simply visited held my family in your thoughts as we endured our time of worry. I may have never seen your faces or heard the timbre of your voices, but I know you just the same. Your friendship is one of the greatest gifts I've received in 2005.


rdl said...

I passed on this one, I'm not as brave or weird as you. can't wait to hear the rest and to hear that you're back. Now about that tea, tho I still want champagne; hey we can have both - like old times.

Sharon Hurlbut said...

Glad you made it home safe, Patry!

I find that music is an integral part of my life, including my writing. Though I don't often have music playing while I'm actually in the act of writing, it's an almost foolproof means of getting myself inspired and revving up my creativity.

liz elayne lamoreux said...

i have to ask what types music you might turn to as you pace? what is your current soundtrack?
(hope all is well with your husband's father)

Anonymous said...

Patry, I'm chuffed (Brit for very very pleased) to hear that The Joy stirred up some after dinner debates at your house. Wish I'd been a fly on those walls, or better still, a participant. A happy and dazzling new year to you and your forthcoming best-seller.

Myfanwy Collins said...

Hi Patry,

It's nice to *see* you again. Have missed your posts. Hope your family is doing okay.


MB said...

Patry, you and yours have been much on my mind. I hope all's well.

Thank you for this post. It's always fascinating to delve a bit into someone else's mind. Writing to music, eh? I wonder what kind? Me, I think I need silence to write; music proves distracting. But, perhaps I'm not listening to the right music!

I love your working title, The Liar's Diary. Funny, provocative, a conundrum...

Patry Francis said...

Funny, my computer--or maybe it's blogger--said I had no comments, and I was feeling a little down--like I'd been away so long I'd lost all my friends. But then when I clicked on the comments, I found this whole party taking place without me!

rdl: What do you mean you're not as weird as I am? sure you are!!!

sharon: sometimes I can listen to music while writing; sometimes not. But if I do, it has to be instrumental; words interfere for me, too.

liz: I've been listening to a lot of classical music, because one of the main characters in my novel is a violinist, and all the characters are connected by their love of music. But right now in my CD player is something that really gets both mind and body moving: "From Mali to Memphis, a History of the Blues." Recently, I ordered the new Go Gos CD, and Tori Amos' most recent one. Lots of happy pacing ahead!
p.s. Thanks for your kind thoughts from my father-in-law. He is currently stabilized and full of his usual high spirits.

Natalie: Oh, "chuffed," I love that term! I wish you could have participated in our debates, though in a way, of course, you did. Thanks for all your good wishes. A happy and productive 2006 to you, too (with lots of chuffing!) (Is that the proper use of the word???)

Myf: I like your word "see". In some way, I think we do see each other here in the blogosphere. It's great to be back.

mb: You have the kind of warmth that comes through every time you leave a comment. It's amazing and sincerely appreciated.

As far as the title goes, most things I write (including blog posts) seem to come equipped with their own title. This novel wasn't one of them. It's already been changed several times in the course of its brief life, though I'm now hoping the publisher will stick with LIAR'S DIARY. It feels right.

Stephanie said...

It's nice to have you back around, Patry. :)

It seems to me that memoir is inherently flawed as a genre, and it's most of what I write. It's always full of constructions (or deconstructions). Even people who are the "greats" in memoir, admit to creating amalgams of people and all sorts of things that make it much more like fiction than non-fiction.

I wonder why it is so important to some readers to know if something is true or not.

Patry Francis said...

Stephanie: I know all memoirs are skewed by the memory and perceptions of the writer, but there's a difference between skewed perception, and an outright factual lie. I once loved the memoirs of Lillian Hellmann, but when her honesty and integrity were seriously questioned, they were spoiled for me. I suspect that when the dust settles, a lot of people will feel the same about Frey's work. God, I think I'm going to have to write a blog post about this.

Anna Piutti said...

I often write with music in the background.
Lately, I've been writing to quite melodic tunes.

My studies are taking a lot of my time these days, and I wonder when I'll be able to write a poem again. Hopefully, it won't be too long...

Anonymous said...

Since I so enjoy reading your posts, I will probably also like some of the same books you like ... so thanks for the recommendations. I am a fairly new recruit here, so I do not know the background to your father-in-law's story ... please be well.

Crockhead said...

Thanks for the comment you left on my blog about Frey and his credibility. Of course, since it was so close to what I had said, I thought it was brilliant. I followed your link back to your profile and am astonished at the similarities. I, too, am a Leo. Reading, writing and theology are among my interests (although dancing definitely is not.)House of Sand and Fog is one of my favorite books. I will keep an eye out for The Liar's Diary next year.

Stephanie said...

I guess the more memoir I write the more difficult it becomes to determine fact from fiction. For journalism, I see the point. And I do think Frey seems to have gone overboard. But often I find that something that is a lie is more emotionally true than what really happened. It's a tricky genre.

M. Damian McNicholl said...

just catching up on my blog reading and was sad to hear about your family troubles. Am also very happy you enjoyed my novel. Have a happy and healthy 2006.

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Anonymous said...

I know this is completely random, but I have the same weird habit, and I was looking it up, to see if anyone else was as freakish as me (my friend korrie does it too) and I just wanted to say you're not alone :0)