Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mahler for the Children of AIDS

On Monday, Jan. 12, 2009, Singapore-born South Asian-American conductor George Mathew is organizing his charity concert, "Mahler for the Children of AIDS," at Carnegie Hall. The concert will raise funds and public awareness for pediatric AIDS and the Prevention-of-Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV worldwide but especially in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. SAJA BlogTalkRadio features an interview with Mathew, in which he discusses the concert, the world of Western classical music, his efforts to raise interest in the form in the US and in India, and what it's like to be an Indian-American at the highest levels of this kind of music. Mathew says some really interesting things about creative process, the creation of social narrative, and the implications for a conflict-ridden world.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Updates and Downloads

UK writer Suniti Namjoshi sells animation rights to her Aditi Adventures. Maya Entertainment Ltd., a leading animation studio in India, will bring the series to life on screen for an international audience.

Valentina Acava Mmaka interviews Rukhsana Khan on Kabiliana.

1980's Pakistan and England intersect--via Bruce Springsteen--in this memoir by Sarfraz Manzoor. Could work as a YA crossover title.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Plotting Along

Plot coach Martha Alderson has declared December to be National Plot Writing Month. And I am taking Dennis Foley's plotting class right now through Writers on the Net.

Dennis makes you outline. Yes, outline. And you live to tell the tale. He also raises questions and when you try to slide past them, following the many lovely distractions that novel-writing always throws up for the easily distracted writer, he raises them again. What does your protagonist want? Who stands in the way? What's the slice of your protagonist's life that this story covers? Why begin there? What's the event that launches the story? As I struggled to make my character struggle, I realized something. I was holding tight onto a story core that was, despite my best efforts to cloud it, getting clearer and clearer. I was playing out in my head the pre-writing that I would otherwise have done on the page–in fact, over dozens if not hundreds of pages. When I got distracted by subplots that kept raising their heads, the next week's round of posts and questions pointed me back, so I stayed focused on the through-line, inch by inch.

I must confess there were days I gnashed my teeth at facing that outline yet again. But now that I'm working my way through the last few scenes (sometimes backwards from the end, sometimes filling in gaps) I can see how much more I know about the story now. Could I write every novel this way? I don't know. I do believe that with every book I learn to write all over again, and that every book needs its own process. But for now, this class has made me think about this novel in greater depth than I was able to do before now. Nothing like having a knowledgeable teacher, someone who's not emotionally attached to the work, hold your feet to the fire.