12 Winters Blog

Vimeo, new blog, Dracula, and a touch of Tolstoy

Posted in November 2010 by Ted Morrissey on November 14, 2010

With the release of Men of Winter just days away (though I’ll believe it when I’m holding a copy in my hands), I’ve been working on increasing its (my) web presence, and one project has been to make a recording of myself reading the first chapter of the novel. Originally my thought was to embed the mp3 file at my website, but it seems WordPress doesn’t support that sort of link (or I’m just an idiot). Then I thought I’d turn the audio file into a multimedia file combining it with the image of the book cover, which I did, and embed that file at my website. However, that didn’t seem to work either. So … I uploaded the video to YouTube, except it turns out YouTube has a fifteen-minute limit, and my video is over sixteen minutes. Persevering, I’ve had an account at Vimeo for a few months but haven’t done anything with it except comment on various filmmakers’ projects and subscribe to a few of my favorites. Anyway, I uploaded my video (which is mainly audio) to Vimeo, god bless ’em, and I put the link on my webpage. Also, I’ve made an abridged audio file of my reading so that in the next couple of days I can transform it into a video and upload it to YouTube, just to have a bit more exposure.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, my publisher, Punkin House Press, encourages its authors to maintain a blog, so the question became, do I continue to use 12 Winters Blog only, or do I also start a special blog (on Blogger) that will be linked to PHP’s blogpage? Figuring that, perhaps, more is better (after all, this is America, people), I went with the latter option. I pondered for a few days how I might make my PHP blog different from 12 Winters Blog, which I use as a sort of online journal of my reading and writing life, and it occurred to me that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of practical information on the web about the mechanics of finding a publisher for one’s shorter work. I’ve come across a lot of sites that give writing tips, and there’s a lot of information about how to shop a book-length manuscript; however, for the so-called “new” writer/poet who is wanting to start seeing work in print, there doesn’t seem to be much out there. Hence, my Punkin House blog, which I launched yesterday — perhaps you heard something about it on the evening news. (Disclaimer: We seem to be having some technical difficulties related to its being a shared site, and thus far I haven’t been able to spruce up the generic template — but, fear not, I’m working on it.)

With my current writing project, the Authoress, a new novel, I’m toiling away on chapter 19, which is set during an … unusual performance of Romeo and Juliet. It’s taking awhile to compose my way through the scene, but I’m getting to spend some quality time with the Bard’s words (always a plus), and, in a strange way, I’m getting to stage the performance. In other words, I’m essentially the director/choreographer of this fictionalized nineteenth-century production in my head, and that in itself has been a lot of fun. (Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll try to stage an actual production of the play as I’m imagining it for my novel — it’d be interesting.)

Speaking of staging, last night I saw the final performance of Dracula at the Community Players Theatre in Bloomington, Illinois. To quote the website:

Adapted from the novel by Bram Stoker, this stage adaptation served as the basis for the 1931 Universal horror film classic starring Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula. Written in 1923 with the blessing of Stoker’s widow, this critically acclaimed version presents the classic Dracula we know so well today. The 1977 Broadway production, which won Tony Awards for Best Revival and best Costume Design, featured Academy Award nominee and three-time Tony Award winner, Frank Langella, as the nefarious Count Dracula.

The 1923 stage version was the first to present Dracula as a suave and sophisticated figure, and not the monstrous persona that Stoker wrote in his 1897 novel (according to my former dissertation director, Bob McLaughlin, who played Dr. Seward in the Community Players production). In a sense, then, this stage version laid the groundwork for today’s vampire craze with its plethora of sexy vampires. It was a small cast and deserves what little recognition I can provide here: Leah Pryor (Miss Wells, the maid), Gerald Price (Jonathan Harker), Bob McLaughlin (Dr. Seward), Joe Strupek (Abraham Van Helsing), Brian Artman (R. M. Renfield), Jeff Ready (Butterworth), Kristi Zimmerman (Lucy Seward), and Paul Vellella (Count Dracula); co-produced and co-directed by Bruce and Kathleen Parrish. As I said, it was the final performance, but the Community Players have several other shows planned for the season, including a one-weekend performance of “Art”, November 18-21 (that’s next weekend).

Finally, I’ve been wanting to read Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (1878) for a long, long time, and I’ve taken the plunge. I’m on Part 1, Chapter 14 — so far, so great. My favorite line to date: Oblonsky observes, “All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow” (p. 42, Barnes & Noble Classics edition, 2003; 1.11). For me it captures something that for the last couple of years in particular I’ve been working to get across to my students, who seem increasingly to see the world as black or white, and have little sense of (or use for) nuance, contradiction and complexity. Thus, literature becomes a calculus problem to be solved, to be reduced to its lowest, most simplified expression; but the purpose of literature is not to be solved per se — rather literature invites us to ponder and embrace the irreconcilable contradictions of being human. As I say at times, we don’t fully understand our own behavior, our own feelings, let alone other people’s. Yet we must try, for as we come closer to knowing them, we come closer to knowing ourselves. Heavy.

tedmorrissey.com

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2 Responses

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  1. nicoleewatts said, on November 15, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    My two classes are finally over, and boy do I love the A’s! I am SO excited about your book, and can’t wait to read it. I finally have the chance to read more now, and already finished The Pelican Brief by John Grisham via Audiobook. I am getting ready to start another book, but haven’t decided which of the ones I already bought to read. I have all the books you suggested before, so I am just deciding which I want to start with, and hopefully finish before I buy yours.
    I hope I can get into writing again, but my old laptop pooed out on me, so I just got a new one today. I lost all the drafts I had of the previous story I was writing. If you happen to still have them saved, could you send them to me? Thanks!

    Hope all is well, and to talk to you soon!
    Niki

  2. Ted Morrissey said, on November 15, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Thanks for being excited about the book, Niki (I’m looking forward to its being out myself). That stinks about your laptop. I checked and I don’t seem to have any of the drafts that you sent me. Would you have anything in your “messages sent” folder? I’ve become an obsessive backer-upper (in fact, my problem can become trying to figure out which draft is supposed to be the final draft). I hope you can get back in the swing of writing pretty soon — don’t let that talent go to waste, but you’re young and have lots of time. Thanks for commenting — I’ll look forward to a longer “conversation.”


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