Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Still Revising (With Monkey)

Yet another revision in progress........responding to superb notes from wise editors.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Revising! Still Life With Monkey

One of my favorite moments in the process of writing a novel is where I am right now, pumping more air into the tires, responding to utterly brilliant and insightful notes and questions from my literary agent, Amy Williams. I aim to finish before the end of the month.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


The finished manuscript goes to my literary agent today, with a new title that better captures the sensibility of the novel: Still Life with Monkey

I like the multiple layers of possible meaning here. While I have thought about my work in progress for some three years as The Monkey Helper, it really isn't quite right. And this way, the inevitable, "Is that like Hamburger Helper?" is averted. Though I do have someone ask exactly that in the novel.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Steering toward the finish line!

My Monkey Helper manuscript is now in final stages of revising and filling inside straights, for delivery to my agent next week.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Monkey Selfies Are All the Rage

Monkey selfies are in the news these days for a few reasons.

One, they're inherently funny.

Two, we have become idiotically selfie-obsessed in general.

Three, monkey selfies raise intriguing questions about copyright ownership. This case has just been discussed in The New Yorker online: David J. Slater, a British wildlife photographer, set up his camera on a tripod in the hope of capturing wildlife in situ when he was visiting a nature preserve in Indonesia in 2011. The camera was taken over by a crested black macaque . The monkey liked the noise the shutter made and proceeded to take hundreds of pictures of herself. Slater has published lots of these monkey selfies and has claimed ownership/authorship.  He asked that the images be removed from the Wiki commons where anyone can use them. Not so fast, says Wikimedia, the image site for Wikipedia.

The New Yorker piece reports: "If Slater, as the photographer, had said that he wanted the photos taken down, Wikimedia most likely would have complied. The question that arose was whether Slater, who had not held the camera, set up the shot, or pressed the shutter, could be considered the photographer at all. Wikimedias position on this was clear: in the licensing conditions found at the bottom of the grinning monkey selfie, they write, “This file is in the public domain because as the work of a non-human animal, it has no human author in whom copyright is vested.” (It should be noted that Wikimedia is not saying that the monkey owns the copyright, as others have reported, but simply that Slater does not.)"

Why yes, monkeys are my current fascination. I note that crested black macaques aren't very smart, especially compared to capuchins, and they wouldn't be trainable if you wanted them to learn how to take photographs on command. They are just curious.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Digging Deep

When you're writing, you have to dig deep. Also true if you drop a piece of popcorn between the seats.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Still Writing!

After long silence here at Staircase Writing, I am just checking in at the end of my second wonderful spring term of teaching creative writing at Kenyon College to say that I am hoping to finish my sixth novel (which has been far too long in progress) by the end of the summer.

Now that the students have left for the summer, I will be spending the next three weeks here on the Kenyon campus, working on The Monkey Helper, with a plan to get back up to full steam.  My English Department office is in historic Sunset Cottage, home to the Kenyon Review for many years. (Sunset is only marginally more modern-looking today.)

Which reminds me! I am delighted to say that I have been moved up the masthead at the Kenyon Review, where I have been a Contributing Editor. I am now an Editor at Large.