Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award

My secret to avoiding procrastination

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Here’s my video response to the challenge, 30 seconds to impress. I don’t know if I’ve impressed anyone, but it was a fun thing to try making.

Beyond the point I make in this video is that I’ve come to embrace procrastination as part and parcel of the writing process. My meditation practice has revealed some things about procrastination that are actually worth thinking about.

What do I actually do when I procrastinate? Usually, I’m going over writing scenarios in my mind.

Sometimes I’ll waste time on social media. Of course, these days, I’m writing about an issue, racism and bigotry, that I get to study when I look at social media. I follow very few cat video people, and I’ve long-since blocked or unfollowed people and pages consistently full of drivel.

Other times, I’ll procrastinate by listening to music or—I mean this sincerely—by grading student work. It’s easy to say, “I have work to do that pays me money,” when in truth I’ll turn to grading because it’s a careful means to help me avoid some crucial decision or difficult moment my writing is about to reveal.

That’s the most common reason I procrastinate. It’s because my writing is about to show itself to me, and that’s often a terrible moment. What if it sucks? You come face to face with yourself in your writing. If that frightens me more than news about our narcissist president, his unfortunate followers or the general decline of our culture and collapse of our values, I know I’m onto something.

Procrastination, then, is a teacher.

Sneak preview of my next book

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I’m currently working on a memoir about my upbringing in Cicero.

I have shared virtually nothing of the manuscript, neither with family nor friends, and I hardly talk about it with other writers. Earlier this month, on November 7th, I read an excerpt before an audience at Tuesday Funk.

Enormous thanks to Eden Robins and Andrew Huff, the brains and savvy behind the reading series, for having me again. Reading at Tuesday Funk is always a treat.

 


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Youth scholarship available for prose workshop

Registration for my prose writing workshop ends early April 7th at 2:00 PM. A generous donor has made a scholarship available for the first young writer, aged 16-20, to claim it. It’s for half tuition, or $210.

To claim this scholarship, be the first person to register for the prose workshop by emailing me here. I’ll send you my PayPal info.
Details:

Prose Writing Workshop, with Gint Aras

Friday nights, 6:30-8:30, from April 7-May 26

Upstairs Apartment and Lounge, Buzz Cafe

905 S. Lombard, Oak Park, IL

Open to writers of any level, aged 16 or older

Registration ends after 8 students have registered, or at 2:00 on April 7.

Cost: $420

Hope to see you!


Photo by Bennorth Photography


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My reading at Waterline (video)

Here’s a video of me reading from The Fugue, as recorded by the good folks at Waterline Writers Reading Series in Batavia, Illinois.

If you’re interested in the writing workshop I’m leading, click here.

Gint Aras at Waterline Writers: March 2017 from Waterline Writers on Vimeo.


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Writing Workshopt with Gint Aras: 3 spots left

Aspiring Chicagoland writers, there are stil three spots left in the spring workshop offered by acclaimed author Gint Aras. the workshop will take place in a lovely apartment above The Buzz Cafe in Oak Park, IL, right in the heart of the Arts District.

 To register, e-mail Gint here. He’ll send you his PayPal information and verify your e-mail address.

Details:

Prose Writing Workshop, with Gint Aras

Friday nights, 6:30-8:30, from April 7-May 26

Upstairs Apartment and Lounge, Buzz Cafe

905 S. Lombard, Oak Park, IL

Open to writers of any level, aged 16 or older

Registration ends after 8 students have registered 

Cost: $420

About Gint:

Gint Aras is the critically acclaimed author of The Fugue (Tortoise, 2016), finalist for the 2016 Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award. The novel was called “magisterial” by the Chicago Tribune and a “masterpiece of literary fiction” by Centered on Books. His other prose and translations have appeared in the St. Petersburg Review, Quarterly West, Antique Children, Criminal Class Review, Curbside Splendor, ReImagine, STIR Journal, Heavy Feather Review, and he was a contributing and section editor at The Good Men Project. Aras earned an MFA from Columbia University in the City of New York, and a BA in English and American Literature from the University of Illinois.


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Another generous review: Alternating Current/The Coil

I met the start of the work week with the news that another review for The Fugue has appeared, this time in Alternating Current/The Coil. This review is generous and humbling, with the reviewer, Al Kratz, paying some of the most careful attention any reviewer has paid to the narrative.

[The] qualities that made the read challenging are also why it was ambitious, realistic, and ultimately, a success. There are no easy answers. There is no easy way to tell the story.

Read the rest here. Buy The Fugue here. Or order it from your favorite bookstore.

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Readers ask: How’s it feel to kill a character?

I’ve been holding off answering some of the questions I’ve received about The Fugue because the book is really hard to talk about without giving up spoilers. Even skilled interviewers like Amy Danzer of New City (click for interview) and Rick Kogan of WGN (click for interview) had to find clever ways of talking about the book to keep from revealing too much.

At this point, I’ve gathered enough questions that I can start blogging on a more regular basis. I’ve found some to be really the provocative.

So, here’s the first:

How’s it feel to kill a character?

I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t fun sometimes. To blow off steam, sometimes I’ll just write torture scenes in my notebook, most so over-the-top that they become nonsense. “Blood and brains were everywhere. Everywhere. She’d find bits of spongy brain in her pencil case months later.”

Of course, sometimes the death of a character is a really intense moment. Death is a central theme in my books, especially in connection to religion and love. I’ve written death scenes that have left me crying afterwards. There’s one particular bit in The Fugue that I feared writing. It has to do with a hanging. When I did finally complete it, I went for a long walk through Morningside Heights Park at around 2:00 AM.

I think it’s important to explain what assumptions I bring to my writing. I don’t feel very strongly influenced by the Hollywood narrative in which the good guy survives. I assume I’m treating representations of real people, and so death is a certainty for every character I’ve ever written. Sometimes that death happens within the plot, and some deaths are more gruesome than others. In The Fugue, some people burn alive; another one goes to sleep and never wakes up; a third is killed in a bus shelter; one guy gets kicked in the head by a horse.

I’ve never written a character just to kill them off. Unlike a writer like Flannery O’Connor, I don’t feel that death is a punishment or an instrument of God. To me, it’s part of life, like the rain or the sunset. Readers should notice, however, that unlike Tolstoy in Master and Man, I’ve written very few in-the-moment death scenes. There are two important ones in Finding the Moon in Sugar. In The Fugue, a character named Lars is near death, feverish and delusional in one scene, but he comes out of it. A lot of the deaths happen “behind the scenes” and are either discovered or noted by other characters.

Of all the scenes I’ve ever read, I feel that Nabokov must have had more fun than anyone else writing Humbert Humbert’s murder of Clare Quilty. It’s a romp, at once sublime and profane, and even includes a poetry reading. I think the reader enjoys, at least partially, watching Quilty go. I’d be shocked if readers found characters in my books they wanted to see destroyed.

However, I’m working on one now that people will probably want to see tortured. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with him yet. But his fate won’t be easy.

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