Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
We like feeling sorry for ourselves. There's a deliciousness to being slighted and forgotten, and we revel in it, hot tears and hotter baths, sappy songs and downcast eyes.
We live for the hurt as much as the hope.
Until one of them is realized, until the hurt is genuine and moves beyond satisfying self pity and into genuine pain and loss, until the hope is achieved, a disappointing reality.
But it's the until then and the why us, the why not that drives us out of bed and into another bright day full of potential for hurt and hope.
We live for the balance.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
I'm off to finish Halloween with a few Buffy eps from season 5, two of my very favorite: Checkpoint and The Gift.
In the meantime, hold my place. I'll check in with my progress on NaNo.
As long as I have a rough manuscript (yeah, really rough) by month's end, I will have succeeded. Then I give myself to May to revise. I'm dreaming, aren't I Jaimes?
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Yes. That is a good day.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
--The thrill of nailing a particular sentence, scene, or moment.
--Getting good advice, talking through a scene, or just plain commiserating/communing with other writers.
--Hearing a fellow writer has "made" it: gotten an agent, sold their book, made the list.
--Feeling like I have a "project" going that will hopefully one day move from my hands and heart into the public's.
--Feeling like I am an artist, creator, and the Queen of all I imagine.
What I dislike about writing:
--The subjectivity. Is someone giving me a good critique, or should I go with my gut?
--The despair of knowing a particular scene, sentence, or moment is DEFINITELY going to need a rewrite, but trying to push past it when the words won't come.
--(And if I'm painfully honest?) Hearing a fellow writer has "made" it: gotten an agent, sold their book, made the list.
But we keep doing it, we push past the insecurity and certain self doubt and live for the days like today when someone says, "Yours stood out. It had a voice." And it's not because we're glory hounds-- it's knowing we're not crazy. It's outside validation that we should continue, so we can someday be the one with the good news.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
If you sign up, I'd love to be your buddy-- I'm motherofboys247. :)
I'm going to bang out that rough draft of my ghost-seeing teen and her bipolar mother and the aftermath of attempted suicide.
Honestly, it's not that dark, haha. It's all in your style/tone, I suppose.
So, join and add me as a buddy. You know you want to...
Saturday, September 19, 2009
So far I am most excited about Out of Time by John Marsden. I like the writing so far, though he tends to overdo it a bit. Just tell me what's happening; you don't have to be so "artful" in every single sentence.
I'll have to write some mini-reviews as I get into the rest of them. I never read all of the books I pick up, which is why I like to get so many when I hit the library. I never know which ones will be duds. Now a great book, a really epic books *always* grabs me at the very first sentence.
As far as the magazines go, that Writer's Digest really has the market on writing magazines, as they are responsible for three of my finds. Writer's Digest Novel Writing, The Writer's Digest Guide to Creativity, and of course, the straight up Writer's Digest. Then I got Bookmarks, which is essentially a magazine full of book reviews, what to read, what's been short listed for the big prizes like Pulitzer and Booker, that kind of thing. Lastly, I got Found, a magazine devoted to publishing found bits, photos, love letters, grocery lists -- anything found on the ground or nailed to a telephone post. That last one is addictive. I sat and combed over it for an hour straight when I'd meant to flip through. It makes me want to go on my own "scrounging" mission.
Have you ever found a letter, photograph, or artifact of any interest on the ground or outside?
Monday, September 14, 2009
I think in the car. I have the most amazing ideas that evaporate the moment I see my front porch and begin thinking about what's for supper, do the boys have homework, when will Mike be home... Those everyday concerns crowd out the turquoise blue of my next blog or the fiery fuchsia of a particularly witty line of dialogue for my WIP's main character.
The shower does it too, seawater green ideas that end up down the drain or leaving their marks on my towel as I step from the certainty that I will write them down into "Moooom! He's hitting me!" or "Honey, do you know where I left my shoes?"
But we've all got lives. And people are still writing, busy lives and all. I just hate the thought that I'm missing so much. Would that I could walk around like an old school novelist with a tape recorder in hand, saying things like "Note to self."
And then there's the stark white truth that I wouldn't trade one moment of searching for socks or helping with algebra as time dutifully trails away.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
I can't wait to find my rhythm again; it successfully eluded me this week.(As if it has consciousness and did it on purpose -- did I mention paranoid?)
Tomorrow is a new day with just one class to teach. I was surprised that having four today wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be. I have a new mantra for this semester: It's less work than high school. Those of you who teach high school or elementary, my hat is eternally off to you. I did it for two years, many moons ago, and it cured me of my "I'm going to change the world one high school student at a time!" psychosis. I truly believe teaching of all levels is a calling, especially those of you in the middle school trenches.
I wrote a scene for the novel in the doctor's office the other day. It's completely out of order, but it was the thing I wanted to write. There's something luxurious about this stage, pre-revision and plot meticulating (it can be a word just this once, right?). I'm getting to know my characters, and so far they are people I'd hang out with, given the chance. Even the, no, especially the neurotic/bipolar Stella.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
I don't usually do memes here, but this one fits with the blog.
"15 Books That Will Always Stick With Me"
(in no particular order)
1. Harry Potter series
A no-brainer. Rowling (even with her excessive adverbs) created a world I could completely submerge in. It had been a while since a book had so thoroughly swallowed the outside world for me. I've read them all twice, some three times.
2. On Writing by Stephen King
This might be my favorite book of all time. It's the reason I picked up the pen after 8 years of pure housewifery and mommy duties. I don't care how dramatic or sappy it sounds -- through this book I found myself again. I remembered who I'd been pre-children.
3. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
This book affected me. I read it during my first year of teaching college freshmen and was embarrassed/ecstatic at the way I identified with the mentally unstable protagonist. I bought a hardback edition and carried it with me weeks after I'd finished reading it. Yeah, neurotic or inspired? You decide.
Through this I discovered Plath's poetry and "Lazarus" may very well be the most powerful piece of poetry I've ever had the pleasure to read, study, memorize.
4. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenberg
First, I love time travel. It -- and inter-dimensional travel -- is my very favorite sci-fi/fantasy convention. And boy, did she do it right. It's touching, exciting, and the prose is lovely. I love her play on chronology.
5. The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
This book has an amazing and unique premise that is often on the edge of my consciousness. Being a Christian, I view it as pure fantasy, but wow, what an idea. And the writing is great too.
6. It by Stephen King
I was always afraid of clowns (along with half the population) -- actually anyone in a "character" suit scared me. I see this as a sign of early maturity and intelligence. After all, I remember distinctly being afraid, not of the make-up or suits themselves, but of the fact that ANYONE could be in those suits, under that make-up. It felt dishonest. The best part about this book isn't even the creepy psychotic, "Evil with a capital E" clown -- it's the exploration of friendship and community among the kids. You feel a part of it by the novel's end.
7. A Ghost Story by Peter Straub
Chilling, vivid imagery. One of the best horror novels I have ever read.
8. The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub
I have to admit, on some level, I fell a little in love with the 12-year-old protagonist Jack, Ol' travelin' Jack. King is a master of characterization and Straub is no slouch. Great fantasy, and the end was terrifying and exhilarating.
9. Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos
I love the way she weaves magic realism into the story. Effortless and believable. And she's another gifted writer, beautiful prose.
10. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
I'm still reading this, but already, it's grabbed me. There is a moment in this book, about 1/3 of the way in that I can't forget. I actually dreamed about it the other night. Also, this book has it all: inter-dimensional travel, magic, romance, and horror.
11. Fruits Basket series by Natsuki Takaya
Basically because it started my manga/anime obsession. The art, the storyline -- yes it's a little "young," but it's harmless fun and surprisingly deep for a manga.
12. Half Magic by Edward Eager
I read (and reread) this as a kid. It began my love affair with magic in literature.
13. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
The first book I read to my kids. They LOVED it. The best part was, I'd never read it, so we really went on the adventure together. Once we finished, Brad started crying, upset that it was over. So we read it again. :)
14. Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
Holy crap. This book. There are scenes in this book I will never, ever be able to erase from my psyche. The literary damage has been done, and it was wonderful. His grasp of concrete, concise writing is unrivaled.
15. The Color of Water by James McBride
The true story of a black man growing up in Harlem with a white, Jewish mother. Well, she actually converted to Protestantism, but that's beside the point. I read it in a day, it took hold and didn't let go and I liked the alternating chapters told by the mother and son.
Back to The Magicians and my grading.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
This was a day for running and racing and feeling as though nothing were actually accomplished. I wore an outfit that looked great head on, but made me look fat from the side. Cap sleeves are not my friend; basically my arms look as though they're birthed from their skimpy hems, fat and sausage-y. Also, they're too short to serve any real function, and it's cold in Ohio these days.
In other news, I'm a woman (I first typed girl, but let's face it, I'm nearly 37) who wears a different colored pendant every day. I love them, the bigger and more unique the better. This is a trait I've now attributed to a quirky, yet likable character in my WIP.
Reading The Magicians by Grossman, and I LOVE it. I want everyone I know to start reading it so we can discuss it upon completion. You may begin now. It does have some "adult" language and content, but it's not gratuitous* and it is labeled as a book for adults, not YA.
*At least so far-- I'm on page 106.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
My take? You can't "teach" creative writing, but you can polish, you can craft, you can edit and learn from other writers. That's why a creative writing job is so appealing. Not only is your job to read stories all day, but it's nearly always (and should always be, in my opinion) a workshop class, placing the burden of "teaching" on the entire class as they analyze and discuss each others' writing -- what worked, what didn't, and why.
So I agree that you tell them they have to read and they have to write a lot, but you can facilitate that in class by requiring a lot of writing and a lot of reading. Have them read the greats, the ones that did storytelling right, then discuss what made them great, and so on.
So, I guess I disagree with King on something. Never thought I'd see the day.
p.s. I absolutely NEVER tire of hearing what this man has to say. (Unless he's talking politics, heh) When it comes to writing, of any genre, the man is truly King.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Anyway, it was a good day.
But. I'm pretty sure that I overdid it. I haven't stopped working all day. Once I was home it was the boys, I had their homework to do. No, I don't mean I did their homework, I mean the teachers assigned homework to the parents. A MOUNTAIN of paper work and syllabi to sign for each teacher, not to mention emergency contact info and medical release forms. I literally spent 1 1/2 hours signing, organizing, emailing teachers, and filling out forms. THEN I moved right into getting the site my school uses ready for my class. I like posting the syllabus rather than printing it out (Okay, I just forgot to do it and now it's too late, but hey, no trees died on my watch today). That took FOREVER. It seemed so simple in the workshop this morning... *sigh*
Now to bed. I feel so unprepared, but then, I always feel that way no matter what I do. And no matter how many times I teach composition, I change it up every time, so there's never a feeling of having "arrived" with my lesson plans. Of course this year I'm at two new universities with different texts and... I'm done now.
We're pretty much all fiction or creative non-fiction around here -- what do y'all think about academic writing and discourse communities? (And how do you like that I used y'all in the same sentence as academic?)
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Even if you don't end up keeping HALF of your words from that day, you've still got the other 5,000, which is a heck of a lot more than I usually get out in a day. So the next Saturday my husband takes the kids to the in-laws, I plan to take the challenge.
Until then, I'm writing tonight, and will probably make it to 1,000, and that's not too bad for a normal day.
How do you write? Do you have a deadline for your WIP? A plan to reach that goal?
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I sit on her porch, seeing my own from her neighborly perspective. I can feel the mosquitoes around my ankles (why there, where there is no juicy fat?). I'm listening with one ear, readying my escape, going through my mental rolodex of excuses when she drops those words, so heavily weighted into my lap.
"I've got cancer," she says, this little old lady across the street. "I've had 13 operations, but I'm living with it." Her cane rests against the bench next to her. I've seen how slowly she moves among her flowers and always assumed it was due solely to old age. Now I wonder about pain, about the creaking of bone on bone.
"God has been so good to me," she continues, smiling. "I have your friendship and this house, my garden and my grandchildren..." her voice fades. "I know the cancer's a bad thing, but look at all the good."
I'm dumbstruck, stupid, and I don't know what to say. "I had no idea," I finally utter, staring down at her old lady shoes. "I'm so sorry," I try, but she waves me away.
"We all go some way," she says, and I am pulled into her voice, as faded and tired as her eyes.
I forget the time and stop looking to my own house. I am wrapped up in her stories of neighbors and family and church until the fireflies come out, and she says she must get to bed.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
They came with suitcases, but they were not permitted their belongings, so the suitcases were kept in an attic: men's on one side, women's luggage on the other. Each suitcase was sorted through by researchers and medical records found to match each patient, interviews were conducted with living family members and neighbors. Most are from the late 1800s to 1960s. They chose the 25 most interesting cases to write about. It's fascinating, and I highly recommend.
Since a lot of my story takes place in a mental hospital, I can call this kind of joy research.
I've got The Book Thief and A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb waiting on my book shelf. An embarrassment of riches and I start back to teaching next week.
I've also got three book reviews to write for the US Review of Books. Lesson plans, book reviews, reading, oh my.
Cinnamon oatmeal and a whole wheat bagel with strawberry jam is a good start.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
So age has mellowed me because I remember LOVING this when I first saw it-- and I can still appreciate the different angle this movie took, the twist at the end-- but good night, the BLOOD. I think it's worse because as bloody as it is in that opening scene, it's the tenseness, the initial stabs, all with her parents SO close -- ugh.
Oddly, I still like it; I'm just way more troubled by it now than I used to be. After all, upon that first viewing I wasn't yet a mother.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
You hold me, my rock bottom and my mountain high.
Monday, August 3, 2009
When I was in high school, I got down to an alarmingly low weight. I can remember the turning point of one such episode. I had gone a week without eating, and you would think I would've been exhausted, but I was on a high. I barely slept, I bounced off the walls. I felt amazing. My brother came home from college to visit for the weekend and bought me a pizza. (I now wonder if mom and dad brought him home to help me...) I could only eat for him. The roller coaster calmed down, and I wasn't really an anorexic, was I? Anorexics don't have 'occasional' bouts, they live in a mindset. I was able to overcome it most of the time.
Once I got married, I quit. They say that's not possible, and I suppose they're right in a way, because I tell you-- that girl-- she's still with me, whispering in my chubby little ear; she hasn't left. Still, I find it easier and easier to ignore her. Not that my relationship with food is healthy-- or I wouldn't be overweight. But I guess I'm healthier now than I was back then.
I like to be empty, a clean slate, blank paper, so full of possibility.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I've realized something. Honestly, it's something I've always known and pushed to the back left corner of my mind because I didn't want it to be true, but here it is: I enjoy reading more than writing. It feels like I'm not as committed if I'm not absolutely defined by the fact that I write, write, write.
The truth is I love to read. A lot of us love to read, yes, especially writers, but I mean, I can literally do it from the time the sun rises to the time it goes back down. This week I've read a biography, a drama, a non-fiction textbook about madness from the 1970's, and a pure sugar and fluff YA book about kissing and social status in high school. And I have a horror and a chick lit in queue by the bed. I eat books, feeling full when I'm finished (momentarily), hungry when half through, ravished at the first page.
I am so many people when I read. My thoughts run deeper and my words run shorter (talking not writing), and I can't think of a better side effect than that.
I'm curious-- if you're happening by-- are you more writer or reader? I believe I am a reader who writes rather than a writer who reads. And I'm okay with that.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs
I'm tossing out punchlines that were never there
Over my shoulder a piano falls, crashing to the ground.
I'm breaking through, I'm bending spoons,
I'm keeping flowers in full bloom.
I'm looking for answers from the great beyond.
These lyrics say, "I'm desperately trying to keep these fragile eggs in the air, three at a time, I'm a circus all by myself, look at me go!" Yet, the eggs fall to the ground, a crunchy-slimy mess, and the singer tap-dances, pointing to the great beyond as a means of escape from the onlookers he imagines are disappointed in him. I know that's not what he meant it to mean, but it's what I hear.
BUT. The music is the opposite. The music floats confidently, calling out, "I've got this!" It has a victory sort of swagger to it, especially in the chorus.
It makes me feel honest -- owning what I am, seeing whom I wish to be.
I think if we were ever able to see music the way God does, it would be in its own dimension, all color and wavy lines, treble clefs and whole notes on staffs suspended in the air around us.
Okay, Darvocet, you've made your point. To bed I go.
I'm reading a fascinating book called Bellevue is a State of Mind by Anne Barry. She was a journalist who pretended to be crazy to have herself thrown into Bellvue beck in the 70's to find out for herself if the stories were true. It's just mesmerizing. It's a pretty quick read too, I should finish it tonight. I wonder what became of the women she wrote about; where did their lives lead them after they left that locked, purple door?
It also (being a mental hypochondriac) has me questioning my own sanity, a common practice for me. I suppose we are all a little paranoid, a little neurotic.
I would kill for central air.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
I laugh that I decided to try to post every day the week before I had major surgery. Good gravy, Laura, you're an optimist all the way.
I haven't even thought of writing. Sitting here doing this is all I can muster up at the present, then it's back to sleeping or shuffling around the house trying to pretend I don't hurt.
Honestly, life is good. I am blessed beyond measure. Others have it so much rougher.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
WHICH IS TOMORROW. Trying to stay calm, haha.
No food today. Usually it's just after midnight, but my doc said no food at all from the time I wake up the day before. Lots of juice, broth, and jello are prescribed. =/
I have so many ideas for my story, I'm almost glad I didn't write before they came to me. They change things pretty drastically, and I'm so excited to begin hammering them out. Today I have to clean the house and get my "sick room" ready on the main level. No stairs for a while.
Otherwise, life is good. We got a new kitten, and she is cuter than she should be.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
I saw the new Harry Potter and was only bothered by one scene. Why change the setting of a scene that worked beautifully in the book? =/ Otherwise, it was great, until the baby (yes, baby) started screaming. Please. Don't bring a child who can't enjoy the movie to a 2 1/2 hour movie. It's mean to the child as well as the patrons who paid a freaking mint to see the movie.
I also watched Lost in Austen, which came through the mail today. LOVED it. Just... loved it. It's fun, and they really capture the language of the book. I'm re-watching it now until I fall asleep.
I didn't write today-- too many movies and laundry folding going on. Tomorrow Mike wants to skip church and spend the day together, hunting down flea market treasures and going out to dinner for our anniversary (which is actually on Wednesday, but so is my surgery, so-).
They're making Lost in Austen into a movie here in America. I can't wait.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Okay, here's the situation -- ("my parents went away on a week's vacation, and -- they left the keys to the brandnew Porshe," courtesy my 90's mind and Will Smith).
I'm going to challenge myself to write in here every day for a year. I hesitate to type this because I'm afraid I'll fail, and it'll be just another thing to add to that long list... but I'm going to go for it.
I'll also post the number of words written that day. Here are a few excused reasons for not posting during the next year: Surgery (though I'm going to try to post before I go in). Death in the family (dear Lord, let's hope not). I can't think of any others. If I don't have access to internet for a day or two, I can write in Word and post when the internet returns.
So, here goes nothing. I have officially blogged on July 17, 2009. It begins. And now I sleep.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I think this blog makes me feel guilty, haha. I started it to blog my writing journey on this novel -- to read others' journeys and feel inspired, to share the process... and then I quit writing. I don't mean that I intentionally quit or that I want to quit or that I have "officially" quit. I still plan to write the story, but I'm not. I'm grading papers and living life... and not making the time to write.
And this is when it should be easy. It's summer, after all. I have one class to teach, 18 papers to grade once a week. I mean, c'mon. The fall is when I'll have to schedule time to write or it won't happen. This, now, should not be such a struggle.
I did write a few pages before I just... stopped. And I have a prologue in my head that is begging for space on the page.
I will pick up again. I will come back to what I know and put fingers to keys.
In other news, I am scheduled for surgery one week from tomorrow. The same day as my 14th anniversary. The recovery will be 4-6 weeks, and I should have time to write from my "sick" bed. It is what they call "routine" surgery, no illness really, just putting myself back together. Not cosmetic either, haha. Oh, I wish I had the money for a little lipo...
Anyway. I'm back.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
I had gone to sleep in the usual way. Finished Seventh Heaven by Alice Hoffman (Oh, I am loving her) and settled down to sleep. Now Mike, who snores like a beast and likes to sleep to the TV, often sleeps in the basement on our couch, especially now that it's hotter and he's sick-- so I had the bed to myself, which I can't say I mind.
Anyway. Last night, I rolled over, while still asleep and my eyelids fluttered, and I saw an impossible spider the size of my hand, (leg thickness like the fingers and just as long), something I'm fairly certain doesn't exist in this hemisphere, but my brain said Yikes!, and I jumped backwards out of bed, screaming and shaking, terrified it'd somehow gotten into my clothes or hair. I stripped my bed, looked under and behind my bed -- and nothing. I tried to return to bed, but couldn't bring myself to actually get beneath the covers and close my eyes.
I ended up joining Mike on the couch -- thank goodness it's one of those huge sectionals, so we each had our own couch basically. I KNEW the thing couldn't have been there. But even now, in daylight, I find myself waiting for it to scuttle by, a skeleton hand of a spider, and I imagine myself crushing it, listening to its exoskeleton's crunching bones.
I just can't shake it. And I keep thinking, Dang it, I wasn't asleep when I saw it! How else did I get out of bed screaming? Unless in that very first movement and the beginning of that scream I was still asleep.
The whole thing has sufficiently creeped me out. There is a very good chance that I'll be joining Mike on the couch tonight, snoring, T.V., sickness and all.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
What she had come to think of as her secret on those rare occasions she surfaced in the fog, she realized was no secret at all. Everyone knew why she lay on the third floor of The Cavanaugh Psychiatric Hospital. And right now, “everyone” was solely comprised of an orderly or the occasional nurse poking their heads in and out, reminding her of the whack a mole games she’d loved at the fair as a child. Sometimes one would venture in, patting her arm, checking her temperature or blood pressure, doing all of the nursey-type things that nurses do. It would have been ridiculous to try to hide it here. The reason for the angry lines running down her arms, now wrapped in white bandages from wrist to elbow and the why of her journey in an ambulance she’d called herself were laid bare and completely open for discussion; only there wasn’t anyone to discuss it with yet, so she gave life to the inanimate objects all around her. The bed was a mouth, yawning wide, her feet and head stretched from top teeth to bottom, holding it open; the lamp accused her whenever night turned from day, her Cyclopsed interrogator and the only signal that morning had come. There was a high window to the right, but its curtains were always closed.
That morning, when she woke from the fog thinking that her secret was no secret at all, she wondered if the lamp could be trusted; it was on now, but it could be lying. How would she know if night had given way to day with only its fluorescents to tell her? She sat up in bed, suddenly desperate to open the curtains and see the moon, the sun, anything large and outside of herself, anything outside of this green-walled room. Her head was throbbing with the slight movement of easing up on the pillows. She raised her hands to her temples and realized her left wrist was attached to the IV pole at the bed’s side. How long have I been here? While she couldn’t recall exactly how many times the lamp had been turned on, she did remember several occasions of just that. Her will to wake up, to permanently join the present had been smothered beneath the weight of her secret. She might have been in this room for days, weeks, dear God, years? The panic took a bright and fevered hold, and she willed herself out of the bed, feeling weak and on the verge of crumpling, hanging onto the IV pole and staggering across the room to the window. Once she reached it, she lay her forehead against the green cinderblock next to the curtain, thankful she’d made it. She reached for the cord hanging near her and pulled. The curtains opened, and she made ready to shade her eyes, but there was no change in the quality of light in the room. Blinking, she edged directly in front of the window and looked outside – except it wasn’t outside. There was only brick. Not the green cinderblocks of her room, but a wall of red schoolhouse brick – no moon, no sun, no stars or clouds.
She opened her mouth to scream, but the vocal chords were sore, rusted wires producing a squeaky croak, and she merely fell with a non-dramatic plop to the floor.
Monday, May 11, 2009
I think I've got work. I'm meeting with the community college adjunct coordinator next Monday. She said she's got one or two classes for me this summer. Better than that, my alma mater, the university which I just graduated from offered me a class this fall. There are good things just around the corner.
I dreamed that I met Stephen King, and we were talking about writing. He was sitting across from me at a restaurant, and we were discussing the finer points of dialogue, description, the overuse of adverbs, and the dreaded passive voice. And I felt like the air was as full of him as his chair- he just filled the room, his presence. It was electric, and I wanted to have it, that electricity, to hold lightning in my hands.
I wanted to know what it was like to capture whole people with words.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
I'm at mom's. Since graduation (woohoo!) I haven't written one fictional word of substance. It's only been a week, and I've been with mom since, so I'll not be too hard on myself. I'll try to set up a good writing regimen when I get home tomorrow night.
Help me out in setting paramaters:
1. What are some good guidelines for starting a writing regimen?
2. What sort of writing schedule do you try to keep on?
p.s. I did it! A master's in English is aaaaaaaallll mine!
Thursday, April 30, 2009
That's HUGE. Second, I got a call from the community college, and they want me for second session of summer. It's teaching 1 or 2 courses for 10 weeks and should turn into a year long gig with them.
I'm disappointed that I don't get to wallow in my summer, travel with my family, and spend my days writing, but overall, we need the money, and in this economy, I'm just going to be grateful.
Mom and dad come tomorrow night. It's been so long that I haven't had an assignment hanging over me... I keep remembering that it's okay to stay up late, read fun books, and surf the web, and it's just... wow. What a feeling.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
But today, today I write and I do not feel like I am missing anything by not attending the graduate dinner tonight where my colleagues will receive so many awards that, had I been there, I would have had to help them carry them all to their cars.
No, I will not.
Nor will I think about the amazing food that will inevitably be eaten. Or the loneliness of having a husband who is part assistant principal and part baseball coach. Nope.
I will avoid the cesspool of self pity glimmering like those wavy mirages on hot desert roads just ahead.
What are you avoiding today?
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
It's discouraging out there, folks. It's tough pickins.
But I picked up my cap and gown today. :) I promise to post a pic after Saturday because I'm a HUGE dork like that.
So. Once we're all famous, everyone will ask us where we get our ideas -- it's the one question all writers field. What will your answer be? As to where I am when I have them, that's easy -- they come when I'm farthest from paper and pen or computer -- when I'm driving, showering, or just about to drift into sleep.
If not a literal where, then I'd say my ideas almost always come from "What if?" Nearly every idea I've ever had started with "What if..." and so on.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I have a meeting tomorrow morning with a woman at a local college. There are no open positions there, just the possibility of adjunct work in the fall. And I know I want to teach, so I have that, but I don't know where I want to teach. I was all set on teaching at this local community college -- flexible hours, huge creative writing program -- and then I start getting greedy. Thinking about how nice it'd be to be at a four year university, though I suppose that could come in time.
And I need to finish my novel. Meet with some people, shake a few hands, kiss a few babies (and butts?).
Life is never slowing down.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
All songs can give me a sense of the place and time they became part of my life's soundtrack, but that one is stronger than most.
I'm sitting in a Pizza Hut, and my hair looks good for once. My friends are rowdy and we are so young, so powerful. The edges are softened and curled -- it's a well-loved photograph of a moment that always comes on the notes of Fleetwood Mac.
Tell me lies. Yeah, that actually sums up high school fairly well.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Yay! I've been nominated for a lemon by the always gracious and thought provoking Klo!
Thanks so much to those of you that read -- I've only been on here a short while, but I love Blogger and have found a new place to commiserate with aspiring writers and learn from the agents and editors willing to blog about the process.
It's all good here.
Thanks again Klo!
Now for the rules:
# Post the award on your blog ^.^
# Let them know who gave it to you and link. (done!)
# Nominate ten other blogs (I don't know that many folks, so it will be fewer than ten :-)
# Let your nominees know that they've received the award.
My nominations (in no particular order):
Thanks so much! Now back to the research paper...
1. The delighted "gasp" of shock and excitement when we've really surprised our reader. The stillness of a rapt audience unsure of what will happen next.
2. The "that's JUST how it feels" moment our readers give us. This one trumps the gasp for me. I love knowing I've connected with a reader on that level.
What would you add to the list? Other than the "I WILL BE YOUR AGENT" and the "I'VE SOLD YOUR BOOK" or the "IT'S A NUMBER ONE NYT BESTSELLER!" Other than those, I mean. ^_~
We write because it's magic -- King's telepathy -- nothing up our sleeves, but magic nonetheless.
Monday, April 20, 2009
It really opened my eyes to how difficult agents have it, and to reiterate how tough we writers have it. It was tough to really tell if a book was going to be any good by just reading that little bit. We just have to learn to sell ourselves and our characters, I guess. If you really want to be published, google copywriting and teach yourself a little. It can't hurt.
All I want to do right now is write. And not that stupid research paper. I've been following the Secret Agent on Miss Snark's First Victim and it has me wanting to completely rewrite my opening. And rethink my entire premise... haha.
My last Monday at this job. I'm a grad assistant, so when I graduate, the job (that gives a small stipend and paid for my tuition) is over too. I'm looking forward to a do-nothing summer, but wish I had something lined up for the fall.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I don't normally drink at all, but I've got a bit of a soft spot for a little champagne.
I'm such a bum. I should be working on that final paper, but I've completely wasted two full weeks now. Motivation? Left. Gone.
In two weeks I will walk, shake some old guy's hand, and accept a diploma for the degree of a master's in English. I am 36 years old, and now I've got to find a job. Hmmm... yeah.
I should probably feel worse than I do. Ever the optimist, I can't help but see the whole thing as an adventure. I will write that novel. I will explore all possibilities. I will jump.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
It's always so gratifying to read my work, though I'm HORRIBLE at taking compliments. I feel like a total dork, and I just don't know what to say. One of the girls said, "I can't wait to read your book!" To which I said, "Me either..." haha. The thesis is a small collection of stories, but I plan to turn it into novel this summer. Ha, I say that like I think it's going to be easy -- I don't.
Anyway. Another good day. And my thesis is in. Turned in, finished, oveh babeh.
Now to write that final paper and work for one more week. Then FREEDOM!
Question: Have you ever read writing for someone, maybe not even particularly a friend or whatever, but they're terrible. I mean, it's not even subjective, they're so bad... you're embarrassed for them. What do you say to them? Or do you not? Oh, and I should add, this guy is getting all of this good feedback. People telling him he's amazing. I have no idea what to say. I know writing is objective, but if you read a lot you learn to recognize good reading, and well, this was just so bad.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Should I move to that journal or stay here and wait until my book has an agent at least? Keep this one for daily ramblings and let that one be the more "professional" blog (soon as I figure out what that actually means)?
In other news, my under-eye area is experiencing an allergic reaction to some Mary Kay night cream I put on Thursday night. Yes, THURSDAY NIGHT.... it's weird. It gets worse by the hour, not better. My under-eye area is so swollen, it's changed the shape of my face, and I look a little like an albino panda or a fish. Yeah, I fish. I don't know, I can't explain, but kind of a fish...
In still other news, I have too much fun reading to get to work on my research paper! These are the books: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher; If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Past Caring by Robert Goddard, Fade (book 2 of the Wake trilogy) by Lisa McMann, and The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.
They're all library books. Yes, I'm a book whore. I give my love to any and all books, and they don't even have to love me back.
I want to take my Benadryl, curl up in bed, and read. Stupid research paper...
Thursday, April 9, 2009
We'll see how many I end up keeping.
Today I begin a research paper, the last one of my master's. I'd love to have this thing half written before I head back to work this Tuesday. Not to mention the presentation I have to give on Wednesday.
I love Y.A. with a splash of the supernatural, but I like it well written. Anyone have any recommendations? I'm desperate for a fun book. I've been trying to get into several books, and none of them are sticking. Meh. I need a fun book!
Magic realism is a favorite -- doesn't have to be Y.A., just seems like they often do it best. ;)
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Do you think they knew? I think they did. Because I know when I'm writing something that will touch people. Don't think me vain, it happens so rarely, and usually in useless little snippets that I'll never use, but when it happens, I feel it. It's magic.
I wonder if Mike Doughty felt it when he wrote I Hear the Bells? He should have.
I hear the bells
They are like emeralds, and
Glints in the night
Commas and ampersands
Thursday, April 2, 2009
I plan to walk a lot this break because I'm craving it, in the same way I crave food and Diet Coke, I guess I just sort of need to plod about.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
That's right, I said "gonna." I'm writing my thesis, the last bits of it, and one of my characters is written with a slight accent. She's sloppy, and I'm worried this isn't going to read well. I personally detest reading through thick dialect, it's why I missed out on Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. It just made my neck hurt and my eyes squint too much to commit to the hours it would take to finish.
Yes, I'm weak, and dialect is my kryptonite.
So I hope mine's not too heavy. It's just a few G's left off the ends, like "anythin'," with a couple of ain'ts tossed in for good measure.
It's hard to believe that I'll be done with school (or this leg of it anyway) in just four and a half weeks. In three and a half weeks I'll be done with work and class, a week from graduation.
Master's in hand, I'll conquer that novel and then move on to the query and agent route. I shall prevail? Does it bug anyone else that Stephenie Meyer landed the first BIG agent she queried? Girl can't write. Great plot ideas, but c'mon. The tweens love her, though, marble foreheads, creepy stalker boyfriend and all.
In other news, I found out yesterday that a story of mine made it past the first round of eliminations in a contest. w00 to the hoo! Mostly, it's the prize money that has me salivating.
Random pet peeve: I hate when people write dialogue without contractions. Do you not live in the real world? Unless a character's being emphatic, it's always the contraction.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Not my desk-at-work desk, but an honest to goodness desk just for me, unlike that dust and clutter collection we call a desk in our basement which is often occupied by the children or the husband.
If I had a desk, I'd be a published author and an acclaimed professor. Or something. I'd be doing better work than can be turned out sitting in my bed, hunched over my laptop, shoulders bunched into a hard little knot, forehead creased in concentration.
I'm just sayin'. I need a desk.
In other news, the thesis is due on Friday. Why aren't I screaming? Good question.
In still other news, spring break starts on Friday. (oh, that's why.) I have to spend my break writing a paper and putting together a presentation, however. *sigh* Still. It's... something? I'll get to sleep in a bit and that IS something.
My sons and my husband have this week off, and I try very hard not to begrudge their sleeping little heads as I make my way to the shower. It's all good though. My job and class end May 1st, and they have to go to school and work for another month. Suckers!
Friday, March 27, 2009
I read some of my work with my friend, who read her poetry, and it was so much fun. I forgot how much I enjoy performing. Maybe I'll try out for another play sometime soon -- four years ago I played Abigail Williams in The Crucible at the local Playhouse, and it was so. much. fun. So maybe now that the master's is (almost) over...
Which reminds me, one of the professors there told my friend and I that she would love to "direct" us, should we decide to take this to the "next level." I'm not sure what she meant... but it was very flattering.
I came home with full intentions to attend the wine and cheese meet and greet at 6 p.m., but I crashed. I literally sat down, turned on the TV and fell asleep for 2 hours.
I don't know, it was just a good day
Thursday, March 26, 2009
And the smell is mom and dad. My parents were here for a couple of days; they leave today while I'm at work, which is unsettling. I won't be there to see them off and wave as their lights grow smaller in the rain.
My husband and I never got into the habit of drinking of coffee — he's a natural morning person, and I cling to Diet Coke until my eyes adjust. Mom and dad are both avid coffee drinkers, opening with several cups and winding down with a few de-caffs before bed. The smell of coffee is encouraging; it's home.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Anyway. I have to finish my thesis this week. Just sit down and write another 40 pages or so (haha, no problem), get ready for and enjoy mom and dad's company, and prepare for a reading of my work this Friday at the university.
Bah, humbug. I'd rather have nothing but mom and dad going on.
I'm thinking of my boys this morning and sent up some prayers. If you're inclined to do so, please join me in praying for Jay and Brad.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
And they sure did keep things interesting.
With Ohio State out of the game on Sunday, there's a good chance we can get some cheap tickets for round II. Here's hoping.
In other news, yesterday was a tough day. Both of my kids had incidents at school, one that was absolutely NOT my older son's fault, and the other was probably 50/50 with the younger son. It's hard. I teach them to respect their teachers, but sometimes behind closed doors, my husband and I just shake our heads. It's small things, like this woman had "alot" on their spelling list... no space. And she gave the wrong definition for a word, and it's just. Wow. My husband and I are both in education-- he's an assistant principal and phys ed teacher, and I was an English teacher (though not in the game now), and 99.99% we back our teachers. But when they're blatantly cruel to our child and can't spell words correctly, it's tough.
Anyway, my younger son's run-in with the teacher is the 50/50 deal. My older son's run in with another child's fist was NOT his fault. He filled out the report at school. If it happens again, I'm calling the police. Period. Hopefully, this kid gets suspended for a few days.
At this point, I just want it to be June already.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Anyway, this story reminded me that when it comes to art, we're sort of all cut from the same cloth — music, painting, writing. How many times have you heard or said yourself, "I started writing when I was in elementary school," or "I knew I wanted to write when I was ten," etc.
Well, when this man was 7 he was at a concert in Java (it's a place and a drink people, keep up), and the guy playing the hanging gongs fell asleep. Or maybe he passed out, because according to this guy their concerts go from 8 or 9 at night to 4 in the morning. Yeah. So, the conductor remembers seeing this boy hanging around at their practices, etc. and he just calls him out of the crowd and up on the stage to play the sleeping man's gongs.
And he does! I asked him how he was able to play without any real training, and he smiled (this guy was all laughing and smiles and broken English) and said "I just did what the person next to me did."
So, I'll just write like Stephen King. Deal?
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
When I was in elementary school, you wore green on St. Patrick's Day. The truth is, I've always been a little cluttered as a person, even back then. I'd forget things. And when you forgot St. Patrick's Day and didn't wear green, the whole day was torture: people pinching and teasing, and I would just feel "off" from everyone else.
Last night, I reminded my 12-year-old to wear green today, lay out a shirt, so he wouldn't forget. His look was indulgent as he said, "Mom... that's so old school," and shook his head.
Yet, when I entered work this morning, wearing my green shirt and green heart necklace, I'm immediately greeted with a cheery, "You remembered your green!" From a lady old enough to be my mother wearing a sparkly green scarf and clover earrings. Another coworker, a man around my age, is sporting a clover-filled bow-tie. I'm so glad I remembered my green-- or I'd have heard about it all day.
Someone a few cubicles over just said, "Top o' the mornin' to ya!"
I'm just sayin'.
p.s. a man in a cubicle behind me just said, "Last night I dreamed I had a huge cat. I mean, it was taller than me." He then said, "Fortunately..." and I missed the rest. I really wish the lady in the cubicle diagonal to mine hadn't picked that moment to cough... So... Fortunately... I was even huger?
Sunday, March 15, 2009
So. On top of trying to get into a writing regimen, I've been trying to get into an exercise routine. I actually squirmed typing that. Happy thoughts and passing ideas probably do not qualify as "trying." I'm the kind of girl that loves to make lists but really gets no great satisfaction out of crossing off the things written there-- I just love the lists. And I think it's that way with the writing and exercising. I LOVE the idea of both, and I do both, but sporadically. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to write on a set schedule, which, if I'm honest, makes me feel like I'm not a writer-- and I'm not getting any thinner, either.
hmm... I'm trying to think of a hopeful way to end this entry. As it stands it's pretty depressing.
So I give you this: (a list!)
1. I will write at least one hour a day this week, not counting the writing I do for work. (baby steps)
2. I will go to the gym 3 times this week.
3. Because it made me giggle:
I've been commenting on your blogs.... and it's NOT SHOWING UP. It's very frustrating because in some cases, they were pretty long comments, darn it.
Before when I commented, there was a box with a word I had to type to identify myself as a non-computer, but that's gone. Now when I go to post, there's a drop box asking which account I'm using, and I pick google, because it's the only one I'm using, and click post, and then... NOTHING. The comment is gone and it does not show up on your blogs! What the heck?
Anyone know anything about this?
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I'd give almost anything to give her what she wants. I wish I could be there with her.
I hurt, I'd give, I wish. How helpless we truly are.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I've pretty much done it all in the realm of education; I've taught preschool, elementary, jr. high (oh, never again), high school, and college. The truth is, middle school excepted, I enjoyed every age: the innocence of elementary, the trembling, unsteady coming-into-their-own of 9th graders, and the uncertain eagerness of the college freshman. It's the last that's stolen my professional heart.
I've fallen in love with college freshmen. I can't teach any other grade and love it as much, not possible. For one, there's an autonomy to the university classroom that's just not there anywhere else. No principals or teachers in the next room over just one paper-thin wall away-- It's you and the kids.
And some of them are brilliant. Oh, sure you get a few slackers, but most of them are paying to be here (or their parents are), and they want to succeed. I won't even hesitate to admit that some of my students were superior writers, and I encouraged them every way I knew how, only asking for one mention in the "dedicated to" portion of their sure-to-be bestsellers. ^_~
It's been about a year since I was in the college classroom-- I took a year off to do an assistantship to pay for my last year of grad school, backward, I know. Usually the adjunct position pays for grad school, but this time, I'm doing a journalism assistantship, getting a glimpse at writing for a living. (It's not pretty folks! Run, RUN WHILE THERE'S STILL TIME!) But that's another post.
I miss telling my "kids" to pull out a proverbial carpet square because I'm going to read to them. I miss hearing their amazing counterpoints to my devil's advocate, the way they change my mind right along with their own sometimes.
I miss it. The hum, the thrill the light. I'm trying to get back into it, and though I'm actually more qualified than I was before, the job market has closed up, and I find myself unsure.
Like an unsteady, eager (though possibly frighteningly unprepared?) college freshman.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
One of my favorite things about being married, you know after the love and sex bit-- is the end of first dates. We go to a restaurant and the silence is okay, the conversation is easy, and we can re-dip in the appetizer. It's a little like wearing pajamas to the store.
I'm going out tonight and I'm looking forward to being able to pick at his plate and have him finish my inevitable leftovers.