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Archive for November, 2007

I forgot I got tagged for this meme, so here goes:

5 Reasons I’m a Strong Writer:
1. I’ve taught myself without the benefit of a MFA or even a Bachelors. I discovered I wanted to write after I went to art school so I’m doing it the old fashioned way- lots of writing and lots of reading. I go to conferences, classes, and am in a writing group. I feel like I have to really want it and really work for it at this stage in my life without the luxury of three years of uninterrupted time to focus on the craft. Instead I’ve always had to fit it into my real life which is what all writers need to do eventually.

2. I work on my stories. It’s not uncommon for me to revise a story ten times before submitting the “first” draft to my writing group. I’ve revised stories twenty to twenty-five times before submitting them to journals. I’ll play with structure. Try new beginnings. Different POV. I’m not afraid to completely tear a story apart and put it back together.

3. I keep my options open with regards to projects. I have several going at any given time at various stages. When I need a break from one I can hop onto another.

4. I’m willing, even eager, to be surprised by my writing. I use writing practice to let my mind wander into the depths of the story or character. I’m willing to fill pages and pages with scenes that spill from me during a session but don’t feel compelled to shoe horn them into the story just because I wrote it.

5. I love stories. I love reading stories and always have. I read for pleasure, I read to learn. I read in amazement and am thrilled when I come across a book or sentence that I feel is brilliant. I am not intimidated, instead I am inspired. I read with a pen in my head to mark sentences that move me. I read with a pen in hand to dissect a story to learn the craft of writing. I read to lose myself and on my ideal days I lose myself in my own writing.

6. And one more… I almost wrote I am not afraid of what I may discover about myself when I write. That’s not true. I am afraid at times, but I do it anyway. I show up anyway and that’s what courage is, showing up in spite of the fear.

And there you have thirty straight days of posts from me. I’m impressed…

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A Few of My Favorite things

It seems like I hear this song a dozen times a day so I may as well use it to inspire a post here.

These are a few of my favorite things:
– reading in bed after I wake up in the morning
– clean, crisp sheets
– bare trees etched against a blue sky
– the smell of coffee (but I don’t like the taste)
– A soy chai and pumpkin scone from Starbucks
– watching my cats play
– decorating the house for Christmas
– taking the decorations down
– unexpectedly finding new books that I want to read at the library
– sunflowers
– finding the perfect word, verb, phrase, metaphor in my writing
– a good glass of red wine
– discovering a new writer
– the smell of brownies or chocolate chip cookies
– staring at a campfire
– browsing an independent bookstore. this is still my favorite.

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Amused by the Muses

Our icicle Christmas lights are lit and dangling from the eaves outside my window. They’ve been up for over a week but we didn’t turn them on until tonight. I really need one holiday to be over before I start with the next one.

Here is a website I enjoy. Her book “The Nine Modern Day Muses” never fails to inspire me. Actually I love anything to do with the Muses whether it’s a “Charmed” episode or the movie with Sharon Stone or fables, stories and collages. I bought nine small canvases at one point and started collecting Muse ephemera to create a series of collages devoted to them. I can put that on my project list for next year. Instead of resolutions that always sound so, well, resolute, maybe I’ll make a list of creative endeavors for the coming year. That sounds fun. In fact, if it isn’t fun it can’t go on my list. Look for this list in an upcoming post.

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I had a coupon for 40% off a book today so, of course, I had to use it. But as I browsed the shelves, for once I didn’t feel an urgent need to buy a book. Not one for me anyway. I thought of all the books I have at home and it is seriously like browsing through a bookstore around here. Any book mood I may be in is more than likely covered: novel, short story, memoir, classic, essays, science/physics. All right here within the walls of my own home.

I ended up using the coupon to buy a Christmas present for my godson. I mean 40% off- you gotta use it one way or another.

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Outside my window fat flakes of snow are falling. It looks like a snow globe out there.

I finished “The Best Place to Be” by Lesley Dormen. It is a novel-in-stories. I didn’t realize it but I had read several of the stories already. I guess in literary journals or on-line perhaps. Anyway, the stories are strong, honest, funny, bitter. There were some lines that just made me gasp at the raw honesty exposed. It gave me some ideas about my own novel-in-stories. Mine spans a wider range of years and I’ve been writing it chronologically. But hers is not set up that way which is interesting and yet you still get the full arc of Grace’s life. Each story kind of bleeds into the next. And each one echoes a previous story although not necessarily the one right before it. This is one I’ll be reading again with a pen in hand this time.

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A Gentle Meandering

I’m finding myself browsing through books I’ve read before on creativity. On writing. On inspiration. Motivation. Between the short days and early darkness and the holidays I find myself sinking into a kind of creative lethargy. It’s okay for now. All cycles need waxing and waning. Ups and downs. Usually the ups and downs feel like a rollercoaster and I am just holding on for dear life. But it feels different now. Less frantic. More a gentle meandering through my creative process. I had planned on working on the collage for our Christmas cards this year but the day kind of slipped away from me with long phone calls with family and friends. Then some shopping. Then groceries. Then the girls and I settled in and watched a couple of sappy Christmas movies on ABC Family and that’s okay. It’s been a lovely day. For once I am not beating myself up over not doing what I had planned on doing. There’s time. As much as these short days like us to think otherwise, there is time.

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A Bit of Inspiration

Here are some of my favorite, inspiring quotes on writing and the creative process:

“The universe is made up of stories, not atoms.” – Muriel Rukeyser

“Artistic growth is more than it is anything else, a refining of the sense of truthfulness. The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is.” – Willa Cather

“I suppose I have written novels to find out what I thought about something, and poems to find out what I felt about something.” – May Sarton

“To express the emotions of life is to live. To express the life of emotions is to make art.” – Jane Heap

“You don not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” – Franz Kafka

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