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Archive for December, 2007

I’m a sucker for new year’s resolutions. I love the idea of a brand new year ahead of me. I know a brand new year can start on any date I choose but still…there’s just something about the actual new year. Before I look ahead I like to look back at what I’ve accomplished in the last year.

In 2007 I:

– had a short story published on http://www.literarymama.com

– had a piece published at the zine estellasrevenge.com

– attended the Kenyon Writers Workshop with Ron Carlson for a week

– sent out five submissions to literary journals

– read some classics including “Lolita”, “Sense and Sensibility” and “The Secret Sharer”

– participated in my writing group

– filled pages and pages with morning pages, writing practice and drafts of stories

– lost nine pounds

– worked out 275 days this year!

– stayed on a schedule of chores and allowance for my girls so they are really learning the value of money and saving

– created some beautiful handmade cards and gifts

– created this new blog

– wrote on my blog everyday in November

– learned how to upload photos to the computer and my blog

– invested in Adobe CS3

-organized and culled through my books

– met Janet Fitch

– wrote on my story everyday while on vacation in Florida

– read lots and lots of amazing books (see tab above)

Now for 2008… I have one big resolution and then some creative revolutions to keep it fun.

2008 is My Year of Focused Writing. I told my daughter, K,  that I wanted to write more this year. She said that I already write alot. And I kind of do. Kind of. But it really needs to be more focused on drafting, revising, polishing and submitting these stories. I tend to stagnate in one stage or the other thus I have many stalled versions of stories. And since I am blessed to not have to work from 8-5 outside the home, I have the time. That time just needs to be focused. I’m going to play with several strategies to see what works best. For now it’s this: I need to write one thousand words a day on a story until that story is done. Then it’s 2-3 hours of revision once I get to that stage. Submit to writing group and this is where it tends to fall apart. I get great feedback from  my group but in the meantime have started work on the next story so that I will have something to submit when it is my turn again. And I don’t want to bore them to tears with revision after revision of the same story. So I get stuck between two (or more) stories in two different stage and neither one of them gets done. See… this is where the need for focus comes in. And I think meditation will be helpful. I’m starting with just five minutes a day and will increase it by a minute each week. My goal is to sit for twenty minutes each morning. I think I also will need a way to be accountable to somebody besides myself. Anybody out there need the same thing? Maybe we cold be email check-in buddies. Let me know. Or I could just post my goal for the day here and hopefully feel obligated to follow through.

My reach for the stars goal is to find an agent. To do this I need to: submit my stories, finish one of my novels, research drafting a good query letter, make a list of agents to contact, write the letter and send the letter.  It sounds oh so simple, doesn’t it?

2008 Creative Revolutions
– Say yes when I want to say no; and say no when I want to say yes. Shake things up

– Attend a live performance

– Go to the DIA

– Learn Dreamweaver- create my own website, then one for my mom’s business then solicit new clients for web design

– Create a mixed media collage using that old screen door I hauled back from a flea market I found in Arizona. Hang it on thee back wall in the family room.

– Buy less books and read the ones I have

– Find more members for our writing group

– Start a book club in my neighborhood

– I’ve had this idea for a year or so now. Create a creative revolution women’s group. Each month we each choose something to explore or share. A skill or interest we have or want to acquire like wine tasting, gardening, knitting, collage, painting, writing, physics, investing, environmental concerns, cooking, yoga, tai chi. The list could be endless. I though of it because its so hard to meet friends as adults especially once your children are older and are making their own friends. Kids have girls scouts, brownies, cub scouts, school, team sports. Unless you work, adult women have little opportunity to meet new people. Which I think is why book clubs have become so popular. My idea is like that but more encompassing. We could read a book one month but it wouldn’t only be about that. I seriously love this idea.

Okay then… I guess that’s it. What are your creative resolutions/revolutions for the coming year? I’d love to hear from you since I’m also a sucker for eavesdropping on other people’s goals and dreams.

Happy New Year!

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I am signing up for this book challenge. Below are some of the books that have been on my bookshelf for at least six months (some six years!) and this is the year I will read at least twelve of them.

Here we go:

1. “Paint It Black” by Janet Fitch ( I have no idea why this is still sitting unread. I love her writing and I heard her give an amazing reading from the book. This will be numero uno.)
2. “Rabbit Punches” stories by Jason Ockert
3. “Wintering a novel of Sylvia Plath” by Kate Moses
4. “Embers” by Sandor Marai which I received during my writing group book exchange two years ago and we only give books we love so there must be a reason I have it.
5. “The Untelling” by Tayari Jones
6. “What You have Left” by Will Allison
7. “All This Heavenly Glory” by Elizabeth Crane
8. “Bear and His Daughters” stories by Robert Stone
9. “The Name of the World” by Denis Johnson
10. “Red Ant House” stories by Ann Cummins
11. “Mariette in Ecstasy” by Ron Hansen
12. “Palm Latitudes” by Kate Braverman

Alternates:
1. “Strange But True” by John Searles
2. “The Language of Elk” by Benjamin Percy
3. “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh my Darling” by Maura Stanton
4. “In my Sister’s Country” by Lisa Haines
5. “The Center of Winter” by Marya Hornbacher
6. “Pastoralia” by George Saunders
7. “Girls in the Grass” by Melanie Rae Thon
8. “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh” by Michael Chabon
9. “Everything is Illuminated” by Jonathon Safran Foer
10. “How the Universe Got Its Spots” by Janna Levin and the only non-fiction in the bunch
11. “The Secret Goldfish” by David Means
12. “The Speed of Dark” by Elizabeth Moon

I also plan on doing much much more writing this year so we’ll see how this goes since the more I write my own stories, the less I read other’s.

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Yesterday

Yesterday I:

– meditated for five minutes (start small)
– wrote morning pages
– worked out for 50 minutes
– went to Barnes & Noble. Had a green tea soy latte and wrote about six pages including a new scene for chapter two of my novel.
– bought:
• 2 magazines (one writing a done yoga- I am a magazine junkie)
• 3 books
– “Triangle” a novel by Katherine Weber about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire in 1911
– “You’re Not You” a novel by Michelle Wildgen, senior editor at Tin House
– “Rabbit, Run” and “Rabbit Redux” by, of course, John Updike. I have never read any of these books. I find that amazing. How have they never crossed my reading path? “Rabbit , Run” is the next in “Master Class in Fiction Writing” by Adam Sexton. It studies description.
– “to-do list- From buying milk to Finding a soul Mate, What Our Lists Reveal About Us” by Sasha Cagen. I already finished this at about 12:18 last night. I love lists. I love reading other people’s lists. It’s so voyeuristic. An entire life can be revealed in lists. It gave me many ideas for lists of my own such as “Why I love Lists” but I guess I’ll save that for another post.
– went to Target to use a gift card. Ended up buying a heart rate monitor that calculates calories burned
– got groceries
– got a loaf of good whole grain bread from Panera (our third since Christmas Eve- the stuff is addicting.) Tonight I am roasting garlic in the oven and mixing it with some olive oil and cheese, spreading it on the yummy bread and toasting it to complement spaghetti and turkey meatballs.
– made a big pot of homemade vegetable soup which is perfect for lunch today and dinner tomorrow

All in all a lovely, productive, soothing kind of day.

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The Day After…

The tree looks scrawny this morning. It’s fake so it didn’t lose its needles overnight or anything. Just all the anticipation. All the preparation. All the company. It’s over and there is some relief in that but also this sense of being let down and now what? I’m used to this feeling though. It happens every year. I will spend the day cleaning and clearing. Making room for the new “stuff”. Getting back into a semi-normal routine. Not hitting the stores today. I am so shopped out. Every year I think there must be another way to do this holiday.

Here’s what’s been happening this last month:

Good news- I lost nine pounds using http://www.sparkpeople.com since November and kept it off during the holidays. I worked out almost everyday which was the key I think.

Saw two great movies with my mom while she was here. “Juno” and “P.S. I love You”. “Juno” was the better of the two. I will be buying that one when it comes out. It is just so well written.

I read “The Other Boleyn Girl” which is not my usual cup of tea but I got totally sucked into it. I’d been having trouble finding a good book to lose myself in. I started The End of the World as We Know It: Scenes from a Life by Robert Goolrick and was happily zipping along, fascinated by this quirky southern family and then it got dark. And darker. And I just didn’t want to be in a dark place. So I put it down and picked up “The Other Boleyn Girl” and couldn’t put it down. I became totally absorbed in this other world and time. It was a good lesson in plotting and throwing obstacles in the way over and over again and in what a character wants an how far she’ll go to get it. And now I see it will be a movie soon. Excellent…

Just finished “A Student of Living Things.” Another good lesson in plotting. Just a good story set in post 9-11 Washington DC where pockets of violence erupt sporadically and how a family, specifically a sister deals with an unexpected tragedy.

Now I am reading “The Principles of Uncertainty” which is a journal illustrating and writing one year in a life. It’s giving me some great ideas for my own visual journals. Quite captivating.

I am also reading the Winter Fiction issue of “The New Yorker.” I’m in the middle of the correspondence between Raymond Carver and Gordon Lish. Fascinating…

Coming up:
– creative revolutions instead of resolutions
– books to be read for a book challenge I found in the blog world

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