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Archive for June, 2008

Six Words

Six words is about all I have time for. I am waiting for varnish to dry on the furniture and for the ceiling paint to dry along the edges where I cut in so I can do a second coat of both. The new jacuzzi tub is in so it is beginning to resemble a real bathroom again. I can see the light at the end of the remodeling tunnel.

Andrea tagged me for this six word memoir. It just came to me one night so I hope I didn’t see it on the website or something. Here goes:

Writer writing versus writer not writing.

That about sums it/me up…

Oh, and I’m supposed to tag people. Let’s see… my writing group. Consider yourself tagged. Even if you don’t have a blog this would be a fun exercise to do and share at a meeting some time.

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We are in the midst of gutting the upstairs bathroom. As of now there is no tile floor, no tile in the shower, no toilet, no sink and the tub is coming out tomorrow. Obviously there will be a new toilet, new sink and a new jacuzzi tub, new tile floor and new tile on the wall. Today the girls and I are on a mission to find accessories and a paint color that they both agree on.

In addition, (because we apparently insane or something) we are re-doing both of their rooms: new paint, painting old furniture white and adding new knobs and pulls, new carpeting, new curtains in one room, a bigger bed for one.

So, with all that going on and school letting out I did manage to write but didn’t manage to post it on Friday.

Monday, June 9
30 minutes:  3 morning pages, 2 writing practice pages
1 hour: typing revisions to story, researching timeline and pop culture of 1979 and realizing I couldn’t have them watching a movie on a VCR since that didn’t exist yet
30 minutes: working with “The Practice of Creative Writing” by Heather Sellers

Tuesday, June 10
15 minutes: 3 morning pages
20 minutes: writing practice prompts- started a new story with a gardener who finds a roll of film behind the bleeding tulips of the house he cares for

Was a really lazy, blah day. Didn’t even pick up a pen and paper until after dinner. Then I pulled a bunch of favorite inspirational books together and took them to bed with me where I read and wrote until I fell asleep.

The books were:
“Page after page’ by Heather Sellers
“Chapter After Chapter” by Heather Sellers
“The Pocket Muse- Endless Inspiration” by Monica Wood
“The Playful Way to Serious Writing” by Roberta Allen

Wednesday, June 11
15 minutes: 3 morning pages
10 minutes: writing practice on prompt “where I store things”

Thursday, June 12
15 minutes: 3 morning pages
10 minutes: writing practice on prompt “romance with chocolate”
60 minutes: worked on story

Friday, June 13
Last day of school- only a half day
15 minutes: 3 morning pages

Saturday, June 14
15 minutes: 3 morning pages
10 minutes: writing practice on prompt “kindergarten”

The main progress was fitting in some writing into the nooks and crannies of my days and that I divided one story into two stories which fits in well with my new structure. I needed one more with a certain time period.

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Progress

Writing progress:

• Pulled out the second story of my novel-in-stories

• Read it

• Made lots of notes

• Really marked it up

• It could go several different ways at this point

• Now I need to sit down and type up all the revisions and really sink back into the process of writing this story. It’s not just typing up the little added notes or scenes. Those are just the doorways to let me back into the story.

• I registered for “Writing the Unthinkable” workshop with Lynda Barry in Chicago at the end of August.

• Spent a lot of time finishing up an 80-slide Powerpoint presentation. It’s almost done

Up-coming blog posts:

• Summer writing/reading goals

• the balance between writing stories and just writing to write

• the unstructured time of summer

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So May was not a big reading month for me. I found it hard to settle in with any particular book. I browsed through several that I had read already, read one collection of essays, re-read one amazing book on writing and finished the mother-daughter book club selection and that’s it. But it was a productive writing month and that’s what happens. That’s the trade-off. I think I often hide behind my reading. Years ago when the Artist’s Way first came out that week of reading deprivation really threw me. I resisted it mightily. Here’s what Julia Cameron says:

“If you feel stuck in your life or in your art, few jump starts are more effective than a week of reading deprivation. No reading? That’s right: no reading. For most artists, words are like tiny tranquilizers. We have a daily quota of media chat that we swallow up. Like greasy food, it clogs our system. Too much of it and we feel, yes, fried…Without distractions, we are once again thrust into the sensory world…For most blocked creatives reading is an addiction.”

She’s right. It’s a tricky balance. As a writer I need to read. I read current literary journals, classics, books that I hope to write like some day and books far from my experience and interest in order to stretch myself. I read to entertain myself, to lose myself, to grow. I read as a writer, with a pen in hand, marking passages that are excellent examples of whatever craft issue I am currently struggling with: flashback, POV, transition, setting, etc… But. If I read other writers’ words more than I create my own, well, that’s a problem. That’s the tricky balance.

Writing a brief review of the books I read here is helpful. It keeps me from gorging on media. It makes me slow down just for a minute to think about what I read so that it doesn’t just fall into this black hole of books I’ve read but then never really thought about. With that, here are the three book I read in May:

“Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave” edited by Ellen Sussman
Twenty-six kick-ass writers write about, well, kicking ass in all its various forms whether it is lying, cheating, one-night stands or blasting music. It is a fun and sometimes touching romp through what being a bad girl really means and I left realizing that its not necessarily a bad thing and may even be a goal at certain points in a woman’s life.

“Ron Carlson Writes a Story” by Ron Carlson (re-read)
I was stuck earlier in the month on a story and I read this little gem of a book again, actually followed his advice instead of merely reading it, hoping to absorb its wisdom by some form of osmosis and it actually worked. His enthusiasm and respect for the writing process is contagious and it makes me want to work that much harder on my own work, which is exactly what a writing book should do.

“So B. It” young adult novel by Sarah Weeks
I read this for our Mother/Daughter book club. It was entertaining but a little predictable. My main complaint is that in order for the story to work you had to suspend belief on certain aspects of the character’s life and a certain “gift” she had was there only so that the plot could work. But my eleven-year-old loved it and read it in abut three days.

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