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Archive for October, 2008

Some Link Love

• Try this recipe for some good old-fashioned comfort food. I’m making it tonight

• A thoughtful reflection on Obama

• Read this inspiring interview on following your dream

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Write on Wednesday

Write on Wednesday asks, “So, how about you?  If you’ve done NaNoWriMo, what was the experience like for you?  If you’ve never done it, do you think you could?
Do you have a novel residing in you somewhere, waiting to get out?”

Actually, NaNoWriMo was the impetus for starting this blog in the first place. Only I didn’t do it in November since that is a crazy time of year between my daughter’s birthday, company, the holidays, etc… So I wrote my novel in September and I started this blog as a way to stay accountable. I figured if I announced it to enough people that it would motivate me to keep going. It worked. I wrote on my novel everyday and posted progress here. I have a draft of a novel that I still am drawn to. I’ve gone back and started revising the first few chapters but a voice and structure haven’t quite emerged yet. I bounce around between the novel, stories and a novel-in-stories. I just need to throw a memoir in to have all the genres covered.

I am not participating this year because I can’t bear to produce yet another draft of something. Drafts are fun for me. Writing that novel was work but it wasn’t hard. Revising is hard. Hard work. Creating something from all that spewing onto the page is hard. Locating the story and voice is hard. I wish there was a revising your novel/story month. Some way to get some momentum going. Just a little traction would be nice so I don’t feel like I am constantly spinning my creative wheels. I think I get tired of writing myself into corners, forgetting that those corners are all part of the process. That’s always my downfall, wanting to skip the process and go straight to the finished product. But if I don’t enjoy doing it, why do it at all? It’s not like anyone or anything is depending on me writing. It’s something I supposedly enjoy doing yet I only enjoy parts of it which I guess is reasonable. I just need to find a way into and through the revision process. The deep revision process. Not merely spell checking and punctuation. I’m talking about the process of digging deep into the heart of the story to see where it is beating. And where it’s not. It’s a very unknown place and I am still trying to be comfortable in not knowing. Not an easy place to be.

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“I can read today.” That is the thought that literally propelled me out of bed Monday morning at 6 AM. Week 4 of TAW involved reading deprivation. I did peruse the political blogs (c’mon, we’re a week out) but I did not pick up one book or magazine for seven days. It felt strange and oddly freeing. I didn’t have to think of what book might be good for a car ride or to take while I waited in the parking lot at school or what would be the perfect reading material to fall asleep to.

Instead of reading I:

– made a birthday card for a dear friend

– painted the cover of a new journal

– cleaned out my closet. Got rid of a bag of old clothes and switched out the summer clothes for winter

– talked to my husband in the car istead of burying myself in a book

– admired the fall scenery out the car window

– played with the cats

– baked cookies with my daughter

Not reading cleared some space in my head. It didn’t feel so cluttered with other people’s words. My dreams seemed more vivid. Instead of a body cleanse it was a mind cleanse. I think I will approach reading with moderation now. Not feel so compelled to fill every pocket of time with books.

For my Artist Date I went to the Grand Rapids art museum and saw the Richard Avedon exhibit as well as Toulouse Lautrec. Besides admiring the work, I sketched and even wrote a poem about the experience of visiting the museum.

My favorite task from this week was the letter my eighty year old self wrote to my 43 year old self. It was inspiring and what a kick-ass life she described!

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Write On Wednesday

So, how about you?  Do you make time to write everyday?  Don’t you think everybody should?

– Write on Wednesday

I do make time to write every day. Most days. If only in the form of morning pages. Three longhand, stream of consciousness pages written first thing in the morning. It’s not “Writing” with a capital “W”. It is all the petty whining crap that stands between you and your creativity, whatever form it takes. Writing, painting, piano, singing, collage, baking, flower arranging, parenting, nursing, teaching, basically living a human life. It’s almost a kind of meditation. It gets you in touch with your Self. Yes, Self with a capital “S”. So, yes I think everyone would benefit from writing everyday. Not necessarily to be a writer but to be in tune with what it is they want to be. What they want to do in this life. With this life. With this moment. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt at the end of my rope as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, or friend and as soon as I write it seems to clear a space inside of me. I gain some distance. Some perspective. Or when this restlessness builds up inside of me (usually as a result of not writing) as soon as I set pen to paper  or fingers to keyboard, my energy shifts. Literally, I feel a weight lift from me. I feel lighter, Clearer. More focused. Who wouldn’t benefit from that?

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Creative Tidbit

“I cannot expect even my own art to provide all of the answers– only to hope it keeps asking the right questions.”

– Grace Hartigan

(Interesting synchronicity… I hadn’t heard of this artist until today. I saw one of her paintings at the Gand Rapids Art Museum and made myself a note to learn more about her. I came home and as I looked for a quote to post I came across this one by her.)

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Morning pages everyday day for week 3? Check. It surprised me that for several days almost the entire three pages were filled with reflections on the election and the economy.

Artist Date? Check. I volunteered at the local Obama headquarters. I did some data entry, inputting info from phone calls. I consider this an artist date since it is something new to me. It pushed me out of my comfort zone. Although I did find myself seeing this “date” as just one more thing to check off my to-do list.

Now I’m at the dreaded week 4 of the program. Dreaded because this is reading deprivation week. Yep. That’s right. No reading. Here is what she has to say about it:

“For artists, words are like tiny tranquilizers. For most blocked creatives, reading is an addiction. We gobble the words of others rather than digest our own thoughts and feelings, rather than cook up something of our own.”

It makes sense. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve posted similar thoughts in this blog about my own relationship to reading. I can definitely see the power behind not reading for a week. But I hate the idea of it. I found myself busily devouring several books last night, like a squirrel hoarding for a long bleak winter. And tomorrow I am going to Grand Rapids to see the Richard Avedon exhibit for my artist date but I always take a book with me everywhere I go. Everywhere. What will I do with any unexpected pockets of time? I guess that’s the whole point of this week. To try something different like actually interacting with my environment instead of burying my nose in a book.

I did not write on my story every day. Actually, only three days. I’m beginning to wonder if I am writing the kind of stories I want to write or if they are the kind of stories I think I should write. And how can you spot the difference? This week’s writing intention is to be more playful. If I don’t know what happens next then just play with a prompt, write a memory, write from a different point of view. Not writing is not going to get me any closer to finishing the story.

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Dear Booksellers, Publishers, Writers, etc…

Due to these unstable economic times I found it necessary to go through my budget to see where we could tighten it up a little. It didn’t take long to find the place. It fell under the category of “Books” . According to the last year of purchases, I spent an average of $306 a month on books. $306! (I never use exclamation points but that deserves one, don’t you think?) Now I say that number with huge embarrassment as well as the tiniest bit of pride. But the embarrassment won out. My book buying days are over. Or I should say my indiscriminate book buying days are over. As my best friend mentioned, books and reading are a huge part of who I am. I can’t just lop it off.

I think it’s safe to say that my passion for books borders on an addiction. I often found myself browsing a bookstore like a junkie looking for a fix, feeling all jumpy and jittery. Whenever I felt out of sorts, my solution was to find a book. It’s also not unreasonable to make the leap that the restlessness could have been overcome through writing my own words rather than filling up on others’ words. So, if I’m looking a silver lining in all this economy crap, I guess I found a tiny one, for me anyway. That and I’m becoming quite familiar with our local library.

I just wanted to give you a heads up. If you notice a decline in book sales, well, look no further. I’m sorry for any inconvenience this causes you. But I also think I held up my end of book buying for many years. In fact, I could browse my own bookshelves and read a different book every week for the next four years or so. Now this isn’t to say I won’t ever buy another book. No. But it will be with thought and within a budget. No more wandering in with nothing in mind and walking out five books later that just go on a shelf indefinitely.

Even when the economy picks up, I won’t be going back to my old ways. It may be a huge part of who I am/was but a book buying addiction is really not in my best interest. Once again, I apologize for any inconvenience and/or disruption to the book world.

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