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Showing posts from February, 2012

WRITERS' BLOCK

I am not so arrogant to say I never get writers' block but I'm learning to call it by different names. Some days it's just laziness and lack of interest in my project. Other days it's strong resistance to work and thinking. Resistance is like a stone wall I have to barrel through--it hurts my head but releases me from the bonds of idleness. I've read that "writing begets more writing," and I believe it's true. It's like priming the verbal pump with a trickle of good sentences. When the block comes in the guise of procrastination there's only one thing to do--sit at my desk, whip out a spiral notebook and my favorite purple pen and start writing. When I encounter the block of badly written sentences and characters that fall flat I have to force myself not to quit writing. If I keep going, tossing my lack of confidence out the door, I find dialogue, characterization, and settings building and scenes stretch out over several pages. Maybe not all …

LIGHT ON A GRAY DAY

Saturday was rainy and gloomy but I was happy to be indoors and sheltered by the quilt of gray clouds and the light of my muse. Sometimes it's just delightful to stay home all day and gather my poems into a notebook to await revisions. To leisurely lounge in bed, have a lovely breakfast and relax with that second cup of coffee while discussing politics with my husband. Then read without thinking about where I have to go, or what I have to do next.

I need these points of stillness in my life in order to let the muse in. She's shy and doesn't like to appear in the midst of noise, people or chaos. Somehow these rainy days, with soft music in the background, and the comfort of hot tea, beckon her out onto my shoulder where I can just sit, stare into space, not thinking, and let her guide me in the right direction. Lately she's been nudging me toward poetry, but the other night she gave me a significant push back toward my abandoned novel.

I could use more days of soft sil…

WADING THROUGH WORDS

Yes, writing is wading through words. First they hunker behind the gray convolutions of the brain. I nudge them out with a long walk outdoors, maybe some instrumental music, hot tea and candles, perhaps a dip into some good poetry or an exciting well written novel. Then all those anxious words begin to tumble around in my head like so many schools of krill. I toss my net into the chaos hoping to catch the train of a plot, an image to turn into a poem, an exciting character to build a story around. As I string the words across the page the magic happens. Scenes build, sentences become doorways into new worlds, characters spring to life before my eyes. I am compelled to keep going, it brings me back to the notebook again and again. It seems the more ideas I have for poems and short stories, the more ideas I get. Once all those words get loosened up there is no stopping them. I feel free. I believe I am a writer.

I am halfway through revising short stories for my collection. As I finish …

WRITING UPDATES

Okay, I had resolved to write every day, complete a short story every week, and start sending some things out. I'm getting there. Life nudges our resolutions out of view, giving us other things to do or think about. Stress in the guise of disappointment threatens to wipe all writing commitments aside while I hide inside the pages of a novel. But that won't get me anywhere. It was a tough week, not getting what I thought would be mine, but I had to shake it all off and hunker back to work. So, 3 haiku and two stories have been submitted, three stories were revised, making my short story collection halfway on its journey toward publication. (well submisison anyways.) Now it's back to some daily writing and getting those poems revised and sent out.

As the afternoon stretches out in front of me I am flagging but it's time for a shot of caffeine and some real work before this day ends.

in time for lunch
the muse settles in
pen slides across paper

WEEKLY PROMPT

Write about your ideal day

SOLITUDE IN AN ELANTRA

My car is only several yards away from the chaos and stress of work but inside its red shell I find solitude. At lunch time I sneak out to the parking lot and hide in the front seat. My mp3 player whispers soft melodic music in my ears as I watch rain drip down the windshield like tears. I am sheltered, at peace and alone. There is much to be said about solitude, about not hearing the words of others or dealing with others' wants and needs. Here by myself I can read or meditate or just stare into the gray wet afternoon and let its cooling breath cleanse me of strain. As I sit and listen to the patter of rain and the occasional whir of an airplane words come to me. Lines of poetry tiptoe through my mind like tiny mice leaving little footprints of metaphor, similie, imagination. Characters emerge in the shapes on the glass or the billows of clouds. Story lines weave in and out of the strains of the music. Free of phone calls, visits to my office and the chatter of colleagues I can a…

SANCTUARY

It was small as closets go, with bi-fold doors painted shiny white. The doors were louvered as if to provide ventilation to something alive that resided within. But over the ten years I played and slept in that bedroom no living creature ever emerged.
My little sherbet colored cotton dresses with their long sashes that Mom tied in big bows at my back only reached a short way down from the closet rod, leaving lots of space for the really important pieces of my childhood.
Born a rigid little girl, I’ve never had tolerance for clutter or disorganization and apparently that trait began way back then in the confines of that closet. To the left was a neat stack of boxes that held all the clothes and accessories for the dolls that sat on the top of my bookcase. Next to that was the pink vinyl tote box that I took to dancing school. It carried my leotards, ballet and tap shoes and in its corners dreams of prima ballerinas and bouquets of red roses offered to me center stage. Next in line were …

SNOWY SATURDAY

It was snowing when I awoke and I was happy to see a gray day. I needed a day to unwind slowly and sleepily over morning pages and then bacon and eggs for breakfast. And then I actually accomplished something writerly.

I took all the stories for my short story collection and organized them in a binder. Then I created an index of titles and comments on the status of each---"published," "revise based on notes," "revise or write new version." I feel settled now. I even whipped off an email to my two writing instructors for suggestions on how to get this collection out into the publishing world. Plan to have this done by end of April before our Tapestries writing group retreat at which time I will start planning my "memoir in poetry."

I also took all the other short stories I have, put them into a second binder, also with a table of contents of titles and status of each story. I feel so productive!

Now off to do some free-writes, revise a story for …

WEEKLY PROMPT

Write a 500 word story, but write it backwards. End with the scene just before the inciting incident and back up to where the story starts. GO!

ACCEPTANCE AND REJECTION

I returned home yesterday after a stressful and busy work day to find two familiar envelopes had come in the mail. When a writer finds an envelope with her own return address label on the face it means one of two things---a poem, story, proposal or whatever has been either rejected or accepted for publication. Yesterday I found two such business sized envelopes from the same literary journal. In one was an acceptance letter for a poem I'd written, VOICES IN THE CEMETERY which appeared a few weeks back on this blog. I'm taking bragging rights here. I was so honored to have an editor like what I'd written from the heart enough to publish it.

It was, seconds later, tempered by a rejection, from the same editor, of a short story I had submitted. I can't let the rejection overshadow the acceptance so I am bragging about it to everyone I know. And the lesson here is to go back to the drawing board, or writing desk as it were, and make that story so good that the next editor …

WRITING PRACTICE

It's Friday and I just ordered yet another writing craft book from amazon.com. Why do I believe that reading all these how-to's will teach me to write? Why do I complain about not having time to write when all I need to do is clear away the stack of books on the coffee table and go to my writing desk? Many of these authors recommend doing a daily writing practice.

Writing practice is the process of choosing some random prompt and writing stream of conscious sentences for a set time, like ten minutes. Using a timer the writer has to race to finish some complete idea before the buzzer startles her from her writing trance. Almost every writing book suggests this, except one or two I've seen recently. And of course when you read conflicting information you have to decide which is more correct, or which is right for you.

"The Memoir Project" suggests that writing practice is not only unnecessary but hampers you from getting to the real work of writing a book, short s…

WEEKLY PROMPT

Start a flash fiction with this first line:  
The first thing she saw when she opened the old scrapbook was . . .