Monday, September 28, 2009

National Novel Writing Month

I worried for a long time about what I’d do once my MFA was done. Gone is the structure of regular deadlines—writing quotas, specifically. One of the strategies I’m using is writing groups. I belong to three, each one very different from the others. One is a small poetry group that has let me join them for the past few years, though I’m not a poet. We meet only seasonally, but it’s always good. Another meets weekly, and my newest group meets monthly. What I forgot to worry about was what I’d write.

Since I finished my book and started on the Seeking of Representation, I’ve had the nagging feeling that I’ve become purposeless as well as projectless. I’d told myself when I finally finished the book I spent a decade on, I’d leave memoir behind and move on to a less personal genre, try my hand at some fiction again. But it’s like I’m working with wet wood and can’t buy a spark. And look at all those ‘I’s—maybe I’m too self-obsessed to write about anything but myself, yet oh how bored I am with that topic.

So, with no nonfiction topic setting me on fire, and really very few ideas about anything else, I decided to try something completely insane. NaNoWriMo is going to force me to write 50,000 words in a month. I’m sure I can’t do it, can’t wait to get started, and feel a little sick whenever I think about it.

It will be a month long freewrite. The good thing about such a task is that I won’t have time to think about how bad an idea is—the goal is not quality, it’s quantity. I know from experience that when I quit judging the quality of my output and just write, that sometimes good stuff sneaks itself in. I’m counting on that being true again.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Protect Insurance Companies PSA

Protect Insurance Companies PSA

Shared via AddThis
If you haven't seen this yet, guess what? You're living on Mars.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Comment, Said, Statement, Statement

This sentence has been bugging me since yesterday:

"Wade M. Smith, a Raleigh lawyer who represents Mr. Edwards, declined to comment on the paternity issue directly, but said in a statement that “there may be a statement on that subject at some point, but there is no timetable and we will see how we feel about it as events unfold.”

declined to comment
but said in a statement
"there may be a statement"
(we don't know when, we don't
know how we feel
or how you feel, we'll say more
when we know more about
what you know and feel.)

meanwhile children, elbow deep
claw at the bottom of the barrel
digging for Daddy at the bottom of the cereal box
come up with crumbs as
events unfold.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Into Temptation

Took Saturday off and had pleasures. One of those decadences involved going to a movie in the middle of the day, indie hit Into Temptation, written and directed by my old grade school classmate Pat Coyle.

Wonderful performances by Kristin Chenoweth (West Wing,) Jeremy Sisto (Six Feet Under,) and Brian Baumgartner (that's Kevin From The Office to you, and who knew he could play eloquent and urbane? I sure didn't.) I recommend this film--go get your temptation on.

Thanks, Pat!

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hump Day Inspiration

Parent-teacher conferences tonight make for a long day ahead, but as long as I'm home in time for Glee I'll be ok.

Catching up on some reading this morning, I came upon an inspiring quote from 1st Books: Stories of How Writers Get Started.

“It was one thing — not a difficult thing — to want to be a writer; another to become one… Looking back on it, I think the truth was that I was scared of my ambition, scared of discovering that I didn’t have what it took to fulfill it. . .And this was perhaps the nub of my fear about my ambition: I knew I wasn’t a natural writer. If I were, I’d already be a writer; there’d be no question of becoming one. The only way I could be a writer would be by making myself one, by squeezing the writer out of me. By work.” Graham Swift

I get a little worried, caught up as I am in the day-to-day of my job and spending weekends so focused on the business of "seeking representation." I miss the writing, the work. This weekend, I'll let the unrejected (so far) queries do their work (out in the world, all alone,) and I'll try to get back to mine.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, September 14, 2009

Got a Nibble!

Re: yesterday's whinging (yes, whinging, look it up) about queries, I finally received a communication that's NOT a form rejection-- an actual request for a few chapters. And, yes, I know, that can (and usually does) still lead to "Thank you very much, but in today's climate, and not right for us, etc, but good luck."

The letter that got the reaction was NOT one of the Big Bad Book Comparisons, either. So. Learning.

Now, if you need a little leather-free discipline, check out this succinct bit on Stephanie Austin's process.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quer I for the Fine Line

If you'd spent a weekend writing agent queries, that title might make sense. I'm to the point where I can't tell if they (the queries) are getting better or worse, but whichever it is, they are getting way more that.

And that last sentence makes me think worse.

It's all those fine lines-- between confidence and hubris, brevity and too scanty to matter. Is it thorough or blabby, moving or schmaltzy? Am I ambitious or desperate?

And in the last few queries, because I'm tired, and because I have to finish up and get dressed up for the True Blood finale wherein I hope to be ravished-in-proxie by one Eric Northman, and because one of those agents had blogged about The Big Bad Book Comparison, I went ahead and threw in a wildly flattering (to me) comparison one of my mentors had made. And because for months I've been dying to tell someone about that flattering comparison but never had the chance because, you know, I'm so modest and all, well, I put that line in my next query, too. To an agent who, for all I know, might just hate Big Bad Book Comparisons, and who may lack the sense of humor required to see that of course I know it's outrageous, that's why I put it in my query letter, right? Cause I'm funny, right?

So, form reject, right?

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


It has only been a couple weeks since I made a (secret) vow to post something here at least twice a week. So last week: fail. I'm blaming allergies, insomnia (can't blame any one thing for that, just a slide show of anxieties,) and my slow slow process. Also I'm behind on my Querying, which is getting better but is still too slow; I thought I'd have some sort of template by now, but I find myself hyper-customixing each agent query and I'm still not satisfied. Nor are they, apparently.

Also feeling knotted up over politics. Still having trouble accepting what poor losers the losers are.

Anyway, here is a great blog post by The Intern regarding scientific proof that publishing a book won't make you happier. Enjoy that, my friends.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Femfest 2009, Part 2-The I Am Poems

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Femfest has been going on for over twenty years. It has evolved from a spontaneous campout into a highly organized and anticipated half week at a State Park, with a fine river nearby. The air-conditioned cabins are fully equipped with kitchens and tiny but complete bathrooms. We bring enough food to stay for a week and enough magazines for a month.

For several years, we cabin-hopped, trying various locations around the park, including the Big Red Barn, a fly-ridden bunkhouse with an unfortunate proximity to the horse stables. My sisters and I finally settled on the two hilltop cabins with adjoining fire pit, and for a few years we also rented one of the “primitives” across the road (no ac, kitchen, or plumbing, just a couple of bunk beds and a fridge.) I slept there. A few of us would go behind this little cabin to hide from the kids and smoke. Furtive ironic flashbacks.

Now the kids are growing up, boys moving towards manhood, girls getting jobs, and several sisters have made it a habit to sleep outside, so we’ve given up the primitive cabin rather than pay for empty beds.

One constant through the years has been Chief’s craft project. (Chief was her name or her rank back at Christ Child Camp, circa 1969, and it’s her Fest name, too. I’m Granny by virtue of being older than everyone by at least 4 months. We also have a Pee-Pee—yep—and a Pinkie, a Scary, and a Crazy-Eye.)

Chief has a stash of paints, glue guns, glitter, sequins, beads, seeds, feathers, rocks, sea shells, bark, interesting bits of flotsam from her farm, and a wood-burner. One year she brought birdhouse gourds; birds have never come to live in mine, perhaps they’re put off its ostentatious fabulousness, but I still think it looks cool hanging on my porch. Another year we made mobiles, and I still have mine hanging in my bedroom—when I’m just waking, it looks like the ocean, drifting in the corner of my room. The projects always turn out to be cooler than I think they will.

This year Grasshopper, the Chief’s daughter, (who was not yet born when we had our first Femfest on the beach at Fremont Lakes) is twenty-three. She took it upon herself to have t-shirts made. She sent out about a dozen goddess images for us to vote on. We agreed to a Greek image of Diana, with stag and quiver, which she had printed on lavender t-shirts. This theme was the inspiration for our first writing craft project.

Initially, we were supposed to write our own goddess myths, but nobody could get started. Then I remembered the “I Am” poem. This is a project familiar to teachers everywhere, something even the most reluctant writer can do, as easy as filling in a survey. I couldn’t remember the form exactly, so Scary Googled it on her i-phone and we went to it. The brave among us wrote these I Ams from the persona of whatever goddess we perceived ourselves to be.

And that’s how I spent my summer vacation.

Stumble Upon Toolbar