Oh Noes!

I have two words guaranteed to strike fear into the heart of any working parent: Pink. Eye.

Not me. My son. No school today + no school tomorrow = writing schedule shot to hell. I’ll work in some other things, promotional stuff to get ready for Lacey’s release, etc, but to add insult to injury my husband needs me to take Wednesday off to assist with a household project. We discovered that we have about six inches of blown insulation in our attic. We live in the Midwest, which is the Freakin’ Frozen Tundra five months out of the year, so we need about 26 inches of insulation. Dear Hubby found a bunch of insulation for free from a building that was being destroyed (yeah! free is good!), and it’s in his stall in the garage (bad!). IOW, it needs to go in the attic NOW.

Or Wednesday…my next free day. Guess who gets to hand the insulation up to him? Me. Mememe. Thursday, you say? What about Thursday? Thursday is Kindergarten Round Up and my biweekly massage appointment (which is Not Negotiable). Thursday’s shot. Friday’s looking good so far. It’s just FOUR DAYS AWAY.

Oh noes. Oh noes oh noes oh noes. On the plus side, I’ve started Twilight, which seems like a book I can read in front of PBS Kids, so that’ll be fun. Maybe I’ll clean some closets. Or maybe I’ll just watch PBS Kids with my son.

Rainy Monday

It’s cool and gray and drizzly here today, and I can see the grass greening before my very eyes. This is nice, because I spent the last four days feeling very, very ill. Today I feel about 85% well, which is well enough to work. I wrote perhaps 1000 fresh words late last week, but I did work on revisions, smoothing out the current WIP so I can finish the rough draft in the next couple of weeks.

Every writer has a different process, which is one of the reasons why it’s so important for new writers to write alot, daily if they can, so they have a foundation into which to plug classes/books/suggestions/ideas/tip/techniques. Don’t worry about learning a bad habit or “doing it wrong”. The only bad habit you really have to worry about is not writing, letting the kids or the husband or the dog or the mailman or who/whatever keep you from writing. Everything else is correctable.

The exception, of course, is my current bad habit of needing chocolate to write. Very bad. Hard to break.

So, my own style is to write as much as I can. Once I get started, scenes and dialogue start jumping around in my brain. I get that down, in scene form (not chapters). Eventually I will reach a point where the story doesn’t make sense emotionally. Motivations will be off or wrong or just flat out clunky. Then I go back and do scene worksheets and think about motivation. It’s backwards, I know. But I just don’t know this stuff until the characters have been dancing on the page for a while. I do a line edit of what I’ve written, revise, then go again. The rest of the work comes more easily, and revisions get less complicated from that point on.

I do a synopsis and a scene document before I start writing, so it’s not like I’m starting cold. Again, trial and error. These two documents help me remember what I liked about the project in the first place. Believe it or not, I forget that. Once the characters get on the page they start doing their own thing, going off on tangents, or behaving differently than I’d planned. It’s my job as the writer to either say, “yeah, go with that” or “Nope, we’re going back to the original”. Either way is fine. This is another good reason to write a synopsis first, so you’ve got a reference point.

Enough talk about writing. Time to write

More Poetry

Two of my best friends, the kind I’d call forever-friends or soul friends, have loved poetry. One, a high school English teacher and forensics coach, used to write comments in haiku on speech contest judging forms. I wish I were that creative.

This article in the New York Times got me thinking about my grandmother. She grew up in an era when memorizing poetry was part of the curriculum. To this day she and her sister can quote hundreds of poems. Sitting with them is like sitting in the middle of a decades-long literary conversation, filled with inside jokes consisting of snippets of verse. As Jim Holt argues, who needs an iPod when you’ve got Ulysses in your memory?

Words work on us in mysterious ways. Imagine writing with Shakespeare or Tennyson or Anne Sexton or Edwin Arlington Robinson forming the foundation of your work.

My Sick Day

I’m not feeling well today, so I’m taking it easy by doing laundry and baking bread before I go to work. The laundry has to be done. The bread…read on.

The last couple of days I’ve felt like baking bread. Before you get any ideas that I’m some kind of uber-housewife extraordinaire, I’m not. For me, this is a weird urge, the kind that sends people into triathalon training or up Everest. But baking bread is a family tradition. My mother and my aunt both make fabulous bread. They’re also out-of-this-world cooks. My aunt reads cookbooks like I read fiction and my mother…my mother cooks like a jazz artist. One of my earliest childhood memories is of my mother showing me how to drop of loaf of homemade bread into an empty store-bought bread bag, then suck all the air out to keep the homemade bread as fresh as possible. I thought she was so COOL for knowing this. I still think she’s cool.

Today I made bread, using the basic yeasted bread recipe from the Tassajara Bread Book. I bought the bread book and a book of poetry on Monday. Bread, poetry, and music seem to be recurring themes in my life right now; I’m slowly learning to just go with these things, see them as grist for the mill, and absorb whatever energy the universe is sending me.

In that spirit, I made bread. Nothing fancy, just a basic whole wheat. The fruits (or loaves) of my labor:Bread/Book

Time to go to work. Then it will be time to write. The rhythms of life, such as they are.

What You Have To Do…

If you want to be a writer is write. You also have to read.

This isn’t optional.

A close friend told me her daughter wants to be a writer. I asked her who her favorite authors were, and she said, “Oh, she doesn’t read. She doesn’t like reading. It’s boring.”

Hmmmm…I’m certainly from an “older generation” than this teenager, but IMHO, and it’s JMHO, writers have to read. It’s like the James Morrison/Nellie Furtado song, Broken Strings. You can’t play on broken strings if you’re a musician. And if you’re a writer who isn’t reading…you’re playing on broken strings. Reading is where you get ideas, vocabulary, themes, motifs, everything. Sure, you get ideas from real life and music and theater and TV and movies and magazines…but you get your strings from reading.

Happiness is…

Four new books:

Erotic Poems

Love Poems

Intimate Kisses: The Poetry of Sexual Pleasure

Great Love Poems

My husband’s into Quicken. We’ve been using Quicken to track our personal finances for over a decade now. So far in 2009 I’ve spent $200+ on books and $20 on clothes (a scarf). And no, I don’t see anything wrong with that. In fact, it seems just about right to me.