Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Today's Mood: Reflective. Today's Music: Sarah McLachlan. Today's Writing: Perspectives (a new piece-personal essay) Today's Quote:
As we look deeply within, we understand our perfect balance. There is no fear of the cycle of birth, life and death. For when you stand in the present moment, you are timeless. -Rodney Yee

I'm a writer. I'm supposed to have all these words at my disposal. I'm supposed to know how to communicate with finesse, subtlety, elegance. But I don't. I don't know what to say to make loss and hurting go away. I don't know what to say to bring healing, joy, and fullness. Sometimes the most expressive words I can come up with (and meager words they are) are "It sucks." Missing someone sucks. Hurting sucks. The hole torn in the fabric of life really sucks.

Maybe I hang around middle school students too much. Maybe some things just suck.

The visitation for Eric Neitzel is tomorrow. I want to let Shirley know how valuable it was for me to see the relationship between her and Eric. Loving, teasing in a gentle and tolerant way, supportive, nurturing, patient of each other's quirks, each able to laugh at him/herself. But there is a part of me that doesn't want to go. A part of me that doesn't want to SEE the rent in the cloth, the severed ties, the frayed ends of such a wonderful relationship. Because I don't know what to say. Because I'm afraid of seeing the loose ends of my own relationships with those who have died, moved, disappeared with time and busyness. Because in some small way I will have to face my own death, and I don't have the words to express all that.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Know when to walk away

Today's Mood: a fragile sense of calm. Today's Music: Loreena McKennitt--The Visit (just got it for my birthday!) Today's Writing: blog (and looking over what I've got so far in IFFY) Today's Quote:
In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back. -Charlie Brown

How do you know when something isn't working? When something isn't worth pursuing more because it will never be publishable material?

I'm at a bit of a crossroads--in terms of my writing anyway. I spent a good amount of the fall revising Free Lunch. Then I stopped that to work on revising Black Dragon to meet contest requirements. After I sent off that manuscript, I worked on a Mary Monologue for a few weeks. Until my life became a whole lot busier because we started play practice. All of a sudden I was playing costume designer, set painter, and something like mom/director/teacher/big sister to about 30 middle school students. Not a whole lot of time left for writing, so it was mostly poetry and stuff for my writing class. Somewhere in there I spent a week working on a grant, and managed to squeak that in just under the wire. And last night we managed to pull the play off--with scarcely a hitch. The students did a marvelous job remembering lines and we even managed to have everyone dressed fairly appropriately for the late 1800's.

SOoooo, now I'm looking at how I want to spend my writing time in the next few months (or hopefully, until I hear an editor wants me to get Black Dragon ready for publication!). I could go back to Free Lunch, but I wonder if it is worth it. Don't get me wrong, I think it is an okay story--a YA love/growing up story--but I'm not sure if it has enough to distinguish it in an already swollen field. How do you know? My readers liked the plot well enough, although I did/do need to make some revisions. I guess a big part of my... dilemma is that I have IFFY sitting there patiently waiting to get written, and it seems I always need to put it off because I have revisions to do on the other two novels. Now if I was a full time writer.... but realistically, with only an hour a day, I can't be revising and writing a new novel at the same time. It just isn't feasible.

[time lapse of a few hours] Okay, so I've been thinking and decided to use March to pound out a shitty first draft of IFFY. Then I can put it away for some breathing room and finish revising Free Lunch. Hopefully I can finish those revisions and get back to IFFY in June at Glen Lake. I always like to give myself a deadline just to get myself motivated.

Hope your writing is inspired.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Today's Mood: An overlay of determination (to get through this long day) covering a wistful melancholy. Today's Music: Men Without Hats--Pop goes the world. Today's Writing: blog and email. Today's Quote:
"A good story never ends; it lives on in the hearts of those who heard it."
--I'm pretty sure someone, somewhere said this. I just don't remember who or where.
I've been thinking about endings. So many books I've read lately end by wrapping things up--but not so tightly that there is no room for a sequel. Now, I have to admit that I'm not a leave it to the reader type. I want to know how the story ends: did the killer die or not? Did they fall in love or not? Did they ever make it back to earth?.... You get the picture.

But... maybe there is something to be said for leaving some strings left untied. Maybe it is okay for the wrapping to have a few rips and tears where the story could come falling out again. And maybe it is okay to even leave the box open.

I mean, look at real life, I never want the good things to end--completely. I have a terrible time with goodbyes. In fact, if I look back through my life (which is going to be a good 40 years as of this coming Monday!), I can see that I have tried to avoid goodbyes entirely if possible. I've even been know to say see you later to people I've just met, instead of the more likely goodbye. When it isn't possible, I have to write: letters, poems, stories--even novels in some cases!

The better I knew the person, house, pet.... or the longer I was around or in a particular place (college dorms...) the bigger the piece of me that got left behind when we separated and went our own ways. Although I suppose it works the other way as well, and the bigger the piece of that person, experience, or whateve I take with me when I go.

Maybe it is really more like knitting or weaving. The more we are knit together, the harder it is to rip out--and the more likely I am to have totally incorporated part of his/her/its pattern into my own.

Maybe there are no real endings, only new beginnings.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Limited Perspective

Today's Mood: Contemplative. Today's Music: The Muse -Black Holes and Revelations. Today's Writing: a poem about perspective. Today's Quote:
There can never be too many stories. -Gail Carson Levine in Writing Magic.

Conference week is almost over. I think I am the only one in the building this morning. I was definitely the only one in the parking lot anyway. What a week! Snow, snow, snow. But oh so lovely! I've been shoveling every day, and it is so beautiful--quiet, white, full of mystery and otherworldliness.

I've also been spending a lot of time painting sets for the upcoming school play. It is a bit ironic because I had just started working on another graphic illustration for Black Dragon and was having a bitch of a time getting the perspective right. So then my co-director asked if I'd help on the sets. And what's the big problem? Perspective. My husband finally suggested that I order a few books (yes, HE suggested it! I must have seemed in a bad way because our house is overflowing with my books!) on drawing and perspective. They haven't come yet, but I've been pushing forward anyway with a book called Mastering Perspective for Beginners (from the library--what great places libraries are!).

It is exciting and eye-opening to me to learn all this stuff. Not that I'd take drawing or painting over writing, but it has changed the way I look at things. Yesterday (driving home very slowly in all this snow) I was musing on my life. I know, I think too much. But this was good--or at least, not bad. I was thinking about how, given my viewpoint, things like politics and the economy and the war in Iraq can seem so... overwhelming, huge, scary, horrible.... But if one were to change the viewpoint and stretch the vanishing lines (parallel lines that intersect at some point--sometimes outside the picture) to infinite, then the whole picture changes. My life, the majority of the picture according to my viewpoint, becomes nothing but a dab of paint in the whole of an incredible masterpiece. Only someone with a viewpoint of eternity could see what part it plays in the whole.

Okay, so I don't know if any of that made any sense, but maybe, just maybe it changed my perspective just a little. I'm crazy busy with this play and new writing class I'm co-teaching, but sometimes it's good to be stretched. (hurts a little though--although, come to think of it, that might be all the shoveling!)

Looking forward to Khardomah and a few large chunks of writing time!