Friday, May 30, 2008


Writing Exercise:
1.Your character walks into a room full of people. See it as if watching through a camera lens.
2.Your character notices a person that she doesn't want to talk to. Notice that person and have a memory about that person.
3.The character thoughts returns to the room, focuses on some detail of it, and takes an action.

My character goes outside instead of coming in. She notices the people around her and notices the heat. And she sees her mom's sad face through a bus window and turns away from it. But she decides to take action. Which is introducing the end--things can look up from this. I breath a sigh of relief.

Where does Jane Austen come in.

I just started reading Falling Boy by Alison McGhee. So far I like a lot.

As always,

Thursday, May 29, 2008

to move freely

I have been setting my yoga intentions on Freedom of late. What do I mean by that? Well, an ease with which I tackle all the things that need doing. The doing is mindful not avoident. Letting go of the struggle. When I had started this blog I had achieved some sort of freedom in my thinking. That is when the lord of the book appeared and TG and I wrote a short story out of the blue. The writing was real easy for a while and then something happened to tie me back up again. The end of the school year perhaps. The onset of spring and the outside work--the gardening and the motley creative projects that we have piling up feel like a burden instead of a pleasure. It can be a little shift and all of a sudden my perspective is off and I have to keep reminding myself to get on track. I think I wrote about this before in taking pleasure. If I were a better blogger I would put a link here back to it. I have to face that I do not want to waste the time to learn. Heather waits at the other end of this blog.

At least the writing does not yet feel like a burden. But I need to begin paying attention. Okay, that's enough.

As always,

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Where we are at.

Got back on Monday from Rachel's cabin. Have been feeling a little insistent on working so it has been harder to take the time to blog. There is a part of me that knows this is not right thinking. That I am putting false deadlines on myself and I am not sure the intensity is helpful where process is concerned. But even though I recognize that, I keep doing it anyway. I can't seem to stop. Don't struggle, just notice.

Here's what I need to do: Put my self in Heather's shoes.

Your secret is out. And it may be the cincher that splits up your family. It is hard not to hate yourself when you are the reason for everyone's pain. And once you get the feeling that you are the one to blame, how can you not start gliding through all the memories of the day, all the things you said and did, and not find more things to hate about yourself. This is the low point. This is the very worse it can get and the only way you have known how to stop these thoughts has been taken away from you. Not that it was so healthy to begin with, but now what do you do?

And that is exactly where she is at.

And that is where I need to be to.

As always,

Friday, May 23, 2008


Shannon Hale is a writer after my own heart. Not only does she have a Jane Austen novel (The heroine is looking for a Colin-Firth as Darcy type guy--chic lit for sure), but she also uses fairy tales as her jumping off point. I love that stuff. But then she always has the girls doing real work (in the one I started last night the girl is drying goat dung to use as fuel for a fire). I always cite as one of my most influential books as Margret Atwood's Alias Grace and it's because of the way she has to do real work in the book, the detail in which she goes to described. I love it. It's also kind of Little House on the Prairie stuff--I am a sucker for it. In any case I have been thrilled by my discovery of Shannon Hale.

Writing assignment: Read a bunch of beginnings to books and pay attention to how things are revealed. What you know don't know and suspect from the beginning of a few books. What is the conflict? What do you care about? Who do you like and why? Is their anyone you don't like? How much are you willing to wade through to get to the end? Take notes to have a record of your impressions before reading to the end. Go back afterwards and see how much you knew--how much you didn't know, how much you wanted to know.

Let's leave it at that.
As always,

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Plan: be flexible

Morning. Again with the time. The ends of my weeks are more full of writing time than the beginnings. Let's not waste it.

In this third draft I am writing, I'm nearing the place in Heather's story where I had stopped in the process of doing a second draft. At that point I decided to change point of view and went back to the beginnig and began again. So, yesterday, I pulled out the rough first draft and I shall have to find some time to reacquaint myself with it. It's interesting that something that came directly from my head through my fingertips can feel so foreign to me. (Muse am I giving you enough credit? Where do the words really come from?) Interestingly enough, I know my characters so much better now that I return to the material, but there are a lot of new characters and even a new plot line introduced in this second half. How will that effect the writing of this draft? I'm curious. Plan of attack? First read it through. (with the same eyes with that I use when writing it) Then be flexible.

Writing exercise: A carrier pigeon comes to you with a message? Who is it from and what does it say? Write fast and furious, at least 10 minutes.

As Always,

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Another Book

good morning. i'm writing early. i have lots of time (no guarantees mind you) and it's always attractive to put off the transition into the other world of the novel. but I think i made it to the other side of a very tough section yesterday. probably the toughest in the novel. nice to be on the other side.

I just finished The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex. I really liked it, although it is not my standard type. A futuristic, alien-visits-the-earth novel. There were some eerie similarities to my novel. It has a similar organizational device. Starting with a letter/assignment. Adam Rex does all the illustrations as well--I think his carer for the most part has been as illustrator and Gratuity Tucci does her hair in the same way as Heather. He doesn't write about it but I saw it in the pictures. Also the character is eleven when the action takes place, but she actually writes the story at thirteen. (I have been struggling with age so this provides ideas for solutions.) Setting it in the future after an alien invasion really allows you to take a lot of liberties with age. For example, she is an eleven year old that drives. What a fantasy too, driving. Nice. Driving a car that floats, even better. Anyway, a lot of the themes of the book were really interesting. Race and exploitation and intricacies of power and dominance etcetera. It has blatant parallels to Native American treatment by European settlers and then some. All that and fun to read.

I guess that is it for today.
As always,

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

End of the school year

Just returned from the 3rd grade music performance. Imagine by John Lennon as sung by third grade boys is a tear jerker. They did an excellent job. But they ate into my writing time, so the blog is going to pay.

Writing Exercise:
Imagine there's no countries, Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too

Now Write about a nine year old boy.

As always,

Monday, May 19, 2008


I have been worrying that as I wade in to the book it gets darker and darker. I do think that on the other side the world Heather lives in becomes lighter. There is less shame and it sort of evens out. The hopeful stuff starts to happen. I'm worried that I should give a disclaimer to everyone. That I should put people off reading it, because of this darkness at its core. Is this what the story has to be? Am I being true to Heather? Is this what needs to be told? Perhaps I should just ask her.

Heather, the story is in first person, you are telling it, you don't want to tell this part, so, does the current section have to be in the book?

Why aren't you saying it? You feel like I do about it, don't you? Ashamed and it should not be admitted. That's how I feel. That's how I lived for a year. Cutting and keeping it secret. Wearing long sleeves and never looking at my arms. Doing it and promising I would never do it again. Each time I would promise and then the next time when the urge would come, I'd feel it and do it and along with the general shame and embarrassment I feel about these marks up my arm I would also feel ashamed and embarrassed about my weak will. So it is time to own up. Practice some acceptance and commit myself to the harder work of feeling the shame and accepting it and moving on. In the long run it will be good for me. For now it's hard and giving me an out does no good. I may just give up and decide to take that part out and then the story will have no balance. The center has to be heavy to keep the rest of the book from flying away.

Oh, really? How come I suspect that that is all just a load of crap?

Maybe because you typed both the questions and the answers.

Dear muse, where are you?

As always,

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Notes from a run. A run/walk or a walk/run, I don't know which. My shoes are wearing out and I have a pain in my ankle.

TG the usual bear. Longs for a place to belong. Misses the landscape of the ice fields. Has a voice like the Buddha. Does he talk or is it in third person? Scene in Clancy's. Whales. The neighborhood festival? He arrived when the crab apples were in bloom. There was more--I can't remember.

Heather: "This is what I learned from Jane Austen novels...." This probably relates to the ad. Trapped and home, getting what you need and the ways of society. Something. (What can be learned from Jane Austen novels?)

Cryptic, I know. Must go volunteer at the festival.

As always,

Friday, May 16, 2008

Alternate Subject

I composed my blog yesterday while I went for a walk. But today I cannot remember what it was about. I was sure it was very clever while I did it.

I'll give you this instead.

I watched Nathalie and her friend fight yesterday. They are beautiful girls. Nat is fair, and her friend dark and they both glow. They are loud together and fast. Well matched. Fighting, they get into teach other's face. Nathalie stands up close and says, "You can be whatever you want. I changed my mind." Mimi pushes a little closer, shaking her head and jutting out her chin, "I'm leaving." Nathalie wants her to stay. She pleads, her hands held out, open and empty, "Will you stay?" Mimi is firm in her indignation, she straps on her bike helmet and throws her leg over her two-wheeler. And rides off into the sunset. They have a volatile friendship. Hugging each other when they greet and flying off in a huff when not getting their way. That is how it went yesterday afternoon.

It wasn't what I wanted to write about.

As always,

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Talkative girl

On going assignment: pick one thing from the day and write about it. With as much detail as you can. Warm up:

I met this little girl yesterday at my son's soccer game. She was a younger sister hanging at the sideline just like my daughter was. Same age and all that, but unlike my daughter she talks. Well, my daughter can talk too but she is generally pretty selective about what she says and who she talks too.

Upon introduction I was told: "My dad can't come on Wednesdays and when he comes it is fun because we play soccer and he is the best soccer player in the world. But the games are so boring and I can't go over there because there may be bad people on the playground but it is so boring and I can't wait until Christmastime because I will go to my grandma's and my Aunt Smithy is the funniest but Aunt Sue is hysterical and this next Christmastime will be so fun." She pointed to a spider on the leg of my pants, when told that I didn't mind them much outside she said: "one time I saw an ant I did this." She leans down and screams and then repeats it again. When asked if she was afraid of ants she replied. "I am sort of afraid because I know they can be dangerous and some bite but that is why I am cautious of Bumble Bees because they sting. When I see a bumblebee I run away fast. I was stung on the finger," holding it out for me to see, "once. Scary. This is a soccer move." She bends her knees and leans forward resting both her hands on her knees. She looks as if she should be waiting at a goal. "My dad showed me. like this." She gets into position again.

And this is only the half of it. Of course the whole time she was talking my daughter was on my lap silently playing with her fingernails or something. My daughter did have permission to go on her own to the playground. But seeing as she was extremely unlikely to say anything to strangers she is probably safer over there by herself than this new little girl we met.

I thought this little girl was fabulous. But most likely exhausting for her parents.

As Always,

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ho Hum

I wrote a post yesterday and never got it out. I didn't write for the 3 days prior to that. On Monday I just plain forgot and before that I took the weekend off. I have been very involved in the novel and it makes it hard to think about anything else. And as far as priorities go i guess the kids beat the blog.

Every spring there are these tiny worms that attack my mugo pine. They hang out in little clans at the tips of the needles. They line up their bodies up and down the shaft, cramming themselves altogether. They are army green with black stripes and black little eyes and heads. My neighbor sprays them with poison, which seems reasonable, but I have gotten into the habit of pulling them off and squishing them in my fingers. They are sticky and pine scented. The bush is growing nicely.

What else is new? I am back to dull brained. My creative cycle seems to be incredibly fast and furious, running its course through the euphoric stage, and leaving me at dull more often than necessary.

I'm not sure what, if anything, makes this blog interesting. But that was a nice warm up for me. Off to write.

As always,

Friday, May 9, 2008

Writing Exercise Results

Let's see. That writing exercise I made up yesterday didn't really get me anywhere unexpected. I tried it on Heather's mom and all the stuff that she said was the same old, same old. I guess that is just as well. She is consistent. I guess towards the end she said, "Heather was my brilliant child. A rising star that I was raising. Everything that I had done right. Now look. I am confused. What does this mean? There must be implications. I have no one to ask, except Jude. I know no one else. To bring it up to my mother or to Doug, their stepfather, would be opening us all up to their disdain. They would be shocked of course, because they never saw it coming with Heather either. But then they'd nod their head knowingly. And judge us all." I guess I can feel that. She is alone and unsure and now needs advice about her daughter. So I take it back. The interview did provide some insight into Heather's mom. Later I will do the second half of the exercise. Interestingly enough Sean had already to the second half on his own. Good for him.

For now I must run and see my son in his class skit.

As Always,

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I'm in limbo.

I left my characters in a department store yesterday. Not because I wanted to, mostly because I ran out of time. I had some insights while I was writing yesterday. Perhaps I should say my character had them. Which is good. She tends to get stuck in the details that represent her emotions more than she tries to articulate the emotions themselves. Which usually makes for good story telling, but I have been a bit stumped this chapter as what she is thinking, although what she feels seems clear enough. The insights perhaps shed some light on it all and explain that Heather was perhaps muddy headed herself the past few days.

There must be a movie about writers leaving their characters in limbo. I feel like I have seen it. My characters were on their way somewhere else and meant to walk through and exit to the parking lot but I quit before they got there and it is hard to imagine them frozen in time. Because the way they are in my head they kind of have to be always doing something. Nothing happens or doesn't happen without someone acting on it.

Writing Exercise:
Take a lesser character. Someone who's in the story but doesn't get as much action as your main character. Someone who may have something that your character wants. You are the therapist. Now interview this character. Do what you can to get this person to talk. 10 minutes.

Look back at all of this. What is there, in what this person says, that points to conflict. Something your main character might not know, will not like, cannpot understand, whatever. Now make them talk about it. How would they do it? What would they say? What are they not saying.? Without narration, how do you show what they are not saying ?--do it with gestures, etc. 10 more minutes.

I'm going to do this later.

As always,

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

ruminating anyway

I feel the blues a-lifting. I don't know why or how and normally my instinct would be to try to figure it out. As my husband would say I have a tendency to ruminate. Flattering. I like cows anyway when they lead healthy lives on a pasture. The kind that live in too close of quarters, make me feel guilty and like I should be doing more to liberate them. But that is off the subject. What is the subject?

In any case, I am writing now and it is time to warm up for the day. I know how to get my head into the groove of the day. No, I don't know that. What I know is how to get my head into the work, and what it feels like when my head is there. To know what happens next I have to adjust my mind to my characters' perspective. I have learned so much about this thin slice of space and time that is my novel. That doesn't really exist anywhere but there is absolutely only one truth of it. Only one way to go. I have a choice in telling it. But once I choose that there really is only one way to go. I must stick to the truth of the story. Does that makes any sense? That there is an integrity to the telling and I know what it feels like. So now that I know that I know, perhaps it won't be so scary to just go there. (perhaps that what this is is flow)

As always (in a hurry to get to the next thing),

Monday, May 5, 2008


I took the weekend off and now I am retuning. The kids are home today and I am giving myself 15 minutes to do this and then get to the other writer's work. I feel like there is a lot hanging out there-- things I still have to do in around the house--like fold laundry and wash the next batch. Recycling needs to get out today. My writing life always starts with a laundry list.

How about a writing exercise instead?

I just finished Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale: It's a young adult novel. A good one. Based on a fairy tale where a princess gets shut up in a tower for seven years. Told by her maid. Great character. Nearest book is not actually that, I will pick up the one Henry is reading, and look at page 124 and write down a passage starting with the 5th sentance. That is unless it doesnt go to 124 and I will half it and go to 62.
From Ivy and Bean

"I like th screen," said Bean, "but a kitchen is a little bit boring. Maybe you could turn it into a science lab for making potions. The screen could protect secrets."

Write for the time left (5 minutes):

I wrote some very boring and stilted stuff here about what kind of characters these probably were and I tried to guess the end of the book.

Let us see if something I read is more fruitful then something I haven't read.
(I'm taking more than 15 minutes) From Book of a Thousand Days:
Stars light my page. We'll be starting my journey in earnest come dawn and I suppose I won't have time to write again for some time. Song for Evela is west of Titor's Garden, so we'll follow the road that stretches for the setting sun.

Hale did such and excellent job with this syntax of this girl. She's a maid and supposedly simple, but was taught to write to be princess' maid. But she knows how to sing the healing songs (interestingly there are healing songs in Katherine Duey's Skinhunger, the last YA book that I liked so much before this one. I got involved with those characters equally and was driven to read by each, equally but Hale's was very lyrical I think.) Her sayings, the way this girl called things, seemed exotic, old fashioned. Appropriate to the character. Was it just this girl that kept me reading? She was compelling. And the story was a little outrageous. Locked up in a tower and all. And there was a lot that you didn't know. I suppose all those things kept me reading.

This was hard stilted work.

My head is muddy today--slow as sludge. Thick and dark. Can't see through it. My eyes are having trouble. And I would be doing myself a favor to just accept this and keep going. Do what I got to do.

As always (slurring my words on paper),

Friday, May 2, 2008

Varied Things on My Mind

I need a fresh approach to my day. I don't know what it could be. Perhaps it could be a purchase from the thrift store. I have a thing for bags. I bought a lovely weaved one. Made in France, it says. And this large duffel-like bag. A size that we don't have enough of. And this funky little antique one that was only two dollars. How could I pass it up? It will be a-good-for-the-kiddo bag. Although it just occurred for me that he doesn't have a good bag for camp. Does that mean I will have to go back and look around for more? And it occurred to me, after I left the thrift store, that I forgot to look at duvets. The one I have from when I got married 10 years ago is in a shambles and it is time to get/make a new one. It's raining today and I wonder if instead of going for a walk when I'm done with this writing business, I should stir up the dirt. Like a big cauldron of magic. It might be fun to get muddy. That is if I have remembered yet how to have fun.

Tonight we make smoked salmon in the rain. Can it be done? I cannot forget to brine it.

As always (much love),

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Keep writing

Out of sorts since Tuesday. The writing has been fine--everything else, not so fine. I'm going to copy a meme that I have seen in other people's blogs and use it as a writing prompt--Here goes.

Writing Exercise:
Page 124 of the nearest book and 3 sentences starting with the fifth full sentence on the page.

Joyce Carol Oates After the Wreck, I Picked Myself up, Spread My Wings and Flew Away

First interesting tidbit--the first sentence is amazingly long.

And I thought, Wait! Your helmet! You almost killed yourself once.

Small, perhaps disappointing, sentences after that first one. But you get what you get etc.

Heather responds almost instantly:
I never have. Almost killed myself that is. But probably that's what mother thought I had done when she looked at my wrists. I don't blame her, really, they are darn ugly. That is why I wear the long sleeves all the time. That, and because I am embarrassed. I don't want people to know that is how I cope. It doesn't seem so healthy to me, or seem to be that sustainable really. But I always feel that I have no self-control. The urges. Oh, when I start thinking about it I can't stop. And then the shame starts soon after and it leads right back to itself. I am on a merry-go-round that spins. I climb on to the back of that horse and I always know exactly where I am going and effectively it's nowhere, fast. I guess I have nothing more to say about it. I guess just I wish my mother still didn't know. It only makes me feel worse and she's bound to think it is more serious than it is. All I want is relief and here I am back on that same pony, riding up and down around in my circle.

Passage exercises always seem to work.

As Always,