Monday, July 27, 2009

About Me(always in process).

It's about time that I spend time on this(Thanks to Tess who asked).

I am working really hard on a young adult novel. It has everything it needs to make it work and now I just have to clean it up. Which sounds easier to me than all the creating stuff I have been doing for the last two years. But I don't know. I can feel that things are right as I wind it up. That is not to say that it is great, it's just to say that it's what is supposed to be and now I just have to find that rightness in the beginning.

I have two other novels that have begun to grow in Scrivener(you got to love Scrivener). These are coming to me very differently than the first. In bits of scenes, much more like reading a book than writing it. They feel as if they are being revealed by my subconscious in tiny little snatches. I'm not sure if that can carry itself the whole way through(My current novel has been draft after draft so I have always known what happens next. Now that the subtext is there, the book is way more interesting to me. But these new books seem to be complicated by subtext before they even start. Is that faith in the process? Is that a brain that has been through ten thousand hours of this stuff? Am I delusional?). Does anyone out there know about writing that way?

One of the new novels seems like Middle Grade. The other a dystopian, futuristic, post apocalyptic story. At least as far as I can tell.

I have a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota. Where I learned how to write well(technically speaking). I had a teaching assistantship there and through trial by fire I learned to teach(teaching is like writing and I am still learning forever and ever). I also had an infant son during that time(who is now at sleepover camp, so big!). I'm surprised that I survived.

I am still for all practical purposes a stay at home mom. Although this provides me plenty of opportunity and flexibility to write, it also adds insult to the injury of writing. Not just because the stay at home mom thing is all-consuming and there's always something more to do, just like writing. Nor because neither earn me any money, or make me feel productive in any kind of way(can you say Sisyphus). It's because both those things require the push and pull of discipline and fun in order to make them/me work properly. And as this blog will tell you, if you look even a tiny bit into it, I am always trying to figure out that delicate push and pull. Makes me think of A River Runs Through It and fly fishing. Can you picture the line dancing out over the water trying to tease trout/whatever out of there? That's my life in a nutshell. Pretty, totally beautiful really, but always at attention, teasing and working whatever little bit I can pull from it.

As Always(feedback welcome),
Tina

Thursday, July 23, 2009

This has no shape. Not that I can see anyway.

I know I have written about this before but it really made an impression on me. In an interview, Junot Diaz once described the way he could see sections of his work as shapes. As a result, he could visually see how two parts would fit together. A geometric approach to structuring his novel. It sounds so orderly. He spent some time saying how weird it was blah, blah, blah. I totally want his brain.

My work comes out with all the paragraphs all over the place, some stuff here, other stuff there, and for the life of me I cannot see how it fits together. It like this, like each my novel is made up of threads, there is the Officer Jeremy thread which gets intertwined with the Sandy thread which gets wound up with Duane and his freak out. Okay, my novel is the back of a head of long hair and I am french braiding it. I grab a little of Sister Ashley there, grab Irene and Mother here and there's a frog and there's a storm. Oh my, I have never been very good as french braiding, messy and uneven and I leave out whole chunks and other pieces get tied in knots and after I put in the binder whole pieces unravel.

Can I use the word ravel? Because that is what I feel as if I am doing now. I am raveling the end together, the big fat braid, trying to bundle it all up into that neat rubber band. It must be a word, the spell check has not indicated it's not. Perfect.

Littlest sis Rachel signed on as follower number 7. Thank you for reading. I can't wait until you come back home and advise me on my color selection as I macrame my novel together.

As always(Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here plays over and over in my mind--how appropriate),

(listen, so you can have it in your head too)
Tina

Monday, July 20, 2009

Too Much Structure Gets Me Down

I mentioned that I went to the Cemetery the other day. A nice summer evening. Thursday June 25th to be exact. It was a little unsatisfying to be sure. What do you expect from a cemetery tour? Darkness and access to mouldy old crypts? Well it was more of the who's who of the old and moneyed Minneapolis. Thanks to them we have this very thoughtfully laid out and preserved park space with giant monoliths honoring names such as Lowery and Pillsbury and Guthrie, you know the ones. We stood about under various of these a craned our necks to see the tops, they had(and probably still have) a lot of money and their family plot is nothing to be ashamed of.

Natalie (usually a food eating friend, but this time we walked over the decomposing bodies of dead folk), who knows quite a bit about the landscape planning business besides just being terribly interesting, speculated about the infrastructure required to deal with the run off resulting from decay. Now that was the kind of tour I wanted.

I wanted to see secret spots. We WERE shown a cluster of graves marked by headstones that looked like tree stumps and piles of chopped wood. Apparently there was some kind of ode-to-logging movement in grave marking, I'd like to know a little more about that--that is the kind of information that would be on my tour. Have there been other grave marking movements.

Natalie and I devised a future dinner club plan: first tour the cemetery(we can get there by way of Lake Harriet's historic trolley, just a few blocks from our house and a short old fashioned ride over to Lakewood) and then a different hors d'oeuvre designed by each guest and inspired by inhabitants(is that what we call it, perhaps resident is more apt, there must be a right word) of the cemetery.

The gesture drawing approach to a dinner club tour: A quick jog through the whole place, done fast but with intense attention to get a feel for it. We would run through in the basic order of development over the years. How about oldest to newest? And then go back to the most interesting parts. Following our nose to wherever it leads us.

As Always(making plans),
Tina

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Parasitic Monsters

I'm terribly sorry for my negligence. It is summer and there are living things everywhere. Blond skinny ones running through my house, pounding up and down the stairs, removing things from closets and leaving them on the floor. Green thirsty ones surrounding me on all sides, wilting or producing fruit by turns. Even the black and white and furry one trips me in his fear (wind makes him crazy). And my novel lives, breathes and demands attention. Unlike those other ones, it has no color. Clear for the most part, except for all the themes and characters that are trapped within it, obscuring a view to the other side. It just sort of floats in front me making everything sort of difficult to accomplish.

As Always (hoping you understand),
Tina