Sunday, August 29, 2010

Posting the Practice room Schedule

First week of school for us and who knows where this schedule will lead. I am back to the early mornings, but afternoons are yet to be determined. After I see how this week goes we will know more. In the meantime, check back. This schedule was made without Marisa's input so there may be more coming. And for her, it is the second week of school! Any changes will be in red:

Monday August 30th
7:30 am EST
11 am EST

Tuesday August 31st
7:30 am EST
11 am EST

Wednesday September 1st
7:30 am EST
11 am EST

Thursday September 2nd
7:30 am EST
11 am EST
4 pm EST
8 pm EST Dianne's leading her first TPR! Thank you!

Friday September 3rd
7:30 am EST

Saturday September 4th
?
Sunday September 5th
?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How I Write: Reading as a Writer



This is the last weekly installment in the lovely Ansha’s  How I Write series. Find the full list of contributors and their posts here. Last Wednesday the series folk posted on writing resources, this week is an open week! I decided to write about reading. I am a writer mainly because of the way I read with abandon as a child. It made me want to . I loved the things that words could do to people, and I wanted to make that happen with my own words. But somewhere along the line, I stopped reading the way I did as a child. Because losing yourself in the words is not conducive to learning how to use them to your advantage. Reading as a writer requires a slowness and a certain amount of critical observation. But I have found a phenomena in my reading life that reminds me of that childhood reader. Once in awhile something just turns on in my head and I cannot get enough reading. I keep trying to articulate this. Here is how I described it in a post from last December (and don't let my 2nd person address fool you, it really happens to ME): You pick up a book to read and you are driven all the way to the end(or sometimes you only want to read beginnings but you read the beginning of all 20 books you have home from the library). Your eyes eat up the words and it is almost as if you are searching, searching, searching. It's thrilling. And then one day the engine dies, I mean, it is just completely gone but the only reason you know is because you picked up a book. You held it there in front of your face and you realize you are totally stalled. The words are bumpy. They are in the way instead of pulling you forward. It seems so cruel to find out like this. You were excited to pick up the book. The writing had gotten hard and reading would be such a panacea. But both the reading and writing engines out of gas at the same time. Like a breech in contract.  And you have to realize once again how integral the reading is to the writing and vice-versa. And that there is no way over under or around this mood, you must go through it. 
That description captures it as well as anything. And still doesn't capture it at all. Why don't I have more control over this? Why then are there only these rare moments when reading becomes everything and instinctual, as if some animal brain (not unlike my child brain) is trying to find something and whatever that thing is connects directly to my writing?

For right now I have to be satisfied that that is just it, it is instinctual and I cannot articulate that searching part of my process. Some part of me knows what it is looking for, but the conscious part of me is left out of the communication loop. Afterward, after I have soaked in all the words, the process goes underground. Or at least that is my guess! BUT WHO KNOWS, REALLY?

So, go check out what the rest of the folks have to say! 



Sunday, August 22, 2010

Posting The Practice Room Schedule

I am back from two cabin-y weeks in northern Minnesota (and feeling very out of it!). So glad that blog buddies Marisa and Heather could hold down the fort while I was gone. They are fabulous!

Somehow in the process of relaxing I may have lost my grip on TPR and writing. Something about those chats and daily check-ins make me feel like I have the finger on the pulse of everybody's process. But everybody continued to write and chat even as I applied sunscreen and floated down a river. We'll see if it is like riding a bike this week. Maybe I can get back up and running no problem or maybe I have lost my balance (or is it gaining balance when you spend time away from the internet?). Time will tell. I have lots of daydreaming under my belt. But I am hopping right back into my revision with comments in hand--and I feel good about it.

Here is the week as I have tried to anticipate it. This is our last week of summer and there is shopping and teacher meeting and whatnot to be done.

Any changes will be in red:

Monday August 23rd
9 am EST
5 pm EST

Tuesday August 24th
9 am EST

Wednesday August 25th
9 am EST
3 pm EST

Thursday August 26th
9 am EST
3 pm EST

Friday August 27th
9 am EST

Saturday August 28th
9 pm EST Marisa!

Sunday August 29th
9pm EST Marisa!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How I Write: how-to books and classes



I'm on vacation! But Blogger is helping me out, letting me me continue to participate in the lovely Ansha’s  How I Write series. Find the full list of contributors and their posts here. Last Wednesday the series covered finishing up a novel, this week find posts on resources: books and classes.


Books and Classes! They are all relevant to process as long as you and it are in the right place at the right time. I'm a firm believer that a writer is only ready to learn what a writer is ready to learn and whatever that is has to be perfect. And for sure there will be a book or class to match. I usually turn to books and classes when whatever I have been doing has stopped working and I now need to trick myself into doing something new and different.

I love books about writing, and I often have difficulties, so I have revolved through many many many of them. Here is just a sampler:


I have this on hold at the library:













On my coffee table is this:














This is a beautiful book for inspiration:














Try me next week and see if I have moved on.



In my fantasy class we would all write together and share whatever blatherings that came out. We'd write to prompts and write fast and time it and then ask each other all about it when we were done. We'd be amazed that we all were sitting in the same room and yet our imaginations went everywhere and afterward we would talk craft. Things like weak characters and what to cover in your beginning and how to find a good critiquer. And we'd figure out ways in which to trick each other into writing more and we would remind each other that sometimes it gets hard and that usually means is that there is an easier time after.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How I Write: knowing when I'm done???



I'm on vacation! Somewhere in northern Minnesota far far away from Internet access. The Practice Room is being governed the beneficent and elegant Marisa. And the Magic of Blogger is taking care of me here at Watch Me Practice so I am still contributing to the wonderful Ansha’s  How I Write series. Find the full list of contributors and their posts here. Last Wednesday the series was about revision, this week it is about finishing said revision.

I guess I would be better suited to answer this question if I had any idea how being done felt. But knowing how I feel about what I have, I can tell you that I’m close. I’ve read plenty of other people's books that were not done yet. Published or otherwise. And I’ve known that they haven't been done. So as far as my own goes, how will I know? I'm looking for the familiar signposts of doneness. You know, word counts, a beginning middle and end, tied up plot lines, some critter to tell me I'm ready, yadda yadda yadda. I have thought I was done in the past, or near done, as I do now, but this time is different--I swear.

To quote my husband’s Uncle Mort: if you think you are lost, probably you have just not gone far enough. We have found it to be almost always true. If we go just a bit farther down the road we find the right turn off. This little bit of wisdom can apply to just about everything. A writer has got to trust she will see the right turn off. The book still needs a lot of polishing and some content tweaking. And I’m sure it would be best, smoother, more solid if I started it over from scratch and wrote it again knowing everything I know now. But after writing it all over again, I would for sure learn something new and then there would be something else to change. So why not just take this new expertise to a fresh idea?


That is just what I am doing: Call myself done for now and move on to the next idea. On vacation I am day dreaming and brainstorming and collecting ideas toward WIP2 and WIP3. And taking a break from # 1, after all these years. 

FINALLY: Have you been going to WriteOnCon (you have to go and tell me how it is!)? There is most likely opportunity there to see and hear how others do it. Free classes and advice - what could be better than that? Then go and write with Marisa at TPR because she is holding down the fort for me while I am gone. Yay! 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Practice Room while I am on vacation

So I am going to Family Camp next week and will not be here to lead TPR sessions. Also there is WriteOnCon.  So here is the plan:


MARISA TO THE RESCUE!
She will lead sessions on Monday:
11am EST
4pm EST

And the rest of the week is to be decided (no early mornings though so don't even try). So go place your vote here for when you want to TPR during WriteOnCon.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How I Write: Revision Narrative


I’m contributing to Ansha’s  How I Write series. Find the full list of contributors and their posts here.

Last Wednesday the series was about revision, this week again about revision. Why? Because revision goes on forever. Don’t be surprised if next week is about revision as well (it’s not actually) because that is the way revision rolls, all over you!

So I promised a revision narrative for the book that as of yet has to be named: for more about revision narrative go here.

My book saw its first spark of life at the end of my MFA career at the same time that my second baby was born. Unlucky for it. I was totally burned out and pledged to take a three year break from writing. When I returned from that prescribed and methodical break I pushed through a -2 draft (I like the term zero-draft because of what it implies, but this draft was so much less than zero). I came out with the basic frame for the story and I learned that writing is not like riding your bike. Assuming that riding your bike is more of a feel, like getting a feel for balance, that you never lose however long you go without. Writing is definitely a muscle. And my writing muscles were atrophied. I was disheartened. When my daughter was in kindergarten I wrote -1 draft. -1 might be a generous label. This draft took me about 6 months and then I took it to the Big Sur Writers Conference(hugely generous gift from my mom), a fantastic place to make connections to other writers, learn a ton about both the industry and craft in a very beautiful location--I understate--it is sublime. But I don’t suggest you go with a -1 draft.

There was a lot of residue from my MFA experience in that -1 draft. I had thrown everything in and the bathwater too--including mixed metaphors, which I kinda love (they don’t actually encourage you to use mixed metaphors in grad school). While I was at Big Sur, with feedback in hand I took the scalpel to my first chapter and whittled it down and received glowing second reports. What I learned is that I could revise, and serious revision pays off(as does feedback). But the other comment I received was: the book needed to be in first person. I had this whole 50 thousand words in third. A ridiculously poorly written piece of junk that had this sort of experimental meta narrator I was into because she was quirky and self concerned and a little omnipotent. I knew I had to get rid of her, but to totally rewrite the thing from another perspective???

I went home and rewrote the first chapter in first and third person. And liked them both. They were two completely different books. I threw out -1 draft and started writing 0 in first person for no better reason than somebody had told me to, because I honestly couldn’t tell what was better. It took me a year to write. I practiced putting one word after the other without much confidence. It wasn’t until Andy, my writing partner, came along, at the end of that seriously long period of time that I started to get ongoing feedback and really learn what and how my prose affected people. He read everyone of those seriously bad words and told me what he thought. I started to see how words and lines and phrases worked on people and how a reader’s imagination filled in the blanks. I also developed the story and its intricate tapestry of theme--this is an odd little book with an even odder tapestry. Finally after a year of that, I got some online help and that is where revision came into own. I had been relying rather heavily on a ruse in order to hold my readers interest. I had learned in grad school that I wrote beautiful prose but there was no tension to sustain a reader through its winding path. So trickery was my response. My newest critiquers have confirmed what I learned in grad school. I finally had deconstruct the sham structure and face some of my characters more serious hardships, which led me to this current draft. Which finally has a MC that is likable and flawed. And maybe even some interest. Maybe this is draft 1.

And just to refer back to that bicycle thing; now that I got my writing muscle back. I find there is a little balance that goes on too. It has taken me this long to start to get the feel of this thing, maybe it’s being able to balance craft and flow.

A note on my narrative: I left out a lot and it's way too long! I would grade waaaay down for this verbosity. And in the end this covers how I approached revision. I think it would be even more interesting to look at my specific book and take the pieces apart. But for now--enough is enough.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Posting The Practice Room Schedule

This week has me very busy in the afternoons, so the only practice room sessions are in the mornings for those of you west coasters that try to come (I made them as late as I could guarantee). Sorry that I can't pull any later ones off. I have kids to pick up at different times. A block party to be present for and various writing groups this week. Ta da here it is. But please come here or to The Practice Room itself to look for additions, because anything is possible...  And as always schedules are subject to change! Update: Sunday at 10:16 pm: Marisa to the rescue!!!

Any changes will be in red:

Monday, August 2nd:
7:30am - 8:30 am EST
11 am - 12 pm EST
4pm Marisa!

Tuesday, August 3rd:
7:30 am - 8:30 am EST
11 am - 12 pm EST
4pm Marisa! 

Wednesday, August 4th:
7:30am - 8:30 am EST
1 pm - 2 pm EST
4pm Marisa!

Thursday, August 5th:
7:30 am - 8:30 am EST
1 pm - 2 pm EST
4pm Marisa! 

Friday, August 6th:
7:30 am - 8:30 am EST
11 am - 12 pm EST



As usual, if you let me know when you will come I will update any changes in comments.