It was 1984 and I had gone to The Salvation Army Thrift Store ("The Sal") and bought myself an outfit. A little too daring for my small town high school. But was it? Seriously, nothing I had worn since I moved to town in 5th grade was satisfying the powers that be. I had fit in in Minneapolis but small town rules were much more rigid. I just couldn't get them right. There wasn't enough money for me to keep up with the proper Adidas and Izod uniform. So I planned my makeover. The night before I lay my outfit out. Necklaces to wrap around my wrist. A short black slip over leggings and the piece de resistance a leopard printed corduroy jacket. I was to be so Desperately Seeking Susan before I had even seen the movie. The beauty really wasn't the outfit though, the beauty was Madonna's attitude. I donned that as well, but I was nice (I like to think I was more of a Cyndi Lauper type).
There is a great article on creativity here via Mike Jung. You should read it if you have the time. Essentially Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (writer of 8th Grade Super-Hero) writes about how taking the time to play feeds the writing and she gives ideas. The beginning, where she says she cleans fast but does not write fast, could have been said by me (it's true - I have speedy cleaning skills). Like Olugbemisola, I do not appreciate my slow writerly-ness. Oh how reassuring to have someone else write words like that and publish them on the internet! Thank you, Olugbemisola.
Oh, and here is part two. More things to play with.
So tpr and I lit one candle this morning at the early morning unplug. Since he doesn't have a plate of his own I let him borrow my YOU ARE SPECIAL TODAY plate.
In preparation for this anniversary I have been going back to read those first recaps. I am in the habit of recapping each chat, listing who was there, and noting any links that were shared. I had forgotten that the first few times there was no chat box. We just checked back in comments. That first TPR had something like 26 comments as we tried to have a conversation wibij style. (Does anybody remember that fun old game? We are hoping you haven't forgotten.) It didn't take too long before I explored posting chat boxes at tpr and the current format was born. Back in the early days when tpr just began, there were some doozy recaps. Especially the evening tprs, which brought out folks from the west coast. There were some good and wild times. Here are just a few of the early recaps for your reading pleasure:
Reconvention Chat, April 28th, 2010: Total success! If staying up late (Ann Marie until 3 am in Greece!) is success. The energy in the chat room was palpable and you gals and guy are quick and smart. I bow to your extreme artfulness and I can't imagine what you write on your hour alone. Present: Ann Marie, Jon, Heather, Marisa, Casey, Dena (surprise! awesome!), Elana, and last and for sure eldest, myself(yay!). Thanks you all for coming! What a fabulous time I had!
Does anyone know where Ann Marie went? I miss her and all her caps! I also miss Dena! Come back guys!
Reconvention Chat, April 29th, 2010: Chat Update: Where we experimented with the shift key, compared weather and discussed meatloaf, step-family status and Jon channeling his character. I'm sure much more has been forgotten. Present: Heather, Jon, Marisa, Kelly, and Elana.
Reconvention Chat, May 17th: The chat where we commiserated with Heather about how soul wrenching critiques can be when delivered in an English accent, with Marisa visiting from the beach, and providing descent as her English husband is only kindly with his accent, we pitched in to help Casey decide what to draw with her stick, while J compared burritos to eating diapers. Fun was had by all.
Reconvention Chat, May 18th where cabbage makes an appearance: The chat where water leads to all things(I cannot do justice to the beautiful water repartee), or was that cabbage, a guessing game of Jon's least faves, Kate wrote something like a million words, Casey's kids are clean, the lovers are haters, and I vow to have Kelly loving cabbage yet. Present: Jon, Kelly, Kate, Casey and myself.
There! We said it on May 18th, Cabbage leads to all things!
Reconvention Chat, May 24h 2010: The chat dawned with Dena finishing up her story and Kate admitting to cheating. Marisa was back from her vacation and all was right with the world(or The Practice Room) and just to prove it, her musical Muse was a sweetheart. Two phrases were coined: LETS GET READY TO RUMBLE and competitive writing isn't just for NANO anymore (as H said on her blog!) Giving The Practice Room a new competitive feel(we're turning over a new leaf). And there was talk of holding muse auditions. Marisa said, From musical muse to peeing on the side of the road muse. Dena said, We should have a muse lottery and pick muses out of a hat and assign them. Between Kate and Marisa it is a reality tv show, named America's Next Top Muse ala Kate. Dena suggests: We can put crazy muses in the mix lol. The possibilities! The numa numa kid, me peeing on the side of the road, the dramatic squirrel. Will you get stuck with the muse for the hour or the rest of your life? Bwahahahah! (Just remember it started here folks!)
I would still love to play the muse game. Oh what have I been doing with all my free time!
Reconvention Chat, May 25th: The chat where the moping devolved into mooning and more tawdry stuff. But by the end everyone was feeling a little better. Jon, Kelly, Marisa, and Myself.
By now we call moping, mooping and I didn't find the chat where that devolved.
Reconvention Chats, May 27th 2010: Earlier in the day: The chat which may very well be Kate's very last one--or at least for a good long while. We wish her lots of good luck as she heads out on her travels and also with her big news. We will watch her blog for updates: My Life in Fiction. (We may also miss her because Marisa and I could very easily succumb to pity parties on our own!) Present: Marisa, Kate and Myself Later that same day: I'll have to go back and look, but that may have been the largest chat ever. Subjects ranged from how long are your chapters, twitter, to strategies of querying, as in: I plan on querying Nathan so I can get the first reject. in less than a minute and I was thinking I should query Mandy Hubbard because she gripes about rejected queries on Twitter... and I want to know what she'll say as she rejects mine! But also covered braces, how to make a smiley face, text speak and twitter speak. Meaty chat to say the least. Present: Casey, Jon, Laura, Heather, Kelly, Marisa and myself.
Reconvention Chat, June 25th: The chat where we commiserated with Heather about how soul wrenching critiques can be when delivered in an English accent. Marisa visited from the beach, and provided descent as her English husband is only kindly with his accent. We pitched in to help Casey decide what to draw with her stick, while J compared burritos to eating diapers. Fun was had by all.
I have to admit that between those old chats (and that is just a few) and now I have gotten a little sparse on the recaps. But I will include this morning's recap:
April 12th 2011: Anniversary, Happy Birthday party! Same folks who graced the very first TPR a year ago. We did a quick little celebration and then we got on with business. Talking crits and virtual hugs.
Makes me wonder what I will come up to make tpr searchable (any ideas?) or how to keep an ongoing record of visitors. TPR big events: First few months, Tour de Writing, WriteOnCon, Nano. I organize my memories of the year with these larger worldly things. But ordinary is enough. As I look forward to another year I remind myself that TPR is all about being ordinary. That we meet everyday to practice the the things we want to be doing and the reason for the place is not the place but the community it serves. So, perhaps I will get better at making the place searchable this year. Maybe I will do monthly guest books, write here's-what-happened-in-the-practice-room posts, get better at labels, so that by the end of the year I can look back and have a record of this second year. Or maybe not. The point is to keep writing and supporting each other. Thanks so much for the year, folks.
The rest of this week I will be spending a bit of time with my mother. Much needed time, but I can't wait to see you next week, when I have extra attention to focus your direction. It will also be TPR anniversary on the 12th. I will attempt to recap the year, the folks, the rough drafts and finished drafts.
Oh and there is this: Recently my son showed me a dance he has been choreographing. He plans to perform it with his little sister and some other small family friends at our summer camp talent night. After he turned the music on and poised to get started, he said: Mom, the dance will look very different by the time we perform it. This is a rough draft, just like writing.
I have an MFA in creative writing, an unpublished YA novel under my belt and in a drawer, my second, a novella, is nearly done. Click through the door below to write with me in The Practice Room (follow this link to read more about it). I post the schedule each Sunday - like clockwork. On the blog, I post whenever I like.