Thursday, September 2, 2010

Other Writing Related Things

Wow. I’ve been MIA for a while… the summer seemed to have just slipped by and I’ve been so busy with “life things,” mainly moving to a new town, a new house. It was quite the undertaking with everything going wrong that possibly could. Everyone we bump into says the exact same thing when we relay our tales: “Welcome to home ownership!” And usually this statement is followed by a sly grin and a cackle. But. It’s been wonderful, too. Wonderfully challenging as my husband puts it. Anyway, I hope everyone has had a great summer.

I wish I could pick back up and tell you about all the writing I’ve done, but alas the last few weeks have been busy with new house related tasks—stripping wallpaper, painting, cleaning, unpacking—all with the hope that the house will feel like home come early fall.

A friend asked me recently—Have you been writing that fiction of yours? I paused for a second and answered: Well, I’ve been doing other writing related things. And it’s true. I’ve been daydreaming, reading, jotting down notes, free-writing. No, I haven’t dove into a new story, haven’t really rolled up my sleeves to tackle a new project, but I feel like the things I have done have kept my creativity alive, kept my writing spirits up. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately—the things we can do when we’re not writing, the things that keep us current and connected. Because the worst is when you feel like you’re sort of floating off, veering from your goal. You wonder if you’ll ever write again! I don’t feel this way right now even though I’ve taken a few solid weeks off from my “fiction writing.” I feel connected and hopeful and day-dreamy. Yes, this last bit is the best—you know when you just imagine your characters, you create them, develop them in your head before you introduce them to the page? I’m at that stage with a new novel that I plan to begin. I can see the characters, hear them talk. One character keeps repeating the same line over and over again. It’s become a mantra in my head. I’m sure it will become the first line of the novel.

Also. Another big motivator. My new desk will be here soon! I recently ordered a new armoire desk online and I can’t wait for it to arrive. I have all my writing stuff—papers, old stories, notebooks, pens—cluttering up the den in boxes. I can’t wait to unpack and organize it all. It’s funny because I don’t tend to actually write at my desk. I love writing at the kitchen table where I have this gorgeous view of trees and green. Or on the couch, cuddled under a blanket. Or sometimes in bed. But my desk is really a grounding place for me. I love having it hold everything, love having it as a starting place where I can schedule and organize my day. We’ll see though, perhaps I will use it for more writing, less organizing. Nevertheless—I can’t wait for it to arrive. And for my husband to put it together. I haven’t told him yet that the directions said it could take up to 5 hours. Woops.

And so I’m excited to be back. I hope to blog at least once a week and then hopefully add to that. I haven’t quite gotten into a schedule yet in this new town, this new house. I feel a bit off kilter, like I’m spinning in circles. But once I get situated, I can’t wait to focus on the most important things—writing, and bringing these characters to the page, bringing them to life.

Have a great day, everyone!

"The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes."
~Agatha Christie

Friday, July 30, 2010

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.

-Vita Sackville-West

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Writing Retreat of Sorts

I am at the beach. For the week. Now, why is it that every time I step foot into this small beach town (the one I spent summers at, the one where my parents now live) I am suddenly ready to write? Last summer I spent a few weeks here and they were the most productive writing weeks I’d had all year! I woke every morning early, dragged my chair to the beach, and spent hours scribbling stories into my notebook. This is another thing I do when I get here: I take pen to page. I don’t use a computer. Something about sitting outside, the waves crashing only feet away from me, something about the feel of the pen moving across the paper— all this creates good, true writing.

So I’m excited. Hopefully I will be inspired this visit. I’ve already had a few ideas. A line of dialogue recently popped into my head and I keep revisiting it. Could it be the first line of a new novel? I also had another idea for a short story. And I’ve been dreaming. Dreams always come harder and faster when I’m here. Is it the salt air streaming in the windows? Perhaps. Dreams are often the inspiration for many of my stories.

I think just getting away helps. I need space when I write. Space from everyday stress, from my to-do lists. And I need it literally—wide open space. I guess that’s why so many people take writing retreats, why they sign up for conferences and residencies. We need to clear our minds, give ourselves the gift of a quiet setting—all this allows creativity to breathe and bloom. Last summer my friend Katie and I headed to Provincetown to the
Fine Arts Work Center for a writing workshop. We holed up in a hotel room that boasted the most beautiful deck. We would park ourselves on pool chairs, notebooks in hands, and write until the sun set. The class was great, but the “getting away” was even better. We ate oysters and lobsters and free wrote while sipping on gin and tonics. It was a writing vacation. And the writing came. It seems when we make an effort to relax, that vessel just seems to just open. And even better: when I’m relaxed, I am less judgmental about what I’m putting on the page. Yes, the first step to banishing my perfectionism.

And two summers before that! My most favorite retreat yet. All the way to Auvillar, France. I spent a week in this tiny village taking writing classes with the
VCCA and eating and drinking and walking into town to buy cold Cokes. I let my laundry air dry and watched donkeys walk down the steep hills and picked sunflowers. The writing workshops were set in the middle of the day and mornings and evenings were spent fostering creativity in these other wonderful ways. So luxurious. Again, the writing came.

I know we can’t always travel to France to find our writing groove, but it definitely helps to just take a break, even if it’s heading to the local park to spend two hours writing under a shady tree. And so I’m going to take full advantage of this time and this beach and see what stories are begging to be told. It’s overcast here today, but I don’t mind. It makes everything feel a little more mysterious and romantic. There is something about walking the beach on a misty day that makes me feel so happy and so utterly at home.

Have a great day, everyone! And may you find the perfect writing retreat of your own.

"The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium."
~Norbet Platt

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Wild

Writing is my wild. Or should I say—I can explore my wild, honor my wild, and showcase my wild by putting words down on the page. I think sometimes we fear the wild, we fear acting risky, saying something risky, letting it all hang out. But on the page there is nowhere to hide. I mean, you can try and hide, but then the writing ends up being bland, it ends up feeling false. It lacks something. The wild is the truth. I know it when I read it in other's work—it just shimmers on the page with aliveness.

A teacher said this to me the other day: “I just read your story and I thought to myself, okay, this girl is weird.” He went on to say that he meant it as a compliment and believe me, I took it as one! “You come across as a nice girl,” he said, “but I can tell from your story that there is more there, that you’re a little bit screwed up like the rest of us writers.” Yes, that’s what I mean by honoring my wild—all my screwed up pieces are encouraged to fall onto the page. That’s where they can live. I like to embrace the wild in the day to day, too, but secretly I have more fun letting it loose as I’m creating.

So this is my new blog. My temporary digs until I set up a more permanent place. I just finished authoring a blog for Writer’s Digest called MFA Confidential. You can read all the archives here. Basically I talked about what it was like to be a second year student in a Creative Writing MFA program. The blog’s also filled with lots of writing tips and inspirational quotes. Now that I’ve graduated from the program, it’s time to dive into the “real world” of writing. It’s time to take what I’ve learned and apply it. And so here I am. Tapping into my wild. Musing about writing and life. This may also become a place where I talk about my other passions like health & fitness. I’ve worked as a personal trainer for over ten years and this work has really shaped me as a person and a writer. So, we’ll see. We’ll see what this becomes. We’ll see how my writing life takes shape. I hope you’ll join me as a try and figure it all out.

Have a great day, everyone!

“Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.”
-John Jake