Letters of Note

11 05 2014

Letters of Note.

a website labour of love, a marvellous series of letters, a wonderful hopeful wander through great writing and sharing.

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Inspirational and a window into the lives of such interesting people!

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Ah, Hemingway…

24 04 2014

10153666_10152020746881776_8049968211621102789_nI cuddled with a statue of Hemingway when I was in Cuba, and I have a fondness for polydactylic cats, but other than that, I’ve got to say, I get a bit tired of him being held up as all that and a bag of chips every time someone talks writing.

What of the wonderful other writers, those that used long sentences, those that write of non-manly, non-war-related things. Women. You know, them.

Does it ever seem to you that, of the entire panoply of female writers, only Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath get any press time? With maybe the occasional Maya Angelou and Margaret Atwood tossed in “from afar” as my mother in law used to say about currants in unsatisfactory Christmas cakes?

It’s gotta stop.  So now and again, I’m going to hunt out famous female writers (some of whom not so famous, cos, as we know, there’s that publication bias out there) and put their writing quotes in this blog. Just for fun.

Here’s the first, from Goodreads! Yay! From one of my favourite writers, too, and so true.

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
― Madeleine L’Engle





Last lines…

3 04 2014

Everyone talks about the importance of the first line in your story, long or short, but there is often such grace in the last line that they need to be mentioned.
The last line can give you a punch, a feeling of “whoa!”, and last lingering taste of the story, that makes it live in your head long after you are done.
The short story “How Far She Went” by Mary Hood, as featured in Janet Burroway’s “Writing Fiction” (2nd edition, pp. 207-213) is an excellent example. The story itself is filled with imagery, familial history, danger, and sadness. It concerns a rebellious teenager who has been left at her grandmother’s by her father. The entire story is worth a read, but my breath caught in my throat when I read this last line:
“The girl walked close behind her, exactly where she walked, matching her pace, matching her stride, close enough to put her hand forth (if the need arose) and touch her granny’s back where the faded voile was clinging damp, the merest gauze between their wounds.”
The whole story, the girl’s turnaround, the meat of what happened, is captured in that line.
The more I read it, the more it hits me. Not a word too many, or a word too few. And yet, everything.





Drifting gaily along

3 11 2013

I signed up for Sarah Selecky’s excellent Story is a state of Mind online course and I’m in the intensive mode, where we actually have to do the work and get in assignments and such.
This latest one is freaking me out a bit, especially in line with Nanowrimo. For both things, I’m doing what Sarah calls “drift” – holding my pen like it’s going to write independently, and then relaxing and letting my mind go, letting my subconscious find it’s own way, let things float by and pour out on the page.
I find this approach helpful for first drafts. I start with a sketch of a character and then let them explore their world, showing parts of themselves in every interaction.
The challenge is trying to do it with two very different stories simultaneously.
It’s like multitasking, and me poor wee MS brain doesn’t do that so well these days.
So, if you see me and my eyes are spinning in two different directions, bear with me. I’m following a hero and a demon. They aren’t drifting together….
Though maybe they could…hmmmmm.





Oh, Mae West, how I wish I’d known you…

8 09 2013

original“Whenever I have to choose between two evils, I always like to try the one I haven’t tried before”, she said.

She sounds like me, totally resistant to treading the same path, always looking for new experiences, unable to commit to a true path, even in evils.

I’m doing the 3rd chapter of The Artist’s Way and it is about recovering power and healing the childhood hurts that exist within us.  I find this, on page 68, talking about the fear of punishment:

“Many artists begin a piece of work, get well along in it, and then find, as they near completion, that the work seems mysteriously drained of merit. It’s no longer worth the trouble. To therapists, this sudden surge of disinterest (“It doesn’t matter”) is a routine coping device employed to deny pain and ward off vulnerability.”

Aha.

A wise friend of mine told me yesterday that both she and I are adjusting to being “visible” again, putting ourselves out there where we can be seen and judged. My son recently asked me why I never send writing to magazines and such, only enter contests and classes.  I know why I do. If I have to rush to a deadline, or submit to a crazy set of protocols or be a student, I can make the result not matter, still be part of my learning. I’m not ready to take the training wheels off, for some reason. So instead I leap from activity to activity, trying out the new activities…instead of focusing on one or two and seeing it to the end point. It’s like when I did pottery classes and pulled up cylinders, only to cut every single one in half to see how even I’d made it, never seeing the piece to its final stages.

All of this is a part of the recovery I am working on – the recovery of self-esteem after the loss of my job in horrible disarray after my diagnosis of MS and later breakdown, the recovery of my soul after a long time ignoring it and covering it over with iron and glass, the recovery of the ability to accept love, maybe even return it, after marital and familial wounds. Been hurt, yes, still smarting, yes. It’s gone far enough I do not allow myself a moment’s pride in what I have accomplished. I need to get past this.

I’d like to sit with Mae, have a cigar, talk about where she really was about this evils thing,intardaetà and whether her tough exterior covered a world of hurt and self-doubt, and how she pulled her spirit out of that and moved on.





#3Daynovel: day one

31 08 2013

So yesterday I had come up with all the reasons why I wanted to spend yet another glorious Labour Day weekend hunched over a computer trying to wrench words out of my head.

Perhaps it will rain, I reasoned. Maybe it will be cold and grey and I won’t feel like I’m missing the last few hours of summer.

Nope. It’s spectacular out there today – sun shining, pooffy little white clouds making the sky look EVEN BLUER, cool breeze but still summery.

And here I sit, bum going numb, brain freezing, 5000+ words of drivel written so far.

It’s still at the give up point. I could stop anytime. And yet, it’s that freedom to stop that pushes me forward, makes me want to complete it once again. By this time tomorrow, I no doubt will have decided that it makes more sense to work on existing projects than waste time grinding out what may be utter junk. I always do around then. I ignore myself and plunge on.

Or I may hit that sweet spot, that bit where your characters take over and you are dying to see what happens to them as you throw obstacles in their way.

And that is why I do this, again and again. That feeling is the best one out there in writing, for me (well, except getting paid, or winning a prize or whatever). No, it’s even bigger than those, because at that mystical time, you know, you know for sure and certain, that you are blessed.

Like the musician playing or singing the perfect note, like the artist with that perfect paint stroke, you are in the creative zone. And there just ain’t any better place to be.





Connecting to the writing muse

13 07 2013

I am SUCH a bad working writer.
I can find more ways to procrastinate about writing than there are words in a thesaurus. I clean my house, I putter with kitchen objects, I decide to repot plants, I do laundry, fer the love of Shakespeare.
I’m getting tired of myself. It’s time to get to work, get things done, move forward. Instead I find reasons to read books, watch tv, walk about, exercise…spend time with friends…
Yah, I know. Exercise is a good thing. Reading is a good thing. Friends are important.
But life passes on with very little to show for it, and it is getting to ridiculous times.
Today I am revising my novella or perishing in the attempt. It’s going to be hotter than stink today so I have no excuse or capability to do anything but sit and write.
Well, unless I hang out with my birdies and let them out for a play…
Dang.
I am so good at thinking of escapes. Now I need to be great at applying myself!








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