That Old Question

Where does one find time to write?

In recent days I have found myself pondering that question. There are multiple things I want to accomplish, but I seem to have forgotten how much time babies take. And how much babysitting seems like “sitting around doing nothing”. So, not only is the house fairly trashed, but the writing isn’t getting done either.

So I guess the mentor for this month should be Kate Chopin. (I think.) If she’s the correct person that I’m thinking of, she had something like eight children. When her husband died, she started cranking out the books to feed everyone…a lucrative idea even then. This was at the turn of the century. So: she did not have a computer; she did not have a husband to shove the kids off on for a few minutes; she did not have a washing machine, vaccuum cleaner, or a nanny, and all she had was twenty four measly hours to crank out classics, a la The Awakening.

I guess it goes back to that whole Cowboy Up thing. But somehow I’d like a more definite plan. How do you guys do it? Is it better to just do a tiny bit (like a paragraph)and give yourself credit for it, so you don’t feel quite so bad? And all this doubt coming right when I’m starting a new, larger project and rewriting FJR.

Ali owes me money

but let me back up for a second.

At first, I did not intend to do Ali’s challenge. But, as I was looking through our garage for one thing, I found a ton of other stuff for my office. This ton of stuff included notebooks small and large, pens, pencils, and various other paraphanalia. Turns out I wound up working with office supplies. And it was fun.

However, in the midst of all this fun, I came up with a really cool way to revise FJR–a way that would allow me to see a rough version of the new order that I wanted to put stuff in. I would literally cut and paste. I have decided to cut the scenes into the new order and rearrange various paragraphs within those scenes. I will paste in the new stuff I write with them so that I have one version all together.

It should be messy. Yay! Like kindergarten.

But, in determining this, I also determined that I needed loose leaf paper (better to insert into a three-ring binder–of which I found, like, twenty in the garage), rubber cement, and file dividers to mark chapter breaks since my current chapter breaks will be moot. And that’s where Ali owes me money. See, if it wasn’t for her goofy idea I wouldn’t have thought of it. So I blame her.

Mentor of the Month: Salman Rushdie: Part Two: Influence

“Afloat and terrifyingly free upon these boundless seas, the writer attempts, with his bare hands, the magical task of metamorphosis. Like the figure in the fairy tale who must spin straw into gold, the writer must find the trick of weaving the waters together until they become land: until, all of a sudden, there is solidity where once there was only flow, shape where there was formlessness; there is ground beneath his feet. (And if he fails, he drowns. The fable is the most unforgiving of literary forms.)

The young writer, perhaps uncertain, perhaps ambitious, probably both at once, casts around for help; and sees, within the flow of the ocean, certain sinuous thicknesses, like ropes, the work of earlier weavers, of sorcerers who swam this way before him. Yes, he can use these ‘in-flowings,’ he can grasp them and wind his own work around them. He knows, now, that he will survive. Eagerly, he begins.”

Salman Rushdie, “Influence,” Step Across this Line

I can’t add anything to this. It says what I want to say far better than I could possibly say it.

OMG…what did I just do?

Okay, there’s a secret I’ve been keeping that I think only really Ali knows…and Deb to a certain degree.

But I, I confess, write poetry as well as fiction. However, I’ve never sent any of my poems out to publishers/magazines until today. I can’t tell you why, except that I think I’ve had more confidence in my fiction. Sending out poetry always struck me as nerve-wracking. Not because I didn’t think my poetry was good enough…but, strangely enough, because I didn’t think I could keep track of it like I could keep track of short stories. It seemed easier to lose poems in transit.

Rather than stymie myself I have decided that I’ll just send out the poems in a packet at a time. I’m in no rush for publication with poems…so, I’ve sent of a packet today and I guess we’ll see what happens.

P.S. I realize that I put OMG in my title. Forgive me.

Reading to Your Kids and What You Learn

My son and I have been reading nightly since he was born. I read the entire Harry Potter series out loud (that equals the first five books at that point) during his first year of life. While he does not remember this experience, I do.

For the last couple nights I have reintroduced chapter books to our repertoire with a book called Lucy on the Loose. It’s about a beagle. My son is into dogs. What can I say? But I’m learning a lot about how stories are structured because the plot/subplot elements are pretty darned straight forward. Chapter One: Intro of devious cat that will tempt Lucy the Beagle away from loving owner. Chapter Two: Intro of loving owner’s (Bobby’s) shyness and love of superheros (including Superman and the Lone Ranger). Chapter Three: Lucy the Beagle cuts loose.

What’s my point? I can pretty much tell you right now that the only way to get Lucy the Beagle back is for Bobby to overcome his shyness and then he will become the superhero of his own life. I don’t know exactly how all that will come into play but it’s part of the inevitability that should be there in every novel, be it for children or adults. It’s just easier to see in children’s books…especially those really-really beginning reader books.

The first pleasure of this whole thing is that, as a writer, I get to see the plot/subplot structure and it gets me thinking about how I’ll utilize it in my own writing. The second pleasure is that my son knows none of this and is just enjoying the story.

Even without the pictures.

A Writing Marathon of My Own

Today is Pueblo’s Writing Marathon. Unfortunately, due to the timing, I won’t be able to make it.

So, I’ve decided that I will do a writing marathon of my very own. Today I shall hit a couple different spots and freewrite and then share my responses here. I apologize ahead of time for whiny, pathetic posts. But you never know what you’ll get from these things, do ya?

Besides, the baby likes to go on walks…

Mentor of the Month: Salman Rushdie: Part One: Stuff the Editors Think

“If you read two hundred or so novels, you do begin to notice certain general trends and themes. There was a point at which I said that if read another novel about a young girl beginning to menstruate, I’d scream.”
Salman Rushdie, “The Best of Young British Novelists”, Step Across This Line

When you are rejected, it is nothing personal. Unless you’ve somehow managed to piss off the editor by standing outside his office and hovering while he read every single sentence of your manuscript and you kept saying “Are you done yet? Are you done yet? Areyoudoneyet?” the editor probably doesn’t know you from Adam.

What the editor does know: “I just read thirty poems about deer. If I see one more fucking deer poem, I’m going to throw this whole stack of paper against the wall.”

Salman Rushdie had the opportunity of sitting on a panel of people to select the up-and-coming list of new novelists. The quote above would be one reaction. I completely understand. When I edited the literary journal for my college…well, let’s just say no animal poem fared well. And that was both my prejudice and my prerogative. My magazine, my call.

So, if you’re going to write a poem, story, or whatever, just do it to the best of your ability, send it out, and cross you fingers. The person on the other side may be tired of it or not. You don’t know until you send it away.

But if you’re rejected, don’t take it personal. It may have been one squirrel story too many…maybe the next editor will be less bothered. Keep sending it out.