Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I couldn't sleep, so I got up & blogged

So I crawled into bed, prepared to settle in quietly and not wake my husband.  I shut my eyes and then they opened again. I did not post my Wednesday post.  So I roll off the bed, body lengthwise, (learned that trick while very pregnant; it doesn't shake the bed at all) and out the door of that dark, quiet, cozy room.  I am now downstairs working on this post.

To my surprise, my blog was actually viewed today, twice.  Little ghost feet came and went.  I don't know whether to jump up and down or wonder how the accident happened, and lightening struck twice or it was more along the lines of a vortex and one person was sucked in twice.  A friend and I went driving to Portland, Oregon, once, can't remember why, but I recall we became very lost, and I took over navigating using a Portland map. Even so, we went by the same dark, lonely building on a one-way street at least three times.  Part of me is certain someone didn't read the Google blurb right on their search list or hit the mouse accidentally sending them here, twice even.  Hope it didn't have that same dark and lonely look as the street we tumbled into and giggled nervously about realizing it wasn't the best part of town and 11 PM was probably not the safest time to visit either.  Oh, let's look positively.  Two people intentionally visited my blog, looked around, nodded sagely and left closing the door gently. 

It has been an interesting journey this getting my book epublished. Essentially, I am a shy person.  I don't roust about grabbing people's attention; I am not hiding in the corner either, but I do tend to be the second person to say hello, not the first, so this whole get out there and make yourself known deal is just not my costume (yes costume, not custom, though it is not that either.  I just meant I can't put on that kind of appearance).  I know about persona, not the writing one (well that too, but that is not what I am referring to), the one a person creates to cover up the real individual underneath. Not easy being a teacher when shyness is the natural tendency. I just slip on that teacherly persona and teach.  But what is a writer's persona?  Or rather this writer's persona.  I know my teacherly one is unique to me, so what should this writer's one be?  I guess I'll just have to wait until it grows on.

Some aspect of this has to do with writing; I am certain of it.  Well, it is Wednesday and I couldn't sleep because I blog on this day each week, and I hate feeling guilty when I miss it.  Next week I am going to write about a lovely little app I found for my iPhone that is great for mapping out a story when I am away from my computer.  How's that for suspense?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A moment to develop character (no, not my own)

pen and paper
Yes, I missed my Wednesday blog alright.  Teacher, school, homecoming/spirit week/end of term grading: these are my excuses.  I missed my blog and didn't even notice. But I also missed writing further on my current short story and that I noticed constantly. I managed to ease an hour out of my mad grading schedule one day, but it was not enough.  In my Creative Writing class, I even made my self sit and work on the same exercise my students were working on.  Well, "made" is probably not the right verb.  It was more along the lines of excused myself from moving about the room and reading over their shoulders or grabbing a quick moment of grading while they tried to find the words to explain how their characters would react under certain given situations. So I sat and did the same, then stuffed it in a safe place on my desk and turned back to teaching.  So maybe five minutes eked out just for my story.  I just spent three solid hours grading a stack of work and am rewarding myself with sitting here and typing on this blog. After this, I am going to work again on my story, a science fiction wrapped about a boy who was released (a requirement for three-year-old boys) to be a scrapper, i.e., an apprentice teamster on a desert planet. 

I now know the following things about one of the characters after sneaking that five-minute opportunity:
  • he's 44 and a truck stop owner who wishes his wife and son were still alive
  • he would laugh - thinking about what his wife would say when supplies run short
  • afraid - that he might start to care for someone else
  • angry - thinking that someone else may also have been important to his wife
  • ashamed - that he has not lived up to the promise he made to his wife before she died
  • tender - the leap that occurs in his consciousness that this child they took in values his wife as much as he did and that honors her
Some of this may make it in to the story, but mostly it helped me get some depth on a character that is important to what happens to the boy he is giving shelter to at the request of his now deceased wife.

So off to writing.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I started reading about improving my writing, and then I started doing

I downloaded an ebook this summer called 70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes.  As I started reading it, I thought is was far too basic for me. After all, I teach creative writing.  Wouldn't I know the basics?  But I kept reading it, and then I found myself applying the ideas mentioned in this book to the book I was redrafting for its final version.  And the more I thought about what each short chapter was referring to, the more I realized it didn't need to give me the examples I was griping about not being there.  If I am a writer, I should be able to apply the advice to my writing and see examples in putting each suggestion into practice.  Really it is a book that gives brief insights in to writing without taking up a lot of my time, which I should be using writing.

Chapter 1 is about not starting, which explains why it is called "Not Starting."  I remember reading and thinking:  Yeah, exactly, like I don't know that to be a writer I must at least put pen to page or keyboard to word processing program.  But we all need a kick in the pants, and we all need the rather trite but accurate advice that we must simply sit down and write.  But I also realized there were several other things I wasn't starting. I wasn't looking into publishing my book which I told myself I was determined to publish. I had short stories hanging about unfinished, oodles of poetry and four unedited books.  I was not active at all on the internet even Goodreads and I read plenty.  So even Chapter 1, "Not Starting" applied to me.  So the chapters are short, a page, maybe a page and a half, but each offers some simple but essential piece of advice.  In the end, I started.  Not much has happened past my publishing my book, participating in Goodreads, starting this blog and seeing what is going on out there in the reading world.  But I did start and I am continuing as well.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I would say it is the balancing that has me the most overwhelmed.

Scenes scurry about in my mind.  I am ready to sit down and write, but I cannot.  There is grading to do and house cleaning and time to respond to a child's needs and a husband's desire to chat and then of course this blog. So when do I write?  I tell myself that this urge to write that is thwarted continuously will just serve to drive my writing more furiously. Bottling it up will give it plenty of time to ferment.  I remember when I was in grade school, the teacher got us involved in a project on how water moved from the surface during a rain to the water table below.  We were to determine if our region had the right qualities to clean the water of contaminants as it moved down through the soil and thus produce good drinking water. The word "percolation" stuck always with me. And even then I imagined my ideas for stories were busy percolating through the soil and rocks of my mind, purifying and distilling the best of what would ultimately end in a story.  I suppose every little thing that my ideas must stumble through or be delayed by must be improving on the overall result, making it more readable.  That is what keeps me sitting here writing this blog knowing that the next thing I will have to do is grade and then go to bed because it will then be much too late to write if I want to function well at my work in the morning.  Aw, weekend will you give me time to write?