Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Ladies and Gents, I have made the move to WordPress. Why? I have loved Blogger - so simple, so easy, the perfect way for me to learn to blog. It's time to kick it up a notch. WordPress seems to hold more credibility in the writing world, and I already have a successful WordPress blog with my writers' group, MUG. So goodbye to blogger for now. All future posts will appear at my WordPress Penned Pennies site.
Monday, April 30, 2012
Hammer Museum. It just happened to be Aimee Bender (I just finished reading The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake a couple weeks ago). The other reader was Etgar Keret. I hadn’t heard of him but he turned out to be quite entertaining. He is from Israel and apparently revolutionized literature there. The two of them played off each other well, particularly during the Q&A section.
Keret explained his impact on the literature in Israel somewhat like this:
The written word has not changed in Israel in thousands of years. Authors who write in English worry about seeing their book up on a shelf next to Shakespeare. Israel’s authors worry about seeing their book next to the Bible. (Also, as I learned while in Israel, anything with Hebrew writing on it does not get thrown away, rather archived or buried.) Yet, while the written word has carried through, the spoken language has changed. It is common in Israel, when saying something like “see you later,” to say, “Tov yalla bye.” This phrase is a combination of three languages: Hebrew, Arabic, and English. (Tov meaning “good,” yalla meaning “come on” or “hurry up.”) Keret incorporated Hebrew slang into his writing, which was unheard of, and caused quite a reaction in the Israeli community.
This was an incredible story, especially since I recently went to Israel, but mostly because this is so different from writing in English. When studying creative writing I have always been told to get the dialogue as close to what people actually say as possible. A common writing exercise is to go to a public place and just listen to people, recording it all down, because this informs the veracity of the writing.
Not to mention their reading selections were fabulous.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Received notes on my manuscript from a friend in the mail. Great comments, as usual. Got stopped, as usual. In the interim I revised a short story and wrote a whole new one – this was refreshing, since I hadn’t written anything new in a long time. It was proof that I had not forgotten how.
I have to remind myself to be discerning when I accept notes from people. I had a creative writing professor who warned against prescriptive comments – both giving and receiving. These are the types of specific notes like “you should kill off x character,” or “you should have x character’s back-story be that he was beaten by his father,” etc. When giving notes, a person’s focus should be what the writer wants the story to be. When receiving notes, an author should be wary of prescriptive ideas not his/her own.
Friday, April 13, 2012
Above, a gorgeous view from my house, and below, another gorgeous -sunset- view from my house.
Amidst everything, yes, I managed to write. The novel goes. Slow as ever. Yet steady.
It was inspiring to spend time with my sister, who is transitioning from a steady, pay-check culinary job to full-time painting. Talking with her is reminder of everything I’ve gone through to get to where I am, and a reminder of why I’m doing what I’m doing.
The incredibly delicious birthday cake my sister made. She sent the leftovers with me to LA - I was supposed to give them to my writers' group, but ended up eating it myself!
Above, my boyfriend and my dog taking a moment to rest during our hike. Below, the Easter goodie-bags my sister made for her birthday picnic.
Friday, March 30, 2012
One lonely wine bottle. Used to be I’d host a writers’ group and send four or five bottles to the recycle. The group is dying out.
We’ve faced this before. Life gets in the way and people end up doing other things. We have two members moving to Boston and several with other work or personal commitments. The thing seems to go in ebbs and flows. The flow, last time, happened when I took a couple of classes at UCLA Extension and invited fellow students to join. This time, I’m not planning to take any classes.
My other group is thriving. I can’t help but compare, and wonder, what makes a writing group tick? Why are some people so committed, and others not? And inevitably, what can I do to spark that commitment, or how do I find other people who already have it?
Friday, March 23, 2012
The key to this, I think, is allowing myself the time I need. Work on other things, perhaps. It’s hard to dissuade the nagging feeling that I should be able to speed up the process.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Recently I've been struggling to put in more than a hour a day of fiction writing. Sure, there are things like life getting in the way. All that stuff that just takes time to do. Everything takes time. There are relationships to maintain, other projects I want to work on. I've also started a new personal growth and development program that is seven months long, not to mention a 10+ hour commitment each week. It took some adjusting to get back into the swing of things after traveling, too.
But none of that really has anything to do with writing or not. I know I can work my schedule out. So what is it?
About a week and a half ago, I met with one of my readers. He is an actor, a screenwriter, studied literature in college. He knows something about story. See Julian Conrad's blog here.
He gave me an incredible critique. I'm grateful for his feedback - he is the only one from my last round of readers who took the time to sit down with me and go through his comments. Yet, since the critique I've been stopped. I haven't been revising.
Why? I'm processing. Solutions are being generated, I can feel it. And sometimes, it takes time. Is there a way to speed this process? When I wrote papers in college, usually I didn't want to, and I had to force myself to just sit down and slog through. When I was finished at least I had something to work with. Creativity isn't like that.
There are ways to generate creativity, but I don't think this is one of those times. Sometimes you have to let the ideas roil around, so when you sit down to revise, something comes out.
I wouldn't call it a block. Merely a bump.