Saturday, December 18, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
I also interviewed Jennifer Freed, an SB local and author of Lessons from Stanley the Cat, a self-help book of humorous tips garnered from Freed's feline friend. Check out the Stanley website here, and find the interview on page 45 of the Oct/Nov issue of SBMag!
More novel plotting. Similar to the other sketch, this one was actually done first. I find these useful for reference, especially when I get stuck. A member of my Santa Barbara writers' group, who is further along in his novel draft than I am in mine, suggested jumping ahead as a way to combat writers' block. I found this advice extremely useful. When I'm stuck on one section, moving on to a completely different section can get the writing flowing again, and it's handy to have an outline of what I'm doing.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
When my aunt lent me the novel Trouble, by Kate Christensen, she told me her husband thought it was a page-turner and though she herself hadn’t thought so, I might. I decided this recommendation warranted reading the book, and as it turns out, I did go through it pretty quickly. It may not belong to the literary highbrow, but what I loved about it was the speaker’s authenticity, her vulnerability.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
So when I was doubled over on the linoleum beside my toilet last Wednesday afternoon, I knew I had to do something about the way I was living my life. It is time to make a choice. The bottom line is, I cannot keep this up. I cannot keep going back and forth every few days. I physically cannot take the stress. And so –
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Thursday, July 1, 2010
My questions about my life may not be certifiable but it is insanity of a sort, and the insanity in it is Esther’s bell jar, hovering overhead. The uncertainty may come back at any moment. I thought I made a choice: to write. At the time it seemed simple. I had direction, motivation, and drive in a way that I never had before. As I navigate this path, my once-simple decision blurs. What do I want? What am I going to do (with my life)? These questions reappear again and again.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
1. The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
Commonly known as “Strunk and White.” Possibly the simplest, most straightforward grammar guide ever. I “borrowed” my sister’s gorgeous, red fabric, hardcover copy, which was given to her by one of our aunts. The illustrations make the grammar much easier to take in.
2. The Art of Fiction, John Gardner
On Becoming A Novelist, John Gardner
This stuff is dense. And brilliant. When I first tried to read him, I couldn’t connect. I went back to it as I began to pursue writing and encounter the struggles involved. Everything made so much sense. It was amazing to discover something that so perfectly described what I was dealing with.
3. On Writing, Stephen King
A much easier read than the Gardner. Having read only two short stories of his, I won’t weigh in on whether or not King’s work is “literature,” but the guy is undeniably prolific. And he sells. My favorite pieces of advice: no adverbs, and don’t give up (I love the nail of rejection slips that turned into a stake!).
4. Story, Robert McKee
This is technically a film bible, but it holds true for fiction – plot techniques, character voice, etc. The examples are more helpful when you’ve seen the movies discussed, but overall they make the book much easier to understand.
5. Writing Fiction, Gotham Writers' Workshop
If I’m ever stuck, this is a great place to go for prompts. It also includes fundamentals of writing. It is definitely worth going through the whole thing, and then starting over again.
6. The Weekend Novelist, Robert J. Ray and Bret Norris
I love this guide because it takes you step-by-step. So far the way I write stories has been to just jump in, which makes editing both cathartic and excruciating. I can see that it makes a lot of sense to plan my novels before writing.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I ran out into the sunlight, my purple, plastic box banging against the side of my knee as I clutched it. I caught an elbow here, a bump there in the mass of children pouring onto the playground after school. It didn’t matter because preschool was done for the day.
The teachers herded us to the waiting area for pick-up. Bits of stray asphalt poked me as I plopped my three-year-old self on the ground.
A few feet away, three girls in the grade above me huddled in a circle. One of the girls whispered in another’s ear. She giggled and passed the secret on. Every day after school, those three girls sat together so close that their cross-legged knees touched.
I rested my box in my lap and opened it, but only a crack, so nobody else could see. I leaned down to the crack and looked inside, to make sure that everything was still there. When I peeked at the girls around my box, they were staring at me.
The girls giggled to each other. I closed my purple box and clutched it tighter. One of the girls stood, motioned for the other two to stay seated. She flounced over to me, her ponytail bobbing beneath a neon pink bow.
“You can be friends with us,” she said, looking back toward the other girls, “If you show us what you have in that box.”
I looked up at her pudgy four-year-old face and pictured myself sitting with them. Four girls huddled together with our knees touching, giggling, telling secrets.
“Ok,” I said. The leader beckoned the other girls over. I set the plastic box on the ground. I released the latches and flipped open the lid, exposing my treasures. I looked at the other girls, waiting. They had seen and now I could be best friends with them too.
The girls’ faces contorted as they giggled. The same sounds they had emitted moments ago, only closer, and louder, and directed at me. The girls laughed as they ran away, and the sound of their tittering continued when they gathered at the foot of the playground jungle gym.
I closed my box and cried until my mother came.
When I graduated from UCLA, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I took a seminar to try to figure it out. I was one of the youngest people in that seminar. There were all these older people around me realizing they weren’t happy with their careers. I didn’t want to turn around when I was 30, or 40, or 50, and say, I wish I’d done x, y, z when I was in my twenties.
I looked back at that incident on the schoolyard when I was three. I don’t even remember what was in that box – pipe cleaners or Silly Putty (which I still find cool, by the way) or something. It is easy to remember what it felt like sitting alone, wishing to be part of their friendship. When they laughed at me, I knew it was because of that box, and how I was different. I decided I was not going to be different anymore. I was going to conform, to do what was right, what everybody else said I should do. Then they wouldn’t laugh at me. I decided, no more purple boxes.
I can track this decision through my life – I did what I was told was the right thing to do. I got good grades, went to a good school, joined a sorority. Normal. When I graduated, I thought I was going to go into marketing. Wear a suit, get a corporate 9-5.
Then, as I saw how that preschool experience had affected my life, I was able to let it go. When there were no constraints, no “should’s,” nothing to do that everybody else said was right, I was left with questions: What did I really want? If I could do anything, what would it be?
Write. Write, write, write.