Aug 26, 2009

Waiting for the Dawn

Has anyone else ever considered the odd fact that James Michener's Center for Writers is at home in J. Frank Dobie's lovely little white cottage along Waller Creek in downtown Austin, Texas? Could two writers have been more strikingly different in both their choices of subject and their styles? Is this a display of honoring two, or of merely preserving one? Only UT knows, I suppose.

I think, as I fight the guilt of not writing my daily dozen pages, of the enormous number of contradictions I have encountered since I picked up my fingers and sent them across the keyboard.

I can write from the heart, but it's only one point of view and shallow. I can tell a totally fictitious story with no basis in fact at all, and it reads like a personal diary.

The characters of my dreams do indeed, bring me stories that are better than my own. On the other hand, I commit to my own and set aside such ethereal plot lines--perhaps, in case I cannot find the way from side to side without more help from the other world? Indeed, what do I know of voodoo in Chicago? Or teenaged killers in Fort Worth?

And yet, I cannot write FANTASY - all my stories are rooted in the earth herself. How can this be when all I read from ages 12-30 were fantasy and science fiction and the trials of journeymen searching with dragon and wizard, fighting troops and monsters, stretching the bonds of human law and the strength of human religion?

Is there any wonder I am so easily distracted?

What turns you on as a writer, or an artist, or a photographer, or a ??? Do you, like me, wander around in fog and streams of light that doesn't fall from a simple sun until a deadline traps you?
My very curiosity is both a bane and a salve.

Aug 21, 2009

A First Impression

Once in awhile I am struck by a guilty conscience. I am having so much fun learning to be a WRITER that it seems illegal. And I haven't even had a nibble for publishing yet. Perhaps that's the secret, that the HEAVEN of writing stories is in the details of the stories themselves. Will publishing be a greater thrill? Maybe it doesn't really matter. I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam. (Popeye)

The trigger to this self-appreciation was the advent of my 30 year with 9th graders. I played the Toreador's March from Carmen as the classes wandered in with glassy eyes Wednesday. They couldn't have named it in a million years, but it got their attention. I won Wednesday.

Thursday they knew my name, and there was Willie and Lobo playing water music - gypsy boogaloo - Spanish guitar and viola. Again, I could see them giving themselves a mental shake.
I think it was a draw.

Today they will write and identify the thinking skills that make us scientists as we communicate.
And then we will design and identify how we are scientists in art.
And Monday we will PUBLISH, present our newspaper article reviews for all the world to see, lalalal. They'll fill a whole wall of illustrated manuscripts and be able to babble about analysis, collaboration, design, revision, rank ordering, and explanation.

Seriously, just like writing with my two groups of pen and ink artists, I believe this surely must be the most perfect example of a WIN-WIN situation.


Aug 12, 2009

Between a Rock and the Next Chapter

What a thrill it is using Twitter and Facebook to peak into the lives of people around me, my family and critique groups. Today I am waiting to hear the announcement of Roz's new little Zane, have shared the excitement of Dave's finishing the first draft of his third novel, and I am thrilled that every single other person has submitted readings for the Kidstuff Saturday morning meeting-- but me.

Summer was too calm, too sweet, too cool, and too short. Somehow the garage is cleaner, the carpet is scrubbed, and the hall is painted a fine medium khaki. But the stories are sitting on the dining room table getting no more than a few minutes a day......and damn few pages built of those minutes.

I am hereby taking the best advice I could find in the last two minutes: "Begin at the beginning," the King said, and go on until you come to the ending, and stop." Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.

I have set Suzzanne's story in motion--now to go back and tell the beginning as I am commanded.

If you are also starting over, starting again, or starting in a new doorway, write me and we'll share hugs and pats on the back. That's what Facebook is good for!

Aug 2, 2009

My Brain is Full

I apologize for borrowing from Far Side cartoons with my lead line, but when the can not get past the JDC door into the real world without spilling either blood or ink struck this month, I had no choice. I began to read and reread: Gordon Korman, Juvie Three, and Chris Crutcher everything all over again, and Elaine Marie Alphin, selected scenes, and Thick by Colin Neenan...and a bagload of adult mysteries.

Finally I turned to the wonderful stories of Fiona the Photosensitive Flamingo, and Henry, the child who plays with food, to Tala and her trees, and Rossi and her lost diamond witchstone, flanked by Kari and the voodoo she do so well, Adis and the rooftops of Maddingbrew, and Agony Illyria and her illusion-wielding sidekicks.

Here is my inspiration: Mandy Silberstein, Kristin Gray, Karen Akins, Wild Silas Johnson, Tim Whirled Peas Koch and Justin "Mr. Minkle" Blatherbrain.

No writer is an island and when I am stranded, these fine characters pull me back to the mainland.

Thank you all.