books


The theme for this week was recovering a sense of identity. When I first sat down to reflect on the past week, I really thought I was going to say that I hadn’t connected with that theme. This week was busy–work deadlines & some emotional stuff that just made getting the weekly tasks done almost impossible. Since I hadn’t completed most of the tasks, I was sure I’d fallen short on really exploring the theme & wouldn’t have connected with what was going on in my head. But apparently, without realizing it, I did tap into that theme. The theme of recovering a sense of identity really could have been my theme for this week even if I wasn’t doing the Artist’s Way process right now. (more…)

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Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity has been on my to read list for a while now. I finally picked up a copy a week & a half ago while book browsing with my friend Kim (Sassiland) who was in town & who recommended it as we were trading recommendations on writing books. Rather than read it through from beginning to end in one sitting & make some promise to myself to actually follow through with the 12-week program at a later date, I decided to start then & there. I do think my willingness to do it now of all times has much to do with the last 9 months of my life. The next 12-weeks of this process will take me through the last 3-months of what will forever be known as the hardest year of my life. There’s something about coming to the end of this process & focusing on my own creative process in the months leading up to the one-year anniversary of my mother’s death. I guess it’s a desire to really cement the fact that while this year has been the worst of my life, it has also (oddly) been one of the most interesting (& at at times even good), & much of what has made it interesting/good has been my interest in really figuring out who I am, what I believe, & what makes me happy. And much of that has to do with focusing on the creative process in general, as well as mine in particular. (more…)

Bright-Shiny-MorningLucky for me, work got canceled tonight. So, I was able to go to a reading by author James Frey instead. I’ve never read any of his work. Of course I knew about the A Million Little Pieces debacle. My opinion of that had always been that it was blown out of proportion. I don’t consider memoir non-fiction. Are our memories or interpretations of any event ever 100 percent accurate? Even if a story I write is 90-percent real, I will always call it fiction. I don’t like the idea of a reader judging the reality of my world, how I need to interpret my world, or how I need to write about it. I read a Vanity Fair article last June about the whole affair & the aftermath. Something about it, & the description about his new book Bright Shiny Morning made me add the book to my to-read list.

So, things just came together this evening for me to go hear him read. I’m so glad I went. He stated up front that no questions were off limits. He has an incredibly refreshing candor & bluntness. More specifically, I appreciated what he said about his writing process. When he’s writing a book, he sees it as a full-time job. He “goes to work” 7-10 hours a day, 7-days a week. And when he writes he just plows through it beginning to end, and essentially keeps off the filter. Yes, this is all stuff I’ve heard before, but it was just interesting to hear him say it & to see how much writing is a part of him despite the hell it brought upon him. I also loved hearing that he didn’t write when he was younger or in college. He came to writing in his 20s. So often, I hear writers say how they have been writing since they are children as if that makes them more of a writer. Yes, I wrote when I was younger, but never with the conscious idea of being a writer. I didn’t decide that I wanted to write a novel until I was in my late 20s.

So, I have my autographed copy of Bright Shiny Morning & will start it as soon as I finish Revolutionary Road–which I should be done with by this weekend. The last couple months I’d been reading a lot of non-fiction. On the way back from DC last week I was craving fiction. During my stop-over in Salt Lake City, I purchased Revolutionary Road. So, the fiction kick is in full-swing. Part of me doesn’t like to really get pulled into any kind of fiction when I’m trying to really focus on my own work, but I realize I need that outlet. Non-fiction doesn’t fill the void.

So, if you ever have the opportunity to hear James Frey speak, go.

Image: OldPixels.com via flickr

Image: OldPixels.com via flickr

A friend sent me this article in today’s New York Times*:

Recession Fuels Readers’ Escapist Urges

Essentially, Motoko Rich’s article focuses on the success of the romance genre in the bookworld in the midst of the current economic realities. While other genres have seen stagnation or a decrease in the numbers of books being moved, romance has seen bigger numbers. The conclusion is that readers, amidst all the doom & gloom, want their books to have a happy ending. Apparently, the sci-fi and fantasy genres are also experiencing an upsurge. People want to escape. (more…)

avlxyz via flickr

Image: avlxyz via flickr

I’ll gloss over the fact that today is Valentine’s Day. I don’t buy into it. Ok, I’m currently single which could be coloring my view of the whole thing, but I digress.

21 Saturdays now. Not any easier. I made an effort today to try & do something I would normally have done on a Saturday afternoon. More often than not the last 21 Saturdays I’ve found myself at home around the time that I found her. My writing group ends at noon, & I’m usually home by 1 to check on the dogs, & then I just tend to get stuck at home. I don’t have the motivation to do much on Saturday afternoons–especially right around that time. If someone invites me out for that time period, I’m fine. But if left to my own devices, I seem to find myself here. Sometimes I’ll read, sometimes TV, sometimes just sitting outside, sometimes on the laptop; but here. So, today, I made an effort. I went & wandered around a bookstore for the afternoon; something, I oddly don’t think I’ve done in months. I know I have been in bookstores in the last 21 weeks. I have the books & magazines to prove it. But I don’t think I’ve just wandered as I would have any other Saturday afternoon before. So, today I did. I found a couple books to add to my to read list: (more…)

Dey via flickr

Image: Dey via flickr

Got back into my routine today. With my brother & his girlfriend here for the holidays & my injury, I haven’t been able to do my usual Saturday thing. So, this morning I went to my writing group. No writing today. When we finally did stop talking, I couldn’t get anything out. I went back & reread what I had (big mistake). Thought it was crap & didn’t know where to restart. I’d planned to stay a couple hours after we usually end. I’d fed the dogs early, before I left, & let them spend some quality time outside; so, I would have been safe til about 2. But promptly at noon, I gave up & packed it in.

On the way home I stopped off & got some flowers–yellow gerbera daisies. I’d missed not buying flowers on Saturdays the last couple of weeks. But it wasn’t something I could really pass on to someone else to pick up for me. It’s something I have to do.

Came home, put them in a vase & then opened up the windows & front door & hung out outside with the dogs. It was about 80 today. Absolutely beautiful. I love 80 degrees in winter, even if it is wrong on so many levels! Then, I put the stereo on, hooked up the iPod, and played The National & read. As I was sitting there struggling to write this morning, it dawned on me that one of the reasons I’ve been struggling with writing lately is that I haven’t been reading. I’ve been reading non-fiction, but I haven’t been reading fiction. I realized, I need to be constantly reminded how other writers do it. I need to be reminded that 1st person POV works. I need to be reminded that a reader can care about a fictional character’s life. I’ve read that some writers can’t read fiction while they’re writing; too worried that they’ll be influenced by it. But, I think I’m the opposite. I need to read fiction. I need to get lost in made-up stories, so I can get lost in my own. So, I sat down in the big leather chair, propped the bad leg up on the ottoman, & sat down to finish reading The End of the Story by Lydia Davis. I started this book before my mother died, & hadn’t picked it up since then. For the past 16 weeks I’ve had trouble sitting down & reading fiction. Maybe a fear of letting my mind wander; even if my mind was supposed to be wandering in the author’s world, I was too afraid it would wander somewhere else. I also haven’t been such a big fan of the quiet that I usually require to read. But today, it felt alright. I don’t know why or what was different today. But I could sit down & read & I wasn’t afraid of my thoughts drifting off, & they didn’t.

So, we’ll see if reading gets me back on track with writing. (more…)

In lieu of New Year’s resolutions, I’ve decided to instead focus on 4 words that I want to be able to use to define my life at the end of 2009. The idea comes from Carrie McCarty & Danielle LaPorte  who wrote this great book, Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design. I picked it up at the end of the summer as a part of my quest to do some self-reflection & just some basic figuring out. Anyways, life got in the way & I really wasn’t in the mood to be too self-reflective, until last week when I picked the book back up & started going through it.

The book walks you through a personal inventory to create a style statement which is kind of like personal branding, I guess. Essentially you come up with 2 words that help define who you are. It’s not meant to restrict or limit you, but rather to get you to look at what you truly value & who you really are. At this point, I’m only about half-way through the exercises, so I don’t know what my style statement is yet. But, I’ve been checking out their website & they have a daily Q&A, and today’s question was “What word describes your desire for 2009?” I did some thinking & was only able to narrow it down to 4; but those 4 actually really define what I want to do this year. (more…)

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