Yeah, so I’ve been a bad blogger. I apologize profusely. I am thoroughly chastised.

So, what have I been up to?

The magazine job is still going well. Almost 5 months in and it still feels like a great fit. I’ve had two feature articles published at this point–one on the national sleep poll and another on recruiting in the respiratory therapist industry–two topics I’d never thought I’d write about. Even though this is medical/trade publishing, it’s still great experience. I don’t know where I want my career in magazine publishing to go. All I know is that for right now, it’s the right fit for my skills, interests, and strengths. And it gives me a chance to write and edit. (more…)

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Image: Markus Rodder via Flickr

Image: Markus Rodder via Flickr

Yes, I’ve been a terribly horrible blogger, but if it’s any consolation, know that my words have instead been poured into that infamous novel-in-progress.

Yes, I’ve been making progress & it feels good. Admittedly, most of the progress made has less to do with me being a diligent self-motivated worker & more to do with the looming deadline for my novel class & the overwhelming need to impress my favorite writing instructor with these new pages. Hey, but whatever keeps me on task!

So, the new noveling class is going well. It feels so good to be back with my favorite writing instructor (from here on out referred to as FWI), & already I’m feeling the love. Here’s what I got back last week from him for one of my critiques:

Hurry up and publish your novel so I can recommend you to teach one of these courses [in the] Writer’s Program. Your readings are that good.

Sorry, but my writer/editor ego relishes these kudos. Pathetic I know! Chalk it up to the fragile artist’s ego…ok, so mine’s not really so fragile. It’s just nice to be patted on the back & share it publicly.  (more…)

Well, just got the official enrollment for my fall writing class which will have me working with my favorite instructor again. There was some question as to whether or not I would be able to enroll in the class, but it’s all official now. Which means I have only 7 days to get the first 50-pages of my novel-in-progress ready for the 1st day of class. I’ve known that I would need these pages ready for the first day for weeks, but the fact that my enrollment was up in the air kind of found me procrastinating on all the editing that needs to be done. So, now I have to go through those pages and chop and massage what I’ve already written, and add where needed.

One of the more complicated tasks is that I now need to go back in and weave two separate threads together. Earlier this summer I made the decision to write this draft of my novel in a chronological format even though my plan is to have the final product be a back-and-forth of present & past. So, to ensure that my structure is working, I need to piece it all back together again so that my readers are seeing it in the format I intend. While the structure is a bit complicated at times, I know it works. My instructor who I’ve workshopped this with before has assured me it does and that I shouldn’t take the easy way out and go straight chronological. But, I know I have to ensure an emotional consistency to the two threads which at times is unintentionally easy, and at others, irritatingly frustrating. Essentially I need the emotional tone of the flashback to mirror the present scene it sprung from. This was something my instructor dinged me on in the earlier draft he saw, and I really want to fix it before he sees this new draft.

So, work to be done and 7 days to pull it all together. On the upside, I thrive under a deadline. Seriously, if someone assigned me a deadline for this novel and could come up with a real threat that would cause me some discomfort–either emotional, physical, or financial–I would totally get this novel done in no time. But short of a publication date and a hefty advance riding on it, I’ll have to settle for workshop pressure and the need to impress my instructor. Whatever works I suppose.

Made peace with a decision today. I withdrew from the writing course I’ve been taking this summer. The decision was difficult because I’m not one to quit a class. I want the grade & I want to move forward. However, this course was becoming more of a chore than it ever should have been. The course focused on writing & critiquing the mid-section of your novel-in-progress. Over the course of the last 7 weeks I’ve steadily lost interest in the class. And with 3 weeks to go, I knew I just couldn’t go through the motions anymore.

Throughout the course, I was submitting pages just to submit pages, not because I was looking forward to the feedback from either the instructor or my fellow students. And it’s not as if any of their comments were in any way negative. They were all fine; honestly, positive. However, they did lack the depth I think I was craving. I know my work isn’t perfect, and I need people to point out the flaws so I can fix them. I think the real problem was I went into this class expecting to get the same type of workshop experience that I had with my instructor Robert from winter quarter who I loved and who just really dug into my work (actually, everyone’s work) & found those spots that I didn’t realize were good & the ones that were crap. Even better, he gave me direction on how to rectify the problem. I think I wanted the structure of his workshop. And, to be honest, I never really clicked with the current instructor & I’ve come to realize that in a writing course, that is important. (more…)

I’ve been debating whether to bother posting about the current drama in my writing class; but I think I see the larger lesson in it which might in the end be valuable.

I may have mentioned previously that the instructor is a bit of a control freak. She’s very precise about how things should be done, & if a student doesn’t follow her guidelines she is quick to point out the mistake. (more…)

Currently listening to: Fine for Now by Grizzly Bear (from their new album “Veckatimest”)

Dilemma. For my current writing class, my final project has to be a 10-page short story. This short story should be an expansion of an earlier scene submitted during the course of the class.

I was sure that I was going to go expand the scene I wrote 2 weeks ago. In my head that was the one I was going to finish & submit for critique…even though I hadn’t quite figured out how I was going to expand it.

Now, as I try to work on my assignment that is due tomorrow…my assignment that should be further work on what I will submit for my final project in another 2 weeks…I can’t figure out if I should go with that scene or another. I made the mistake of going back & rereading another scene I submitted much earlier in the class, & now I think that’s the one I should go with. There’s more room for expansion. I can see it, admittedly it’s a little hazy, but I have to admit, it’s clearer than the one I had thought I was going to go with. It’s not that I had my heart set on one or the other, but it’s taking me a bit to wrap my head around this new direction. I know I should accept that at least for now the one I thought I was going to work with just isn’t ready. I need to accept that this other scene is the one that is ready to go.

I guess I need to accept my instructor’s advice to put the piece I’d intended to work on away for a little while longer; maybe then it will be more malleable. I hate that she’s right!

Patience is not one of my virtues.

Spent yesterday afternoon at one of my favorite cafes doing some freewriting. The first assignment for my new writing class was to do a daily freewrite taking down notes about different settings/places. So yesterday, I chose the cafe’s enclosed front porch to do some writing. Today I sat down & worked those pages of notes into a 120-word description of the place. Yes, a 120-word limit for the assignment. Plus, it had to be completely about the place, no character description or character involvement. At first I struggled to find an in, but then decided to just try writing without worrying about the assignment. That turned into a 1000-word short story sketch. It feels like something I can continue to work with, which is good. The final project for the class is a short story. Since I’ve been focusing on the novel-in-progress, I haven’t had a lot of time or mind-space to work on shorter pieces. So, I’m looking forward to this class forcing me to make the time.

After working on the story sketch, I did finally get around to working on that 120-word setting description. I currently have a decent 115-words. Assignment is due tomorrow evening, so I want to play with it again tonight & tomorrow morning before turning it in.

I like these types of exercises. It really gets me to zero in on mechanics & techniques that are crucial for the novel-in-progress.