Apparently, I’m all about new experiments this week.

A friend sent me this article today.* It’s about memoir writing, but it has some great writing exercises that non-memoirists can totally use. But what really resonated with me was what the author, Abigail Thomas, said about the importance of silence. She wrote,

“Don’t listen to anything but natural sound. Don’t look at anything you have to turn on. This is about the pleasure of silence. This is not meditating; this is reacquainting yourself with yourself. Something interesting might enter your head if you let it alone.”

Given my constant inclusion of what I’m listening to when I write these posts, you can probably guess that I listen to music when I write. Sometimes it’s to tune out other noises & distractions. Sometimes it’s for inspiration or motivation. I love music. But reading what Thomas wrote earlier today, I’ve been thinking about how I tend to neglect silence. If I’m in the car, there is music playing. If I’m taking a walk or on the metro, my iPod is on.

But it’s those moments when I don’t have anything on in the background that I have had epiphanies about my story or new ideas for another project. My ideas and thoughts tend to come together as I’m lying in silence trying to go to sleep. So, it’s made me think that I need to incorporate more silence into my life. I need to let my mind wander without distraction. Yes, music & noise serve their purpose, but I think in this case, I need to loose the distraction and leave my mind alone. So, let’s see is I can spend some of that time at the beach tomorrow in silence. Maybe something good will come out of it.

* Yes, I realize this article comes from AARP magazine. Although I’m about 30+ years away from being a subscriber, I’ve got to give them credit for a good article.

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Mood: quite pleased & a little hungry (dinnertime)

Currently listening to: Fade into You by Mazzy Star

So, I’m almost caught up. I had a really good writing session this afternoon–a good 2,000 words. I think I like the scene. It wasn’t the direction I thought it would go. A character I didn’t plan on inviting showed up. Might work in the long run, might not. Might have just been doing it to get word count, or maybe it was really inspired. Won’t know for months and not worrying about it. It moved me forward. That’s the important thing.

So, I’ve noticed that I seem to keep finding myself in situations where people are talking about writing and their own manuscripts or projects. It’s all really random. If I’m at certain places or in certain parts of LA, I EXPECT to hear about the status of the manuscript/screenplay of the guy at the next table over. But these moments have been more random. Today I was at Cafe Zephyr–cute little place in Pasadena (actually owned by a former elementary school classmate of my brother’s). When I first moved back here, I went there all the time, and then stopped. Mainly because they didn’t have wi-fi & the parking situation sucked (resulting in 2 parking tickets in less than 2 months). Well, finally went back this past Monday and again today after, at least, a 2-year gap. (They now have wi-fi, and I discovered a parking lot in the back.) So, today, I was sitting across from this group of people. I couldn’t tell what they were getting together for, but then I started eavesdropping. From what I can tell, they were a poetry group. And one of the members was talking about how she’d been asked to submit her manuscript by this poet she had met. She said the guy’s name, but I couldn’t quite make it out. Not that I’d really know. I’ve never been a big poetry reader. What did strike me is that she mentioned that he’s a friend of the former poet laureate Robert Pinsky. The reason I know him is he was a professor at Boston University where I went to college, and he was named poet laureate the year I graduated. Our graduation gift from the school was a copy of one of his collections. So, anyways, I don’t know, I guess it was just listening to her talk about how she just forced herself to finish it up and submit. I liked her attitude towards the whole thing. It was just a big step and an accomplishment in itself to be able to submit it, and to someone who had requested she do so. Maybe I’m finding myself in these situations to remind me that one, I’m not alone, and two, it’s an accomplishment just to be able to send it out. For now, I’m a long way off from that. But, it’s nice to have these serendipitous moments now and then.

Ok, I fully intend to finish catching up tonight. Actually, I guess it’s more doing what I’m supposed to for the day. Writing group tomorrow morning.

Mood: yawning

Currently listening to: Tisis Momar by Emily Wells

So, yes, I am on track with the word war. Kudos to me! Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I did not write yesterday. And how am I still managing to be on track? Well, I’ve actually managed in these first few days to exceed the 1000 words a day goal. So, alas, I was able to somewhat guiltlessly take a day off. So spent yesterday having dinner at a friend’s house. Sitting outside with a couple of glasses of wine and a lovely dinner I didn’t have to make. Played trains with a 2-year old who informed me that cheese can’t read. My bad. And reminisced about those long ago days in Catholic school.

So, to stay on track, I need to knock out at least 920 words, although a 1000 to be good, before I crash. Am currently fighting the urge to curl up and go to sleep, or at the very least read a magazine (picked up Vanity Fair and Poets & Writers today) or get going on a new book (You Don’t Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem). But alas, I must be good. I have to admit, the fact that this blog is now read by a few friends who can hold me accountable is really motivating me not to fail miserably with another word war. So, thanks all.

Off to be good (and to stop wasting words here).

***

Update: So, going to be behind 920 words. Just started feeling ill as soon as I posted earlier and am just going to crash. Feel better now–2 hours later. Who knows. Will catch up tomorrow or this weekend. I’ve come back from worse word deficits.

Mood: Sniffly (Yesterday, the neighbor planted the one flower I’m horribly allergic too!)

Currently listening to: Pace is the Trick by Interpol

I joined Facebook. Yes, I’m slow and a little late on joining the bandwagon. Still trying to figure the whole thing out, but was glad to wake up this morning and find that I already had 4 friends! Was a little worried that it would feel like high school all over again (kidding, high school wasn’t that horrid. Just slightly!). Having another blog/profile/webpage to update is probably not a good thing. Just another thing to help me procrastinate from what I should be doing, like working on the WIP.

…okay, there’s a little bug crawling across my computer screen right now…

Anyways, all is not bad. Got a few words in over the last couple of days. Nothing substantial, but something is something.

…bug flew away…

…spoke to soon, it’s back…

Planning to get some pages in this weekend. I think this is the first weekend in months where I don’t absolutely have to be somewhere. So, hopefully can find a hole to climb into and get a good chunk of writing in. I, at least, want to finish up the scene I’m in. Actually, once I finish up this scene, I think I might be turning a real corner and getting to the end. Of course, I’m not entirely sure how long it’s going to take to get to the end. I’m kind of hoping that I’m not that close to the end. Yes, I know that makes no sense! Here I’ve been dying to finally type THE END, but as far as page/word count goes, I know I need more, or else this is going to end up being a novella. No, it’s not that bad. Actually, if I ended up hitting the end sooner rather than later, all would not be lost. I know that there are a lot of places in the next draft where I need to go into more detail on earlier scenes. Ah, but not quite there yet. One step at a time.

Mood: Serene + Hungry

Currently listening to: Astronaut by Amanda Palmer (feat. Zoe Keating)

So, yesterday I found in my purse the last 2 chapters I’ve written of my WIP. I had printed them out last week to read so I could figure out where to go next. So, had time to kill at the mechanic…car wouldn’t start yesterday, so had to have it towed. Not fun. Luckily, it’s nothing major, but reminds me how much I’m over the whole car ownership/driving thing. I’d bloody kill for decent public transportation in LA. But I digress…So, I got to reading the last 2 chapters I’ve written, and low and behold, they don’t totally suck. I mean, seriously. I’m hyper-critical of my own writing, and I can even say, that while not perfect, they’re not bad. This is the first time in a while that I’ve gone back and read a significant portion of my WIP before moving onto the next scene. I tend to avoid doing that because I don’t want to start editing myself and obsessing with old stuff instead of moving forward towards THE END.

So, really, kind of feeling good about the whole thing. Shocking, I know. And I hate to say this, but the close 3rd POV kind of works. (I promise, I will refrain from subjecting you, my dear reader, and myself, to another POV debate in this post.) Not sure what this means long term, but I’m just going with it and moving forward.

While I haven’t been the most disciplined of writers since my last post, things are moving ahead, slowly. I’ve been better than I’ve been…which probably isn’t saying much, but nonetheless, it’s something. It’s progress.

So, update on the summer reading. Finished The Bell Jar a couple weeks back. Really liked it. Not sure what that says about me. I’d always heard the book referred to as depressing and not a book that anyone with thoughts of suicide should read. I didn’t get that. Maybe I’m looking at it from a more technical point of view–good character development, good use of 1st person POV, great detail. But then I was talking to Sara, who recommended I read it, and we came to the conclusion that if you are in your early 20s like the main character and at that stage of your life where you don’t know where you are going or who you are, then it could be depressing, etc. But, since we/I are in our 30s and have a vague idea of who we are and what we are doing and have had some accomplishments in our lives, it resonates in a different way.

Next I read Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach. Quick read. Well done. I love how he does so much with a story that essentially is set within the first couple hours of a couple’s honeymoon. Now, I’m on to Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. Only about a fifth of the way through so far, but must say, I like Hemingway’s writing style. I like the use of declarative sentences. The rhythm of his writing keeps it from getting monotonous. It’s so bad that this is the first thing I’ve ever read by him. Apparently, I didn’t know what I was missing. Although, maybe I should withhold judgement until I’ve finished the book.

In addition to some good books recently, have come across some new music finds that are keeping me sated.

  • The new Sigur Rós album, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, is officially my favorite Sigur Rós album. I tend to favor them when I’m trying to work or write. Great, beautiful background music. Also incredibly good if you’re looking for something to chill out to. So, if you love a little Icelandic rock, check it out. Also, must add, they are great live. Saw them at Coachella in 2006. Early evening, under the desert sky–nothing better. Loving the song Illgresi.
  • Peter Gabriel’s new album/project, Big Blue Ball. I’m a sucker for anything the man does. In the early 90s, he brought a bunch of world musicians together at his studio for recording sessions, and this is what came out of it. It’s taken more than a decade to finally release it.
  • Just came across the song Astronaut by Amanda Palmer last week. Was checking out one of my favorite music blogs (stereogum.com) and they mentioned it. She’s part of The Dresden Dolls out of Boston. I’ve never been a major Dolls fan–a little too cabaret for me, but I’m loving her solo stuff. Her album doesn’t come out until September (it’s going to be a long wait), but she has a couple of songs, including Astronaut, on her myspace page; so, something to tide me over. Also, can I add that she worked with Ben Folds on this album. Love him as well.

Ok, so it’s a lovely day, even if is supposed to hit 100 today. Have work to do, but part of me is feeling the need to blow it off and go get some ice cream and hit the bookstore. Actually, what I need is lunch, or to be more precise breakfast. It’s noon and I haven’t eaten yet. Time to go forage.

Mood: Accepting

Currently Listening to: Reckoner by Radiohead

Honestly, not really traumatized by the whole thing. I can accept it. Admittedly there’s much I haven’t done that I still want to get done. And the major thing I’d hoped to have done by this birthday, my novel (at least a good working draft). So, the new goal, everything will be complete and sent out to publishers (whether they like it or not) by this time next year.

I figure my friends are producing kids in their 30s, I can produce a novel. It’s the closest I want to come to a baby at this stage of my life.

So, the countdown begins…364 days from today…actually first draft by June 21 (20 short days away) and edited draft by Sept. 1. That leaves a good 200+ days to get it out and about.

Hold me to it!

Mood: Still frustrated, with a touch of apathy, a sense of emptiness, and overwhelming exhaustion (it is almost 4 in the morning after all).

Currently Listening to: Are You Lightning? by Nada Surf

A writing instructor I had once said that as a writer it is important to surround yourself, immerse yourself, in works–whether literature, music, art, film–that inspire you and promote creativity in you. Even if you’re not currently working on a piece, you should still seek out that which gets you off. And I realized this evening that I have been surrounded by and immersed in absolute crap for the better part of the last week (and especially the last 48-hours). No wonder I’m in such a funk and so fucking frustrated. I desperately need to hear, see, read, even touch or taste, something good right this minute.

I’m open to suggestions….