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…)

Image: Monster. via flickr

Image: Monster. via flickr

Yes, it’s been awhile. I owe some Artist’s Way updates, but for now, my reemergence into the blogging world is going to be marked by a bit of venting about my novel-in-progress. Here’s the email I just sent off to a couple members of my writing group about my little problem…I thought I’d share so you, my readers, might have an insight into this sometimes frustrating process called writing a novel! I realize this is the first time I’ve used my characters names in this blog or even really mentioned any details (eve vague & unspecific ones) about the plot. Consider it a fluke or a sign of complete laziness to rewrite the email to take out any “specific” details.

And now, my vent… (more…)

With the end of week 4, I have come a third of the way through this process. I feel a real sense of accomplishment that I’ve stayed with the process and committed to it. Now, having said that, I will admit to being a little lax in working through this week’s tasks. As this week was about recovering a sense of integrity, I’m owning up to my slacking. That’s not to say that this week was a bad week. It was actually a good week full of some good things in terms of where I am mentally and creatively. (more…)

As I’ve meandered along (ok, scraped, clawed, & tortured myself) through this novel-in-progress of mine, I’ve never seriously expected to make a living from it. Of course I’ve had the occasional daydream of such a life & of calling myself a working novelist. But what I’ve come to realize is that I’d be happy just being a full-time working writer. Admittedly, I’d like all my future writing to be spent on work I love, and not on work I need; but still, I’d just like to be able to answer that inevitable What do you do for a living question by saying I’m a writer.

Writer Steve Almond, author of (Not That You Asked): Rants, Exploits, and Obsessions and The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories, has an funny/interesting essay in Sunday’s LA Times Books section, Can’t Say No: Why One Writer Can’t Turn Down Any Assignments, about what it means to be a working writer & why being considered a writing “slut” isn’t such a bad thing.

It really wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Yes, it’s been awhile. I could blame life, but really I think it was laziness that got in the way of me posting.

Yes, life has been trying at times. Definitely some days that I couldn’t wait to get over with–specifically my mother’s birthday (May 9) & Mother’s Day (May 10). Yep, back-to-back. After I passed the 6-month mark in March, I think I became obsessed with how I would or wouldn’t get through that weekend in May. On the upside, I got through it with a trip out of town. I knew I couldn’t be home that weekend. I knew it would be too hard. Instead, I went to DC to spend it with my brother & a lot of really good friends, who for the most part did a great job of distracting me & keeping me busy. Admittedly, attending the wedding of one friend on my mother’s birthday was not ideal. It was a little hard to stand in the church & know that when/if I ever finally decide to get married, my mother won’t be there. That wasn’t a reminder I needed on her birthday. I had thought about skipping the wedding, but I knew I couldn’t. And in the end, as hard as it was to be there, I’m glad I was there. My brother & I dealt with Mother’s Day by essentially ignoring it. Sometimes, that really is the best way to deal with things.

I’m relieved to have made it through that weekend. These last 8 months of events/holidays to get through & get past  have been just that, things & days to get through & get past. Unfortunately, what I realized the day after I returned home was that getting through or past any of these events/holidays really doesn’t mean anything. Yes, I’ve gotten though the one, but there are a lifetime more to come. This just keeps going. Yes, I will admit that today was better than yesterday; but the reality is, however many days, months, or years pass between the day my mother died & where I am, the fact remains, she’s still not here.

God, depressing. I so didn’t mean for this post to be such a downer. (more…)

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.

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…)

Image: Inma :) via flickr

Image: Inma 🙂 via flickr

I don’t know where I’ve been, but I’m back.

Weeks 24-27 & number 28 today. They came & went. One just blends into another these days, so I guess I can just let them go without saying much more.

The 6 month mark didn’t pass by as easily. The day was blah. Tears were shed. I finally realized I do most of my crying while driving. Sunglasses help to keep the other drivers from wondering what the hell is wrong. I’ve been able to drive through it; only once in the last 6 months have I had to pull over. Anyways, I’ll get around to writing a post for that day. But for now, I survived it. I guess that’s the important part. The main observation to come out of it was how quickly & how slowly time has passed. And now I get to look forward to 1-year. Fuck.

On the writing front, things have gone really well. I took another writing class this past quarter (just finished last week). As I wrote in my last post, I got incredibly good feedback from my instructor. The positive feedback started with my editing skills and then extended into really great comments on my writing & my novel. The course focused on writing & rewriting the 1st 50-pages of your novel. So, I really feel like I came out of it with a good start, with material that should carry me forward. I had my weaknesses pointed out & spent the course addressing them. I feel like I know how to overcome them now which is great. (more…)

I feel the need to share.

Spent the evening doing critiques for my novel writing class and got the following comment back from my instructor:

“You are one of the finest readers I’ve encountered in any workshop, anywhere.”

Given that I worry that I’m too harsh or too detailed, that was an incredibly nice compliment.

Ok, my ego is happy and my eyes are tired. Bed time. Will catch up on the blog tomorrow. Night.

Currently listening to: Shh by Frou Frou

Yesterday I met one-on-one with a writing friend. “IM” & I met via my writing group. She’s decided to step away from the group recently, but she & I have decided to keep meeting every couple weeks. We spent 4-hours talking about writing in general & our work specifically. I love when I’m around people who see things the way I do & who are going through the same writing struggles. It’s nice to be able to encourage, motivate, & help each other.

I had sent my pages to her late the night before, so she’d only been able to get through the first half before we met up. She was incredibly positive. I respect her writing & her opinion, so it was a great vote of confidence. She had the same criticism as everyone else–those damn transitions. But, she said I shouldn’t use my struggle with them as an excuse to take the easy way out & retreat to a linear timeline. She gave me some ideas on how I might be able to fix things. So, I’ll keep playing.

I also received feedback from my instructor on my most recent submission this morning. Overall, really good comments. This is some of what he had to say:

“You’re narrating from the emotional center of your character. This story so far is so emotionally raw and truthful. Your decision to write about an emotionally repressed character…is brilliant because the emotionality of the story is played entirely inside the character. From the outside she may look like a cipher, but her interior struggle is powerfully dramatic, without being at all melodramatic.”

Again, the pesky transitions were mentioned; but more so the opening one than the rest of them. He pretty much told me to just move forward for now & put the opening transitions on the back burner. I’m still going to work on them, but he’s right, I just need to move forward.

Feeling good. Next, & final, submission is due in 2-1/2 weeks. I’m supposed to be up to 50-pages by then. I’ll try not to leave it all to the last minute this time.