Thursday, May 31, 2007

2 Readings, 2 days

Before I left for vacation, I basically just sorted everything into two mental piles: things that needed to be done before I left, and things for later. Then I got back and realized that "later" was here.

So, in that spirit of completely ignoring things coming in the future, I managed to sign myself up for my first and second public reading back to back. On Tuesday, I read a chunk of a short story to a thesis forum at Harvard, and then last night I read another chunk of that same story at a New and Emerging Writers series (see pics here).

I've always hated the idea of reading aloud. I talk fast in general, and even faster when I'm nervous, so I've done very poorly on presentations in the past. I took a speaking class in college, which helped a bit, but not enough to stick with me in the years since graduating.

But these times I managed to do well! People said I didn't speed read, and had decent inflection. The best part was that I didn't hate being up there. I was nervous, but not sweating-through-my-shirt nervous, like I've been in the past. I do need to work on staying up there for more than 7 minutes though. Both times I cut my reading way short because it seemed I had been up there forever when in reality it was less than 10 minutes...

A shout out to Fat Charlatan, who lovingly accompanied me to the first reading as my moral supporter (and read beautifully at the 2nd). And to Poetmom and BostonErin who organized the NEWS reading as a way to get new writers' voices out in the community. Best Blogger Tips

Monday, May 28, 2007

Bonjour!

I'm back from what turned was a wonderful trip to Paris. My mom was a truly wonderful travel companion, and we had fun painting the town rouge. The most amazing side effect of the vacation is how incredibly relaxed I feel! I mean, relaxed in a way I haven't felt in years.

I spent the long weekend--gasp--doing whatever the hell I felt like! Brian and I soaked up some sun at a free concert on the Esplanade and row boating on the pond near our house. I gardened, with a sense of desire instead of obligation. Even today's tasks of unpacking my suitcase and hanging out with my in-laws weren't super arduous (though I did need a nap after the latter).

And what I realized as I went out for coffee and pastries this morning (one last day of guilt-free vacation eating), was that I want this feeling to last. No, I need it to. So no matter how much I feel I *need* to take on X, Y, or Z project, I cannot simply do so at the expense of my stress level. No longer will I try to cram as much as I possibly can into every day in the hopes of getting a return on the time- investment some day in the future. I will only do as much as I can while allowing myself to stay calm and present and relaxed.

Along those lines, I'm going to try as hard as I can to give myself one full day off a week--no email, no work work, no school work, nothing. I'm not sure that this is feasible, but I think it's worth a try! Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Aurevoir


I'm off to Paris tomorrow! "See" you all in 10 days or so. Best Blogger Tips

Knitting pics




I'm very bad about remembering to take pictures of the things I knit before I give them away as gifts. When I do remember, I'm equally bad about actually getting the photos off the camera and online. So, here are some things I made for people for Christmas: some baby gloves, a bookworm bookmark, and an Ipod cover. Just wanted to share. Next week, I'll get a pic of the pocketbook I knit for myself and am quite proud of. Best Blogger Tips

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Good articles

Some good articles about writing/publishing that I recently came across:

This one talks about the fact that publishing a hit book is still a mystery and why. I love the line about it being a bad idea to leave business decisions up to people who go into their line of work (publishing) out of love, not money.

I think Poetmom will especially appreciate this one. It's about the importance of blogging for musical artists (and much of the info is relevant to writers). The lede profile is of a blogger who wrote a song a week for a year (much like PM's poem a day for a month project). Best Blogger Tips

Friday, May 11, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Second Chances

This week's Sunday Scribblings had me stumped. I can think of minor things I'd like to do over, but nothing major. So I started to think about the topic in terms of my characters. My goal in just about every story I write is to give my characters something they wish they could do over, but to have them learn enough from the experience caused by the tragedy/mistake so as to make them somewhat glad they went through it.

And I guess maybe that's how I look at my own life, and why I can't think of too many regrets. I try to take something away from the crappy times my mistakes cause so that even if I don't enjoy them, I'm glad to have gone through them in some way.

PS--I'm taking myself off line this weekend in an attempt to relax, so I'll come visit others' scribblings next week. Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Reading list

I am about two inches away from being school-work free! What a glorious feeling! As I alluded to in an earlier post, one of the best things about this time between semesters for me is regaining the ability to read for pleasure.

What is it that makes reading for a deadline/class so different? Even if I like what I'm reading for class, I find it harder to just submerge myself in it. I'm guessing it has to do with feeling the need, with school reading, to stay apart from the story enough to stay alert to why it's working, what the author's intent is, etc. Whereas with pleasure reading I can jump right into the deep end of the characters' lives and setting.

That said, here's what I plan to read in the next month, deep-end style:
* Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky. (I'm 100 pages in and really enjoying it.)
* On Beauty by Zadie Smith
* What is the What by Dave Eggers
* Which Brings Me to You by Steve Almond and Juliana Baggot
* Maybe a Sue Grafton mystery thrown in there. There's nothing like breezing through a good mystery.

For my reading for the semester, I plan to make some suggestions to my mentor this time. In the past I've let them do all the suggesting because I want to be exposed to different things. But this time, I'd like to read at least two of the following:

* Later, At the Bar: A novel in stories by Rebecca Barry
* The newest Alice Munroe
* Possibly Winesburg, Ohio. I'm into the idea of reading a few collections of very linked short stories. Not that that's what I'm working on, but I like the idea.

What are you reading??? Best Blogger Tips

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Submission: Sent!

Though I literally waited til the 11th hour, I got the last submission of the semester done in time (I sent it out at 11pm last night!). It's very rough. The ending is insanely rushed. But it's out there.

For next semester, I'd like to work on really perfecting my annotation writing. It's something I seem to fluctuate on, with my biggest problem being that something that seems obvious and clear to me is not to an outside reader.

I have a few more to work on my last IS submission (which, to be honest, I haven't even started!). It's just editing two 2nd drafts of chapters, though, so I'm not too stressed. I can't be--because I have to squeeze it in to a very hectic week work-wise and personal life-wise.

I'm SO looking forward to this weekend. For the first time in like a hundred years, I will have NO work to do. In fact, I plan not to turn on my computer. Brian will be away, so I will have plenty of time to myself to regroup. Ahhhh... Best Blogger Tips

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Reasons I want to cry


I'm feeling insanely overly emotional today (Poor Brian!). So I thought I'd make a list of reasons I want to cry. Maybe it will help:

1. I went to a baby shower. I hate baby showers. As much as I truly want to be able to celebrate my wonderful friends who decide to have babies, I leave showers feeling like shit. Probably because I have yet to be at one where someone (most often a stranger) doesn't ask, "So when are you going to have a baby?" Now I know this is logical talk for the occasion. But can't anyone see why this might be a tad personal? This time, oddly enough, the question was directed at my husband by another man. And he was pushy! He asked if we had kids, and B said no. Then he said, "Well, you will eventually right?" B said, "Um, probably." Luckily for him he could leave it at that and transition to another conversation. I, on the other hand, am still reeling: do I want to have kids? When? Why? What if I hate him/her/parenting?

2. I've had a cold for a week now. It's a low grade cold, but it's made me exhausted.

3. I am so far behind on my shitty, shitty story it's not even funny. And while I truly admire my mentor and her advice, I think this is her fault. Giving a compliment every now and then wouldn't be a bad thing! And, in fact, it might make the thought of you reading my next story not so scary as to make me not want to write it.

4. Work sucked this week SO badly. For reasons I can't go into on a blog. But let's just say that the tissues atop my desk? I went through a few boxes this week.

5. I have to spend my Saturday night writing a crappy story I don't want to write.

In typical Bug fashion, I can't post such a negative post without some balance. So, some things I'm happy about:

1. I decided to buy a Mac for my new laptop (the PC I'm typing on is slowly dying.) This is a big relief because I hate buying computers, but I'm psyched on the idea of a Mac for all the reasons given in their very cute TV ads.

2. I made my pregnant friend a beautiful hat for her baby.

3. I was able to verbalize the fact I was feeling shitty before I acted out on it. (Yes, I realize that "accomplishment" is something you might praise a 3 year old for)

4. My garden is coming up.

5. As of next week, I CAN READ A BOOK OF MY CHOOSING!!!! You have no idea how excited I am to do this.

6. In two weeks, I'll be in Paris.

7. A small part of me knows I am very proud of the work I've gotten done this semester (though really, some outside praise would be nice!). Best Blogger Tips

Friday, May 04, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: The ocean

The ocean played a big part of my life when I was growing up. Where I lived on Long Island (New York), you could get to a few different beaches in half an hour. And there was ample parking at these beaches, and lots of room for people to spread out. I remember going as a kid a lot, but my more distinct memories are of being there as a teenager.

My first serious boyfriend and I used to go to the beach together all the time, usually at night with a group of our friends. Innocent kiddies that we were (at that point, at least...) we would play minature golf and take walks in the sand. I have beautiful pictures of all of us on the beach watching the sun come up the day after prom. Another time, during the day, he let me put my hand on his chest while we sunbathed so he had a reverse shadow of my hand on him all summer. (And then I broke his heart and we all moved on with our lives...)

Now, the ocean is still technically close to me. Boston, after all, is a city on the water. But getting to a nice beach is not so easy. It usually entails driving for an hour, spending an insane amount of time trying to find parking, and then walking a mile carrying all your beach crap. No wonder I don't go as much as I used to.

I'm hoping with this post someone will alert me to a close, convenient beach that I just don't know about. Anyone??

For more scribblings on the ocean, click here. Best Blogger Tips

Help

I need some help with my story. I've hit a road block, and I can't
figure out a way through. And I have to, cause I need to get a draft
done tonight!

So, here's the deal: a woman's husband doesn't come home when he should. After 24 hours, she calls the cops, who basically believe he ran away with another woman because there's no sign of foul play and the couple was having problems. She's veryadamant that he's not that type of guy, that this isn't that type of marriage. They tell her to snoop around his cell phone, email, etc. Now, here's the roadblock.

I need her to find something suspicious. But what? I don't want it to be anything as obvious as a receipt for a suspiciously feminine item (jewelry, etc.). But I do want it to be something that makes her question how well she knows this man who she
has so much faith in. Something that she would think he would consult her on before doing.

Any ideas?? Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Another schedule

Yes, I just made a backwards schedule not so long ago. But I have since fallen WAAAAY behind. So, with mere days until my final MFA deadline of the semester, here's a new one:

Tomorrow night: Write madly, for however long it takes to get a first draft done.
Saturday: Enjoy J.P.'s spring festival and M's baby shower.
Saturday night: Revise both annotations
Sunday: Revise, revise, revise.

I got myself a week extension on my IS project (since my advisor was late with comments. My hope is to spend two nights next week working on that, and then be done enough to hand it in. I love how my standards have lowered to include "done enough." Best Blogger Tips

Finding your tribe

I subscribe to an email newsletter called Daily Om. It sends me thoughtful messages each morning (though, to be honest, some are a little too fruity for me to latch onto.) One I particularly liked was about building community, which they called "finding your tribe".

I feel like in the last year, thanks in large parts to my MFA program and Chloe-dog, I have found a group of people who I truly connect with, who understand me, and most importantly who I feel comfortable being my imperfect self in front of. I'm so grateful, and hope you all find your tribes soon, if you haven't already.

Here's a section from the "find your tribe" email:

Part of being human is the search for an individual identity. Bound to this strong need to establish a unique persona, however, is an equally intense desire for acceptance. It is when we find our individual tribes that both are satisfied. Our tribe members are those people who accept us as we are without reservation and gladly accompany us on our journeys of evolution. Among them, we feel free to be our imperfect selves, to engage unabashedly in the activities we enjoy, and to express our vulnerabilities by relying on our tribe for support. We feel comfortable investing our time and energy in the members of our tribe, and are equally comfortable allowing them to invest their resources in our development. Best Blogger Tips

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Love letters

I've been a bad blogger. I will blame an insanely stressful end of week at work, a house guest, and a friend's wedding. But now I'm back, and very far behind on my MFA work. So, what else is there to do but procrastinate and blog?

The Cupboard is calling for submissions of love letters. I imagine they want things that are more creative than a letter from a wife to her husband. I doubt I'll submit anything, but it has been fun to think about what I could write a love letter to. Here are two of my ideas. Please add yours in comments!
* An ode to ice coffee on the first spring-like day
* A letter to the person on the bus who met my eye when the crazy person next to me started screaming about Jesus. It's people like her who help me uphold my beliefs in my own sanity Best Blogger Tips
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