Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Some links

I am a member of the National Writers' Union (which I highly recommend my fellow writers look into--they have really intelligent members who answer questions on various listserves, they run workshops and events, and they have a contract department that will help you read through a contract to make sure your rights are being looked after). Through the NWU, I learned about some neat web sites that I thought I'd share:

http://www.book-proposal.com/ Has info about writing book proposals

http://www.zokutou.co.uk/forum/profile.php?mode=register An online writing group based in the UK that has some neat exercises on their site

http://writersisland.wordpress.com/ A site similar to Sunday Scribblings Best Blogger Tips

Monday, September 24, 2007

Breaking the silence

Hello! It's been a while! I think this is the longest I've gone without blogging, and I have a few things to thank/blame:

1- The silent retreat is still having its affects. I'm finding the need for more silence, less communication.

2- I've been really busy! I started my graduate assistantship, where I'll be editing the Lesley MFA program's alumni newsletter and sending out announcements about publishing opportunities and events to current students and alumni. And I taught my first class as part of my teachingassistantship! It went well: the kids seemed fairly engaged for 8 a.m., the professor was happy with my performance , and I wasn't even that nervous. And of course there's the regular MFA writing/reading, the revising I'm doing for my other masters, and my job. Phew.

3- I've taken this to heart:

I especially love the line about blogging not being a competition, and how when you're dead, no one will take notice of the number of posts you've done or the number of comments you've received. Amen to that. Best Blogger Tips

Monday, September 17, 2007

Retreat report, backwards schedule

The retreat was wonderful! I was really worried about being silent for a whole weekend (and silence included not reading, writing, knitting or basically anything other than walking, sitting, eating, and doing bathroom stuff).

But it was easy! And pleasant. It's amazing how much I/we talk and think above and beyond what's necessary. I can't tell you how many times I had the same thought, about the same mundane things like, I'd like to find a low-calorie recipe for chocolate chip cookies...

And eating mindfully is wonderful! Food is so much more satisfying when you're actually paying attention to it instead of concentrating on what you're going to say next, etc.

Now it's back to reality, but hopefully a more mindful one. I even got up 10 minutes early for a brief meditation this morning. And that's saying a lot since I had to leave the house at 6:45.

One part of being back to reality is getting back on track with my MFA work. Here's my newest backwards schedule:

October 8: Submission due. Write letter to Tony, mail packet.

Oct 1-7: Add in new sections/revisions to the electronic version of the story.
Write about the new Lorrie Moore stories in essay form.

September 24-30: Journal/free write about the areas I marked up in previous week.
Read second Lorrie Moore story, take detailed notes.

September 17-24: Read over story I'm revising, mark up hard copy as to major things to change/explore/expand. Close read one Lorrie Moore story, take detailed notes.

This month is going to be a little tight timewise... I think I gave myself too much of a break by not working last week or this weekend. Oh well. Pedal to the metal now! Best Blogger Tips

Friday, September 14, 2007

The sound of silence

I am going away on a meditation retreat this weekend in Western Mass. So this blog will be silent for a few days, as will I--there's no talking at the retreat! I hope I don't go crazy from the sound of silence. Something tells me I won't, and that I might just appreciate it a lot more than the sound of talking. Have a good weekend! Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Package 2: sent

I sent my second MFA submission yesterday, which means that I'm officially half way through my third semester. Gulp! (The feelings that go along with being close-ish to done with my MFA program deserve another post.) I feel pretty good about what I sent, in as far as I ever feel good about sending someone my SFDs (Shitty First Drafts).

I experimented with the omniscient point of view in both a long short story (20ish pages) and a short short story (3 pages). I'm proud of myself for stepping into this unknown and scary territory. After all, the omniscient POV means you (the author) have to make many more decisions than you would if the story were told from one person's point of view. Which characters' heads do we get into in the story as a whole? What about in each particular scene? What would you gain from hearing the thoughts of each character? What would you lose? Is it OK to be in a character's head in one scene, but then not another? (If anyone would like to comment on this issue/these questions, please do!)

I usually try to take some time off between submissions, but unfortunately this week will be devoted to more work, though not for my MFA. I will:

* Revise The Rest of June, a story I'm submitting for my Harvard MLA thesis.
* Revise the prologue for the medical memoir I worked on for my IS last semester.
* I also want to try to take some photos, especially of my garden and knitting projects and post them. Best Blogger Tips

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Back to school

I started my teaching assistantship yesterday, and it did not get off to a very auspicious start... I was so nervous about it on Sunday night that I couldn't sleep. This set me up to sleep right through my alarm and not wake up until 7:30--only half an hour before my class started, the class which takes me about an hour to get to. I got ready in about 5 minutes and quickly got a cab.

The cabbie was very into getting me to Porter Square on time, though he kept saying, "I make no promises!" He zigged and zagged through traffic, driving down back alleys and small side streets. Even with this herculean effort, I arrived 10 minutes late. Sigh... My professor was very nice about it, and the class was very interested. Best of all, the students participated! At 8 am in a freshman comp class!

I forgot how energizing it can be to be in a classroom, watching people learn and learning from others. I need to remember that energy now, when I'm feeling slightly hungover from yesterday's rushing/excitement/working late to make up for the time I was TA'ing/etc. Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Fall: how I love and hate thee

Ever since Brian and I started dating (9 years ago tomorrow!), I've loved the fall. The crispness in the air, apples, dusting off my sweaters--all reminded me of that wonderful period when you're going gaga over someone.

But since last year, the first feeling of coolness sends me into a panic. I feel claustrophic with the idea of being stuck inside all winter, dreading getting out of bed to feel the icy air on my toes, wearing layers upon layers everywhere. These thoughts bum me out so much that then I spiral into dwelling on all the things I'm not in love with about my life. Just don't think about them, you say? Yea, try not thinking about food the next time you're starving. Even if you manage to get your thoughts on something else for a moment, you still feel hungry, and that hunger colors your attitude.

I don't think there's any way around this experience, at least not this year. So instead of fighting it I'm just going to try to make the most of the days when I'm feeling awful, and try to shorten their stay by doing more of the things I love: knitting, yoga, walking/running with Chloe. And as little as possible of the "have to's" like freelance projects and even some of my school work. I'll trade a less-than-awesome September submission for some piece of mind. I'm also planning some fun events like a foliage day cruise. Wish me luck! Best Blogger Tips

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Tune in!

A friend's radio documentary is airing on a program called Outfront on Canada's Radio One tonight at 8:43 p.m. (EST). You can hear it podcast if you go to http://www.cbc.ca/outfront/ and click on "Listen to CBC Radio" and then make sure you go to Radio One, and chose London as your location.

I couldn't be more proud of this fabulous writer/documentarian! Check it out!

Here's the introduction from the Outfront web site.
According to Form
by Tracy Isaacs

It is a simple form, and not unusual these days. Tracy Isaacs teaches at a university. It sent its employees a survey to find out how diverse its workforce is. The questionnaire asks her to classify herself racially. For Tracy Isaacs, born under the neither white nor black classification of "coloured" in apartheid South Africa, this opens up a flood of questions about how she thinks of herself. Best Blogger Tips

Monday, September 03, 2007

Weekend follow up

Thanks to the so many of you who posted such heartfelt comments to my last post. I come back home with good news: I was able to live up to my intention! Not once did I wish or try to make B act differently than he was. And the result, of course, was that he seemed to feel more comfortable and therefore act less withdrawn. We didn't get into a single argument the whole time, either. (Not that we fight much in general, but stressful situations often lead to fights between most people, I think.)And another result was that I was better able to be myself and relax since I didn't have to worry about "managing" the situation.

But like any change, this one--coupled with a few other unrelated family changes that we evident this weekend-- did left me with a weird feeling a bit strange. I'm going to do some freewriting in my paper journal and hopefully get to the bottom of some of that. Thanks again! I really think it was putting my intention on paper that helped me stay conscious of fulfilling it. Best Blogger Tips