Friday, November 30, 2007

Sunday Scribbilings: Walk

God it's been so long since I scribbled! It feels good to be back!

This week's prompt, Walk, made me think of a few different things:

1. When I'm waiting to meet someone, if I'm not reading to pass the time, I watch people as they come towards me. I try to determine, well before the person's face or characteristics come into focus, whether or not it's the person I'm waiting for. I watch the person walk.

I'm most familiar with my husband's walk, and I'm pretty good at spotting him from afar. He sort of slides down the street, no bounce in his step, almost as if he's skateboarding.

When we were first dating, when he'd get to the point where we both could definitely make out each other's faces, he would nod his head a little, like a basketball player might say "hey" to his teammate. Now he usually does something silly. He'll give me the peace sign, or the "rock on" sign.

Being able to spot him from afar, and knowing how he'll first give recognition to the fact that I'm waiting for him is one of the intimacies of marriage that I never thought about or even knew existed before being with someone for so long.

2. One of the things I most enjoy in life is walking my dog. I love watching people smile and coo over her (at least the ones who aren't cowering at the sight of a silly black lab). I love getting to know my neighborhood well by walking down its streets a few times a day. For example, I never would've known that the house across the street from the park has been for sale twice in the last two years, or that it's an 80-something year old woman who puts a garbage can in the street so she can save the spot in front of her house whenever she goes out.

The few times a year when I'm not in the least bit excited to take Chloe out, I know something is wrong. My excitement about this chore is like a barometer for my mood. And as soon as the pressure is so low that I have to drag myself out the door, I know there's a bad mood a 'coming.

Though this knowledge doesn't make getting my butt out the door any easier, it does help me get to the bottom of what's bothering me well before I would otherwise. I guess that's why people say walks are meditative.

For more takes on walks, click here. Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hard work

I forgot what hard work revision is. I realized that the main problem with the story I'm working on is a very basic one: there's way too much telling, not enough scenes. So now revision really means writing the whole thing over again.Oy . Plus, I feel kind of stupid for having made such a basic mistake in the first place, and a tad annoyed at my
mentor, who didn't point out the problem as clearly/forcefully as I would've liked.

So I'm looking forward to another frustrating evening tonight. But at least tonight we're getting our Christmas tree and Chinese food! Those will make me feel a tad better, I hope. :)
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Monday, November 26, 2007

Revised revision plan

I did not get to revise anything this weekend, as I had planned. I did finish laying out the alumni newsletter I'm working on for my grad assistantship, and that took all my work time/energy. So... now I need to spend this week revising stuff to submit for my MFA residency. This is how I plan to proceed:

Tonight: Make notes on the main characters of the tougher of the two stories I plan to revise. Identify scenes that need to be added/deleted. Use a chapter of Prep (a book I'm currently reading and loving) as a model for how much showing and telling to do.

Tomorrow: Begin rewriting

Wednesday: Continue rewriting

Thursday: See Steven Cramer read (see previous post for more info)

Saturday: Revise 2nd story (which needs less work, in my opinion)

Sunday: Finish up whatever I haven't gotten to in both stories. Best Blogger Tips

Monday, November 19, 2007

Care to join me?

I'll be hitting these literary events in the next few weeks. If anyone would care to join me, let me know!

The Ghost in the Album: An evening with Photographer: Judith Black and Poet: Steven Cramer

Thursday, November 29, 2007 - 7p.m.

Lesley University, University Hall (formerly Porter Exchange),Room 3-094 1815 Mass Ave, Cambridge.

This collaborative presentation includes material from the intersection of the artists' photographs and poetry and offers their unique interpretations regarding family, memory, and time.

The lecture is FREE & open to the public.

**See Black photograph and Cramer poem at


WHEN: Thursday, December 6, 7 pm
WHERE: 5th Floor Reading Room, Barnes & Noble Bookstore,
Kenmore Sq, Boston
Free and open to the public
INFO: or 617-868-3143 (Barbara Beckwith)
Presented jointly by the National Writers Union and Barnes & Noble

Book reviewing in newspapers and magazines has faced pressures
that have often undermined good criticism: an overwhelming number
of books, a need for funding, a complex relationship with publishers,
and the inherent difficulty of being accurate and fair. As the field
moves online, cyber-reviewers will face many of these same pressures.
Can we create new and better traditions--or will the new media repeat
the failings of the past?

Gail Pool has been a columnist, reviewer, and review editor for many
newspapers and magazines, including the Christian Science Monitor,
the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the Women's Review of Books. Her
essays have appeared in such publications as the New York Times,
Columbia Journalism Review, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
She is the editor of Other People's Mail: An Anthology of Letter Stories,
and she lives in Cambridge, where for many years she taught Writing
for Publication at the Radcliffe Seminars. Best Blogger Tips

Friday, November 16, 2007

What to submit?

I'm taking the train to New York this weekend for some pre-Thanksgiving
friends and family parties. I want to bring printouts of the two
stories I need to revise for my MFA residency so I can read them over
and take notes. This, of course, begs the question: which stories
should I revise??

I wrote three this semester. One that I definitely plan on revising needs a good deal of work--especially in terms of that oldie but goodie
of "show don't tell." One of the other stories I'm pretty happy
with--it needs some revision, but it's definitely on its way to being
done. I haven't received comments from my mentor on the third story
yet, but I am assuming it will need more work.

So what I'm wondering is: do people submit
stuff to workshop that they know needs a lot of work and will therefore
be ripped apart (in a supportive way--one hopes!)? Or do you submit
stuff that you're pretty happy with to see if others feel it's "done"
too (and maybe, just maybe, to get a bit more praise than you would
otherwise)? Best Blogger Tips

Monday, November 12, 2007

Organizing, in pictures

I had piles and piles of paper, mostly to do with my MFA residencies, writing in general, and the adult ed classes I teach. I decided to get them organized before they took over my entire study.

The first step was buying some very cute accordian folders:

Then I chose one to hold my writing papers, and one to hold my teaching papers. I labeled the folders in the writing file with things like: story ideas (which holds articles I rip out of newspapers because they piqued an idea), stories in revision (which holds marked up copies of my stories; I also have a few other folders to hold stories that have been workshopped and therefore there are too many copies to fit in the accordian), and interesting articles on writing.

The teaching folder is broken down into the different classes I teach or plan to teach (freelance writing, memoir, fiction), with handouts and story examples filed in each.

And lastly, I have a basket that holds things like books I plan to read next and papers that I'll be using in the near future and therefore don't need to be filed:

What kind of filing/organizing system works for you? Best Blogger Tips


I'm enjoying my extra-long weekend and relaxing and getting some organizing done. (I might post pics later of my new system for keeping writing-related papers organized.) But I'm realizing that one thing I'm already really missing is having the structure of the MFA deadlines. This makes me quite frightened at the idea that in 6 months I'll graduate and have no imposed structure. It's also ironic that last month I was dying to be out from under the deadline pressure and now I want it back!

Anyway, here are some ideas for writerly things I want/need to get done in the next month before my next residency.

* Revise two short stories that need to be submitted by early Dec for my residency workshops

* Put in final revisions on Harvard thesis and submit it for final approval(whoo!!)

* Go through stories I've done for MFA program and decide which I will revise for my thesis.

* If Carte Postale is not one of the stories I submit for residency, revise that.

* Send Carte Postale out to Atlantic student writing contest

* Make list of other places I would like to submit fiction. I plan to go about doing this by looking in the Best American series for magazine/journal ideas, and then going to one of my favorite bookstores (the Trident on Newbury St.) to check out the magazines and other literary journals to decide which ones seem appropriate for my work. If anyone has other ideas on how to create such a list, please let me know!

* Revise three essays--one on cleaning, one on friendship, one on Forest Hills Cemetery--and send them out.

* Pitch Globe Magazine idea for relationship essay section (on how B and I are best able to make time for each other when we're insanely busy) Best Blogger Tips

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I finally have the time to get a summer's worth of pictures off my digital camera and onto my computer. As promised, here are some shots of my recent knitting projects, along with one or two pics that will make you pine for the days of BBQs.

A fun shawl with arms I made. (Funny story: I wore this to a bar and someone wanted to buy it from me!)

A very funky star-strewn hat and my favorite of the squares I made for a blankets for the homeless project.

An easy lace-knit shawl for my aunt's 60th birthday present

Sum Sum Summertime

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Back to blogging

Well, I really took that bloggin without obligation to heart! I needed the break though. Things have been just a wee bit hectic in this bug's life. But I'm feeling a little bit calmer, having gotten my final submission for the semester off to my MFA advisor, and what I hope to be the penultimate draft of my thesis to my Harvard advisor.

This week has allowed me to get back into a few neglected routines:
* I did morning pages a few times this week
* I've made it to the gym just about every day
* I went to two literary events: one on Monday night at a bar in Cambridge where four readers read, and another last night at the Brookline Booksmith where some of the authors featured in Best American Essays 2008 read, along with the series editor. Both were fun and made me remember how lucky I am to live in such a literary city.

I think I will become more regular with my blogging, and I hope I have a few people left who are still checking in occassionally! Some topics I want to blog about in the near future:

*story ideas (reminder to self: female friendship idea, awkward Thanksgiving idea)
* emotions of going into my thesis semester at Lesley
* general writing progress
*pics of finished knitting projects

Looking forward to rejoining the blogosphere! Best Blogger Tips