Monday, October 27, 2008

Last class, new beginnings

Tonight was the last class of my Boston Center for Adult Ed class on memoir writing. This is about the 5th time I've taught the class, and every time it is so different. Goes to show you how much the students' personalities affect the classroom.

It's a 4-class course, and I think we might need more classes to really do the topic justice, and get into a better routine for workshopping. But to be honest, that's a big commitment for me. In fact, I'm thinking about proposing a one-shot class for next semester/year in place of this one. I need to brainstorm class ideas that would be satisfying in such a small dose. Maybe something on ways to overcome writers' block. Any other ideas?

Onto new things... It's almost NaNoWriMo time! We have our South Shore group social tomorrow night, which will be held at the wonderful Easton Ames Public Library cottage. I'm hoping this will not only result in my writing a novel, but that I'll also meet some writer friends in my new 'hood. And I'm thrilled that Brian and I are doing it together. It will be fun to work on such an intense project simultaneously. And we'll have an extra motivation--not wanting to fail in front of one another--and extra support, too. Best Blogger Tips

Friday, October 24, 2008

Election Whimsy

I haven't been knitting much lately, which is making me sad. (Or is that vice versa?) In any case, I can't help but share this adorable knitting idea. Knit your candidate finger puppets. (For the patterns, you need to sign up for a free account at

Best Blogger Tips

Writing and financial woes

I don't know if this is a fallout from the economic insanity going on around us, but I just found out a long-term, well-paying freelance project of mine is most likely ending. No, this isn't a disastrous blow financially (like, say, losing my job would be), but it does mean some rejiggering of our budget and a leaner Christmas than planned. And it's a scary reminder of all that is not right in the world.

So, I'm networking to try to make up that lost income.

On a happier note, I'm about to add a new link to my left hand column, where publishing contests and calls for submissions are posted. Check it out! Best Blogger Tips

Monday, October 20, 2008

Good article

As many of you know, I love my local library. This NY Times article is about a brave man in Columbia who brings the library to people in remote locations--he rides a donkey and drags the books behind him. What an inspiration!

A whimsical riff on the bookmobile, Mr. Soriano’s Biblioburro is a small institution: one man and two donkeys. He created it out of the simple belief that the act of taking books to people who do not have them can somehow improve this impoverished region, and perhaps Colombia. Best Blogger Tips

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Q & A with my NaNoWriMo character

I'm currently at a coffee shop, looking through a book Brian recommended called Getting Into Character by Brandilyn Collins. (Full story: B actually only recommended the first few chapters; he said the ones after that weren't as helpful.)

As readers of this blog know, I like to do an interview with my characters to help me get to know them. Collins suggests a similar exercise, and breaks the questioning into three levels of intimacy; A for small-talk-like questions, B for follow-up questions, and C for deeper questions, the kind you'd ask of someone you really wanted to get to know.

For example, an "A" question might be, Where did you grow up? A "B" question might be, Did you enjoy that place? A "C" question might be, What's your best and worst memories from living there?

I'm starting to think about my NaNoWriMo character, MC. Here is an interview with her. I'm going to try to progress from "A" questions to "B" questions and then to "C" questions.

"A" Questions

Where did you grow up?
Outside of San Francisco

What do you do?
I'm a bartender

Where do you live now?
Somerville, MA

How many siblings do you have?

Are you with anyone?

"B" Questions
When was your last relationship?
I'm not really a relationship kind of person. I have a few fuck buddies, guy friends who I have good sex with. All the benefits of a relationship with none of the mess.

Do your parents still live in CA?
They're divorced, have been for years. She still lives in the same house we moved to after the divorce. He lives in Hawaii

Do you like your job?
Sure. It's a job, you know? I get to sleep late, get paid to hang out and talk with cool people. In fact, my customers are my closest friends. We don't hang out outside of the bar, but I enjoy their company and laughs inside of it.

What are your least favorite parts of it?
Getting hit on my the non-regulars. The hangovers.

"C" Questions
Are you close with your parents?
That would be a big no. I haven't seen my dad in 10 years. Well, 5 if you count my sister's funeral, but I didn't talk to him there. My mom is another story. we were never really close, but we got along fine. Sarah and I would visit her for Christmas and whatever. But we haven't talked much in the last few years.

I thought you said you were an only child?
Well, yea, I am now. I lie about this every time someone asks. Sarah killed herself 5 years ago.

That's awful. I'm so sorry.

Is this what you imagined your life to be like at 29?
No. I was supposed to have some smart person job. I went to college. And Sarah was supposed to have finally relented and moved to Boston. Or maybe I would've moved to New York to be with her. I guess that depends on whether she was still with Eric. He was what was keeping her there, I knew. I also wasn't supposed to be drinking so much. I was supposed to see my mom's problem and recognize it as something I should avoid. But all of this changed when Sarah died.

Are you mad at her?
What's the point.
[After a few drinks]
Sure, I'm pissed. How could she leave me? How could she leave me to deal with our parents and life all alone? Why didn't she tell me what was going on? Best Blogger Tips

Friday, October 10, 2008

Good quote from the winner of the Nobel in literature

The French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio won the 2008 Nobel prize in literature. I love this quote he gave (from the NY Times article on the announcement). It conveys one of the reasons why I think it's so important to write and read fiction.

Asked at the news conference if he had any message to convey, Mr. Le Clézio said: “My message will be very clear; it is that I think we have to continue to read novels. Because I think that the novel is a very good means to question the current world without having an answer that is too schematic, too automatic. The novelist, he’s not a philosopher, not a technician of spoken language. He’s someone who writes, above all, and through the novel asks questions.” Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


I've officially signed up for the craziest thing I've ever done: trying to write a novel in a month. (To read more about the group/idea, go here.)

Brian is doing it, too, which I hope will help keep me accountable. I also hope that trying to write so many words in such a short amount of time will get me to get over feeling so scared about creating shitty first drafts. I mean, the only way to get through this kind of challenge is to be 100% aware that most of what you write is going to be crap. The goal is just to get stuff down on paper, so that you can sift through it and hopefully have something to work with and fix up come December.

Brian and I worked with the library in our new town to set up a writing space for NaNoWriMos. The library is amazing--they gave us access to a cottage where we can meet and write two nights a week. Other NaNo-ers have set up write-ins at various coffee shops and bookstores in the area.

To be honest, I'm really scared about doing this. What if I can't? But I'm also excited to have a new, hard-to-reach goal and to have a community building around it. Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Writing exercises

I'm not writing. I just don't have the energy, the drive, the desire. I've even been questioning whether I should write at all. I'm thinking about how much easier life would be if I gave up this dream and found a way to be content with my (fairly successful) work life.

But I know I'll get out of this place eventually and remember why I love writing. In the meantime, I'm going to commit to doing some writing exercises. Instead of focusing on any goal-oriented project like, say, "finish a short story", I'm just going to take writing prompts and go with them. No goal. No nothing. Just write.

I think it's a step in the right (write) direction. Best Blogger Tips