Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday morning.

Today begins the new week. This week we're back on the road, in the midst of moving to Vancouver, Washington, and I'll be taking down one of the most beautiful offices I've ever worked in. Each morning about 6 am, I sit here, sometimes with a cup of ginger tea, and look out over a forest of scrub brush pines, the sun sometimes coloring a few clouds pink. Within an hour, the color is done, the sky a flat blue, but I don't notice. I'm writing. The $20 printer I got from a garage sale two months ago works just fine. My bright blue plastic packing crates turned on their sides function beautifully as a temporary bookcase. And I have my desk. One of those really big fold up office tables. Ah, spread out and work!

I don't know exactly where my next office will be. We haven't seen the apartment yet. Most likely I'll have a nook somewhere. This ambiguity of space comes at a time when I'm really finished with the first draft. I should be celebrating, but I know what is ahead. The same ambiguity of space, only internal. The story is on paper. I love these characters, but have I done them justice? Do I speak for them their innermost thoughts and hopes? Have I captured their experiences in a time not my own? Will I have the tenacity and vision to edit? and for how long?

I'd rather the story was rolling forward, but everything I've read and heard suggests this part, this revision part, is as important as any drafting that goes before. So, I'll begin. With a new office and a different kind of progress. Meanwhile, writing each week for Sunday Scribblings gives me a kind of writing community that leavens out this other work. And when do I start sending the book out? I only know not yet.

Friday, August 22, 2008

#125 Sunday Scribblings

"Love Story: You said, I said"

You opened the door to my knock,
your smile so wide, I could see all your teeth.
Later, you told me you peeked through the door
and saw trouble coming.
I was trouble.

You said I’m not the marrying kind,
so don’t get ideas. I didn’t.

You said, “Watch A Thousand Clowns with me.”
I curled up next to you
and never went home.

Your best friend said, “You might as well marry her.
You don’t talk about anything else.”
You said, “There are certain tax advantages
to getting married.” I said no.
You said, “I’m moving out.”
I said yes.

You hummed Beethoven’s Ode to Joy off-key
when our newborn daughter was put in your arms.
I thought it was a miracle:
Your singing, her birth,
everywhere we’ve lived, a miracle.
Three and a half decades later,
your snoring next to me, solace.

This week, the Sunday Scribblings prompt: "How did you meet your significant other, your best friend, your dog, your nemesis? On the flip side of that, are there any people in your life you have lost touch with who you wonder about? Jump to Sunday Scribblings to read more . . .

Sunday, August 17, 2008

#123 Sunday Scribblings

Observations. I only have this. When the writing goes well, all else goes well. Each day of writing brings struggle, but when my characters all move, when the tiniest detail brings a scene to life, when I cry or laugh along with my characters, when I know with the deepest part of me that this story has value, then all else goes well.

And yet, how I shiver with the slightest criticism. I wonder if all writers suffer this way with doubt and indecision. On those days, I'm lucky to get over 100 words done, my characters seem like cardboard, and I wonder again and again where the story is going. Yes, I have a synopsis (not updated yet). Yes, I have back stories. Yes, I know this story as if it happened to me, even though it's set in mid-19th Century.

On those bad days, I settle within and try to listen for the threads of the story. Time runs out. I study writing techniques and try to apply them. I read research, and for the highlight of the day, take a walk with my husband. And all is well. The sun comes up in the morning, and suddenly, the story flickers to life, and I'm off again.

But even the lightest criticism nearly stops me every time. I'm just about ready to start posting some parts of my draft online for feedback, and I wish I didn't dread it. And yet, I want to look into the mirror. I want to know.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Laptop skills . . . or so they say

I'm getting ready to write this morning, the sun is shining, my computer is finally warmed up and working fine after 2 hours last night of fretting over online connections and failed passwords and holding the cell phone far too close to the laptop while talking to Comcast.

But all is well. I fixed it!!!! Myself!!!! With a system restore in the safe mode. I hardly know what that means but I had to do something after I'd been told it was my laptop and not the internet connection. I'm sure the internet gods had something to do with it as well as the nice people from Comcast. Now to tackle the infinitely different challenge of writing a scene without dialogue, a task laid down by the writing gurus at NOVEL-L. How can any writer work in a safe mode?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Where did you find your gifts?

This week I found a lovely dark star material for the back of my mermaid quilt and serendipitiously found a panel of Laurel Burch fabric on a remnant table. Laurel Burch has long been a favorite designer of mine for her gorgeously vivid colors and imaginative designs. Imagine my delight when I found her mermaid patterns all across the country in quilting and fabric stores two years ago. Today, few fabrics stores carry her line, giving conflicting stories about when they will carry her fabrics again. I went online to find her site and learned of her death, far too young of an osteoporosis-related illness.

Burch painted her vivid designs first; others translated them to fabric. Her book, Legends: 9 Quilts Inspired by the Earth, Sea and Sky, is filled with her imaginative paintings and patterns, each challenging the artist within the reader. If I could, I would ask her:

Where did you find your gifts?
When were you drawn to the sea,
the swirling sea filled with
mermaids, sea horses and
those giant fishes,
orange and red and blue?

When did they come to you,
in some mysterious watery night
filled by the light of a floating purple moon?
Or did you look within to find
a cosmic earth mother,
a goddess muse who led you to paint
every flower, bird, fish and creature of the sea
in those healing colors
that shout affirmation,
celebration, and love?

I only know as I trace each line,
your gifts humble me.
Your mermaids gaze from my quilt
a testament to art,
and when I sleep,
I dream of your purple moon.

Image from Laurel Burch's site at:

Saturday, August 02, 2008

If I had to . . .

If I had to,
I could put my hand
through melted glass
like Alice, and go where
roses grow white
and are painted red
as the Queen shrieks
in the garden. Fearful of
my own head, I would
paint as fast as any
artist could
until the Queen is silent.

f I had to, I could
forget about who is
in the White House, just who
invoked presidential powers
to send in anonymous thousands,
so many to die.

Like an escape artist, I read
the paper fitfully,
hoping not to see
those numbers,
over 4,000 dead,
over five years of war.

If I had to, I could
walk countless miles,
forego imported bananas,
wear another sweater in winter,
turn the lights off
one by one,
think about polar bears
on melting ice floes.
I could stop
driving my car, if I had to.

A Sunday Scribbling prompt: If I had to . . .

Friday, August 01, 2008

Willamette Writers Conference

I'm here. It's better than anything I hoped for. Writers everywhere. And agents. And excellent workshops. The only drawback: I left my power cord to the laptop back home, so no more updates until Monday, at least.