Workshop Wednesday 11.22.17

Happy Day-Before-Thanksgiving!

The Russian and I are on our way to Nashville for the festivities, but I couldn’t resist sharing my newest idea: Workshop Wednesday (I’m so good at alliteration)!!!

I’m planning to put together a virtual writer’s workshop through my Patreon page, where supporters can view the new fiction I share each week, give me feedback, and share links to their own work, which I’ll give comments on as I can. I’m excited to form a sort of community where we can grow into better writers together.

Interested? Head over to today’s post, and then take a look at my novel-in-progress, which I release chapter-by-chapter each Friday. Let me know what you think, and feel free to share some of your own work! I’d love to see what my readers are working on.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Big Announcement and A Little Help

 

I came to a realization a month or so ago. I realized that I want to be a writer.

This wasn’t really an epiphany; I mean, I have a degree in writing. Clearly I had some inkling. But in the post-graduate bonanza that is job hunting, I got distracted by the mad need to get a job now, which led me to some frustrating places and an all-around bad mental state.

And then I realized it: I just, really, want to be a writer. I want to be home most of the time, and sit at my desk, and light a candle, and write. Whenever I get frustrated with my career, when all seems futile and I think I’ve just been deceiving myself this whole time, I sit down, light a candle, and write. And everything just pops into place, like when a chiropractor gives you a good crack (also, BTW, never been crazy about that phrase. It sounds like a drug reference). I write, and I start to gain hope that, yes, this is exactly what I’m supposed to do.

So I’ve more consciously thrown myself into writing, because I realized that I need to commit to it. It’s a learning curve and a challenge, but it’s one I’m prepared to take on, because, like I told my best friend, I need the pressure of failure to make me commit. It’s freeing, and also terrifying. I like to focus on the freeing part.

Long story long, as part of my resolution to commit, I started a Patreon page to get my writing out there and to get ever closer to my goal of being supported by writing work. It would mean so much to me if you would check it out and consider supporting me. I’ll be sharing weekly installments of my newest novel, and, I’ll be integrating my followers’ thoughts and comments into my ongoing drafting, almost like a real-time writing workshop. I’m super excited to see how this improves my work.

Stay posted while I keep writing. Thanks for reading, and please never stop.

(And Happy Thanksgiving!)

Quiet Weather

I’ve always liked the gloomy days, because the gloomy days force everyone to be quiet. In the riot of sunshine and cloudless sky, everything screams and sings and shouts. The sky is too big; it yawns over the earth like an echo chamber.

But in the gloomy days, a hush falls over the world. The sky is like a heavy damper on the strings of a piano. The screaming and singing and shouting is muffled with fog and sullenness. But that which is quiet, and has always been, doesn’t get muffled. That which is quiet hums softly as it always does. The gloom forces us all to listen. The gloom makes the quiet loud.

And for once, I’m louder than the weather.

Ninja Mailman

We called him the Ninja Mailman, because you’d spend all day waiting for the mail to come, pacing back and forth and back and forth to an empty mailbox. And then, suddenly, there’d be a bump at the door, and you’d dash to it and find a stack of letters in the box and no mailman to be seen.

Once I saw him in the flesh, on a summer day when I was out reading in the sun. He emerged from around the lilac bush that separated our yard from the neighbor’s. He said, “Hello!” with booming enthusiasm. Then he handed me a stack of letters and walked down the street toward the next block, a route he took every day but without witnesses.

One time I tried to mail a letter. I wedged it conspicuously in the lid of the mailbox. After the bump, I returned to find a stack of letters in the box and my outgoing one still in the lid. So the next day, I wedged the letter even more precariously in the lid of the mailbox. A stray gust of wind could take it away forever. I watched the window all morning to make sure he took it. Then I got distracted for one second, and forgot all about the letter until I heard the bump and saw a new stack of letters, the outgoing one merrily flapping in the breeze. The next day, I clamped my letter firmly to the mailbox with a note: Mailman. Please take. It worked, and my bill payment was only three days late.

He wasn’t the smartest of mail carriers, but we loved him anyway.

Daylight Silence

After lunch I walk. I pass the houses in our neighborhood, cozy, colorfully painted. Clipped hedges and bright flowers. Trees swollen with age, lining the street, bending over the houses in protective embrace. The houses are all empty in the pale daylight, all left silent as its livers go to work or school.

I return home and hear my house. The creaking of the wooden porch beams, the whispering of the stove, the solid drumming of the rain. I’m here to hear these things. I wonder about the empty houses, and what sounds in them no one is there to hear, until the livers return to their beautiful homes to rest for a few hours before going out into the world again.

Stark

 

It’s a stark day. That’s what I always call them. Stark. I love it. The sky is colorless, pale and blank like paper over the hills. The air is cold, sometimes smelling like snow, and feels like steel on your nose. The earth is damp, which always pulls the color out of everything and makes it bold. People hate cold weather, oftentimes, because the grass withers into brown and the trees are bare, and there’s so much brown everywhere they think it looks bleak. But I disagree; stark damp is so vibrant. You can find a dozen shades of brown in a single field, a dozen different textures of grass and brush. And when there are colorful leaves or branches or berries, they pop like little gems, little wet rubies and topazes and amethysts. And you can feast your eyes on everything, on the vast collection of colors and textures, like fingers do when you brush them against fur or velvet, soaking in the softness and warmth and glorying in every moment of touch. That’s what autumn is: velvet for your eyes. Velvet and steel.

Weekend Pith: Cleaning Slates

I always switch gears a little once September is about to come around. Obviously, that’s usually because school is starting, and even though my grad school is set up a little differently, there’s still a definite summer’s end and fall’s beginning. Should my plans for teacherhood pan out, my life will always be this way.

And I don’t really mind; Autumn is my favorite season, and I take joy in pausing and rerouting, in digging down and musing. Autumn always means a return to both physical coziness and heightened mental work. I love the interaction between the two.

This fall, I’m switching gears from my summer writing projects to my very different school-time one. Sometimes the transition can be jarring. I’m going from my work on a heady, multi-faceted mystery to continuing my draft of a more creative children’s novel. 

Obviously, this is a huge change, so every time I make the jump from adult lit to kid lit and back again, I let myself take a week off. I don’t work on any big writing projects. 

Of course, I periodically take unnofficial breaks in my writing, more than I’d like to admit. But this one is different. This is a break to make a break. This is a break to retool my mind, to pack up the old work and bring in the newer-old work. This break creates a separation and clean slate so I’m fresh and strong again.

Lots of things in life need little breaks, sometimes. I’ve taken breaks socially, spiritually, educationally, the list goes on. And I think it’s important to remember that sometimes the presence of a break does not mean the erasing of a certain part of your self, or a rejection of and falling away from what you are. Sometimes a break is just that, a separation and clean slate so you’re fresh and strong again.

Remember to take breaks.