Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tea Party Interview

Today I've invited my blog friend Jan Morrison of Crazy Jane blog over for virtual tea and treats.
Jan has a wealth of perspective to offer to our fellow writers.
Here's a picture of Jan, wearing a very cool knitted wig.

Hello Jan! I'd love to know how you started blogging.

I started Crazy Jane because it helps me with deadlines to have an immediate place I can set my intentions regarding writing or just about anything else. I love the immediacy of blog writing and the immediacy of the connection to others. I also like having a place to post my photos. I am mad for taking pictures and the blog and my favourite camera (Canon Rebel xti) came along at the same time. Coincidence? I don't think so...

Great reasons! So when do you write?

At my best, I write everyday up to a thousand words. This can go on for months and months and then I can hit a confusing place - where I'm not blocked exactly but where writing doesn't seem to get me where I want to go. I'll muddle along in this place for a month or two and then I'll shake it off and get back on the horse. I'm in one of those weird limbos now. I still write but not with the same daily schedule and I do a lot of flicking between one wip and another. So yep - on schedule and random. Oh, I do write EVERY Tuesday with my writing pal, Gwen. That is dependable and has been for nine years. Yay for that!

Where do you write?

I write in my home office at my desk on my computer. That is the best for me. I will write in coffee houses and other people's homes and I always write when I'm travelling - in any number of haphazard hard cover journals that I keep in a bookcase in my office. I have lots of pictures up over my desk and I also like to pin up my rejection letters.

Ooh, I like that! A rejection letters display.
So, your virtual tea party goodies look interesting . What are you having?

When I'm disciplined I don't eat wheat or sugar, so I'd be having oatcakes with stevia. When I'm undisciplined (do you see a theme developing?) I like madeleines, croissants and other french pastries that feed my fantasy of being in a garret in Paris... with very good espresso or jasmine tea. Ah!

I think I want to check out that Parisian garret, too! Something about the word garret...
"Garcon, I'll have some of the chocolat croissants s'il vous plait.."
How do you motivate yourself to write?

Disciplined me - 1,000 words a day. Undisciplined - whatever I can get through. I do want to finish the second book in my Kitty MacDonald mystery series by the end of spring. I want to go back to True (literary fiction that is about 200 pages done) and complete it. I am hoping to get onto a mentoring program for it. I've been practising my chops on the mystery series because structure is a problem for me and I thought it would help. I want to test that out by getting back into True and making it so! I also have a creative non-fiction project with the working title 'Sojourners' on the go. I have one book out looking for a home, The Rock Walkers, and I hope to hear soon. Is that a goal? Nah, it is a fingers-crossed, eyes squinched up plea to the universe. Let's leave it at that

And I thought my vague "get writing more, blockhead", was a good motivator. Maybe I need to switch to word counts.
What are your favorite things to do?

I love to read, I am mad for knitting, I like cooking especially with my sweet patootie. I love hanging out with my best girl friends and talking. I like gardening and taking care of my chickens. I like learning new things like the accordion. I love, love, love, being with my grandchildren - playing crazy games. I love to travel and this time of year I'm getting excited about getting out on the water in our row boat or one of our canoes. I like taking photos and going to the market with my step-daughter. I like meditating and reading dharma books. I love walking in the beautiful world, alone or with close friends. I like any sort of creating you can imagine - weaving, writing songs, making collages...and I adore writing which I've done since I was six or seven.

That sounds like a rich life! What are your least favorite things to do?

my taxes and other grown-up activities, driving on icy roads and although I love flying and travelling - I hate the poopy stuff around it these days (security etc...)

What do you love to write about, and in what genre?

Good complicated people who struggle and succeed and fail with abandon. Literary fiction and mysteries. I also write plays and those have been mainly musicals.

How would you complete this sentence : "On a perfect day, I --"

write, I walk, I meditate, I play, I love, I laugh and I sleep the sleep of the just!

Aah, sleep. In my world these days, any sleep is the sleep of the just - preferably six uninterrupted hours of it!
What's your guilty pleasure?

I've been known to fall prey to various games on the internet or computer - solitaire, farming on facebook (gawd that was terrible) and years ago The Sims completely took me away into cult land. I also like buying big stupid magazines!

Thanks for sharing a taste of your life and writing secrets, Jan. It's a delight to hear more from one of my favorite bloggers!
Cheers! [clink of tea cups here.]

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Word strings

Do you keep words?

I collect
shiny jars of them,
strings of word pearls
hold up,
roll around,
tentatively test out in public when I feel brave
(and hold my breath hoping I didn't just use the word "rectum"
in place of "reticule").

A friend of mine cherished the word "canopy" for months.

Here are some word strings I am playing with today:

symbiosis, chrysalis, cherubic
portion, potentate, importune
meagre, moronic, mastering, muse

Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins did word strings brilliantly.
When read aloud, I hear
sparks that hit in unexpected places and a compex flow of rhythm.

I kiss my hand
To the stars, lovely-asunder
Starlight, wafting him out of it; and
Glow, glory in thunder;
Kiss my hand to the dappled-with-damson west:
Since, tho' he is under the world's splendour and wonder,
His mystery must be instressed, stressed;
For I greet him the days I meet him, and bless when I understand.

There's something subliminal at work that I'd like to achieve in writing.
Depth. It's the secondary and counterpart. That shadow I never quite catch.
The pull when I listen to Bach that is its own underground melody.
It's the dream world so close to waking where my best dreams and the true reality hides.

What words flock to you today?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Nutty Dread

Sometimes the dreaded storms that loom ahead of us turn out shockingly swift and painless.
Like the bandaid my four year-old "Winnie" refused to take off for a week because she feared the pain of removal.

Anticipated pain is like that.
Worrying over a shot that you can't even feel.

Or like me, the ninny, fainting cold
when the needle grazed my arm.
I woke up to hovering nurses.
"Is the surgery over?"
"No, Mrs. Pray, we haven't even got the IV in yet."

Lessons learned:

1: Worrying blows things out of proportion,

Turns a needle into a cactus.
A dentist's drill into a jackhammer.
A pile of laundry into a mother-eating monster.

2: Don't watch them do the needle thing.

3: I am a coward.

And then sometimes, the things we dread really are kind of dreadful, but they have to be done.
Like doing dishes and laundry,
practicing an instrument or working on revisions.
But once those tasks are faced, what rewards await!

Improving as an artist, a musician, a writer is all worth the labor, isn't it?

Maybe not the laundry/dishes/cleaning cycle, which is highly over-rated.

What do you dread?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Writer's hell

When I raved about modern inventions last week,
I did not know I was doing that jinxing thing.
My laptop got attacked by viruses and was gone for a week.
So much for inventions!

I've since decided that if the road to hell is paved with good intentions,
then the road to writer's hell is paved with mediocre inventions.

I'm picturing the side of the road to writer's hell.
littered with frazzled computers. loops of typewriter ribbon.
classics "adapted for the modern reader."
disposable pens that dry out every week. wads of paper.
books that you wouldn't pick up even if you had to sit five hours in a hard little doctor's office chair and blow spit bubbles and hum to yourself:
"The Fly-Fishing Murders," "My Gas Station Romance," "Irritable Bowel Syndrome Gets Personal, "Gregory, the Reptile Detective."
plus every single rejection I've earned displayed twenty feet-high on the signposts.

So instead of wallowing on the road to writer's hell,
I am looking for a yellow brick road. To Oz if possible,
or at least a good wizard.
Albus Dumbledore would be even better.

How am I going to avoid writer's hell?
depend on keys less, pen and ink more.
soak up what's before me today.

What waiting room books would be in your writer's hell?
(Made up titles, of course.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

On Typewriters and Other Inventions

I saw a typewriter last week.
An ancient dusty thing named "Underwood Noiseless."

Is that an oxymoron?

And for that matter, isn't noise
actually the secondary point of a typewriter?

The first of course is to write something.

The second, to make a good loud punching noise
so people really believe you're writing something.

For those of you wondering,
"What's a typewriter?"
let me just assure you that it was
an important part of history.

Washing machines

All big steps up from:
Horse-drawn carriages
Washboards at the river
Listening to shells

What are your favorite inventions?

I don't know whether the typewriter is my favorite invention.
I'm indebted to the person who discovered glasses.
And the folks who figured out light bulbs and coffeemakers.

But the typewriter is definitely among my favorites.

The clack.
The zub as it runs down to the next line.
The chitter and foop as you finish a page
and free your paper from the scroll.
The ripping, crunching and swearing as you realize you just labored
over a whole page and forgot a line in the middle.

Ah, bless the person who invented "delete" and whoever is responsible for the nearly noiseless laptop...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Deserted Island Book Club

Some of us are writing geeks.

To say that "Creative Writing" was my favorite subject in school would be an understatement. To this day I love the smell of a freshly-sharpened pencil and the sound of a new journal making that snap noise as I crack the spine for the first time.
I can't help myself.

My husband, darling man that he is, hates old book smell. I adore it like a distinct perfume. Just walking into a cozy bookstore, especially a musty one with narrow aisles and books up to the ceilings is a piece of heaven.

Speaking of that pungent old book fragrance, I have an important question for you:
If you were stranded on a deserted island
which three books would you want to have with you?

This is not including the Bible, encyclopedic compilations, anthologies by various authors or the complete works of Tolkein or anyone else in one volume.

And it does not include your "Ebook", your "ipad"
or your personal handheld computer/phone complete with kindle because
1) your battery would die before you enjoyed two days on that solitary gulag.

2) of course, as we all know, if you were so clever to have brought your ipad, you would be able to Google five hundred ways to make a raft out of coconut bark, a life vest from sea sponge, and how to craft a gps phone out of crab shells. For that matter, you would have texted the Coast Guard hours ago and been airlifted to Guam before you finished reading this post.

And that would take all the fun out of my game.

So what three books you would have with you
on a deserted island, and why?

Perelandra by C.S. Lewis, because it involves being stranded on an island of sorts, and blows my mind a bit.
The Man Born to Be King by Dorothy Sayers, because it makes me want to be better.
The Tuesday Club Murders by Agatha Christie, because it's chock-full of mysteries told in different voices, and I think I would need a little mindless fun whilst contemplating a solitary sea-blown future.

If you are ever stranded on a deserted island, let's hope we're talking about the warm tropical kind of island, and not arctic freeze-your-fingers-off island.

Now, if you were stranded on Dessert Island...
Which dessert would you be ordering?

My dessert: Crust-less Coconut Cream Pie (would that just be pudding?)
Heck, let's just make it one of those chocolate donuts with oozy pudding inside.

I'm off to my own private deserted island for a week. Okay, not a real island; it's the Oregon coast, and will it be private? Nope, I'm dragging my little brood with me. But will there be an internet connection there? That's the big question. Until next week, my blog pals!!


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