Thursday, May 12, 2016

Percolating and Sifting and Flow

At this time a week ago, I was returning to my room at Sun Mountain Lodge, near Winthrop, Washington. I had just completed the first full day of the Methow (pronouned MEH-TAU, I learned) Valley manuscript conference put on by Writing by Writers. The day before had been a full day, comprised of 8 hours of driving with another writer along for conversation, checking into our rooms, conference registration, dinner, a mandatory welcome meeting, and then an hour in our specific author cohorts.

Lidia's group at Writing By Writers Methow Valley
But the first day of workshop and panel and meals with the evening activity was last Thursday.

It was a powerful experience. I met some wonderful writers and reconnected with a couple of others from other workshops. I received helpful feedback on my ~15 pages and shared feedback (in the new Lidia-style-critique). I heard great writing. Went on walks and a short hike. Took turns on different patios and decks. overlooking the Cascade Range or the pool or a meadow. Drank in the bar. Attended a wine tasting. And more.

I left feeling energized about my writing. Confident about my writing. I had a better direction to go and left knowing my writing is solid and I can do this and I will do this.

Even after a few days of working long hours, I am still working on my writing. Even after diving into the script and the production of the next show I'm interpreting I am still carrying around the feedback and advice and insights about my writing. I also kept my Tuesday writing time, which I used to edit a piece for submission and that also doubled as my submission for my critique group.

As I typed the above paragraph, I realized that what I submitted to the critique group is double the length we agreed to share for feedback. I just sent the group an email and asked them to ignore half of it. See? Enthusiasm at writing!

Writing by Writers, led by the incredible Pam Houston, was a wonderful writing conference. Worth the time and the money. And I would do it again. They have other writing conferences - generative and manuscript and combination - at other locations. They will be returning to Methow Valley next year and I may return, as well.

With a completed final draft of the manuscript, I hope. I have set a goal for myself for a revised draft completion. I have also identified some blocks of time where I can focus on the manuscript, because part of the work I'm doing will be easier if I have time to focus in and not be distracted by work, and especially not by theater.

It was a great five days in Methow Valley.

I'm working hard to keep the writing flow going, even though the word river has to pass through and over and around some reeds and boulders in the stream. But nothing is going to stop me now.

And I have my Corporeal Writing underwear for the days when I feel doubt trying to take over.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Dream Team of Author Faculty

Do you remember when I went to the coast and I had to finish the writing to submit? Which I did.

I'm here now, in that place where I had to send the writing.

I'm here above Winthrop in Methow Valley, with mountains all around and landscape turning green with the recent rains and wildflowers popping out all over.

I'm here at the Writing By Writers conference, at the end of day two.

This is a beautiful setting. The Sun Mountain Lodge is incredible - the setting, the building, the rooms, the staff. And the beds. My bed is so comfortable that I didn't have any problems sleeping through the night yesterday. Which is not my norm. The food has been good, the coffee plentiful, and we have our own room for dining.

The participants are meeting with one of four authors over the four full days of the workshop: Ron Carlson, Pam Houston, Andre Dubus III, and Lidia Yuknavitch (I'm here). Today we had a whole group panel with the four of them speaking about how to keep going when it (writing) gets hard. This was followed by readings from the fellowship recipients.

After a break and time on our own (about 90 minutes, during which I wrote) and then after dinner, we were treated to readings by Pam and Andre. Delightful, of course. Tomorrow night we will get to listen to Ron and Lidia; which will also be delightful.

I am first up for critique in my writing group tomorrow and I should have been asleep two hours ago. Instead I've been writing and catching up on a few emails and reading over some notes I took earlier today. It's okay. I'll just have a little extra coffee with my breakfast. And I will probably take a nap in our three hours of on our own time on Friday.

Now I really must sleep. Breakfast comes early when the workshop starts at 9 AM, before that, the alarm.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

'happiness does not wait"

happiness does not wait

From the Festival of Contact Improvisation in Water and on Land
in Thailand, March 2016.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Productive Procrastination

Wiritng procrastination can be very productive.

Today I :

  • did my laundry
  • sorted and emptied my office trash 
  • took out all the trash
  • took out the recylcling
  • emptied the dishwasher
  • made the bed
  • cleaned the coffee maker then made coffee
  • strained the kefir
  • concocted a new kefir flavor (ginger curry with vanilla)
  • and am going to do an hour of exercise.

Next? Shower!

Writing? I will get to it.

Writing procastination. Don't make it a habit. But from time to time it helps me complete a few things on my chore list.

I will write today.

I will.

And maybe calling it procrastination is not the most appropriate label. The tuth is that everything on the list was - is almost always - in competition. With having a whole day off (not even a rehearsal), those things need attention, too. And today the other things came in first for completion.

Procrastination? Yes and no.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Shift in Focus

Today ended a long run of interpreted performance events for me (interpreting myself, coordinating, working on an upcoming workshop). It has been a great several weeks and now I have a couple weeks of focus back on my writing.

Well, my writing and the writing of the writers in my cohort at the Writing X Writers Methow Valley workshop. 

At my last post here, I was at the coast. At the condo alone, with the ocean front view, my laptop, and everything I needed to stay in and write. And sleep. And write.

Which I did. My writing piece was due by April 10th; I made the deadline.

Then a few days later I received an email with all of the 15 to 20 pages of writing from the other eleven people in my writing cohort. Because of two plays and the first meeting of a new in-person writing critique group, I have barely started on the Methow Valley manuscripts.

That is going to change now.

The interpreted performances went really well today and there was a nice size of signing audience present, which always feels good.

My next interpreted show is not until the end of May, so now, I will dive into the manuscripts.

After a good night's sleep following a day of work well done.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Day Three: The Process of Leaving

This is the view from my laptop, sitting at the dining table, looking past the living room space and out the nearly floor to ceiling window.

The dishes are washed except for the plate from, um, let's call it "lunch," I just ate, a cup of Pukka Revitalise tea, one fork, one knife. If you know me, then you know it was actually breakfast and, no, I didn't misspell revitalize, it's the name of the tea. Really.

This has been a nice three day writing retreat. And while I didn't accomplish everything I thought I would, I was on the phone last night with S who reminded me that I do tend to plan more than I can realistically do. She's right even though I started to protest, but only for the briefest second. Because. I know she's right.

The sheets and towels and my dirty clothes are in the dryer now. I hear them going round and round and the rhythm is familiar. And one benefit of having a place to go to sometimes which is not a hotel is that I can take my time in leaving and I can wash my clothes along with the things I have to do as a participant in this place, so I can go home with clean clothes instead of one more thing to do when I return to my everyday life.

In these three days with this view and the ocean and time and nowhere to be at any specific time, I have accomplished some writing. The biggest thing I needed to do was to complete and submit a piece of writing for a workshop I'm attending in early May. The piece was edited and submitted; check. Then I wanted to work on something for my newly formed critique group: I have to submit up to 2000 words by next Friday; semi-check. I wrote some new material and paired it with a piece of the manuscript and wove the two together - that's the "check." The "semi" part is that I still need to do some editing and work on the continuity of voice and tone and pacing before I send it in. But the hard part is done, I think. So I can probably call the critique group submission a "check, part one."

While the dryer cycles its contents to dry and I finish the last of the tea, I am trying to just be here. No specific time to depart. No specific time I have to be home. Trying to be present as long as it lasts.

And maybe I'll write a bit more before I go.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Day Two

The temperature returned to normal, wind blowing the branches of the trees, the ocean loud and crashing and white caps growing, moisture in the air palpable. And the sludge black coffee from yesterday's french press drained caffeine hitting blood, heritage flakes and soy milk consumed, water with lemon at hand.

Laptop booted up, phone off.

Unwashed, hair askew, still in pajamas, hands on keyboard.

Ocean rolling lulling sounds of birds holding on sounds of air water life. Words.





Thursday, April 7, 2016

Writing. Walking. Warmth.

Done! My submission for the Methow Valley workshop is in.

I took a break from writing and went to the bakery in Nye Beach - an iced mocha and a mini whole wheat sourdough loaf. This was followed by a walk on the beach, barefoot, with unseasonably warm air and waded in the any-season temperature water (freezing).

Now I'm back at the condo to create something for dinner, drink some wine, and get back to writing.

Back to rewriting. I've done my editing and the piece is in. Now it's time to tackle some rewrites. Not just edits, but rewrites and re-vision.