Sunday, July 23, 2017

Revision Is Hard (for me)

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I am in a 12-week manuscript class and we just passed the halfway mark.

It is an amazing experience with Ariel Gore at the helm, and a group of skilled writers with so many good stories to tell. There are writing exercises, prompts, feedback, reading other authors' words, resources Q&As, and more.

It is very helpful and my project is moving forward.

Moving forward and away from me and I chase it and I catch up and more comes along and I see many possibilities. Building that onto the revelations and experience at Writing by Writers Methow Valley retreat/workshop in May, which built onto Corporeal Writing workshops with Lidia Yuknavitch and Domi, which built on earlier workshops with Ariel in the Literary Kitchen.

Possibilities for strengthening my writing, making words clearer and the stories pop and sizzle and feel right.

And, still, I am not daunted by the new material. I am excited to work in lost or forgotten details. To take a couple of found threads of my stories to weave them together. To work with memory and storytelling and, well, you'll have to wait and see. I am excited to make changes.

Once in a while that little critical voice comes along which whispers (or yells, although its voice is losing power) that I can't/shouldn't/won't/don't dare write this thing into completion. It brings up doubts and fears and old confusion of responsibility and truth and wonder and forgetting.

The forgetting is the harder part. Forgetting is easy and it used to be that forgetting happened without notice, without any signal, and celebration or achievement slipped away, too. Not just the hard stuff but the good stuff, too. It all slipped away between a blink and a breath, shut in a room far away out of sight out of thought. Never happened in the consciousness.

But it did. But it didn't.

Now things don't slip away so easily. Now that critical voice is quieter and sometimes it gets lost in the successes and the stories and its stories have lost a lot of their power. It's good.

It's not easy. And when I go through these stories I've written and am writing. When I relive them and remember and the sensations run through me, through my corporeal being, the trick is to let them pass through and not get stuck.

But doubt doesn't go away that easily. It may never be totally gone for me. The goal is to quiet the doubt and the confusion, and let confidence and skillful means take the lead, the louder voice.

While I work on the stories of times when confidence and skillful means meant basic survival.

Revising the stories for flow and word choice and pacing and clarity. Revising heartbeats and breath, movement and stagnation, making room for readers. And me.

It may be hard, but I'm on it.

And I'm doubling down on the meatloaf and mashed potatoes. If you haven't read any of these stories, there is a ton of context missing. Just trust me - meat and mashed potatoes are in the revision.

This really was in my fortune cookie tonight!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Tick tock tick tock

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I am a real writer.

Yesterday I received a rejection of a story I submitted in April. I thought it was about time for a response and, yes, the email arrived. Thanks but not this time.

Rejections are good. It means my writing is out there. Slower submission process than I'd like. But my writing time is mostly spent on the Work In Process (WIP), reading the writing of other authors in the 12-week manuscript online workshop, doing quick writes and writing exercises for the same workshop.

So, writing time is spent more on writing than submitting. Which is fine. But this was my last piece out and my goal is (somewhat sadly) to always have one piece submitted somewhere. Which means that my options are: find a place to send that particular story; pick another story and find a place to put it; or find a place I want to submit to (where I think my work will fit) and then find a story I've written that fits (or can fit with editing).

So. Rejection = successful writer.

Today I had some hours stretching out before me. After dropping S off early in the morning (hey, 8AM is early for me!) and having the rest of the day to myself until 3:30, ( was going to write.) I had Big Plans.

And I have 10k words due tonight before midnight, plus the rest of a writing exercise.

I did spend a lot of time in front of my computer. A lot. I took a couple of breaks from my writing-screen-staring. But mostly screen-staring, with moments of writing.

It is possible for me to submit the 10k words that I have as they are. I identified the section I am going to submit last week. Then I changed my mind and wanted to put in two other pieces, which meant pulling out a bunch of words. Which I did, but I had to write a brief explanation to fill in a gap.

I did get some rewrites done. Oh, because I was 222 words over the limit. So I have to at least get it under 10k. I cut a bunch of words, enough words. Then I had to do some rewrites to strengthen that story. And now I'm at 10,400. Sigh.

And how much did I get tightened and rewritten and stronger from the 26 pages? Two. Two pages.

Sometimes the time and the writing energy don't coincide. Or maybe it was because I was up too early and not optimal sleep in an unfamiliar bed.

Or.

Whatever. Dinner in 30 minutes. Then I have to return to the writing and see if I can give the whole thing one pass for basic clean up before I submit it to the workshop before 11:45 PM tonight (giving myself a little flex room in case of problems with the intermittently disappearing WiFi in this hotel).

I will commit to identifying either a place or a piece for my next submission before the end of this week.

And I will submit 10k tonight regardless of the status. After all, this is a manuscript draft class, not the finished product.

Okay, back to it.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Next 10k

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I am preparing the next 10,000 word submission for the Manuscript workshop in the Literary Kitchen. I can't believe we're through the first month already! The other writers are inspiring, the feedback and writing is helpful; and Ariel's feedback and the writing exercises are awesome, as always.

This 12-week workshop is exactly where I need to be right now.

And it's working.

I am a little surprised and happy to say that I am having a hard time identifying the next 10k words to submit. Not because I have to write it all before next Monday. I currently have 98k written - some of that will go away, others words will be added. But I want to get feedback on some a couple sections as part of the 10k and I want the sections I submit to make sense and. I love having this problem.

I identified what I was going to submit on Tuesday and pulled it together in a separate document to edit. But last night, as I was falling asleep, I realized that there is one section with - um, something special, I'll leave it at that vague description for now - and there are several other instances of that special treatment in the book. I want to include another of those special sections, which means I have to remove something else to keep under the 10k submission requirement.

I can do that.

And I love having this problem. This workshop makes me happy and I am making a lot of progress on the book which, I admit, I might not have gotten to yet.

Thank you, Ariel. Thank you, all of the Wayward Writers in the Literary Kitchen with me right now.

Okay. Back to it. (Well, back to it after I'm done with work tonight.)

[My Bitch Media totebag arrived yesterday, which was a gift for upgrading my monthly subscription. So, of course, I wanted it in the photo. Look at my manuscript now! So pretty and colorful and so much good information in those dividers and notes on the pages.]
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Monday, June 5, 2017

Manuscript Update


I was about 1/3 of the way through reading the manuscript when I took this photo.

I have completed reading all 429 pages of that manuscript. Don't worry, it won't be that long when it's published. I knew there would be some duplication of information or even copy/paste errors - but I thought there would be more. There are about 20 pages in total which are near exact stories. I say "near exact" because there have been some edits on those pieces, or small sections form within removed or moved. But those 20 pages are less than I expected.

Which is good news and, oh boy!

I do expect there to be a lot cut in the edits and some rewrites. I do still have a couple of gaps which need the stories written to fill. I will.

This is also printed double-spaced, 12 point font with extra margin on the right for notetaking.

I have also written my assessment of where the project is right now.

And am working on my Hopes and Intentions for the manuscript workshop which starts at the end of this week.

Next up will be to identify and prepare 10,000 words for submission to the workshop, since I volunteered to be in the first group of submitters. My 10k words are due next Sunday, June 11th.

A couple of months ago I set myself a deadline to complete this draft of the manuscript by the end of October 2017. Wow! I am actually putting that information out into the larger atmosphere. There it is.

And I do think I will hit that goal this time. I may even get it done a little early, thank you to the wonderful manuscript workshop I am about to embark on with Ariel Gore and some fabulous writers in the Literary Kitchen.

Here I go!
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Monday, May 22, 2017

I'm Excited to Jump into Editing

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Five days : writing and writers, in the middle of nature as far as your eye can see, fed and caffeinated and watered, extraordinary faculty.

With particular thanks to Pam Houston for starting Writing by Writers (and for making one of the sites at Methow Valley)


Huge thank yous to Lidia Yuknavitch for being, and for being present with our group of 12 and helping us find ways to make our work stronger, for your support. And thank you to my workshop writing partners, Sheila, Kristin, Chelsea, Taylor, Arielle, Ellie, Rochelle, Bridget, Marcie, Cindy, Chanel.


I know it was an especially good writing workshop when I come home excited to jump into revisions and rewrites, which includes not only the editing I knew I had to do, but two more threads/themes I need to go back and incorporate throughout the project and some questions I have to answer.


Next up isr Ariel Gore's Summer Manuscript online class, which begins in three weeks. Currently printing the full manuscript to begin final prep for that. So, more editing!

If you know me in my writing life, you know that "I'm excited to edit" is not usually in my vocabulary. Which is how i know this is the real deal - that the gems from Writing by Writers are true and that the timing for Ariel's manuscript workshop are spot on.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Writing, Not So Solitary a Task


I'm at the Writing by Writers Methow Valley workshop again this year. The drive up was gorgeous. The lodge is expansive and feels like a great place to meet to workshop writing, the beds are heavenly, the location far from city lights & traffic & incidental noise & distraction; good food, friendly staff; the faculty and participants are delightful.

And I was sitting here on a free-time break, in my room, on my laptop (my roommate is out hiking; some people are writing; some are in the hot tub or doing other activities). And thinking.

Last night I skipped the Cowboy Dinner, which also meant missing the founder's reading. But I skipped last night's event because I was writing. During the day yesterday I knew I was going to stay and write, because I felt inspiration in me, waiting for me to sit down and listen. I didn't know exactly what it was but something was there.

And I was right. I wrote a small but very major piece of the story. A piece I've struggled with since stories morphed and became The Writing Project. And I also am 100% sure it is right because the other thing that happened is that this new -- okay, I'll say it -- new ending not only feels right, but there are other signals that it is the right thing to do. Because this new ending of this book means there are some things I have to go back and change, or back and add, through the entire project. And I am completely fine with that. This is what needs to happen and it feels right and I'm looking forward to my next tasks. Which are huge. And I do mean gigantic huge pieces of writing work. Wow.

Yesterday, the second full day of workshops and events, my creativity said "hello, oh it's you, yes, I know, but I've been waiting for you and now you're ready, so let's go." Yes, I get small bits here and there. But this is the real deal.

I don't know how it will balance out. Still or again and that question doesn't entirely matter right now.

This was another moment of noticing how having time held for the sole purpose of writing and writing related conversation/inspiration/sharing/exploration generated - surprise - writing.

And sitting here on my bed with my laptop, I was thinking about the last three mornings of workshopping other writers' pieces. Discussing creation and craft and opening and what's working and ideas for going deeper and richer and signature moves.

And that, even though I was alone in the room last night when I was writing. Even though I am often alone when I am writing, for me, at least, writing really is not a solitary task. And even the Tuesday times when I meet with another writer for two hours and we write, my writing is mine and hers is hers and we are together but doing the parallel task of writing independently. And I think - not for the first time - that writing is not a solitary task.

Not really. Or not always. There are solitary elements and times where we probably need to be alone to do what we're doing.

But writing, I don't think, is solitary. It can be at times. But it isn't really.

I'm sure someone can give me some names of writers who have done it without anyone else.

But these days here I see, again, how we need each other, too. How our writing can be strengthened by having other eyes and ears on our words. How other perspectives can help us see our work in new ways. And, as Lidia says, they can help us find our "signature moves." Which we don't always see because we are too close to the words or other reasons.

So the words are individual, yes; the stories come from our bodies. But we benefit from exposure and time with other writing beings, other creatives.

The myth of the lonely writer is another traditional trope I think we can let go of, too. Writing in community has many benefits.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Rearranging Letters to Make Words


So much happening - in my local world of words and theater. In this country with the - no, I'm trying to keep politics out of here, which is one reason why words have shown up here less frequently, I believe. 
I do not mean that personal and political are unrelated. Or that writing about the political situation and the crisis we are in are separate.

But I have been overwhelmed with many things that are happening. Overwhelmed and yet I call and/or send emails and/or send postcards and/or do the online forms with or without personalization other than my name. 

Facebook has become a daily near-ritual, which I vowed it would never be. But politics and having people I know in the 3-D world I trust and respect who are helping keep me informed. Finding links to research. Reaching out and being there for others. It is all important.

Here, writing, that side of me which creates because I can't not create. Who writes because there's a drive and words to say. The me here, "inside voice" is what burbles to the top of word lists right now. I don't have to shout about it, I can just be the quiet me, the reflective me, the going inward and bringing up stories and words and putting them together into something to share. Or not.

Not separate. 

But right now vulnerable. Not just because of politics. Because of writing. Because of my writing. And I keep going, will keep doing it. Will get it done.

Vulnerable. Yes. And sometimes that is hard to put down.

I just did.

I'm still here.

Next week I will be going to the Writing by Writers workshop/conference at Methow Valley and I'm excited. I will be in the Lidia Yuknavitch group again this year. What I submitted this year is not as strong as what I sent last year, which is okay, it's a workshop and there will be feedback, which can only help make the two chapters stronger. I am also working on revising a piece to submit; I haven't found the deadline yet, so I hope I don't miss it. I am also doing a different sort of daily writing, which is hard to get myself to do and I have, for six consecutive days; yay, me! 

And I've been writing a lot of correspondence related to a major section of my work - performance interpreting. There are some conversations happening related to some potentially exciting performance events, which I can't say right now and I'm sorry for being vague. I will be posting more over at Performing Arts Interpreting Alliance (PAIA) about three interpreted shows which have just been added ("Sordid Lives" as part of the OUTwright Festival on June 10; two short Kabuki plays being performed in English at PSU on May 30; "The Tempest, a Magical Steampunk Adventure" at Experience Theatre on July 2). 

Oh - and back to writing: I signed up for Ariel Gore's Summer Manuscript Workshop. Twelve weeks devoted to working on/finishing a book project. Yes, I did it. I signed up. I had secretly set a date to complete the revision of the manuscript in mid-October. When I saw a reminder about Ariel's workshop and I checked my calendar, the timing was almost perfect so, I took the leap. I am excited about that and. Wow!
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Friday, April 21, 2017

Hey, It's Me!

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Checking in here as me. Just me. Not me the interpreter, not me the coordinator, not me the how-I-appear-to-others. Me.

I guess.

Or me in the moment. Yes, this is me in the moment.

I just created and posted several interpreted theatre events in Facebook. And forwarded some news of the day things; reposted is the correct word.

And caught up with some work people about this project and that idea and the things I've been discussing with different people.

And.

This morning before I went to work another of my providers not-so-subtly, yet kindly, suggested that I might want to look at when I have a break coming up. Which I do.

Sort of. No really, I do. It's five days not only off of work but completely away from work. I will be steeped in writing, again, for the Writing By Writers Methow Valley writing conference/retreat/workshop. That will be awesome. And I will be unavailable for work while I'm up there soaking in the writerhood and being my other me.

Okay - in my writing world. Things are moving and happening. No, I'm not done with the major WIP (work in progress). I am making great progress, though. And a plan, goals, have emerged (again, but I think this is "it.").

I had some huge insights and my heart and guts shifted during the Corporeal Writing Revision workshop I attended recently. It was amazing - everyone was amazing. All of the words and the open and the being together in a room with these excellent beings, sharing air and food and words. I left with some insights; major insights.

So, I've been writing more, again. Some of it enforced by needing to submit work ahead of time for the Methow Valley experience.

Oh - and if you didn't catch it on Facebook (I know there are a couple of followers here who aren't on Facebook), I received heartwarming news from Hippocampus Magazine. My "Alone in Reno" piece, which was published in the December issue, was given the Most Memorable piece for that issue. I was surprised and touched and it means so much to me. (I just found out a couple of weeks ago; you haven't been kept in the dark for too long!)

I also have been writing short poems this month. The goal is one per day - after all, it is National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo - not officially affiliated with NaNoWriMo). I did well for a while. Slipped behind and caught up. Now I'm behind a few days, again. I will try to get caught up, again. These have been primarily haikus, with a couple of etherees, a really bad (I am not exaggerating) limerick, and a cinquain. You can take a look over here in the Playground if you dare - but don't say I didn't warn you!

I now return to the other thing I was doing.

Writing is happening. Theatre - lots of theatre - is happening. There are new ideas and projects in the works (no, I'm not saying anything, yet). And I am looking for the places where I can get a little R&R.

Keep creating!
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