Thursday, July 2, 2015

Yes, I Am

I am doing this.


I felt I needed a little prodding and what better way than a self-imposed deadline with no other consequences than the failure of meeting a goal. Camp NaNoWriMo makes it even easier to complete your project. Oh, wait, did I say NaNoWriMo is easy? No, that's not what I meant!

At Camp NaNoWriMo, you are allowed to write whatever you want. Yes, I know there are NaNoWriMo rebels who don't write a 50k novel, but write 50k of something else. But November NaNo is for novels. At Camp, people are doing revision, scripts, novels, short stories, essays, blogging, and I'm sure other things I haven't even seen yet. You also get to set your word count goal at Camp NaNo.

I opted for 25k and am (so far, anyway) writing a piece of a novel. I decided to not push for 50k because there is so much else to do in this much slower theatre time. I'm not sure how summer Camp NaNo will go - but the goal (besides writing 25k words) is to have fun and get those writing wheels greased and up and running. June was extremely busy in terms of theatre, leaving me no time to write or do much of anything else except work, eat, sleep, take some walks, and prepare for and interpret plays.

So, back to it. My silly story awaits! My protag has met up with some friends while waiting to see a new dance works performance. And has seen a few unexpected things and people, as well. There is a hint that the protag needs protection. But from whom or why has not been revealed. And, so far, my protag is genderless. And nameless. I suspect the name will be revealed fairly soon. Or maybe not!

Anyone else hanging around in Camp NaNo? You can find me there with user name "dot.". Yes, I am that creative. *wink*

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Doorways and Wonders

On the threshhold of change.

No - passing through the doorway.

The difficulty? Not knowing what is on the other side. Not exactly. Not quite enough. Ideas, yes; hopes, some; intent, absolutely. But one milestone achieved and isn't it those moments when possibilities are open and options exist and there is time to wonder and explore and consider, that it feels almost too overwhelming tinged with fear and excitement, maybe a touch of anxiety (for some of us - yes, for me).

Then I come here and I see that it has been ttwo weeks since I posted anything. Two very busy and blessed weeks of theatre.

Oh, yes, now I remember. A bit of this wonder and restlessness is the post-show let down. Times two. I just finished two very different and challenging and wonderful plays (one of them is running through next weekend; see it if you haven't - it is truly a Must See, "In the Next Room, or the vibrator play" at Profile Theatre).

All is well. Yes, I know this feeling now.

The writing and exercise will return to their rightful places soon.

Maybe I should do Camp NaNoWriMo in July to get the writing habit reinstated, since I only have one interpreted performance in July. Maybe. It's a possibility.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Of Platforms and Pedestals

Another tagline or wordbyte or something, whatever it's called, caught my eye. Another blog post title about Woe Is Me I Have No Platform and someone else who is a pro at platforms responding with It Doesn't Have To Be That Way. Then I start noticing other edicts for writers to build their platforms (again) and the warnings that you must have a platform or you will forever languish on the slush pile if you even make it that far.

I know a few writers with awesome platforms and it works for them.

I don't have a novel published. Yet. I don't have a platform. Do I think the two are related? No. With a wry smile on my face, I tell you that I know that a writer must first get to the Final Draft before a novel can be published; I'm not quite there on two.

And I tell you that some authors, some writers, have their platform and elevator speeches and taglines and ten second summaries done before the first word is written.

If that approach works - go for it.

Is that what is required in the current market?

Some people will tell you yes and others will tell you no. And I say, I don't know. I hope not. Do we have to be shoved into labeled boxes to succeed? Maybe it depends on one's defniition of "success" - maybe. What if we aren't that genre author; if we don't write just one thing and don't want pseudonyms for each style and different platforms. What if?

It's the same issue - in my opinion - about Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Ello (probably not a good example since it's incline to importance waned when some Facebook policies let up a bit), Tumblr, and so on. Some experts say we, as authors, must do them all. Some advise to pick your favorites and build and grow those. Some say go with the flow and keep up or not.

How many hours are there in a day?

That was sarcastic and rhetorical. I know the factual answer.

But if you want to write, write. If you want to promote, then promote. Where there is overlap, good for you! But when the social media marketing platform building maintaining promoting takes over the time for writing, maybe it's time to look at what it is you want. What you can do. And your "why," as the money makers/entepreneur leaders say. And I probably shouldn't say "you" when I know it is my question, my wondering, my issue. I know I'm not alone, but I know that I don't have unlimited time to dedicate to my writing so I have to be a bit fussy at times around my writing time.

To platform or not to platform? And what happens when your platform changes; when you want to break out of that zone you've set up? Is that when the successful platform becomes a pedestal and you're likely to fall? Questions without answers. I'm confident there are different answers from different authors and editors and publishers and advisors.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Another Moment

Another photo from the Taos trip. Another moment of synchronicity, perhaps.

Remember the sacred river gate at the gallery which was closed but she opened up for me anyway? As as she showed me around, showed me the AirBnB room where Georgia O'Keefe had slept - yes, the building has been around that long and longer - and the DH Lawrence room and I discovered that she was a writer and a theater person. That place.

Then the next day S and I went to one of our favorite dinner places in Taos, to celebrate. Being there. Being together. Being. And I discovered that the favorite restaurant was actually right next door to newly discovered gallery/airbnb/writer/theatre home.

From the parking lot of the restaurant, I could see part of the theatre they are constructing. I'd seen the top from their own parking lot, but when we got out of the car to walk to the restaurant's front door I saw it. I don't know what part of the theatre this gazebo-like structure is - the stage or an entrance or what.

But it is. Another connection to a connection to the flow of what happens in Taos.

Monday, June 1, 2015

In the Blink of an Eye

In life, especially in these time, "they" say, we are exposed to so much information. So many things and people and places and events and all we can do is grasp as they fly by, then intentionally or accidentally grab the things which interest us or which catch our eye. It is impossible, I believe, to "get" everything.

Sometimes on a road trip I do a similar process. There is so much that flies by from the car, so much to look at and if we stopped to explore everything we would never get "there." Maybe someday we will take a road trip which is just that and there will be no there there.

But there was a there, a destination, a place we had to be and a time. So, sometimes, yes while driving, due to the ease of digital photographs, I snap pictures while I drive. Don't panic. I don't look at the pictures I'm taking. See, I remember using rolls of film in a camera and counting the frames, and knowing that sometimes you could squeeze in an extra picture or two. But it required two hands, point, (focus, sometimes), click, advance the film. And then you had to develop the film. Some people still do this and I love that. But developing the film cost money and there was a limit and so each shot counted - most of the time. But with my phone all I have to do is press the home page icon which is the bottom left corner of the screen so I don't even have to look and then I hold it up to the open window and click click click - my phone has all alerts off so I don't even get that - it's just a bunch of tapping the screen, a bunch of times. Then, when we get to the next break (usually a rest stop, or lunch, or gas) I go back to the photos and weed them out, keep the ones I really like.

Like this one. A few years ago I took one of these side view mirror photos while driving. It was a sharp contrast of what was behind us and beside/in front of us. I thought it was cool. So I've started taking more of these click-it no-focus in front and behind mirror shots when driving through interesting places (or when stopped at interesting places and something catches my eye).

This was while driving near Canyonlands in Utah. The view from the road is spectacular. One of these days we'll build in time to actually go into the park. Maybe.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Because - a photo

A moment in time from the trip to Taos. I was returning from a little trek outside of town and a sign caught my attention. I turned around and went back to check out the gallery, which was closed, but the owner let me in, anyway. Put off her trip to the post office for a few minutes to show me around and we talked. She is a writer, too. She has this gallery which is open about three days a week, sometimes four. And she lives there; rents part of it out. It's a very old home and Georgia O'Keefe stayed there back in the day. I saw the room. When I was leaving, turning around in the small parking area, I saw this gate between the parking area and the river which runs through part of town.

I took a picture.

Now I'm sharing the picture.

Just because.

It was a good trip.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Synchronous Moment: Writing in Our Time

Writing in Modern Times? In Our Time? In the Age of _________, fill in the blank. I couldn't think of a better way to say it so I went with what I had.

This is one of those times when different aspects of my life are coming together with the same or a similar message. Meaning, in my opinion, pay attention.

I am now in week six of the seven weeks IWP online MOOC poetry class. The topics have been interesting and, while I am still not fond of the online classroom platform they've chosen for this round, it is still working. I just ignore what doesn't work and keep to my workarounds, and respond as I have been and read much more than I write on the boards - and it's fine.

Last week's IWP topic didn't resonate with me. It felt like a "duh" and I didn't get as much from it. I think some of that was because it had to do with "turns" in poetry and I think, as primarily a fiction and creative non-fiction writer, "turns" are commonplace in the stories. It was interesting to read about the different styles of turns in poetry, with some excellent examples and exposure to new poets, but it didn't spur me to write more poetry. And I will admit that the activity and busy-ness of the week also interfered with me jumping into it as heavily as I have been; so there is probably something to that as, well.

But this week's topic is inspiring. And right up my writing alley. And one of the video lectures mentions several of my favorite poets; the other video lecture talks about some of my favorite ideas and questions. I fell into this week's topic quickly and easily.

One focus of this week on the place of "anger" in poetry. "Anger" is a very general term - specifically they talk about politics and the personal. One of the "instructors" for this week put the question out on the boards if poetry can just be cathartic without leading toward a solution. It was a question to generate conversation and I think it will; it is still early in the week.

Another focus is on writing in the current times and all that goes with it - short and fast, hashtags, and the internet and tweets and posts; brevity. How does this affect us as poets, as readers? How do we physically experience our world and our work, our writing and our reading, with these new things. What does it mean to - or do we - embody this life with all of these things? When a "date" might be online and not in person. When we text or tweet or Skype rather than calling on the phone or stopping by or meeting in person in a coffee shop? Questions ... no answers.

Then I saw an interview with Charles Baxter for Tin House. And the section quoted reminds me of the topics and lectures and discussions this week in the MOOC. Which is what led to this piece of writing, although it took me this long to get to the point. Click through to read the whole interview, if you have a couple of minutes; if not, come back later and check it out.

Questions about time, our times, and writing.
"Everything now is supposed to go fast; everything is supposed to be so efficient. Since when was fiction supposed to submit to time-and-motion studies? Impatience and distraction are our great enemies and must be conquered somehow. We all know that some of our most profound moments happen with a kind of languor: pleasure and love and sorrow and prayer take their own sweet time." -- Charles Baxter, in conversation with Susan Tacent
Read the whole piece by clicking here: Urgency and Momentum: An Interview with Charles Baxter.

graphic from Tin House link for the Baxter interview

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Dorothy Allison Reading in Port Townsend

Dorothy Allison is reading at The Writers' Workshoppe & Imprint Books on Saturday, May 16th, at 7:00 pm. She is also presenting a workshop Saturday and Sunday, but that has long been full.

Go to The Writers' Workshoppe website to get more information about the location of this event. It's a sweet place for a reading, and Port Townsend is a short drive away and a beautiful place to spend a day or a couple of days.

It will be worth the drive!

from the sponsor's website:

Dorothy Allison is an American writer and nationally known teacher and lecturer with a strong emphasis on memoir and storytelling, and a profound bias toward pushing past fear into creativity.  Her writing includes themes of class struggle, sexual abuse, child abuse, feminism and lesbianism. 
Allison's first novel, Bastard out of Carolina was one of five finalists for the 1992 National Book Award. Graphic in its depiction of Southern poverty, family ties, illegitimacy, child abuse, and rape, Bastardwent on to win the Ferro Grumley and Bay Area Reviewers Award for fiction. The novel has been translated into over a dozen languages. A film version, directed by Anjelica Huston premiered in 1996 on Showtime. Cavedweller became a national bestseller, NY Times Notable book of the year, finalist for the Lillian Smith prize, and an ALA prize winner. Adapted for the stage by Kate Moira Ryan, the play was directed by Michael Greif, and featured music by Hedwig composer, Stephen Trask. In 2003, Lisa Cholendenko directed a movie version. 
Allison’s book, Trash: Short Stories, a collection of semi-autobiographical short stories, won her two Lambda Literary Awards.Trash includes the prize winning short story, “Compassion” selected for both Best American Short Stories 2003 and Best New Stories from the South, 2003. 
Allison says that the early Feminist movement changed her life. "It was like opening your eyes under water. It hurt, but suddenly everything that had been dark and mysterious became visible and open to change."