Recently I was in a situation for a couple days with periods of "down time." The "down time" didn't mean I had no reason to be there; it meant I was available whenever a need arose and had to maintain awareness of what was happening around me. But I wasn't actively doing the thing I was there to do all of the time. (There is much time in this repeated situation where I am engaged in that activity for five minutes to two hours at a stretch, but it's not constant.)
So, during these "down moments," I can read or sometimes do writing revision or make lists or do crosswords. I haven't really been able to do much original writing, due to the nature of where I am and the amount of "focus out" required. I go to this place regularly, usually with a magazine, one fiction book and one non-fiction book, and a notebook. It's unusual I'm there two days in a row - but it happened recently.
The fiction book I'm reading right now is Miranda July's "No one belongs here more than you." I like the writing - a lot - and agree with someone else's assessment that "sometimes [the book] challenges me." It's not really the type of book I want to take into that situation where there is the potential of a participant looking over my shoulder. Besides, with the dual book and outward focus, I would lose a lot of the meaning in the stories.
Which means I took my professional newsletter (which I finished in less than an hour) and writing books because I didn't want to start a new fiction book right now. This has been a good thing, because I completed Alan Ziegler's "The Writing Workshop Notebook" and then started The New York Writers Workshop "the portable MFA in creative writing." I've been skimming the books, but haven't taken focused chunks of time, until now.
It has been inspirational and encouraging and has given me new energy to roll up those shirt sleeves and dive more deeply into my writing. There are challenges to that with getting ready for the three-week teaching job (coming up quickly - yikes!) - but the books have helped. So, while this job can sometimes feel like being stuck in a different dimension for the duration of the shift (which it kind of is), there are also advantages to being unplugged from my Blackberry and my computer and any other electronic interruptions. My work comes first when I'm there. But when I'm not needed, it's a nice perk to be able to delve into writing books.
Today I made it through the pros and cons of getting an MFA and the fiction chapter and started the poetry one. I made notes in the book, and notes of books to look at, and notes for workshops I'd like to give and to take ... and I feel hungry to read more.
Which is why I came home after a thirteen hour day on five hours of sleep and am writing this post. I got excited about writing and creating. I don't think I will do another NaNoWriMo installment tonight since I am meeting my exercise buddy at 8 am and need to catch a little more sleep than last night.
I like being excited about something I'm doing and looking forward to doing more.
And I like having these "forced" reading moments. I could be watching the TV or movie with the participants of the job site, but I'd much rather read my book. *smile*
Wordstock, Portland’s annual festival of writers, books, and storytelling, is pleased to announce the call for submissions for The 2nd Wordstock Short Fiction Competition.
The national contest is a “double blind” competition. The judges, a collection of writers, academics, publishers, bookstore owners, and literary critics, will choose 10 finalists. The winner of the competition receives a first prize of $1,000 and publication in the December 2008 issue of Portland Monthly magazine. All 10 finalists’ stories will be published in The Wordstock Ten, an anthology that will be available at the festival, at Portland-area bookstores, and online through the Wordstock website. Every writer who enters the competition will receive a copy of the anthology.
The final judge for this year’s competition will be Ursula K. LeGuin.
• All short stories must be works of fiction written in English
• Stories must be an original work and not previously published
• The entry fee is $25 per short story entry
• There are no genre restrictions
• Manuscripts are to be typed, double-spaced, on 8.5” x 11” paper
• Stories should be no less than 1,500 and no more than 4,000 words
• Each submission must have a cover sheet with the writer’s contact information—DO NOT put this information on the manuscript.
• No manuscript will be returned
• Entries that do not follow these guidelines will be disqualified
Submit your entry by mail to:
Wordstock Short Fiction Competition
c/o Franklin, Beedle & Assoc.
8536 SW St Helens Dr., Suite D
Wilsonville, OR 97070.
Please make your entry fee check payable to Wordstock. All entries must be postmarked by August 1, 2008.
Announcement of winners will take place at Wordstock on Saturday, November 8, 2008.