Sunday, October 31, 2010

pre-NaNoWriMo note this time tomorrow, I will have most likely written my first 2,000 words of so of my 2010 NaNoNovel!

writing contest: New Works Competition

Richard Hugo House: New Works Competition

As part of the Hugo Literary Series, Richard Hugo House seeks previously unpublished poems, short stories, personal essays or plays, of no more than 1500 words.

The theme is Born in the U.S.A., and the winner will receive $500, publication in City Arts Magazine and an invitation to read at the final Hugo Literary Series event on March 18, 2011 alongside authors Alan Chong Lau, Victor LaValle and Debra Magpie Earling. Entries must be received by January 10, 2011.

The theme: All manuscripts must reflect the theme, Born in the U.S.A., using the prompt below as a jumping point:

Since the birth of our nation, we’ve grappled with the uncomfortable question of who gets to be American and why. My ancestors came over on the Mayflower; yours made the “middle passage” on a slave ship. Your grandparents were interned in a prison camp during WWII; you serve in the U.S. Army today. My older sister can be deported because she was born before our parents crossed the border, but I’m a citizen because I was born here. Our declaration says all men are created equal; our pledge to the flag says we are one nation, indivisible—so why do so many of us still hyphenate our nationality? Whether you were born in Sarah Palin’s “real America,” The Daily Show’s “fake America” or somewhere in between, what does being American mean to you?

Submission Format: Five copies of the manuscript typed, double-spaced, pages numbered, in 12-point standard font. No name of author on entries; include cover page with name, address, phone, email, entry titles and genres. One cover page is sufficient for the five copies of your entry. SASE #10 for notification and SASE with sufficient postage if you would like manuscript returned.

Entry restrictions: The New Works Competitions are only open to residents of Washington state, Oregon, Idaho or Montana.

Entry fee: $10.00.

Submissions may be sent to Richard Hugo House, c/o New Works Competition, 1634 11th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

while I wait

 Have I told you that NaNoWriMo is nearly here?

It's true! Just today; then tomorrow; then the annual writing frenzy begins. At the end of tomorrow. Or maybe it's better to say it's at the cusp where Halloween is over and November begins.

I'm ready - which, for me, means I've made time in my schedule to write. That I'm excited. That my laptop is charged for the big launch because I won't be getting to the write-in site until 11:30 and all of the plug-ins may be in use - but I'll be fine because I have an extended battery - which I didn't buy for NaNo, but when the battery needed replacing I did consider the month of November and the times I may be without an outlet so a long-life battery would be nice to have.

"Ready" to me doesn't mean I have a plot of characters or an outline. Ah, no. I am what they call a "pantser." I am not a plotter. I'm sure you get the picture: by the seat of my pants? Yes - I absolutely understand those who want a plot and to know where the story is going. But that's not my style - and doesn't seem to be my characters style, either. I have no argument.

This year I do have a working title and a setting. The setting is based on a real place and, yes, I've been there. The title and location came from a quickwrite I did in my online writing group.

So, while I wait these final few days, I've done a few other things to prepare. I bought a hot air popcorn popper. Quick, easy, and a much healthier snack than the microwave - besides, I can pour in the kernels and continue to write while it pops: no need to pay attention, shake, smell, etc - waiting for that terrible burn smell. It's obvious when it's done and it won't burn. I bought a whiteboard : the store had 11x17 side on sale, along with thin colored pens - beautiful! Quick notes, reusable - now I just need to get it up before midnight: I haven't decided where, but I will. I bought and hard-boiled two dozen eggs - it's a start! I have my writing dates set up. My laundry is done - I'll need to do more later (duh), but I'm set for the start-up of intensive writing.

And - tada - I made my own desktop calendar! I've used desktop calendars that others have created the last couple years. Some beautiful ones, some fun ones. Then yesterday as I started my search through others' offerings, I was wishing I knew how to make one myself. Then, there it was. One of the designers had put up a template. Aha, I thought! Yes!

There were no instructions. But I still figured it out. It's not as shiny, professional as some - but it's mine. I wanted one to go with my theme, which lets me know where my word count is in comparison to the daily average needed to make it to the finish line as a winner (with 50,000 words). A visual reminder. This year I'm really into visuals. So, here is what I made. If anyone wants to use it - you can. It's free. The photograph is not mine - it's from someone's vacation (I'll go search out where it came from). It's nothing fancy - but it's where my story takes place. And *I* made it. *smile*
The quote at the bottom right of the inset calendar is from Margaret Atwood. I didn't put that information on my copy, since it was only for me and only on my computer. But you need to know that "A word after a word after a word is power" was written by Margaret Atwood, not me! 


Friday, October 29, 2010

Razor's Edge for 10/29/10

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. Yes, it is almost here. Sunday night at midnight or Monday morning at midnight depending on your perspective.

nanonanonano Wri Mo

So, as I prepare for my sink into the land of other NaNoWriters, this video I found seems to fit perfectly. And a soundtrack from one of my favorite composers: Philip Glass.

  • Why is the first car there?
  • Why is there a second car?
  • Who are the people on the steps?
  • What happens next?

Watch the video.
Set your timer for 8-10 minutes (you choose!).
Or dance - I could see this as a dance.




Wednesday, October 27, 2010

does one person make a difference?

Today I attended a fundraising lunch for Human Solutions - one of the local non-profits working with people who are homeless. Their focus, from what I learned today, seems to be on families - which made up 58% of the homeless population as counted on January 27th, 2010 here in Multnomah County. It looks like a great organization, with wonderful resources, which includes a program for people on the brink of becoming homeless - prevention.

My reason for posting about it here, though, is not necessarily to try to convince everyone to go out and donate to Human Solutions (though wouldn't that be awesome? If everyone who read this donated $25 or $10 or $50?) - and it's not even to spout my strong belief that each one of us who can should find an organization to donate to (though this is something I also believe - find the community service/non-profit agency that fits who you are and works for what you believe in and donate whatever you can, be it money or goods or time).

No, my reason for writing here today is to share a quote. It applies to any social service agency or non-profit or - probably a list of other things set up to help people.

When I can I will find the name of the person who said this - but for now I just remember it was the E.D. (Executive Director) of Human Solutions who said:

The big government grants are the $25,000 car. That's great! But without the smaller $2.99 donations from the community - the "gas" - the car can't run.

Be the "gas" - find an organization that could use time/money/things - and do it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gaby says it doesn't get better

Thank you, Gaby. Well said. doesn't get better - but we get stronger...


Sunday, October 24, 2010

macromaniac's kitten says...

. does get better...

Macromaniac (aka Lois Leveen) wrote an excellent post to go along with her most excellent video. From her poste, and I quote:
... Just for the record, though: the kids out there aren't being bullied because their queer. Or "suspected" of being queer. They're being bullied because we live in a bigoted, cruel culture that likes to pick on anyone who's different. ...
Brilliant. I agree. Thank you. Now watch the video below, and then go read her whole post (or do it in reverse order, it really is up to you). You can read it in its entirety here :  Who You Calling a Pussy--or a Faggot or Dyke? Gather Round for CUTE KITTENS AGAINST QUEER-BASHING!!!!


Friday, October 22, 2010

Razor's Edge for 10/22/10

WORD PROMPT:  If you could see from inside my eyes....

MUSIC PROMPT: from a couple of my favorite musicians, Tommy Gauthier and Antoine Dufour, "Spiritual Groove" ...


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Expansion and Contraction of Time

Time can be an elusive task master.

Sometimes it feels like the hours stretch out before me and I can accomplish so much, and the well of time is nearly unending. That is a bit of an exaggeration - but I do sometimes get a lot more done than I think I could. Or I wonder why I didn't complete the task before if I could do it in "X" amount of time.

Then other times I have blocks of precious minutes that just disappear. Sometimes it happens while I'm in the shower. Sometimes it happens when I finish dressing upstairs, grab my bags for the day to fit my schedule (backpack, teaching folder if I am, novel manuscript if I have writing time, lunch bag, workout clothes, and more), and walk down the stairs. I mean, really, it can be 15 minutes, 20 minutes: gone. There is no way it takes me 15 minutes to go down one little flight of stairs. But, the time is gone.

Right now I'm in a period where I feel I don't have enough time to do everything I have to do, or have committed to do. I have my video relay work, my regular interpreting work, I'm teaching one class, I'm working out twice a week with the trainer and doing at least another two to three days a week of walking or swimming, working on the novel and the memoir, another session of the Lit Star Training online course/workshop has begun, I'm doing an intensive weekend workshop. And I have about 30 hours of professional development streaming videos to watch, including some recordings of a specialty area I'm very interested in and am working to improve my skill (already paid for, just need to schedule them in).

And next month is NaNoWriMo.

Yes, it is. I will be calling up all the powers that be to engage Expando Time. I know I can do it. I have two days a week where I have set up writing times and a location to meet with whatever friends may be available. And I have set up November 11th to use the studio all day, since all of my work is not happening due to it being a federal holiday. And I will be going to San Francisco for the Night of Writing Dangerously; a 3 1/2 day trip funded my moi, but made possible by my friends and readers who generously donated money to the Office of Letters and Light so that I qualify as a participant.

Okay - I'm feeling time crunched and I'm taking on NaNoWriMo? Oh, yeah. Wouldn't miss it. And I will meet the 50,000 word mark. I will not set my number higher - that could easily be a set up for failure. But I will make the 50k with my brain as intact as it is now and I will have fun.

Get ready - NaNoWriMo is nearly here. And you can bet I will be writing about it along the way in that magic time zone where writing can always happen.

Let the adventure begin.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

reading: "Song of Myself" - 52 sections, 52 readers

The Whitman 150 Project –
A Staged Public Reading of "Song of Myself"
20 October '10 at PNCA
Pacific Northwest College of Art
1241 Northwest Johnson Street, Portland, OR
Reading starts at 6:30 in the Commons

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of American poet Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, fifty-two readers from the Portland area will each read a part of the poet’s 52-part “Song of Myself” on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 6:30 p.m., in Swigert Commons of the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA), 1241 NW Johnson St.

            The event is free and open to the public.

The event marks the anniversary of the crucial third edition, and is expected to draw an eclectic mixture of participants and audience--long- and short-time Whitman readers, poets, writers and non-writers, artists, teachers and students, and anyone else who loves words and images.

            The performance, which will be filmed, was organized by Portland writer and teacher, David Oates; Wendy Willis, writer and former executive director of the City Club; and an ad-hoc committee of Barry Sanders, David Biespiel, Horatio Law, and Jennifer Viviano.

            For further information, contact David Oates via email or 503-327-9733.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Blanket Tour stop - "Healing With Words: A Writer's Cancer Journey"

I wrote today's post as part of the WOW-Women on Writing Blanket Tour for Healing with Words: A Writer's Cancer Journey by Diana M. Raab, MFA, RN (  The book includes Diana's experiences, reflections, poetry and journal entries, in addition to writing prompts for readers to express their own personal stories. A survivor of both breast cancer and multiple myeloma, Raab views journaling to be like a daily vitamin--in that it heals, detoxifies and is essential for optimal health. Diana, the author of eight books, spent 25 years as a medical and self-help writer before turning to poetry and memoir. She teaches creative journaling and memoir in UCLA Extension Writers' Program. If you comment on today's post you'll be entered to win a copy of Healing with Words: A Writer's Cancer Journey. To read Diana's post about breast cancer and a list of other blogs participating in Diana's Blanket Tour visit The Muffin.

A few MissFit Dragons (2009)
on a Willamette Valley wine tour
L-R: Nikki, me, Karen, Debbie, Gayle
When I selected as one of the writers for the Blanket Tour I was thrilled - and I had the perfect story. My friend, Debbie, had just undergone a double mastectomy, following a hysterectomy two months earlier.  Her test results were positive for BRCA2, those at highest risk for certain cancers - including breast and ovarian. Several years ago she did have breast cancer, went through treatment, and was considered cancer-free. But breast cancer is prevalent in her family history and she decided to take the test.

Debbie wasn't shocked by the results - and, from what I saw, her decision was made quickly to go ahead with the surgeries. I do not mean that her decision was rushed or made without thought. No; Debbie had already thought about it and researched the options and when she got her results she had a pretty good idea what she wanted to do. She talked with her doctor and with surgeons. What I mean is that she was sure of her decision and sure of her research. She didn't need to waiver long because she already knew the statistics, knew her family history, had already gone through a bout of cancer and recovery.

I asked Debbie if she was willing to share her story - whatever part of it she wanted to share. She said "sure" with a smile and the bubbling energy she spreads wherever she goes. We set a date for dinner and an interview.

Life went on. Debbie's drainage tubes were removed little by little, as the sites healed. She recovered from the surgery. The weeks of dinners brought by friends daily stopped. The daughter who'd come home to help care for her returned to college. Debbie returned to work. Then the two of us met to talk about her decision process and feelings.

Debbie arrived about five minutes after me.

Hi, Debbie. Hey, thanks for agreeing to do this. I really appreciate it.

Sure; no problem.

Do you want a drink? I just ordered a Bloody Mary. I was thinking about the Cajun one - but thought the jalapeno vodka might be a bit too spicy.

Yeah. (The waitress approached.) I'd like a Pale Ale. What do you have on tap?

The drinks came. We talked about Debbie's return to work and the co-worker that was being a bit of a pain. Debbie's phone buzzed and she checked the screen. With an apology.

My dog went in for joint surgery today and the vet is supposed to be calling me about now. Sorry.

No problem; of course.

She took her phone and the conversation to the front of the restaurant. When she returned we talked about her dog's surgery. The expense of it, but how she couldn't say no; Chelsea had been with her for 14 years. We talked about how her ex- probably caused the problem which led to the joint pain which led to the surgery. About how she doubted he would help pay for the $3,500 surgery.

Next we talked about the dragon boat team where we met and of which we are both still members. I asked if she'll be back as a paddler or as the coach's assistant (she seems to get sick or need surgery near the big race every year; the coach has joked that, to keep Debbie healthy, maybe she should just be the assistant to the coach and avoid the illnesses).

I asked her if she was considering joining next year's Cascade Lakes Relay walking team; she was one of our inaugural members in 2009. She didn't really answer and I let it go. I'd love to have her back; she was a lot of fun to be stuck with in a van for 33 hours. And I'm sincere in that comment.

We talked about the quickly approaching DVD release and reunion party of the group of 19 of us who rafted down the Grand Canyon for 8 days this last July. Debbie and I shared tents a couple of times - me, as a place to change since I slept on the beach every night; Debbie, as a place to sleep, with the flaps open to the river.

We talked about her ex. Money. Theories for caring for elderly or aging pets.

The mistakes of the night nurse when Debbie was recovering in the hospital. The kindness of the day nurse. The hurried assessment by one doctor, which led to the failure/death of one of her reconstructed breasts. About her biggest complaint: that her breasts are too large - the doctor was supposed to make them smaller than her originals.

We ate dinner.

Nikki joined us, thinking we'd be done with the interview by that time, and we moved up the street to Journeys, a comfortable community bar. Where we talked about how to get Debbie's ex to help pay for the dog's surgery. About how Debbie should get not just reimbursed from the first botched hysterectomy by an incompetent doctor, but also for some pain and suffering because she did.

Then it was time for me to leave to go to work.

But we didn't talk about my decision. Why or how.

I'll call you or send you an email. It's okay.

But you bought my dinner.

I bought your dinner because you're my friend. It's okay. I enjoyed our talk.

And it's true.

I realized that I don't need to just write about Debbie's breasts, her cancer journey. Though I could - and I might later. Debbie was inspired by another woman's story and Debbie might want to share her own - I'd be happy to help her in that process. Debbie is a brave woman - thorough, a positive outlook on life, a good friend.

Debbie sets a good example by living her life to the best of her ability. Meeting each moment straight on. By being a friend. By being, well, Debbie.

Yes, she had cancer. Yes, she has the BCRA2 DNA. Yes, she had a hysterectomy, a double mastectomy, breast reconstructive surgery and will have to have another surgery later because one of them failed, because her chance of getting cancer again was nearly a fore drawn conclusion.

But Debbie is not the cancer she had nor the genes that showed up on the test.

Debbie is a well-rounded person with a full life - who also happens to be a survivor.

*Remember: you can win a free copy of Diana Raab's book by leaving a comment. Winner will be randomly chosen on October 25th*

Friday, October 15, 2010

Razor's Edge for 10/15/10

Today is a transition day for me: my schedule goes from overly full - with all good things, but full all the same - to one where I have enough time to sleep, enough time to start building walks back in and the return of writing as a priority. One major project was completed last night; one time-consuming job is done for the time being. Today I slept nearly nine hours.

And outside the air has shifted. We still have more sunshine than usual. The skies are still bluer than normal. The clouds are far less than normal and the temperatures just a little higher. But there is no denying that fall is here.

On the ground lay the beginnings of the red and golden and burnt orange leaves, bouncing crisply under the tires of cars, in their wake. The gutters are starting to fill with the finely ground nuts that pelt the cars waiting at the stoplight, with the crumbled leaves after they've been tossed around a while. And the air, while unseasonably warm, carries a cool thread, moist, musty, telling us that change is near. After the sun sets the temperature drops quickly. The nights turning cold, requiring the windows be closed or more blankets piled on the bed.

Transition. Returning to earth. Unpredictability.

This week's prompt is the video below, the setting and the music. After you've watched the video, scroll down for the word prompts. Set your timer for 10 minutes and write. Or dance or paint or draw - whatever creative outlet you feel drawn to today. Create - that is the only goal.

Song Of The Morning Ranch - Golden Lotus from Marcel DeClercq on Vimeo.


Imagine you or your characters in this place.

Or that you are coming from or going to this place.

Begin with: "I smelled the earth through the open window and I knew..."

...go... 10 minutes ....

Monday, October 11, 2010

Oh - I like it!

I did make it to Wordstock for a couple hours. Things have been so busy and I have a play I'm preparing to interpret - but I did give myself a treat and went by the Wordstock Expo for a couple of hours on Sunday. There were some interestng things and, to be honest, probably more interesting things than I had energy to explore. But I was glad I went, even if it was crammed in between script translation work and work-work.

One thing I stumbled across is a prompt website that seems really fun. I need to look into them more - but at the outset, it seems like a good idea. And, yes, I signed up.

It's called "typetrigger." The premise is that they post a new prompt every six hours. So you have six hours to write up a maximum 300 words piece and post it. Fun! Genre doesn't matter.

I just completed my first installment and here's the link - "her conundrum" - not that I need more writing assignments (wink). But maybe this will be a help when it comes to NaNoWriMo. Could be. Get myself stuck for something to write, pop on over and login to Typetrigger, get a prompt and go. Really - 300 words? That's about a fifth of my daily minimum total.

Friday, October 8, 2010

it wasn't easy

I made the right decision to not walk the inaugural Portland Half Marathon. My back is better - especially when not walking any distance over 1/2 to 1 mile. I can go 2 miles with tightness; no pain. Slower recovery than I'd like. But when I'm not doing walking as my cardio exercise my back is better. All of the other work I'm doing to heal it is paying off and it feels generally stable and only sore with distance walks; great improvement.

One problem recently, though, is that when it feels better I think - maybe I could walk the half marathon if I don't push the pace. (As if - I said that before the Cascade Lakes Relay, too; and even though I didn't set out to beat last year's pace or go at any particular pace, I did.) Then I walk and ow. Or I sit a little off and - ow. Or sit too long without stretching - ow. But it is better. Just not up to walking 13.1 miles.

But I decided that I would pick up my race packet, which includes the technical t-shirt and the bag. And I'd look around the health expo - I like those, see what's new, upcoming events. It will be fine. My decision was right and I'm solid in that now.

But it wasn't easy. I got the shirt. Included was a nice little rose (pewter?) necklace on a satin ribbon in a pretty little velvet bag; nice. There was also, in it's own little velvet bag, the "half marathon finisher" medal. Ouch. If I was walking on Sunday I'd think, "yay" because I wouldn't have to scramble to get one as I was sweaty and catching my breath and trying to warm-up, dry off. But - ow. And I did look around - but a couple of my favorite vendors weren't there. There weren't many upcoming events displayed. Less freebies and samples. Way less energy than before; maybe there will be more tomorrow - and I did see a couple of unfilled, unstaffed booth spaces.

And I cried. Just a little. Because today was one of my best 'back' days in a while (thank you, Cydney!!). It felt really good and stable and I started my 'what if' thinking. And knew that wasn't right. My body said, no, can't do it.

I'm okay - it was just a little harder to be there than I thought. It's an expensive (but nice) technical t-shirt and another nice cinc-sac to stuff things into. I know some of the 'less than exciting' energy was mine, some was definitely a change in vendors and their energy at the expo. I don't regret picking up my stuff. I don't regret making the right decision for my body.

I just expected it to be a little easier to be there.

And I decided to reward taking care of my body in this decision by replacing the half marathon activity with a trip to the Wordstock expo. The play I'm interpreting next week has taken a huge amount of time, as has my work, and I haven't been able to get to Wordstock at all - which also made me sad. So, when my play rehearsal time was scheduled from Sunday and I had scheduled my normal Sunday job later for the half marathon which I'm not doing - I decided my treat is a trip to Wordstock.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

where to focus

Not a new question for me - but here it is, again: where do I focus my time?
from pete laburn's blog
The working and the working out and the writing - how does it all fit into my life? Within each area I also have questions, but I have to start with the basics - the question of time. Oh, and sleep. Always sleep.

I want to spend more time writing. Partly because I want to get the novel revision done, and the memoir, and I have stories to submit. And I want to write more stories. I love to write. I'm not as comfortable with the editing and revision process of the longer works - but I think I will be in time. Time. That word again.

Time. I know money doesn't buy happiness, but it could buy some time. As in, pay the mortgage and the other necessities of life. That's where my profession comes in. Don't get me wrong - I still like what I do; but it's not writing. Right now the scales are tipped more in the direction of work for several reasons - the mortgage being one, of course. Right now I don't have money comng in from my writing (although I've had a few things published and that's good). So I have to work more than I'd ideally like.

Then there's the working out and physical activities. My back is better, although not back to problem-free. But better. Last weekend I bought another pair of shoes which I hope will help, too. I might even get a chance to go out an walk tomorrow for two or three miles to test them out; I'm holding out hope for that - the weather to hold and the shoes to be part of the solution. I still won't do the Portland Half Marathon; I'm not trained and I know my back is not up to that. But I did meet with a good friend and sometimes workout/hiking buddy and we may do a spring half marathon together. That would be great. The dragon boat weekly off-season paddling has ended, so I don't have dragon boat practice until January when we start back in with two nights a week until May, when we go to three nights a week.

Writing. Working out/physical activity. Working.

I also have to remember that I'm just settling into a new schedule. These last couple weeks have been rough, with the last of my old schedule and the beginning of the new one overlapping, not quite meshing. It's better and will soon be smooth sailing - just long enough to get settled a bit before NaNoWriMo begins.

And I didn't even mention the long weekend trip to San Francisco. Which was great. I caught up on sleep. I rested. I wrote. And I met with Bonnie Hearn Hill. I'll save that story for its own post - but will say that I had a great time with her, even though it was short. I hope to be able to spend more time with her and it was inspirational and didn't feel like it had been as long as it has since we last saw each other.

I've been quiet with my posts. Contemplating. Waiting. Wondering.

I think something is brewing!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Razor's Edge for 10/01/10

Today marks one month to go until the beginning of NaNoWriMo 2010. Yes, it's that time of year again. A new month - a new final prep for the next 50,000 words in one month challenge just 30 days away.

This week's theme, then, is "Beginnings."

Below is a video of CTA and EWF performing "Beginnings" live in concert. As you listen to the song, think about one thing you'd like to accomplish in the next 30 days. Or something a character in a story you're working on would like to do in the next 30 days. Use the prompts below the video to help guide you if you'd like. 

Write for 8-10 minutes.

Word prompts:

From October 2 - 31 I would like to....
I have the skills to ...
I have the resources I need in ...
I will ask for help from ...

When I'm done I'll feel ....
The hardest part will be...
The easiest part will be ....