Thursday, March 31, 2011

April is bringing...

Script Frenzy!

I wrote a post in Facebook this morning and, voila, it turned out to be a little piece of script-like dialogue.

Okay, I thought, it looks like my spirit wants to do a little script writing.

So, I hopped on over to Script Frenzy, another event brought to us by the inspiring Office of Letters and Light (NaNoWriMo), and signed up. My 100+ page script is tentatively titled, "The not so Alternative Lifestyle." [logline: "A cautionary tale: the thing you fear may be no different than you. Love, laughter, and misunderstandings in a long term relationship."] I stuck it under the Romantic Comedy category, but that could change. Well - at first it was going to be a drama, but I decided I'm already working on heavy enough material with the memoir, and, surely I can find some light things to write about!

Wish me luck and nimble, dialogue producing fingers.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Live Once, Juicy" & "Defiant Athlete"

Thanks to a writing friend, Rooze, (who is also an amazing photographer, and a great person in general) I found this great website/blog called "Live Once, Juicy." This is a member of Rooze's writing cohort, and the author is also what she calls a "Defiant Athlete." You can click on the website to read more about her projects and goals - and I'm finding it very inspirational. It's helping me find my way back to my earlier fitness goals, I think.

Fitness for the sake of being fit. Not getting derailed by a series of things that I haven't written about here and have barely written about anywhere. I will, at some point. But for now, I'm working on overcoming being triggered, of feeling betrayed, of losing the fitness path I was on and where I felt good.

Thanks, Shaunta, for starting this. Thanks, Rooze, for posting this where I'd see it. Thanks, Tristy, for this amazing and inspiring video below.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Do "-------" in 30 Days

We're at the end of March. Surprise! Not really, I know.

What this means is that in just a couple days, there will be more complete X in 30 days activities. Which I may or may not participate in. Which I'm obviously thinking about participating in - and wondering if it's a good idea or a bad idea.

Maybe I could just say "it's an idea" rather than layering it with judgment heavy words. Good v. Bad. Yes, I like that better.

Back to my point. My options: [1] NaPoWriMo or PAD (Poem A Day), or [2] Script Frenzy.

I thought about doing Script Frenzy last year but chickened out (sorry, don't mean to malign chickens). It seemed too big and like I might fail. So, instead, I did NaPoWriMo (then just last week I saw there's another group that set up PAD as an option; looks like the same thing) - and I did write a poem every day. Some of those daily poems I did more work on and some have flown out into the world -- though not yet published.

I'm also working on the memoir - as my last post mentioned. And it's gaining it's own momentum:  there is an exponentially growing sense of completion and awareness of where it's going as I work on it. I'm also in  Ariel Gore's Literary Kitchen again - with a focus on the memoir, but an openness to wherever the prompts lead me. And I want to be sending out more submissions.

Oh - and I just renewed my membership with IPRC (Independent Publishing Resource Center) - because I saw that they have changed their orientation training to a time I can do it. I'm excited. I have projects in mind.

So, I have non-work projects lined up. All related to writing (yes, the IPRC projects are writing centered!). And now I'm considering doing another "in 30 days" event - and wondering if I'm crazy or if it will actually help my creativity!


Thinking I'll do Script Frenzy.

What's the worst that can happen?

I don't complete the 100 pages. Right!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Movement Creates Momentum

The good news [and there is no bad news to follow it!] is that I seem to have picked up some momentum on my memoir. It seems that my decision to focus on completing one book at a time was the correct one. And trying to zoom in on a completion date for the one was a good idea (thank you, Bonnie Hearn Hill!). And printing out the drafts at various stages of completion so I have the whole thing in my hands.

All good ideas.

Oh, and joining this spring round of the Wayward Writers in Ariel Gore's Literary Kitchen - with the intent to focus my writing on missing pieces of the memoir.


All of that.

Good ideas.

Because the ideas are flowing, the pieces are coming together, the editing of some of it is going awesomely (I know that's not a word).

Yes. I have found (created?) a momentum.

Friday, March 25, 2011


I'm a writer. I write stories. I'm an author of stories and two novels in progress and one memoir. I'm also a poet. And I've written a few scripts; short ones (stage and radio).

Those are stories.

Recently I've been working with someone on making some life changes and we've been talking about "being in story." This isn't the first time this has come up. But I think I finally "get it."

Stories are good. Stories have drama and impact and can move, excite, give pleasure, explain, and so on. Being "in story" can have that same effect.

But the problem with being "in story" is that when that happens, I'm not being present with myself and my experience. My desires, wants, needs. I'm focusing on the other person/people/situation and not on my experience of it.

It's not easy to explain here and perhaps some of you are shaking your head. Some of you may not agree with that concept. And some of you may be where I've been with this idea and not totally understand the difference.

And maybe I shouldn't even write about that here. It's personal. It's private. Yet as a writer, as a very young writer, people (make that my mother) didn't believe me sometimes *because* I was a writer - I "told stories."

So now I'm writing. Writing a lot. Writing fiction and non-fiction and creative non-fiction. And I don't want to get caught "in story" when I'm doing my own personal growth work. The big break through is that I'm noticing and that I'm learning to feel the difference. And I wonder if there is a correlation that, as I work through some of the harder parts of the memoir, perhaps I'm being able to move out of being "in story" and can see when I'm in that outward focused place and move through it.

Writing. Being present. These are what I do as a writer. Which is different than being "in story" when things get hard or there's conflict.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

When Lives Collide

I think many of us have several lives. At least among the people I know. Kind of like a cat, you know?

collage by Dot

I have my life with my parents and my siblings when I was growing up. Within that there can also probably be divisions - but I'd call that a specific era. I know that some people would extend that era beyond turning 18; but I don't. The reason I don't will be revealed when my first memoir is published. No, I don't have a date; no, I don't have a publisher; yes, I have an editor (or two, I hope) and people to help me with revisions along the way - the first draft is done and parts are done or very close to editor-ready; and I have a few gaps to fill in and straighten out. If all goes according to plan, it will be in the hands of editor(s) soon and on its way to finding a publisher.

From the time with my parents to my early adult life. Another significant event and I entered another adult life. Years later a major profession change. And so on.

As I've been working on my memoir, different memories and stories have surfaced. People's names I rarely think about. People who were significant and I remember but no longer have contact with. And some major gaps of what or who or when. It's all a part of the same thing.

Recently I've been working on a couple of significant questions that have needed to have answers in the memoir. Some events that need more supporting information or reasons for what happened and so on. Something to make the story clearer or to help the readers understand a few things.

Those memories are hard to find and harder to write about. How do you find the sweet side of a sociopath? How do you show - without playing the victim card - how you fell into a relationship with that same person and how you repeatedly repainted the red flags yellow or blue or green; anything but red?

Then, surprise, as you finally are writing that story about the first meeting and the person who hooked you up. Voila! That person appears in your email inbox.

That happened to me. That person and I had been best friends from second grade through high school. We had a little bit of contact a couple years after graduation. Then our lives completely diverged. She did find me through or a similar website (well, she found my brother who gave her my information); we had a one email each exchange - then nothing. That was four years ago - there, I did it again, oops - it was actually seven years ago; time does fly. Last week I was editing an excerpt from my memoir for a contest - and a major part of it was the set-up and the meeting. Just as I was leaving town for a few days - in part to complete that story and get it ready to submit - I received an email from that long ago and I thought long lost friend. I replied. Another email from her today.

"bamboo" sumi-e painting by Dot

Our paths are crossing again.

I'm excited and a little nervous.

We have so much to say. So much to catch up on. And a part of me feels that old saying about, with true friends, it feels like you were never apart. There is a bit of that, too - it seems from this most recent email that there is an ease that I wouldn't have guessed. I mean, we are talking *many* years since we've seen each other. Yet our lives have overlapped in other ways. It's very complicated and I won't put it all online - but my friends and her friends and the connections are pretty amazing, even though she and I haven't been together. It does seem that something has kept our lives connected.

Right now we're trying to plan a time to meet, face to face. It's been so long. And I can't wait.

And how - yes, I think, serendipitous that she contacted me when I was writing that story. Maybe I need that. Maybe I wasn't ready for it, yet - until I was ready to tell that part of that story which belongs in that part of my life.

A collision of the oldest me and the newest me. And I believe a collision that will strengthen the wholeness and generate more creative sparks.

Yes. Life is stranger than fiction - and I know if I wrote this as a fiction piece, about our friendship and the lost years and the reconnection, many wouldn't believe it. Or, maybe the truth is that they wouldn't believe it if I wrote it as non-fiction - but they would accept it if I wrote it as fiction. I don't know. I do know that I'm excited and the timing still makes me smile.

 detail: silk painting by Dot.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


" be a writer,
you must write lots,
you must read deeply,
you must listen well."

Natalie Goldberg
on  Zen Howl

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


View from the Oceanside cottage.
The memoir piece has been submitted. A few more tweaks after I got home and voila - I consider it done.

I showed it to my partner who is, in addition to an artist and an educator and a therapist, a former copy editor and proofreader. So she catches some of those little things. We had a brief discussion about alright versus all right. I've had this discussion with others and read articles about it. I went to the 'net. I thought about it. And decided to go with her suggestion this time. Where I'd used it, the two-word and more correct version was absolutely the better choice. And was not what I'd put on the page.

It feels really done. This has had a lot of editing. And I can say it's probably the first time I can say that I enjoyed the editing process.

Editing is not my favorite part of writing. I know it's necessary; but it doesn't usually feel as creative and productive and can be tedious. But this one wasn't. And I could track the changes and improvements.

Now to find my next submission goal!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Editing Takes Time

That's probably a great big "duh, Dot!". Of course editing takes time.

But this short trip to the coast has proven my whining - er, I mean, theory - that I need blocks of time for editing. Not for the shorter pieces: short stories, flash fiction, poetry - those I can usually do fine with sessions.

But with the longer memoir/creative nonfiction submission I just completed, I needed a longer, focused, continuous block of time. This piece started out around 8600 words. The word limit for the contest is 7500. And I needed a couple new sections to bring it all together.

With a compressed period of time, it was easier to keep track of the parts. To know where I'd said what when I found something I'd already written in another section where there were conflicts in facts - like saying it was a '66 VW Bug, a '68, a '69. All in one piece of writing. No - pick one and stick with it (I don't remember right now which it actually was; it wasn't my car).

I was able to get in the flow of the piece and move, remove, add, and alter the story to make it work. I've done probably five major edits since Thursday. And it feels done.

When I get home I will pay the fee and submit the story. After my partner gives it another read. She's only read the copy I left her Thursday night. There've been many changes since then. But our conversation on the phone tonight helped; we talked about her feedback for the last known edit she read.

I believe it's ready; and another set of eyes is the final step in what I hope will confirm it's done-ness.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Writing Retreat

The writing retreat at the coast was planned to be for three. Then one of us won a big prize and had a reading on the first or second day of our retreat (the first day wasn't set in stone due to other obligations).

And that was awesome.

How perfect that the winning entry would be read during the time of our planned retreat.

Except that the timing didn't work with the place we were going to stay, unless we wanted to drive 3-5 hours every day for four days in a row. Cut out the first night of the retreat and just go north for the reading on the first day, down and over to the coast on the second day, and back over the mountains to home the third day? Um. No. And the beach house time couldn't be extended.

Okay. Regroup. What do we want to do?

After a misunderstanding and clarification we decided to look for a miracle beach cabin - that weekend (now) being the beginning of spring break.
I found one. From the description on craigslist and the linked website. And it was available.


Booked it.

As you may have guessed by now. Other things came up. Illness, children, exhaustion. But the reading went well in Seattle last night. We had fun; the authors were all amazing - our group member was awesome and people loved her work. And we went out for a while afterward with one of the curated authors from NYC and a couple other writers and artists (we got back to the house where we were staying at 3am!).

And now here I am, at the beach house. Alone. I miss my friends - and I am out of town. With my laptop. With the most recent version of the story I'm submitting this week - with more revision to do since the deadline was extended.

And I'm okay. I also brought the printout of the sections of the memoir. I have plenty to do and it's just me. With a glass of Cathedral Ridge Winery pinot noir, an organic turkey pot pie, brussel sprouts, and some Moonstruck Chile dark chocolate. With Erin Baker's granola and Chioban yogurt and an apple waiting for breakfast.

A personal writing retreat. This will be good and my friends and I will reschedule.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, March 18, 2011

Moving Ahead

I made a drive up the Gorge today to pick up two subscriptions of wine. In December I went with a friend and her husband, and another couple, to a tour and tasting at one of the Hood River wineries. I was impressed with the wine and they have a great wine club. I joined at the 7 times a year plan, taking home one shipment, with the second one to be picked up in January. Due to snow and ice and winds in the Gorge, I put it off.

It got closer to the next shipment, so I waited. Then, today, I took my new car for a drive. It was overcast, a slight wind on the Columbia, a dusting of snow on the higher mountains, and additional waterfalls along the way.

I also took with me a printout of a memoir piece I'm working on for a submission. The original due date was 3/20. Later at night at home, I discovered that the deadline has been postponed until 3/25.

After I picked up the wine, I went to the Full Sail brewery and pub for dinner and a table overlooking the river. With a printout of the story. The editing went smoothly and I easily cut out one section; reducing the word count closer to the 7,500 word limit.

I just completed typing in the changes and the next draft is being printed as I type. I have about a 25 word leeway of the limit and already have one person lined up to read it and give me feedback. I plan to take a printout with me tomorrow when I go to Seattle to hear my writer friend, Jenny, read her award winning essay. I will probably have some time between the drive and the reading and will comb through it for more editing needs.

The pieces are coming together.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Tomorrow it will have been a week since my last post. Not a terrible thing, for sure. But not good, when I'd just made the commitment to myself to do daily posts for a while to get myself back on track - or a minimum of three times a week.

And tomorrow it will be a week since the last one.

I'm trying to be okay with that. Today, on the first day of my work break - which isn't totally a break yet, since I have one class whose grades I still need to turn in and I'm waiting on information to be able to make the final computations.

It's 1:30 pm and I'm still in my pajamas. Not because I slept many hours, but because I stayed up until 6:00 am to get the grades done; as done as I can in the case of one class.

And I printed out the story I'm trying to get completed so I can submit it before the Sunday due date. I'm only 1,000 words over the limit right now.

So here's my post for today. With a hope that the stalled feeling of "what's next" is at an end and I can make more forward movement.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Razor's Edge: Thanks to OLL

I received this in my Reader client today. I thought, "how perfect! What great questions!" Thank You OLL (who brings us NaNoWriMo and Script Frenzy) - and I'm borrowing your idea, with due credit, for today's Razor's Edge.

For the minimum, think about the questions they pose - write out your desires. And for the more artistically or the more visually oriented, create a representation of your own writing hut.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *


What would your writing hut look like?

I’ve been obsessed with tiny houses for a while. They just seem so tidy and stylish—like a perfect solution to the sprawl of everyday life. Someday, I fantasize, I’ll just buy a beautiful plot of land in the middle of nowhere, roam all day, and sleep comfortably in my little space.

More realistically, though, I’d just like to have a small structure to work in. For inspiration, I’ve been looking at this post from Re-Nest—a gallery of writing huts used by Roald Dahl (pictured above), Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, and others. Currently, my home workspace is an unused walk-in closet that is way too close to the television and way too connected to the internet. It would be so awesome to walk out the door and into a cozy, spartan set-up… and not leave until I was done with my writing for the day.

Laurie Halse Anderson recently designed and built her own writing hut. If you could do the same, what would yours look like? What would you need to have inside? And what would you definitely want to keep out?

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

I'm Pressing the Reset Button

As the college term comes to an end, I have the opportunity - again - to build more writing time back into my schedule.

Let me correct myself already: to build in more editing and revision time. I actually have done well with my writing time. I have continued to meet with Deb once or twice a week when she comes into town; and I've pretty consistently met with Jenny to write once a week. Plus I've had other writing time on my own and the three of us did have another long day of writing together. So I've been writing, doing the quick writes and assignments for my online group/class, and doing feedback on the assignments (though I did fall off feedback on the quickwrites near the end). Writing has continued - editing stalled.

I have a big freelance interpreting job on Saturday which requires a lot of preparation (it's the statewide poetry recitation competition), after which I will have final journals and assignments to grade for the students in my classes. After that - more time for editing. And I will make it happen. I'm only teaching one internship course next term, so that will open up time. And I have only one play. So I think this will happen.

Although I am considering doing Script Frenzy in April. With the awareness that I write more and generate more ideas when I'm writing more. Sound like a circle of reasoning? It is - and it's true. I actually am more creative and productive during NaNoWriMo than other parts of the year, even though I was also doing the online group, teaching, doing my regular interpreting work -- I wrote more and had more ideas when I was also writing the 50,000+ word novel in 30 days!

Go figure.

And I am. I will not give up on me nor give in to my frustration that my editing has gone slower than I hoped. As I recently told Bonnie in an email - I did make progress. So that counts and that's what is important. I'll set a new goal - and should probably set myself a timeline to get the next draft done; I do well with deadlines!

Friday, March 4, 2011

special congratulations

I had the luck to be with my friend and writing partner, Jenny, when she received news that she'd won a writing contest. We were at our usual writing spot at our usual time when she got The Call.

I'm almost as excited as she is - and I will get to be there when she reads her winning prose, alongside other published writers and artists. It will be at Hugo House in Seattle, Washington, on March 18th.

Congratulations, Jenny! You earned this and your entry is awesome.

note to update on me: I'm still sick, though much better. I've been lying low, taking it easy, and trying to just get well. And still getting behind on grading and all - a partial excuse is that I'm also preparing to interpret a state poetry recitation contest next week - my third year. It's a great event and I love doing it. So, I'm behind on posting here, as well. I will get back on track.


And one more shout of hurrah for Jenny!