Friday, June 27, 2014

M-book Project Update

On Tuesday I started a script - a short script, maybe a radio script. It has nothing to do with the M-book. But I had inspiration around another setting and wanted to capture it on the page. So I did. The only relationship it bears to the project is that it is writing and it is about writers.

On the project itself, I feel like I am making no progress. A more accurate description is that I'm making very slow progress, which sometimes feels like nothing. But this is a stage I know I must go through before I can move to the next draft.

I am reading the entire manuscript, as is, from beginning to end. I am trying to not edit as I go; reading for where it is now, making notes. I bought large supply of sticky notes because there are some things I want to be able find easily. Some places need only notes on the page, or perhaps in another document - a running list of sorts, perhaps, but not yet. But I'm a fan of sticky notes as a way to get back to a place more quickly. 

I bought colored sticky notes because color coding works well for me; at other times in my left I've been called the Color Coding Queen and I'm okay with that. I created color coded systems when I was stage manager and ran lights for theatrical productions. There are things in the M-book I need to monitor in terms of repetition, the appearance of people/stories/places, which time period sections (chapters?) belong to, eek the gaps or missing transitions. Having a quick glance color system will help me with the flow of the story and events in addition to clearly marking the places where I need something more or have a piece which needs to be moved.

I also bought a new pen. A colored pen and, no, it is not red. I opted for purple. Solid, regal, it will stand out on the page and I like purple. After I bought the pens, I thought, just for fun, I'd look up some meanings of purple and, yes, I have confirmed this is a good color for making notes in the memoir :
         According to Emily Gems:
Put some violet in your life when you want:
  • to use your imagination to its fullest
  • to re-balance your life
  • to remove obstacles

Purple pens, multicolored sticky notes, a fresh printing of the book (don't worry, I promise to reuse every page; but I work best with the physical pages for notetaking at this stage), a pack of bubble gum, Lindor 90% dark chocolate, a new batch of cold brew decaf in the works and another quart already in the fridge. I'm diving into the next stage, the next draft - after I finish reading this one.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Writer is a Writer ... Junot Diaz Quote

This resonates with me today.

"...a writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway."
- Junot Diaz
[Becoming a Writer/ The List, O Magazine, November 2009]

Friday, June 20, 2014

"Vigorous Revision" According to Dinty Moore

"What is required, if your essay and your writing skills are going to improve by leaps and bounds, it a total reconsideration of each and every element of your essay. room metaphor. If you are serious about remodeling, what you really need to do is to move each and every piece of furniture our onto the front lawn, roll up the area rugs, take pictures down from the wall, perhaps even dismantle the outdated lighting fixtures, and then, on a case by case basis, decide what returns to the room and where it will be situated. 
So, in a true revision of an essay, the same principle holds.: Nothing remains in your essay - not the opening scene, not the funny anecdote in the middle, nor your elegant closing paragraph - unless it serves the purpose of the essay that is taking shape on the page."
- Dinty W. Moore, Crafting the Personal Essay

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Big Project

"To be any good at all, a piece of writing requires the investment of a specific amount of time, either by the writer or by the editor." - Gardner Botsford

I am going to try something new.

I'm working on the Memoir/M-book/Wemoir (Lidia Yuknavitch's word). Which is not the "new" part. I've been working on that for awhile - although I am entering a major revision and rewrite of the manuscript phase.

I recently read Austin Kleon's newest book, Show Your Work, in which he talks about creativity and the process.

I love the process and I love writing about the process.

I decided to 'Show My Work' in the editing process of my M-book.

At least once per month (or maybe every week if all goes well, but I don't want to set myself up for failure at this point) I will write a post about my editing process. I will include resources here and there, quotes - for sure - and what I'm doing, how it's going. In between those big updates, I will be posting quotes or resources, frustrations or successes. I may post examples and excerpts - but that depends on the process at the time.

My big updates will appear mid-week, probably on a Wednesday. The other bits related to editing will probably be random, at least until I find my rhythm.

Current Status of the M-Book

In case you missed it, I did incorporate the gathered suggestions, edits, feedback for the current version of the project when I was in Taos. That was the only goal I took with me on that trip, if it felt right. After a few days of my vacation regime - wake up, shower, drive my spouse to teach her art class, pick up a decaf soy latte or americano on the way back to where we were staying, sipped my coffee while contemplating what I wanted to do that day (walk, nap, eat breakfast in or out, explore, veg with Words With Friends and Angry Birds Friends, read, etc) then to pick up my partner at the end of her art retreat classes - I decided it was time to break out the book and get to work. And I did. I was farther along in getting those edits written and entered than I thought, which was a relief. The only edits I did not do were the added sections. I had those clearly marked and I know what needs to go there, but since I knew there would be some major rewrites, I just left them as virtual index cards in the Scrivener file rather than writing them at the moment.

Which means that that version of the manuscript is done. And I'm moving on. I've had some insights and writing breakthroughs, and have identified some other significant changes I need to make. Including writing some transitional pieces and filling in a few potholes in the story.

Where I am right now also includes some structural decisions, as follows.
-- Keep it as memoir, with elements of creative non-fiction. Meaning, keep it real and make sure the story has literary merit, tells the story.
-- Change it to fiction. Keep most of the truth but give myself more room to fictionalize. Focus on telling a good tale rather than keeping to the this-was-real-how-can-I-make-it-readable approach.
-- There are currently three distinct pieces to the tale as it is. I have some decisions to make about tense and point of view. I've been playing with a new approach since the last workshop with Pam Houston and Lidia Yuknavitch and the piece of one story I tried it with, it really worked. Do I want to do that more? Or not.  Tense and point of view - major decisions.
-- I may take a few of the harder to write sections and write them as fiction pieces as a way to get deeper in the story. As a way to free myself a bit to explore. Then, if the book stays as memoir, take those fictionalized pieces and the (potential) energy and revise them back to the "real."
-- I was even considering writing part of it as a play. Look to the dialogue of the story(ies) and approach it from that angle.

This is where I am at the start of the next step, the next version, of this manuscript. With pen poised over the newly printed manuscript to mark and note and highlight. With this current level of editing I'm beginning, I need it on paper. And I printed it with plenty of margin space. I have to be able to touch it and see it and note it. The last version I printed was well-read and well-marked, and many of the pages have plenty of space to chop them up into fat scratch pads.

Yes. Now I've said it. I've been thinking about this for awhile. And now I've put it out there.

Let's get on with this journey and see what happens. Memoir? Novel? Script? Or maybe a good exercise in writing and editing and bound for even more scratch pads. Here I go! (After a good night's sleep and a long day of work tomorrow.)


I recommend Austin Kleon's earlier book, "Steal Like an Artist." Very fun, inspirational, and a good read. I also recommend "Show Your Work." I'm glad I didn't realize it was a 'how to promote yourself and your work' book for those who don't like self-promotion, before I read it or I may have procrastinated. I'm glad I didn't. It's a book about process. Did I tell you that I like "the process?"

Watch the trailer for "Show Your Work" below and then check back here and I will update you on my process. My editing process. My editing of the M-book -- strike that -- the Memoir/Wemoir.

Show Your Work! Book Trailer from Austin Kleon on Vimeo.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Patience. Pleasure. Presence.

I have a lot of patience. Except when I don't. Right now I'm in that in between place of hurry and wait, savor the now moment while planning for the next step and the one after that and trust the process. Be. Here. Now.

Being present. That is one of my save-that-thought experiences from the Taos trip. Even when I have to look forward.

Tomorrow is the first return to the weekly Tuesday writing sessions - which were delayed a week. And that's okay. Tomorrow we are meeting.

In gratitude to the trip, to my writing friend and our return to the weekly writing meetups, here is a picture from the road trip to New Mexico.

Patience. Pleasure. Presence.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

I Can't Believe It's June Update

We're back home. Have been back home for a week. It's been a full week, but no complaints.

Oh. That part of the M-book writing project I hoped to accomplish while we were in Taos? I did it. Yes; I finished the edits for the current draft. There are more edits and rewrites to do - sure. But that particular draft is done. Now starts more hacking away and some major rewrites. And. I will save that news for later.

The project I mentioned a month or so ago? It is going to happen. Right now I'm drafting the first post explaining what I'm going to do. And, truthfully, I have a little more consideration to do to make sure it's a good idea to move forward with in terms of process.

Right now I'm preparing to interpret two plays. That is taking a lot of my time and that's okay Two very different plays, with some common themes, in a way. Both dark plays, with some humor and some unexpected moments of lightness. One is a rock musical about Lizzie Borden and the other is a Pulitzer Prize winning drama by Sam Shepard. A lot of creative brain space is being used for these two productions.

On Tuesday I will be resuming the Tuesday morning writing jams. I have missed those. I missed three due to the trip and my writing partner has had conflicts. But this week we will return and I'm looking forward to that. We might be trying out a new location. The perfect place we had developed a few problems in terms of out ability to be there for writing. We haven't found a better place yet. It's funny; the place it seems we may try is a place I have driven past for many years but have never visited.

Did I tell you that I can't believe it's already June?!?