Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Submission Time

I've been working on a piece for submission for a few weeks. I've had three people read it: my partner, a friend/writer friend, and that friend's friend who is a writer and editor. I've gotten a lot of feedback (now and in previous attempts at this story). I've cut 1,200 words, added small bits, moved things around, rewritten, fought with a title, killed some darlings and dumped some junk.

The time is now.

The deadline is tomorrow. No, wait, the deadline is today! About 20 hours from now (a little less).

I'm ready to submit.

But, wait! They want a cover "letter" (in Submittable, so 'letter' isn't quite that but it is).

Oh no.

Okay, I can do this. The hard part is done, I have two and a half pairs of thumbs up on the final draft (the friend of the friend hasn't seen the final-final version; but it was his feedback which led me to the final touches which made S say, "don't touch it!").

It's just a little cover letter. Yeah. Um. Right.

Twenty Minutes of Cover Letter Progress

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Submissions Calendar Update

*
For those of you who subscribed to The Writing Vein Submissions calendar, there has been an update. Due to a synchronization issue, the old calendar has been deleted and a new one put up in its place. If you want to resubscribe to the calendar, or just check out what is there, you can click on the Submissions tab at the top of this page.

The submissions on the calendar are not in any way inclusive of everything there is, nor does inclusion indicate indorsement or affiliation. These are submission opportunities which come my way from groups/pages/email lists I subscribe to, information from other writers/editors/publishers, and so on. I am currently adding some new listings I've run across, as well.

In one online writing group, there was the following list of places to submit writing for December and January. Click below to go on through Entropy for

Where to Submit: December + January


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

To Be Continued

*
Another NaNoWriMo has wandered through my life and out again. This time leaving me with over 51,000 more words than I had written 30 days ago.

These words are story - fictional in the beginning, an earlier draft of a novel I wrote on its way to being rewritten; then changed to life and energy and experience in search of something as yet unnamed.

The first story will be finished later. A novel. A kind of speculative fiction ghost story type of thing with a plot I like and a world which needs a little more world building for it to all work.

The second story is ongoing. Unfolding each day, refolding each day. Discovery and mystery. A story which is yet to be told and which may or may not have yet happened.

The second story is part of my writing toward the March Corporeal Writing workshop I will attend, and the longer May writing workshop in Methow Valley.

To keep writing. That is the goal. I've lowered my daily/weekly word goals because 1700 words per day is not realistic on an ongoing basis given everything else I have to do and want to do in my life. To keep writing is realistic and I have some good material here to work with.

Reflections: Final Sunset
NaNoWriMo 2015 writing retreat
Oceanside, OR





Wednesday, November 25, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015 : Consecutive Win #8


The writing is not yet done, but I did cross the 50,000 word benchmark on Tuesday 11/24/15.

Proof, again, that the annual writing retreats help.

Making time and space for focused writing helps. Being in a place where the only distractions are the ocean and the sunsets and walks on the beach helps. Being prepared with food and drink and snacks and tons of tea helps.

And I did it. I wrote over 50,000 words in the month of November - from 12:01 AM on November 1st until 11:56 pm on November 24th, to be more exact. And my manuscript (in it's very raw form) was validated on the NaNoWriMo website at 11:58 pm.


I am a NaNoWriMo Winner!



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Report from Oceanside, Oregon for day 23


It was a full day of activity other than writing. It started early due to reports of an incoming cold snap combined (in some order which was not quite determined) with wetness falling from the sky. The result of the wet and the cold would be white stuff and/or frozen glossy stuff on the ground. Which, so the report insisted, could result in treacherous traveling through the coast range passes and the Oregon Cascades.

I don't care about the Cascades, I'm not on that side of the state. But I am on the coast and I will be coming home on Wednesday, about the time all of the magic of weather predictions was to coalesce into whatever it was going to be.

Part of the irony of this situation is that I had just been discussing my annual debate of "Snow tires?" or "No snow tires." I was, again, on the side of no snow tires because, you know, they're tough on the roads. Chains can be very awkward for me because of where we live and where a lot of my work happens. We live out far enough toward the east that there many be some snowy or icy conditions which make it difficult to get out of the neighborhood, if the stuff manifests at all. So if I put on chains so I can get out of the neighborhood, then by the time I get towards the river to cross over into downtown, often the roads are clear. And I have to take the chains off. then I get outside of downtown on the other side and there is a steepish hill which is heavily traveled I have to go up and often that, due to the trees which protect much of the road from sun and warming/drying scientific processes, it stays slippery and needing traction devices. So must put them back on.

So, studded/snow tires are better. I know they won't be helpful in the big stuff if we get any.

So - here I am at the coast and the passes may be snowed over or iced over and there is a Les Schwab up the highway a bit in Tillamook. I called them when I first woke up (which would not have been the time I would get up other than a trip to the bathroom, you know) a little before 8 am (remember, I probably got to bed around 3 am) and asked if they had studs in stock for my car. She said yes, and they were already in a three hour queue. Ack! She offered to put me "in line" if I was going "into town" by 11 am. I hadn't planned to do that, but I said yes since she couldn't schedule and appointment or put me in line for anything other than the three hour wait they were already on.

So I did get a little more sleep (about 90 minutes), got up, showered, went "into town" and purchased the tires and got them mounted.

I wrote while I was there, waiting, which was a mere 45 minutes. Then went to a local cafe where the locals seemed to go for lunch. After which went for a long walk on the beach, where I discovered that the key to the place where I'm staying had disappeared from my keychain.

Eeek! What to do? Don't panic. And all was well, it had slipped off from the carabiner somehow and was waiting for me on the floor mat on the driver's side in my car.

Back to the cabin with the gorgeous view. Writing. More writing. Dinner and conversation. Writing. And it is now past midnight.

The weather report now is not giving me the little alerts with the red and white triangles with an exclamation mark in the middle. There are still some warnings about potential of wintery weather and roads but there is no more predicted rain and cold snap conditions like there were yesterday. So maybe I won't need the special tires but I have them if I do.

And I am now ahead on my word count, despite all of this. I hope to be very close to the 50,000 word goal by the time I leave on Wednesday. I think I will be. Right now my word count is:
      40, 317      
Happy me!

Monday, November 23, 2015

NaNo Update for the 22nd Day


The NaNovember 2015 coast writing retreat is under way and it is working.

Today I caught up and earlier tonight surpassed the word count goal for today. The goas was 36,667 and my current count is 36,781. I am not much ahead, but at least I am not behind. Until it turns midnight and then I will have at least another 1667 to write. Which I will. Today I wrote 5656 words.

Yes. The ocean and the sun and the very calm breeze carrying the salty air and the sound of a seal up to the little cabin are bringing me back into my writing.

I'll take it.

Friday, November 20, 2015

NaNo Update through Day 19

It has been an interesting couple of days. Not in writing, but in life. And the "interesting" did affect my (lack of) writing, though I managed to knock out some words tonight.

Not very interesting words. But I wrote more than nothing. And I just noticed: not very many green days in the month so far. But not very many red ones, either. Balance!

I am in the final days - officially, today, Friday is my final day - of prep to interpret "Broomstick." That is the fun part. Last night (meaning Wednesday night) we watched the play again, and I signed through it, followed by feedback and some discussion with my understudy. This is a one-character, one actor play so we have one interpreter, but with an understudy in case something happens and as a support and someone to bounce ideas off of; she has been great! The show last night was fantastic. And I'm doing more work on my own; I will be interpreting the play on Saturday.

So, not much written today. But in the morning I'm taking my car in for an oil change and it happens to be right next door to a nice coffee shop. So, yes, please, I WILL wait while you do the oil change and no hurry. I'll be next door with coffee and breakfast and my laptop, writing.

I am significantly behind on the word count now. I won't tell you how many. I will say that the target for November 19th was 31,667 so you can see for yourself that I'm several thousand behind.

But, the good news is that after the play on Saturday, I am heading to the coast for my annual November writing retreat. So, my lagging word count will be erased. And I should be able to get ahead. Way ahead, I hope. Because I'm coming back to a string of work.

What's happening in the story? Not a lot. Words are happening. And even what is happening within those is being kept under close wraps. Very close. Between me and the laptop and Scrivener.

Okay. Now to bed so I can get up, drop of the car, and write!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

NaNo Update as of Day 16

Progress on the story has slowed. This is about the time I usually am at or headed to the coast for my writing retreat. But, one more play to interpret before I go. Soon. Soon, I will be snuggled in a small, cozy rental with food and drinks, my laptop, a book or two, comfy clothes, writing. And writing.

And we're taking flashlights just in case. I love this place we're going in Oceanside. An amazing full view of the ocean and cliffs from the top floor, with big windows and no obstructions. And the last two time? three times, maybe? I've been to this place the power has gone out one night. The last time it was out for nearly (or actually?) a full day.

So. Flashlights.

And keeping the laptops and cell phones charged. Not that there is much of a cellular signal in Oceanside, but I usually have one with my service provider. Yay.

And paper. Paper to write on as a backup if we should lose power for longer than our laptops last. Which I don't expect.

I don't know, maybe there is an energy saving power down time in Oceanside. Naw. I think it's the weather. And we might get a good storm while we're there.

I also have a writing meetup in the "morning" (for me) before work. So, off to bed now so I can writing in the morning and put a dent in the missing word count.

I'm not worried. I will make it to 50k before 11:59 pm on November 30th. I will. Actually I will make it to 50k before 2:45 pm on November 30th because I start work at 3:00 and will still be working at midnight.

To bed!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Response, a poem

*
Response
by Dot.

I am not ignoring what is happening.
In Paris.
In Beirut.
In Kenya.
In other places where it happens every day.
In places which are not in a foreign country.
In places where things just as heinous happen and no one/very few outside of the circle affected know.
In homes and schools and fields and forests and cities and towns and on the road.
In places hidden and public.
I am listening.
I am watching.
I am reading.
Some of my feelings don't have words and I don't have an answer except to live each day as if it matters and treat each person as if they matter and to know that - what?
What do I know?
Touch heart. Heart connection.
soul beating breath

*

NaNo Update on the 14th day

Brief NaNo update: Day 13 was a true Zero writing day. I thought it might be with the play to interpret last night and a couple of appointments. "It's all good." Today, so far, only a handful. Maybe more later. If not later today, then tomorrow.

It's okay. This is why I have my November writing retreats.

Friday, November 13, 2015

NaNo Update Day 12 : making progress

The shift in Work In Progress has resulted in, um, progress. Last night I wrote 2000 words in just under two hours. Today I wrote 1800+ in about 90 minutes. Not bad.

I have nothing to share about content at this point.

Writing is happening.

That is good.

And that's the end of this update. Except that I don't expect much of a word count tomorrow, since I am interpreting a play tomorrow night. Which is okay. I passed the 20,000 mark today, which is where I need to be.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

NaNo Update : and - new writing

This is a first for me. In terms of NaNoWriMo.

I have changed books. "The Ring of the Dominoes" will be written; it will. Just not this November. Unless this new one falls flat or fails and I don't think it will but you never know. "The Ring of the Dominoes" is still valid - but this new one has called me and I am going for it.

No. No details. Not now. I don't know what my updates will look like as I move forward.

But my new NaNoNovel is "Write from the Body" - which isn't what it seems from the title but I'm leaving it as is because I need to write it.

I will probably not write the 1800 words needed to get caught up to the daily average tonight. That's okay. I have some writing time tomorrow between observing and giving feedback to an interpreting team on a rehearsal tomorrow morning and then observing just for support and entertainment another play's interpreted performance tomorrow night. So maybe I will be behind tomorrow, too. Because I also have to do some practice and preparation on the play I'm interpreting Friday night.

But soon. I will catch up. And if I don't, then I at least have my annual coast writing retreat later.

Okay, on to "Write from the Body." My new NaNoBook.


Oh! And I found an email I sent to myself on Nov 8th with two sentences for the novel. So I haven't had a zero day, yet. Yay. Near zero - yes, two of them. Whew. I thought I'd done something.

Monday, November 9, 2015

NaNo Day 8 - and on the 8th day she rested - not so much

*
It was bound to happen this month.

Zero.

Zero words written today (Sunday, November 8th). I'm not crying over it. I thought, maybe, this year, once again, no zero days. But that was unrealistic given the amazing theatrical opportunities (not just mine for interpreting, but others, meetings, discussing, watching).

Knowing that Zero happens is one reason that I established my annual personal writing retreat somewhere around the middle of NaNovember. A few days away on the coast for writing. Sleeping, walking, writing, eating, writing, napping, drinking wine, writing, walking, writing. This year the trip is a little later than usual and a little later than I'd like, but I had to wait until my plays are done.

So that first red square on the eighth day is me (not) resting and not writing.

The day started with an MRI of my knee in the morning (from the injury a couple of years ago; don't expect anything major but want a better understanding of what is going on with it to determine the best course of action to get it as good as we can get it). Then breakfast with my sweetie who went with me to the appointment. Followed by a sign through of "Orlando" at Profile Theatre. And then video relay.

Therefore : no writing.

And that's okay.

Tomorrow I start the day with a theater meeting. Later I have video relay. And in between those two things I'm hoping to get some writing done, although I will have, at best, ninety minutes, and am expecting closer to sixty. My current word count holds me until Tuesday, since I'm still ahead on the daily average.

For now, Sleep.
from the KeepCalm-o-matic


Saturday, November 7, 2015

NaNo Day 7 - camping in a coffee shop

Coffee shops seem to have the mojo for me with writing. Or the house of a fellow writer. A place where I don't have the distractions of things I need to do and/or the kind presence of shared dedicated writing time. Being somewhere with the intention and purpose of writing and nothing else.

Which I have had for just under that past two hours. The time has been productive and it is time to wrap it up and go pick up Serena and her art supplies and then take them home. Before I go to watch "Orlando" again tonight, in preparation for interpreting the play next Friday.

Today I've written 2,210 words in about an hour and forty-five minutes, for a new total word count of 15,883. I am well ahead of the average count needed to be on track, which is good. This is a very busy week with much theatre happening (preparation for this week's play, feedback for another interpreting team, a preparation viewing for a different play later this month, and watching another interpreting team do their magic at yet another play). A great, wonderful, creative week. And not a lot of time for writing. I will write. But I might lose a little of my momentum.

But such is the pattern of NaNoWriMo, which is why I take the opportunities when I can for extended, hunkered in writing time when they come.

Okay, off to collect S and her things.

A good writing day. I made it through the secondary character's back story, I think. No dead bodies, yet, which is surprising. The inciting incident for the impetus of this book requires the death of a character. But, it will get there, eventually. Or maybe I will have 50k of build up; I hope not!

NaNoZzzz Day 6 - I did?

I wrote. A few words. Not many. Which is why the #6 square is orange - for effort but nothing of substance.

A very long work day. On not enough. Sleep.

So any words. Were good words.

And Saturday is calmer. For me. Once I (hopefully) get caught up on sleep. Maybe get in some words before going to Serena's book signing and demo event. From which I will slip away for an hour or so and write. Many coffee shops in the area to choose from.

Now. Must. Sleep.

A super long very early day it was.

Nothing happened in the novel except that the author decided to launch into a explanation about her writing group.

Okay.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

NaNo Day 5 : Wow oh Wow

I will let my stats speak for themselves. Wrapping up my first time with this writing group - which has been very lovely. And productive.

'Nuf said.
words written today = 6,345
total words written = 13,476


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

NaNo Day 4 - Wait! I Missed a Day?

I didn't miss a day writing but I missed a day posting a NaNoUpdate. Huh. Oh well. At least I wrote!

I have a nice little pattern going on my calendar (see to the left). A green day (wrote at least the daily average), a yellow day (I wrote; below average word count), a green day, a yellow day. So tomorrow should be green, right? Right!

Today my protagonist final revealed her new career. She and I had to have a little chat, because what it looked like she wanted to do wasn't going to work. Nope - that one couldn't be it for a number of reasons. So, as I was writing today, she came up with something else and I said, fine, we'll go with that. Then she added a part time job so she has a safety net while she builds up her business. She works part time as a book acquisitions manager for Powell's (gee, I wonder where that came from!) and she is building her business as a Conference and Major Events Coordinator. She hasn't revealed the name of that business yet, but I'm sure it will come out with more writing.

I will confess that I know tomorrow will be a green numbers day. I am joining a writing group which has been meeting a couple of times a month for a while. There is coffee and tea and a brief check in and intention setting, then write for a couple of hours. Then eat your sack lunch and check in. Then write for a couple/few more hours. So tomorrow is packed with at least, what, four hours of writing time? It should be good!

Current NaNoWord Count is 7131. Which, I know, is on my calendar to the left.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Prepare Thyself : NaNoWriMo Has Begun

Yes, friends and friends of friends and the unsuspecting visitor who skips along to this page. It is November and that means NaNoWriMo.

And that means that I will probably be posting more here - and increased traffic over on Facebook and maybe even Twitter.

But, how? If I am writing a novel, shouldn't I be focused on that? Wouldn't it make sense that, since my writing is going toward the goal of 50,000+ words on the novel this month, that my other writing would be less? Why is it more?

Don't ask. I can't tell you. It just is.

I write more on the novel - a new novel. And I write more other places as well.

This year there is an added obstacle - well, two. I have two shows in November. Last year I had one. Before that I tried to avoid interpreting plays in November because my brain is busy with the novel writing and I don't want to confuse it with other words, or distract it with learning another story.

But last year there was a play I couldn't resist - and it was fine. This year there are two plays I couldn't resist. And I will be fine.

I've had to let some other things go on hold or do them at a decreased frequency to make this all happen. But happen it will. And I do have a writing retreat planned for later in the month - those catch up days, which I am pretty sure I will need.

I am going to write for about another 20 minutes, then I have to go home to bed. Because I work tomo- later today. And I need some sleep between now and then.

As of right now, my word count is 2065 words in 1 hour and 25 minutes. Not bad! I'm off to a good start.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

From Cuba to NaNoWriMo

The countdown is on. As I've already mentioned, I know.

The first countdown is to the interpreted performance of Artist Repertory Theatre's Broadway-style musical, "Cuba Libre." We will be interpreting that show this coming Saturday, October 31st, at 2:00 pm at the Winningstad Theatre. (Yes, Artists Repertory Theatre has taken this one outside of its home base on SW Morrison.)

The second countdown, which I know that you know that I know because even if you didn't know, I told you recently, is to NaNoWriMo. As of right now, my plan remains to do a complete rewrite of a novel with a messy pre/rough/first/partially edited draft. The story needs major rewrites; my writing has grown; I have new insights to the story - and it is no longer a matter of editing what is there. So, final (?) gasp for this story I like - new characters, new settings, and completely new words. And a new title. The working title has always been just that - a working title. Its relevance to the story was practically nil and the places where it was referenced, were forced and needed to be deleted, along with the old title.

Here is my my working cover and the new title of this story, my 2015 NaNoNovel.


There it is! Yesterday and this morning I was wondering about changing my plan, to no plan, or to a different story that is in my head - but I think I will stick with this one. We'll see what comes out at the stroke of midnight when the Municipal Liason announces it is time to "go, write!"

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Countdown to NaNoWriMo



The day is very near. Another year of NaNoWriMo. Big changes ahead for me this year. Maybe. Unless my characters revolt.

More to come on my 2015 process.

But, first, I have a show to interpret (the Broadway-bound, home-grown musical, "Cuba Libre" - creatied and produced by Artists Repertory Theatre).

And a few more decisions to be made about my plan.

I will let you in on a few secrets. Later. Not now.

Soon.

Or maybe you'll have to catch them on the fly with me.

November is going to be a very busy month. With NaNoWriting and Theatre and ... It's all good. Living the creative life.


Sunday, October 18, 2015

Roll Call

Tom Spanbauer talking at Portland's PWLive.
There were many great speakers, but his words
touched me deeply and profoundly.
*
I think it was August when I registered for the local Poets & Writers Live (PWLive) event. I signed up early to take advantage of the 50% Early Bird registration fee. Which was awesome.
And that was where I spent most of my day. 

It started way too early for me - but that is only in my adapted personal time zone because I tend to work late at night. By work I mean my professional "day job" though I do it at night. Which all works out really well because I also do theatre (which I know you know if you've followed me here or on Facebook or know me in person). Most theatre happens in the evening or at night; not always, but most of it. So having a nighttime day job in combination with working in the theater is pretty cool. Right? Right! But sometimes, like today, an event starts at early-for-me 9:00 am, and I can do it when I don't work late the night before. But that doesn't mean that I necessarily go to be early. 

Again, early for me, yes. But calling going to bed at midnight:30 "early" is funny. Though true in my case. Then the alarm going off at 7:30 am is early. It's not the earliest I get up, but close to it. And not often.

PWLive was worth getting up early. It was short panels and speakers, editors and publishers, writers talking about writing and writers reading their writing, and some creative sharing at the end. 

I was inspired, as I hoped I would be.

I met up with two writers I know from other workshops. One from an in-person workshop with Ariel Gore as well as in Ariel's Literary Kitchen; the other from in-person workshops in Port Townsend with Lidia Yuknavitch and Pam Houston. 

The local writer introduced me to one of her writing friends and we spent some time talking at the reception after the presentations were done. They invited me to join their casual get-together and write group and will let me know when they have their November dates set (I will be interpreting a play out of town on the day of the next one). 

In other news, now that I've mentioned November. Yes, it is nearly that time, again. NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. I have my NaNoWriMo writer's shirt and my NaNoWriMo mug and my NaNoWriMo winner's shirt will be here in a few weeks. I always order the winner's shirt early; it's one more incentive to actually finish. It would be a waste if I didn't. 

So prepare for NaNoUpdates - not yet, but soon.

I am (so far) planning a different approach this year. I am a pantser. My stories come from pantsing not from outlines and well-formed ideas ahead of time. I was successful one year by going into it with a starting place, a setting, and a cast of characters; some of them were fairly well defined before I started and I had done online searches to find pictures to represent my characters. But, often, I open up the computer and write with not a clue where we're going or with a very rough idea of what the story might be about. 

Oh, and I usually start NaNo with a title for my novel. A working title, not the actual thing if it turns out to be a thing.

So back to this year. 

I have a novel which has been in revision for a while. I've researched and read, and read some more. I've made maps and colored and circled and I switched protagonists and the new main protagonist switched gender. All fine; taken care of. No problem.

Except the story still needs major rewriting. Things deleted and added, gaps filled in, the plot strengthened. And there are not any "darlings" except the concept, the plot. No gems of sentences to cling to and save and carry forward. No - the plot, the movement of events - yes. 

So. NaNoWriMo this year is to give this novel one more chance. I will use my research and my notes and my reading and my vision to rewrite the book. I now know what has to happen when and who has to be where for it all to work. There are areas which need to be expanded; areas to complete cut because they are trash and slow the story down and don't need to be there; there are things which need to change. But I am going into NaNo with the story and a blank Scrivener project and rewriting the novel from word one. 

The fresh rewrite is not as crazy as it sounds. Really. Thing about it. With a main protagonist change, I probably have to write more about her, right? Because she wasn't the main character, her scenes are shorter and limited in depth and details. The book didn't start with her - but now I see it should. And what I thought was the inciting incident wasn't. When I discovered the true inciting incident I also discovered that the thing which happens - which has to happen for all of this to make sense - the character I thought was the protagonist has to be there but as it is written, she can't be there.

While this book has a bit of the speculative feel about it, there is not time travel. There is - well, nevermind; I will hold that thought until November, until I get it a little more solid in my head and in my story. 

Roll Call :
Today I took a day off of interpreting, including theatrical interpreting preparation.
Today I went to PWLive, heard good advice and inspiring words, met up with writing connections.
Today I had a nice, leisurely dinner out, alone, quiet, contemplating the event.
Then, today, I went to a dance performance - the first of the new White Bird Uncaged series; more creative inflow.
Today. A good day.

Yes.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Another Brief Update

photo by Rooze - I love this one and I've used it before. And it's true.
Another update.

Not that I have anything really important to say. Not that I don't have anything important to say, either.

I mean - what constitutes importance? Right? No, now I'm blabbering in the page. In public. Not a good idea.

So the update I alluded to elsewhere (yes, it was on Facebook). I posted that I've been doing a lot of reposts and posting about interpreted performances, as well as some other things which touched me in some way. But mostly about theatre and interpreting. Which is all good.

Then it hit me that I wasn't posting much about what I'm doing personally. Or what I'm doing with my writing. So I posted something - about my kitchen witchery experiments with fermentation. Which are continuing and we're still alive to show that I haven't poisoned anyone yet! I have handed off one set of multiplied kefir grains to a friend (both water kefir grains and milk kefir grains) and I'm preparing to pass off another little bundle of milk kefir grains. That is all going great and it's fun and I really do feel like I'm brewing up some concoctions. And they taste good. Most of them. Like with my daily green smoothies. Mostly good but once in a while I hit a less than stellar combination and I make it through by thinking "healthy" as I drink it.

So. The writing.

I have already set up my 2015 NaNoWriMo page. Which is way, super early for me. Yes, I do have a title already. Which is also super early. And I have already done some preparation.

Whoa! Wait! Did I just say that? I am actually preparing to write this novel? I'm not being a pantser?

Yes, that is what I typed. I don't think I will have a full outline with backstories and graphs and plots and photos with circles and arrows and names on the back. But I have a plan.

See, what I'm planning for this year's NaNoNovel is to rewrite an earlier novel. It's one I liked at the time, but it had some major flaws, of course. A pre-draft of a novel and it was all over the place in terms of story and a mess. I've tried reworking and revising, I did some research, I workshopped parts of it. I did scene breakdowns and character breakdowns and on and one. It was the one I took with me to the Rockaway Beach Writing Workshop with Lori Lake last year. There I mapped out the entire story and had some helpful and amazing insights to the story. And the characters. And I did more revision and rewrites. And then ....

I realized the only way to save this story I really like is to rewrite it from the ground up. Well, not 100% because I do have a plot, I have some characters (though I need some changes). I have places and some scenes. Though many scenes will change, I believe. And big pieces need to be completely removed and replaced and reordered. What I feel like is that the novel I currently have is actually a narrative style outline (with extra material) for the novel.

So, in preparation, I read the book which has a central role in my novel. No, I'm not telling you any more about it than that. A few of my writing friends and partners know more, but that is all I'm going to write about here. So I did actually read the whole book, from start to finish. One translation of the book, anyway, and I have two more translations to read.

Yes, this book plays a major role and, yes, I had not previously read the entire book. I read about the book. I read excerpts from the book. I read criticisms of the book. But I had not read The Book Itself.

Now I have. Read the book.

What I found in my reading is that much of what I incorporated is not that far off from The Book's story. Some of the characters which reappear - sort of, no, I'm not telling more - in my novel were a good surface level match. In reading the actual book, I discovered that my premise for the inclusion of The Book and the inciting incident (which was one thing I discovered at Rockaway Beach last year) were very compatible. There are decisions I need to make and details to add to bring some things and people more to life, but at a basic level, I didn't do too badly.

There are also some things I need to figure out, such as about how some of this stuff works in the world of my novel. Those decisions and rules may not be overt, but for my story to hold together I need to make some policies and consistencies.

I also have some decisions to make about characters. The current characters and The Book characters and some other things which happen which I'm not telling you about right now.

No outline to follow. Except for the map from the workshop last October. The map basically lists who is in which group, the major events, and the order in which they happen. I will not have a written outline of who does what when and how and then fill in the words. But I will have a character list - with the expectation that someone new may show up! And I will have a few pieces of character development I need to include. And I have a few events which need to take place for congruency with The Book.

So I will be semi-pantsing? Or maybe not.

And, perhaps, this is all too early and when I open my laptop to write at the midnight transition from October 31st to November 1st, all of this could go on hold and a new set of characters with an entirely different story may show up to dance on the page. I will follow them, I think. I have learned that forcing my writing is almost never productive and it certainly isn't fun.

NaNo is coming and I'm ready. I think.
*

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Writing Reality - Wait! Which One?

*
This is another post of questions without answers. Of observations and wonderings.

The other day I submitted some writing as part of an application for a writing workshop. The story takes place in the mid- to late 70s. The stories I submitted are excerpts from a larger body of work and that larger story was between 1974 to 1982, with a few flashbacks. 

Yesterday I was thinking about one of the stories, about feedback and questions from a mentor and peer writers on that story. The written story feels pretty solid and done. I was thinking about how that story would be different if it happened now - or when it happens now because it is not a unique situation. 

In 1975 there were no cell phones; at least not in the hands of the general public like there is now. 

There is another story (not a part of the submission, but a part of the Work In Progress (WIP)) about smoking pot. In 1976 it was illegal, meaning harder to get and you had to be careful with the smell and not get caught. Today I received a notice from Willamette Week about their upcoming Puff Puff Pizza event, which starts off with a "'pot'-tail" hour - yes, just what it sounds like. 

Not in the WIP, but in my life, I came out in late 1982 - early 1983. That was a significant change in my life. But, at the time, I didn't know about the significance of that period in the LGBTQ community. Yesterday a person in support of a grassroots cause came to my door, with non-cisgender clothing and name - something which would have been dangerous in the place and at the time I came out.

So - writing stories. Fiction or non-fiction or creative non-fiction, I don't think it matters which. The questions carry across the genre: conveying the reality of the time in a smooth and effective way. 

Another example happened earlier in the week. I was talking to another writer about research. How now it is so much easier, in many ways, because many of us have our Internet connected devices with us most of the time, we have computers at home. No more having to make lists and go to the library and look through the card catalogs and the book stacks. Two days ago at home I needed to find a recipe for the chicken breasts I'd bought; we have cookbooks filling half of two shelves in the kitchen. But I had something semi-specific in mind and it was easier to bring up the Internet and search on my phone rather than combing through the books in search of what I wanted. 

There are people alive who never heard of a "party line" in relationship to the phone. There are people alive who have never seen or heard of a "rotary phone" and can't conceive of one. There are people alive who grew up with computers in the home, the Internet, instant search and electronic books and cell phones in their pockets since they were young; they couldn't imagine having to search for a pay phone or wait until they got home to connect with someone. And, before answering machines and before email - there was no leaving a message or sending a text or dropping an instant note. 

See? No answers. Just thoughts. About writing the reality and keeping it real, even for those who weren't therein that time . Perhaps these are the thoughts of a still illness-influenced brain or reflection that I have lived long enough to see some of these significant changes in how we live. But they are thoughts - how to write the story of another time, when PCs and Macs and drones and smart phones and RFID chips were the things of science fiction. 

There is more to this, but this is long enough for now. The other thing I'm pondering that I will toss out there is why sometimes a character's use of a mobile phone seems out of place and unreal. Like it was stuck in as an afterthought to make the story seem more modern (perhaps it wasn't written with the phone in hand but the editor thought it needed to be added to make it real - but it doesn't fit). I don't have answers about this, yet, either - but have noticed that sometimes the presence and use of a cell phone in a story doesn't work.

Noticing.

Have you noticed any of these? Or something similar? How to write the not too distant past in a fast changing time period and still keep it real? 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Aha! An Update of Sorts

photo by Rooze 
I haven't disappeared off the face of the earth.

Nor off the face of the writing page.

Nor off the face of anything.

Except a little pause here in the blog world.

I have been writing. I finished an online revision class with Ariel Gore in the Literary Kitchen; which was amazing! I have done some of another 30-day challenge, where I've kept up with daily writing, although fallen behind on the prompts they've provided - a bit of rebellion on my part but not unexpected in terms of process. I've been writing TONS of work related missives.

And I've been working. And taking short trips with Serena while she teaches. I drive and taxi her to and from the workshops. And in between I nap and write and journal and do little things I want - like go to LUSH and Blue C Sushi in Seattle, and Green Salmon Cafe for Matcha Reishi Latte in Yachats, I make collage and I read and I play Words With Friends or Angry Birds With Friends online and write some more. Oh - and I did complete Camp NaNoWriMo which I've already written about here.

Then there is theatre. Interpreting, coordinating, meetings, networking, creating. And that is what this short post is a distraction from - the final packing to go to Bend where I will be interpreting "Comedy of Errors" at their Shakespeare in the Park in the beautiful Drake Park. An amazing setting. Tonight we will watch their dress rehearsal. Tomorrow night we will watch their first performance. And Saturday night we will interpret. We've been doing script work and catching rehearsals or pieces of rehearsals here; now we will be eating, sleeping, breathing the play until we go live Saturday night.

It is now time to return to the final packing and double checking that I have everything I need for the interpreted show - the right shoes, shirt options (there are a couple of unknown factors, so I'm taking color and style options), pants; the script, No Fear Shakespeare, notebook with notes from the script and rehearsals ... and more.

Smarty Pants in Georgetown, Seattle, WA

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Camp NaNo - tada!

*
Yes, I did it! I met my goal. I wrote a lot of words. I had some fun and some boring moments and some insghts.

And I wrote. A lot. That was my ultimate goal and it worked.

A few days off and then I get to delve into an online revision class! I very excited about that opportunity, too.

I'm a Camp NaNoWriMo winner!


Monday, July 27, 2015

Camp NaNo Note


I have just under 3500 words to become a Camp NaNo Winner - I am going to make it across that finish line after all. I thought I might not. I thought I might give up.

But as of right now, I am a couple hundred words ahead of today's target. And the story has finally progressed a little.

True that the author has stepped in a couple of times to provide commentary on the progress. And that's okay. It's Camp NaNo and if I'm not having fun, then why do it! Right? Right.

I took a few minutes to create a cover, just to keep the creativity flowing because the words have stopped for today.

I will cross 25k words before midnight on Friday. I swear I will. The story is rambling and roaming and parts are downright silly and that's okay, too,

I'm writing.

No dead bodies. But there is a sparkling pink cowboy snap-up shirt, a clean freak in a white t-shirt, and a missing pink elephant.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Camp NaNo Quick Update

*
I am a November NaNoWriMo writer. I thought I'd jump into Camp NaNoWriMo in July to give a jump start to my writing. Which it has and hasn't. The "slower work time" is not quite as slow as it seemed it would be. I have a big work related project I'm working on and I did have a play to interpret and hours to make up. All of which I've done.

And I've written.

But I haven't written every day, so it's been write a couple of days, miss a day or two or three. Then write to catch up. Rinse and repeat.

Right now I am about 1000 words the total word count target for today to finish up on July 31st.
There are still one and a half hours before this day is up and I can probably squeeze out those words. Then I will have six days to complete the words to be a Camp Winner. As of right now my projected completion date is August 4th based on my average word count so far. Since I don't have to get up early tomorrow, I am going to try to write a few words ahead, since I will have little time to write tomorrow.

Alright. Back to the writing now with the hope of catching up.

Oh - the story? Meh. It's writing. It's wandering. There have been a few moments where I've laughed. And there have been times when I've rolled my eyes and/or been bored. This is writing exercise and this is clearing out the junk.

Before I jump into an online writing revision workshop in Ariel Gore's Literary Kitchen just three days after the end of Camp NaNo. No, I won't be using this mess and jumble of a story for the workshop.
*

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Summer is for Writing. And Theatre. And Adventure.

*
Okay. So I took the adventure part first, before it was officially summer. That was a good thing!

I returned to a month filled with theatre.

Then I decided to do Camp NaNoWriMo. I'm glad I made that decision because, as much of a struggle as it has been to find writing time, I have made it happen. I get caught up in my 25k word count, then I fall behind. Then I write more words. And I fall behind. It's all okay. I see this Camp NaNo experience as a priming and clearing adventure, to get myself ready for the Real NaNo (grin) in November. I've been struggling to get my writing habit re-established, especially since my writing buddy had to take some time off for a health situation. A couple of other friends have come forward and we're finding times here and there to write. Which keeps the writing fingers nimble (which is different than my interpreting fingers - how? I don't know, except maybe it's my palm orientation!). As I told a friend I met for writing today - this is my time to pull out the weeds and clear the deck for the real stories to come.

And maybe, as she replied, there might be a few keeper gem sentences or concepts in all of these 25k words I will generate.

Maybe. That would be a bonus and I'll take it. If it happens. Right now in my Camp NaNo story, the performance happened, complete with two dancers in neon unitards (oh boy) and a rolling on the floor Yogi Man, and a woman in a white flowing dress with gold threads and eggplant colored ribbons and sage green stitching twirling on the floor.

Hey, but no body parts! I don't think it's that type of story.

I am playing with one idea in the story that I like. It is a really good exercise and - sure, I'll tell you. It's probably all you'll get out of me about it; as if revealing there were dancers in unitards weren't enough! My protagonist is remaining genderless. Not as in the character doesn't know or the character's friends don't know - they do. But the reader doesn't know. It was a thing this character wanted. This is being a great exercise in writing. Without gender but keeping it natural. 

The latest thing to happen is that to protagonist just woke up at home but does not remember how that happened. The last conscious event was being drawn to the stage and then into a trance like state. Right now there is much foraging happening in the kitchen in the search for breakfast. 

Also, this week I interpreted the one-woman performance of "The Lady Onstage" at Profile Theatre. This was a part of their In Dialogue series. I love these staged readings - and this one was a particular joy. The play was still being revised. Each day of the short rehearsal period there were changes. At first there were new scripts as sections were rearranged, revisions made. Then there were lines and adds/deletions/alterations. Each day. It was a wonderful opportunity to be there with the playwright and the director and the actor and the stage manager as this piece was still being developed. And then to interpret the production. They will be taking this piece out into the schools in the fall and - no, I'll wait until there is more information. But I will say that there may be a wonderful, special opportunity for some Deaf students. 

In the theatre realm, we're waiting for the script for Bend's Shakespeare in the Park (the play is August 21-22 in Bend, and August 23 in Sunriver; we interpret on the 22nd). The director is making final revisions to his adaptation of "The Comedy of Errors" right now. We will hopefully have the script next week. We've already started working on the story, on research and such while we wait for the actual script. 

Meanwhile, I still have 16 days left to write my 25,000 words this month. I think I'll make it!
*


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Yes, I Am



I am doing this.

Yes.

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.

Thoughts?




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."
*

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

MOOC Poetry Class Update

*
I am participating in an online poetry class, a MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) offered by The University of Iowa International Writing Program. There are thousands of participants from around the world. The online platform is clunky and can be overwhelming. But I have developed a system to decrease the technology frustrations so that I can enjoy the amazing videos from skilled poets and teachers, learn about new forms, practice writing more poetry in sometimes new or different ways. The content each week is wonderful. Oh, and it's free.

We are in week four now and I haven't shared anything I've written. I decided it's time to put up one of my poems. It's interesting that I chose this one because this week's focus is meter and form. I tend to write free verse poetry, but I do enjoy experimenting with structure and am often happily surprised at the results. 

This poem is written with the Pantoum structure. This is a form I had not heard of before this course, which is one reason I chose this form. 



Working the Night Shift 
a pantoum
by Dot Hearn 
  
the look of a face at sunset 
when light switches form,  
the trees pull up roots, 
and life, as we know it, ends. 
  
when light switches form,  
inverting shadows, highlights, thought 
and life as we sense it begins. 
we prepare for vision and insight. 
  
inverting shadows and highlights, through 
closed eyelids and flickering minds, 
we prepare for vision and insight. 
the rocks float and rivers rumble. 
  
closed eyelids and blinking minds, 
the bodies wander familiar strange roads 
as rocks float and rivers rumble, remembering 
the look of a face at sunset.
*

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Philip Glass - NPR Interview

*
The day before the first interpreted performance of "Cyrano," I finished Philip Glass' memoir, "Words Without Music." It was a pleasure to read about his process, the challenges he didn't let keep him from pursuing what he knew was his path, and the amazing other musicians, artists, theatre people he encountered and worked with and studied with along the way. Who influenced his music and his development; how he thinks.

He was interviewed on NPR and you can listen to it from the website: "The World Music Education of Philip Glass." There is a transcript available if the audio is not accessible.

I'm taking an online poetry class right now, and this week one discussion thread is about inspiration (it's more complicated than that - but the basic premise of this particular discussion is about what inspires us as poets). For me, Philip Glass' music can be an inspiration for writing poetry; sometimes other types of writing, as well - but when I listen to his music, poetry is what tends to come out, or prose written in a more poetic style.

Yes, I am still a Philip Glass fan.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Philip Glass - Memoir + A Video

*
I am currently reading Philip Glass' memoir, "Words Without Music." If you know me or have followed my posts for a while, you probably know that I am a big fan or his work. I even made a trip to Berkeley a few years ago when his "Einstein on the Beach" was being performed, because that was the closest to home on the tour.

His memoir reads more like a biography in my opinion. But he does have some good stories to tell, he met and worked with some amazing people on his journey. I am enjoying learning more about his beginnings, his passions, his day jobs, and especially more about his music. How he approached his life's work, meanings, how he developed his style, his sounds.

So since his book is my primary read outside of the theatrical scripts I'm preparing to interpret, I've also been listening to his music.

I just wanted to share one piece of his music. He has many. This was just a random video of something I found online - String Quartet No. 3 "Mishma," VI.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

[video] Dorothy Allison : The Power of the Writer's Voice

*
Today I was able to listen to Dorothy Allison read an unpublished story and talk about writing and life and politics and community at Mt Hood Community College. I am still digesting what I heard, letting her story and her words and her wash through me.

I can't share video what I saw and heard today, but I can share this video from the Chicago Humanities Festival. The first video is an hour long; below that is a 6-minute excerpt from the discussion, "Advice for Emerging Writers."



*

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Counterculture?

*
This has been on my mind recently: questions about and satire of the Portland OR culture. Questions about "counterculture" as it is here, or if the "counterculture" doesn't really exist in Portland.

As I often do, I started with definitions and then see where things fit or don't; what paths or rabbit holes appear to give me a deeper look at the things I'm researching or writing about. The first thing that came up was from Oxford University Press, so that would seem to be a reputable resource to quote. And here it is:

  1. counterculture
    [ ˈkountərˌkəlCHər ] 
    NOUN
      a way of life and set of attitudes opposed to or at variance with the prevailing social norm:
      "the idealists of the 60s counterculture"
    Powered by OxfordDictionaries · © Oxford University Press

Oh, let me say right now that if you are hoping I will give you an answer, I won't. I don't know where the counterculture is in Portland OR or if it exists.

I was recently in an online humor writing intensive with Ariel Gore. I wasn't the only one who poked fun at Portland in the course. In the short one week writing experience there were several pieces about different aspects of Portland "weird." I have also been preparing to interpret "The People's Republic of Portland" at Portland Center Stage this week, which is about just this topic. I laugh at some of the jokes along with everyone else - the ones I know are probably coming in Lauren Weedman's show and the improv sections I've never heard before despite having seen the show several times. I nod in recognition of the characters she energetically shows the audience and laugh and the sometimes only mild exaggerations; the show is funny and she is great. And I think, yes, this is Portland and it's not all bad; but is it "counter"? (Side note: the show is worth seeing and it is running right now; if you want to see the interpreted performance it is this Thursday, April 9th, at 7:30 pm. Get your tickets soon as performances are selling out!)

When does "weird" become the norm? What does that look like? What does it take for the self-consciousness of appearing to be "counter-_______" (fill in the blank) to become the standard? Is it counterculture when there is a right and wrong, when there is pressure to conform, when the individual becomes the mass, and when the focus is inward toward individual or group? What is the counterculture countering? Or has it become so commonplace that there is nothing to counter? Has the Portland Weird Culture become so mainstream that we need a counterculture to the counterculture?

Or is the idea of A Counterculture outdated and we should just look at diversity, instead? What is the role of a counterculture? What has the role of the counterculture been historically and is that still true or still needed? If we don't really need a counterculture any longer, what has replaced it in terms of keeping us alert and alive as people? What keeps us from becoming a bland homogeneous unthinking mass which just plugs in to a pod and melds?

I'm not talking about the extremists. I'm not talking about the mentally unstable or sadistic or the outliers.

And here I start going down the rabbit hole of "what am I talking about?" What do I think is wrong? If I think something is wrong then what is missing or what would make it right?

What I do know is that it feels like "Portland Weird" has become just one more thing to conform to or to resist. One more thing to say "yay, I love it," or "boo, I'm better/worse than you." One more thing to make you feel better or worse about who you are.

Do we need a counterculture? Can or does counterculture exist? Or is this one more label to separate the "them" and the "us?"

2011
1960s  
*