Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Radical Writing Advice: Story Time

As I begin typing this post, I'm not sure where it's going. Yes, I know.

But what about your platform, Dot? Your image. You should plan it better, you should know what you want to say before you put it out there.

Surely you're not going to just wing it and fly it? At least look like you have something to say!

Part of what I write about when I write about writing is the process. So that's what this writing is most likely to be about: process. And in that process, something other writers can use may emerge. Or maybe think, I'm not alone out here.


The topic is making decisions. It is a writing related decision and it is a taking care of me as a whole person decision.

Here's the dilemma. In a couple or so weeks I'm driving down to Berkeley to see the touring performance of Philip Glass' "Einstein on the Beach." I knew I wanted to go when I first saw that it was being performed, which was a while ago. The stops of the tour weren't yet posted and I was hoping for something nearby. Berkeley is the closest stop; although I would love to see it in New York, too. But Berkeley is do-able.

I purchased my ticket and would plan the trip later. Then I decided to take a few days on either side of the 4-hour performance to have a vacation, see the sites, allow enough time to drive. Since I bought my car 18 months ago, I've wanted to take it on a long drive. The furthest I've been able to go since then is Seattle. So Berkeley seemed perfect.

Then I started thinking, "Hey, since I'll be 'in the area,' I should try to see Bonnie Hearn Hill." Being three hours away from her is "in the neighborhood" compared to our homes, which are nearly 13 hours apart. So I wrote an email and we started a correspondence about a visit.

My original - no, my second - plan was to drive half way on the day I left and stop overnight. Not push too much driving in one day. Then I thought maybe stop in Ashland, take in a play. Maybe. Then get to Berkeley the second day. Have time to chill and relax and settle; and see the performance on the third day. Then I would have a couple of days to take BART into SF, sleep in, write, walk, whatever I wanted to do. Then come home.

My original thought was drive straight through to Berkeley in one day - the day before the performance.

And, as I already said, with my second plan, I realized that since I was driving, I could pop on down to see Bonnie. It's no further than from Portland to Seattle and I've made that a day trip before. That seemed like a very good plan. Visit Bonnie and then start the trip home from Fresno and divide that up over two days.

Now it's several weeks past all of those options coming up. And I have a new option to throw into the mix.

Bonnie invited me to visit her writing group, and bring something to read. This is exciting. I've been hearing about her writing group since I was reconnected to her. I've read about it online. And it seems like a very good writing group. Of course I want to go. But, wait, it's the second day of my little vacation. At 9:30 am.

Still. Not impossible. No. But I certainly won't be staying overnight in Ashland!

For those who don't know me well, I'm a master at trying to make everything fit. If I shift this thing in my schedule and slide in that thing, and the other thing that this other person wants to do goes here, and if I skimp a little on sleep and and and. You get the picture. I did that very well. I am actually an excellent multitasker. The problem with all of this is that I sometimes forgot to take care of me or got my priorities mixed up and there were some less than optimal personal things which happened. Enough of that.

So, when I start "figuring out" - those can be trigger words.

But the opportunity to meet the members of this group is something I want to do. It seems like an opportunity that I don't want to pass up right now. And I have to be careful to not push myself physically too much in that way.

My thoughts have been:
- no, I can't make it to the group.
- I can drive all the way from Portland to Fresno in one day, crash in a hotel and sleep and go to the group.
- I can drive to Berkeley on day one; then get up early to drive to Fresno.
- no to the preceding idea; that means leaving Berkeley by 6:30a; for those who don't know, I'm not an early morning person.
... and a few others.

I've ran this idea by a few people and I think, finally, I have a plan. With flexibility. And I guess that is the key - at least for me. I will drive down towards Fresno, and stop at a town along the highway that is about 2 hours from there. Going to Berkeley adds about an hour to the total time. That way, I can get up at a more reasonable for me time and get to the writing group. And, while it will be a long drive for sure, it seems do-able and, with short stretch and restroom stops, I won't get in that late. Do-able.

And I realized that I can have this plan, and leave it open for change. I'm not going to make a hotel reservation in a nearby town - there seem to be a bunch of them along the highway. I'm going to see how I feel and what seems like a good place to stay. And it leaves it open, if I need to, to stop earlier and not go to the writing group. I don't think that will happen, but I need that option. I could be wrong about my back and knee being fine to make that long of a drive in one day - but I don't think so.


I'm excited to meet these people.

I'm excited to see "Einstein on the Beach." All 4 hours of it. Yes.

I'm excited to get a little time away from all work. And to take a little road trip in my car.

I've checked my priorities, I've checked in with my heart and body and soul to see what is the true desire, and I believe I've found it. And I'm not closing out the option of stopping if I need to.

In a way, this is keeping writing high on my priority list. There aren't many things at this point in my life, after a few lessons the universe has handed me, that I would even consider doing this for. But to spend time with Bonnie and her writing group, to spend time talking about writing and sharing writing - this I will do.

And I believe that both the performance and the time with these accomplished and talented writers will be inspirational and an energy boost to get NaNoWriMo 2012 to a great kickoff for me, not too long after I get home.


Yes. To Fresno and the writers. To Berkeley and the Philip Glass epic production. To me, and listening to what I need, too.