Friday, July 24, 2009

You said you'd stand by me in the middle of chapter three

Two days ago, this was the most awesome story I've ever worked on. Yesterday, it was an overwhelming mess of half-baked ideas. Last night, I quit. Not just this story, but writing altogether. I mean, really, who needs this torture? Too hard, too much work, too much of pouring myself into something that may never happen.

This morning, I caught myself thinking about a possible scene, and an angle for that antagonist that I hadn't had before, and oh hey, I could do this cool thing, and...

We all know I'll never really quit. Sometimes I just need to pretend, I guess.

Monday, July 20, 2009

If I had one wish, I'd wish for two

I'll kick off this blog entry with a brief, paraphrased recap of a conversation with a friend the other day:

Friend: "I've been thinking about trying my hand at drawing. I'll have to buy a sketch pad or something."

Me: "Really, you don't need much more than some plain white paper and a plain old #2 pencil.

Friend: "Well, the paper's not an issue. I could just take some from the printer. I don't have any pencils, though."

Me: "..."

Friend: "What?"

Me: "How can you NOT HAVE A PENCIL?!"

Friend: "Well, how many do you have just laying around?"

Me: (Insert crazed laughter here.)

A photo-tour of Lori's pencil cups:

Starts out innocently enough. Everyone has writing utensils in their coffee cup. Right?

Hey, I do serious business out by the kitchen phone. Like, scheduling and phone calls and, you know. Stuff.

Our stash of mechanical pencils and assorted erasers, resting quietly over the summer. Please note that they are cheap, disposable mechanical pencils. Because the only thing the Michael-Monster is harder on than #2 pencils with leads that shatter inside the pencil and thereafter refuse to sharpen correctly after being dropped on the floor a zillion times an hour is a regular mechanical pencil with pieces that jam when dropped on the floor a zillion times an hour. Looks like they'll need a restock when the school year starts. I wonder what other cool colors they might come in...

The kids' stash of other assorted pencils, highlighters, markers that ran away from their sets, and a couple hundred colored pencils that their mother fooled herself into thinking they might need so that she could scribble with them sometimes, too. And a pack of crayons that middle schoolers are highly unlikely to need, but that their mother cannot part with. I MIGHT USE THEM SOMEDAY. And I did give up the bucket o' broken crayon bits to the school when we cleaned out this spring. IT WAS HARD.

My stash of grown-up colored pencils, drawing pencils, and OMGprettycolorsmustbuy markers that usually lives in the dining room closet to the left of my desk. It was too dark to photograph them in there, so I hauled them out to my desk. (As a side note, the dining room closet has cedar shelves. Mmm. I could crawl in there and take a nap, some days. You know, if I could fit into a dining room closet.)

The above tour does not include the set of chunky Prismacolor markers stashed uh... somewhere in the basement because their fumes give me a headache. Or the two containers full of Crayola chunky markers that I just now remembered and am too lazy to go to the effort of photographing and uploading. Or the 24-count box of unsharpened pencils in the kitchen cupboard above my pencil cups there. (Joe-Bear uses those ones. He has fewer dropping issues than his little brother.) It also includes only pencils, pens, and markers. If you added in other assorted media... Well, there might be a few more photos.

As I told the aforementioned friend, office supply aisles and God-help-me art supply stores are dangerous, dangerous places for me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I saw you building a castle for the tide

I still haven't done any actual writing to speak of. I have, however, done a great deal of research reading and pondering and even some writing of notes, mostly related to Crowmaker. I have pretty much reached the conclusion that most of what I've already written for that story will wind up being trashed. But I'm OK with that, because I also think that I needed to write all of that in the process of exploring the story. And with the inspirational romance out in the world, my need to have my toes in the submitting pool is satisfied. So for this week, at least, the writing is what it is, and I'm content to keep playing with the world building aspect.

The middle school fiction writing elective I'll be teaching next school year is shaping up, too. I have more ideas I'd like to share than I'll have class time for, and I'm excited about getting into the classroom and seeing how the kids respond. I'm sure the actual classroom experience will temper my enthusiasm with some gritty reality--kids have a knack for that--but I'm still looking forward to it. Now it's just a matter of getting through the dry-mouth, sweaty-palms, talking-in-front-of-people-nerves part of it.

In the meantime, I also received an offer to work for the school's extended care program on a daily basis. In a nutshell, the job involves looking after kindergarteners during the half day when they're not in actual kindergarten. (Mostly kindergarten. There's a mix of other ages during the day and after school, but I took the description to mean I'd mainly be working with kindergarteners.) I accepted the job, for a lot of reasons I can't quite put my finger on. I'm kinda nervous about it, for a reason I can quite readily define, which has to do with the oft-mentioned introverted tendency to feel a little overwhelmed by too much face-time. But I think in the long run, it could be a good experience. And it's really close to home. And I don't have to worry about getting the kids to and from school because they're, like, there with me.

And did I mention it still leaves me with my morning writing time mostly intact?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

This town was meant for passing through

I tagged on the "angst" label to this post, but I don't really feel angsty. Mostly I just feel like I'm not sure what I should be doing with myself on the creative front. Not that I need more things to do to keep me busy, because I've been taking care of a lot of non-writing projects this summer. And I've been doing a lot of reading, which I count as writing-related work. And planning for the fiction writing class I'll be teaching in the fall. But I have gone a few weeks without actually writing, and I feel a little antsy and perhaps a little knee-jerk guilt about that. After all, writing is my life, right? I should be pouring my every bit of strength and free time into it if I hope to get anywhere with my career?

Except, of course, that writing is not my whole life. And these other projects give me a sense of satisfaction to work on, as well. And I'm really struggling to carve out any regularly scheduled writing time this summer. Well. Not entirely true, because the time is there. But it carries with it the knowledge that at any given moment I could be called away from the writing. And that's really just an excuse, because I know if I put my mind to it I could train myself to write under those circumstances--I have before. Remember back when the kids were little, Lori, how you used to carry around the shorthand notebook and pride yourself on writing stories in 5-minute increments, standing at the kitchen counter while the kids ate lunch? In my defense, I was writing much shorter fiction back then. But I have become spoiled by my school year routine.

My question to myself, then, is do I push to train myself to write on the spot, a few minutes at a time, again? Or do I let the writing slide for a few more weeks until the school year begins again and allow myself the luxury of using the would-be-writing time to continue catching up on reading and other non-writing projects?

I'm leaning toward the latter. It's not like summer lasts forever, anyhow. Right?

Friday, July 3, 2009

And even if we come home empty-handed

Not to be outdone by unfinished projects, the published stories in my bibliography clamored until I also tagged on their first lines.

Other things that happened this week include more painting, this time of the shared kitchen/living room wall that runs the entire length of the back of the house. Things to trim around included two arched windows, a fireplace, a half wall, a patio door, two cabinets, and a deepset window over the sink. Oh, and the kitchen counter. Not a whole lot of wide open space to roll, but the trimming made it take as long as an entire room.

A renewed interest in Crowmaker bit me right about Monday, so while I was waiting for paint to dry I tackled anew the research I'd started, found some cool connections that I hadn't stumbled across before, and made plans to hit the library. Today. As soon as I get out of this chair and get dressed.

Which is what I will do now.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

So a day when you've lost yourself completely

There's a meme going around wherein working writers list the first lines of all the projects on their in-progress list. Because I have at least a half dozen other things I should be doing instead, I figured I'd play along. (Technically, some of these are done, but still in the submission process. So I'm counting them. Because I can.)

In no particular order:

1. Iris Bruckmacher felt the Northern Lights approaching, the speeding solar winds a distant roar in her consciousness, the southerly pull of the magnetic field a gentle tingle against her fingertips. (Unnamed Heimdal novella)

2. "And this is really what you want to do?" Olivia Hargrave peered up at the simple lines of the old farmhouse, as familiar a face in her childhood as those of her parents or brothers or grandparents. (Unnamed inspirational romance)

3. One crow for sorrow. (Crowmaker)

4. "I feel trapped." Rachel's first thought was that Nick really meant he was bored. (A Steadfast Love)

5. At night, sometimes, she dreamed about falling, through the window and into the bottomless winter sky. (Unnamed Loki novel)

6. The furry mole rats of the Antarctic (heterocephalus mythologicalus) lived and thrived in the coldest regions of the earth for many, many years. They thrived so well that, shortly after Max's ninth birthday, his family (mostly his Uncle Bernard, who everyone listened to because he was louder than anyone else) decided it was time to leave their cold digs and head closer to the equator. ("Strong Enough")

7. "Don't leave me," Bobby whispered. ("But He Had Wings")

8. Fifteen years since Kevin had stopped drawing breath, since his too-young heart had stopped and he'd begun the slow fade from living son to a memory as pale as a photograph's after-image. ("Pale Roses")

9. The blue wall was a six-foot-high stretch of rickety wood, painted a new coat of bright baby blue each and every spring. ("The Blue Wall")

10. The rain caused it all. (Unnamed Britomart novel)