Monthly Archives: May 2017

This Writing Life…

Yesterday was a nonproductive writing day. I “warmed up” my pen, read for inspiration, rewrote bad poetry and opened the “working copy” of my manuscript four times. Nothing would come through. I worked on one sentence for 30 minutes and still could not get it right. I gardened, played a board game with my son, and then organized my desk. Then re-organized it two more times.

Some days, the line is meant to marinade while you live your life. I used to tell myself that my full life, single-handedly raising three boys (one who is disabled) offered me rich perspective and material in which I could draw from as a writer.

But yesterday did not feel much like a writing life. Instead, it felt like an avoid-the-writing life.

Today, I woke starving to write.

Best lines: “Even the original pediatrician, the one she painstakingly reviewed and researched for months, has a substitute because he is now unreachable, on vacation. Realistically, Zach wasn’t due for another seven weeks. Yet here the two of them are, her and Zach, mostly alone.”

These lines were almost two paragraphs, mostly nonsense detail that added nothing to the story. Cutting sucks.

Water intake = zero.

Rest = three hours in a row. Miraculous for me.

Core strength = 30 minutes with my disabled son yesterday.

Guitar = painful 15 minutes yesterday and today.

New dishes = zero. I’m on motherly strike this week in an effort to help my sons appreciate all that is done on a daily (and hourly) basis for them, so they are “cooking” meals this week.

My progress through two chapters a week = I’m only halfway through one chapter at this juncture. The progress to rework old prose is daunting. My hope is to complete this chapter by tomorrow and begin on the second (randomly selected) chapter by Friday.

Submissions = submitted two short stories yesterday to a few more literary journals.

Cheer me on please.


This Writing Life…

Memorial Day.

Writers absorb the world in more detail than the average bear. We feel things more intensely and notice what is less obvious to the naked eye.

Today was a day to take in the world. My sons and I prepared 50 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and packed lunches for those less fortunate, those without homes. Since many Veterans suffer from homelessness, this was our way of giving back to those who were willing to risk the most ultimate sacrifice for our many conveniences.

My youngest needed music while “working” and so we listened to the “Purple People Eater” almost 8000 times. I had over-purchased jars of peanut butter and jelly, so on our way to deliver pre-packed lunches, which included fresh fruit and bottled water, we paused at the local food-bank and donated our excess product.

We took to the streets armed with the hope of giving. Initially, we couldn’t find anyone in need. We went to the normal corners where we notice those with a sign, “anything will help” or “family of four in need”. It took us over three hours to hand out 50 lunches, but we found them, people in need tucked away in the crannies of our city. They were lying near storefronts and in parks. One man paused, shook my hand and then saluted me, saying “G-d bless you and your family.” Another just kept saying thank you over and over.

What stood out the most were three people, separate from one another. They each were clearly hungry, yet they declined our offer for a free meal. It was heartbreaking. I knew that they didn’t trust us. Someone, somewhere had violated that trust. Someone, somewhere had pretended to offer them something good and somehow took terrible advantage of them or someone they knew. They had been hurt or deceived or worse. I didn’t want to think about it.

Great storytelling involves scene, capturing the concrete details and creating a world that the reader can enter, like a dream. But it can also involve, sometimes more than anything, the main character returning to their ordinary world changed. We, as a family, returned home altered, changed. We felt great because we helped someone else in some small capacity. But emotions are complex and we felt awful that we could not do much more and that so many people are hurting.

My youngest announced, “we alleviated some suffering today, Mom.”

Later, I met with my writing group, my tribe and I thought it funny how most of us sat there with pens that glide and journals small enough to carry everywhere. How alike we are in some connected capacity, yet how different the stories we share with one another in the hope of feedback to help shape us into better writers.

It was a good day for writing, one of heartfelt adsorption of the world around me and a connection with like-minded people I respect and admire. It was a good day for living, one of opportunity to instill in my sons the greatness of serving others and appreciating all that you have.

 


This Writing Life…

I drank a glass of water today.

With lemon.

It was completely by accident.


This Writing Life…

I have one word for myself as a writer: Sentimental.

Ugh. My early writing is so sentimentally ugly, so overstated and over-written. I am thankful for the ability to rewrite and revise, because I’ve probably rescued anyone that would have read my story from enduring much pain.

My favorite line from today’s revision: “She silently hands over her baby and a warm imprint remains on the pillow.”

Honestly, today has been one of the most solid writing days of my life. I re-worked this week’s chapter for two hours, submitted a short story to literary journals, wrote a rock-star cover letter, and completed a Letter of Intent. The LOI is for Poetic Therapy. I’ve been training, pre-degree, and accumulating hours to become a Poetic Therapist for the last three years. Now that I’m heading to grad school, I can officially submit my LOI and hopefully be accepted into the NAPT program.

And….there is still no water in my diet. I did brew three pots of herbal tea, homemade Chai, without caffeine, so I’m counting this as my water intake from henceforth. This means that I’ve consumed about 48 oz of water. If all else fails, I’ll start counting my cups of Java towards water intake. Desperate means…

My disabled son and I went to the gym for a “workout”. He’s in Superhero training to write his scripts for his own stories. So we did a few core activities, some light strength for our joints and a bit of flexibility.

I practiced three cords of guitar. This is so difficult for me. And frustrating. My hands do not work right and trying to make my fingers stretch for each cord is painful. The nerve damage from my neck injury makes me think that I may not develop that “muscle memory” needed to quickly switch from cord to cord. I don’t think my brain and my hands are communicating. But I’m determined. And I think this will help strengthen what has been lost in my hand function.

Rest. Better. I watched Sherlock, listened to my “Calm” app and sprayed my pillow with lavender oil. Though I didn’t sleep long, I did sleep well.

I have an interesting family “excursion” planned for tomorrow, but you’ll have to wait to read until after the event.

 

 


This Writing Life…

“This is Not an Exit,” the sign on the door reads. She pushes through and the acidic aroma of sanitation singes her nostrils. With every step, fluid seeps from the bottom of her soles to the tiny crevices between her toes, a distinct squish. The open room is dim, clay in color throughout. The voices maintain a respectful hush. There is space between each isolette like a wide road separating oncoming traffic to prevent a terrible accident.  The babies don’t look like babies. They are small, some only the size of a hand, with a film of fuzz and skin darkened and wrinkled like a bad sunburn. She tries to avert her eyes as she weaves past, more out of horror than respect. Though the ward is full of babies, all is quiet. This is the passage. A substitute for the womb, thinly lined with hope that each baby will finish the journey of growth and miraculously reach full term.

This is the opening paragraph of  a revised chapter somewhere, somehow, in the center of my manuscript. The first day of truly writing was a good day. As I worked my way through this chapter, I realized my writing was less than adequate. What is funny to me is that when I revised this entire project five years ago, I thought I was a solid writer. I’ve learned an incredible amount of detail work and storytelling during my undergrad work and now I’m both exhilarated and terrified to discover how I will feel about my writing in two years from now when I finish my MFA. I guess you should stay tuned.

As for my other goals. I’ve yet to drink a glass of water. Not even a sip. I’m not sure what this psychological resistance is about, perhaps the desire to pretend I’m indeed superhuman? I’ve committed myself to stop analyzing myself and just accept my quirks. So what? I don’t like water. I know I need to consume water. It is on my list of “things”. Core strength consisted mostly of laughter and mostly at myself.

Rest today is a four letter word. Two of my sons graduated from Middle School yesterday and we spent the evening at Wahooz, arriving home after 11 p.m. and up at 5. I’m tired, but joyful. I do believe this counts as a family encounter.

We are only a few hours from Shabbos and I’ve baked 8 loaves of Challah to share with neighbors and friends. In observing Shabbat, I will not write, but instead, I will marinade the remaining 7 pages of this chapter.

I created a neew list in my journal. Throughout my writing academics, I’d jot a “side note to self” in margins as a reminder to write about a specific event or perception or experience in my life. I paged through my 7 binders of writing notes and listed each and every item in which to write. This added up to 7 journal pages.

I’m beginning to think my new lucky number is 7.

I’m off to light beautiful candles to bring more Light into my home tonight and to dream of living the writing life that I’ve longed for most of my existence.


This Writing Life…

Don’t ruminate…just write.

Ruminating will make me fat. Wait. I’ve gotten a bit pudgy these final semesters, finishing my undergrad degree in Creative Writing and Psychology. It’s like I’ve woken to dinner-roll-belly and marshmallow-stuffed thighs and now I’m wondering how long I’ve walked around looking like this.

And then I wonder where the heck my friends are…the ones who would tell me that I’ve got more than a pinch in the middle…NOT the ones who hug me and say that I finally look “healthy” as if my perfect size 4 body wasn’t healthy. But here I am ruminating.

Busy in academics and parenting forced me into a laser-focused life. The kind of life that I spent a ton of time saying “no”. No to phone calls, dates, movie nights and excursions. I needed to say “yes” to my children and rebooting my career path as a writer and the field of poetic therapy. I’m only now resurfacing for a breath of air and I find that many things have changed.

The coffee shop that I once took my favorite pen and notebook every morning closed four years ago and the other one that I set up meetings with my friends moved to a new location two years ago. There are new apps on the phone to accomplish tasks that I learned painstakingly through technical challenges on my computer…uhm…a few years ago.

This is my new chapter. To write. To write things that matter and to gather with my like-minded and creative tribe. To raise children who are kind and responsible citizens. And on some level, to keep saying “no” so that I don’t become busy with all the fantastic opportunities, but not always the best use of my time.

I’m revising a manuscript.

The goal? Two chapters week with a finished, revised manuscript by July 31st. My manuscript is currently 392 pages.

The side goals?

  1. Drink more water
  2. Get better rest
  3. Learn to play guitar
  4. Publish a book for each of my sons by summer’s end
  5. Core strength
  6. Cook a new dish weekly
  7. Wine, Whine and Creative Minds meetings once a month.
  8. Weekly family excursions

Today, I can honestly report that I slept only three hours, have not consumed an ounce of water, ate leftovers for lunch and need to still practice the guitar. I’m not sure which chapters I’ll begin to self-workshop, but I’m certain I will not start at the beginning because the start of my book is now undecided.

Wish me luck…I’m going in deep.


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