Tag Archives: writing process

(writing about math & the bones)

photo of papers on the floor, writing process

Working at Omega, October 2017

…when you hand yourself over to an hour freewrite about numbers and math, and it all adds up to the shape your bones will be when your body goes to the fire. (& instead of scrawling your usual “thank you” at the end of your freewriting, which Laraine Herring taught you in her workshop—thanking yourself and your writer self for showing up—you write “mic drop.”)

(boom.)
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Yet another reason I love teaching

Yesterday my students and I brainstormed on the board to get what poet Cathy Smith Bowers has called the lump of clay to start (writing anything, but in this case) making poems. We got lots of words on the board, narrowed things down and ran out of time so I said I’d write up something which, tomorrow, we will shape into poems (if possible).

Here are the two lumps of clay:

(This one is from the original phrase “burning house” which landed on cat eating tinsel, and there was something about getting attention, and then my cat inspired me in the middle of the night, so timely, so thank you, Zlateh. These line breaks were my first pass/how it came out. We will negotiate all and deal with the repetition, etc. tomorrow.)

Come, cat
come to where the hands are
or dance around the bed half the night.
I don’t need sleep.
It’s fine, but so much simpler if you would come to where the hands are,
or eat tinsel from the tree,
anything, anything to get my attention
but wouldn’t it be nicer
if you came to where the hands are,
to pleasure us both?

Traverse (or travel) the ridge of my body
bleating your needy meow.
It’s fine, it’s okay, I can’t sleep anyway.

Dance around the bed half the night,
the other half, walk the ridge of my body,
bleating your flat meow.
It’s okay.

I can’t sleep anyway.

***

(This one is from the original word “snow” which ended on glitter demon, idolized but evil. This one was extra fun for me, ahem. We’ll see about line breaks & whatever tomorrow in class.)

Glitter-demon

You consider yourself beautiful, all shine and polish and perfection. You stand upon that pedestal with such a casual air, as if you couldn’t fall from there. Every day you are reset, like a piece of machinery, you get up and just start a new day. You claim to be immortal. Silver and gold wrap the warp of your vile insides, and not one of us notices the cruel cutting you do, until it’s too late, until we’re bleeding in the glittery, hard diamond snow of this four-year winter. How much blood and history will we lose without knowing it before we wake up and knock you off that stool. You make me want to hate, if I could. I want you to shatter, I want to shave off all that lying gloss and sparkle, I want you to bleed like we are bleeding, I want instant karma, I want a recount, I want changes of hearts, for all of us, if not for you.

(fragments of process, & out from under patriarchy…)

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one theme, (at least) thirty variations (from 1971 Women’s Day magazine)

Here’s a piece of too-clever-wordy-nerdy-play-that-doesn’t-fit, torn from an essay I’m writing under the shadow of the toxic patriarchy.

The fragment won’t go back in.

Wanted to put it somewhere, thank it for its service:

Forget/forgive, unfortunate, those words with similar opening: we link them as if they are sisters, but they have so little in common. F-O-R. Three letters. A pile of bones.

Today’s writing headlines

photo of desk

Where I worked today. (Head cup by Beth Holyoke)

MORNING HEADLINES

NONFICTION:

I finished typing up the Bewildering Whatever-it-is begun at Omega with Nick Flynn (and mentioned here). I don’t know what it is or will be. I keep thinking of it as a coil of DNA for a memoir. It’s about 13,000 words. There will be more words as I uncoil and discover itself.

FICTION:

Last night, I dreamt an agent said there’s a lack of confident storytelling in my novel. (When I woke, and did today’s letter to the inner critic, I asked the critic what she does while I sleep.) I don’t think it’s true that there’s a lack of confident storytelling in my novel. Laughed it off.

Within a few hours, I got a kind rejection from an agent who has some very big name clients. (Another agent at her agency, whom I had approached to represent me, had been complimentary about the novel, and on her own initiative, forwarded the manuscript to this big-name agent thinking it might be more her style.) The big-name agent got back to me quickly, and was also complimentary about the novel, said, “It’s full of mystery and atmosphere, poetry, even.” But said she doesn’t think she could sell it. I understand it’s a business. I’m grateful for the kind words about my writing. I trust someday I will find an agent or press who will say YES, and take a risk on my work.

May it be sooner than later.

Onward!

Spring One-Day Seminar at Antioch Writers’ Workshop: March 24, 2018

two images of garlic (top-cross section of cloves, then bottom, whole head)

Maybe we’ll write about garlic. Who knows?

Dive Into Your Story!

I’m thrilled to be teaching at the Antioch Writers’ Workshop one-day “Dive into your story” workshop. We’ll play!

When: Saturday, March 24, 2018, 9am-4:30pm

Where: University of Dayton

To register, go here.

 

New old project

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Fall cleaning and (finally, again) rifling through piles of paper so I can some day love my office…I found evidence that my new project is actually quite old. Turns out I’ve been writing it for years.

It’s hard to articulate how comforting this is. Like finding out you are who you always thought & hoped you were. Soon I’ll have the luxury of going to a week-long workshop where I can dive into that mess.

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(SFA socks from my dear friend Sally)

 

Register NOW for Writer’s Play Time!

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WRITER’S PLAY TIME

Rediscover and liberate your sense of play! Unleash your creative spark! Demystify and disarm the inner critical voice that’s holding you back! Nourish any creative process. Inspired by the work of Lynda Barry (Artist and author of WHAT IT IS and SYLLABUS) we will write and draw and move. Please wear comfortable clothing. Must be 13 years or older.

WHERE: Yellow Springs Library

WHEN: Sunday, September 10, 2017 from 2-4  PM

Register now!

Use your hands.

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I just found a great piece of advice (with an exercise!) from Lynda Barry on the Omega website.

“I’m worried about our relationship to our hands, and the kind of intuition they make possible. One of the things I love to do is help people find ways to reestablish that relationship. People long for creative activity without realizing it really is right at their fingertips.” –Lynda Barry

 

Visit this link to find more, and do the exercise.

 

Mark your calendars: (Free!) Writer’s Play Time in September

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(Photo: Venice, Italy, June 2017. Activity: anywhere, anytime.)

I’m thrilled to offer WRITER’S PLAY TIME, a FREE (!) WORKSHOP AT YELLOW SPRINGS LIBRARY, Sunday, September 10, 2017. In other words:

Rediscover and liberate your sense of play! Unleash your creative spark! Demystify and disarm the inner critical voice that’s holding you back! Nourish any creative process. Inspired by the work of Lynda Barry (Artist and author of WHAT IT IS and SYLLABUS) we will write and draw and move. Please wear comfortable clothing. 13 yrs and older.

Limited space—Registration opens on August 20. For more information, please visit the library event page.

Happy birthday, dear novel

Today, I feel like I gave birth to a 13- or 16-year-old (depending on when you consider the moment of literary conception) because I finished my novel. Finished as in finished; it’s packed and ready to go out into the world for the first time…evicted from living merely in my mind, where it had loving and helpful visitors, including a marvelous muse, editor, and doula (my husband, Robert Wexler) but where the novel has lived too long.

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(fragment from the original idea, 2001)

My original note for the concept (a tornado girl loses her memory and can see the memories of others) is dated 2001. The first page of the handwritten draft is dated 2004.

So however you count, it’s been a long time.

I’m grateful to the novel’s loving and helpful visitors. I’m exhausted and pleased and a little shocked to be vacated by its presence.

Onward!