Tag Archives: writing process

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.

 

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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!

Healing writing practice at YS Library (Jan. 15)

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I’m thrilled to again offer a healing writing practice as part of the Winter Wellness series at the Greene County Library. This event is free and open to the public (21 years and older), but the librarians are asking people to register. (And we need to honor the librarians, for they are part of saving the world.) Last year, we had a great turnout—25 people or so!

Join me as we practice writing together using helpful prompts to discover and know ourselves. We’ll unmask and disarm the inner critic, and I might sneak in some drawing, too. It’s great way to start the new year!

When: Sunday, January 15, 2-4pm

Where: Greene County Public Library, 415 Xenia Ave, Yellow Springs, OH 45387

To registration, go here, or call the library at 937-352-4003.

 

Short story accepted!

I’m thrilled to announce that my short story “Curb Day” was accepted for Shadows and Tall Trees 7, forthcoming from Undertow Publications. It’s particularly exciting to me because, as I blogged here, in writing this piece, I adapted a process from Lynda Barry‘s process…and it was such fun to dig through compost from last spring’s embryonic essay about junk week and turn it into a story. I’m grateful to Michael Kelly at Undertow for accepting the results. Shadows and Tall Trees 7 will be available in March 2017.

writing from typing, typing from writing, etc.

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Day 2 at Omega (how to make faces)

After writing the short story I blogged about here, I tried another Lynda Barry-inspired approach. Looking at a problematic paragraph in my almost-finished novel (a reader had noticed some point of view shifts and was pulled out of the story), rather than my usual method (just working on the paragraph by pruning where I could, or cutting it, or moving it) I thought I’d try handwriting it (double-spacing with extra lines like Lynda Barry had us do) to see what would happen. When I felt like speeding up, I slowed down the making of shapes and focused on the curves of the cursive.  By doing that, I was able to get outside the oppressive overmind that usually does this level of editing in my work, and realized where the shifts happened in the paragraph, what I needed to omit. The white space between lines was crucial. Turns out the second part of the problematic paragraph is maybe a better fit for my “new” novel (which I have barely started) but at any rate, it was a great procedure! I don’t think I would have noticed, had I not used this approach, with the slow handwriting, and the extra spaces in between lines. (In WRITING THE UNTHINKABLE at Omega, Lynda Barry said that sometimes all you need is some white space.) Then I retyped the newly cleaved passages from the handwriting, and pasted the parts I was keeping back into their respective novel files.

Retyping was important: though many of the sentences had not changed much, it felt like changing the linens. It refreshed the writing.

So cool! In this back and forth between handwriting and typing and handwriting, I’ve met a sort of wall of water where there are two separate worlds, but this process is a portal between them. And it goes both ways! Freaking magical.

(Thank you, Professor Andretti!)

A useful process from Lynda Barry

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Writing the Unthinkable, Omega Institute, 2016

Since attending WRITING THE UNTHINKABLE with Lynda Barry at Omega Institute in July, I’ve used a process Lynda (aka Professor Andretti) described for writing her amazing novel, Cruddy. I adapted the steps a bit to write a short story. My process was:

DRAFT 1: Write the first draft by hand—not with ink and brush (as she when drafting Cruddy), but with a black Flair. Using lined paper, I double-spaced lines. (This is important: skip a line in the composition book, as if your hand is double-spacing).

(I started this story from a very messy prompt/embryo I did last spring about taking stuff to the curb for junk day. We have this junk week thing in our town every year, where you can take just about anything to the curb and either another resident will harvest it or the trash collectors will take it. The essay was what I started with, literally writing the words I had typed up onto the paper, longhand, but veered from the essay totally so it ended up as fiction. Really, I’m dealing with some of my (internal) baggage in this essay-turned-story and so using this ‘junk’ was both cathartic and creative.)

DRAFT 2: Re-copy draft 1 by hand without taking anything out (!) but slowing down and adding things where needed. (This is really important: you must copy everything you wrote in the first draft. You can add as much as you like, but you are not removing anything. When I tried it, it began to feel like I was not cutting myself to shards, but instead just acknowledging that some of the junk—every word!—had a reason to be there, at this stage. Doing this worked against the constant self-critique I usually feel when writing. I wasn’t finding flaws and rooting them out, I was just re-copying words in slow, deliberate shapes with a pen. In fact, as Professor Andretti recommended, when my brain started to go faster than my hand, I deliberately

s l   o   w   e   d                        d   o   w   n

and focussed on making the shapes with my pen on the paper.)

DRAFT 3: Type up. On a typewriter. Professor Andretti used an actual typewriter for Cruddy, because you can only go forward (pretty much) on a typewriter whereas on a keyboard and screen you can go both ways (this ‘just keep moving forward’ idea is an extension of steps 1 and 2 above, i.e. not cutting down but building up, keeping momentum going.) I did this step on word processor because my typewriter needs a new ribbon—but before I used the word processor, I turned off the (judgmental!) automatic spell/grammar check as you type feature. If you try nothing else from my post, try this. It’s totally liberating! I knew I’d eventually do a manual spell check, so I just didn’t worry about it at this point. And I am maybe never turning that sucker back on. Like double-spacing my handwriting, excusing The Judge allows more oxygen in the room of my writing, lets me breathe. Ah! Doesn’t that feel better? Yes.)

DRAFT 4: Here is where Professor Andretti would finally type it up on a computer. Once I had the draft on the computer (see step 3), I did a spell check, and then printed it. It still needed work and I took things out and added things, etc., but a lot of what came through in the process was evocative and strong writing. What came through most of all was the character’s voice. I believe that using this technique allowed her enough oxygen to tell her story.

It was a great and illuminating process. It felt good instead of pressured. (It was actually much more fun than usual writing.)

I’m happy to have spent those several weeks using some of the techniques I learned from Professor Andretti…and living in the not knowing/not fiction/not non-fiction/what the hell is an image/”search for underpants, eee*” zone…and I got a story out of it!

* This is a reference to a song Lynda Barry would sing in the morning at our workshop. I much prefer her/our version to the South Park version—we all sang along with her—but if you want to hear the song, go here.

To learn more about Lynda Barry, go to her Tumblr page.