The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Writing Workshop

       This Sunday, my writing critique group will be having their first workshop/conference/w(h)inefest.

      The site was chosen with productivity in mind. Each one of us will have our own writing shack to work in. (The fifth one is out of the camera's view.)

photo by topher241

The schedule is grueling:

9:00-10:00 Write a little and nibble on the nibble tray.

10:00-11:00 The Beth Contest:  Four of us compete, to see which of our stories makes Beth snort laugh the loudest.

11:00-12:00 Revising Work:  Taking the suggestions from our latest critique meeting, we wi (ooh, there's fudge)

12:00-1:00  An hour of fasting feasting

1:00-2:00 Tug of War with Tammy's Butt--Linda, Beth, Lynn and I will take turns trying to get an inspired essay (for ourselves) out of Tammy's skillful sphincter.

2:00-3:00 Discussion of the minutes from past critique meetings. Issues that will be brought to the table include:

* Recent trips one of our members took to Australia and South America
* The new French beau one of our members has lured into her web
* The irony that--in our experience--first husbands are bums/jerks/dolts/
   certifiably crazy.
* The unending quest to find something that is not made better with the  
   addition of bacon/mayonnaise/cream cheese/chocolate

If you've gone to a writing retreat or workshop, what was the most valuable or enjoyable activity you engaged in? (It's not too late to help us plan our workshop tomorrow. After all, we're five flexbile females...)

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Gripping Gothic Novel

photo by Hayward Public Library

         Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale is a wonderful read. For the fans of Charlotte Bronte and Emily Bronte, this is a contemporary offering. The two main characters are Margaret Lea and Miss Vida Winter. Miss Winter has been a bestselling author for over 60 years. Every time an interviewer asked about her past, she lied. And every lie was wildly different.

      Vida is finally ready to tell the truth about her childhood. And Margaret Lea, a fledgling writer, is the one chosen to chronicle it.

        It's a twisted tale (aren't all gothic novels twisted?) and the reader is lured onto a particular think you know what Vida Winter's "secret" is, but you don't--not until the very end is the veil lifted and the truth revealed.

        Miss Winter claims, "All children mythologize their birth. It is a universal trait. You want to know someone? Heart, mind and soul? Ask him to tell you about when he was born.  What you get won't be the truth; it will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story."

           So what is the story behind your birth? Was there anything comic or noteworthy about your arrival? (Of course you are worth taking note of, but other than you, that is.)

           You could even write two different versions and let us ponder their points as we try to ascertain which is the lie and which is the truth. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Good News, Bad News, You Choose Your News

         On Monday I got some good news. Becky Haigler, of Silver Boomer Books, sent me a contract for my poem, "No Need for a Card." Their book, A Quilt of Holidays will be published sometime this fall, in time for...well, in time for the holidays, silly.

        Now for the bad news. Last night I went to Open Mic night at the Kirkwood Train Station. Linda O'Connell invited her WWWPs, and when I heard that Marcia Gaye would be reading, it was like icing on the cake--or for a more concrete connection, like extra malt powder in my malt--because Marcia hardly ever reads her stuff. (Marcia had won first prize in the SLWG's poetry contest.)

     I read the following piece, which is where the bad news comes in. Some things we mourn are unavoidable. Some grieving cannot be helped, and our lost youth is one of them.

      Be prepared. You will sniff and cry and sob...

Getting older was something I longed for---

Free choices—I needed so many more.

I grew up too fast,

My parents were aghast,

And my youth…gone for evermore.

Twenty-something, I was fit and thin

I even had only one chin!

Things were where they belonged

(I could still wear a thong)

But no! Granny pants still made me grin.

In my thirties things started to migrate

How many of you ladies can relate?

My gut got a bit flabbio

(Now I’d never snag Fabio!)

Thank god! Elastic was there to accommodate.

Once I hit forty things had gone all awry

I needed glasses for both of my eyes.

My mustache I couldn’t see

Nor my growing goatee,

Without a mirror that could magnify.

In my fifties, I’ve let everything go.

My gut is now like risen bread dough.

I can now tuck in my pants,

What I used to enhance,

And my butt needs its own private bungalow.

So ladies—and gents—here’s my advice.

Growing old ain’t all sugar and spice.

Enjoy life as it comes

Savor every last crumb

And good looks…they’re so overpriced.

And now, for the "you choose your news" part of this post.  Not Your Mother's Books is looking for your stories. They're seeking stories more twisted than Chicken Soup tales. Put the fun in dysfunctional and submit.

You never know. That little vignette you send off could result in your story getting published. And then you'll have good news to share soon...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Make Good Art

         I have a few friends relatives who forward me emails. You know the type of forwards. There are always prancing puppies or cavorting kittens. Sometimes the flowers sing and sway. And there's usually some message like, "You were sent this email because you are a beautiful person, so send it to 10 more beautiful people whoblahblahblah." Yikes.

        When one of the WWWPs, Lynn, sent me this link, I knew it didn't have any frolicking flowers, because Lynn is razor sharp and encouraging and doesn't get mired up in muck like that, but I also didn't check it out. Too busy with other things, perhaps. But I chalk it up to an innate sense of timing instead.

         Because I didn't need it then.

         A post or two ago, I whined a little a lot about having publication envy. But the final ba-da-bing came when another one of the WWWPs, Tammy, reminded me of it. So I went back and watched it.

        Yes, it's almost 20 minutes long but just like Lynn said, it's worth it. For anyone who sometimes stumbles along their creative journey, for every artist, I think this will strike a chord and resonate inside of them, as well as remind them.

        And if you do enjoy it, thank Lynn. She's the one with the foresight...

Neil Gaiman's Commencement Speech