Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas blessings

A belated Merry Christmas to all my readers, and blessings for whatever you choose to celebrate and honor at this time of year.

Thank you all for such a fab year of support for Faking It, and here's to another for Ordinary World.

Keep writing, keep reading, and live with passion!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

checking in

Friends, my apologies for going MIA. I'm currently staying with my mom on Long Island, and while her house reeks of comforts, internet access is not among them. I've been getting a chance to connect to civilization only every other day, once a day, if I'm lucky. And being that we're expecting a blizzard any minute, who knows when the next opportunity will be.

I've also just finished a week of intense revision and editing with my writing partner in crime on our novel Why I Love Singlehood (yes folks, we have a title!). We unanimously agree that we KICKED ASS, and we're very excited about this novel even though we still have a lot of work to do.

When I get a chance, I'll post a review of our work week. One thing I'll especially focus on is the importance of laughing at yourself when the writing is reaching new levels of suckage. Let's just say that we laughed a lot.

Anyhoo, in the meantime, if I get snowed in for days (and it's very possible that I will), let me wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Writing, and safe travels.

I recommend eating as many cookies as you can.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"there are places I remember..."

I can still remember it, clear as day. My twin brother and I were getting ready for school, when my dad called us into the living room and sat us down on the recently upholstered chair. The last time he'd say us into this chair was to tell us that our grandfather had passed away, so this had to be serious.

"John Lennon was shot... and killed."

My twin brother and I remember this inflection identically, the beat between "shot" and "killed".

We gasped, of course, and immediately my thoughts went to my eldest brother-- the one who idolized Lennon, the one who became a musician thanks to one magical night watching The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.

My first words were probably Beatles lyrics. The first song I learned to play on the guitar was "Yellow Submarine". My mother appreciated Lennon's message of peace as much as the music. They were all like extended family members, but Lennon was special.

29 years ago today, John Lennon was murdered. Most of the world didn't hear about it until the next day. Many heard the news from the late great sportscaster Howard Cosell, who announced it during a Monday Night Football game. It was a world that didn't have instant access to all information, that didn't have 24-hour cable news channels.

The world mourned. So did my eldest brother. So did I, I suppose. I was 10 years old. I certainly mourned the tragedy of it.

The deaths of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Princess Diana, John Lennon -- such memories are etched in our psyches.

Where were you when you heard the news that John Lennon was murdered?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

dispelling doubt: a dialogue

Yesterday I attended a workshop about using written dialogue to enhance a deeper meaning of the academic disciplines. I had a lot of "why-didn't-I-ever-think-of-that" moments as I watched/listened to the presentation and then brainstormed ways to apply this in my own classroom.

In an unrelated activity, I also participated in a forum discussion in which many well-established, successful writers admitted that they fear they are, to use an appropriate phrase, "faking it". In other words, with each finished project (or new one about to start), they are afraid the world will discover them to be the fraud they really are.

And I confess, I experience this feeling sometimes, although not to the extent of others. My self-doubts usually kick in either when writers block strikes in the middle of a project or at the very start of a new one. And I don't know that I feel like a fraud as much as worry that I only had the one good idea, and the rest are crap. That maybe I'm not really a novelist after all, being that I have no formal literary training. I'm a rhetoric girl, remember?

Ok, so maybe that is a fraud-like feeling.

One participant on the forum was curious about coping mechanisms. How do we manage such doubts? how do we control the voices?

And so, in an effort to marry the two activities, I decided to create a little dialogue between the Doubter (D) and the Believer (B), perhaps not too far off from the internal dialogue I might actually have.

D: It's back. She's staring at the blank page, wondering if it's all crap, wondering if she's ever gonna write another decent novel -- hell, another decent chapter -- and whether she's gonna spend the rest of her life hearing people say, "It's not as good as Faking It, but..."

B: What evidence do you have to support this?

D: Ummm, well, none at the moment. I mean, no one's said that to her yet.

B: Has she run out of novel ideas?

D: Well, no (although she can't seem to think of anything to write at the moment).

B: That will pass. It always does. And she's gotten a lot of positive feedback, yes? People who aren't her parents or friends telling her that they like what she writes. And what is it that she tell her students about the continuum?

D: She tells them that they're better than some student writers and not as good as others. As is she on the continuum of professional writers..

B: Right. So, what's the problem?

D: Sure, she's got ideas. But what if she fails to execute them well? Just because she's gotten a lot of good reviews doesn't mean there aren't any bad ones floating around somewhere.

B: You think her favorite writers never got a rejection or a bad review? You think they've not executed well? Does that make them frauds, or participants in the process?

D: Um, the second one?

B: Right. So what it comes down to is a decision. She's got to decide whether she's a fraud or an honest-to-god writer that knows what she's doing. When it's not working on the page, I'll tell her to re-read and revise, and then read something else, or write something else, and keep honing her craft until she gets it. And really, do you think she wants to be a fraud?

D: Well, no.

B: So that's it. She'll decide not to be. Because she's not, regardless of what delusions you feed her about it.

D: So, she's the Decider...

B: Now let's not get carried away...