Archive | April, 2012

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

30 Apr
Journals, journals, journals

Journals, journals, journals

What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. – Ira Glass

So that’s got to be it, right? That’s why everything I read through after the fact causes that wrinkled brow, “ick-this-sounded-better-in-my-head” kind of thing, right?

Been a few rough mornings and I can’t seem to figure out why. Got doused recently with rejections (which normally doesn’t phase me) two short stories are sputtering into the final death throes (which means I’ll trunk them) and I can’t seem to write the book I want to be writing (which is the part that is driving me crazy).

Or at least that I want to want to write. Sigh. I wish I was feeling more confident. More focused. At the very least I wish I was finishing things that I started.

research, research, research

That’s research. Notes, drawings, books that are relevant for one reason or another. Everything I need to write this book. And yet…I’m stalled at 57 sad little pages.

I think it’s time for a step back….I’ve lost the plot (to quote Modest Mouse). I need to know where I have been in order to know where I am going. Someone get me a compass.

Moon Prayer at Mad Swirl

25 Apr

Many many thanks to the always hardworking MH Clay for accepting this poem, Moon Prayer for Mad Swirl – a fantastic venue for writers and readers. Check ’em out.

“If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!” – Shel Silverstein

I am Fortune’s Fool

23 Apr

Today is Will Shakespeare’s 448th birthday.  Happy Birthday Will!

Back in 2009, I went to London and then up to Stratford Upon Avon. It’s an amazing place and going there is like stepping back in time. If you have the opportunity to go, I highly suggest you visit the Garrick Inn.

It’s Stratford’s oldest pub. And considering that how old Stratford is, that’s OLD. The building apparently dates back to the 1400’s. And, according to the plaque inside, it’s where the plague started in 1564, the same year old Will was born.

The whole town is amazing. You can tour his home, including the room he was born in. 

Not to mention the home of Anne Hathaway’s cottage, including the bench they sat on when Will proposed and promised her his second best bed. Such a charmer!

It was an amazing trip for me – not only because I am a self-proclaimed Bardolator but also because it was Shakespeare and specifically his grave that inspired my first novel, Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb. William Shakespeare has the best epitaph in the world:


It’s cursed for heaven’s sake!

So Shakespeare is buried at Holy Trinity Church inside the chancel. When my husband and I arrived at Stratford, his first question was “What do you want to see first” and without hesitating I said, “His grave.”

Off we went, crossing down the cobblestone streets, weaving through centuries of history. I could barely believe I was about to see Shakespeare’s GRAVE. The greatest playwright – nay, greatest writer – who ever lived. It was  a dream come true.

Until we reached the church and right there at the door was a sign informing us that they Chancel was closed due to repairs.

Remember that scene in Vacation when they finally arrive at Wally World and the damn thing is closed. It was like that, only with a transcontinental flight.

My husband, ever the diplomat, pulled aside the lovely gentleman who ran the church and explained in no uncertain terms that we had to see Shakespeare’s grave. That we had crossed an OCEAN to see Shakespeare’s grave, that it was the most important thing to his wife, who was standing there slightly gobsmacked, to which the lovely British man answered in his lovely British voice:

“I’m sorry, sir. Couldn’t be avoided.”

“Sorry folks! Shakespeare’s grave is closed. Moose out front should have told you!”

So the closest I got to seeing Shakespeare’s grave was being about 20 feet away from the Chancel ledge, but in a way, it was close enough. On the way out, I took a stone from the garden which I keep on my writing desk.

We’ll go back, I know that. And this time I’ll make sure the church repairs are finished. In the meantime, at least it won’t be me who moves those bones and gets cursed.

Happy Birthday Will. Thanks for changing my life.

Mix Tapes and Ephemera

16 Apr

“Drawing is still basically the same as it has been since prehistoric times. It brings together man and the world. It lives through magic.” – Keith Haring

I’m working on a new novel right now. Two kind of. One is slowly, horribly, painfully eeking its way toward the final stages of revision before it moves on. And the other is just a little zygote of a thing, floating. It’s all goo and slime and memory.

The one that is almost done, much like Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb, is fantasy. It’s action-y science fiction-y sort of chewy stuff built around a band of street kids and one messed up game of chess.

The other is not. The other is real, or as real as I can get to being real without completely yanking down the veil. It’s about something that happened in high school, most specifically my falling off a waterfall and cracking open my head and almost dying. And it’s about love. Right love. Secret love. Unrequited love. You know….love.

You’d think that would be the easier book to write. But it’s not. And it’s not because I don’t know these characters and it’s not because I’m not dedicated or focused. It’s because the REAL is harder than the fake. Even though I’m faking 50% of the real.

The weirdest thing about it is that I have to do research. And not just digging through my old journals or jogging the memories of my old friends. But in other books. Books like My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr. And The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary  E. Pearson. Books that talk about things that are too hard to talk about. And I guess I need those books because, in many ways, this is hard to talk about.

And I’ve been thinking a lot about Keith Haring. About glyphs. About representation. And that strange crossroad where the truth and the lie intersect and the continue on down the road, around the bend, and out of sight.


See the thing is, it’s not about writing nooks. Or getting up early. It’s not about long walks ruminating over character names or how to write the perfect kiss. It’s about reading. Reading. Reading. Reading so much that suddenly you learn how to do what they do. It’s about osmosis.

Take it from a professional (of which I am not):

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Read. Really, I can not begin to describe all the times I’ve met people who tell me that they would love to write, if only they could find the time (as if writing were a hobby, although given the quality of much of what is published, I sometimes think it is!), but if I talk to them at length it quickly becomes clear they do not read. That’s like wanting to run a marathon, but not wanting to run. Reading is the only way to learn how to write. It can’t be taught, exactly. It has to be absorbed.

Bolding mine. That’s from an interview with Ms. Freymann-Weyr, whose work my husband introduced me to. Many many good things have come to me in exactly the same way. He’s rather keen and terribly perceptive even when he pretends he isn’t. The whole thing can be found here:

So yeah…read. Everything you can get your hands on. Read. Before writing, just read. Then read some more.

That’s the end of my public service announcement.

You Had Me At Helo

9 Apr

All right let’s talk about Battlestar Galatica. First off, I get that I’m about nearly a decade behind on all this. My bad. I wasn’t watching a lot of television in 2004. I was going through a particularly pretentious phase where I cancelled cable.

I repent! My Gods, I repent!

I would like to congratulate the writers for giving me my  new favorite line ever which is “Put that thing out the airlock.” I’ve been walking around for days going “ding, ding, ding, da ding ding ding,” which is the opening music. It doesn’t sound as game-showy when I do it, I swear.

Also, I’m pretty sure June is a cylon.

So I’ve been watching these back to back for about a month now. I’ve burned through season 1 and 2 and am about to start season 3, when what the holy hell happened?? A year?? We skipped a year people?

*Note to the directors, you wrote at the bottom “one year later” which communicates quiet effectively that 365 days have passed. Was it really necessary to have Adama grow that freaky little mustache? As my husband said, “Between that ‘stache and Lee’s hair it’s a battlestar disco up there.”

I’m a touch worried about this time jump. Though I’m not going to declare it outright, I am slightly concerned that maybe the show is going to vault over the proverbial aquatic predator.

Season 3 is at home so I hope upon hope that this is not true. No spoilers from you people!

All the same, I can’t remember the last time I watched an actual movie.

Battlestar has taken over my life…..10 years after it took over every other geek’s life. So by that math some time around 2020 I won’t be able to shut up about this awesome show you all need to see called Game of Thrones.

Cue Sad Trombone
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Strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff

6 Apr

I write in a closet.

Literally. It’s my own little nook and I love it. Here’s a picture of it:

I didn’t build the bookshelves. The amazing industrious crafty previous tenant built shelves AND put an outlet in AND an overhead light. I can’t thank her/him/it enough. That black thing hanging in the corner – you see that? That is a gift from my oldest friend in the world. We had this conversation on the phone:

Him: “What are you going to be for Halloween this year?”

Me: “The shadow of my former self.”

And there it is, folks. He made it for me. My very own shadow (suck it Peter Pan!). It’s a pretty good likeness only you can’t tell here cause her head is drooping. I should fix it and take another picture. Here’s what it looks like when the tacks haven’t fallen out.

Also, the little radio there is one of my favorite things ever because each morning, during writing time, I get to listen to WQXR’s Jeff Spurgeon. And let me tell you, if you don’t know Jeff, you better ask somebody. His dulcet tones will put anyone in a dreamstate of goodness and light with unicorns and rainbows and singing mermaids. But he’s only on in the wee hours of the morning.

Like 5 am.

Which is when I write.

Because I clearly hate myself.

Most people think that ‘s crazy. And they’re right. Honestly. It wasn’t my idea. It was my husband’s. He writes too and he came up with this cockamamie plan that if you get up early and write at the butt-crack of dawn then you get it done without excuses, before the world takes a piece out of you. First thought, best thought sort of thing, maybe.

Also, he clearly hates sleep.

But I gotta tell you, it works. Granted I’m asleep by 10:30 on the couch with a book splayed across my face but it works. I’ve never in my life been as productive as I have in the past 4 years that I’ve been doing this.

So that’s what I do. 5 am. But no one writes in a vacuum.  The other side of my room contains random crap – christmas decorations, boxes of old journals, boxes of comics and this:

That’s June. Everyone say “Hi June.”

June is as demonic as she looks. (Trust me – her laser eyes will melt your face off). That’s June’s box. It was supposed to hold comics but instead it holds June. She is a massive pain in the butt but she spends every writing morning in that little nook with me. Her random unsolicited meows go well with Mozart.

Okay enough about writing.

Next post: Books! Comics! Battlestar Galactica!


3 Apr

Hi there. So I’ve decided, what with there being some creative-y/publish-y sort of  things afoot, that maybe it was time to cash my chips in over at shipwreckedpoetry and gypsycampfire and consolidate. Ally inc., if you will. Hey, if Batman can do it so can I. Stay tuned for more.

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