Wednesday, June 27, 2007

'Round and 'Round She Goes

"Ah," I said in that way I do.
-Oliver, from My Life With Lefties, chapter one

A few months ago, at the post-writers group meeting dinner, we got onto the topic of collaboration, and a romance novel Jenny initiated a few years ago during an English majors night out. It was hilarious because each person would write just up to the point of the scene getting steamy, then pass it on to the next person who would some how diffuse the scene (usually with some kind of interruption) and write just up to the steamy part again.

Thus, the idea of writing a round story/novel was born. Well, we're about four chapters in, and now I'm the one to do number five. It should be interesting.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Writers Groups

"Good writers travel in packs."
-Dan Lazar

Being part of a writers group is one of the best things I do for my writing. Thanks to workshops at school and the CSFWG, my writing has improved beyond where it could ever have gotten with me on my own.

Beyond the technical advantages, though, is the advantage of having cheerleaders and friends. I thought about skipping the writers group meeting yesterday, thanks to the break-up, but figured it'd be far better for me to go than it would be for me to sit home alone all day. Turns out, I was right. By the time I left Springs to come home, not only had my funk lifted, I was actually in a good mood.

The writers I know are good people, and funny. Hanging around with them for a number of hours while everyone else at Red Robin slowly trickled out and all of our butts started to get sore was just what I needed.

Advice for anyone thinking about joining a writers group or taking a workshop: do it. A number of my favorite people, like Deb and Jenny, are people I've met doing just that.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Speaking of Breaking...

"Art gives you power to transform the bad things that happen to you"
-Paraphrase of a comment David made

Thanks to the bomb that was just dropped in my personal life, I'm letting myself off the hook as far as writing a story to submit this month. My life just got flipped, I don't need to be accountable right now.

In time - weeks, months, years, I'll make something out of what just happened, and it'll be a beautiful story or poem. Right now, I'm just working on the emotional aftermath part.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Breaking the Block

James: The doors made so much noise!
Tripp: Is he all right?
James: It was so embarrassing! He had to be carried out.
Terry: He's fine. He's narrating.
James: They were going to the restroom. But would they make it in time?

At one point in the movie, Tripp says he doesn't believe in writer's block. I don't think I do either. Sure, there are times, like now, when I feel it's just not working and struggle to write anything. However, I think the phrase "writer's block" is a cop-out.

Right now I'm taking a break from Oracle, but having a hard time shifting back to writing short stories. I'm falling into the pattern of being able to start stories with no problem, but being unable to figure out where they go after the first few paragraphs/pages. This is the first time in many years that I've had to fight so hard to finish a short story. I'm frustrated as all-get-out and this weekend is the next writers group meeting, which means if I plan to submit this month, I need to get my butt in gear fast. *Sigh*

Fortunately, I've got that writer's gene that means a little pressure usually helps me churn something out. It's all about the deadline, eh?

What about the rest of you? Do you believe in writers block and/or how do you overcome it?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

New Writing Group?

"So, I've been chatting with Lydia and Ali and Felie over the last couple of weeks, and it seems that we need to start a writing group!!!!"

There's been talk of a writing group for a few weeks now. It would be a collection of people from the university, all or most of whom have been in workshop classes together before. While the Co. Springs writers group is all well and groovy, I think it'd be nifty to have another. Between the two, the dynamics would be very different both in terms of people involved and the type of writing that'd be produced.

Co. Springs - widely varying degrees of ability, more commercial-focused bent on the fiction.
New group - all people who've gone through workshops, a generally higher and more similar degree of ability, literary focus on the fiction and poetry.

Could be very interesting. Bonus: now that people have gotten their BAs and scattered, this'd be a great way to stay in touch with old friends.

Nothing's definite yet, but it looks like it's going to happen.

"How I Write"

I found this one recently at the library and while it's not particularly awe-inspiring, and I know virtually none of the authors featured, it is an interesting perusal. It reminds me of times when Jenny gets going with questions. Her stand-by is "What are you reading?" which goes around in a circle until everyone's answered, but she's asked just about everything.

This book is like sitting at a table in Red Robin (where our post-writing group meeting dinners take place) and listening to a Jenny-question go 'round. The fun part is how many of the authors name tea/coffee or cigarettes as a necessary part of being able to write. Even more fun, though, is the other, more odd-ball necessities - like a maglite, a big desk, or photos of strangers.

In the spirit of a Jenny-question, I'll offer my necessities and encourage anyone reading this to post a comment about theirs. For me, my main necessity is background noise. Whether I'm writing longhand in one of my notebooks or typing on my computer, I want to have some kind of noise. The radio is good, or the TV sometimes.

Writing in my notebook opens up even more opportunities. When I worked in the kitchen at the bar, I liked to write at work after I clocked out. I could sip a cocktail, and have lots of background chatter and jukebox music. Of course, since I would be sitting at the bar writing, there were always people who assumed that meant I wanted to have a conversation with them. Jenny used to give me a hard time when we had a class together and she'd look over and see me writing and writing, then she'd look closer and see that I wasn't writing notes. Boring classes are a great incentive to write.

Friday, June 8, 2007

The American University Students Are About to be Very Lucky

"As of Friday, June 6th, I will have left CSU-Pueblo and will no longer be checking email on this account. Thank you!"
-David Keplinger

Well, this is it. As of tomorrow, David's officially gone. Class last night was exceedingly short, and fairly emotional. We're all going to miss David so much, both because of all he's taught us and because we just like him so much. I took one of his classes my first semester and I credit him with helping me make all the progress I have with poetry. He's one of the best instructors I've had thanks to his intelligence about the subjects, his personality, and especially his enthusiasm for whatever class he's teaching and for the students.

*Sigh* Bye David, you'll be sorely missed.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


"When I went out to kill myself, I caught
a pack of hoodlums beating up a man.
Running to spare his suffering, I forgot
My name, my number, how my day began..."
-"Saint Judas" by James Wright

For our last poems in Eng640, David thought it'd be fun if we all wrote sonnets. I think that's the worst idea he's ever had. Okay, okay, I see his point about how restricting yourself with form means you have to be more on top of your game than if you can just write whatever. I get it. I just don't like it. Ugh. My sonnet came out horribly, and I know the meter is off in places. I have a hard time hearing accents, I've found. Since I despise my sonnet and its title, I think it'd be fun to share it with everyone - share the pain, eh?

Big Wedding

My wedding day came bright and clear with not
a cloud in the sky. Roses white and blue
came too and flower girls so cute, who fought
to win the biggest basket even to
the point of tearing each other’s hair and then
the rings were swallowed just as Father Mitch
got sick on Mom’s new rug while Dad said ten
of twenty vegan meals were pitched.

When lightning hit and power flickered out
I couldn’t help my laughter. No more lights,
or curling irons, forget electric harp.
I get to do this my way. Let them pout.
I found our drunken priest and pulled him right,
then I was married ‘neath a rain-drenched tarp.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

I am Simon

"If you go deep enough inside yourself, you'll meet everyone else." - David quoting a poet whose name I can't remember, then adding, "Besides, there isn't enough time to go out and meet everyone."

There is a school of thought in writing that the more you share of yourself, the more personal you get (to a certain extent) the more other people will be able to connect with what you're writing. It's the reason a poem that has lines like:

"My fears overwhelm me" doesn't resonate the way a poem with lines like:
"I always keep the bathroom light on
I am still afraid of the dark" will.

Not that those are astonishingly good, grant you. The key is to write specific, don't worry that just because not everyone is scared of clowns, if you write a poem about being scared of clowns people won't relate. It's far worse to write a poem about "my fears" any day.

This school of thought is why I was so entertained by being Simon, and Simon being me. During the camping trip this past weekend, we all spent a good amount of time in a tent playing hearts, thanks to the rain and hail going on outside. After a while, I wanted to take a break, so Simon stepped in for me, thus becoming me. A while later, Mishell took over. Ergo, here is a picture of me:

Friday, June 1, 2007


A couple of years ago, I wrote a poem for one of David's classes. I put it up on a "writing" website, where it still lives.

The Fantasy Novelist's Exam

# 38: Do you see nothing wrong with having two characters from the same small isolated village being named "Tim Umber" and "Belthusalanthalus al'Grinsok"?

Funny, funny stuff. The good news is, I think I'm only guilty of about two of those. However, according to the exam writer's, one is enough to smack a novelist for. Hrm...Seriously, though, some of the crimes they list are fairly staple of fantasy stories, I mean, magical artifacts are what it's really all about. Oh, and saving the world, too. It almost doesn't count if the whole world isn't in danger.