Monday, March 31, 2008

Pointing Things Out

I'm at dinner last night with the gang, when Fred says, "So, do we get to read the thesis?"

I replied, "Actually, you've already seen some of it."

I started naming the stories I've submitted to the group, and a couple of times he said, "Oh, I like that one." (Huzzah! Somebody actuall likes something!) Then I realized that all but one of the thesis stories have gone through the group. I never noticed that until last night.

It made me think of when I was talking with Jenny the other day and the thesis came up. I said I was still wrestling with this idea of having a unifying factor in the thesis vs. just having a collection of stories. She just shrugged. "They're already talking to each other, you just don't know it yet. Put 'em all together, hand it over, and we'll tell you how."

Which just goes to re-iterate the idea that readers are usually better at knowing what a writer is saying than the writer themself.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fun With Office Supplies

At this point, we've all been writing for a while. We've got stories, poems, novel chapters, etc. scattered all over the place. Don't deny it. If you haven't gotten them scattered all over your house, that probably means they're all still electronic on your computer - which totally doesn't count as being organized.

Now, it's a widely accepted truth that writers are really only writers because we have a deep and abiding love for all things office supply. If you can't walk into a Staples, etc. without picking up something extra, it's a good sign you're a writer. So, let's make use of that, shall we?

My challenge this month is to practice a bit of organization. It's time to pile all your hardcopies together, take a look at what you've got, and do some sorting. You know those cool binders you've been stockpiling? It's time to use a couple. If all your writing is on your computer, it's time to make hardcopies.

Now, not only will this get you organized, there's also a secondary benefit here. As you're collecting and sorting, you also should take some time to read through these various bits (both complete and not). It's remarkable the things you notice about your writing when you're looking at a large page count of it. What are the themes you see cropping up? The character types? Do you have a favorite setting or way of describing situations? Maybe you have a favorite hair color for your main characters. This is a great way to find out.

The last time I did this, I rediscovered a story I'd written which I'm now debating putting in my thesis. I'd completely forgotten it, but when I re-read it, I was pretty pleased with it. If I hadn't been going through my old stuff, though, it would have stayed lost.

While I've mentioned binders, don't forget about the rest of your office supplies stockpile. Page protectors, post-its, tabbed dividers, etc. would all make for helpful additions to this project.

For my part, I've been accumulating binders on campus. A lot of instructors have students do portfolios, which then go unclaimed, which then clutter up offices, which then get purged and put in the common area for anyone who wants them. Seriously, who can pass up free binders? I've also been playing around with figuring out what's going to go in my thesis.

This is my month to combine the two. By the end of the month, my plan is to have a prototype thesis compiled and organized in one of my windfall binders. That gets everything in one place and lets me start thinking of the thesis as a whole, vs. just the individual stories.

Another thing I'm going to do this month is revise the structure of my goals. In March I didn't hit all of my planned goals, but I did manage some things that weren't planned, ending in a pretty productive month all the same. So, for April, I'm going to plan less and account more. I have a couple of key things I want to do, but otherwise, my list for the month is going to focus on what I've done rather than what I want to do. We'll see if that makes a difference.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

March Summary

As so often happens, the plans I make at the beginning of the month have turned and changed through the course of the weeks. At the beginning of March, I set out to read poetry. Now, at the end, I've not read any. Oops.

However, I did read a novel, which is something I haven't done in some time. Also, by way of reading something other than my norm - a few days ago I pulled my violin out of my folks' basement, tuned it up, and saw what I could remember. I also picked up some sheet music from the library. Thus, while my plan was to read poetry, I've ended up reading music. Not what I had planned, but it's still reading something other than what I've been. I call it a win.


"How are the thesis stories coming along? Or are you playing since it's spring break?"

This week I've chatted with both Deb and Jenny about the thesis. In response to Deb's question, I said I'd written one complete thesis story and developed ideas for two more. Actually, now I've got ideas for three more. It's exciting. It's also funny that I didn't realize how much I'd gotten done until I told her. That's when I had my moment of "Hey, look at that."

With Jenny, we talked not only about the thesis, but also about the writers group. I've been thinking for a while now that maybe it's time to pull out. I find myself spending more and more time on other people's writing and less and less time on my own.

Then I got "A friendly reminder from your friendly neighborhood VP" e-mail from John. He seems to think that since my group dues are due, I ought to hand over money. Crazy.

Thus, we arrive at this morning and two decisions.
1. I'm withdrawing from the formal group and going to just do The Pirates now.
2. I'm shifting my approach to my goals this month.

We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Robin Hood

In the past couple of days I've watched season one of the BBC show Robin Hood. It's been interesting. The show does a good job of certain things, but bungles others, and I'm conflicted on figuring out how much I like it.

The lead guy was excellently cast - he's immediately likeable and although his character is mostly shallow, he has some interesting things going on. They establish him as a guy who's seen enough violence in the Crusades that he'll do just about anything to avoid taking another life. This is key when you have a show where your hero and villain are constantly bumping up against each other and your hero keeps not killing him.

So, since we're talking about heroes, why not talk about one of the ways of making a hero interesting? Even the coolest heroes can't be interesting on their own. No, you've got to bounce other characters off the hero and see what happens. In that, the show is usually smart.

Guy of Gisborne is the sheriff's right hand man. The BBC puts it quite nicely in the character summaries when they list each character's weapon (axe, bow, sword, etc). The sheriff's weapon: Guy. Whoever's idea it was to have him as a character was really on to something. He's set up as the darker reflection of Robin. He takes over Locksley and becomes engaged to Marian in the first season, setting up some parallel there. The best part, though, is that he's got a lot of depth. He knows the sheriff's using him, he knows he's done some bad things, but he genuinely cares for Marian and even has thoughts of trying to redeem himself. He's complicated. There are times when I think he's a better drawn character than Robin is. It's great.

Marian is very cool. No docile thing, this one. The first time she's introduced, she aims a bow at Robin and tells him to clear out. As things go on, she constantly argues with Robin about the choices he makes and tells him that the only way to win the game is to actually play it. Love interests who always agree with the hero are boring. Love interests who tell the hero he's being stupid are fun.

Then there are the outlaws who are pretty nicely drawn. They're not real fleshed out and I was sorely disappointed when a love triangle among them was briefly mentioned then promptly dropped and never mentioned again. However, there are good touches. Kudos to the person choosing costumes and props because they took some care in what people wear and use in a fight: Robin's Saracen bow, Much's enameled shield, Will's axe, the outlaws tend to wear green...

My biggest problem is that the people making the show have made the decision to keep the episodes largely stand-alone. So, by the end of each episode, things are put back more or less to how they started. Every now and again an interesting complication comes up, then gets tied up too tidily by the end. Problematic characters disappear. Secret identities are preserved, and life goes on as usual. I watch these episodes and I keep thinking "Now, if this were a Joss show, this is what'd happen" and then they don't do it. Ugh.

It's an alright show, but if they'd just get their hands messier, it could be a great one. We'll see what season two holds once I can Netflix it.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Takin' Care of Business

On Friday my idea for the thesis title story solidified. I put a new ink cartridge into my fountain pen and spent a little over an hour before dinner sitting at Baskin Robbins eating strawberry cheesecake ice cream and writing the first four-and-a-half pages.

Today, between roughly four hours at a coffee shop, the library, and home, I used up that ink cartridge and wrote another eight-and-a-half pages. Now I've got a thirteen page rough draft of a story which was intended to be titled "All the Pieces," but might not be. We'll see how that goes once I get the story typed up and a bit more fleshed out.

I'm not usually a writer who gets out high page counts, so 8+ pages in one day is extremely productive for me. The last time I wrote that much in one go was a number of months ago when I was still cranking out a new chapter of Oracle every month for the group. I'm pretty excited about the way today went. Every now and again I hit on a story that coalesces in my head more or less complete. Then, as I write it, it just unfolds for me, accordion-style, and I can write it straight through, time-allowing. I love those stories.

Right now I've got four stories (including today's) which I'm pretty certain will be in my thesis. Three of them had this type of clarity to them. I'm taking that as a sign I'm on the right track. Now, since I'm an optimist, I'm going to plan to get one more thesis story (maybe even two more, but that's probably pushing it) written this week.

Spring break = lots of free time = me not knowing what to do with myself = a lot of incentive to write stories. In short, my friends, nothing is so good for my writing as boredom. It's not poetic, but there you have it.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

All The Pieces

A couple days ago I mentioned using a line from A Knight's Tale for the title of my thesis. On Friday, I had dinner with the gang and ran the line past them. The consensus: they approve, but Jenny's still holding out for "Pieces of Birds" instead. Tough, Jenny. You didn't name the baby Gertrude, so I owe you nothing :)

Today I watched the movie again, because I wanted to make sure and get the line right before making any kind of announcement about it. So, here we go:

One scene in the movie involves the characters all circled around, writing a love letter to Heath Ledger's love interest. Mark Addy's character contributes, "The pieces of my broken heart are so small they could pass through the eye of a needle."

Later, this line pays off beautifully when Paul Bettany (a.k.a Chaucer), says "With all the pieces of my heart" which is what caught in my head the other day and wouldn't let go, except when it caught in my head the line was, "With all the pieces of my broken heart." That's why that first line is important, see?

In any event, the line is about an idea we talked about a lot in poetry classes with David - the idea of "adult grief." The short explanation of the idea is embracing the sorrow of life and holding it close because that's where real art/emotion comes from. We celebrate life because it's going to end, get it?

When Paul Bettany says the line in the movie it alludes to the love letter, expresses sorrow that things have turned out the way they have, and it's said as a wish for salvaging what can be salvaged.

In short, that line is love, sorrow, and a wish all rolled into a handful of words. Who could wish for a better title?

Friday, March 21, 2008


I'm a big believer in synchronicity, though I don't know if "believer" is the best word to use. What happens is that I notice, time and time again, how things tend to align in life. In my last post I talked about some of that alignment in respect to getting me back to my thesis. There's a bit more of it, too.

When I went to the library yesterday, I hit the new books first, then started roaming around the stacks, looking for titles or covers that caught my eye. Interesting to note: it seems mystery novels tend to have the most eye-catching titles. So, my selection process was pretty random. For the most part I wasn't looking for any particular author or any books I'd already heard of, just pulling stuff off because I liked the color of the cover. Of the dozen books I looked at, a few turned out to be short story collections. Any other day, none would be, they'd all be novels. In light of this, I went with it and of the half dozen books I checked out, three were these collections.

From the library I went to campus and a Hungry Eye meeting, then I went to my office to kill time before the Annie Dawid reading. Juan stopped by to pick up some files for the faculty search and while we chatted he asked if I'd like to go along on dinner with him and Annie. So, instead of killing time in the office by watching TV shows on the computer, I ate Pad Thai and chatted with an award winning short story writer whose first book was a short story collection. One of her books is a short story cycle, even.

Can you hear the "click, click, click" of things lining up before me? Sometimes it's not so much about going out and finding stuff as it is about embracing the stuff that casually comes your way.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Change in Weather

I love the transitional seasons - you get to start breaking out of the weather rut you've been in and start wearing clothes that haven't seen the light of day in months. Today we're over seventy degrees, I had the house open all morning, and I'm only now starting to do anything particularly productive (boy do I love Thursdays). Today, I dusted off my sandals and decided to risk it. I spent some time outside, too, and my face feels hot still from what's sure to be a faint sunburn. I've got to say, even without knowing that spring break is next week, I'd still be in a great mood right now. It's nearly impossible to be cranky on a day this gorgeous.

Other reasons to be in a good mood:

Between various readings/receptions, etc. this has been a busy but fun week. Tonight I'm off to a fiction reading by Annie Dawid.

I scored the night off tomorrow and will be meeting up with the gang for dinner.

Last night I got a line from the movie A Knight's Tale stuck in my head, and only figured out where it had come from this morning. This is relevant because I think I may have a title for my thesis now.

Since I think I've decided on a thesis title, I figure I ought to have a story of the same name.

I went to the library today and picked up some books, one of which sparked an idea of what I should do for my thesis title story.

I'm excited about writing a story again after so long of writing only poems, and not so many of those.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Not Just For Bards

At the beginning of the semester I wasn't quite sure what to expect from my Scottish Lit. class. I'm not usually all that fond of survey classes, and especially not of "classical" survey types which are entirely devoted to, or at least emphasize, books whose ages are counted in centuries rather than years.

However, this class is turning out to be oodles of fun. For starters, the professor is incredibly flexible about which topics we explore in our essays. So, I've been reading and writing all about ballads and sea shanties, with a plan to work up, chronologically, to talking about Great Big Sea and others who are in my CD collection. I've been finding a lot of interesting stuff about oral traditions and folklore in the process.

For seconders (or however that goes to transition from "starters"), the past two classes we've had guest speakers - though "speakers" isn't exactly accurate. Last week we had Jack and Barbara Yule (Jack's a native Scot and Barbara has spent a couple decades doing scholarly work about Scottish storytelling tradition). Buckets of fun, especially when Barbara told us about the Traveling People and performed a couple of stories for us.

Then, last night we had Kim McKee and Ken Willson a.k.a The Jigheads. They played music, talked about storytelling/folk music tradition, and Ken told us a story. Also excellent.

Now, from here we get back to one of the questions of writing which is infinitely fascinating - the purpose of doing it. When you look at oral traditions, storytelling was very fundamental. The stories were who the people were, they told their histories, their morality, their religious beliefs, and they were one of the ways the group identified themselves as being X rather than Y.

These days, we don't have the same oral tradition. Other media has replaced the spoken word, and ethnic tales have become internationally known. Still, I would suggest that much of the storytelling imperative has remained. I can think of a number of different ways to go with this, and I probably will go in those directions in subsequent posts, but I'm going to narrow it all down today.

Oral tradition. Communal stories. We don't have the bards these days, but we can't entirely get away from our roots. Back in the day you had a tribe and in that tribe there were the songs and the stories that everybody knew and that knitted the group together into a community. These days we tend to have the exact same thing, just expressed a bit differently.

Instead of the tribal stories, we have family stories. You know, the one about when you were little and you did that incredibly funny thing that everybody still talks about. Maybe it started out being your story, it's about you, after all, but now you know it by the telling just as well (or even better) than you know it because it happened to you. Maybe it started out your story, but now your parents, siblings, etc. are the ones who tell it. Everybody knows how it goes, everybody knows how it ends, but it keeps getting told. It's part of your family's mythology now, it's what knits you together as a family and it's what identifies you as X rather than Y.

Ditto that for any group of friends you've known for a while. After a while, you learn the stories of the others. After a while, when someone starts talking about a specific thing, you can anticipate the story that's coming next. Of course, we have our communal "music," too. Most of us in the writers group have watched Joss Whedon's shows and read something by Neil Gaiman. Great Big Sea is a literal example of our common music, and Deb's got a nifty clip up on her blog, the posting of which is perfectly timed to this posting. (Gotta love synchronicity.)

So, to get to the main point here: though the particulars of our storytelling traditions have changed from the times of bards and sagas, the jist remains the same. If there was nothing to this idea of communal music, you'd never swap CDs with your friends, would you?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

SI 2007 Anthology Cover

In the next day or two I'm sending off the latest SCWP Summer Institute anthology to the publishers. This is the second one I've worked on and I'm really pleased with the way the cover turned out. Since I'm learning all of this from scratch, it's been a particularly interesting experience. This go 'round I played around more with the photo editing software and I'm more pleased with the manipulation for the cover.

One thing I'm also happy with about the two issues is consistency. Both are built out of two photos (one for the background, one for the focal) which came from various spots on-campus (the backgrounds from iron sculptures, the focal images from art on the campus buildings).

By way of comparison, here's what the last one looked like:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

My brother almost forgot to give this to me for Christmas ("Oh yeah, it's Christmas today"). I saw the movie sometime in October and was impressed, so I figured having the book wouldn't be a bad idea.

I got the book for Christmas, and it sat, shrink-wrapped, on my bookshelf until Saturday. I was doing some cleaning and picked it up, figuring I'd read the first few pages. Then I realized how short the chapters were and figured maybe I'd go for a few chapters. Nearly two hundred pages later, I finally set it down. I picked it up again on Sunday and finished it off.

Some points:
1. If I go long enough without reading anything just for fun, when I finally do pick up a novel I tend to tear through it.
2. Short chatpers can really be effective.
3. Having a flawed main character is one thing, calling your main character a "monster" outright is another.
4. Pulling off a "monster" as a main character is tricky, but it can be done - and excellently well, to boot.

The movie differs from the book only slightly and the tone of one is well-matched to the tone of the other. This case is an example of movie makers doing it right, and the film's use of color fills in well for the book's description of scent, essentially conveying the same feeling even though they do it different ways. Very cool. I'm not often impressed by movie adaptations of books, but I'd say this is one of my favorites: both in its own right, and by way of holding true to the novel being portrayed

Sunday, March 16, 2008

That Packs Idea...

Dan Lazar made a comment about good writers running in packs. Then there's that song that goes "It's a small world after all..."

The more I learn about the writers I like, the more I find out they're connected to other writers I like. It's remarkable. I fall in love with Terry Pratchett books, then find out about Neil Gaiman. I listen to GBS and TOFOG albums over and over again, then hear about Russell Crowe's latest project, which was produced by none other than Alan Doyle. It's a beautiful, twisty knot.

Lately, I've been watching episode after episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit (a liberal dose of profanity and attention-grabbing gimmicks, but more often than not I do a lot of nodding when I watch). The other day Neil makes a comment on his blog about his friend Penn Jillette. Go figure.

P.S. If you haven't watched the show yet, I highly recommend it.

Writing, Mirror-Fashion

Over the course of my first semester teaching, I've tried a number of different activities, exercises, and assignments with varying degrees of success. Some things just don't work, for reasons I don't realize until I try them out and see them flop. Others, though, they click.

Today I read through my students' writing reflections for their last formal essay. Whatever else I do next semester, I'm absolutely doing this. The jist: after turning in their essays, the students turn around and write a 1-2 page reflection paper on it. I ask them to talk about their process of writing the paper, and especially what they think they did well, and/or what was difficult. They write these before they get their graded essays returned to them, so their comments on what worked and what didn't are based wholely in their own perceptions. It makes for fascinating reading.

I think the first time I asked the students to do this, they didn't really know what I was asking for. This second time, they've gotten braver about admitting their struggles/challenges and many of the reflections were more honest and less about "I think I did well." This time I had a handful of students make comments about what could have been stronger about their essay which were almost the exact same things I commented on.

One of the things that's been in my mind while thinking about writing, learning to write, and attempting to teach it is that most writers/students are smarter than they think they are. When we take shortcuts in our writing, we tend to know it. When we are particularly proud of something we've written, it's more likely than not because it's one of the strongest things we've written. This is especially true when we take the time to think about the parts of our writing and why something works or doesn't.

So, I ask my students to take that time and I've been very happy with the results. My comments on these reflections are minimal. Mostly I just underline the parts where a student says, "This time I did X differently, and it worked better" and "If I had spent more time doing X, this paper would have been better." They don't need me to say anything, they're already figuring it out on their own. It's beautiful.

In light of this, I offer a question and a challenge to you:

Question: When's the last time you wrote about something you've written and talked specifically about the strong and weak elements of it? How'd that go?

Challenge: Take out something that you've written (something you're particulary pleased with, something you're not pleased with, or your most recent project). Read through it again. Now take out a piece of paper or open a new Word document and write about that project. Write out what you like or don't like about it and why. Can you think of any strategies for changing what you don't like? Can you think of any ways to translate your success with this particular piece into the way you write in the future?

Friday, March 14, 2008

We're Covered

Andy, Jo, and I trekked over to the art/music building yesterday to have another consultation for the H. Eye cover. The abstract cover got redone in two color schemes and it took us about three minutes to decide on one of those versions as our pick. Viola! We have a cover for next year (this year's was already decided last year).

Within maybe a week or so we'll have our new and improved website available for the public eye. I'm excited. It's all feeling so official and professional right now.

Also in H. Eye news: We've been talking about starting a workshopping group through the magazine and our tentative launch date is going to be next month. I'm hoping we can get this workable and pull in enough interest to build a good group.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Theme As Blunt Instrument: Across the Universe, a.k.a. The Beatles Were Super Cool

The other night I watched Across the Universe and though I watched it in its entirety, I almost didn't.

Sound tracks can be used to great effect in movies, and they can also start intruding. This movie was made out of Beatles songs, and very explicitly so. After all, three of the characters are named after the songs - all of which are in the movie. Okay, so it's a musical, right? Having loads of songs is what musicals are all about. Yeah, I'll give you that. But, when I was watching the movie and realized that the writers tacked together a collection of songs then said, "Now, what plot can we come up with to match it?" I gave up on caring about the plot and the characters.

I get the impetus to make the movie. The songs are, by and large, great ones. When you stitch them together, you do see a story. However, where it went wrong was emphasizing quantity over quality. If you could cut out a third of the songs from the movie, write more dialogue and tweak some character and plot points, I think it would work beautifully. As-is, forcing so many songs creates story-telling schizophrenia. It's more "how can we get this song in?" than "how do we best tell this story?"

Some of the songs were used well - the Let it Be montage sticks in my mind as particularly effective - but many songs/scenes were superfluous. As much as I love Eddie Izzard, his bit was pretty irrelevant. But hey, they got a psychedelic bit out of it, right?

Anyhow, this brings me around to the question of motifs, themes, running gags, etc. Done well, they add another level to a story. The recurring conflict of reality vs. "truth" in The Things They Carried is what makes the book work. The constant showcase of Beatles songs in the film ultimately made me loose interest.

More specifically, this brings me around to thinking about my thesis. My "unifying theme" refuses to stick to one thing consistently (as evidenced in this very blog) and is stubbornly remaining fluid. I keep getting nearer to nailing down what I'm going for, but I haven't quite got the "click" yet. Right now one part that seems more clicky than anything else so far is this question of animate vs. inanimate and changing one into the other. It works as part of my unifying theme, but doesn't feel like it's enough to be the theme in its entirety.

So, how do I figure my theme? How subtle should it be to keep from being overpowering? How overt should it be to keep from being lost? So far, my thoughts on the subject have leaned toward having a pretty explicit unifying factor in the thesis. I want to make sure it's clear, right? However, after watching the movie and thinking about it a bit more, I'm realizing that my first impulse leans toward overdoing it.

Now, some questions for you guys:
When you talk about the effective use of a theme/motif, what examples do you tend to use? Do you have a good example about overdoing it? What's the best way to find that happy medium in utilizing an over arcing theme? Are there particular types of themes that tend to work best?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Say Hi to Shawn

My friend Shawn finally send me a link to her website/blog. Go take a look at it.

Shawn is in the same boat as me thesis-wise since she's also working on a creative thesis. She's doing poetry and I'm looking forward to seeing it once she's finished.

When she first told me about her blog, she said she was planning to use it as a way of holding herself accountable to her writing, so I want to urge everybody to stop by her blog and give her a friendly nudge. I know how much you all like to encourage (*cough* nag *cough*) each other. So go say howdy.

When Acronyms Attack: SCWP ISBNs For the SI & WM Anthologies

I don't typically put SCWP stuff up on this blog, but today I just can't help myself.

I'm working through my second and third anthologies for the writing project (one from the summer institute, one from the writing marathon). During the first one, the question of ISBNs came up and we opted to skip it. However, we also decided they would be good for subsequent anthologies.

A couple of days ago I filled out the electronic form. Then they e-mailed us a batch of numbers that are all our own. Neat, huh? We're all official now.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Everybody Knows... Poems

As I've been playing around with poetry lately, I've been thinking back to the exercises David used to assign us in class. There was the animal poem, the famous place name poem, the dream poem... and there was the "Everybody Knows" poem. That last one is what seems to be working best for me right now.

Here's how it works:
The first thing you write is "Everybody knows" and then you put something, anything, after it. This works best if you follow with something that everybody doesn't know. You find some obscure fact, or such and plug it in. Then you keep writing. Once you're done, you delete the "Everybody knows" and you're left with everything that came after it.

Then what's the point of writing it in the first place? It's a mindset thing. When you start a poem with those words, you give yourself the freedom to say anything after without explanation, because everybody knows that what you're saying is true. You don't have to lay it out, you don't have to explain, you just say it, and you can get away with saying anything, thus freeing yourself up for some leaps.

It's a neat trick and if you haven't tried it yet, I highly recommend it.

FYI: Next WM

Hey gang, the next writing marathon is tentatively scheduled for April 5, 1-5 p.m.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Next Year's H. Eye Cover

Today Andy, Jo, and I went on an expedition to the Arts and Music building to look at possible Hungry Eye cover designs. Since the H. Eye is a university mag., the idea is to do as much in-house as possible. Ergo, the cover gets designed by university art students. Pretty neat, eh?

After our H. Eye meeting (we've got a tentative order laid out and we're beginning to contact authors - hoorah for progress) we hiked across campus and looked at maybe two dozen or more samples that one of the art classes had prepared for us. A lot of good stuff. We narrowed our choices down to two. Jo and Andy are more partial to one, I'm more partial to the other (we'll see how it works out, but I think I have a pretty good argument for choosing the one I like). Then we briefly spoke to the artists of each about some design modifications - i.e. could we see the title in another font? type of stuff.

It was pretty cool, I must say. My favorite cover has an abstract design on the front and it's currently in red, gray, and black. The artist is going to modify the colors to go with a more earthy palette, and we'll have another look. If it were just me, I'd take it right now as is, but it's not just my call, so we'll see.

On a side note: the artist who created my favorite cover is also a football player. How do you like that juxtaposition?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Scottish Lit. Blog

Since I've mentioned the blog, I thought you all might want to take a look. You can find all things Eng. 630 here.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Last week was rough. Between all of my various commitments, almost all of my free time got gobbled up and I just couldn't manage writing time. I was really aware of this, too, in a way I'm not really aware of missing a project goal. The Tree Story never got revised, but I didn't really think about missing that goal. Missing my Thursday pages has been much more prominent in my mind.

Right now it's working better for me to commit to writing time rather than committing to finishing specific projects. If I figure on writing for an hour, then I'm automatically making progress and I have that designated time. Whereas if I figure on finishing a project, I'm more likely not to hit that goal because of procrastination. If I can do it tomorrow, then I'm not working on it today. However, if I'm working on it today, I might just finish it today.

As a bonus, since I'm "just" committing to the time, I have less pressure on myself because I don't have to make any particular amount of progress - even though having a time commitment usually means I end up with more pages than I would otherwise. It's really just a matter of coming at it from the other side.

When you make writing commitments, is it usually more effective for you to make those commitments in terms of time spent writing, page counts, or finishing a specific story/poem/chapter/etc.?