Saturday, May 31, 2008

Speaking of Soundtracks

I made a soundtrack to my Scottish Lit. paper. A rather different approach from any other papers I've written before, but certainly fun. Also, too, a keen illustration of the ways different types of media can play off each other.

I wrote a paper about songs, where I wrote about themes I saw in those songs. Then I made a CD to go along with the paper, which had songs I talked about in the paper as well as other songs that went with the themes I found in the paper when I wrote about other songs. So, the music created the paper, which then created the music. Cool, huh? It was all very meta.

This month I challenge you to use music in your writing. Specifically, a new type of music. Now is the time to expand your musical experience.

Here's how it'll work:
Let's say you always listen to classical music when you write, try listening to rock instead.
Let's say you never listen to music when you write - give it a shot.
Let's say you can't listen to music when you write (too distracting) then sit down for a bit before you write and listen to a couple of songs. Try closing your eyes, even and trying to visualize a scene along with the music.

The basic idea is that you're trying to draw some kind of inspiration from the music you listen to, and that you're listening to a different type of music in order to break out of your usual influence.

Now, there are a variety of free online radio websites which will let you experience whatever you're brave enough to explore without the commitment of buying a CD. Personally, I'm in love with Pandora, but use whichever one works for you - if nothing else a quick online search for "free online radio" will pull up plenty of options for you. Alternately, now's the time to ask friends for mixed CDs and/or to borrow something.

May Wrap-Up

This month was about research, so I did some traveling, which is really just researching new settings. I also did some reading, though not as much as I'd have liked. Somehow other things, like taking my new dog for walks, kept cropping up.

And that, my friends, is really about it research-wise, save for a few social experiments.

I've not really done any writing in the past two weeks or so, not even a little bit. I think the big rush to present my rough thesis took some wind out of my sails. I've got to get it back though, as I've got another fifty pages to come up with for next month. Yeesh, this pace is killer.

However, on the bright side, today my mailman brought me a package from Camii containing a 20-pack of colored pens. If that's not good incentive to work on a new story, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

CWC: We've Got a Name

Last night was the first official meeting of the novel group, and as the first official meeting, we weren't ready to critique yet. Yet, there we were, at the meeting, and it felt like we out to at least accomplish something more than just getting the 1st submissions.

Thus - brainstorm session. I don't know if "brainstorm" is as accurate as calling it something like "creative volleyball." One person serves an idea, it bounces around, and then you either score a point or you don't and the ball gets served again. At the end of the game, we arrived at a name everyone liked: Creek Writers Council. Now we're offical.

In other news, I just barely managed the 50 page minimum and realized two things.
1. Wow, I actually do have that much material for my thesis. Exciting.
2. Now I have nothing in reserve to bolster my submission for next time so I've got to get my butt in gear in order to once again meet the minimum. Crap.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Tattoo Story

I just finished getting that sucker all typed up. Man, I hadn't realized how long it is. When I was writing it out, I only numbered every physical page (i.e. each sheet of paper) so in my mind, I kept thinking about it as a seven-page story. Turns out it's more like a twelve-pager. Okay, so it's not epic, but it's almost twice the number of pages I had in my mind that I needed to type. Perception is everything.

It's funny, what can happen when transcribing. I use transcription as a way of doing a built-in edit. Since I'm typing it anyway, I might as well fix things as I go. The best part is when I'm typing one line and I think "this is how the next one should go" then I look over and that is, in fact, the way I'd written it - even though my thought felt original and clever.

Originally, I planned to make the tattoo story the title story for my thesis, but this second time around the title didn't really seem to work. Now I'm calling it Needle and Thread instead. Oh well, that's how it goes.

Well, back to getting my submission ready. I've got at least seven pages to go in order to meet the minimum, and I find myself distressingly unsure of how to fill them. I was sure I had more pages than I apparently do. Drat.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

More Organization

Today is my day for putting together what I've got so far of my thesis to submit it to the novel group tomorrow. Thankfully, right now this mostly means copy/pasting what I already have typed up and transcribing what I've only got handwritten. Not too much creating from scratch today, save some added material to The Strange Life of William H. June.

Today was also my day for a fun moment of panic. Here's how it went:
Transcribing, transcribing, editing, copy/pasting, writing, transcribing... Ok, now what else was I putting in the thesis? Oh yeah, the tattoo story. Gotta type that up. Let's see, it ought to be in the little binder. Ok, it's not in the little black binder, then it must be in the black "Thesis" binder. Uh... not there. *Insert panic* This is bad. Where is it?! Looking through both binders at least twice more, just to make sure. More panic. Glancing at the top of the desk where I have a blue binder sitting next to where the little black binder was. Wait, what was I keeping in that? Looking through, it's got fountain pen handwritten pages. Oh yeah, I moved stuff into this one to make room.

Thus is revealed a potential hazard with getting organized: forgetting what your system was. Whups. Now I'll have to make sure to move the tattoo into the thesis binder so as to avoid future confusion.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Monday Already

"Are you ready to submit on Monday?"

Answer: Uh, no.

A while back, Jenny read an article about a novel writers group. She said, "Cool." Then she talked to a few of us who are working on manuscript-length stuff and said, "Wanna?"

Idealist that I am, I said, "Sure." Then I volunteered to go first.

One of these days I'll learn.

I keep reminding myself how good this will be for me, how much I'll accomplish with the scary deadline there to motivate me, and how much I'll have to show for the pain, sweat, and blood. I keep thinking, "Stupid Jenny for talking me into this."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Estes Park Pages

Now I'm back. My trip was good, as was the hiking, shopping, reading, writing, and general bumming I did while I was on it.

A little confession - yeah, I called it my writing retreat, but the emphasis was really on the retreat part more than the writing. Still, I did pack my writing supplies and the little table in the cabin was just right for getting some pages done. I wrote half a dozen poems, finished one thesis story and started another story which will possibly be in the thesis.

Most importantly, I feel like my creative batteries have been recharged. Now I'm going to go to be early and sleep in tomorrow because I can. I love vacation.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Writing Retreat

Today begins my road trip up to the northern part of the state. I've got a cabin reserved and a few whole days of nothing in particular to do. Well, except write, that is. The plan is to make this something of an expanded version of my out-of-the-house pages.

Of course, as soon as certain people became aware of this, they became demanding about it: "You're going to write lots of pages for us, right?"
-Various Pirates

So, now I'm committed.

I've packed extra fancy paper and picked up a new fountain pen yesterday. I've also got a couple of half-finished stories and my thesis binder to keep me company. The final touch: a copy of Rogue's Gallery to keep me in touch with my pirate roots while I'm away.

Friday, May 2, 2008


Well, my comp. class is officially all over. I got to the classroom bright and early at eight o'clock this morning, only to find we were locked out. Thankfully, the Student Support Services office let us use their tutoring room. *Note to self, get combo for room so that next time I can still get in*

Instead of a final exam, my class did final portfolios. Basically, we're talking about a comprehensive project that sums up everything they did over the semester. That in and of itself is an interesting concept. How do you sum up four months of writing? I've just started on the portfolios and, like all the other reflections I've had the class write, they're very interesting. It's neat to see what comes out when the student takes all of their work, puts it together and then says, "This is what I got out of it, and this is where I stand now."

On a side note - one of the most hilarious things I've noticed this semester has been a typo. I've had one student who's done it the most, but it seems to have spread like a contagion. Why is "definitely" so hard to spell? It makes me chuckle to read something like, "I defiantly agree with this author."

Now I have a dozen portfolios to read and final grades to submit by Monday. And that is that. Nothing more to see here. Well, until fall semester, at least.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

With Free Pizza, Too

I got home from the Hungry Eye release party a little while ago. It went pretty well overall, and I even ended up being the emcee. We had a big turnout, the food was just right (minimal leftovers and no one went hungry), the readings went smoothly, and the books came in on time. Not too shabby. Not to shabby at all.