Write With Me Study Hall, Monday, October 26, 2015

  I am always writing a story in my head. You, too? 

That’s what makes us writers appear like scatterbrained police detectives much of the time. A friend may be telling me something heartbreaking, joyful, or worrying, but I am thinking about how it might fit into the bigger picture of what I will write. I hope I respond appropriately most of the time, as long as you don’t mind me diving for my iPhone to make a note while you talk. I really do care, honest, so much that I am deeply thinking about the implications of what you’re saying. Okay, maybe I’m only thinking about how cool it would be to have a kleptomaniac kindergarten teacher likes yours as a heroine in a story about overcoming obstacles, but I WILL remember you told me a story about a kleptomaniac kindergarten teacher. Being a writer is partly an art of listening deeply while thinking about many things.  

Today, I can only write after I do a long-neglected chore that has brought me up against a deadline, so I will be cranky, of course, until I can get back to my desk. When I do, I plan on working a bit more on writing some monologues from the viewpoint of a couple of characters who are puzzling me. If I give them free rein to answer some pointed questions, I hope they’ll provide me with a deeper peek into their motivations.

What are you writing today? 

Write With Me! Study Hall, Monday, September 27, 2015

 

Moving Day!

 Hi, All! So sorry about last week’s missing study hall link. My early morning Social Security meeting became a nearly all-day affair, in which I was prohibited from linking to the Internet. This week, I also don’t have wi-if, because we are packing up our Florida house and preparing for the final move to Charlotte. But this time I’m scheduling the post courtesy of free Barnes & Noble (I know, evil empire, but I live in no-other-bookstore land) on Sunday, and then I’ll be easily able to catch up with you via my cell phone tomorrow. 

Not sure how much concentrated writing time I will get done this week, but after the packing, on Thursday I’ll be joining a workshop taught by Laura van den Berg (Finding Me, The Isle of Youth, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us) along with Connie May Fowler and Parneshia Jones for a long weekend. More about that later! So I will be writing, all week long. 

So please check in and tell us what you’re up to. You could look at this, if you choose, as get-your-butt-in -the-chair-and-keep-moving-day. Let’s get it done–baxt (Good writing mojo, Romani style!) 

STUDY HALL: Write with us, beginning each Monday at 10 a.m.!

IMG_0259We check In each Monday here to give each other support and encouragement to work in those writing projects we might otherwise put off. Everyone is invited to join us by including below a brief comment about what you’re working on today. Afterward, please let us know how it went. If you can’t make it at 10 a.m., leave your comments when you can, before you start, by the Study Hall post dated today. Better late than never, better now than not at all!

Simone the Yorkie says, “We’re here for you!

Study Hall, Monday, June 1

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You know, if you need to really concentrate on an especially difficult writing task, you can give yourself a writing retreat. A day alone in a hotel room where no one else knows the number. A day by the lake with your MacBook (and a portable charger). Even a day at Starbucks. Watch this space on Friday and I’ll tell you how I do it.

So, what are YOU working on today? I’m revising an essay that has just been accepted by Drunken Boat lit mag. Because I have to. But maybe I’ll sneak away for a little while to check in with Queen Esther and her four sisters and see what they’re up to after their marble game (See below for explanation.)

Leave us a comment to let us know how you’re plugging along today.

WRITE WITH ME! Study Hall, Monday, May 25, 2015

Unknown-1Hey there! Hope you’re set and readyimage to write this morning–or whenever you can schedule it today. You know that saying from Eleanor Roosevelt–“a woman is like a tea bag, you never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water”? Well, you could say the same thing about writers. So the laundry is piled up, the landlord is at the door, the kids are screaming, and your favorite soap is on TV. Tough titties! (I always liked that saying–it reminds me of Julianne Moore and her Viking bustiere in–oh, wait, I digress, and this posting is about NOT digressing!) So throw in a load, slide a post it under the door to the landlord, sit the kids down with popcorn and a movie, and TIVO that soap Opera–then sit down and write! You can do it!

And you can hold me to it, too. I’ll be traveling today, but you can bet I’ll be looking for Wi-Fi spots throughout the day, where I can stop, check in with you in the comments section, below, and write for a bit before the Yorkie and I get back in the road. I’m on a deadline for a lit mag submission, so I’ll be working in my short story, entitled “Clemmie’s Bouquet.”

Happy trails to you!

Love, Glenda

Write with Me! Study Hall Time!

DownloadedFile-1What are YOU working on today? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll do the same.

Above is a painting of Phyllis Wheatley. She was born in West Africa and wrote and published poetry while she was a slave to the Wheatley family. She used word-images of the Sun many times, a reference to the African religion she left behind. If she could write and keep writing even while working as a scullery maid after emancipation, what can we not do with our freedom and relative comfort? Write like your life depends on it. Because your life does–the life you want!

On Not Knowing What You’re Doing

Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the most important thing. ~ Georgia O’Keefe

I ran across the quote above this week and it fell right into my problem-solving nexus. You know, the one that’s working on three novels, two short stories, an essay, and a poetry manuscript all at the same time.

It speaks to me of the need to understand our life’s work as a never-ending task that may yet be taken up by someone else after us, but which will never be “done,” because there is almost always a way to push a process, a thought, a concept deeper, truer. In the same way that modern painters have been influenced by, even directed by, O’Keefe’s work. So why worry about success, rather than completing the piece at hand? Completing it should, if nothing else, show you why you created it, a very important thing to know in order to see the bigger picture of our work.

I like to think of my work as all related, even when the characters, or even the setting, are wholly different. For example, one of the new novels takes its title from the last one, Eve’s Garden: It’s called The Fruit of Queens, and it’s about five daughters, all named aftImpassionataer queens, in the aftermath of their mother’s death. It hooks onto the loss in Eve of Maisie’s mother, Evangeline, and asks what we really know of our mothers’ lives, and how signicant our emotional connection, or lack of it, to them might be. It explores how we build confidence and find our centers.

But the O’Keefe quote speaks to something even more important to us writers: the act of creating when you don’t know the ending. What’s important is to know what the problem is, what is driving you to create a specific piece of work. Writing to know that, the why, and to learn the rest, the how, will keep us going when the well seems dry. Make your unknowns known. When you have done that, you can see, perhaps, the next piece of the puzzle that you want and need to complete.

Last thoughts for Women’s History Month

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Betty Friedan used to say that the 1950s and early 1960s were a time when we wore girdles on our heads.

I think of that remark when I talk to writers. If I ask a group, “Who’s working on a novel manuscript?” A few will put their hands up, boldly, but I see many hesitate and even more squirm as if the manuscript were an uncomfortable telephone book beneath their bums. My goal in a workshop is always to get those hands in the air, waving with confidence.

I set Eve’s Garden in those days, when our heads were wrapped in layers of expectations that didn’t accommodate bold visions for women. In some societies, in some segments of our own society, those confining, latex-like expectations and teachings still prevail.

Eve and her mother, Maisie, and especially her grandmother, Evangeline, defy those expectations. And they pay the price, but not without gaining more than they lose. In fact, Eve has a plan to build greater possibilities for the girls under her care.

In October, I’ll be teaching a workshop for Jane’s Stories Press Foundation on what I learned about writing a novel during my time spent with these three wonderful imaginary women. Date and time and place (other than that it will be in the Chicago area) haven’t been announced yet, but if you’re floundering with your novel or just a bit stuck or maybe hesitant to take it head-on, I hope you’ll join us; watch here for details.

In the meantime, if you have a story about what confines you and what you’ve observed about bold visions, please drop me a line in the comment section.

And, by the way, what is the difference, do you think, between what’s above and Spanx, etc.? Are we a little sexier, but still “reducing” ourselves?

The World TWIRLS along–or not!

It amazes me that we can feel so abandoned by a game that generates random letters. That a logarithm rolling along produces near-depression when it is no longer available. The game TWIRL is no longer functioning on Facebook, and many users, including myself, have pleaded with the "admins" to fix it. They are not listening, apparently. Meantime, how did we get so hooked?

My, how I have been conditioned by Social Media. Truthfully, I have a hard time imagining my life without checking it at least twice a day. What do I most love? Here's my list:

1. I love that my nieces and nephews will actually drop me a line or even a few photos now and then, when they'd never think of writing me a letter or calling me, because, well, they're young, and busy inventing their lives.

2. I love that my friends and I can so easily post photos, stories, other items that we can share at large, thus spurring a potential sunami effect. I didn't know that Joanne was an art lover until I posted a "What's your favorite masterpiece" to someone else, and she responded to me with a Kandinsky–one of my "favs!" And now another friend, who has never invited me to a museum, undoubtedly because she thought we shared only a love of literature, has responded in kind. The serendipitous wonder of eavesdropping is reinforced.

3. The opportunity to get to know, at least a little, writers whose work I admire, is not to be missed. When we trade garden plants or book lists, or fill in rote formulas like "The ABCS of ME" with personal details, I learn a little about what is behind their words.  It makes me think that random and trivial, isn't.

4. Knowing the latest of what is affecting my writer world. Readings, events, upcoming publications, conference workshops, show up here first, if in a somewhat spotty fashion. Anyway to put your ear to the ground is a plus, right?

5. Okay, I love my farm in Farm Town. I created it from scratch. It has a large farmhouse surrounded by lemon trees, a small artists' cottage in a meadow of flowers, a market stand for produce sales, and all the cherry trees a girl could want. It's my world, and I spend about twenty minutes a day in it and feel refreshed. Who cares if it's a fantasy?

6.I love not knowing what will show up in my feed today, but trusting the people whom I have "friended" to steer me straight to the heart of their day.

7. I love all the new language this communication revolution fosters, words like "admins" and "favs" and "friended." Words that don't make sense elsewhere except in the loopy, bopping world of the latest fads.

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Winter Discipline

Red beans and rice, with a little diced ham and Cajun seasoning, makes a cool winter day bearable. It's that time of year when I have to force one foot in front of the other. So much easier to curl up in bed with my laptop and scribble the day away. But it's also the holiday season, and there are early presents to buy and friends-from-afar to mail to.

I dream of blazing dessert suns or a cruise on tropical waters. And I live in Florida. Snap out of it! i say to myself. You have to enjoy the slow-down time and take comfort in what you will. A cup of hot tea, the chance to make a friend smile. A story idea that engages your mind for blissful moments.
Discipline–as hard at 60 as at 16.

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