A Year in the Life, Week 28: Each Side a Balance

November 9, 2013

Today’s A Year in the Life prompt asked me to take a common object and write about it alternating the lines, “I love you for …” “I don’t love you for …” I looked up, and there sat my water bottle, and a journal entry was born.

P1010477My dear Water bottle,

I love you because you keep my throat and mouth moist, so I can speak and kiss with confidence.

I don’t love you because it’s awkward to carry you with me everywhere.

I love you because you give me something to do for a few moments, when I need to think or take a break.

I don’t love you because you slow me down.

I love you because you make me feel clean throughout my whole body, from the inside of my mouth to my belly to the pee that cleanses me every hour.

I don’t love you because you make me run upstairs to use the bathroom far too often.

I love you because you have a label with my name on it, and little bumpy grippers on your cap.

I don’t love you because your mouth always retains the scent of what I last ate.

I love you because you hold enough to last four hours.

I don’t love you because my husband can deplete you in just two gulps.

I love you because you will go anywhere with me.

I don’t love you because I’m always afraid I’ll leave you behind … like the many that came and went before you.

Apparently I find water bottles very inspiring, because I used a writing prompt to talk about my water bottle here, too.


NaNo’Ers, I’m With You in Spirit

October 28, 2013

Although I usually take one year to “recover” between attempts at NaNoWriMo, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at November the same way again.

This year, I’m on “recovery,” still working on the novel I pounded out last November (I’ve discovered that novels written in a month take two years to revise). But as November draws nearer, NaNoWriMo is still very much on my mind. On Wednesday night (October 30), I’ll be leading an online chat about NaNoWriMo at New Moon Girls, which is free for members. I’m also leading, “So, You Want to Write a Novel?”, a webinar for girls ages 8-14, in which I’ll share some of my tips for writing and finishing novels.  Girls need not be members of New Moon to attend. The webinar is offered twice — once on November 5 and once on November 7. If there’s a girl in your life who is tackling NaNoWriMo or novel-writing in general, send her my way!

As for me, I’ll be finishing up my Dark Crystal submission in November, while a friend is working on producing one short story a week. May this November find you keeping the winter writing spirit in your own way!

A Year in the Life, Week 24: This is a Story About …

October 4, 2013

Although I’ve been keeping up with my Year in the Life journaling, the last two exercises, which I wrote while on my trip to Puerto Rico, were not especially inspiring. Now that I’m home, today’s exercise helped me crystallize the experience in Puerto Rico. I find I often can’t or don’t write about trips while I’m on them. I know people who hardly ever write except to keep “trip journals,” who need something to shake them up a little to inspire them to write. While I’m traveling, I’m too immersed and overwhelmed by the experience itself to write about it — but that doesn’t bother me anymore, because now I know that the memories and meanings will continue to surface for the rest of my life in “ordinary time,” and that there will be many more opportunities to write about it, from a place that understands more.

This week’s prompt was to begin (and to repeat) your writing with the words, “This is a story about …” So, without further ado, my story about Puerto Rico.

This is a story about an airplane shaking over an ocean, and not knowing what I would find when it landed. It’s about the white-haired cabby who picked us up but conversed very little, and the way seeing Walgreen’s comforted me. It’s about my misgivings when I saw balconies and windows enclosed with iron bars, and how soon I was so used to it that it meant very little.

This is a story about driving around Ponce for hours looking for non-existent laundromats, and finally finding one manned by a teenager in Arecibo. It’s about saving chicken from Burger King to give to a frightened stray dog, and leaving our hotel room ate night hoping to find the resident cat. It’s about Church doors wide open, and how you were hesitant to go inside. This is a story about a world that smelled strange — fish and seaweed and garbage and sand and sun. It’s about huge metallic structures I never did understand, and some that I kind of did. It’s about being with you 24/7, and how hard being apart again was when we returned. It’s about fights while washing laundry in the sink, and the anger that propelled me all the way up to the Arecibo Observatory.

Arecibo Observatory, the largest radio telescope in the world.

This is a story about the beauty and terror of unexpected, narrow mountain roads, and the queasy mix of sadness and relief when it was over. It’s about people who buried their chiefs two thousand years ago, and the hurricane that revealed them. It’s about getting lost on public transportation, eating too much Mofongo, watching too much reality TV and Juno three times in one day. It’s about not remembering my Spanish until the very end.

It’s about the way I held your hand during the explosions in Iron Man, and how we cried watching a movie with English subtitles. It’s about how we couldn’t spend all our arcade tokens in time, and how I came home with a folder full of tickets and itineraries I can’t bring myself to throw away.

A Year in the Life, Week 19: Before and After

September 7, 2013

Yesterday’s A Year in the Life exercise was to write about a “before and after” experience. I wrote about getting married, which is the most recent dividing line in my life.

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The Only Cure for Writer’s Block? Writing.

August 26, 2013

When I teach writing, I always tell people that the only cure for writer’s block is writing.

Now it’s time for me to buck up and follow my own advice.

I’ve read all the Dark Crystal books I can get my hands on, cover-to-cover, poring over the pictures and taking notes. I have enough bare bones to begin writing my contest entry. There’s no more excuse now for putting it off. Except that I’m intimidated.

The world of the Dark Crystal is lush and complex and ancient and, above all, visually stunning. A world meant for the eyes to devour. And capturing that same sense of awe and beauty in writing will be difficult, so difficult that the task of transforming a blank computer screen into something similar seems almost impossible.

But starting a new project always feels impossible. And by not writing, I’m not using the part of my brain that knows how to make those connections, that can break through writer’s block. There are things that can happen in your mind when you write that just won’t happen when you’re just thinking. That’s why writing through writer’s block works. It gets your mind engaged in the right way again, and even if you have to write pages of crap, usually in the midst of it there’s an “aha!” moment that you never would have uncovered if you just tried to solve the issue while washing dishes or walking the dog, staying in your mind, not using the tools that you will need to break through this wall. You can’t nail a board back onto the deck by just thinking about a hammer, and you can’t break through writer’s block by just thinking about it, either.

Mondays are my blogging days, which give me a reprieve. And tomorrow I blog for Young Adult Catholics. But on Wednesday morning, my task is clear: I will be writing my outline for the Dark Crystal’s Authorquest. Here’s hoping that will help my story “crystalize” enough to write those crucial 10,000 words.

A Year in the Life, Week 14: A Walk in City, Town, or Village

August 12, 2013

I didn’t get a chance to post my Week 14 Year in the Life writing from August 2, because extra shifts at the library where I work have been eating away my precious writing Fridays. The prompt was to describe a walk in a place you went often (or something like that). I wrote about the bike trail where I prefer to bike with Syrus, although I only get to use this particular section when we have time for a “leisurely” outing, as it takes about an hour as opposed to the usual 45 minutes.

It started out prosy and then decided it wanted more poem-like line breaks.

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A Year in the Life, Week 13: Quarterly Review

August 1, 2013

Last week’s A Year in the Life exercise was to give myself a quarterly review about my successes and shortcomings as a journal keeper, in direct response to my conditions of hiring at the beginning of this project. My supervisor and I 😉 pretty much see eye-to-eye on things, so I’m looking forward to improvement in the next quarter (OK, and I’m a little nervous about keeping a commitment to improving as well.)

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