I have been control-freaking my life lately in order to meet all my goals. I have been scheduling myself from when I wake up, until when I go to bed. I have been very disciplined, but sometimes things happen that you can’t plan for. Case in point: I was on my way to work– arms full of books and papers, trying to balance my umbrella– when I saw that someone had busted the windows out of my raggedy car and snatched my pathetic little radio. I just took my unhappy self back into the apartment and called the police and the Gecko.
On a cold miserable day like this, I need me some Kendra.
Kendra Clayton is the protagonist of the mystery series by Angela Henry. I love reading the adventures of a GED teacher who finds herself at the center of all the action in her Ohio hometown.
When I find myself stressing out and want to escape, this is exactly the type of book I like to curl up with. Angela’s books are sort of like the Sue Grafton alphabet series, but with a sister-girl touch. The other characters are delightful, too and there is just enough romance to keep it interesting.
Angela sent me the latest in the series, “Schooled in Lies.” I noticed that the cover was different than the others. From her blog I learned that her publisher had opted not to renew the series. Angela Henry is a determined and resilient as her characters. She published the latest book herself.
I have to go to work in a little while, but while I wait for the cops to show up, I am taking a little Kendra-break.
Newsflash: I spend a LOT of this blog. Now am on this kick where I am scheduling out my day, I’m seeing exactly how much time I spend doing what. I gave myself thirty minutes get these links up. HA! It’s been thirty-three and I haven’t even started typing them in. But that’s okay. I love keeping this blog. I just have to juggle my schedule around a bit. So, with no further ado, here are today’s links, though a little abbreviated because I didn’t get to check out all my my source sites.
When MFA grads do it, they don’t call it self-publishing, they call it indie-lit. (This really annoys me because people on the margins have been publishing their own work for years and they get sneered at.)
The photo on the above is from Relentless Aaron’s flickr page. That brother is the hardest working person in “indie-lit.” Click on the picture and see all the tags he put on it.
I know I have been sort of MIA from the the blog for the last week or so. My life has been so hectic that I have actually been getting up at 5:30 in the morning and writing out a schedule for how I must spend each minute of each day until bedtime. I give myself exactly 17 minutes for my morning coffee and journal writing.) It’s the only way that I will be able to meet all my obligations which include, but are not limited to: finishing the edits on The Silver Girl, reading the applications for the people who are applying to Rutgers-Newark MFA, reading a book I am reviewing for WaPo, teaching my classes and grading their papers. So I am sort of frazzled.
But here is the little surprise that life had tucked away in the bottom of the bag. Teaching is actually helping me push through the manuscript. I know this is counter-intuitive and goes against everything you ever overheard at the bar at AWP, but it’s true.
I won’t mention their names, because I would probably get sued or something, but my students’ work actually helps me see what’s wrong with my own writing. One former student sent me a draft of a novel she’s working on. I read it over and I was really moved by the way that she described the emotional landscape of an older character. That really cracked the whip on me to think of the way the body informs the action of the story. Then, I was reading a story for workshop and the student wrote about snow in such a way that made me ponder the weather in my own story. The way we talk about weather is regional and specific. I went back and improved several chapters. Yet another student brought in a delightful story about doomed love and she made me remember to keep it funny, even when the events are most-unfunny. The best antidote for melodrama is a pinch of humor.
So, thank you dear students, for all your inspiration. And thanks, blog family, for your patience. I’ll post again tomorrow. I’ll put it on my schedule.
I am crazy busy today, so no time to blog properly. I just wanted to bring your attention to the NYT obituary for Lucille Clifton. I know that I have dogged them out on many occasions for the shabby way they handled the deaths of people whom I consider major. So, it’s only right that I steer you to the lovely remembrance posted for Ms. Lucille. There are two poems included and a gorgeous photo.
The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts has published the schedule for this summer. I am offering a new course called HE SAID, SHE SAID: BUILDING CHARACTERS THROUGH DIALOGUE, SETTING, AND CONFLICT, CONFLICT, CONFLICT.
I got the idea from this course from noticing that many of the writers I mentor have trouble making their stories really sizzle. Sometimes I diagnose it as being too in love with your characters to let them really hit the wall. Other times, it’s nice people’s disease– people who avoid conflict in life have a hard time getting it down on the page.
In this class, we are going to take existing drafts and turn the heat up. I am sure you have a story that is good enough, it’s fine, but it’s sort of forgettable. Bring your story to class.
Southern ladies, this analogy will certainly resonate with you. When I was a teenager, someone told me to put on every piece of jewelry I wanted to wear with a certain outfit. Then, before leaving the house, take off one, and you’ll be perfect. This is my approach to conflict in story-writing. Don’t hold back in the creation, then tone it down right when you’re done. Writing is not for the faint of heart, or of pen.
Dates are August 15-20. Scholarships are available. Details here.
When I posted the video of Lucille Clifton reading, I had no idea that she had been ill. I am so sorry to tell you that she passed away last night. She was only 73. I was so devastated to hear the news that I left the restaurant where I was having dinner.
Last night, on twitter, there was more love that you thought you could pack into 140 characters. Everybody read her poetry and posted favorite lines.
Today, I ask that you honor Lucille Clifton by doing your own writing. Let her know that she can take her rest, and that we will keep it going.
This is one of my favorties. An elegy for her sister here rests
my sister Josephine
born in ’29
and dead these 15 years
who carried a book on every stroll.
when daddy was dying
she left the streets
and moved him back home
to tend him.
her pimp came too
her Diamond Dick
and they would take turns
a bible aloud through the house.
when you poem this
and you will, she would say
remember the Book of Job.
happy birthday and hope
to you Jospehine
one of the easts
may heaven be filled
with literate men
may they bed you
Please forgive me for being so slow with the blogging lately. I have been working on my manuscript, The Silver Girl. Revision makes me sort of obsessed. My friend, Howard, told me a story about one of the French impressionist painters– he couldn’t remember which one– who would be frisked when he entered the Louvre. Why? This famous painter (whoever he was) kept trying to sneak brushes etc. into the museum under his coat. And why? Because he wanted to touch up his masterpieces.
So, whether this story is true or not, it resonated with me this week. Revision is necessary, but it can make you crazy.