Monday, July 21, 2014

Look, Ma, I'm doin stuff!

Ah, summer is HERE. Or, has been here for a while now. Things are BUSY and HUMID and there's just not enough time in a day to read and write and go fishing and running and flying kites and eating pizza and drinking fun summertime alcoholic fancy-pants drinks and traveling and applying bug spray and also working.
Moi kite flying at Assateague National Seashore last weekend

I'd like to share a few things I've been up to in the writer-ly realm because they are out of my comfort zone and this gives me a chance to say LOOK MA, I'M DOING IT! I'M REALLY DOING IT! And by IT I mean participating in the write-ly community, but not really doing anything productive, like, starting a novel. So.

About a month ago, I attended a three hour workshop on a Saturday morning called How To Write a Lot put on by The Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD and orchestrated by the lovely local DC writer Willona Sloan. In the class we talked about our schedules, how to find time to write, and how to write no matter where you are.  We did a few writing exercises to prove that yes, you actually CAN get a decent amount of words to paper in 20 minutes. Attendees were loosely held to a pact that we would write for one hour six days a week for four weeks.

And of course here's the thing. The following weekend was July 4 and I drove to Connecticut to visit family and eat ice cream cake. Then the next weekend was something else. And I had a Humane Society thing after that. And, so.
Pops' ice cream birthday cake. So good.

Another thing I've done, and actually continue to do, is join a local writer's group. It meets every other Monday at 730 pm at the local coffee shop. Sometimes we critique people's stories and novel chapters, sometimes we do writing exercises, sometimes a combo of both. I haven't submitted anything yet for a critique, but I plan to within the next month.

There is a danger here of the old self-help book routine: a sad sack spends all her time buying self-help books and yet doesn't actually do any of the self-helping. Someone with a writer-ly lean could easily spend time taking classes and attending writing groups but then never actually PRODUCE anything. The horror. I see this fine line and I'm trying not to walk it.

As the summer continues to unfold, I have aspirations. Let's get a short story off. Let's submit more things to McSweeney's. (Those bastards have to accept something of mine at some point--I think there's a law of physics that says a magazine/agent/website/publisher must, at some point, accept a pitch when the number of pitches approaches infinity. Something about maintaining balance in the universe.)  
56th Law of Thermodynamics: if a publisher doesn't accept your millionth query, a giant space cat gives a raspberry to the universe.

I'll end with a quote from Charles Bukowski: "Don't ever write a novel unless it hurts like a hot turd coming out." That's my favorite writing quote of all time. So I guess we could say: let's make like a hot turd and write. Or maybe don't say that in polite company. Or maybe do, and then you'll have something to write about. Whatever. Let's just write.

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