One of the first epiphanies that I experienced from The Artist’s Way occurred at the first meeting of my local group. I wrote about it in a blog post for the Brevity blog. I’m so excited to see it up there today, in such great company. If you want to read a variety of voices on the craft of writing, be sure to follow their blog.
I really want to thank the bloggers who have had me over to visit or talked about Kin Types: Carla at Writing Customs, Marie at 1WriteWay, Merril at Yesterday and Today, Robert at O at the Edges, and Adrienne at Middlemay Books. You guys (y’all, youse) really know the meaning of collaboration in this whole writing and chatting thing we do. I treasure all of you.
If you missed any of those posts, just click the links above.
And, above all, take a peek at my cute granddog, Theo. Isn’t he adorable?
And you thought I only do cats? In fact, Theo is the spitting image of my last dog, Sandy, although Theo has large brown spots on his skin that are visible through his thin blond fur. And Theo’s legs are longer so that he can jump on the counter-heighth table (taller than a regular kitchen table). Which he does. All the time.
But he’ll learn. He had a hard life on the streets of Indio before son and ND rescued him.
Now his life is hard, but only in that he has to live with two great cats who are not as naughty as Theo.
If you are wondering about Prince Perry Winkle, he is now officially the most affectionate cat ever.
I haven’t been writing, but I have been starting to organize for book promoting and spending time with Perry because I had to go to California this past week for work. I hope to get things under control this week and then get back to writing again. I keep trying, folks.
How about you? What are you trying to get under control?
To celebrate this charming and personal review of Doll God by Robin at her blog, I am offering for one last time a donation event to receive a free copy.
For one lil ole donation of a minimum of $10 to Home Fur Good no-kill animal shelter in Phoenix, you will receive a signed copy of my book and a cat or elephant charm with free shipping (and tax write-off from the shelter).
My book is valued at $14 and the charm at $5, plus I am picking up the shipping myself. All I am asking is that you donate a minimum of $10 (for shipping to US address!!! (For international, please email me to discuss shipping costs). Feel free to donate more if you can, but only one package deal per person, please.
CLICK HERE TO DONATE: Home Fur Good donations
Go here for full details including how to email me the information.
Marie from 1WriteWay and I are finishing up our Flash Essay course. We’ll be posting about it before too long. I’ve had a very full work and personal (not fun stuff) schedule this summer, so adding that course was a bit much, but it did get me writing again. That’s always a good thing, even if just for my mental outlook.
I’m enjoying having Nakana part of the household but because of travel and a non-recorded leukemia test on Nakana I’ve had to wait to introduce her to the other cats. I’m sure they wonder who that is behind the closed door! Tiger is especially curious and waits in the hall for me when I’m with Nakana.
I’m reading two books right now. One is Writing Our Way Home, a collection of writings by people who have been homeless, edited by WordPress blogger and Southern writer Ellen Morris Prewitt. I’m going slow and savoring.
The other book I’m reading is one suggested for class: The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction:
Because I am way too overtired this summer, I am falling asleep the minute I sit or lie down, so reading books where I can read in digestible chunks is wonderful. These are both well worth putting on your list.
As I move into the August hubbub and end of summer doldrums (brief pause to hurriedly look up “doldrums”–yup, that fits–“a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or depression,” but I think I also meant dog days, which are the hottest days and a period of sluggishness), I might post less regularly. I try to usually post Mondays and Thursdays, although sometimes I add in an extra or switch a Thursday for Wednesday or Friday. But I don’t plan on sticking to any particular schedule in August. Then I’ll re-start my regular schedule in September. I’ll be checking on your blogs as I get online!
If you are still thinking of picking up a copy of Doll God, it’s also a book that can be read in small chunks–a poem a day, for instance.
About summer in Arizona, Doll God has this to say:
the heat hints at its future
when all will be blue blue blue.
Blue sky over everything. Only here in Phoenix is blue not a cool color, but a FLAME HOT color!
Are you a writer? (Hint: if you’re a blogger, you’re a writer)
Do you write in more than one genre? Do you want to expand to another genre?
Hippocampus Magazine, one of my favorite creative nonfiction lit mags, is advertising their August “HippoCamp.” On the website for the conference, they say this about “genre-hopping.”
Writers often take up creative nonfiction only after having established themselves in prior genres, bringing with them unique strengths that inflect their work, whether in the process of writing it, in the finished product, or both. This presentation features three writers who discuss the close relationship between creative nonfiction, poetry and fiction, as they share observations made in the process of moving from one genre to another, and on what we can gain as nonfiction writers when we make forays into other forms.
It’s true for me that I began with poetry and even fiction before I moved to creative nonfiction. I’ve noticed a fair number of poets move to creative nonfiction–even Carolyn Forché. It definitely surprised me the first time I saw her name as an editor on a volume of CNF.
I’d like you to respond to this poll, if you’re up to it.
Thanks for participating. I’ll post the results in a few days!
Between extra work, mourning, and a new project, I am wiped out. My cats have sad faces and obviously miss Mac. Felix, my big tabby, hid under the bed during a thunderstorm–something he’s never done before. He’s frightened not to have Mac around to protect him.
Grief has an insidious way about it. There is the past and then there are the stories we create about the past and our reflection upon them.
I’m still trying to rise out of the swamp around me.
To that end, along with Marie from 1WriteWay (yay!), I’m taking a four week course from Apiary Lit in “Flash Essay on the Edge.” You’re right: the title is perfect for me right now. I’ll keep you posted. When we’re done, Marie and I will review the course.
Have a wonderful fourth of July. When I was a kid, I used to spend it on the lake with my father.
Sherri Matthews who writes A View From My Summerhouse tagged me to write about my writing process. She wrote about her own here. Sherri’s very welcoming blog shows her wonderful personality, her stories, and her photographs. I particularly love the way she crosses the pond by writing about her life in the UK and her experiences living in the US.
Sherri discovered her true calling to write three years while supporting her daughter through her diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. Since then she has had articles, poems and a short story published in magazines and two anthologies. She is writing her first book, a memoir telling the story of her three years spent with her American G.I. and the catastrophic events that changed both their lives forever. A born and bred Brit, Sherri moved to California in the mid 1980’s where she raised her three children for seventeen years. Returning to the UK after her marriage broke up in 2003, today and happily remarried, she lives, writes and takes endless photographs in the West Country of England with her hubby, daughter, two cats and an African Land Snail called Vladimir (her daughter’s). Sherri publishes regularly on her blog, ‘A View From My Summerhouse’.
You can read about Sherri’s memoir book project here.
When I agreed to be tagged by Sherri, I had forgotten that I already wrote about my writing process last spring. At first I thought, why bother to think about this again. But after reading what I wrote at that time, I realized that a lot has changed. For that reason, I thought I’d think about the process again. Also, I wrote a lot about blogging at that time, but today I’ll focus on my other writing
1. What am I working on at the moment?
Last spring I was putting together my full-length poetry manuscript and working on my book-length memoir.
Since then, my poetry collection Doll God is being published by Aldrich Press. I finally started thinking of poetry beyond the book and began to write a series of poems based on old family photographs and the results of my genealogical research. Maybe I’ll collect them into a chapbook, eventually.
However, I just heard from the publisher of Doll God. Kelsay Books plans to put the book out earlier than expected! Perhaps mid-January. I’m getting excited, but I’m also getting too nervous.
I started working on short memoir pieces to send out. A chapter of my memoir was published here. Several other pieces are in various stages of completion and two have been submitted to magazines. Since I’ll be working on my memoir during my Stanford University certificate tutorial this winter, I will have to set aside the shorter pieces.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I wasn’t given this question last time. It’s a very difficult one to answer because I haven’t looked at my own work with the analytic eye necessary for that. Instead, I write by instinct, using my own individual voice, experience, and outlook. I’ve been told often enough that I’m a little bit of a nut or that my view is “idiosyncratic,” so I’m pretty sure that means that my take is a little different. But I’ve also been told that my experience resonates with others, so maybe everybody is a little different, a little “nutty.”
My memoir is a story that is specific to me and to my family, but it has commonalities with the lives of many other people. It’s an emotional history of a family.
My poetry springs from the interaction of heart and head.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I write poetry because I love to play work with language and see a poem take shape that is more complex and rich than what I envisioned when I began.
Why memoir? Because I am writing a burdensome history out of my body. Once it is shaped on the page, I no long have to carry the burden. The more well-crafted it is, the better job I’ve done at moving away from the raw material. Additionally, I am learning (in a therapeutic sense) how to recast my history in a light that feels healing.
4. How does my writing process work?
The process I go through is the same as it was last spring:
For prose, I write in Word, one scene at a time. When I feel that I’ve taken a scene as far as I can at that moment, I put it away and move on to another scene. But I always print out drafts, revise by hand, and then make the corrections on the computer. I revise over and over and over again, often times for several little changes each time. It’s a big tree waster, but one I can’t seem to avoid at this point in my writing. However, I do turn the pages over and re-print on the other side.
Poems sometimes start out by hand, but in general, I don’t have an affinity for writing by hand and wonder how Jane Austin ever did it.
Process also includes what I do once I’ve taken a piece as far as I can. I do like to have a trusted reader read my work. My in-person writing group–Rudri at Being Rudri and Renee at Unpacked Writer–give me great feedback on where to improve and what to rethink. I have another long-time friend who is a fabulous writer and editor who is also a fabulous reader. These women help me bring my prose to completion. I wish I had friends who were this reliable as poetry readers, but I have not been as lucky in that genre.
I would like to introduce my three four (rules are meant to be broken) nominees who will post their responses to these four writing process questions on their blogs.
First up is American Ellen Morris Prewitt, an award-winning fiction writer. I love her stories. She’s recorded many of them in audio format, too, and listening to her read is quite the experience. She has a southern accent and a sort of deadpan delivery. What a delectable combination! Have a listen here.
Here’s a description of Ellen’s fascinating life right from her own distinctive southern voice:
My life has been shaped by two very early events: I was born into the racism of the civil rights South, and I carry the grief of my daddy being killed by a train. Much of my writing carefully picks at the nuances of racism, and many of my stories involve the child trying to understand the space left by a missing parent. The two jobs for which I’ve been well-paid are lawyering in Jackson, Mississippi and walking the runway in Memphis. I follow my own peculiar definition of God, which led me to start a writing group of men and women who have experienced homelessness. I love all the people in my life but mostly my husband, my dog (yes, she’s a person), and my two grandbabies. I’ve been known to appear in public in costume.
Ellen blogs at www.ellenmorrisprewitt.com under the tagline “Ellen Morris Prewitt: My Very Southern Voice. In addition to Ellen’s skillful and engaging stories, I love reading Ellen’s posts for their heart and inspiration. Her work with the homeless is so important.
Next up is my Canadian buddy Sue Fletcher aka Menomama3. Sue writes two blogs. I’ve been reading her first blog since I started blogging. She’s got a great voice and wonderful sense of humor–and I think eventually she will need to start sending out her memoir pieces. What she shares on her blog are wonderful stories and observations. This is what she says about herself:
Here’s a confession: When people read and comment on something I’ve written, I am thrilled to bits. But I also blog because it feels good to explore what’s in my head and work it out through writing. In a way it’s like taking your clothes to the dry-cleaners. Inside the closet they looked kinda dingy and lost among all the dresses and blouses and skirts and slacks. But when you show them the light of day and look at them one at a time and give them a good cleaning they look all new and fresh. Just like memories.
I call myself Menomama3 because when I started blogging four years ago I was deep in the throes of menopause, and my three daughters were like hormonal pressure cookers. Release was essential and writing was the form. Better than running away from home – me, not the girls.
Anyway, there are two Menomama3 blogs. “Wuthering Bites” is poetry, photos, and a few little stories. The other, “Life in a flash”, is an assortment of whatever comes into my head during dog-walking. Then I have to bolt home and write it down before I forget. Which I suppose is also what the blogs are about. Writing memories down before I forget.
Let’s go Down Under to meet novelist Dianne Gray.
Dianne is Australian author who lives in tropical Queensland, Australia. She has won numerous writing awards for her short stories and novels and is currently renovating an old club house she had moved to the family farm in 2012. She is currently working on three new novels which will be published in the coming months.
Dianne’s Freshly Pressed adorned blog can be found here. She blogs about her life on the family farm, as well as other aspects of daily living in rural Australia. Her resume is chockfull of book publications and writing awards.
Quite recently, I found Adrienne Morris’ blog. And I love it. It’s intelligent and quirky and always has something new to say about the past.
Adrienne Morris is a writer, living in the country, who milks goats, chases chickens and sometimes keeps the dogs off the table while writing books about the Weldon and Crenshaw families of Gilded Age Englewood, New Jersey. Her first novel, The House on Tenafly Road was selected as an Editors’ Choice Book by The Historical Novel Society. http://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/the-house-on-tenafly-road/
You can find her blog, Nothing Gilded, Nothing Gained–Books & Writing at Middlemay Farm, here.
Enjoy getting to know these bloggers if you don’t already read their wonderful blogs–and watch for their writing process posts!
She’s gone and done it! Yup, I’ve been drafted into a blog hop by Caitlin over at The Siren’s Tale. And it’s a topic dear to my heart: My Writing Process. As you know, I am always trying to figure out about my process and that of others.
I’m going to follow Caitlin’s lead and answer the same questions she did on her blog. Then I’m going to tag someone else so more writing secrets are shared ;).
A little about Caitlin, in case you haven’t made it over to her blog yet. Caitlin’s blog began as a way for her to “reconnect” with herself. She was a writer, a college student, and more, when she realized through her blogging and writing that happiness for her meant homesteading. Toward that end, she is now learning about “agriculture, beekeeping, herbalism, and organic farming.” Her blog will give you that feeling of satisfaction that comes with connecting with the land and all that is around you–of really living this life.
What am I working on as a writer?
On Writer Site I’m sharing memoir reviews on Thursdays. My focus is to find something I learned–generally about memoir writing–from reading each book. On Mondays I share stories from my life or posts about writing. I never lack for something to write about. That’s an advantage to having lived long enough that I have to find the positive in aging ;). I tend not to participate in blog hops and writing prompts and awards (any longer) because I try to keep to this schedule. I made an exception for Caitlin and her great topic.
I am also writing a memoir called Scrap: Salvaging a Family. I like to say it’s about growing up over a bomb shelter and in front of the city dump, but as much of it takes place in the here-and-now as it does in the way-back-when. It’s a bit of a discovery process about family secrets, a bit of a mystery, and all about forgiveness. Also, this past year I put together my first manuscript of poetry, both in book form and in chapbook form. I am starting to send it out to contests, but I want to widen that to sending to publishers outside of the contest arena.
Why do I write what I do?
I write my blog entries because I love the sense of community on WordPress, and I love reading the blogs of others and getting feedback on my writing and my writing analyses from fellow bloggers. Also, blogging is a regular writing exercise that keeps my writing fit and in shape.
My book is a way to understand, discover, and contextualize my experience growing up and living within my family of origin. I hope it helps readers do the same with their own lives–and that they will enjoy reading my family’s odd version of events of the 20th century. My poetry stems from my love of language and sound, the thrill of shaping it, and an appreciation for the magical aspects of life.
How does my writing process look?
For blogging, I usually put the memoir I’m writing about next to my computer and start writing into the white space on the “new post” screen. Or I start writing my story. Or copy and paste a bit of writing I want to revise for a post. Very clean and easy.
Then there is my book writing. I write in Word, one scene at a time. When I feel that I’ve taken a scene as far as I can at that moment, I put it away and move on to another scene. But I always print out drafts, revise by hand, and then make the corrections on the computer. I revise over and over and over again, often times for several little changes each time. It’s a big tree waster, but one I can’t seem to avoid at this point in my writing. However, I do turn the pages over and re-print on the other side.
Poems sometimes start out by hand, but in general, I don’t have an affinity for writing by hand and wonder how Jane Austin ever did it.
For this blog tour, I’m tagging my two in-person writing buddies. These ladies and I share manuscripts and table goodies (not necessarily in that order). Rudri at Being Rudri and Renee at Unpacked Writer both write wonderful blogs. I’m thrilled to share in the writing process of both Rudri and Renee!
What does your writing process look like?
What motivates you to write?