Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye Dairy

In an effort to beat the migraine, I will be saying goodbye to dairy.  So today I say farewell to 2011 and my good friend cheese. 

Adios, Sir Queso.  Perhaps it just wasn't meant to will always be my guilty pleasure.

Well, so much for that.  Charlie and I are off to the movies - We Bought a Zoo.  No 3-D for us.  Though terribly disappointed that we missed Hugo.  Can you believe it is already out of the theaters?  We could take the ferry to the vineyard to see it but that just might be overkill.

Happy, safe NYE.

(New adventures?  Maybe.)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Beyond Dissatisfied - With Bright House Network - Livid

So much so that I can't write.  But I will.  Presently I am left speechless by inadequate customer service and apathy.  And that is putting it nicely.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Nothing. Between Falmouth and Woods Hole

I don't really have anything specific to write, but know that I should at least write.  So here I sit, yes I am sitting again, with nothing in the title and a blank mind.  Long shadows darken geometric patches of the back yard, wind rushed through the leafless trees, the occasional leaf tumbleweeds across the still-green grass, clothes turn in the dryer, with a rare zipper on metal door connection.  The tree that reminds me of Africa is bare.  Let me see if I have a picture so I can show you why it reminds me of Africa.

No.  But here is this - Contrast.

There is a bike path not far from the house.  It runs along the sea.  This picture is from the summer before last.  I love how nature is able to create such contrast all within one plant.  Vibrant and natural.  Thorns and beauty.  Able to withstand the weather from the sea.  One side of the path is beach.  Not an ordinary beach.  One of sea-rounded rocks, shells, sea glass.  Between Falmouth and Woods Hole.  It's magical.  And the slower you go, the more you see.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Analysis of Work - from Scattered Prose to Plot

It's always a good idea to take a step back every once in a while to see how things are going.  To take inventory.  And that's what I've been asked to do for this course.

Originally I decided to register to take yet another creative writing course because I wanted a reason to write.  Motivation.  Also in the back of my mind is always the hope in finding a mentor. 

The first assignment was to write a poem.  I scribbled out an angst filled poem on my troubles with writing a poem while still sitting in the parking lot at CCCC.  It worked, I was writing.  Those were the days when the weather was beachy.  I took my notebook to the beach and wrote.  My poem was less like a poem - more scattered prose.

Next, the short short story.  This proved to be problematic because I had highly developed characters, symbols, and whatnot, but no plot.

Then the short drama, the one act play, that came on savant-style and left me with nothing left to say.

Assignment number four was creative nonfiction - to write a feature article, which I feel is good, yet far from really being finished.

After the feature came the query letter, in which I pitched my feature to an editor, but never sent because it (the feature) is so far from perfect.  This seems to be a theme with me - a struggle with perfection when in reality I am so far from it.  I mean, I know -"Nobody's perfect."  But...

That same week I reviewed the Gotham Writers' Workshop Writing Fiction book and turned in a hard copy of that, as well as recommending it to the class with a few reasons why.

The final project was the most broad.  It was to write 3,000-5,000 words.  It could have been a collection of poems, a story, a drama, you name it.  I turned in a plot treatment.  It was an expansion on the short short story from earlier in the semester.  But still I struggled with plot.  I began writing scenes without knowing how they might fit together, only that they did, or would, somehow.  I flushed out the characters.  Developed theme, symbols, that sort of thing.  It's a great start that needs to be given the chance to grow.

Then I focused on the final journal entries.  Some, just accounts of the mishaps of my days.  Others, ideas that I was planting.  And others still, responses to the GWW book.  All writing.  All assisting me in my goal to write.  I guess most of my writing is to see what I need to be writing. 

For me the horizon is overwhelming, just give me my little plot of land and I'll figure out what to do next, but give me the world?  Oh, no.  There's only so much land one can till.  It's hard work.  Slow going.  But plot by plot, I'll figure it out.

fin. (la fin).

The End.

Yup.  It is the end of the semester.  Tonight is my last class.  My notebook is together, but I think I am going to run up to Staples so I can get some page dividers.  I have printed out my journal entries - all 50 of them.  Gathered my rough and final drafts.  Now all that's left is the one-page analysis of my work.  That comes next.  Eh, later...

So what then?  When the day is done?  The copy editing course starts January 18th, I think - is that a Thursday?  And that will be good.  Different.  Not necessarily going to get me writing though.  Keep me writing.  I like having little mini goals.

I think the next step will have to be to take my "final drafts,"  which are more like less shitty "first drafts," and keep going with them.  Specifically, Ain't Life Grand.  But that clown thing is enticing.  And could there be a story in the octogenarian writing group riddled with Alzheimers, canes, and memories?  There is a good possibility.

The next prompt in the Gotham Writers' Workshop book is to think of a character, some kind of performer - actor, singer, magician - who has hit middle age and is finding that his career is now mostly faded glory. 

Easy, right?  I mean instantly the character comes to mind.  But there is not much invention in that.  Maybe the art in it is infusing it with invention, like a few blogs back where I came up with a list.  The next directions were to see how the best idea might be worked (or reworked) into an idea that eventually might become a story.

Ideas are easy to come by.  Sticking with an idea long enough to make it sing, now that's the hard part.

So, this may be the end, but it's certainly not - The End.


Monday, December 12, 2011

JE 50 The Final (and Rad Racer)

I guess it is time to post the final Journal Entry.  This does not mean however that I will not be posting any more on this blog - I will.  Only not for credit.  Just for me.

If you are paying attention you will see that I have not posted since Thursday.  Friday and Saturday was the Nutcracker performance and yesterday was building a pinewood derby car.  Charlie made such a cute design in just a few minutes - too bad that was the easy part.  But luckily we had help.  His cub scout leader decided to have this den meeting in his woodshop.  We learned all about saws - which I accidently kept calling knives and swords - maybe cause my boy was wanting to wield them as such.  But no matter we came home with all our digits and a rough cut of the car.  Maybe I will take a few pics and post.  Charlie and Grandpa are going to do the rest.  Sanding.  Painting.  And who knows what else.  We even cut the head off a nail for the mini steering wheel.  It's gonna be one rad racer.

This Wednesday is my last writing class.  The last of my external motivation to write.  What does the future hold?  Guess we will have to wait and see.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

JE 49 Charlie the Wantabe Clown

So this idea has been forming in my mind since the chance encounter with the clowns on Saturday.  My father has forged a friendship with Rollo and my son, well, he just likes clowning around.  He brought his red foam clown nose to school on Monday.  How did I know?  It came home in his lunch.  He knows that bringing things from home is not allowed but I guess he slipped it past me.  It wasn't the first time and I am sure it won't be the last.

Just last night when I suspected some funny business, I discovered my suspicion was correct, although I thought Charlie brought a candy cane to bed.  Nope.  He brought his DSi to bed.  Imagine an extra hour and a half of video game time on a school night.  Video games are prohibited on school days in this house.  When giving him a second kiss for the night I discovered and confiscated the contraband after my suspicions grew stronger as the boy feigned sleep.  Your mama's no dummy Charlie boy.

But back to the clown business.  It's the one, of the ten-ish things, that makes me buzz.  It's an idea.  And it's been growing.  Getting pushy.  Shoving some of the other guys out.

So at this point I wonder - do I set aside the story Ain't Life Grand, the one that's hard to write because it is close to home and develop something about clowns?  That's the way the GWW book is leading me.  I guess we will see. 

Have you heard of Grub Street writers?  It's in Boston.  Think I need to check that out.

Two pictures of one of the clowns who inspired the idea.

JE 48 The Fog Has Lifted

It has been four days since I've seen the sun.  The foghorn blaring day and night.  But the fog I am most relieved to see dissipate is that which settled in my mind.  I've had a migraine since Sunday - today is Thursday.  To be without clarity for that amount of time is disturbing. 

Not only does a migraine bring physical pain, but with it a shroud of sadness, an almost hopelessness. 

So much of my life has been stolen, and I want it back.  You can have the days gone by, no point in worring about them, but I want my future. 

I need direction, I feel as though I have tried everything.  In spite of my fear of needles I became a human pincushion in the hope of finding relief.  I've been to neurologist after neurologist.  Chiropractors. And natural medicine.  The problem being I don't feel well, enough days in a row to help myself feel well.

Classic case of catch 22.  It's easy to say, "well, I will just do it" when I am feeling good, it's when I feel as though someone is cleaning my brain with a pipecleaner that the motivation is low.  I just wish I could figure this out.

So that's my bring you down speech - sorry about that - but, this is me.  Headaches and all.  Am I more than my headaches?  Of course.  Am I limited by them?  Absolutely.  Is it fair that Charlie has a Mommy with headaches?  No way.  But as my mom used to like to remind me, "Life isn't fair."  Kind of a shitty mantra.  My retort, usually in my head, was "Life sucks and then you die."  But it isn't true.  Just look outside.  It is a beautiful, crisp clear day.  The sun is so bright and the sky is so blue and the rays of that sun in the bright blue sky warm my arm as I type.  So I am not without hope, in fact I am hopeful, hopeful that one day I don't have to plan to be unpredictable - that my fate will not be determined by migraines.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

JE 47 I Hail from Bethlehem

Pennsylvania that is. 

Like the Moravian star, and Bethlehem Steel.

Hear it's nice there this time of year, the little town of Bethlehem. 

It has strings that pull at me.

JE 46 Alice

Lewis Carroll used to get migraines.  Maybe that is why he made such fanciful stuff.  He had to get away.

I just did an internet search on migraines and Lewis Carroll and came up with some interesting stuff.  Maybe I won't delete my - oh my aching head - blog and actually start blogging on it.

Sent a quick note to The Daily Headache to say - I feel your pain.

I'd like to expound but it's my head that's doing that instead.

Off to acupuncture.  Sure would like to get back to yoga soon - back is getting better bit by bit.  (I will have to tell you about doctor nightmare at another time, but what it amounts to is I am PCP-less.  Thankfully I still have Brigham and Women's, the Faulkner, and the Headache Clinic).

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

JE 45 Character Development and Meeting People

The next chapter in the Gotham Writers' Workshop is about the above title - creating a character so real that he or she casts a shadow.

I tend to be good at character development.  It's the moving along of the plot that tends to give me the trouble.  But according to this book - and others I have read - desire has a lot to do with it.  You must ask yourself, "What does he/she want?"  In other words, what is the character's motivation?

A few things I marked in the book in reference to character -
"Good writers create a sense that their characters are people ... letting the real world recede and be replaced by the fictional world you have created."

And in regards to desire, "A character should want something.  Desire is a driving force of human nature and, applied to characters, it creates a steam of momentum to drive a story forward."

And that is what I have done with my final project - the plot treatment for Ain't Life Grand?

Oftentimes I find myself sad at the end of a novel because this is where my relationship with the characters and author ends.  This is why I went to the library this afternoon to check out Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - to continue on.  Unfortunately it was checked out and I had to order it, so for tonight, I am Potterless.  Boo.

Monday, December 05, 2011

JE 44 Promising Ideas + Hard Work = Good Fiction?

The Gotham Writers' Workshop believes that this alone is not enough.  Craft.  Knowledge of the craft.  Lucky for me I love to read.  I read about writing, I read about reading, I write about reading.

Here is my blog about books, though I tend to neglect it:

It's all very interconnected, but it is my belief that this is a process.  And short of having a mentor, I am thoroughly engrossed.  Part of my personality lends itself towards the inclination to analyze.  I will watch a film numerous times.  Take notes.  Observe.  Figure it out.

In fact that is a class I would like to take, only not next, next is copy editing.

Found It

Here is a link to the post on the imaginary friends:

Charlie Bean

JE 43 Sign

The next GWW prompt.  A bit about freewriting then this... "Sam wasn't sure if it was a wonderful sign or a sign of disaster but Sam knew..."


The instructions say to be free.  To write in a white heat.  There is nothing white heat about me today.  Typing one-handed on my HP Mini as it stands like a greeting card on my bed is about as white hot as it gets.  I am not ambulatory, nor am I upright.  Between steak knife stabs to the brain, words let themselves be written.  (And some don't - this is a second attempt at this post - the first lost in cyber space). 

But Sign does bring to mind something.  It is the name of my son's third imaginary friend; the first two being Humpty Dumpty and To Market.  While the first two seemingly juvenile names derived from nursery rhymes bring forth black and white checked memories, the third does not.  Sign is a witch.

A witch called Sign, which I thought was brilliant when he introduced her a few years ago.  He couldn't have been older than four.  I am sure I referenced it on his blog - Charlie Bean - though not sure where. 

Maybe I will read on to see if there is a more moderately paced prompt in which I can participate.

JE 42 Rollo and Legs

The Shriners Clowns.

That's the one.  The thing that happened within the past week that makes me buzz.  It has story written all over it.  And Charlie - the boy who was born to be a clown.  The mason connection with my dad.  The anniverary lunch.  Clown school.  Everything. 

And that's how it works.  Things happen.  They make sense.  Everything falls into place.

If you are lucky - you are aware, you pay attention.  You listen.  Things tell you stuff.  If you are not too busy.

I guess that is kind of what a migraine does to me - knocks me on my ass, makes me weak, then opens me up to the thought of something new.

Headaches have a pattern.  Skip the first part as I don't understand the triggers as it's more like chemistry, and go to the next: denial.  It is always, "No, this isn't going to be a migraine."  (Pop an allergy pill).  But after that it's usually down hill.  Fast. 

I was hoping the steroids I took for the back would help to "reset" my body, as the neurologist had suggested. I held out hope. 

Enough about my head.

I may have something here with the clowns.  I am going to go back to my GWW book and read to the next prompt and see where it takes me.

JE 41 Back Outta Wack or Head on Straight?

The finale?  Migraine.

Shoulda known.  It's a let down migraine, and I've been known to get those too.  A double dose of migraine Rx has me in a stupor.

Strange dreams last night.  Something about the headache being a beacon.  Or maybe I have been reading too much Harry Potter - his scar brings a pain and foreshadows danger.  Either way, I had to swear to my sleepy self I wouldn't so much as dial the phone while in the car. 

Can't really think straight but I wanted to get that down.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

JE 40 Charlie and the Shriners Clowns

It has been a busy weekend.  Met Santa at the dock.  Had an anniversary lunch at the Coonamesset Inn.  Met a couple of clowns - literally.  Nutcracker practice.  Had Charlie's Birthday party.  Contemplated - for a second - attending the town's tree lighting and Christmas stroll but went with the two pass driveby.  More realistic.

And that was just Saturday.

Today was even more Christmas fun.  Brunch at a friends.  Followed by marching in the parade with troop 43.  Charlie pulled the chuck wagon.  And most excitingly - Charlie met up with his clown friend Rollo, the rollerskating Shriner clown, and got his picture taken behind the wheel of the clown car.

What a weekend!

Hmm. Clown school?

Thursday, December 01, 2011

JE 39 Ten Things From The Past Week

Hmm. They can be microscopic - but they need to be ten. 
1. the lego tree
2. the untruthful beggar and various similarities
3. Rudy with a limp
4. acupuncture
5. planning a party
6. hawk
7. the loiterer in 7-11 and the one dollar pamphlet called the enterprise
8. christmas at highfield
9. ten million text messages
10. cancelled chiropractics

Now choose the one that makes you buzz.
Hmm. Let me see.
Ding. Ding. Ding. The untruthful beggar and various similarities.

List several ways in which it might be turned into a fictional story.
Change the antagonists physical description entirely.
Do the same with certain details.
 Bring them back from the dead and relate them to someone else.
Change the setting.
Change the circumstances.
Find the universal truth.
Discover the desire.

Nah - too abstact.
Let's try again.  List ten things from the past week.
1. steven king acupuncture experience
2. the lego tree
3. random man at 7-11
4. spy jon
5. alternate writing - texting project to myself, typing above my head
6. hawk
7. wendy/windy and cliff
8. eyes roll back in your head stabbing leg pain
9. meditations
10. a marked absence of yoga

Nope nothing.  Maybe two weeks in bed has sucked the creativity right out of me.  I will try again later.

JE 38 Work of Fiction

I am to choose a work of fiction that I cherish.  I'm reading Harry Potter, so let's say that - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. 

Why do I like it you may ask - for its fancifulness.  JK Rowling created a realistic society in her head, granted they are witches and wizards and there is magic all around, but she made the place so real you could picture yourself approaching the castle in Hagrid's shadow.

She does this by neglecting nothing.  Careful planning. 

Before she had written the first book she had the series all mapped out.  How admirable that she was able to think so big. Grand.

She had a huge cast of characters, an entirely fictional setting - she created a culture, complete with sports, books, you name it.

Maybe she thought how wonderful it would be to create a world where anything could happen - well, it was, and it is.

JE 37 Gotham Writers' Workshop Writing Fiction - The Book

Focus on Journal Entries.  Seeing as this is number 37 and I need to be at 50 by Wednesday, I think I will be blogging a bit more over the next few days. 

The book I reviewed for my course was Gotham Writers' Workshop Writing Fiction, which I love because it is a practical application of instruction and example and assignment.  This format works well as a writing journal.

One of the most popular bits of advice for writing is simply to write.  That is the thought behind these journal entries and this blog as well.  Anne Lamott speaks of "shitty first drafts," which I am all for - getting it out of my head and down on paper - where it can exist, because when it is in my head, only in my head, it can get lost.  Forgotten.  How many forgotten novels do we have buried deep within our brains?

For me - this is an escape route.  A thinking outloud.  By no means is this a polished, publishable piece, but maybe it is a nugget.  Something.

This morning my son's friend, Adonis, took a tiny Lego piece out of his pocket and tossed it into our front lawn.  Charlie seemed offended and told me what had just happened as if I had not seen.  I told them, "Maybe it will grow into a Lego tree."  We spent the next few minutes waiting for the bus thinking up all the wonderful parts this tree could grow.  Little Lego people.  Cars, boats.  Handcuffs.  I said that I thought Lego handcuffs might not work too well as they could just unsnap very easily, but my son assured me that there were Lego handcuffs and that they don't come apart.  Okay.

So this - idiosyncrasies of me - is my Lego tree.  I am tossing out parts to see if anything grows.