Thursday, June 30, 2011

Opening lines

For me, the most difficult part of any piece of writing, whether it be a novel or a short story or even my master's thesis, is usually the first line. As all writers do, I want my first line to be attention-grabbing and provocative, something that draws the reader in and propels her to the next line and the next and next. I've spent a lot of time studying what are considered to be some of the best opening lines. I particularly like this list from the American Book Review.

I tend to gravitate toward simple, declarative sentences. I love very short, very succinct opening lines, ones that are powerful and dynamic in their simplicity. These are my favorites from the American Book Review's list:

  • "A screaming comes across the sky." —Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (1973)
  • "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." —George Orwell, 1984 (1949)
  • "I am an invisible man." —Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)
  • "The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new." —Samuel Beckett, Murphy (1938)
  • "Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting." —William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (1929)
  • "Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself." —Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (1925)
  • "They shoot the white girl first." —Toni Morrison, Paradise (1998)
  • "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." —Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) [This one is a particular favorite of mine.]
  • "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it." —C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
  • "It was the day my grandmother exploded." —Iain M. Banks, The Crow Road (1992)
  • "Elmer Gantry was drunk." —Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry (1927)
  • "It was a pleasure to burn." —Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
  • "In the beginning, sometimes I left messages in the street." —David Markson, Wittgenstein's Mistress (1988)
  • "Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person." —Anne Tyler, Back When We Were Grownups (2001)
  • "When Dick Gibson was a little boy he was not Dick Gibson." —Stanley Elkin, The Dick Gibson Show (1971)
  • "Vaughan died yesterday in his last car-crash." —J. G. Ballard, Crash (1973)
  • "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink." —Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle (1948)
  • "He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." —Raphael Sabatini, Scaramouche (1921)

I haven't read all of these novels, but their opening lines draw me, making me curious about what happens and eager to read more. All of them are intriguing; all, to me, present a mystery--and a promise--to the reader. Each of them does exactly what a first line should do.

Opening lines can be difficult to write; so, of course, can opening paragraphs, opening pages, and opening scenes. What's your remedy if writing that first line proves difficult? Some writers freewrite, sometimes about anything but their novels, in the hope of inadvertently hitting upon the perfect beginning. Some lucky writers I know (I wish I were one of them) can simply skip the beginning entirely and go on to a different scene, returning to the opening when inspiration strikes. Others just have to keep working doggedly on that first line until they get it right. For better or worse, that's the category I fall into: if I don't have the first line, I can't write the story. Whatever the method of finding that first line, one important thing for all writers to remember is that even if the first line ultimately gets thrown out, it still served its purpose: it got the writing started.

Tell me about your opening lines. Do you have any that you're particularly proud of or perhaps ones that came to you easily or out of the blue? And what do you do when you begin a story and your muse refuses to cooperate?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Guest

Aheila's Drabble Day prompt this week is Guest, and the trick is to avoid the "unwanted guest" twist. Check Aheila's blog for the rules.


Guest 

"Do you think they'll be here today?"

"I think so. The weather's certainly nice enough. It's a beautiful day for a picnic."

"Yes, it is quite lovely. Is someone watching for them?"

"Ed and his crew are keeping an eye on the riverbank, and I have Cindy Lou and Earl posted at the top of the hill. Don't worry. We'll see them."

"Good. I hope they come soon. I'm starving."

 ***

"They're here! They're spreading out their blanket near the river."

"It's about time."

"I agree. Okay, fall in, everyone. It's rude to keep our guests waiting. Ants, march!"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nearly the end

This morning's 100 words:
 
You came over for dinner that night--reluctantly, although I didn't realize it then. I'd made something special, probably chicken with rice, the only meal I had ever really attempted to cook in my small apartment kitchen; like you, I subsisted mainly on fast food, chips, and visits to the college cafeteria. I remember that you walked in, late, and sat on the floor next to the coffee table. The food was already cold; I'd called you early, but you'd taken a long time to arrive. The food wasn't all that had grown cold--but I didn't know that yet.

Monday, June 27, 2011

That blotch

This morning's 100 words:

There's peach-colored paint smudged on the white ceiling of the room I'm writing in, splotches left of a long-ago paint job my husband did very late one night, just before we were leaving to go on summer vacation. He was so tired, the paint splotch tells me, but a mean-spirited voice in my head taunts, "He was lazy, too, for making a mess, for not cleaning it up." I stare at that splotch, that blotch, that blemish above me nearly every day as I write, as I search for ideas and inspiration from the ceiling and beyond.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Novel update

Tonight I only have time for a quick update on my WIP. My husband worked all weekend, leaving me with the kids, and as anyone who's a stay-at-home or single parent can attest, being with the kids all week long and then having no help on the weekend makes for two long, very tiring days. I think I'll actually have to do something unprecedented tonight: go to bed early.

Anyway, I'm still in the planning stages of my novel, but the work is going well. Right now I'm doing research and outlining the story's major events, after which I'll go back and fill in some of the individual scenes. I wasn't sure in the beginning if I was going to outline this story or not, but I'm glad I decided to take the time to do so. I feel more confident knowing where the story needs to go. However, I also know that I need to leave room for my talkative protagonist to tell me as I'm writing if he intends to take another path.

He's crafty that way!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Simply irresistible! ;)

Earlier this week, Kimberly Krey at The Write View graciously awarded me with this Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award. Thanks so much, Kimberly!


Kimberly has an awesome blog, and I encourage all of you to check it out for yourselves!

As with most awards, this one comes with some rules:

1. Copy and paste the award to your blog.
2. Thank and link to the person(s) who nominated you.
3. Share seven random facts about yourself.
4. Pass the award along!

Now, without further ado, here are seven completely random facts about me:

1. I bite my fingernails. I know I shouldn't, but I do. When I was a little kid, my older brother tried to get me to stop by putting Tabasco sauce on my nails. To his dismay, he found that the Tabasco didn't deter me in the slightest--I liked it!

2. That brings me to my second fact: I like my food spicy--super spicy. Unfortunately (at least in regard to cooking), I'm married to a man who likes his food bland--super bland. I cook for him, then use a ton of spices and hot sauce on my own food.

3. When I was a kid, I used to read beneath my bed. I must have liked the idea of being in my own reading cave. The problem was that my "cave" had exposed springs, and I had long hair. You can see where this is going, right? I remember getting my hair caught more than once and screaming bloody murder until my dad came to rescue me. The whole experience was all the more traumatic because I'm also claustrophobic, so the fact that I couldn't move and get myself out of that once blissful but suddenly frightening space had me near tears. Ah, the memories!

4. I'm claustrophobic. ;)

5. I've only had a few really good friends in my life. I have a lot of acquaintances and a lot of people I call friends, but throughout my thirty-eight years, there are only a handful I would bestow with the title of "best friend"--friends I trust with all my secrets, good and bad.

6. I've never ridden a roller coaster--and I don't intend to.

7. I love butterflies.

Finally, I'd like to pass this award along to...all of you! I'm grateful to each of you who reads my random thoughts each day. Please, if you're so inclined, feel free to snag this award. You deserve it!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mining the past

Now that I'm working on a young adult novel, I've found myself thinking about high school and trying to remember what it was like to be a teenager all those years ago. Grades were important to me then, as was band (I was definitely a bank geek!), but boys made my "Things That Matter to Me" list as well. I dated one guy, Greg, during my last two years of high school and while I was studying for my undergraduate degree, and it was a relationship that we both thought would last forever. We talked marriage and kids... I shake my head when I think of that now. We were so young and knew so little about life and love and what "forever" really meant. Still, the memories I have of the relationship are mainly good ones, and unearthing those experiences has been both fun and useful for my writing.

Greg inspired this 100-words exercise I wrote last February:

I've thought about my high school boyfriend occasionally throughout the years, and sometimes I wonder what life would have been like if we had stayed together. We dated for six years--two years of high school and four of college--and I was the one to end the relationship. I was restless, fearful of becoming so comfortable with life that I would miss out on whatever it was that could be ahead for me. I've always felt bad about the way I ended things. He's a good person, and I hear he's doing well. I'm happy for him.

Do you ever think about your high school relationships? What about that girl you thought was out of your league or that guy you'd had a crush on for years but were afraid to ask out?  There's such a rich mine of writing material to be found in our pasts! How do you use your memories to add realism to your writing?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Embracing the moments

I wake up each morning with the best of intentions. I'll work on my novel before the kids get up, I'll say to myself. And I'll clean the kitchen and sweep the downstairs rooms and call my sister, too. But these are just lies, apparently, because I undoubtedly finish only one or two tasks, sometimes ones that aren't even on my "Good Intentions" list. Today, however, my goal is to forget everything but writing. Dirty dishes and laundry be damned. This morning, I'm going to do what I love to do: I'm going to write.

I wrote this exercise early this morning, and I'm happy to say that I did write, although I had a hard time ignoring the dirty dishes waiting for me in the sink. (Lucky for me, they were still there when I finished writing...) I didn't do much work on my WIP for the rest of the day, however, as I instead ended up doing bits and pieces of other things around the house, accomplishing a lot but nothing that would really be noticeable to anyone else (i.e. my husband). But this morning's writing session was peaceful and productive, and I hope to make early-morning work on my novel more of a habit on the days when the kids sleep in and the laundry pile graciously declines to beckon to me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Steel

Aheila's Drabble Day prompt this week is Scenery. The challenge is to write a description with no dialogue or action. You can find the rules at Aheila's blog.

I've written my drabble from the perspective of a small-town guy who finds himself plunked down in the middle of a large city:

The sound of footsteps slip-slapping their way down sidewalks overflowing with rivers of humanity is barely discernible among the honks of angry horns and the drone of voices: people shouting, faces contorted, into cell phones, arms and hands raised, gesturing, punctuating the points they make. It never stops; there's no such thing as quiet in a place where steel kisses the blue-gray sky, and below ground, still more steel worms its way through the earth: trains rumbling, stopping, spitting out people like products on an assembly line, urging them to emerge from beneath and join the human stream, anonymous and somehow alone.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Paint

Today's 100 words:

When I was young, probably around six, my parents painted my bedroom walls. I remember begging them to use purple paint, as I couldn't imagine anything better than sleeping in a big purple cave. I wanted a dark, strong purple--none of those lavenders for me. I even lobbied that since the high school's colors were purple and white, painting my room purple would show school support. My parents just shook their heads, and when they opened the paint cans they'd brought from the store, I saw pink, and all my thoughts of purple dreams evaporated. I was in love.

Now that I'm older, pink just isn't one of my favorites. It's my daughter's, though, and our house is jam-packed with toys and clothes in various shades of pink. But no pink walls, though--at least not yet!

Monday, June 20, 2011

"Any way the wind blows."*

This morning's 100 words:

I woke up today with Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody playing in my mind, reminding me of the summers I spent with Greg, my high school boyfriend, driving all over in his blue Ford Escort, music blaring, eating chips and beef jerky and singing at the top of our lungs to whatever was playing on the radio. Greg had a Queen tape (yes, a tape!) that he played over and over, and sometimes one line in Bohemian Rhapsody would mysteriously cut out. We would imagine that the tape was haunted and Freddie Mercury was trying to contact us...

What about you? Are there any songs that get stuck in your head or evoke specific memories?

*Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My hero

I wrote this morning's 100 words about my dad and learned that 100 words just isn't enough to describe how much he means to me:
 
I've always been a Daddy's Girl. I remember following him around outside, talking a blue streak and copying whatever he did. Soon after my sister was born, my mom captured a photograph I'll always treasure. It shows a three-year-old me, sitting in a little red rocking chair placed in front of the green chair my father is sitting in. He's holding my baby sister and feeding her from a bottle, and I'm mimicking him, cradling my favorite baby doll and using a tiny white bottle to feed her. Even then he was my hero. Happy Father's Day, Daddy!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

To all the fathers...

Happy Father's Day! Enjoy your children; they grow up too fast...

Walk a Little Slower, Daddy
For My Daddy

"Walk a little slower, Daddy,"
said a child so small.
"I'm following in your footsteps,
and I don't want to fall.

"Sometimes your steps are very fast.
Sometimes they're hard to see.
So walk a little slower, Daddy,
for you are leading me.

"Someday when I'm all grown up,
you're what I want to be;
then I will have a little child
who'll want to follow me.

"And I would want to lead just right
and know that I was true,
so walk a little slower, Daddy,
for I must follow you."

~Author Unknown

(I've loved this poem since I discovered it while searching for Father's Day crafts the year my first child was born. I wish I knew who wrote it.)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wish

Today's 100 words:
 
The kids and I have been making crafts to give to Daddy on Father's Day. Yesterday we built Popsicle stick creations and imagined what Daddy could use them for. Today we'll be painting mugs and drawing pictures, and Sunday, we'll make cookies. I love doing these things with the kids, although I'll admit that my patience is sometimes lacking. The memories are precious, though, as are these gifts that truly come from their hearts. Daddy always buys me nice things for Mother's Day, but I can't help but wish instead for these cherished gifts made with little hands and love.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Simmering

He keeps talking to me.

He whispers in my ear as I try to sleep. He shouts above the screams of my fighting children as I attempt to write. He murmurs to me as I read, sharing bits and pieces of his life.

If I didn't love him so much, I'd find him annoying.

Who is he? It's Jed, the main character in my new WIP. If you follow my Twitter account (@raineerose), you know that I've had some angst-filled moments of late, moments when I've decried Jed's reluctance to settle on a plot, but a wise friend of mine (Monica--thank you!) has advised me to give the story some time and let it unfold as it will. That's good advice, I think, especially for a writer like me, who is incredibly impatient and wants to know everything about the story now. It's hard to sit quietly when all I want to do is begin telling the tale, but I know that the story will be stronger if I take the time to really think it through.

So I've taken my friend's advice. I'm letting the story sit, and I'm discovering that Jed's voice is clearer when my mind is open--when I'm not consciously thinking about the plot. I'm reminded of Field of Dreams and the popular but often misquoted "If you build it, he will come." I think it's the same with writing. I've laid the foundation--I have my idea, my protagonist, and a rough idea of the plot. Now I just need to wait for Jed to fill me in on the story, sharing with me the things that make his story one that needs to be told. In the meantime, I've been visiting writing forums, studying books about crafting YA novels, and reading work by current YA authors. I haven't stopped thinking about my story--not at all--but I've managed to put it on a back burner, allowing it to simmer away while I do other things. I'm waiting.

And I think my story will be better for it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Eggs

Aheila's Drabble Day prompt this week is Seek, and the twist is the "find." You can find the rules at her blog.

Steven was searching. He'd sit in outdoor caf├ęs, watching women as they strolled by, heels clicking, ponytails swinging, cell phones pressed to their ears. Sometimes he'd toss money on his table and follow one, watching as she window-shopped and then fabricating excuses to talk to her. He had plenty of excuses--and charm. 

If all went well, he'd ask her out. They'd date; eventually, she'd spend the night. In the morning, he'd ask if she'd cook breakfast; most would. And he'd wait, hoping he'd finally found the woman who could make his eggs the way he liked them.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Slow down

Although the day ended beautifully--warm weather and sunny skies--it started out quite gloomy, hence this morning's 100 words:
 
It's rainy today, dark and gray, and I don't feel like doing much of anything. I certainly don't feel like making a trip to the post office and another one to Sears, lugging the stroller out of the back of the van, strapping in the youngest, all the while getting soaked as the rain pours down. Today is a day that should be spent inside, reading books with the kids, writing, drinking hot coffee while wrapped up in a warm blanket on the couch. I welcome these gloomy days--they remind me to slow down, take time out, enjoy life.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The door: a freewriting exercise

This is a 100-word freewriting exercise that I wrote last November about someone who was once very important to me. It's a stream-of-consciousness piece in which I focused on an object--in this case, the door to my house--and allowed it to drive the direction of my thoughts. I like to use this exercise as a warm-up on the days when I'm stuck and the writing just doesn't want to flow. I've always found that it provides a good jump-start for the day's work.

I am looking at the door to this house and remembering another door, one from long ago, an apartment door, and I'm thinking of the day you walked out--the last day you walked out--and how I didn't realize then that I wouldn't see you again, that you wouldn't ever buzz my apartment and ask if you could come up, and I think about how maybe it's better this way, that I didn't know that the end was really the end, that I didn't know that day that the words we said were the last words we'd ever say.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

An amazing site

For those of you who have never visited the Absolute Write forums, I highly recommend them to you. I've been a member for years, and I spent a ton of time there this week, mainly in the Young Adult section, as I researched writing for the teen market. The people who post at Absolute Write are amazing; I don't think there's a question that can be asked that one of them can't answer. I was--and still am--overwhelmed by the plethora of information in the 104 pages that currently make up the YA section, but so many of my questions have been answered--even before I could ask them.

As far as my novel goes, Jed has continued to talk to me, and I'm looking forward to taking what I've learned from my research and beginning to tell his story.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Terra incognita

Ever since my character (tentatively named Jed) informed me about a week ago that he's sixteen rather than eighty, I've been researching young adult novels. I've never written one, so working on Jed's story will be a completely new adventure for me. I'm definitely charting unknown territory!

So far I've picked up copies of young adult novels by Sarah Dessen and Libba Bray, two writers who have been recommended to me, and I've gotten two books about writing for this age group: Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks and Wild Ink: How to Write Fiction for Young Adults by Victoria Hanley. I would certainly appreciate and welcome comments on these books or suggestions of other good YA novels or books about writing for teens.

Although I used to be an avid reader of young adult novels, I haven't read any recently, so I'm feeling a bit--okay, a lot--out of my element as I begin prepping to write this book. The things I've written in the past could probably be called contemporary fiction; some fall into the women's fiction/chick lit genre. I've always been comfortable writing in these genres. YA scares me a little since it's been so long since I fit into that age bracket, and my own kids are still much too young for me to take any inspiration from them. One thing I may do soon is hang out where the teenagers are--the mall, perhaps--and observe and listen. I'm a little nervous that my book will sound like it was written by a woman in her late thirties who's trying to sound like a teenager, which, although it's true, is definitely something I don't want to emphasize. More reading of current YA novels and observation of teens "in their habitats" should help with that--I hope!

More so than any other book I've written, this one feels like it will be a real journey for me. I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and doing something completely unfamiliar. It should be a fun ride!

Friday, June 10, 2011

My hope

Last October, I wrote this 100-word piece about something that I often think about now that I'm a parent: understanding my own parents' choices and learning to make them my own:

I grew up being fearful of new things and resistant to changes. My parents were strict; they didn't allow me to do many of the things my friends were doing, mostly out of a fear that I would get hurt. I admit I felt like an outcast many times. Now that I'm a mother, however, I understand my parents' desperate need to protect me from the unknown. My only hope is that I'm able to protect my children while at the same time giving them enough freedom to experience all the things that will help them become well-rounded adults.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Guilt

Today's 100-word fiction:

Natalie had heard people say that life should be lived with no regrets: no looks back over the shoulder at the other road one could have taken, no I-wish-I-would-haves, no do-overs. But Natalie couldn't live her life that way. She did look back, ashamed of a decision she had made years ago, regretful that she had turned against her faith and consciously traveled the wrong path. And even though that one decision led her to the beautiful family she would never regret, her actions shamed her. Her heart was always heavy.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Work!

This is my first time participating in Aheila's Drabble Day. This week's prompt was garden:
 
The sun was hot on Ed's back, and he took off his hat, wiped the sweat from his forehead. The tilling was difficult, the soil rocky, but he did what he was told. He would be stupid not to.
 
He looked to his left, where exhaustion had brought Clyde to the ground, his face resting in the warmth of the earth. Ed longed to put his head down and sleep, never mind the tilling, the planting. Never mind the death.
 
But he wouldn't be stupid.
 
He jumped as he heard the click of the gun behind him. "Work!" someone shouted, and he picked up his shovel.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My 100 words on writing

Most days I'm eager--sometimes even anxious--to put words on the page, so excited by whatever ideas came to me during the night that my fingers trip over each other on the keys and I find that I just can't type fast enough. Today, though, my typing is slow, and my enthusiasm is almost nonexistent. My writing time looms ahead of me, and though it is short (as it has been since I had children), it seems like too much time to fill, too many words to write, too many reluctant thoughts to translate to the page.

I'd like to thank the Academy...

Two of my blog readers were kind enough to present me with awards recently. I want to think Carolyn Arnold and Scott Niven for giving me this "The Irresistibly Sweet Blog" award:


And I also want to thank Scott Niven again for awarding me this "Stylish Blogger" award:




Most of these awards come with rules, and here are the ones I received from Carolyn:

1. Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
2. Share 7 random things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 deserving blog buddies.
4. Contact them to let them know.

Seven Random Things About Me:

1. I've become addicted to unsweetened chocolate--the kind used for baking, no sugar added. I thought it was bitter at first, but now I love it!

2. I won a library poster contest when I was in the second grade. The prize was any book I wanted. I chose one about dogs.

3. I read while I brush my teeth. It makes the time go faster!

4. When we were kids, my sister and I used to kill our Barbies on a regular basis.

5. I'm Norwegian, German, Scotch, Dutch, and French (mostly French).

6. I have a master's degree in English, but when I started college, I wanted to be a broadcast journalist and told everyone that Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer had better watch out!

7. I once saw actor Scott Speedman leaning against a building in New York City. He was alone, and to this day, I wish I would have talked to him.

Now for the awards! I'd like to present both of these awards to the following awesome and deserving bloggers:

1. Tersia Roach
2. L.J.
3. Caitlin
4. Deb
5. mgudlewski

Congratulations to all!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Weeding my bookshelves (and book boxes)

As much as I hate to do it, I've finally decided that I have to give away some of my books. I no longer have room for them, especially as the kids get older and their things take up more and more space in our tiny house. I'll keep my favorite ones, of course, but I plan on donating most of the others to the library or to the Salvation Army.

Have any of you ever weeded your bookshelves? I feel like I'm giving away my kids...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Little Miss Contrary

This morning's 100 words:

Sometimes as a kid I would get into moods where, whatever someone said to me, I would insist on the opposite. For example, if my mom wanted to read me a book, I would demand to play outside, even if all I really wanted was for her to read to me. Whenever I behaved like that--contrary to everyone else--my dad said I was just acting ornery to act ornery. In other words, I did it not because I felt that way but because I just chose to act that way.

I choose ornery today.


For the record, the ornery didn't last much longer than it took me to write those words. When I woke up this morning, I knew that today was going to be one of those rush, rush, rush kinds of days, and, dreading it before it even began, for a brief time I channeled my younger, immature self: Little Miss Contrary. My apologies to my husband.

Aren't the words that come from stream-of-consciousness writing wonderful--and wonderfully embarrassing--sometimes? :-)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Oh, Sleep, why do you hate me so?

This morning's 100 words, written soon after I realized that I had overslept, inadvertently sabotaging the day's writing plans:

I overslept this morning, but instead of feeling energized, I feel even more sluggish. I'm upset that my alarm didn't wake me. I had wanted to work on my WIP, a project I'm excited about, but now it's almost time to get the kids, almost time to start my Mommy day, and once I don my Mommy hat, Writer Me gets put away, shoved in a closet or under a bed somewhere, languishing among dirty socks and lost toys until naptime. But even then, dinner must be made, laundry must be done, and Writer Me gets shelved for another day.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fragile

As I watched TV last night, relaxing after a hectic day, it occurred to me that soon--too soon--that very moment would be at most a distant memory, at least, forgotten. And this moment that I'm writing this entry--and the moment you're reading it? Gone. Lost. It's just a matter of time, some things forgotten almost immediately, others clinging to our memories like Velcro before finally letting go. And I feel an almost overwhelming sadness that so much in life is so easily erased, precious moments shared with others that we so often lose, gone from us forever.
 
I wrote this 100-words entry in late December of 2010, but I think about these things often, especially as I watch my children grow up at a speed that's much too fast. I write down so much of what my kids say and do. I record them constantly. I take pictures. But already there are so many things I've forgotten--things that, as they were happening, I remember telling myself I would never forget--but they're already lost to me. Knowing this--that memory is breakable, fragile--has made me even more aware of how important it is to appreciate every moment as it occurs--to live every moment--so that even if my memory fails me, I can be confident that I was truly present in every second I had.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A new beginning

I started my new novel today. I haven't written more than a few hundred words thus far, but I'm already starting to see the shape the book will take, and I'm excited to continue working on it.

My biggest obstacle is--as usual--finding time. Life with two small children is unpredictable, and ever since my son was born four years ago, it's been difficult for me to devise and maintain a writing schedule. I do write every day, but some days are more productive than others, and I know from experience that if I tell myself that I have to complete a certain number of words each week or month, I'll only succeed in becoming stifled and won't enjoy what I'm writing. I love this project--it's important to me--so I'm going to strive to keep it fun. I'm not going to give myself a time frame; rather I'm going to write as much as I can, when I can. I like this story idea too much to make it seem like work.

As long as Jed, my main character, continues to speak, I'll continue to listen, and I'm excited to see where he takes me.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"The beautiful vagabonds..."*

A good friend of mine said this morning that she prefers not to open her windows because the sound of birdsong drives her "absolutely insane." I love listening to birds sing. The sound reminds me of home, of growing up in a rural area, of air free from smog and peacefulness unbroken by the thumping bass emanating from a teenager's car or the raucous, often drunken laughter coming from the too-close neighbor's summer party. It's funny that my friend mentioned her dislike for birdsong today, as yesterday I wrote my 100 words on how much I've always enjoyed listening to birds:
 
The birds are active this morning, chatting and chirping outside my window as I type, and they remind me of growing up in Michigan, especially the summers, and how I would often wake up early, then stay in my bed reading for hours, listening as the birds called to one another, background music to the story that unfolded in my book and in my mind. My heart is happy to hear these birds today, as I live in a large city now, where nature is so often drowned out by sirens, by airplanes, by traffic, by music blasting from cars.
 
*John Burroughs, US essayist and naturalist