Writing: I haven’t written for a couple of weeks as I planned a research trip, got ready for a class, and did some family babysitting in my role as grandmother. So the story feels far away. It’s like climbing back on a wild horse to write at it again. Horse is out there in the corral bucking and snorting, and I’m sitting on the fence looking at it and thinking, I can’t ride that. Can and will. Have before, but it never gets any easier.
Teaching: Leading an Artist’s Way. Not doing it the length Ms. Cameron suggests, but Rice U. makes the rules. We’ll be at it six weeks. Everyone is so eager and interested. I’m in love with them all. Morning Pages I will do. It’s the Artist’s Date that’s hard for me. As Ms. Cameron says, “We hunger for what might be called creative living—an expanded sense of creativity in our business lives, in sharing with our children, our spouse, our friends.” Don’t you?
Me: I’m taking a watercolor class. Have told myself for years I wanted to. Finally got around to it. Have no art or drawing background or preparation, which means I don’t get near the end result I want. But I love it…….l….o….v….e……it. It’s a great stretch and good play. I don’t play enough. Do you? It also challenges me. To be bad, a beginner, at something.
Posted in Before Versailles, books, Charles II, creativity, Dark Angels, George I, historical fiction, inspiration, Karleen Koen, Louis XIV, Louise de la Valliere, Now Face to Face, romance, Through A Glass Darkly, writing process
Tagged beginning, being a beginner, fiction, Julia Cameron, process of writing, Rice University, teaching, The Artist's Way, watercolor, writing, writing fiction
I’m back listening again to The Writer’s Almanac. It’s fun and heartening for anyone writing, whether that’s in a journal or something larger. In addition to reading a poem every day, the host, Garrison Keillor, always includes anecdotes about writers, how we fumble and fail, stumble on success or don’t. If you write to be published, there is an enormous amount of work that is completely unseen, that which is dropped, changed, rewritten dozens of times. Anyway, this quote was up on the site, and it touched a nerve.
Writers end up writing stories or rather stories’ shadows, and they’re grateful if they can, but is is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough.
I think it’s speaking of the gap between the vision and the finished project…….do you know what I mean? Is it always impossible to grasp the vision? An artist I know says she has learned she can’t control creativity. What do you think?
Posted in Before Versailles, Dark Angels, Karleen Koen, Now Face to Face, Through A Glass Darkly
Tagged "Garrison Keillor", books, creativity, fiction, Karleen Koen, science, The Writers' Almanac, touching the vision, writing, writing process
I have old faithfuls, books I return to, books I read the way a baby sucks a pacifier. One of my pacifiers is almost any regency by Georgette Heyer. I have paperbacks of hers so old that the pages have to be rubber-banded in a heap. I love her plucky heroines, the sometimes truly witty banter between characters, the very sweet romances. There is a lot of subtle humor in character interactions, which amuses me even more each time I read it. I also reread John le Carre’s Little Drummer Girl about once a year. I love the heroine he’s created in this book, the way he describes and builds character, and the truly gripping plot. He is a master of plotting and character. I reread To Kill a Mockingbird pretty often; the underlying tenderness of the story takes me, though I find the African American characters a bit stereotyped, but what do I know. Maybe for 1930s Southern America, they are not stereotyped at all. It’s just that they’re shaded all one tone, and the others aren’t. I love Winston Graham’s Poldark Saga, the first six books. He’s a fine, fine historical novelist, and Ross Poldark has my heart, as does Demelza. I adore Dr. Naomi Ramen‘s Kitchen Table Wisdom. Again, the scope of heart in her collections of stories about people gravely ill and those who serve them is huge. It’s a wise book, too, nuggets about leading a deeper life scattered like bread crumbs. I love Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek, though having read it so many times, I now see plot flaws, but I just never mind them because I like the character of Dona and her story so much, and the marvelous dreamy quality of du Maurier’s prose. Anything I like ( I’m almost always reading), I now put up on my shelf in Goodreads. But the ones listed here are my tried and true go-back- tos for a needed mental rest. My husband doesn’t understand it, and I can’t explain it, except that they never fail to comfort me, I never fail to not like them, I never fail to be amused again or touched again…..and that’s special…….
It occurs to me that I learn a little more about writing each time I read these favorites; I learn on a level I’m not aware of…..
Do you reread? What? And why? Or why not?
Posted in Before Versailles, books, creativity, Dark Angels, fiction, historical fiction, inspiration, Karleen Koen, life, Now Face to Face, romance writing, story, story and theme, story and writing, Through A Glass Darkly, writing, writing process
Tagged books, books I really like, Daphne du Maurier, fiction, Harper Lee, John Le Carre, what I read, what inspires me, Winston Graham
I’ve been trying to follow the advice I give students; read poetry if you want to improve your writing style. So, every day (and it doesn’t happen every day, but it happens more often than not), I read an online poem from The Writers’ Almanac or leaf through a book of poetry Garrison Keillor put together from that show. Sometimes, I’m struck to the heart with a turn of phrase or a use of metaphor. I share this, four lines only of a longer poem that struck me this week when I read them…….
….but mostly you play to drunks,
to the night, to the way you judge
and pardon yourself, to all that goes
not unsung, but unrecorded.
It’s from The Accompanist by poet William Matthews. When I read it, those last four lines spoke to me, spoke to what I do for a living, write. So often it seems I write into this vacuum. For whom? Why? There’s a long time between starting a book and seeing it between covers. Whatever publicity I might do is very limited compared to the amount of time I’ve spent conceiving and writing a novel. There are always people who don’t like it or understand it. Why don’t you write books about contemporary times? I’m asked. Or why don’t you write shorter books? Or why don’t you write faster? Why did you do this or that? I don’t know the answer to any of those questions. I suppose when writing no longer pays, I’ll do something else. But will I? All my jobs have had writing as their component; it’s just that in some of them, others told me what to write, and I arranged facts in a nice, readable manner. Different from playing in the piano bar late at night, for you don’t know who or why……
Posted in Before Versailles, books, creativity, Dark Angels, fiction, historical fiction, Houston, Karleen Koen, life, Now Face to Face, story, story and life, story and writing, Through A Glass Darkly, writing, writing process
Tagged "Garrison Keillor", fiction, poetry, the value of poetry, The Writers' Almanac, why write, William Matthews, writing when you don't feel like it, wrting in the dark
Notes from the journal……….fictional world: a unique landscape for the reader to enter…….short story: one incident or revelation…..novel: needs overarching story, deep and big enough to encompass ongoing development over time of related characters and themes
An exercise from a workshop/list of words describing childhood:
pine cones and saffron….red dirt and cotton plants….crushed crepe myrtle pods and blackberries….the crook of Granddaddy’s cane….screen porches and Eva’s daylilies….bright green mold on red bricks….dominos…iced tea….Aunt Lillie’s garden….gold fish and gravel paths…lantern-jawed men…biscuits and bacon grease….hanging clothes on the line….the old rugged cross….nearer my God to thee….candles for souls glimmering….
It’s poetry without trying from memory through the senses……..