Thursday, February 03, 2005

Feb. 3 Part III

When in doubt, bake brownies. I wasn’t in doubt, but I baked brownies anyway. And they are darn good!

An issue and a half of Widow’s Chamber. I have to do some serious fact checking as I revise.

I have some bad knots in the good shoulder – does that make it the mediocre shoulder now, or, since the bad shoulder hurts less, is the bad shoulder now the mediocre shoulder and the good shoulder the bad shoulder? I no longer have a good shoulder and I’ve run out of shoulders.

Whatever it is, it hurts. I think I injured it at the matinee yesterday.

Some blogs to check out:

Query Letters I Love:
This one is important for writers, for both a reality check and to keep perspective on one’s work. I don’t know how he deals with some of the crap he receives. I couldn’t. I’d be nipping from the flask by 8:05 in the morning and ready to slit my wrists by noon.

Turning Thirty and A Half
Sue’s blog is lovely and I recommend it if you’re interested in what makes this person tick.

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
A blog from Iceland by a person working on his English – beautiful photos.

European Photos:
Nice writing and lovely photos.

My goodies arrived – the gifts for being named one of KIC’s Authors of the Year. The pillow is great – very comfy. There’s also a lovely journal and a magnet. It turns out my friend Michelle designed the logo –it’s hilarious. So I’m thrilled with my gifts.

And, it makes me want to get on the stick with the T-Shirt Exchange Project. Yes, when I have it properly in place, I will write about it extensively here – because all of you can share in it!

Ink in My Potting Soil
My seeds arrived! I’m so excited! According to my calendar, the next day good for planting is February 9th – which is also both Ash Wednesday and Chinese New Year. I have to decide which of the seeds to plant that day. The 9th and the 10th are good planting days. Maybe I’ll plant two packets each day. I’ve been reading the backs of the seed packets and imagining what they’ll look like when they come up!

I love to plant seeds because of all the possibilities involved!

Back to writing:
“Time and Space to Write” was also moved off campus. This means it was cancelled by the college, but the same person who asked me to privately teach some of the Dialogue students has organized the four students who want to do this class. She found us a space and we’ve booked the time. It’s not as much money as if I was doing it via the institution, but the Renegade in me far prefers to work this way. We’re meeting in a lovely little café/wine bar in a nearby town. The four students are very diverse and working on very different projects. But I don’t need to ask them “How badly do you want this?” They’ve all proven they want it badly and are willing to work for it. They are diverse – a poet, a short story writer, a memoirist and a horror writer. They want it badly enough to make the necessary changes in their lives, even painful ones, in order to carve out time and space for their writing.

We discussed our projects and got to work. Their homework for the next week is to carve out 15 minutes per day NO MATTER WHAT to write. A mere 15 minutes. But they are not to take a day off and there are no excuses.

I have faith that all of them will achieve it.

Nine pages of Ransagh. It took me awhile to get back into the groove of writing alone within a group, but we all started picking up the rhythms of each other’s pens after a bit. It was almost like a scratchy symphony.

Writing in the space reminded me of all the years spent reading, writing and talking in smoky back rooms of bars in my twenties – also known as The Lost Decade. I don’t regret any of it. And how much has changed! Smoking indoors is prohibited; because we all have to drive to and from the space we’re responsible and don’t drink alcohol; and no one is trying to make anyone else be less than they are so someone else can feel like more.

I suppose we all must hang out with Pseudo Artists on our way to claiming our own creativity. If we’re tough enough, we find it. If we’re not, we cave.

Since we didn’t have to clear out after class, we stayed and had a bite and some coffee. We got into an interesting discussion about something that has bothered me; but I didn’t want to bring it up either in other discussions or on the blog because I was afraid it would sound like sour grapes. However, it’s something all four students noticed and commented on (without my bringing it up) and I think it says a lot about this suburban region.

They all feel – and I agree – that the people who’d benefit most from many continuing ed classes can’t take them right now because the economy sucks (in spite of the crap the Republican Party spouts) and they have to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads first and foremost. Something has to go, and often, it is creative work that has no immediately obvious practical application. In other words, a sewing or knitting class will fly because you have something tangible you can use at the end of it. But a writing class may not, because even if you have a solid piece of writing, you may not be able to sell it for months or years.

The people who can afford to take classes want a very specific class: They take courses given by self-proclaimed gurus who reassure their students that they don’t have to work to achieve their dreams – all they have to do is buy the guru’s latest book.

I like these students because they are willing to work. I refuse to set myself up as a guru. I can show them one way to work. It is not the way. Each artist must find his or her own way. But, hopefully, you meet companions on the journey and can help each other out. Isn’t that what makes quest novels work? Not just the achievement, but the bonds forged along the way?

My hope is that these students in the various classes will form bonds that will continue past the classes and that they can help each other on their journeys. I want them to outgrow me so that they can grow into themselves.



At 11:29 PM, Blogger Victoria Swanson said...

I couldn't agree more with observation that continuing education and creative writing gets put on the backburner for so many writers. Isn't it a pity that the pursuit of artistic interests has become such a luxury? I have a friend who is an amazing painter - yet does not paint or take the classes she wants to take because she simply cannot afford to. I'm sure it is very painful for her to not do what she loves to do because of financial constraints. Makes me feel fortunate that I am a writer. At the end of the day, all I need is a pen and some paper.

At 10:17 AM, Blogger Colin said...

Your words make so much sense and leave me feeling a little guilty. I bet your courses are a blast though!

If you want to hold a seminar in a smokey backroom pub in Edinburgh, then I recommend Clark's in Dundas Street. And that isn't because I spend every afternoon in there! :-)


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