Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Revision Fatigue

"Revision" sounds like "decision," and in fact consists of a lot of decisions. Which explains why I'm sort of punchy at the moment.

Also why periodically I pick up our loppers and head into a clump of trees to open up a trail. Or take sandpaper to old wood and, later, fill a brush with paint and swipe back and forth on the sanded, wiped surface.

Here's what the revisions look like.













Note that we are still at the "duct tape" stage. In fact, the "layers of duct tape" stage. "Layers of duct tape in what may yet become complementary patterns" stage. I think the colour combination is already working, but that may be just me.

That's what later stages of revision are FOR: making a coherent whole from disparate parts.

Which means lots of decisions, mostly answering forms of the question, "how well is this working?"

I do find answers--and eventual peace in making decisions--in trimming branches blocking a path or rhythmically painting staircase railings. Tomorrow, I'm confident I'll complete a good day's worth of revisions, because I'm spending most of the day washing dishes. Lots of time for mental play there.

If nothing else, dishes/painting/path-clearing can be defined as projects of finite duration, which helps me resume projects without firm endings yet.

Revisions: not for the decision-averse. And now, I'm off to fold sheets.
Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Books are Awesome

Yes, breaking news. Books, though, really are awesome.

I  mean, look at these:

About being ordinary and extraordinary

About fear and illusion and preconceived ideas










































I'm not buying books (and bags and boots) this year, except for when I am. Which is to say, when my "wear in public" boots don't fit any longer, or (for example) when I want to read a book that's important to my novel and don't have a copy.

Which is the case with Hound of the Baskervilles. And yes, I know it's in the public domain. Yes, I could read it online. But that doesn't work for me, for my revision process. So.

So when Toronto's Gladstone Press advertised a Canada Day sale on Instagram, I jumped on it. And I got not only books but a bag. And they are all lovely.

I mean--lookit that dog's paw with a fingerprint in it. It has a topographical map bookmark, too. (The one for Mrs. Dalloway is a picket fence.)

Also: Because I'm reading a book important to my novel, I am learning that the draft requires a few further revisions. Which is why I needed to read this book. So all is going according to plan, bwa ha ha. (Actually, hahaha because plans are useless though planning is vital, according perhaps to Eisenhower.)

Surely there are books you need to read on a rainy day in July.




Wednesday, July 3, 2019

All Projects, All the Time

Summer! Project season!

Here's a couple of projects we finished recently.


The table used to be unfinished cedar, several years old. We have another just like it. Plus a bench that will resemble the tables when it's finished. The chairs were always white but were also sporting a bit of rust, as one can do when one is 30 years old.

Here's a project Nature has been working on.


Lilacs sure are pretty, especially the ones growing high enough that the deer can't get them.

These projects don't preclude others. I'm revising--even while applying paint to tables, I'm moving scenes around. I'm considering whether someone would choose the "really stupid dangerous" option or the "just dangerous" one. And I'm reviewing podcasts about story structure, with which I always could use some help.

Then I go inside and apply fingers to keyboard to try out what I imagined.

I hope your summer is blooming nicely!
Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Whatever Works

A writer friend recently read Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. She's also doing Morning Pages from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.

Another writer-friend is recruiting "bunkmates" for Camp NaNoWriMo, which is apparently the summer version of NaNoWriMo. She suggested creating your own project--not necessarily drafting a new work, which is (as I understand it) the function of NaNoWriMo, but perhaps editing or submitting or researching or something else--intensely, for 31 days.

Others are creating schedules and valiantly attempting to stick to them, even though summer is here, with all the summer things--like WARMTH and SUNSHINE and GELATO and STROLLS. (And for me, bug spray.) For many who work in a teaching capacity, summer feels like "found time," and their fear is that late August will bring despairing moments of "whaaaaaaaat haaaaaaaappened to aaaaaaaallll that tiiiiime?" (Flashbacks to childhood feels. Though I also liked school a lot.)

I, too, am transitioning from "well I'm stuck indoors so might as well make progress on this novel" time to "geez, they're showing up when?" time. Summer brings visitors, and I live here in part to make it easier for loved ones to share its beauty. But making this transition can be challenging.

Especially because I, too, want to look back in August and say, "Okay, I took care of that, and that, and now I'm ready to transition to this." Especially because I, too, respond to structure and discipline (though not necessarily the communal nature of a NaNo project). And I, too, sometimes really REALLY need a return to longtime friends with their advice and inspiration, and morning pages.

The upshot of all this? Do whatever helps you complete your work, whatever that may be. The world needs it.
Wednesday, June 19, 2019

How It Looked

I was recently at the Creative Nonfiction Collective's conference. Here are some of my favourite moments from the trip. Enjoy.

Why my novel has been "cut" from 90K words to 94K words a time or two.

On a medical building. Love art like this.


Didn't buy it. Really wanted to.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

How It Looks Around Here

I'm traveling this weekend, therefore, Spring is springing and I am reluctant to leave.

Here's what I'll return to:






I'll enjoy being with other folks writing creative nonfiction. By my oh my, it will be great to come home again.


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

A Creative Exercise

Over on her blog, Transactions with Beauty, writer Shawna Lemay posed an interesting question recently: "What words would you most like to get tattooed indelibly on your skin?"

She has a whole list. (She's also in the middle of a Springsteen phase, and she takes lovely photographs.)

It's tough to say. One reason I haven't seriously considered a tattoo is that words change meaning for me over time. I don't know that a word I wanted and needed to see daily at 30 (integrity) would be something I'd want or need to see daily lo these several decades later.

However. Shawna's right; it's a fun exercise.

At the moment, I'm toying with this: "It is a truth universally acknowledged."

Yes, it's the opening to Pride and Prejudice. Perhaps mentioning Jane Austen on the blog linked above primed the pump.

But the quote also says something about writing and the writer, I think. We worry a lot about whether "it's been done already," whether the world really needs to hear OUR version of, say, Pride and Prejudice.

We console ourselves with the various "basic plot" outlines, which all boil down to one: a stranger comes to town/someone goes on a trip (it's the same plot from different points of view).

Regardless: we take a "universally acknowledged" truth, or "truth," and we write a specific instance of it. OUR instance.

Perhaps the story is about two appealing young women, sisters saddled with embarrassing relatives, who run into difficulties making the biggest decision available to them in their current circumstances--and the difficulties are at least partly of their own making.

Whether a writer starts with the truth or the specific instances of it--perhaps the sisterly relationship or the embarrassing relatives inspire the story--a truth, eventually, becomes part of the story. Stated or not, conscious or not, we write to make a point somehow.

Other contenders: "How can there be any sin in sincere?" "Up so floating many bells down" (or, more probably, "sun moon stars rain"). "Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever" (just kidding)

See? So much writerly wisdom exists in the world. I can't pick one sentiment. But it's fun to consider!