Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Choices

Sometimes you have choices.
* Put color on all your hair this month, or just cover over the roots?
* Schedule a pedicure or just throw some new polish over the old?

To bring this back to writing...
* Ignore feedback from beta readers, or accept every suggestion?

Or, here's a thing. Maybe it's not really an either-or. Maybe you have a third option, or even a fourth. Okay, not so much for the hair color, but with your toenails, yes. Your third option could be a home pedicure, something a little more thorough than throwing new polish on top of old, but less time-consuming or expensive than a salon pedicure.

Similarly, you don't have to accept feedback from beta readers. You don't have to reject it, either. You can evaluate what you've heard and decide what you think brings your work closer to what you want it to be. And do those things. Or not.

And maybe finding "the right choice" is just doing what best fits your life right now, that helps you learn what you need to know right now. So sure, slap some new polish over those flaky toenails, if that's what you have time for. Or ignore the feedback you've received, if you're so sure you want to "get it out there." But in either case, you do have to be prepared for the results.

(Just, seriously: don't mistake general feedback for a thorough developmental edit or a copyedit.)
Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Glamour

This isn't about Glamour the magazine, though I loved it both long before and long after I was the age of their target demographic.

It's about something that appears in The New Yorker every week on the page with their guide to who's playing where in the city. 


Can't quite read it? (Sorry for the bad photo.) Underneath ROCK AND POP, it says, "Musicians and night-club proprietors lead complicated lives; it's advisable to check in advance to confirm engagements."

There was a time when this small statement would have represented, to me, the height of glamour. I mean, for The New Yorker to issue a public excuse for the complicated nature of my life! To be given carte blanche to be unreliable--even irresponsible--by the magazine of the intelligentsia of THE most glamorous city.

The smart set, the jet set, the rat pack, the brat pack. Like that.

My idea of glamour has changed. Or rather, maybe I've outgrown the whole concept, in the same way I outgrew the magazine.

Nowadays, I'd appreciate a good night's sleep--not for the sleep itself, but because being rested keeps my life UNcomplicated and lets me RELIABLY do the things that are important to me.

I suppose I could go about my day in sequined stiletto heels, if I wanted a dose of glamour. But yoga pants and flipflops are really more my style. And since the night life around here consists of watching herons hunt in the bay in front of the house, I think I'm good.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Showing Up. To Listen

So I'd written a big long thing but I just deleted it all, because here is the important stuff.

Last night I went to the Thunder Pride Literary Night. Here's a link to the event, which was absolutely wonderful--good writing from near and far in a supportive environment.

Because sometimes it's okay to stay home and take care of things in your own life. To be an ally in name; to listen, but from afar.

And sometimes, it's important to show up, and listen in person.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Punting

I'm a planner, I admit it. In fact, I was planning so hard last night, trying to see how I could make the most of my morning hours, that I couldn't sleep. So I overslept this morning, and everything ran  late. Go figure.

And yet: Eisenhower (or someone) possibly said, "Plans are worthless; planning is everything." My day has gone more smoothly than it would have, even though I forgot one key ingredient (a piece of tech, naturally) that I need to do the work I planned to do this afternoon.

But that's OK. Through the years, I have learned to punt, metaphorically. (And not in the sense of going out in that type of boat known as a punt, but in the sense of kicking away the football on 4th and long.)

So: planning or plans?

Of course, all this planning/punting relates to revisions. (What DOESN'T relate to my current work, whatever work it is I happen to be doing at the time?)

Yes. I'm revising. Or rather, I'm taking thousands and thousands (many tens of thousands) of words from almost 20 years and a lifetime or two ago, with additions, corrections, extensions, and other machinations added throughout those 20 years, and I'm building something new from those materials. Two separate plans for that work weren't successful. Time has passed. Now I have more skill, more confidence, and more sense in choosing whom I ask for help. And I'm happy to be working on this project, possibly even happier than had those early plans (either A or B) panned out.

Later this summer, I'll revise the novel I've been working on for several years. This revision will require me to let go of the original plan I had for the novel and make it better. Again, lots of material I'm happy with, and now I get to mix it up and make something new, different, and better.

Today didn't go according to plan. But my day is better--in fact, my life is better, but this is just what works for me--because I planned, both last night and decades ago.
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Three Thoughts of Home

1. 'Tis the season to receive rejections (and then re-send those pieces out again). Recently, I've noticed that more rejections include words such as these:
I wish you the best in finding a home for it. 
"Finding a home": that really is a good metaphor for publishing an essay (or short story) in a publication. I've written before about feeling as if characters in a story, when it finds publication, have friends. This is a similar phenomenon.

And so even though I thought I had found the perfect publication for the most recently rejected essay, I was mistaken. It's good to know--I sure don't want it to be there if it's not welcomed. So, on to the next publication.

2. It's time for me to switch journal notebooks, and I was flipping through the one that's full. It has entries from January, when I was just back from a vacation at the holidays. In it, I wrote
Home is imperfect but it fits you like that leather couch: it gives where it needs to and holds you like you're the most beloved creature in the world. 
Some seasons are more hospitable than others and your mileage may vary from that of your loved one. For example, pollen makes Spring particularly difficult for my husband, whereas I'm not a fan of those 40-below days in January. Still, this place is home to both of us, in all four seasons, and we know how lucky we are.

3. Speaking of seasons, baseball season has begun. And my favorite rumination about home is this classic from George Carlin:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GU0aHikD8Vc
"Safe at home": that pretty much says it all.