"...everything in life is writable...if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."..... Sylvia Plath

Friday, October 28, 2011

Interesting Question

I found this question on a writer's site the other day and thought it was somewhat interesting. I decided to post it here to see what the rest of you thought.

Question:  "...do you think that you can spend too much time in one day working on the same novel? I've got all this energy to write, but I'm thinking what if I get to a certain chapter and I take the story off on the wrong tangent because I didn't have that plot developing revelation in the shower three weeks from now. Will those magical unforeseen developments unfold as you write faster? Or do you have to wait for them?"

My Answer:  "I think the amount of time spent writing on a novel in one day depends completely on the writer. If the story is gushing out and you're trying to get it all out and it doesn't tire you, and you can keep going, I say go ahead.

Even if the story goes off in the wrong direction, let it go. You don't want to be editing yourself , especially on a first draft, as you go along. That's what re-writing is for. And cut and pasting! Never stop yourself from writing. You may squash some amazing stuff.

Faster is not necessarily better. Learn to just go with the flow. Some days will be faster than others. Stop thinking about how fast you're writing and just write. You will re-write over and over, revise and craft later."

if you enjoyed this post, feel free to leave a comment

Friday, October 21, 2011

Roxie and Alfred: A love story

 "Alfred, there you are." Roxie appeared at the doorway. "I've been calling you. It's dinner time. Come on girls. Your mother will pick you up later."

Roxie was tall and beautiful. As a young girl, she had shiny black hair, a gift from her Cherokee herb doctor grandmother. She and Alfred, my grandfather, met in North Carolina where they were born and married.  Both were raised in large God fearing Baptist families; the kind that stuck together through thick and through thin and were slightly rigid and dogmatic in their thinking. But Roxie
was amazingly liberal.  She eventually rejected her Baptist upbringing for the Unitarian Church. She had a strong personality, was assertive, and outspoken. She definitely ruled the roost at home. Alfred complained a lot but usually, although grumbling loudly, did everything she asked.

Roxie pulled on both oven mitts, opened the oven door and lifted out a delicious looking roast chicken, and baked yams. I could see there were two pies in the back of the oven, probably apple and cherry. Both my favorites. Bebe and I washed our hands and seated ourselves close to papa who was already at the head of the table. Roxie returned to the oven and came back with a huge bowl of rice and a covered baking dish full of collard greens and salt pork. Bebe and I hated cooked greens, but they were always the first thing that papa reached for.

When I was around seven or eight, Roxie owned four boarding houses in Detroit. They were popular in the '30s and '40s. She cooked breakfast and dinner at one of them and was responsible for all of them. The house I remember best was huge. It had three floors and the building itself was a red brick, sort of an eclectic Georgian revival-Arts and Crafts bastard of a style with a huge back yard. There she would set up a very long table and feed boarders, family and friends just about every evening. Sundays would always be special. Although she had help, she did most of the cooking and there was always plenty to eat. My sister and I and our cousins would play hide and seek and run all over the yard. Roxie cooked in the basement where Papa had put in a full kitchen for her. 

She needed a large space to work because she was usually cooking for 20 boarders or more who had rooms upstairs. At that time, papa's tiny room was way up in the attic. No matter where they lived, he always had his own little room hardly bigger than a closet. That's the way he wanted it. He smoked and Roxie didn't. And he didn't want to have to listen to her go on about what a nasty habit it was and how he should stop. Being an excellent plumber and carpenter, he had no problem building extra rooms in all of our houses or customizing them the way he wanted. 
ALFRED with his parents

By the time I got to high school, they had moved to Tampa. Papa built the house they lived in.  I would go down and spend all of my summer vacations with them, helping him finish building the house and palling around with him.  Eventually, when I graduated, I lived with them for a year and attended Tampa University. When I didn't have classes, Papa would wake me at 5:00 in the morning and we would go digging for clams by ourselves. He would pack a lunch, grab his clamming equipment, hitch his row boat to the back of his truck, and off we would go on another adventure.

I still remember those wonderful early daybreak mornings walking on wet sandy beaches, my summer pants rolled up, the morning air filled with the  fishy smell of the salty sea. There was always a warm breeze brushing against my skin blowing my hat away so that my hair would be flap around and tickle my face. The tide was on it's way back out and seagulls were swooping back and forth screeching overhead. As soon as the tide was out we would clamor for clams in one of the little alcoves or along the shore, where there always were other clam diggers doing the same thing.

We'd put on our old sneakers so the sharp shells wouldn't cut our feet. and wade out into the water. The water was clear enough so we could see down to the sandy bottom. The clams could tell when there was danger near, so they would start to burrow down beneath the sand. The object was to grab on to the clam and pull it out before it disappeared. Sometimes we would use clamming tongs, which were easier for me, but Papa was used to using his hands.

Another place we looked was on the wet beach just a ways beyond the water's edge. There would be small holes all up and down the beach. Papa could tell which ones had clams hiding underneath. We'd use our hands to dig through the sand until we found the clam and throw it in our pail. After a couple of hours, we would have a bucketful of clams and a very red sunburn. We'd then find a shady spot, under a weeping willow and have our lunch. It was only 8:00 in the morning but lunch hit the spot.

We'd ride home, sandy, wet feet and all, with the windows down and the wind blowing our hair around and playing havoc though out papa's truck. What a glorious start to the day. Roxie would be waiting at the door for those fresh clams to make her famous clam chowder.

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to comment

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Started a new memoir

I've been thinking about writing a second memoir for some time now. I adored my grandparents, on my mother's side and knew that some day I would want to write about them. They were such an interesting couple and my relationship with both of them was like no other. They adored my sister and me.

I couldn't help myself today and started writing about them. The words poured out and I ended up with 4000 words. Here is an excerpt, the first I've posted:

Roxie and Alfred: A love story
(excerpt from a WIP)

My grandfather could be very cantankerous and argumentative, but not to my sister and me. To us, he was kind, generous, and funny. He told us stories...sometime the same ones over and over but we didn't mind. We would go into his smelly little room and jump up on the bed and he would take us away into a land of his imagination. His stories would be mostly about the sea. He had been a seaman and a cook on several different ships.

The strong smell of pipe tobacco swirled around our noses whenever we entered his room. It was very small with a brown metal single bed, built high off the floor, and pushed into one corner. It was covered with a home-made quilt and a khaki army blanket. Three pillows were stacked one on top of the other at the head. There was nothing on the small window above the bed except a tan paper shade.

Next to the bed, was an Oak table with spindled legs. The large square table top was littered with everything from fishing tackle to car keys to newspapers. His favorite silver lighter glistened in a beam of sunlight which had somehow made it's way into the dark room. Linoleum covered the floor and an open closet with no door stood across from the foot of the bed. Homemade pale yellow curtains were pushed to one side revealing a scant collection of worn clothing.
We would peek our heads in the door.

"Papa, can we come in?"

Papa jumped up, shuffled to the door and opened it wide, letting some of the stuffy pipe tobacco-tinged air escape. His brown leather bedroom slippers clicked against the linoleum and he loomed, all 6 foot 2 of him, in the doorway. His beautiful full head of white hair nearly reached the ceiling.

"Good afternoon, ladies. Do come in."

"We came to hear some stories" I said.

"And to have our backs scratched," my little sister chimed in.

"Okay" he said. "But first, let's see what we can find in my little leather purse."

We scrambled up on the high bed, grabbing on to the army blanket and bed posts to steady our climb.

"What's in it? What's in it?" We both giggled, as papa opened up the silver clasp on the tiny leather change purse he always kept with him for occasions like this.

"Well, let me see now." He would always take his time so as to build up the suspense.

I slid as close to papa's side as possible and Bebe jumped up on the bed and ran around to papa's back, grabbing him by the shoulders and peering over one side to get a look into the change purse. She was so excited, she nearly toppled forward over the edge of the bed. But papa caught her just in time........to be continued

if you enjoyed this post, feel free to leave a comment

Friday, October 14, 2011

My work in Progress

I am just about finished with my memoir. I'm actually a little sad. It's been a great experience and I have learned a lot. This is the first major piece I have attempted. I am a non-fiction writer and have been writing journal articles for years. I also consider myself to be a blogger. I started blogging over two years ago and now have four blogs of my own. I also maintain and post on the Louisville Bed and Breakfast Blog.

I have completed 56,000 words on my memoir and am aiming for 65,000. I have completed three re-writes on it so far and have decided to send it to a professional editor for final edit and polishing. When she returns it, I will do any revisions I deem necessary and then turn my attention to my proposal. I wrote the proposal nearly a year ago, but know so much more about it now so I will have to do a rewrite on it too. My query letter is in pretty good shape. I've gotten a lot of feedback from other writers.

As soon as I feel all three of these are the best I can make them, I will attempt to find an agent. My genre is non-fiction narrative, so I will need all three (MS, query, & proposal)  ready to go. I just finished an article on the process I've gone through since the beginning and how it changed from beginning to end. The beginning was so easy. It all just flowed out onto the page. After that first draft, the real work began. I'm hoping it'll all come together soon, as I have an idea for another book, and am anxious to start it.

if you enjoyed this post, feel free to leave a comment

Friday, October 7, 2011

Valuable info gleaned from editor Brook Warner

In the first two sections of her radio broadcast, Brook talked about how we sabotage ourselves so that we keep ourselves from going forward with the writing and the publishing processes.

The second section was on how we use time to get out of doing what we should be doing to finish our manuscripts and move on. She offered a way of scheduling time in such a way that we create windows of time in which we can write on a regular basis.

I do not have a problem with either of the above.. I'm pretty disciplined when it comes to writing. The problem I have now is re-writing my entire manuscript from the beginning. I'm at the point where I am doing nitty gritty crafting. It takes so much more time than the initial creative phase where everything is flowing onto the page. I've written a query and a proposal. They are both in the oven and from time to time I go a take another look and maybe do a little expansion or revising.

In the meantime, I'm still reading a lot of memoir to stay in the narrative mode. I do have a pretty good platform including 5 blogs, several online mags I write for, several social networks, a website for my B&B, and a 17-year list of customers who have frequented my bed and breakfasts. My memoir is about the 17 years I was an Innkeeper.

if you enjoyed this post, feel free to leave a comment