I Will Turn Pencils Into Snakes

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This week’s gem came home last year in a backpack during poetry month. I thought about holding off until April to write about it, but realized that I am constantly rereading this “promise” as I navigate my way through writing my first novel. Someone recently asked me why I decided to write a novel now, and the simple answer is that I finally had an idea. But I’m realizing that I think I finally had an idea because I sort of rearranged the way I approach writing. I’d originally thought that with a young family I’d have to get up early, like too early for my taste, to write and stay up really late – both kind of unrealistic when I’m still exhausted on both ends. I thought I needed to be a better writer before I started, to know exactly what would happen to my characters, and to have a really clear structure. I though I had to write like my heroes: Munro, Cheever, Cunningham, to name a few, and have realized that I never will, so why don’t I just try to write like myself and see what happens? There will never be time; you have to find it, sneak it in when you’re “supposed” to be doing other things. It gets easier and easier to do this. [Read more…]

Writing Tips from a First-Grader

Poof. It has already been six months since my forced blogging-sabbatical. I hit pause, stopped blogging, and started writing. Now in the midst of my first stab at NaNoWriMo, I’m finding a way to procrastinate again. But I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about returning here and focusing on writing rather than reading – of course intermixed as those two are, you can’t really write about one without the other, right? Last year while my daughter was in first grade, she began to bring home so many gems about writing from her teacher. Just simple instructions, really, about how to build character, setting, small moments, big moments, but I found myself hoarding these handouts. Usually her work eventually finds its way to the trash, but I find many of these to be quite useful basic reminders. Consider this “Retelling Script,” for example. Meant to be used as a guide for reading comprehension, I think any writer could use these tips in pulling together an essay, story or novel…

 

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Fourth Blogiversary: The Land of Free Time

Dear Mom & Dad (and my 3 or 4 other loyal readers):
Do you remember when I was ten and I announced I wanted to be a writer when I grew up? Do you? Well, if not, here’s the proof:
IMG_2040Remember now? It’s all there. I even wrote it in cursive. I remember seeing Little Women and meeting Jo and wanting to be her, to create stories, put on plays, go on adventures. I’ve been writing on and off since that 1987 diary entry – some years more fruitfully and seriously than others. And I actually devoted two whole years to studying the craft of writing when I got my MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts. When I finished in the summer of 2008, yes I was hugely pregnant and it was hot and I was running around a lot, but I did not plan on having your granddaughter three weeks early. Not at all. I planned on writing, revising, and submitting that summer, maybe even entering some contests, trying to earn some small awards. Maybe that was a stretch, but along she came. And her brother about two years later, and then I started this blog as a creative retreat from the stress of raising young children. And I’ve loved it; it has refueled my passion for writing and given me a supportive audience and opened up new experiences. [Read more…]