• storytelling,  writing

    If You Need Me, I’ll Be in My Head

    Hi there. Remember me?

    I realize that it’s been a while, but just in case you’ve never heard this before, writing a book is a lot of work.

    I had to dispel the illusion, just in case you happen to have also read Stephen King’s memoir, in which he makes a flippant comment that it should take 3 months to write a first draft, but that’s really not how it works. Or, at least, it’s not how it worked for me.

    I am steadily moving forward with the first revision of my novel and each day’s work delights me with how much tighter my ideas are getting and how many things I can see now that I couldn’t when I was writing my first draft. I had hoped to be done by now with this revision, but life has a terrific way of interfering. But you keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually, eventually you get there. Even when there is tortuously far away and you know you just have another revision in front of you again.

    One step at a time, one chapter at a time. I steal minutes when I can to work on it. I carry around a printed copy of the 668 page first draft so that I can edit anywhere, even if it’s not handy to pull out of laptop. The weight reminds me of how much work there is left to do, even though I’ve put notes of encouragement at key points. 25%! 50%! Only 100 pages left!

    There have been days when I wanted to set the entire manuscript on fire. And there have been days where the revision goes so smoothly that I feel like I’m cheating someone. And sometimes, editing is both of those things simultaneously.

    Perhaps this is the journey. It is my first time down this road and I feel like I’m learning from every aspect of it. Perhaps what there is to learn is more than about just the writing.

  • art,  book,  books,  storytelling,  writing

    A Thing That Happened

    Sometime in the middle of the month, I wrote THE END on the first draft of my novel, THE MOZART GIRL.

    It’s a biopic about Nannerl Mozart and yes, there is a tremendous amount of work to do yet, and I am getting ready to jump with both feet into the revisions now that Christmas has passed.

    I’m excited.

    This is the first completed novel that I’ve written as an adult and it has been a long and meandering journey to do it. I’ve already learned so much about what to do next time, because it has taken me three times as long as it should have to complete what I have. I’ll be throwing out a lot of material, since it’s about twice as long as it ought to be, but I love that, because it means that what I keep will be improved for it.

    It’s the time of year where we set our resolutions and intentions for the new year and there can only be one for me, which is to finish the damn novel already. I took my first steps in this story line four years ago, though the story that I began to write back then was a completely different story arc from the one I settled on. But I have been thinking about the Mozart family for half a decade now and I am, dare I say it, pleased with where the work has taken me.

    This is a book that has been written in the margins of my life, in the crevices formed between other obligations, in the hours after bedtime and before the work day, in the minutes stolen between the endless march of all my other responsibilities. And it has been written in dribs and drabs, sometimes in little spurts of energy, and sometimes in long months of sustained effort that have required sacrificing personal relationships as I raced to a word count that was both arbitrary and exhausting.

    2016 and 2017 were the years I researched my novel. 2018 was the year that I wrote it. 2019 is the year in which I remold it until it is fit to be shown to the world. And then, what will happen then? Will I finally believe that this is a thing that I can do?

  • art,  house,  writing


    December has passed by in a whirl of days, filled with so much activity that I’ve barely been able to breathe. We’ve been in the middle of a little bit of an impulse kitchen remodel and it has gotten fairly out of hand (which is to say, we’ve ended up ripping out and replacing everything). It is starting to move towards completion, minus the cabinets and counter tops that may not arrive for another six weeks, but it certainly made hosting Christmas dinner interesting. This year, I find myself grateful for propane and a barbeque. The rest of Christmas ended up being much of a non-event, as I’ve been busy ripping out sheet rock, helping tile floors, project managing and researching and ordering windows, dish washers and microwaves, caulking and painting rather than getting into the Yuletide spirit. I find I’m in it now, after the holiday has safely passed. Here’s to next year.

    Pictures of the remodel soon, as soon as the after pictures are something to look at.

    I have also been reading Steven King’s The Stand, which is compulsive and over a thousand pages, which has rather killed my productivity. I’ve never read King before, always being shy of horror novels, so I’ve rather had my mind blown so far. He’s a master writer, who draws a character sketch possibly better than anyone else I’ve ever read. I am certain there will be more in the near future. I’m told the Dark Tower series is also compelling. I am a little horrified that I let over thirty years go by before picking up his work – it’s a good lesson on how it’s a good idea to not limit yourself from a reading perspective because of genre.

    My New Years Resolution for 2013? Read, read, read, write, write, write. As with last year. And the year before that. And the year before that. I have actually been successful each year at fitting more writing in, but I’m still struggling with certain elements of technique. I want to fit in some more writing instruction this year than I have in the last few, not having taken a class since I graduated. It’s going to happen…just as soon as I have a stove to cook on.

  • art,  writing


    I wish I were a less erratic blogger. I have to set myself reminders on a calendar to keep posting here, which seems a strange thing to do, when so many bloggers seem to have so much more to say. And, with so many things, I think the problem is regular practice. I have no limit of ideas of what to blog about, but somehow when I sit down here and write, I find that my words often feel vapid. Delete, delete. It’s not writing that I have a problem with – it’s the shyness of performing for an audience that I have to work to overcome. As I have grown older, I have grown more private and a blog is, in many ways, the opposite of that. When I first started this blog, I thought I’d do it completely anonymously, to give myself more freedom to write freely without worrying that I might be offending Great Aunt Mildred. (This has happened anyway). But as time went on, people found out and, ironically, most of the people who read it are actually people I know. And I don’t like offending Great Aunt Mildred.

    So I talk on and on about my projects instead, which are too varied to make this any one kind of blog. That’s my problem generally – I am doing so many different types of things that I can never focus in on one thing long enough to master it. Lately I have been in a writer’s fog, working on a (okay, I’ll say it for the first time) novel-length piece of fiction. That’s about all I want to say about it now, because when I talk about my writing projects out loud, I start to think they’re dumb and then I *stop writing*. I’ve also received a table loom on long-term loan from an aunt, so I’ve been teaching myself to weave. I’ve also ordered some patterns for some dresses, so that I can teach myself to sew a bit better and have some dresses that actually fit my narrow, but top-heavy frame. And, I’m working on Pachebel’s Canon in D for the piano, because I take lessons. There’s something about a wedding in there. And on and on.

    In my brain, much of it is related, but I can see how the connections are not immediately obvious. So really, it’s my own bloody fault that I can’t focus. There is just so much to *do* before I die and not nearly enough time to get it all done. This is the real reason I don’t watch much TV (and thus don’t knit and spin as much as I’d *like* to). I’m in a constant panic that I won’t learn all the things that I want to learn before I die.

    I do understand that this makes me weird. Every great once in a while I come across someone with the same sort of incessant internal drama and we have an immediate kinship of spirit. It’s nice. Unfortunately, we don’t get much done, because we’re the scattered interests enter a biofeedback loop and become infinitely more scattered. So I give up and go off and read instead, which is another distraction.

    Come on, focused people with successful blogs – how do you *do* it? How do you fit it into your schedule and make blogging work with your life? Where do you find your motivation?

  • introspection,  writing

    Birthday Wishes

    It is my birthday this week and I will be turning thirty-two, which depending on how you look at it, is either kind of old or very young.  I’m not typically one to get very excited about birthdays, so I don’t have much planned, but I have taken the day off of work.  This is something that I’ve never done before.

    I am looking forward to my day off.  I’ve been very carefully not making plans, but I suspect that I’ll spend most of the day working on some fiction that I’ve been inching out train ride by train ride.  I began writing on the train when I got my Gtab, which was why I bought it, and it has worked out very nicely.  (In fact, these words are being written somewhere between Jamaica and Penn.)  In some ways, the train is a productive way to write in that I get two hours of dedicated time per day to do it, but it’s also a distracting way, because it is only an hour at once.  Inevitably, time is lost in trying to figure out where I left off and what I’m expecting my characters to be doing, though it does lead me to spending my work day daydreaming about what’s going to happen next.  Not all ideas being equal, this frequently leads to indecision, but it’s been good to work through these struggles day after day after day.  As with everything, it’s practice, practice, practice.

    Having a birthday does make one reflect on one’s life accomplishments – if you’d told my ten year old self that I’d be turning thirty-two without ever having completed a draft of a novel, I would have stomped out of the room.  If you told my thirty-one year old self that I needed to write one, she would utterly panic at the idea of trying to find the time.  From a writing perspective, I have wasted so many years in not writing, because I have let myself get busy with all the other aspects of my life.  Getting established in a career and earning my college degree while working full time didn’t leave a lot of room for imaginative fiction outside of my creative writing classes, but I don’t think my ten year old self would want to hear it.  These are all very reasonable excuses, but they point out that I am not living the sort of free life that I always imagined that writing would lead to.  After all, everyone around me told me what a talented writer I was, so clearly that was what I was meant to be.

    Sometimes I wonder if the drive to keep writing just comes from that expectation that was set on me at that age.  There are so many days where the hours of the days pass without a single word being written and, yet, when the writing goes well, nothing else matters at all.  When I can reach that meditative state of writing and, even more miraculously, stay there, it all makes sense.  That’s my birthday meditation.  I have it every year.  So now that that’s out of the way, I can think about all the other birthday things.

    The most glorious, of course, being that my birthday is April 25th, a day that falls in the same week as Earth Day, Pot Day, Shakespeare’s birthday and the blooming of the cherry blossoms.  It almost always rains, which would discomfit most people, but is something that I love.  Today is a gray rainy thing, which just makes me want to sit on a train with my Gtab and work on writing while looking out the window.  It is absolutely perfect, even as pools form against my kitchen floor from the truly epic amount of water that’s come down from the sky and lashes in under the back door.  Rain in the spring brings the promise of bounty and I am still enough of a pagan to appreciate that on a very visceral level.  It just makes me happy.

    Spring is productivity.  It is writing.  It is watching the ocean crash in to the shore with the passion that spring storms bring.  it is watching the garden get doused with water and knowing that will make the grass grow longer and the roses bloom better.  It is the beginning of abundance, of fertility, for whatever that means to you.  So that’s my birthday wish to the world; go forth and be creative, in whatever way that means to you.  Maybe it’s scribbling the words of characters who only exist in your head.  Maybe it’s blogging about whatever your interest is.  Maybe it’s planting flowers in a garden, maybe it’s writing code.  Maybe it’s making films, or painting or dancing or just dreaming.  This is the season of promise, where everything is beginning all over again.  Then come tell me all about it, because you are my inspiration.

  • writing


    Raising kids suddenly takes a lot of work.  Apparently the last five months blurred a bit and I was far too busy figuring out how to parent to keep this journal updated.  I’ll do better now.  Really.  I know you may have heard this before, but the thing is that I’m turning 30 and now I have some resolutions to stick to.

    At least for a while.

    But see, now it’s April, which means we’re nearly through the school year.  I’m planting my garden.  I’m working like a dog.  I’m nurturing all over the place, which means this journal too.  I never have more creative output than in April.  It’s the weather – the promise of something good coming, but still too erratic to actually plan anything.

    April is a time of promises.  And so, I promise you, dear reader (if there’s any of you left after such neglect), that I am going to try and put up at least a post a week.  Because that really shouldn’t be so much to ask, should it?

  • knitting,  writing

    Fall Frenzy

    I ordinarily hate this season, but for some reason, I have really been enjoying fall this year. New York has a marked change of the seasons, which D.C. doesn’t really. Weather in D.C. is either hot or cold – in New York, there’s a distinct period of several weeks where you get to wear light sweaters. It’s a strange concept for me – the light sweater.

    The crisper weather has put me in a gigantic knitting mood and I’ve been very productive. I finally finished a sweater I’ve been working on off and on for about two years. I started my first sock. I made a few gifts for friends. I’ve been designing knitting patterns in my head – whether they ever make paper is another question. I bought yarn for my next sweater – Sylvar from Jordana Paige.

    It is, among all things, the season for projects. My mind is ramping up with things to do. NaNoWriMo starts on Sunday, which I’m participating in. (I gave up after 25,000 words the only other time I’ve done it, so 30,000 would be a “win”, really.) I have a pretty good idea of what I’ll be writing about and I’m really looking forward to it, although I’m not sure how to balance all my various pursuits at the moment. Still, if that’s the worst thing I have to worry about, then life is pretty darned good.