Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Limit

I just got an e-mail from a good and true friend. She says, and I quote "I really like your blog, but why do you use so many exclamation points? Are you really that ecstatic over things?"

Well, the true, K, is that , no, I am rarely, if ever, ecstatic over anything. But, regarding the exclamation points, well.

I just can't help it!!!!!!!!!!!

New Year's Eve


Saturday, December 30, 2006


I use Duotrope to manage my literary submissions. It is like having an online secretary. I love it. Well, I don't want to "out" a certain publication, but I sent this pub a submission a LONG time ago. There average turnaround time is 90 days. In fact, they have one of those curt little messages that all lit zines have reminding the writer not to "inquire about the status of your submission unitl 90 days have passed. Or until the next Presidential election. Or until hell freezes over." This leaves the writer precious little recourse over the work, especially if they do not allow simultaneous submissions. Well , Duotrope popped up with a RED message saying that it was now "appropriate" (oh, how GRAAAHND) to inquire about the status of my submission. Well, I did that , a week ago, when they were then 60 days beyond when they should have responded! NOW WHAT????? I can't inquire again, on the off chance of totally infuriating some editor who will, in no time flat, jump to another publication that I will be grovelling to be published in. This is only the second time that this has happened to me, but I know other writers to whom it has happened even more times. I mean, where does the work GO? Into some black hole? In my case, I even received an acknowledgement that they had the work for their consideration. Well, what did they do with it???

I have decided to totally skew their stats on Duotrope. I am going to withdraw the submission citing "no response." That'll teach 'em. But maybe I'll wait another month. Or two.

Let Me Explain

In my life hestitation = non-action. And I am all about forward motion. After so many years of friends and co-workers telling me to apply to library school, I finally did it. Literally, I woke up one morning and decided to go for it. In record time I had gotten the package of paperwork together, mailed it in and was accepted 5 days later. My friend John (a Librarian) has been urging me to do this for the better part of 12 years. I am even surprised myself, that I didn't do it earlier. In any case when I found out I'd been accepted, I called my friend Melissa who was accepted the very same day and we did a little virtual dance together over the phone! Mine, performed behind the dubiously private work cubicle was akin to the dance that Charlie Brown does when he is blissful , which, admittedly, doesn't happen often. I imagine that Melissa did something appropriately Russian or , at the very least, Eastern European. Yep, we squealed a little, did the girl thing, you know : "ohmygodohmyGOD!" Then peals of girly laughter and more dancing. You'd think we won the lottery!!!! Well, you have to really love libraries to react that way.

Let me explain why libraries have been so important to me for my entire life:

  • I got my first public library card at age 7 . The library was a place of knowledge , comfort and thousands of different worlds at my fingertips. (yes, I was a lonely, pale, bookish nerd, o.k?)

  • While other students snuck cigarettes and God knows whatever on lunch break, in high school I could be found with Sister Consolata Maria in the school library. "My God, Michelle," she told me one day "Go out and get some SUN on your face!" (This, sadly, is a true story.)

  • When my marriage fell apart, I looked, once again , to the library for solace. The job I got at that library is one I still work at part time! (EP is such a beloved place to me)

  • While working at EP I met my current husband ! (One of the best things to ever happen to me!)

  • Left EP full time to go and work at the library of the same university where I earned my BA and MA. (Wonderful institution, great co-workers, cool boss)

  • Fulfilling the dream of library school!

And writing? I am as ardent and as dedicated to the craft as ever. Maybe even more so if that is even possible!

Post Christmas

Still here, still reading , still loving Charlie Brown.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I'm trying to concentrate on work, I really am bit it is not easy today. Air-conditioning system is apparently working, if the coin-sized gooseflesh on my arms is any indication. My small ceramic heater is still chugging away, though. Hard to think of writing today, but I did have a memory of a memory, if that makes any sense, hit me when I walked outside a short while ago. It made enough of an impression for me to want to go home and write in my journal about it.
A particular way the air smelled, fresh and warm, made me think of when I was young, and how me and my brother and sister loved when the sun would finally go down and we'd take big Mayonnaise jars out into the back yard and catch fireflies. Something about the air today, the warmth, the sun, that "earthy smell" (which fireflies have!) brought me back.
I've just ordered myself the two highly prized and coveted Clairefontaine journals that I love so much. As soon as I get them, which should be tommorow, I'm going to start writing about the air, the sun, the flowers, the trees and the fading cold air around me. Spring is here, thank goodness. Spring weather can't come soon enough. As for the fireflies, I'll be watching them,when they come, too.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Power of Negative Spaces

Every now and then I will read something that refers to "negative spaces." I am not quite certain what that means, but I have the feeling that it has something to do with not trying so hard at things. In this world that seems lazy and unambitious, but that would not be what I mean. I mean a "pulling back" from pushing at something that just might benefit from a bit of space. It is like loving someone who is going through a trying time----it is human nature to want to "fix" things, but often only time will reveal answers. Even modern medicine is hell-bent on treating just about everything, even when the outcome is futile or senseless. We've forgotten that the human body has the power of regeneration. It is the same way with writing. Often times I just get in my own way. I am concentrating on how I am saying something rather than on what I am saying. That means that my reader, if I am lucky enough to have one, will be inclined to do the same thing. I need to forget that I am a writer, need to forget that I am writing and just need to concentrate on a good story. And I can't forget the importance of daydreaming to the creative process----concentrating on colors, details, moods, the cadence of speech should not be forgotten. So I might just sit with my notebook and look out of the window of my family room at the tall, lonely and bleak looking tree in the back yard, with its twisted branches splayed out against the sky. I'd like to see what surfaces. What immediately comes to mind is that in just a short time, that tree will be full with leaves. But for now, I'll enjoy what the negative space might yield. And if you are a thinking and feeling person, I'd suggest you do the same.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Art Lives in a Big World (Thanks, Natalie Goldberg)

Writing Down the Bones is a great read. It is gratifying to read about writing not as just commodification (come on, we all read to be read, and if we can make a few bucks at it. . . )but for satisfaction of experience and expression. Here's what Natalie Goldberg says in this great little book:
One of the main aims in wirting practice is to learn to trust oyour own mind and body---to grow patint and nonagrressive. Art lives in the Big World. One poem or story doesn't matter one way or another. It's the process of writing and life that matter.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It Takes as Long as it Takes

I'm ready to give my mentor another short story to read, but I think it is too soon, yet, I feel the urge to put this story, one that I've been writing for a while , into her capable hands. After a week or two, she'll give it back to me, we'll meet over coffee and go over the story with a fine tooth comb. Her eye is so acute. Sometimes I wince at some of the things she points out, things that should be so obvious to me, but in the white heat of writing my story , get overlooked. I'm not giving her my best, though, I'm giving her a story before it is ready, because sometimes I like the feeling of having written, more than I like the arduous process of revision, fine tuning, applying my own critical eye to my own writing. It is hard to "murder your darlings." I get attached to certain characters, a turn of phrase, or the "mood" that certain words or sentences evoke. H. advises: "bake the story until it is baked as much as you can bake it." Good advice , that. O.k. I'm off. I need to limber up my fingers.

Monday, February 20, 2006

What does chaos look like?

Today was a tough day to get by in . I could only function between certain spaces of chaos. One of those days where you actually get things done but for the life of you can't remember how. A good friend visits me at work and we go to lunch which was really nice, but I end of feeling too frazzled to keep up interesting conversation. Days like today at my day job don't leave me enough emotional or physical energy to get any writing done, though the will is there. So if writing this blog tonight, short as it is going to be , counts as writing , so be it. It will be all that I'll be able to manage.