So this is all going on*– my index finger hurts because I bent back the nail; the world is coated with yellow-green oak pollen; the dog is lying here in the living room with both ears up on high alert; my son is out with his friend; and I am sitting in a chair, Trying To Write, with Suffragette City winding around and around in my brain:
Oh don’t lean on me man
Cause you can’t afford the ticket
I’m back on Suffragette City
Oh don’t lean on me man
Cause you ain’t got time to check it
You know my Suffragette City
Is outta sight… she’s alright
Before dinner I went through some old magazines and pulled out pictures to use in collage and I thought again how my hobbies are childish. Cutting up magazines, making jewelry from beads and wire, gluing twine onto a balloon– these seem like the preoccupations of a ten-year-old girl. Is there something childish about wanting to make things with my own hands? Or is it the things themselves– collages, bead necklaces and bracelets, coasters, pillows, mish-mash quilted throws– just a few things I’ve made over the last while– do they lack some adult and serious quality.
It’s a listicle. No, just a list. What with various goings on around here and the heat, my brain has shut down. I hope for a reboot in September. But meanwhile, here’s my list of Things I Really Don’t Care About. Continue reading →
A few months ago I read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. The book’s premise is that a deadly flu sweeps the world, killing most of the population. The few people who survive must adapt to a new world without modern essentials like electricity, refrigeration, gasoline, antibiotics, computers, and so on. The book follows different characters as they react to a world they never expected to live in, and their stories intertwine in beautiful ways.
I find with a really good book like Station Eleven the scenes, characters, and ideas rattle around in my head long after I’ve finished it. I found myself thinking about what I would miss if I lived in the world of the book. Obviously I would miss my computer, my car, the Internet, modern medicine, etc. But what about the non-obvious, non-essential stuff of 21st century civilization? Here’s my list of unnecessary, trivial things that I would miss in the event of a global flu-pocalypse:
Brightly-colored drinks with fruit and decorations
Cupcakes with icing
Glitter glue pens
Big glossy magazines with aspirational content, like Martha Stewart Living
I tried doing some free writing on these topics, but felt like I still wasn’t really connecting with my character. Then I remembered mind mapping. I grabbed my journal and started with the character’s name in the middle of the page. Then I started writing things that I know about her– including the names of family and friends, as well as what she loves and hates. You can see the current map in the picture above. I’m still working on it– at a minimum I want to add needs and fears– but I feel like I’m getting a better idea of who she is and how she changes by the end of the book.
You’ll notice the map is kind of messy– not like some of the pretty mindmapexamples you can find online. I’m putting something messy out on purpose because while I like to look at pretty examples, I don’t think real idea generation looks like that, at least not when I do it. I find ideas don’t leap from my mind fully formatted with correct punctuation and spelling. The more I let go of the need to be tidy, the more I can generate ideas that make my writing interesting and real.
Today I’m thinking about the protagonist of the book I’m working on. Her name is Maddie and she’s eleven. She’s got a dog, an older sister, and a really big secret. But what does she want?
What did I want, when I was 11?
I remember wanting pretty hair. I tried growing it long but then got tired of it and got it all cut off with a cute little Dorothy Hamill-style wedge. (Don’t laugh! They were really popular.) I wanted a ten-speed bike, but I only had a three-speed. I wanted friends, and had some. I wanted to be the best at something.
It’s winter. My hands are dry and the skin near the top corners of my fingernails is starting to crack. My feet are cold. My back itches. I’m hungry and I don’t know what to eat for lunch. These are the profound thoughts that went through my mind this morning while I lay on my meditation cushion, trying to pay attention to the present moment.
When I took a meditation class, I asked the meditation teacher, “What if the present moment sucks?” She smiled and suggested I pay attention to it anyway. Continue reading →
You’re not even halfway through November, and you’re already falling behind on your Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) project. How did you think you’d have time for this stupid thing, anyway? It’s clear — something’s gotta give. But what?
Stop cleaning. Honestly, like you were anyway. And even if every surface in your home is clean enough to eat off, is a month without dusting going to kill you? I mean, OK, you might have some weird dust or mold allergy that will send you into a coughing, itchy death spiral. But wouldn’t that be more likely to affect you if you did clean?
Stop exercising. You can work off the Nano weight next month. OK, maybe after Thanksgiving and New Year’s. But then you can work it off. Well, maybe it’s actually best if you wait until after all that Valentine’s Day chocolate because you know, you…