Thursday, April 24, 2008

What to Post?

I've been asked to post. Not sure what to say. I like reading the posts- what a talented group of thinkers, writers, readers. I often feel like I really don't belong. I impressed with the group's tenacity- many have been at the craft for decades. And the wait to publish requires the patience of a saint. As a rather impatient person, I'm convinced I had ADD before it was officially named and medicated for, I'm not sure I have it in me.

But I like the writing part. I like playing with words, putting them on screen- forget all those pretty journals stacked up in my desk drawer-- I can't read my own handwriting anymore. But that doesn't stop me from buying them. I like really small ones, that can fit in pocketbooks and can serve as places to write reminders, shopping lists, phone numbers, menu plans, etc. As well as the occasional story idea or phrase I hear and want to use.

But I digressed. I also like collecting tidbits- phrases from other writers and overheard conversations. When my children were small, I thought everything they said was brilliant, original and hilarious. Those picture books never went anywhere. I've used paragraphs I've collected more as teaching tools- showing students writers' craft. We write imitations of these sentences- noticing the use of certain punctuation, figurative language. At a recent reading conference for educators, I spent the lunch period in the school's library, pouring through as many picture books and poetry books as I could. I've stopped thinking- oh, this looks easy I could do this, because I know it isn't. But I really like collecting them to use in teaching.

Now I think my stories should be more autobiographical, perhaps with a fictional twist. There are all those farm stories and cousins. And tension between siblings. And being a lone Jewish girl in a rural Connecticut town. But I don't quite get the story part. I can retell events- adding that lyrical quality, that story climax and resolution seems contrived. Has being a journalist impaired my ability to write fiction? Plenty of others have done it.

Remember how our 3 year olds always ask "what if?" I need to find that "what if" element.

I just cleaned up my desk top. Much easier than cleaning a closet, searching for the left sandal lost under the exercise clothes. I created new folders. A spring cleaning without the rags and mops, without the cedar blocks, without hauling the sweaters to the attic and replacing them with last summer's t-shirts. It's a start in organizing my writer's life.


  1. If a clean desk is a sign of a cluttered brain, I'm not sure what to think about my brain or desk, which is usually such a mess I can't find the keyboard!

  2. Wait...wasn't it Einstein who said clutter is a sign of genius? Or maybe it was a fortune cookie I read. Don't know, but I'll go with it.

    Lisa, "what if" is really the magic phrase. Don't think about it, just put pen to paper, butt in chair, fingers to keyboard, lips to coffe mug (or wine glass) and allow yourself to get messy in the words. (not the liquids)

  3. One of my favorite comments about the writing process came from Paul Acampora, author of Defining Dulcie, when he spoke last year at Rutgers One-on-One. "Just pretend there's a plot and keep going." Works for me.

  4. Your love of words and your skill at using them is clear. Don't fret over form/structure now. Start with an idea and write, write. Bet you'll be surprised!
    (Deleted my first comment because I didn't proof read carefully.)Duh!