Thursday, August 31, 2006

the end of summer

September begins tomorrow, and as is often the case, I’m moved to recreate my schedule to make more focused time for writing. Having a full time job, parenting three kids and navigating the ever-so-turbulent affairs of the heart, I seem to be neglecting my writing.

I wish it weren’t so darn hard for me to wake up at 4 am, as many of my successful colleagues do, to spend a couple of unsullied hours at my craft. This is the habit instilled in “real writers,” after all. William Stafford, for instance. He was a pre-dawn writer. Every day of his life. And he greeted the day with exercise, too! I fail on both accounts.

I lack the ability to sustain focus, determination and conviction, attending instead to whatever stray thought wafts my way. The novel I’m wrestling with now demands more for me. It wants a writer who approaches from a more disciplined and organized position. What I find is that I consider the work at hand only after the normative issues in my life have reached a level of sedation. The novel is the red-haired stepchild. The thing embarked upon after sighing heavily and cracking knuckles repeatedly.

I can’t blame my prioritizing on motherhood, work or my romantic ennui. It’s something else. Insecurity, perhaps? Guilt? Or maybe just ordinary fear of being seized by impulses greater than myself, and projecting a lack of boundaries once immersed.

Flexibility, the false-friend to freelancers, nudges me toward complacency. Laziness, even. The flip side of flexibility is shallow conviction. Sanguine tra-la-la-la-la, and splashing about in ankle-deep puddles. I fear this is my profile. I am not deep enough to be a serious writer. I am not convicted enough.

Even now, with four days in which to do whatever the heck I want, I am choosing to pop myself into my minivan and zip over the mountains in order to ride my bike alongside my son and my ex-husband. I’ve chosen to attend to the frisky family girl in me, at the expense of a possible deep plunge into the novel. Take Ray Carver, for instance. He lived for uninterrupted writing opportunities. Take the thousand or so writers who will participate in this year’s Labor Day Weekend write-a-thon,
the annual 3-Day Novel competition.

I’m going to pass on this exercise this year. But I will make one concession: I am going to wake up at 5:30 every single day next week, beginning on Monday, and spend at least one solid hour writing before doing anything else (except pouring ready-made coffee into a mug). Wish me luck.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Stepping back from Unkiss Me, its meta-theme has become a bit more clear. It’s the story of betrayal, in its many guises. The sort of “Original Sin” betrayal, wherein the underbelly of paradise is exposed: temptation, material desires, seeking without embracing. That sort of thing.

Then there’s the theme of jealousy and infidelity: the boy-girl story examined through the lens of a long-term marriage. The betrayal of the confessor. The betrayal of the penitent. And the myriad betrayals by one’s environment, body, community and country.

Set in the template of the cyber fairytale, Unkiss Me pours “the same old story” into a modern vessel. The hermit crab appropriating a home in the form of the blog and other aspects of electronic communication. What do you think?

Monday, August 07, 2006


I am fresh from a weekend at the Oregon Coast where I sped off to on Friday to meet up with three other like-minded compatriots for the soul purpose of finishing Unkiss Me.

I am happy to report that the trip was a complete success, in that, not only did I finish the book, but got some excellent, last-minute feedback from my friends. One of my fellow writers, an ex-priest, zeroed in on a Catholic idiom faux pas (I, a former Catholic, confused the word “confessor” with “penitent”; I should have my Confirmation papers revoked!).

Of interest to me was a discussion we had on the nature of “blog voice.” That is to say, the cadence, structure and stance typically found on a blog, as opposed to, say, an essay or a piece of fiction. Exposition versus narration. Telling versus showing. Presenting the facts versus musing.

In appropriating the blog form in which to tell my story, I was concerned about falling into the “imitative fallacy” trap, in other words, expounding ad nauseum with a somewhat pedantic tone. Below is a great definition of imitative fallacy I found on a science fiction writers website, of all places.

Imitative fallacy. The common trap of trying to make the narrative imitate the personality of the protagonist. When the novel is concerned with an unlikable or inaccessible protagonist, the narrative is also unlikable and inaccessible. Since the reader cannot figure out the protagonist, nor is the reader given any reason to care about the protagonist, the reader disengages. The prose must transcend the imitative fallacy. Two examples of excellence are Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry (hypocritical evangelist), and Babbitt (smug placid businessman). (CSFW: David Smith)

So, I’ve erred on the side of presenting the material using more traditional literary devices within the blog form. I incorporate dialog, I present scenes, and, hopefully, I get a bit lyric now and again. It’s all part of the genre-bending conceit.

So, back in the heat of the Willamette Valley for me, in front of my machine, and now I have to sell the mother%*&%*!