Saturday, September 24, 2011


Hi, peeps! I've got 24 articles to power through this week. I'm also digging into my WIP. Lots of pans on the burner, I hope I don't burn anything. I'm making another painful cut this week in the WIP. I'm not sure that I'm really a reviser but more of a reinventor. I'm writing stories the way I learned to write. Mema would get out a big mess of purple hulls and hand me a colander. I would shell peas and she'd tell stories. The thing about her stories that always stood out to me is they got better over time. This kind of reinvention means that I toss out whole chapters and try to take the story in a whole different direction to make a better story. That's just the way good writing works for me.

This idea of reinvention is a big one for people who write these days. Books are in flux, the whole industry is in flux. We are all in adapt to survive mode. A part of me wishes that I would have born in a time in history when technology wasn't changing so much. But vain wishes aren't a profitable use of time; I have to embrace this: "We have to decide what to do with the time that is given to us," like Gandalf said in Lord of the Rings. Mema was about telling rip-roaring stories. Her stories made me a better person. I hope that my stories do that. That's what I'm doing with my time.

So I work. I open the files every day and I work. I hope you find your purpose and your pursue it with all your heart. See you next week for more reinvention. :)

This is a doodle on the back of a church bulletin. I'm calling it "Parakeet and Girl">

Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
Helen Keller

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Hi, folks. It's still hot here but not as hot as it was, and I'm majorly grateful for that. I'm working on my WIP this week. Writing a book reminds me of an old story in the Bible of Jacob wrestling with an angel. The angel wrenched Jacob's hip so hard that Jacob would limp for the rest of his life. The angel wrestled with Jacob all through a dark, long night. Finally, at daybreak, when the angel figured out that Jacob wasn't going to let go for any reason, the angel asked him what he wanted. Jacob replied, "Bless me. I'm not letting go unless you bless me." And the angel blessed Jacob because he had struggled with God and with men and had overcome. Writing a book feels like wrestling an angel.

Mixed in my angel battle are these moments that always come to me at dawn. I woke up this morning with a overwhelming feeling of hunger. Not for food -- I yearn for readers. I also yearn to uncover something of this world within the fictive dream. I work over words, sentences and paragraphs, chapters and read that WIP for the umpteenth time in hopes I can draw something out that shakes the foundations. Anything that can be shaken, will be. I'm into revealing what is left after the storms of this life, the stuff that is unfailing: our faith that things will work out in the end, our hopes of the future, and our love for each other.

The task is so much better than me. I get the feeling that I'm an old bucket in a field and I'm hoping for a decent rain. That's saying I don't know if I can do the thing I want to do. I can only try. So pull out your computers, pens, pencils, whatever you need to create shared dreams and work. I think the wrestling is a good thing. I think that hunger is a good thing. This journey is worthy. I think that's something many artists struggle with. Art doesn't generally put sacks of green paper in the bank. It will garner lots of roll-your-eyes comments like, "What do you really do?" and perhaps, "Why don't you do something useful with your life." Gosh, that stuff can needle into you. Some folks do find a wide audience, but I haven't met one that didn't have a long inward struggle to get what she wanted on the page. I haven't met one who hasn't felt the hunger.

So take it from someone who's been traveling the road for a while, take it from someone who gets wrestling with angels, this journey is worth it. Rise up. Keep on the road. Carry on.

I call the doodle this week: "Two trees".

My quote for the week:

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Imaginary Friends

Hi, folks, I've been a big fan of imaginary friends my whole life. I believed stuffed animals were real as child. I had a little elephant - Pinky, who was seriously one of my best friends. After I'd given Pinky the Velveteen Rabbit treatment, I moved on to Buddy Bear. Me and my sisters had George and Susie and their parents and one of my favorites -- Hound Dog Bert. We wrote some stories of a superhero cat too. I was a rather dreamy child. I try to stay close to that child. I think that to create stories you need to be in touch with the child you were.

Think back to childhood and let yourself inhabit those memories. I think it's especially important to journal the events that you have an emotional connection with. To what end? To what purpose? For me, the way art works is I stir up my imagination with sights and experiences. I follow my muse and read stacks. I wake up my memories by thinking about them, I daydream about stuff, I chat with friends about my ideas and watch for their eyes to light up, and then I know I'm onto something. That's basically the genesis of creative process for me.

I hope this peek at my process helps jog loose something in you and you find deeper creative vision. Come back next week!

This week, I give you the doodle "Imaginary Neil." 'cause in the right universe we are good friends. ;)

Anyway, here is a quote for the day:

In the final analysis, a drawing simply is no longer a drawing, no matter how self-sufficient its execution may be. It is a symbol, and the more profoundly the imaginary lines of projection meet higher dimensions, the better. Paul Klee

Friday, September 02, 2011

I Contain Multitudes: Walt Whitman

I'm going to ramble some this week. I plan to scatter my thoughts like chicken feed; maybe something here will give you a little jolt. I hope so.

This week I continue the painful revision of my WIP. I move forward in little packets of about 50 words. I've sliced out a 2000 word scene and am slowly replacing it with something that actually moves the story forward. This is another brick in the wall of achieving phenomenal success in novel writing or perhaps another brick in the wall of stupendous failure -- I'm not about halves. I comfort myself with the bravery of trying.

I had lunch with friends Candy Fite, Nisha Coker, J., SCBWI BV RA Liz Mertz, and Tammy Hensel. J. said some profound stuff to me about writing what excites and infuses the soul. I'm working on that deep honesty. What does my heart yearn to write above all things? I'm not sure. I'm thinking about that. Something inside me want to dive into far flung universes and fantastical stuff. It feels like a good road, but I worry I might be too mundane to pull this off. Do you worry about stuff that?

On another note, I've learned so much about accepting all of me in the last couple of years that I'm going to toss out a thought or two. I think Walt Whitman was getting at something I've discovered too. He said this: "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large -- I contain multitudes." I am the bravest person I know and the biggest chicken too. I can rise up and fall just as hard in the same hour. I am certainly multitudes, and some of the folks in this crowd aren't worth two cents, I just accept it.

Well, that is is some wandering blogging. I hope something connects.

Here is a doodle:

Quote for the week:

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

from Still I'll Rise by Maya Angelou