Tuesday, January 29, 2008

End of January

So, what's going on. I've been teaching a fiction writing class through the Writing Salon in Berkeley and it's really interesting and exciting for me to be able to begin working with adults who want to write and read and share fiction. I'll be teaching a flash fiction seminar up in Sebastapol in March. This is a series funded by Poets and Writers. Lately, all I've been reading are short story collections. Then I went with a friend to hear Khaled Hosseini(Sp) to hear him talk about Afghanistan and his books. I picked up his new one A Thousand Splendid Suns, started it and got caught up in the prose. I'm teaching The Great Gatsby in my high school class again and trying to make the students slow down and appreciate the gifted prose. Then in the other class, we're reading Their Eyes Were Watching God. I'm hoping to sustain the interest level, but those high school kids are a picky crowd. Some of them are pretty literal and when Zora Neale Hurston waxes poetic about the bees and the pollen, some of the guys' eyes wax over (and some of the girls' too) and I've lost them. Oh well. They do like the word play when Amos Hicks is trying to hit on Janie. Been thinking about all the things going on in the world and how far removed I am from everything--the war, the economy, movie stars accidentally od-ing---sad, sad, sad. Wonder how we're ever going to get out of Iraq if a Republican wins the election. My teenage daughter has a good friend over there--kid fresh out of high school, a boy who went to church every Sunday by himself because he'd had some kind of vision, but couldn't find a job when he got out, so he enlisted. And the people over there, sustaining the hit. There's a new cable channel called Current (107) that shows podcasts and videos from viewers, has interesting insight and less censorship--take a look at it. It's a strange world.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


1. Spend less time on-line ie. use time on-line to check e-mail, respond, go to favorite websites and read a story or poems.
2. Write in journal once a day.
3. Exercise once a day.
4. Sign kids up for classes--keep 'em busy. (Jacklyn: French and piano / Del: ?)
5. Take a vacation this summer with husband.
6. Go home to Iowa.
7. Go to other writers' readings in SF, Berkeley, Sebastapol.
8. Decide on a focus for my collection.
9. Find new writing spots.
10. Keep classroom focused -- have them do more creative writing, along with required stuff.

Time to go write this down in my journal--what's yours?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

New Years Resolutions: Write some more short stories. Create a new collection. I'm reading Creativity for Life by Eric Maisel (in little bits and pieces). I especially enjoyed the chapter on the artist's personality. I did some of the exercises with my teenager about her goals and plans for the future--pretty funny. One said to draw two animals, describe them with three adjectives, and then ponder them for how they are symbolic of one's own contrasts in personality. It was amazing how she picked two completely opposite animals and a little scary how the issues attached to the animals were similar to things she struggles with. Then we did an exercise around goals where she had to draw symbolically things that were in the way of what she wanted out of life and we found that money was the number one road block. So we talked about that for a while. I can see where my own fear of poverty has reared its ugly head in my own daughter. Time to write a story about mother/daughter relationships, I think. We made sock monsters over the holidays--super cute. I finished Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones. It's an older collection of his short stories, but I'm definitely a fan. I also read Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie, which I enjoyed. He does have a sentimental tone to some of his stories, but they gave me the courage to write something less ironic. Looking for a new collection to read. I usually go to a used book store--Dog Eared Books in SF is one of my favorites. There's also one in Oakland on Piedmont that I like, but due to my dyslexic nature around names, I've forgotten what it's called. Finished reading The Little Town on the Prairie to my younger daughter and now am looking for old used copies of The Little House in the Big Woods, The Long Winter, and These Happy Golden Years. My mother bought the set for me and my sister when I was in the fourth grade, but these are missing. If you're not from the Midwest, you probably think these books are boring, but we don't. Jacklyn is shocked that Almonzo, who is 23, walks Laura (only 15 and a half) home from church. She keeps saying, "That's eight years older! She's not even 16!"