Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New Class: Creativity Jolt!

I've created a new class to teach at the Writing Salon in Berkeley. It's for those of us who need to be energized with our writing. It runs five Wednesday evenings, starting August 20th through September17th. We'll be doing timed writing exercises and then sharing our writing in a nonjudgmental atmosphere, looking for that germ of an idea for a story or a chapter. Often in a writing class, it's about criticism and revision, and there's a valid place for that, but I need to get excited about the idea. So we'll be doing writing exercises around creating story, character, setting...the craft elements of writing, but we'll try different techniques for getting into the writing. I want to make writing fun again--not work. You can do that at home. In addition to writing and sharing, everyone will be given a manuscript consult on one work from the class, so you'll still get that individualized attention. I think I'm more excited to teach the class than you will be to take it. Feel free to e-mail me (ask Jane for my e-mail via writingsalons.com) or comment or ask questions about the class via this blog. I still have openings for the flash fiction class that starts Saturday, August 2nd from 10-4.

As for my own writing, I'm stoked to go to the FC2 Writer's Edge Convention. We'll be studying fairy tales, creating a collaborative novel, and looking at experimental combinations of mixed media (film, writing, art). I'm so looking forward to this trip. I love the ten hour drive--I'll have to read the work for Lance Olsen's class on the way up, though. I've been drywalling my new writing studio in the back yard for about three weeks and it's finally done, so when we get home, I'll have to start writing something for real. I did write a little something called "In the Shed" with the help of my own writing coach, but it needs revision.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Writing Process

Lately, I've been paying attention to the fact that when I'm on the computer in the morning and researching venues to send my work to, I get a very businessy mind that is hard to shake. I get like this anxiety and a sort of crunchy feeling inside after I've been at it a while. I guess sending my work out gets a little ouchy sometimes. Trying to figure out where to send work and who will accept it leaves me a little empty. There's trendy, experimental, voicy kind of magazines (read contemporary) and then there's the more traditional mags. There's on-line shorter types of magazines that seem to want edgy flash pieces that sometimes read like poetry rather than story. And there's contests to consider. Whew! So I have to figure out what category my work falls into; then I have to decide whether to read a little of the stuff on the website, if it's offered. I have to decide if I personally like the name of the magazine. I also have to decide whether to buy an advance copy or order one when I submit, or simply to submit blind. (I don't recommend doing too much of that last one.) There really is no such thing as a clearly blind submission. When I'm submitting, I look at, again, the title, the editors, the blog--if they have one, sample selections (Yeah to those mags that do have these) and as often as I can, the magazine itself. I get the magazine by entering a contest that gives you a sample copy. I send for a sample copy if I like all of the above, or if the editor has given me a rejection with a nice note. Or I subscribe, if I really like the stuff I've seen inside. I especially subscribe to magazines that publish my work. If a magazine seems to fit my personal profile of writing, I subscribe to that mag. I actually don't subscribe to many magazines lately, but I like reading magazines more than books. So, I guess this is a blog about subscribing to magazines and about publication. Where I was really headed was to write about how to get out of business head and write stories. Yesterday I went swimming at the public swim pool for a while, read a little Lydia Davis, and then felt the urge to write, so I pulled out my journal and wrote a few pages. Voila, writing block broken. I urge you to get away from your computer and publishing. Go read, exercise, then write. These are not new ideas. Read Jane Anne Staw's book Unblocked. That'll help. Reread The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

July 9th; Post Fourth of July

Let's take care of business first:

Writing Salon / writingsalons.com
Fiction Class: July 23rd, Wednesday nights, 9 weeks, 7-9:30
Flash Fiction Seminar: August 2nd, Saturday, 10-4

I listened to Chiasmus Press's (ooh 3 s's, ooh 2 s's) podcast, and I have to say boring promo for their press. It took 15 minutes for them to start talking and they didn't really get into what the Press's books were about. They do have a book contest for new, avant garde, experimental, edgy stuff: undoing the novel. I don't think my work is out there enough for them, but when I go to FC2's innovative fiction workshop, I'll take a look at their authors--Chiasmus is linked to Lydia Yuknavitch and others, so they'll be there. My personal concern is that innovative might just really be a catch phrase lately (and this is not in connection to FC2's or Chiasmus Press books) for anything dealing with sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, or maybe something that doesn't have a story line. Or maybe I'm just the one who plays it safe all the time. So I'm tired of my own blog and feeling like I should voice an opinion about something once in a while. I don't have all the time in the world to listen to podcasts, though. At the same time, I have a hard time sitting down with mainstream literary novels these days. I think I'm somewhere in between.

Haven't been any place lately--drywalling our new shed in the back yard so I can have a writing studio. Hanging wash on the line, so I can utilize the power of the sun rather than the dryer. Two jobs I love, in a way. Dry walling is satisfying--putting the mud on the wall, scraping it even. It's the sanding part I hate--dusty and time-consuming. The part I hate about laundry is putting the clothes away. Isn't it weird that we have parts of jobs we like and parts we hate. I don't mind loading the dishwasher; I hate unloading. I don't mind painting my daughter's room; I like moving furniture around; I hate cleaning the room, though. I don't mind blogging; but I hate editing my own blogs. I don't mind editing other people's work, but I always hate it when I feel like a student/client isn't really going to revise. Well, hate's a strong word.

I was reading the Emerging Writer's Network blog and thinking about how I could make my blog more useful, interesting, perhaps valuable, and crap I couldn't come up with anything except being myself. Which makes me think of something else. When I moved out to California, I found out that Californians think the word "crap" is a dirty word. I never heard that before. We said it in school and no one ever corrected me, but out here, my students say, "Ms. Gennna, ooh you said crap." Well, maybe it's just because a teacher is using it. Well, that's silly.

I saw the fireworks in Pinole with my younger daughter--beautiful and oohful. Back in Iowa, if you crossed the state line into SD, you could buy fireworks, and I miss being a kid and watching my dad and uncles get that big box out of trunk of the car at dusk and setting them off at night at my Grandma and Grandpa Skinner's house. Now that's what Independence Day is really about!
Go to Disneyland and watch their fireworks display and see if you don't get all choked up, no matter how much propoganda and brainwashing you think is in a Disney movie.

Well, someone once told me I was a fence rider, and I think that's true. You can see a lot of things while sitting on a fence, but some things I'm not so fencey about. Injustice, poverty, cruelty, waste, racism. I mean it's the important things.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Flash Fiction Class

The flash fiction class is August 2nd. Whew! I thought I did a scheduling snafu, but I didn't. I'm starting the fiction class on July 23rd, Wednesday night and the flash is on a Saturday. I go up to the FC2 conference on the weekend of July 25th - 27th.

Books I'm reading: Still working on Miranda July and Lydia Davis. I read a couple of the shorter selections of Davis's out loud in the car to my husband and when I stopped, my nine year old said, "Keep going." So her comedic wryness can hold the interest of a nine year old girl. Hmmm.

If you're a writer, check out the Emerging Writer's Network. Got to go--do some writing for real.