Tuesday, March 31, 2009

580 Split Reading on April 25th

I have a reading at Mills College coming up for the magazine 580 Split. That's always fun and nice to get out there and hear other people's work. There's also a life after the MFA forum on Sunday, the 26th at USF, so I'm looking forward to being busy in the literary life. My class at Hercules High School is hard at work on the lit mag: The Dynamite Factory, and I'm so proud of them. They get right to it and know exactly what to do. The English III classes are presenting projects for their multicultural lit unit and the other two English classes are reading Catcher in the Rye. I can't tell whether they like it, but I'm getting tired of it. I think I'll try to find something fresh and new for them to read next year. They liked Their Eyes Were Watching God, I think. We have to do some writing soon. So that's life after the MFA in a high school English class. I'm hoping more of you out there will sign up for my Wednesday night fiction class at the Writing Salon (soon). It may be a sign of the economy slump. I'd like to teach a class and only have two sign-ups right now. It'd be nice if the class stayed small, but six is the necessary amount for the class to go.

As for my own writing--well--more time to write is always a plus. Working on a collection of suburban stories. Rough day, though. Daughter had a fender bender, husband's truck got broken into and his wallet stolen--they charged a bunch up at Toys R Us and Staples within an hour or two--and some students at my high school hijacked the school website and wrote some pretty awful things about administrators and teachers. I felt sad and disheartened at their meanness, especially toward teachers and administrators who work so hard to make school a safe place and the teachers who work extra hard to help them be successful on AP exams. Maybe teachers and students don't always see eye to eye, but writing profane and abusive statements, terrorizing the school's website (which students created and maintain)? I don't get it. These are definitely kids with too much time on their hands. And they're sure to get caught, which will also be sad for their lives--and their parents' lives.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Practice of Poetry

Hey, if you're a poet and wants some terrific exercises for writing poetry--try The Practice of Poetry, edited by Roni Behn and Chase Twichell. It's great for sparking the imagination, which is why I'm especially encouraging fiction writers who are blocked to try it. It's got my mind all woke up. A friend gave me an article from the LA Times about cowboy poets/farmer poets and I thought that was pretty funny and true. I'm from the Midwest and I can see why farmers would resent the bailout when they lost all their farms in the 80's. No one came to their aide. Here's a sample from Yvonne Hollenbeck
"A 'Bail Out' plan in AgLand is to feed the livestock hay,
and not the type of bail-out plan we hear about today.
When country folds lose money, which happens most of the time
they don't receive a handout...not even one thin dime."

Love it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New Creative Nonfiction on the Web

I have a new essay out on the web at 580 Split. It's the short essay called "In the Shed." GOTO 580split.com and then go to their web journal. Let me know what you think. After seeing it on-line, I felt like whoa...too personal. It's my first nonfiction piece. I think I like hiding behind the veil of fiction, but I wanted to step out this once because my daughter JG was mentioned in it and I wanted to say to her, "Hey, I wrote something about us." I was also trying to write about the past and trying to write an essay in the vein of personal reflection. My eleventh grade students have to write one, so I made myself write one, too--to show them and to show myself.

As for people who were considering taking my Friday night class, I'm sorry. I had to step off on that one because I was too overwhelmed with things to do in the next three months. (And quite frankly, I got ill with kidney stones and it set me back about two weeks.) I will still be teaching my Fiction class. It's been moved back to Wednesday nights, with all new stories to read, new writing exercises, and more opportunities to workshop. So check it out if you're thinking about taking a class. If you have graduated from an MFA program, but miss the classroom, this class has a nice mix of writers who are very dedicated to the craft and are very responsible in the workshop/editing phase. It's a great place to go back to and revive that spirit and excitement you had for writing. (Or if you are new--we're gentle and encouraging)

As for advice about writing, I'm now reading a book called The Practice of Poetry by editors Robin Behn and Chase Twichell. They have some terrific exercises for people to write poetry, but I like some of them for inspiring stories, too. I like the idea of writing a story from a poem. I used to do this all the time when I was in the program at USF. Write the story out as lines in a poem first. Then go back and fill it up with detail. I do the reverse sometimes with poetry. Freewrite as a narrative; then pare it down to the simplest form. Cut out and get to the central image and metaphor.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Too much to do

Gotta keep it short. Still reading Writing Tips. Love it. Also reading Pushcart Prizes 2009. I'm planning to go hear Kate Brady read (if she does) at her book release party. I love her work. Her book is called The Mechanics of Falling. I lost my cell phone today and a pair of shoes last week and a workout jacket (that I recovered). So I lost three things...my run of bad luck is over. I had three financial disasters: the pipe to our main water line broke, the car needed a new catalytic converter, and our daughter needed new tires. So that's over. My mom says they only come in threes. Oh and she says, "Don't swim in the river!" Love it.

Jane at the Writing Salon is planning a class for me to teach--once a month on a Friday night for six months. This is for people who mainly want to workshop their work. Check it out on her website soon. I'm still planning to teach the Fiction class once a week. BUSY!

I hear lots of people are getting published out there. That's good news in all this doom and gloom atmosphere. It's weird. We (my family) have always been economical and careful with money (sort of) and our income is the same, we still have our house, but we still feel like we should be more careful. It's a strange time. Well, my husband did lose a bunch on his 401 K. Oh yeah, he lost his wallet this week, too. I hope nobody tries to identity theft him!!!!

The writing life feels crammed full right now and not much time for advice. I'm having the class read stories to look for two stories in one.

Tired because of the time change and my dogs are hogging the bed. Sorry, gotta go. I'll write more when I have something to say.