Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Today Was A Great Day

A few things about today:

-I started training for my new job at national non-for-profit. It was very intense. I love it.
- My first of two book orders arrived. (To Kill a Mocking Bird, by Lee Harper & Willful Creatures: Stories, by Aimee Bender)

I am one story short of finishing my recent short story collection (Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, Ben Fountain). The collection is a must read. Fountain's prose transcends the reader right into the the war-stricken, tragedy-ridden, and tormented lives of characters and countries he writes about. I haven't cried, but have found myself cheering for some of the characters. As much as I love this collection, I'm glad I'm near the end because I want to crack the spines of my new books. Buying books is so much fun.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Day One Results

The writing date was great. Lots more people have discovered our little cafe but it didn't ruin the mood too much. Except, there was the half hour or so when a two mothers brought their kids in to sit down while they chatted. I have nieces and I love kids but to be funny I told my friend, "What do they think this is McDonald's?" Ha, that makes me laugh a little only because my grandpa use to take me and all his other grandkids to McDonald's and lets us order whatever we wanted. Then he'd let us run around in the play structure. These kids, though, to their credit were pretty well behaved for the most part. The only incident that I was not fond of was when one of them tried to break into the bathroom when I was in it. The door was very flimsy and I thought me yelling "Excuse me, someone's in here," would be enough, but the little kid was persistent. Luckily, the door held and there were no embarrassing moments for me to recover from.

As I expected, I did not write as much as I wanted to on our date because we chatted a lot and bounced ideas around and sometimes just got distracted from what we came there to do. I don't mind this though, because the entire experience still adds to my life as a writer and because I miss some of that conversation in other parts of my life. So the writing date produced two friends catching up, discussing MFAs, the benefits of cross genre reading, and about 350 words into my first novel. The word count does not end there. I went home took my over energized pup for a walk (He almost made me cry in public because he doesn't always listen. If you see a woman being dragged down the street by a large puppy, good chance it might be me.) Then I came home and kept writing until my sinuses clouded my train of thought. In the end, I got about 100 more words out of myself for the day.

I put off posting my results until today because I wanted to see if I would do anymore work. I thought about it a lot but never sat down again. Not too bad. Typically, when I sit down to write something new, I am happy if I can reach 500 words for the day. That equals about one full page of words single spaced. It doesn't seem like a lot but if you factor in all the creative thinking and processing that goes behind it then it adds up.

Today, I plan to continue on the novel. More to come.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Page One, Chapter One?

All the graduation celebration is finally over. I had a party with friends and got the FINAL notice that the graduate office posted a "PASS" grade in my account. School is really over, for now. I've already thought about a PhD program, but we will see where my life is in about five years.

I kept up a good pace of writing once I actually finished my thesis and admit the actual writing has slowed down at bit. However, the process (which includes brainstorming) is still going strong. One reason the writing is not keeping up is fear. Fear of what? Fear of finishing something else. It's a long process and thinking about how long it may actually take is debilitating sometimes. I wrote a couple children's stories, but they still need to be edited and transformed over several drafts. I have a novel idea that I even workshopped a chapter or two during my graduate program, but now I have to grow it. This is where the brainstorming is really picking up speed.

I've determined I'm starting completely over. The section I workshopped is maybe 30 pages and not my best. In this case starting over is easier than trying to salvage anything. But when I think about sitting down and beginning this novel I think more about the individual characters than I do the story. I'm fine with that except I wonder if what I write will be more character sketches or storyline. I'll find out tomorrow. Tomorrow I have a writing date with Ghost Ocean's editor, Heather Cox. We try and meet every or every other week depending on what we have going on. I specifically asked to meet this week to make myself actually start writing again. Plus, she's a great friend to talk to about books and writing in general.

So here is a preview of what I will be writing about. The book is going to follow the lives of two sisters. A tragedy at a young age has made them very close until one sister suddenly takes her life in another direction. The book will follow each of them struggling to find their own identity apart from each other while still trying to hold on to a part of themselves in the past that made them so close. I know that's a vague description, but I have to keep the good, tricky, and "oh no she didn't" parts secret until the book is ready for publication. :)

I will admit the original idea came from events in my own life. HOWEVER, since writing those first few chapters almost two years ago AND rethinking the concept, the book is certainly not following any true story lines. I like it better this way because its more fun, easier not to get stuck on what "really happened," and true fiction.

Lastly, a big motivation to start the writing comes from my grandma. I received a newspaper clipping from her today of a local girl who made it as an author. Grandma wrote at the top of the clipping, "If she can do it, I know you can too." Oh grandma, thanks for the encouragement. ;)
I will post something tomorrow to confess how the session went.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bittersweet Endings

Today was the last day of my teaching internship at College of Lake County. I assisted teaching an ELI 108. It was suppose to be an English 108 (or developmental class) but things were misread and I had the option of sticking with it or finding another class. I stuck with it even though it was not what I originally intended to take. It fit well in my spring schedule and I had already had one college level composition class internship under my belt, so I thought this would be an interesting change. By the second week of class I was very happy with my decision. It became very apparent this class was one of those rare classes that really make the teacher as well as the other students in the class happy to be in the classroom. Everyone in the class was excited to be there and VERY eager to learn. It really made the job easy to love and gave me more desire to pursue a teaching career.

Teaching was something I always went back and forth with as a career. I love learning and helping other learn, but I felt too young to be a teacher. I know this is probably a common enough feeling for recent college graduates going into teaching careers, specifically, those that teach older students. However, working with these students this semester really helped me look past that reservation. Most of my students were mothers and/or several years older than me, but when I worked with them it felt more like a partnership than this weird setup of student and teacher. Every student in the class just made the semester great and worked so hard to improve their English language writing skills. This experience has also given me the desire to explore the ELI department more in my job search for teaching positions.

So today I wanted to congratulate my ELI 108 class for a great semester and experience. They are determined writers and editors of their work and my exceptional writing news for the week!