Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Yes, someone has read my pages and that someone is not me

It's happened.  I gave pages of my novel to a new writers group I've joined and have lived to see another day — AND have given them more pages.  (These are them, waiting to be put into nice little 20 page packages).

So other people have begun to read this novel and the best part is that nobody said they hate it.  Well, actually, you're not really allowed to say that but I didn't quite get the feeling anyone was holding there tongue here.  More importantly I got some great feedback on things that are and aren't working.  What I love is that a lot of the parts that I felt maybe weren't jiving quite so well are things that came up during my critique.  This means a lot to me because I think it's that kind of instinct about your art that sets you apart.  What comes to mind here are the contestants on talent shows that are really terrible but for some reason think they're really good.  I know sometimes there are jokesters but when they're not I always wonder how on earth these people cannot judge their work against others and see they've got a long way to go?  Case in point:

That's pretty much my biggest fear, to be devoting so much time and wanting to build a career at something I'm no good at, and I just can't SEE how bad I suck.  I don't have to be the best.  I know I'm far from it, but if my writing is comparable to the duet in this video, please,  PUH-LEASE, tell me.

My new writers group seems honest and caring and more importantly they're encouraging.  In group we focus mostly on writing exercises and this is great because I get to write other things that aren't my novel, and there wouldn't be any of that if not for this group.

I found the group online, as part of LA Writers Group.  It's eight weeks long and besides writing and critiquing each other's work, we also have a little break where we get to munch on some snacks and talk writing, or not talk writing, with other writers, which doesn't always happen so often because, you know, we're supposed to be writing.  Here's some of us not writing but maybe talking about writing, maybe not.

These days a lot of writing talk takes place online on different forums like Absolute Write and Nathan Bransford's forums and that's great too but sometimes it's really nice to be looking into the smiling faces of other writers instead of the computer screen.  Unless you're looking into the face of one of those serious writers I spoke about earlier.  You remember, writers who make faces like this. Thankfully, there are none of those in this group.

It's scary putting your work out there.  Especially when you're handing it to people you don't know.  What I tell myself is to listen carefully, remember these are just opinions and some will ring true (hopefully) and some won't.  I try not to get offended or down on myself when listening to criticism and go in with the attitude that constructive criticism can only make my work better.  A criticism is not like a mistake.  The critique may seem to be dressed up like Freddy Krueger at first, but it shapeshifts.  There it is all decked out in ghoulish garb, but if it's being respectful (and you know what to do with it) you'll realize the criticism is actually Glinda, that good witch, parting the clouds.

And actually, I guess mistakes can do that too :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Without chicken soup you are nothing

It was my Bubbie's birthday on Saturday and man am I grateful for mine.  She's had my back since the day I was born.  In case you're not Jewish a Bubbie is an Oma, an Ema, a Nana, a grandmother.  Your best friend.

I am so grateful for mine I could cry.

One of the best things about a Bubbie (maybe not all of them but definitely mine) is that you get great recipes passed down like chicken soup — the Jewish staple, cure for everything, like windex is for Greeks in My Big Fat Greek Weeding.  Tom was feeling a bit under the weather over the weekend so I thought I'd make him a batch.  I've expanded just a bit on my Bubbie's recipe, and I added brown rice instead of Matzah Balls because I'm trying to cut down on the gluten at the moment, but all the love was still in this soup (the most important ingredient) and needless to say, Tom was feeling much better, very soon.

Next week, I'll have a post on a writers groups (and my new shiny one!) and also, duh, duh, duh.....getting feedback on pages of my novel.

And as a side note of gratitude I just also want to say how much I love my life.  I get to wake up everyday and follow my dreams, my heart.  It's the freedom I've been yearning for years.  I may not have a lot of money in the bank, a house of my own, or even a car to get me around LA, but I'm happy.

Actually, happy doesn't even scratch the surface.

Friday, February 17, 2012

This and this and free books

Thank you for Pandora's play of Etta James' Sunday Kind of love
while I cooked Barefoot Contessa's Tuna Salad with fresh Ahi 
and my own side of edamame yum.

And thank you for days where I get to do this

Oh and here's one more:
Thank you for writers like Tahereh Mafi,
for inspiring me, for waking up other voices inside my head
and (most importantly) for giving away free books (click this link).

 No really. 

 Do it.

And by the way, if you're grateful for something, leave it in the comments (I'll be grateful for that too).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This is really about you

On this very merry valentines I thought I would just send out a thought about giving some of that v-day love to yourself today (not like you should need any excuse to do it).

I'm saying this because in a few instances over the past little while I have been withholding some of that love from me - and if I need a reminder, chances are so do you.  It's part of what being human is all about.

The problem I've been having, off and on, for pretty much my whole life, is with comparing myself to others instead of just accepting myself for who I am and getting on with it.

In my writing life this means I read blogs like Kiersten Writes, where she talks about writing a whole first draft in one week.  ONE WEEK!!!  And she has two kids!?!  There are other writer's like this too.  I could start a link list but seeing all the authors on one page (more like thousands of pages really) would bring out my Eeyore.

Why?  Because I'm not like them.  In the most endearing way possible I am going to call them Freak Writers because to me that's what they are.  Freak Writers write ten books a year and have day jobs as broadway stars and pastry chefs along with four kids, two dogs and a cat with gastrointestinal problems. They write decent books, or excellent books or books that go off like fireworks.  They have bedazzled writing careers that look like Cee Lo Green.

So what does this mean for the girl who has written two novels in nine years, the first of which was set on fire?

In my darkest hours it means that I tell myself I don't work hard enough because I don't work as hard as Freak Writers.  I tell myself they have writing careers and I don't because they work harder than I do and deserve it more.

I can be fully honest with myself and admit that the last sentence, on some level, is probably true.  I haven't spent the last seven years writing furiously.  I've spent them writing sometimes, some times more than others.

Putting writing first and finding that balance between writing and life is a work in progress that lately I feel I'm gaining on (I better be cause I have nothing else to do!).

The important part?

Writing is a part of me.  I don't always love it but it seems to be something that I have to do.  So I'll keep doing it.  I'll keep doing it my way and hopefully that will keep me on the journey my heart set out on long before the rest of me agreed.

There's room for me in the writing world, just like there's room for you in whatever world you'd like to find yourself in at any given moment.

Just stop comparing the google map you're following to the two-year-old prodigy's pimped out GPS that got him to the same place you're going before he was potty-trained.

And whatever you do, just keep on keeping on.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Flowers are purtty

Last Friday I was having just one of dem days,
when Tom came home with these.

This came in the bouquet too. 
(I love white roses.)

I could dedicate a whole blog 
to why I'm grateful for Tom and what we share. 
But trying to get you to understand my feelings with words
would be like asking you to smell these flowers.

That's why I'm just sayin' thank you

thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you
thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you
thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you
thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you
thank you...

Anything you want to say thank you for?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rewrites begun!

I'm usually more of a belly-flopper really,  
but that's how I started my rewrites.  
Just like that.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Thank you for this space

When Tom and I moved back to Oakville (ON) from Vancouver after I'd graduated from UBC we moved into my parents' basement.  My plan was to save on rent, wait tables and begin my career as a serious writer. You know, one who makes faces like this.  The space was a top secret cubby hole where I could make lots of these faces in utter privacy but in the end it wasn't what I needed.

When Tom and I moved out of the basement two years later I got a new writing space.  This one had a desk against a great big window that looked out on to the street.  It was a great space for day dreaming and so in other words it was great for ideas, but after a while this space started to look like this. Okay, maybe it wasn't that bad but Tom and I lived in an apartment with one closest so after a while we started running out of places to put things and so my imagination became blocked by stacks of mail and book towers acting as coasters and places for mittens or sunglasses.

In LA, I live in an apartment with six closets.  SIX!  (And that's not including the kitchen cupboards).  There are two great big windows in the front room of our second-floor apartment and now I'm writing at a beautiful dining table we bought off craigslist for $100, from a girl who partied too much on it.  It needs to be refinished but my mind doesn't pick up the stains.

Because when I'm writing my view is of these big tree branches and a park across the street.  Sunlight crashes through this window every day like a superhero making an entrance.  I actually feel like I could get something done here. And I'm grateful for that.