Monday, January 27, 2014

Much More Than We Realize

I read a blog this morning about how words matter much more than we realize. As a writer, we paint our pictures with our words. For every stroke of the keyboard, we are shifting people's perspectives whether it be for good or bad. As people, we speak our words to communicate to others our thoughts and feelings. Whether or not it turns out to be good or bad, our words should reflect our true selves. They shouldn't be used for ill purposes and squandered away on meaningless things, or sent out into the unknown space of the internet only to be conjured up later for some other ill used  purpose.

This last weekend, I went to the Paint Bar located in Newton, MA. It was a gathering filled with a few co-workers. I was fully expecting that my painting would be a bunch of horrible incoherrent smears on canvas. It was anything but. I'm not saying that it was a masterpiece, but I still want to hang it on my wall. Although they idiot proofed the session, my confidence level rose. I found that I learned techniques I probably never would have learned anywhere else. I had fun doing it and I am going to do it again in March or around then. I'm very excited to try it again. 

The same thing that happened to me in that painting class is also occurring with my writing. Who better to learn from than one of the masters? Dickens is a wordsmith and he knew the value of using just the right word for the in a particular situation. Words like plump or discourse appear in his pages without sounding as if he sat with a thumb in his thesaurus.  Although he does ramble about inconsequential things, it is for the benefit of localizing his text so that his writing is believable. It is an art that most writers today have strayed from. 

Artists come in various forms. I am so glad for the experience to recognize techniques and learn new ways to use them, whether it be painting or writing. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

On Being Confident

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a famous writer. I fantasize about the ability to work in solitude hearing nothing but the hum of the computer. I could look out my window and see a misty moor with lush green hills, trees that reached to the sky as I look out my window to an English country setting. My fingers tap the keys and words pour from my bleeding heart so free without any second thoughts.


Yet it is not like that while I am trying to write a story. Sometimes I get frustrated to even write a single word because it feels that it doesn't convey the particular tone or meaning I want. Or sometimes I feel that what I have been working on for the past few months is absolute garbage. I put it down and I get so angry about it. I get really frustrated.

And then I realize that what makes me really frustrated is that there are times when I have no time for typing my story. There are no keys click clacking. I am not even in ENGLAND. I am here in subzero temperatures and haven't seen the light of day in a month and I'm scrubbing the tub when I hear a scream from the other room. It is my fifteen month old waking from her nap. All in one instant, my dream of becoming a novelist writing in an old English country house comes to a screeching halt and I am more disappointed in that split second than at any other time. My afternoon is dashed. There will be no writing today. Chores and toddler raising have usurped the two hour spot I designated for writing/reading/self-improvement.

I walk over to my child's room and this is what I see, the moment I walk in:

The next second, my frustrations have melted some and my canceled plans are somewhat forgotten. I see her smiling face and I am grateful that she is happy and safe. My darling smiles and twists and turns as I change her diaper as I plead, "Stay still. Please stay still for mama. Please?" She rolls around the bed as I try to pull up her pants. For a few moments, I can only imagine when I will write again.  If I try to write on my phone, she rips it away from me and takes selfies like this one:

If I write on a computer, she steps in and starts hitting random keys. If you let her alone to your devices, things like this happen:

And now, she has learned to walk. She sticks out her arms and walks like Frankenstein. I think it is hilarious (aside from good writing material). Especially when she is trying to speak incoherrent words such as "OOOOOOOOOOOOO. AAAAAAA.  ZAA!" And then she fell. She looked to see what I would do. Since I did nothing, except smile at how cute she was, she clapped, picked herself up and continued to walk to the coffee table.  This amazingly simple act that she performed, showed me that just because she fell it didn't mean to get all upset and cry. She shook it off, appreciated the steps she just took and got herself right back up so she could go where she wanted.

I learned a valuable lesson from her. I learned that I need to greet the day with more happiness, to take what I want no matter how I may portray myself, smile more often, applaud myself that I was able to write this long on a subject before I lost interest and get right back to it when I feel that enough time has gone by.

For now, I will cherish every Frankenstein step my angel takes.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Deliciously Delaying Dickens

This new year hasn't started out that perfectly for me. I've had a few setbacks with colds and toothaches. I resolved to read all of Dickens beginning with, "The Pickwick Papers". Although there are some hilarious sketches of the townspeople and it is indeed entertaining, I am having a hard time putting down the John Irving novel, "In One Person". It follows the story of a gay man coming out during the 1950's and follows him through his "crushes on the wrong people" up to present time. It is exquisitely plotted and I am only through half of the book!

My real interest in this book came from a few years back when John Irving came to Boston University to give a reading of his other book, "Last Night in Twisted River". I brought my Aunt's copy of her book (that she leant me) and had it signed by the author! I said to him, "I really love your books, " trying not to sound like a version of Annie Wilkes as my heart thumped in my chest. He murmured a "thank you" and handed it back to me and I left with butterflies.

I'll never forget it because as I sat in the auditorium before he signed our books, he had asked people to fill out these notecards to ask him three different questions that he would then talk about for the duration of the reading. He did not answer anything about his writing style, which were the nature of the questions I asked. He answered questions that had to do with the subject matter of his books. One of them was a question about "The World According to Garp". He said, and I am paraphrasing because I can't remember his exact wording, "I believe that this country still has a bias to gay people and it is absurd. I think that people should have equal rights in marriage just as any man and woman have and this is why I have turned back to the subject matter that I had started with "Garp". There is just inexplicable hatred for people and there is no reason for it. I decided to write something that takes the subject head on." I have never read "The World According to Garp", although it is on my to be read list because my brother had said that out of all the books he had read, he liked that one a lot (the fact that he read that amazed me). Of John Irving'd books, I only read, "Last Night in Twisted River" and "The Fourth Hand". I tried to read "Son of the Circus" several times, but I did not get through the first fifty pages (in my defense, I was trying to read it while going to school full time). 

Being in that auditorium was a treat. But what was really delicious was when Mr. Irving started to read from this new novel. Work that had only been seen by his eyes. In that hazy auditorium with the dimmed lights and the stool on which he sat, he began reading this wonderful work which I found to be amazing. I found myself thinking, I have to pick it up and then failed to figure out when it would be released. How serendipitous it was that my Aunt (again) leant me her copy of "In One Person"!

So, once I am finished with the book I am reading, I am turning all of my attention to Dickens and his many works.