Say what?!

Monday’s almost over?

Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Clearwater, FL. May 6, 2019.

I’ve been buried in a book all day, researching a new subject, and somehow it’s four o’clock. How’d that happen? Guess that’s what’s known as FOCUS.

Eye of the night heron, baby. (Or something like that . . .)

Back in the saddle again

For the past twelve days I read a whole bunch (The Hazel Wood; The Secret Life of Anna Blanc; Storyworthy; The Truth About Twinkie Pie; Boys and Girls Together; The Infinite Pieces of Us;), did some de-cluttering, scrapbooked photos, watched college basketball and Netflix, exercised, and did ZERO writing.

The no-writing started out easy because I was pretty worn out from my NaNoWriMo draft and in serious need of a break from that kind of thinking. Then I began to notice an increase in grumpy feelings and overall anxiety, and realized it was probably writing withdrawal. But I still wasn’t ready to get back to it. I had a gut feeling I’d view any new writing as crap and any older project as crap, and sure enough, I read 20 pages of a YA I’d set aside in June and thought “This is irredeemable garbage.” So I went back to reading other people’s words and cleaning out drawers.

Last night I realized I was ready to write again. Somehow, I knew it was safe to go back to the pages and I’m pleased to report I was absolutely correct. I just finished reading the entirety of the aforementioned YA. I took copious notes and am excited about the project that is NOT irredeemable garbage. It’s a manuscript in need of revision and I just happen to love me some revision.

Back in the saddle again, baby.

So much more to a book

This photo hangs on the wall at my brother’s house. Here he is with the smiling Wildebeest and Zebu, many years ago. I’m not sure any of them remember the exact moment the picture was taken, but love and happiness are written all over this image. It’s no coincidence that a book’s involved.

There’s so much more to a book than just the reading.
~  Maurice Sendak

The power of a name

Today I finished reading MY CROSS TO BEAR by Gregg Allman (with Alan Light). I was very sad when he died, and put a library hold on his autobiography. I’m currently listening to Brothers and Sisters, the first full album the group recorded after guitarist-extraordinaire Duane Allman died of injuries from a motorcycle wreck, and am listening to the music in a whole new way.

I’m feeling chock-full of Allman Brothers Band lore, but the anecdote that really gives me the chills is the one about how they chose the name for the band. I always assumed it was because Duane and Gregg put the group together, so Allman got top billing.

Not so.

Photo for At Fillmore East album, 1971. Photographer Jim Marshall.

Once they (finally) found their perfect musical combination of two lead guitarists, two drummers, one bass player and one organist, Duane called for a vote on the group’s name. The six members each wrote down the band name he wanted. Gregg chose Beelzebub (the right-hand man of the devil) and Duane, a huge Tolkien fan, chose something from Lord of the Rings. The other four guys? They each wrote Allman Brothers Band.

For some reason, that story really makes me smile.

A Running Start

One of my favorite writing strategies is to take a running start at a manuscript, a technique that works for me both in the drafting and revising stages.

How do I define a running start?

A running start is sometimes merely rereading the work from the previous day in order to find my rhythm so that I can continue in that flow. Most days that’s all I need in order to keep going.

Other days, however, the nasty voices whisper so loudly in my head I worry that writing in that mindset will result in me inflicting big-time damage on my manuscript. I’m talking crash-and-burn, holy-hell-how did-we-end-up-on-this-tangent kinda damage OR, worse-case scenario, convincing myself that the only logical response to the crap I’ve put down on paper is to give up on the project, my writing, and all dreams. Forever

Those are the days in which my running start requires that I go back to page one and read everything I’ve written/revised thus far.

Image from morguefile.com

Image from morguefile.com

Today was a nasty voices day. So I read the 50+ pages of revised manuscript and, as predicted, my literary goblin’s voice faded away. I liked what I read. I was proud of what I’d written and felt a renewed enthusiasm for the project. I made progress on the revision.

It’s important to note that there are multiple decisions required of this strategy. I have to ask myself two questions:
1) Is this a regular running start kinda day or a Page One running start day?
If I immediately know the answer, it’s all good. If not, I ask myself the following:
2) Are the nasty voices so relentless they will dominate no matter what I try?
If the answer is Yes, it’s best to not even fight back. No running start, no writing, no thinking about the project.

There’s always another day and another perspective.

Friday Five: The Literary Travel Edition

I’m still (mostly) adhering to my read-what’s-already-on-my-shelves policy and here’s where the latest five books have taken me:

(1) Japan via KITCHEN by Banana Yoshimoto.
Kitchen cover

(2) England via JEEVES AND THE FEUDAL SPIRIT by P.G. Wodehouse
Jeeves cover

(3) New York City via THE BURGLAR WHO TRADED TED WILLIAMS by Lawrence Block
Burglar cover(4) Haiti via THE COMEDIANS by Graham Greene

Comedians-Graham-Greene

(5) And I’m currently in Georgia with a young Japanese seaman (Hiro Tanaka) via EAST IS EAST by T. Coraghessan Boyle

T_c_boyle_east_is_east

All over the place without spending a dime. Ah, books.

Committing Heresy: No More Books!

I have loads of books in my house
and there are overstuffed book shelves in most every room.
While I do try to live a not-so-consumptive lifestyle,
I’ve always given myself a free pass when it came to books;
there was never a whole lot of guilt when I bought more because
“I’m a reader and a writer, so what’s the big deal?”

Image from alltooeasy, morguefile.com

Image from alltooeasy, morguefile.com

Then a funny thing happened.

I got tired of seeing so many titles on my shelves that I hadn’t yet read.
Between buying books and checking out books from the library, I had no motivation to read what was already sitting there and, in some cases, had been patiently awaiting attention for years and years.

My new approach to books is that I may only read what’s already in my home.
So far I’ve read Spalding Gray’s Morning, Noon and Night and The Infinite Plan 
by Isabel Allende, two books that have sat on my shelves for so many years that
I cannot remember where and when I acquired them. I’m glad I read them, but will now
donate them to another reader and, in the process, create a little breathing space on my shelves and in my head. I’m currently reading and enjoying Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King.

So far it’s only three books, but I already feel lighter.
Also? Even though I’m currently not spending a dime in support of the publishing industry,
I feel as if I’m truly honoring books and authors because I’m being deliberate and thoughtful in what I read rather than living in a constant flurry of books that either require space on the shelves or must be read within a certain time frame to avoid late fees.

Moral of this story? My new heresy has resulted in guilt-free, stress-free reading, and I’m loving it.