Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Try It Out Tuesday: What writers hold dear

This is a questionnaire. Imagine that you are
1: famous and I am interviewing you
2: an obsessive writer who wants only to explore and develop her talent
3: both
4: fun, fast and frisky.

The questions are in bold throughout the post. Read on to know where they come from or just go ahead and answer them. If you decide to answer the questions in depth and if you decide to share them please:

1: Post them in your own blog and link to this post
2: Post a link in a comment below so that we can read what your room is like!

Read Monday's post FIRST. Or else ONLY the bold stuff will make sense. Up to you.

You are trapped in a circular room. Or maybe I am holding your hand too tight and I really suck at singing kumbaya. Who could suck at singing kumbaya? Not me, I assure you. Its that other writer on your right.

And I LEFT OUT A REALLY GOOD QUOTE!!!! Here is something from Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird. She will also be quoted often. Why??? Because I read really slow and I'm doing an 'instructional' post a week! I'll try to include a variety of authors, but I take too many notes so it takes me sooooo loooooong to read. Always. Here she is:
There [is] something noble and misterious about writing, about the people who can do it well, who could create a world as if they were little gods or sorcerers.
SO perhaps we are not sitting in a room. Perhaps we are sorcerers. Perhaps we are little gods. Oh God, please no. Please don't let me a little god. hehehehehhee. I really don't wanna.

Fireblossom's comment on yesterday's post made me wonder. It got me thinking that maybe Forster's room is just that: Forster's room.

Today is about finding out what binds YOU to writing. As long as you know that, then you don't have to be in the room. You can be any where you want to be. I like to write everywhere, and I would be very angry if someone put me in a room.

I like to write by the beach, on a mountain, in the car, on the bus, on a train, in the rain, with a shoe, when I'm blue. I ain't Dr. Seuss so I'll stop. You get it. Forster put us in a room for the purpose of his book. It made it easier for him to analyze writers and writing if he took us out of our element and put us in his. I WANT OUT of Forster's room. What is your room? What is mine?

What is your imaginary writing haven? Do you have only one or do you have many?

If I had to pick one imaginary writing haven that I could create, it would be on a small clearing half way up a mountain in an all glass room with curtains I could draw all the way shut if I wanted to. But mostly, I'd leave this open. Behind the room is a gigantic mountain face with lush green foliage. In front of the room is a cliff face that drops off to the ocean. In the room is a big luxurious bathtub. There is a desk and pens of paper of course. But there is techie stuff too. I can type in the bathtub. And the room records what I say, but only if I turn that feature on. The computer screen can be big or small. I can write on a pad that converts my handwriting. I can use my hands and touch paragraphs or phrases and verbally send them zooming into the beginnings of other chapters, to be worked in at a later date. I have many more techie needs, but I'll leave it at that.

What does your writing room say about you?

My writing room tells me that I want to see the world and also shut it out. It tells me that I'm in love with, and respectful of and thankful for both nature and technology (but I don't dare attempt compare the two, not today anyways.) It tells me that I want to record everything, that I wish that my journal could link to my brain. Also, that I love water. I am a bathaholic. And that I'm okay with being watched by the animals and the people that come to my clearing, as long as they accept that I'll be watching them with a writer's eye.

What does your writing room say about your writing?

My strength would be my attention to detail and how I recognize and make purposeful use of what inspires me. My weakness is that I have a hard time letting go. Of the fact that my journal is not my brain. Of characters. Of my story. But my story is not finished yet, so I have to trust that I will be able to let it go when the time is right.

Release, give in, sustain.

Feel free to answer these questions if its suits you. You may answer them in your house, with a blouse, on this blog, or on a hog, or in a post with me as your host.

Remember though that all the world is a haven if your perspective is right.

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. my little tiny line got good. That needs to be bigger. I'll say it again:

Remember though that all the world is a haven if your perspective is right.  

Monday, August 30, 2010

Learn Something Monday: What writers hold dear

What binds writers together? What are we really? What sets us apart? What's wrong with us?

We're overly sensitive. This makes us acutely aware of the minute details in everyday life and gives us the ability to create an emotionally charged-fictional scene. And we have a wrogan.

I am going to include many quotes from E. M. Forster in the following weeks, but his book Aspects of the Novel makes me sigh. Lucky for us, when he wrote it in 1927, he admitted to purposefully keeping it conversational, in line with its originally oral delivery. So the prose reads like an old dream. This, my writer friends, is the real deal:
We cannot consider fiction by periods, we must not contemplate the stream of time. Another image better suits our powers: that of all the novelists writing their novels at once...at work together in a circular room. They come from different ages and ranks, they have different temperaments and aims, but they all hold pens in their hands, and are in the process of creation. Let us look over their shoulders for a moment and see what they are writing.
This is pretty amazing. For one thing, its intuitive and true and gives me the warm fuzzies and makes me want to hold hands with all of you and sing kumbaya around a giant mother tree. For another, its unique. E. M. Forster was the first novelist to be invited to give the annual Clark Lectures, usually given by critics, scholars and historians. He dared to look beyond the date of an author's birth and the subject matter and the school of the thought and the trend. Forster desires to examine what all excellent works of fiction hold in common: "The Story; People; The Plot; Fantasy and Prophecy; Pattern and Rhythm."

But looking at the elements of fiction was not new of course. Aristotle anyone? Still, the idea that writers do more than combine the elements, just like the craftsman does more than use the tools, is very appealing. 

Why should I be so very touched by this image? Why the hell am I so sensitive? Forster says, 
The novel's success lies in its sensitiveness, not in the success of its subject-matter. Empires fall, votes are accorded, but to those people writing in the circular room it is the feel of the pen that matters most.
Isn't that so true? Don't we just love the action? Sure, we devote ourselves to our characters, but they come and go. What marries us to writing is the feel of it. We are more alive and more aware than ever possible.

Its the rush that we're after. Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French say that "we write for the satisfaction of having wrestled a sentence to the page, for the rush of discovering an image, for the excitement of seeing a character come alive."

It is so very pleasing. Here is a giant mother tree I am fortunate to know on a near daily basis:

What do you think about Forster's image of all the writers of all times everywhere together in one circular room? Do you feel the rush that Burroway and Stuckey-French describe?

the first photo is of me and my friend and the second photo is from this blog. i pride myself on not being a google ganker. and the Burroway/Stuckey-French quote is from the book Writing Fiction: A Guide To Narrative Craft. worry not my writer friends, those writer ladies will be featured many a monday on this humble blog. as a side note, I misspelled Aristotle so bad that spell check suggested "prostrate." Prostrate anyone?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

My wrorgan

I have made up a new word. It has now become a "page" on my blog because I know that I will inadvertently refer to it often.

The desired result of the writer life is to satisfy the wrorgan.

Because your wrorgan is very needy. It is your writer's organ that only writers have. I guess you could think of it like a stomach. If you don't feed it enough words you get really cranky and act like a beezy. If you feed it too many words you barf some of them back up.

My wrorgan is lower than my tummy though. It's in my gut. Pretend like somebody sucker punched you in the gut or you got the wind knocked out of you and say HUH! The place where you bend in on yourself is where my wrorgan is. This is also where the third chakra is, which is the personal power place.

So, be powerful and satisfy your wrorgan and you shall you have a happy life.

and hell yes when the wrogan is hungry it goes roar!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

I changed my template...again

Hello lovelies,

I am playing around with this whole blogging thing, and am trying to get my theme/focus just right. I'm thinking the paper background is good because we already know that I love paper. And its bright and light and not too restraining. Also, my last picture was straight up weird, and I'm really not that weird, or at least I pretend not to be. I have realized that this blog is about teaching oneself how to write. So I'm giving it a schooley vibe.

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

No man's land

Rewriting is limbo. It is neither here nor there. Rewriting is the in-between. There are so many rules of editing and so many rules of writing. Good rules. Excellent rules. One of them is that the two don't mix.

Don't write and edit at the same time.

That is a rule. And for very good reason. You gotta just get it out! If you keep tweaking something when its half done, its very likely that you won't get a full rough draft.

But what about re-writing? As you know, I am rewriting an entire novel on paper. I am extremely tempted to type it up, but I told myself (and even tacked the written rule to my wall) that I am not to type in what I've written down until the whole thing is done. The logic is that if I type it in, I will be tempted to edit it while doing so, but since I'm writing, I ought not edit. Thus, I ought not type it in until I have written THE END.

But lately, I've been doubting the rule on my wall. Probably just because it is a rule. And who likes those? Not me. I've been pondering (gasp!) typing in what I have so far (gasp!) before its (gasp!) done. But I resisted the temptation, somehow.

That means no retyping or editing. Not for now. The more I write, the more I understand the process. There are more than just the two stages of editing and writing. There are many in-betweens.

Like a spectrum.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


I'm getting "out there," wherever there may be. Moving is so intense...oh so intense! Its like writing. Not just for its intensity but also...necessity. I have to move. I am something of an escapist. Or an adventurer. Or a traveler. How do you want to put it?
I wonder if it'll ever stop. The moving I mean! Not the writing. No. No. The writing will never stop. But...will I ever stop moving? I believe that I will. That we will. How do I know this?

Well...get ready for intense...because I know how I want to die. Or at least, where I want to be. I see myself as an old crinkly woman living on a rounded mountain peak in the middle of a nowhere forest in some tropical Latin country surrounded by dark-skinned children. I am in a village, and it is muddy. I have been here for a long time. Here, I am respected. And the children love my stories. (Y por supuesto, cuento las historias en espaƱol.)

You don't get to be an old woman like that if you move all the time. I know that Gabriel and I will find the "right" place someday. I see it as a place inside my heart. My secret garden. In a way, we are already here. And part of being here is searching for there. Moving closer and closer. Going deeper and deeper inside the heart of the future we imagine.

And its fun. Its life.

We have our first visitor since moving to Hawaii. It is so great to have you-know-who here!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My pacing trick

Every chapter or vignette or scene must have its own arc and its own beginning middle and end. Its own climax.

My book is told in vignettes, and I have two narrators. It switches from one narrator to the other. They get about 2-7 pages each time.

Sometimes I get confused on what the climax is for every scene. It always comes back to this: what is the main point? Before I write a vignette, I ask myself, What are we learning in this scene? What is the question that is being answered? For example (not related to my book) a boy tells a girl he loves her and we want to know her reaction. So the question is, what is her reaction? The answer to the question should come near the end. It should be the climax. The rest of the scene should lead up to it. Once the question is answered, another question should form.

Like, what is he going to do about it? How are they are going to resolve their differences? Whatever the question, it should be more exciting and interesting than the question before it, but not as exciting or interesting as the question it leads to. This keeps a nice pace.

Every time something gets revealed, something else comes up. You never want your reader to loose interest. Nor do you want to give them too many questions and no answers. (Ahem...like the TV show Lost). 

This also ensures that the climax of your book is the most interesting part. The book's climax answers the book's biggest question and changes the main character's life.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Over analyzing

Jackie's comment on Get distracted sparked the idea for this post. I loved the comment, because it made me laugh at myself. And it made me realize how important my ridiculousness is...to me.
Guess what everybody??? I over analyze. I over analyze everything. All the time. Call me self-depricating, self-loathing, self-loving, or self-involved. But over analyzing is what I do. And I gotta do it.

BUT only for what I did. Never for what I'm doing.

Blah blah blah. That even confuses me. How to break this down? Lets look at the key elements of writing. They are PERMISSION, ANALYSIS, and FORGIVENESS.

The first step to writing something is to give yourself permission. Let go. Don't worry about it. Let it just come out of you. This is what many people say is the fun part. But its also the scary part. The most vulnerable part. What is going to come up? Is some personal issue that you're not ready to look at going to surface as some new character or event? Are you even capable of letting go and not worrying about what comes out? This is component of writing is all about trust.

Here comes the icky part. Analysis. This is just as necessary as giving yourself permission, but of course it has to come later. You can't start analyzing what you've done until you do it. Seriously. Finish that first draft. The whole thing! Before you pick up that red pen. Once your done, have at it. Tear it to shreds. That's how you find the real story. Question everything the characters do. Discover what the most important plot lines are and the themes present in the story. You still have to love what you did, though.

This brings us to forgiveness. Forgive yourself for any mistakes you made, recognize that its all part of the process. Love the process. Accept the process. Be ready to move on. Its not about trying to be perfect, or not making mistakes, or not falling off the horse. Its about getting back up. So GET BACK UP.

Talent vs. dedication

Gabriel: I didn't get much done today.
Me: Are you in trouble with yourself?
Gabriel: With myself?
Me: Yeah. That's the only person I'm ever in trouble with.

And its true. I am my own boss. My own motivator. I am the force that keeps me going.

I want a place where boss-me and worker-me can get along. But they're always fighting. Jupiter-dominated, creative, crazy, adventurous, irresponsible worker-me wants to write about all sorts of silly, fleeting things. Or about important things that just can't get done right now. Worker-me wants to write about all the books I will write. About all the characters I create, step away from, and then meet again with well-performed surprise.

But Saturn-ruled boss-me wants to see the numbers. What is the word count so far? What is the daily goal? Where is the schedule?

When will this part be finished? And the next?

Worker-me is so ambitious, but also very slow. And so, I am always in trouble with myself. Always inwardly fighting to develop some sort of idea of productivity and success.

The definitions are still a little shaky, but mostly they center around groundedness and peace, and fame of course. Ah, fame.

There is a little gauge in my head that lets me know when to put myself in trouble. Boss-me gets angry with worker-me for not doing enough.

But worker-me is insightful and cunning, and will often question boss-me's vision, demanding that boss-me redirect the efforts. I suppose its a functioning relationship.


This is the little frog that lives in our front yard. Isn't he cute? Very elusive and very fast, he can sometimes be seen hopping around the planter boxes by the door. He doesn't really like being spotted, but he kindly let Gabriel take his photograph.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Get distracted

Many writing maladies can be prevented. Editing may present the cure, but Writing deserves prevention. I have the tendency to over describe. Adjectives on top of adjectives and six-clause sentences. Lovely? Maybe. Important? Maybe not.

When I pack up my Mead journal and head to a picnic bench on campus (pretending to be a student hehe) or to a coffee shop or a touristy beach, I write A LOT better.

Isn't that odd?

I thought writing was about cabins in woods. I had my cabin in the woods. It worked pretty darn good for productivity but not so good for the understandability factor.

When people are laughing, eating, drinking, mixing, texting around me, I find that I write only the most important things. Only what the character is thinking in that moment. My character can't pick out every little detail in the scene, because that family over there is fighting about when to go back to their hotel and that girl is waiting for her boyfriend and that floatee is flying away and that cappuccino is ready...and...what was I saying?

Oh scratch that detail! Scratch. Scratch. Scratch. Focus. Only the most important things.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Paper paper paper



Warning: this is not a real blog post. This is me letting you know how much I love paper. Smells nice. Feels nice. Crinkles nice. Wrinkles nice. Takes to ink real nice.
Gets water and coffee spilled on it real nice. Dries nice. Reminds me of the little girl I've always been. Hording splotchy-covered Mead journals.

Yeah! You go paper!

I'm writing a novel in a Mead. Its so nice.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Is it just me or is it hard to tell when its okay to name-drop? I lean on the side of too much name-dropping, and its been making me a little nervous. I took a step back to examine the issue. Its all about familiarity.

When reading non-fantastical novels, I tend to enjoy name-dropping. This restaurant. That girl. The next two streets. It helps me picture that the character is actually in Dallas...or Dubai...or wherever. Its nice to hear professor's names, aunt's names, etc. I can keep up. Or at least, I can tell when I should keep up. Its easy to see who the author is highlighting and whose name shows up just to make it feel real.

With fantasy on the other hand, too much name-dropping is seriously overwhelming. I have such a hard time figuring out who I'm supposed to remember in fantasies. Is that guy important? Are they ever going to go to that place? The complete lack of familiarity with just about everything (especially in epic fantasies), makes it much more difficult to distinguish between You Need To Remember Me and I'm Just Here For Street Cred.

The most enjoyable fantasies use far less name-dropping than the most enjoyable non-fantasies.

So watch out. Do you have too many whacked out names in your WIP? Will your reader be able to keep up?

When it comes to fantasy, take out all the names you can. Especially ones that rhyme with Thoralinakalitaphinax.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The rhythm of voice

A great book has a powerful and consistent voice, a voice so unique and essential that it can draw you into the story and help you remember what's happened so far even if you've put the book down for a week. To create such a voice, define the vocabulary and syntax of the narrator.

But that's only part of it. Any person can say anything or feel anything. Its always about how they say it. There's a certain cadence or rhythm. Elusive, abstract and moody.

It's like salsa. Quick quick slow. Quick quick slow.

What is your narrator's rhythm?

Silly silly sad goofy. Silly silly sad goofy.

Stuck-up stuck-up embarrassed stuck-up humble. Stuck-up stuck-up embarrassed stuck-up humble.

These patterns can happen in a couple sentences or take a paragraph each.

Its all about reaction. Let's say your character is feeling sunny. How long does it take him to be cynical? A voice that maintains an optimistic and bright tone for only half a sentence creates a very different character or narrator than the voice that stays ecstatic for an entire scene but then crashes hard.

Anyone can say anything (within their vocabulary and syntax range of course.) Anyone can feel anything. How long do they let themselves feel it? What is the pattern of their mind?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How to be your own best critique partner

(Yes, I know I'm NOT supposed to be my own critique partner. Yes, I know I'm supposed to meet other writers and get their opinions. And yes, I am actively on the hunt.)

Step 1. Figure out what you want. For me, its questions. I like it when someone writes in the margins things like: Would she really say that? Maybe she says it, but does she believe it? Did he get caught on purpose? Why do they trust each other so easily? 

Questions are good because they help me draw out the story within, instead of throwing other ideas on top of it that don't fit. Sometimes a reader will have a really good idea, but often times its nicer if they just point out the issue and leave it open ended for me to decide.

What is your dream critique partner like? Does he scrutinize your dialogue and act it out to show you its faults? Does he amp up the action?

Step 2. Print out your WIP. Print it out! Do it on paper. I don't care if you're a child of the digital age. I don't care if you've been typing since you were five. Print it out.

Step 3. Be your dream critique partner. (Did I mention that my dream critique partner also likes to sit in bed and eat ice-cream while reading? Lucky me.) Do the things that your dream critique partner does. Ask yourself questions. Question anything that is weak or easy or convenient. Tell yourself its too long. Tell yourself you don't need that part. Tell yourself that people don't talk like that.

It's simple really. It's just like life. "Decide what you want to be and go be it." --Avett Brothers

Children's literature

Let's talk about children's lit. You've got picture books, chapter books (aka middle grade) and young adult. People usually separate them by age, but it hit me that on an individual level, they may be more about how a kid feels about the opposite sex (or whichever sex they are attracted to.)

For example,

Chapter books are for when girls and boys are friends.

Middle grade is for when girls and boys don't like each other.

Young adult is for when they do.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

In case you were wondering,

I haven't posted in a while, because I didn't want to let you in on my dirty little secret. But now that I've come to terms with it, I have to tell you what it is: I'm rewriting my first book!

I want to feel terribly embarrassed by this, but I worked through the self-hatred in a matter of days. Awful days they were though, lemme tell ya.

My go-for-it attitude got me in a serious bind. I've already told you about my rookie run-in with word count, so here comes another newbie mistake:

For my second draft, I fine-tuned the voice differentiation of my two narrators. For the third draft, I reworked a few scenes. For my fourth, I took out a scene, and I added one. For my "fifth draft," I've decided to rewrite the whole thing.

I'm editing backwards! Going from small to big! What the heck is up with that? But I'll still have to get back to fine-tuning. My revision process for this WIP is a mountain. I am my own Aristotelian Arc.

Had I been a reader of blogs before revising, I may have come across one of Natalie Whipple's endlessly helpful posts, like Stages of Revision or my personal favorite, When I go hardcore. I would've known that it is super silly to fine-tune something you might later scrap, but honestly...I should've known that anyways. I was plagued by the belief that my story couldn't change, that what happens is what happens, an ailment Natalie has also written about. Thank goodness I'm not the only one.

Won't I always have this problem? Won't I always be able to write better at the end of a project then at the beginning? Couldn't I just write circularly, chasing my wisening tail round and round and round 'til I've got one story that took one seriously repetitive lifetime to write?

No. I will resist the temptation. Too long word-count and backwards editing are not why I am rewriting. The real reason is because of my ultimate newbie mistake.

When in first-draft mode, I couldn't pick a genre. For the life of me, I simply couldn't get myself to stop saying, "YA Fantasy." Was my WIP YA? Or was it fantasy? I couldn't decide! I didn't know my reader's age or their favorite section of the bookstore. I teetered between teen and adult. Between YA and fantasy. My book teeters too.

When I finally did decide on YA, I had a third draft that read like bad fantasy. Not bad metaphor fantasy. But bad information dump fantasy. I know. But I just couldn't leave it behind. Well, I'm tougher now.

And so, I begin again. I'm doing it forwards this time. I've spent the last few months doing a lot of research about what it is to write a novel. The amazing part is that I'm excited about this. This time around, I know the story so well that the voices and characters aren't being as overwhelmed with the lore and conspiracy. The back story is staying where it belongs and the writing is fresher for it, just like YA should be.

I'd like to hate myself for this absolute ridiculous, but I don't. Its all experience. Its what I want to do.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Why I write YA

Because I'm too young to write anything else.

No! That's only part of it. The real reason is this:

Endless possibilities, for me and for my characters. They can fall in love for the first time, travel the world, learn who they are, discover what they want in life, take down the bad guy, or they can do it all. So can I. I can be what my generation strives for. A little behavior that I like to call genre-bending.

I am a genre-bender, and YA is the ultimate platform for it. Adventure-paranormal-scifi or historical-thriller-romance or western-fantasy-horror. So on and so forth! Wait wait wait! Did I just say western-fantasy-horror? Hmm...maybe I should try to pull that off someday...

In the adult world, things get all separated. Books can be literary, or they can be "commercial" (a most problematic label). Books need to find a home in the bookstore, meaning that writers have to fit their stories into those categories. They can draw on multiple elements but ultimately their book has to be suspense OR romance. Horror OR fantasy.

As an aspiring YA author, I don't have to do that. I can have it all. That's not to say there aren't limits. My main characters must be approximately between the ages of 14 and 19, and must deal with coming-of-age issues along the way. But I like that. They have all the possibilities in the world open to them. They are just beginning their crime-fighting or bad-boy-loving or zombie-slaying lives.

I feel their freedom.

Monday, August 02, 2010

The delete button

I have lost my delete button privileges. One of my goals with revising my WIP is of course, brevity. I'm at about 150,000 words right now, and my max goal is 100,000. I'd really love to keep it under 90k though. Yesterday, I felt delete-happy. I took out things that I thought were unnecessary. I was so Brilliant. I was doing a Great Job.

Then today I read the 'finished product' and wanted to bang my head against the wall. I took out phrases that developed character! That brought intensity! Leaving me with bare-bones information that was wayyyy tooooo calmmm for the fear the character was feeling at the time.

Luckily, I hang on to old drafts. Every time I start changing things, I save the old one and do it in a new doc. So I'm going to scrap what I did and start anew with the second-most recent version.

It's never that simple though. I need punishment: no more direct delete button. I am going to do the double-check system, something I think all rogue/just-go-for-it/impatient writers (like myself) should do. Print out what you have, then cross out lines, words, paragraphs with your favorite read pen. Then at least one full day (or one mood change) later, take the words out digitally.

"Chickity-check yo self before you wreck yo self." -- Ice Cube

You gotta know what they know

There's been a lot of thought about grad school going on in my brain lately. You'll find the following statement to be held as absolute fact: "You don't have to have an MFA in Creative Writing to be a published, successful author."

No, you don't.

But that's a limited statement and it leads to an anti-academia world view, as in I-can-be-haughtier-than-that-haughty-degree. I get it. Its tempting to want to remind oneself that the rigors of the institution are unnecessary and that letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and deadlines are for geeky, dull and depressing literary types. Very tempting indeed.

I propose an addition to that self-satisfying statement: "But you gotta know what they know."

In all actuality, that means me. I gotta know what they know. I gotta have what they have: a critique group.

To my family and friends, don't take this personally. Your comments helped me, but not enough. Only writers can give a writer the critique she...ahem...I need. It's not that readers can't point out the same problems, they just don't usually do it with the same jargon, the exacting mumbojumbo that lets me know I'm among friends. Ex: "The first person point of view gets too chatty in this scene and slows down the suspense, throwing off the pacing you created during the exposition." Yes, I tried to throw jargon in there purposefully. Yes, it actually makes sense. Right?

I can't blame it all on jargon though. I may not have asked my family and friends the right questions. I may not have been ready to hear the answers.

And so, I have decided to not decide yet. About the MFA, that is. The first step is to apply, which I will force myself to do. WTF, GRE???

In the meantime, I must devote myself to learning what the MFAs know and especially to forge a critique group. So I place myself awkwardly in the hands of social networking sites in an attempt to find friends that speak my language.

If I cannot wade through the creeps and if I cannot carpool to the writing group that is too far away, then rest assured that the next round of my beloved readers will be asked many probing questions, until the language barrier is breached.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Your new favorite library

Walking up to the Hawaii State Library on South King and Punchbowl Streets, one is surrounded with old, colonial-style buildings, a palace and a church. High rises line the horizon, never too far away. You cross the busy street with ten others and are the only to pause on the corner, to take in the shadow of the giant lacy tree on the sprawling bright green lawn and the eight considerable white columns and the three, iron and glass two-story doors. You see that someone is walking on the lawn, so you do too.

You come up to the middle door and open it. It isn't heavy. Immediately inside the space is bare. What catches your attention is the loft above you, with tables and chairs filled with people and aisles filled with books. You stay on the first floor, find your way to the young adult section, swap suggestions with the friendly librarian, check your books out, and ask where the bathroom is. On the other side, she says. You notice a large glass door opposite the one you came in. You open it and find that you are in a courtyard.

The sun abruptly, vividly pours down from the cutout circle in the ceiling, enough to light the stone planter that holds ferns and vines and other green tropical things. Three tall palm trees emerge, their fuzzy heads poking far beyond the roof. The floor is uniquely patterned. Bricks in different shades of sand and cream create a star that stretches out from the planter.

In the shadows, against the flat square walls, patrons sit at iron tables--reading, eating, or talking.

You walk around the planter, open the door, and your eyes adjust to the darkness. There is a whole other library! It wraps around and around, a child's "Chase Me!" dream.