Monday, January 21, 2008

Lazy Blog Days

Today is one of those emotional meltdown days when the blog ideas are plentiful, but the gumption to make them come alive is waning. So instead of being innovative, I'll treat you all to a writing meme. I found this one through Nova Ren.

What’s the last thing you wrote?

Non-fiction: A draft of an upcoming column installment for BiblioBuffet.
For myself: A draft of a short story I’ve been working on for THREE YEARS. But it’s almost done!

Was it any good?

Non-fiction: Yes. I think so. I’m pretty confident in my non-fic…it’s the fiction that frightens the ever-lovin’ poo out of me.
The story: Better than it was before!!

What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have?

Probably a book I wrote in kindergarten about a rose and a unicorn. Aptly titled, “The Rose and the Unicorn.” It was one of those hand-bound with cardboard slices and wallpaper for endpapers. I vividly remember making that book.

Write poetry?

Noo. I’ve written one poem in my life that I like. ONE.

Angsty poetry?

Not anymore. I put a stop to that when I was about 12.

Favorite genre of writing?

Hmm, toughie. I suppose my favorite to write is creative non-fiction because it comes a bit easier than fiction. Although, I do spend a great deal of time fussing and slaving over my fiction. I’m determined to become a craftswoman, damnit.

Most fun character you’ve ever created?

An adventurous young girl who thinks she has no imagination but is brilliant and likeable and funny. She’s part of my YA-novel-in-progress.

Most annoying character you’ve ever created?

A neurotic woman with attachment issues but a decidedly interesting artistic side that seeps out despite all her whining.

Best plot you’ve ever created?

A super top secret plot for a novel I haven’t written yet. The plot is golden but now I just have to get it on paper. I knew I had a winner when I told S. about it over breakfast at a conference once, and she said, “Holy shit.”

Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created?

See that part above about the unwritten novel.

How often do you get writer’s block?

I don’t so much have to deal with writer’s block in the traditional sense, but I suppose overcoming the business of my everyday life works as a sort of writer’s block of its own. I know what pays the bills, and it’s not the fun stuff yet. Maybe one day. In the meantime I pound away at the keys when I have a spare moment.

Write fan fiction?

Nooo. But if I did it would probably involve Hugh Laurie and lots of naughtiness. Hellooo, Dr. House.

Do you type or write by hand?

I type—72 words per minute! I took a typing test a while back for a library job, and I had no idea how fast I typed up to that point. I knew it was fast, but 72 wpm is as fast as my mom, and she’s FAST.

Do you save everything you write?

Yep, and quite obsessively since the great motherboard crash of 2007. That’s enough to scare the stuffing out of any writer. Thank God I got everything back…academic and creative.

Do you ever go back to an idea after you’ve abandoned it?

Oh yeah, abandonment is part of my process. I generally write a draft (of fiction), leave it for several months, come back, leave it, come back. So on and so forth. It’s exhausting and not terribly efficient, but it works for me.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve written?

It’s hard to say. The collection of short stories I’m working on now is probably what I’m most proud of fiction-wise. I would also count my Master’s thesis among my favorite writing because I think there’s a lot there that needs to be mined, expanded and shared. Some innovative ideas in the field of comics theory.

What’s everyone else’s favorite story that you’ve written?

Dunno. Ask Heather F. She’s the only one who reads all my stuff.

Do you ever show people your work?

I show Heather F. everything because she’s a fantastic reader. She makes helpful suggestions and she’s very encouraging. She makes me want to keep plugging away and working even when I'm afraid I might not have a good story in me.

Did you ever write a novel?

When I was 14 I sat down at a crap word processor (not a computer, a WORD PROCESSOR) with something like a 3”x5” screen and worked for four months and cranked out an AWFUL young adult paranormal thriller thing. But it did prove to me that I have the gumption to begin and finish and novel, and I will do it again one day for certain.

Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

Oh yeah. See above. Not recently, though. Fourteen was many a year ago.

What’s your favorite setting for your characters?


I tend to place my characters in nebulous locations. Their worlds generally consist of houses, museums, airplanes, etc. However, in my mind, I always pick out places that are real and personal in some way. For instance, the story I’ve been writing forever that’s almost done, takes place in DFW airport because it’s the airport I’ve spent the most time in. Another story I’m working on takes place in an apartment that looks distinctively like one my aunt lived in when I was growing up. So, to make a long answer even longer…most of the locations are in Texas or NC and very specific to my experience.

How many writing projects are you working on right now?

Multiple short stories, BiblioBuffet column, Estella’s Revenge Feb. issue, and I should be doing some freelance articles, but I think I’m going to quit that job since I’m doing the college English instructor thing full time with a part-time gig (2 classes) on the side.

Do you want to write for a living?

Would LOVE TO.

Have you ever won an award for your writing?

For my academic work as a whole…not just the writing but the conferences, TA work, etc. I have my Jerry & Marilyn Morris Distinguished Master’s Student award—a university-wide honor—hanging in my office.

Ever written anything in script or play format?

Nope. Drives me crazy.

What are your five favorite words?

Off the top of my head (which means I’m leaving out many beloved words): sliver, vile, hexagonal, vivacious, illustrative.

Do you ever write based on yourself?

I tend to thread bits of my experience through my fiction, but I always try to fictionalize the “me” right on out of the work. As I revise, a character or situation tends to move further and further away from the autobiographical.

What character have you created that is most like yourself?

She doesn’t have a name. She’s just “I.”

Where do you get ideas for your characters?

Random epiphanies, mostly. I can be driving in my car and suddenly a line or scene or image will jump into my mind, and I just start building from there. Eventually the character may take on some characteristics of people I know or people I would like to know…so I invent them!

Do you ever write based on your dreams?

Almost never. However, when I was really getting in my YA novel a couple of months ago, I would wake up a time or two during the night having dreamt about the characters and really cool things that might take place. I wrote notes about those instances, and while I have yet to put them to paper, I think it’s going to work nicely.

Do you favor happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers?

I, unlike most people, love ambiguous endings. Perhaps that’s because I admire a writer who can create a universe, a character, a situation and let me decide how it ends. There’s something so alluring about the ambiguous ending. While I know MANY people who chalk them up to laziness on the writer’s part, I find it extremely admirable and trusting for an author to let me have his or her ending. As a control freak, I know full well how hard it is to turn that story over for the reader to decide.

Have you ever written based on an artwork you’ve seen?

Yes. In fact, one of my latest short stories is about a specific work of art that I love. It’s called “The Beginning of the World.” It’s a marble sculpture by Constantin Brancusi, and it’s part of the permanent collection at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Yes. I’m a college writing teacher, and I can’t help myself! I tend to edit as I write, which slows down the process, but I would lose my mind otherwise.

Ever write anything in chatspeak (how r u?)

Do text messages count?

Entirely in L337?

Heh? I’m not as young and hip as I used to be.

Was that question appalling and unwriterly?

Mostly just confusing, which can be very writerly!

Does music help you write?

If it’s something that I’ve heard a zillion times and don’t focus too much on the lyrics. Dave Matthews Band is good, as is John Meyer, Shawn Colvin, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Vertical Horizon, Dixie Chicks, David Gray. Incidentally, these are the same artists I used to listen to when I painted. I could spend 7 hours in the studio with the same CD on repeat all day.

Quote something you’ve written. Whatever pops into your head.

“I think of how my breath would feel, covering the egg like frost, like love. If I held my face close, closed my eyes and exhaled, my breath would cling to the egg, dulling its magnificent sheen and then die away like dew on a warm window, leaving just the slightest trace of dampness behind.”

13 comments:

  1. I wrote a novel once, too. I was sixteen. And it was crap--like yours, some paranormal thing, when I was on an Ira Levin fix. I even had the temerity to send it to an agent. Weirdly enough, he liked it, but when he found out I was only sixteen, he took a pass. "Finish school first, then come see me." That's what he wrote in his last letter to me.

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  2. Wow, Brandon! That's a pretty darn good response for "crap." It was probably much better than mine. I think I even knew it sucked because I didn't even bother sending it out. It's in a drawer somewhere at my mom's house, I'm sure. Blarrg. Hope no one finds it after my death. I would hate for that effort to be my literary legacy. :)

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  3. Holy smokes. This puts my laziness into perspective and reveals it my oh-yeah-I-write-all-the-time self. I'm not sure if that made sense. What I mean to say is that my a lazy writer. I gotta get on it.

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  4. I really like this meme (although I couldn't do it myself) and your answers made me laugh, Andi. I thought your final writing example was wonderful - stick with it!

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  5. She's a fantastic writer y'all...don't let her fool you. And my favorite...since you asked...is probably The Egg. It's really coming together to be an interesting work.

    I'm so honored I get to read your stuff as you go. And the reason why made me blush! I'm honored, but also lucky, because I'm learning from you as I read your stuff over and over again.

    And I never knew that was a real sculpture. Puts a new perspective on things.

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  6. Nik, me too. This meme probably makes me sound way more prolific than I actually am. lol

    Thanks so much, Litlove!

    Heatheroo, the story about the layover is coming back to you soon and you won't even recognize it. Totally different. I think it might be making its way to the top of my favorites pile!

    Check out the sculpture! A Google image search will bring it up. It's so pretty. I really so wanna pet it. lol

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  7. Oh goody! The Airport story is a close second to Egg. I can't wait to see the changes!

    Looked up the Egg. Can totally relate. That is an interesting piece. I'd love to see it in person.

    I really need to go to more museums/art galleries.

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  8. I enjoyed reading this! Hope you don't mind but I stole it too ;)

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  9. Hey, I know that sculpture! It's lovely, and in my favorite section of the DMA. I really like Brancusi.

    And your writing sample is lovely!

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  10. I'm totally impressed with this meme. It's rather like a miniature autobiography, isn't it?

    That snippet of writing you shared there at the end is simply luscious. I'd love to read the rest...

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  11. Heatheroo, that piece is amazing in person. I do get all itchy-fingered to touch it. It's so smooth and pretty.

    Can't wait to read your answers, April!

    Thanks, Jen! I love Brancusi. He's probably my favorite sculptor.

    Rav, I suppose it is sort of like an autobio. I had a great time filling it out, and it forced me to put a great deal of thought into many of the answers. And thank you for the compliment on the blurb I shared! It's my favorite part of that particular story.

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  12. I loved your answers, and especially your excerpt.

    Plus, that image of you at 14 pounding out a novel on one of those word processors with tiny screens (I remember those!) is so great, and so familiar.

    Thanks for linking to me!

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  13. Thanks for stopping in, Nova! Love your blog and will be adding you to my sidebar shortly.

    Weren't those wordprocessors dreadful? But they got the job done!

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