Monday, September 26, 2011

Revising, cause I can.

So far, in my very limited experience, revisions are somewhat painful and yet, at the same time, gratifying.

What’s the deal with this dichotomy?

Drafting is laborious, but creative and exciting. You’re meeting your characters for the first time. You have many moments of self-congratulatory exhilaration as your plot weaves into brilliant chapter after brilliant chapter. You smile and pat yourself on the back. You dream about your book and characters. Every song you hear is your protag’s song. You finish your book with a sigh and shed a little tear. It’s brilliant.

And then….

You begin to revise. Or, ahem, in my case rewrite. Because it’s awful. Horrible. How could you have ever put those words on that paper. What were you thinking? So you rewrite. You suppress your gag reflex and overwhelming desire to just throw your digital copy in that little virtual trash can on the bottom of your screen. And then throw it away…if only to hear the gratifying digital sound of crumpling paper.

But then…

You rewrite. And while it’s painful, it’s also cathartic. In what other world can we start over? In what world can we delete awkward pauses, poorly worded conversations, terrible name choices? Only in our worlds can we do this.

And we rewrite and we make it better. And this, my friends, is what it’s all about. This is where ART happens.

So I continue to revise. I cringe at my previous brilliance and forge ahead. Cutting poetic lines and adding smart dialogue and always, always getting rid of that (the actual word that—I’m littered with it).

SO, my HUGE overwhelming question to you is this: How many times to we have to endure re-writes until it’s RIGHT?

Sunday, September 11, 2011


That day, ten years ago, was like being underwater in a mountain lake where everything is bright and clear yet every movement is deliberate and it’s difficult to breathe. I sat with my one-year-old daughter in front of the TV and watched in that strange filtered moment as the twin towers fell. I spent the morning there, like the rest of the world, glued to the television. My thoughts were cluttered as I tried to make sense of the encompassing tragedy.

The day was strange, like a holiday, but cheerless. It seemed the world had come to a screeching halt. Yet, there was one thing I did that day to ground me to the old life, the life before September 11th. I went to piano lessons. This act of normalcy was like a pushpin holding a random collection of receipts, clippings and photographs to a pinboard. Chaos held together and organized by one thing: music.

I was learning Beethoven’s Piano Sonata 14, the Moonlight Sonata. As I played for my piano teacher I felt all the emotions of the day were released, unconfined.

In the following days and weeks the Moonlight Sonata became my comfort. I played as the High School across the street lowered their flag to half-mast. I played as my neighbors placed flags on their front porches. I played as my toddler looked at the sky with wide eyes, wondering where the silver flash of highflying airplanes had disappeared.

And while I played I thought of the past two hundred years. I thought of all the people who came before me who had found comfort in this same sonata. People who had experienced unimaginable loss. I visualized the music drawing us together. Linking us—past and present—like an invisible web of solidarity.

My daughter is eleven now and while she hasn’t mastered Beethoven yet, her halting rendition of Fur Elise reminds me music is what makes us human. It has been ten years and I still play Moonlight Sonata and when I do, I remember that day and how amidst the violence, I found peace and hope in a humanity that can find solace in the creation and love of music.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

LIving to Write or Writing to Live

This is what I did instead of write this past weekend.

I worked on my daughters’ quilt. The same one I’ve been working on since May. It might, might, be done by Christmas.

I heard once that you have to live in order to write. Ok, I get that. But my living consists of cooking, cleaning, and when piecing a tedious quilt is the most exciting thing that I do, well, how is that living exactly?

My sister writes it best.

What do you do to live? Or do you just write?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"What the What?"

This is a Liz Lemon replacement curse. I love Liz Lemon.

Here’s the thing about TV sit-coms: They are a fantastic study of character. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my dramas too…but here’s the thing about comedies: character is all they have. There is NO PLOT. The entire success of the show is based solely on its characters.

Think about this show. Its whole premise was a ‘show about nothing.’ And yet, it was really a show about something. It was a show about characters that were so real, or unreal, that we LOVED them. Try this one, or this one, or—I recently discovered this one.

When you feel like your characters are too flat. Watch a little TV. I dare you. You’ll find yourself caring so much about made up people. That’s right…they’re not real. And yet, we are completely transfixed.

What do you do to fortify your characters.

And in the meantime, if you’re ever having a Liz Lemon moment like—I don’t know—there’s lettuce in your hair. Just make sure you maintain her character response:


Also, there may or may not be a prize for anyone who can name my shows. This will require much procrastinating as you get distracted watching episodes of each link.