May 27, 2011

Existential Question of Writing

On my other blog (visit there if this one is dormant) I wrote yesterday about feeling out of sync with my own era.  I also think it was in response that I had to turn in a short story to my newly formed writing group last night and I had nothing new.  I have written only short, blog posts for several years now, avoiding the heavy work of long-form fiction writing.  I do think about, and often revise several times, what I write on blog posts, so the craft of writing still peeks its head up when I'm composing the short form.

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend, who is about my age and stage with children launched and grandchildren woven through our lives, and mentioned my angst about all this to her.  I wondered if I was up to the writing, the work, if at my age I had the energy. Her (brilliant) insight was that when we were young mothers and surrounded by work and laundry and fixing meals and cleaning up and activities we would look far into our future and say that when all the children left, we would do_________ and then we would fill in that blank with whatever we--at that point in our younger lives--imagined that we would want to do.  She observed that now that we have finally arrived at that fill-in-the-blank spot, all is changed.  What our 35-year-old self thought is not what our 55-plus self sees as a possibility.

It's a bit disconcerting, all of this shifting around.

In some cases, the shift happens because of forces outside our lives: the recession and business failures, health problems, the dynamics of our extended family.  Some interior forces might be a different way of looking at things, a banking of that proverbial fire in the belly, an altered moral viewpoint.  Whatever the situation that brought us to this point, those dreams we once had--that may have gotten us through that crunch--are seemingly ephemeral and must be redrawn, reimagined.

May 9, 2011

Slicer Meet-Up

A Slicer Meet-Up!
Yep, Carrie (on the right) has traveled out here to California with one of her friends and came to stay at my house last night.  We both think it's great that we were "pen-pals" for a while--via the Slice Of Life Challenge--then had a chance to meet.  Thanks, Stacey and Ruth!

May 6, 2011

Get To Work

I have a lot of blogs in my Google Reader, and most days I just skim over the lot of them, clicking "Mark All As Read," before I move on to my schoolwork.  Today I had a little extra time, so I watched/listened to a presentation (from Swiss Miss' website) given by Andrew Zuckerman about his creative process.

I tried to take a couple of screenshots to capture some of the quotes from his book, Wisdom. In that book, he interviewed the "elders" or people who had lived some years on this planet and had something to impart.  Here's one quote:

And another: "You can't get to wonderful without passing through all right." (Bill Withers)  Over at his website, he has a short of these simply beautiful projects.  He's also done Bird, Creatures, and a host of other projects.

I have a quote on the upper right of my blog that runs along the lines of what Close, a painter, said.  However, the idea of work and of getting to it doesn't belong to either Close or Butler.  Our writing group seems to be coalescing after a faulty start, and I look forward to using this group to prompt me to the computer--to get myself into the chair, hands on the keyboard and to pry off the top of my head and let the imagination come forward in some fashion.  I don't know where it will go.  I just want to try.  I hope I'm not too old, or too tired, but the age of the people in the Wisdom book/film clip and how they speak their minds lets me know that all can create.  All.

May 1, 2011

Throwing Out the Favorite Thing

There's a lovely and brilliant article on drawing over on the New York Times website about drawing.  Apparently what I caught is only the last one in the series, but in it is this quote:

There’s a theory about writing that applies — that, when you reach a serious sticking point, the key to moving on successfully is to throw out the element that you had been hanging on to because it is your favorite thing. 

I had heard variations of this all through grad school, and so have developed a method to deal with this: whatever I had to cut, I carefully pasted over into a new document titled "Cut Stuff," and then saved it. Silly, but it worked. But aside from how to deal witht the loss of "your favorite thing," this article reminded me of the value of sticking with something until it evolves.  In this day of blogging, of throwing writing up on the wall of the internet to see if it sticks, I'm not sure this process of polishing and of looking critically at the elements of how a piece is constituted--whether it be drawing, writing, creating--factors into our process anymore. 

I certainly see it in my students.  They are required to turn in a preliminary rough draft of their research paper, then after conference, go home and revise it.  Most make minimal changes, such as a comma or a short phrase, or correcting a comma splice, never digging at what lies below the surface.  I worry that I have become like that some days.  Perhaps unlike James McMullan, who wrote the article and who went through multiple iterations to get at his finished painting, most of us don't labor to get at the brilliance that is certainly buried there, only waiting to be revealed and polished up.