I’m back! I have been doing a lot of writing by hand lately. Sometimes it’s just helpful to switch up those pathways to creativity. The problem with that can be that I need to type everything I write. There are worst things in life, I’m sure. I’ve also been reading a lot lately. I finished The Weird Sisters and am listening to Tanavarie Due’s The Good House. But enough about me, here is my 10 minute write.
Only Mr. Henry would arrive at someone else’s party full of demands. Even though I’ve made my way back down stairs, I hang back in the kitchen, grazing the veggie platter and giving myself a pep talk.
“You can do this. This is the last visit until Thaksgiving. It will not kill you to go back out there.” Just then an arrow lands with a sharp “thwat” into the hedge outside the kitchen window. “Okay, it might kill you. But would that really be that bad?”
Daddy’ and Mr. Henry are laughing loudly at Edgar Winston who was standing next to the hedge and is shaking with nerves. “Man up, son,” Daddy says giving him a clap on the shoulder, “You’re looking like casper.” Edgar, who gets his pail skin from his white mother and his kinky hair from his black father, has gone sheet white. He shakes his head and our eyes meet when he looks into the kitchen window. I offer him a weak smile and can’t keep from shaking my head in embarrassment and relief at the thought that, hey, at least it wasn’t me out there. Sorry, Edgar, not today.
Image: ‘Mooki feels shame‘
I took my first flash fiction class tonight at the Writing Pad. The awesome Melissa Clark taught the class. I’ve had such great experiences in her classes that I try to take them all at least once. In May I am also taking her fiction writing bootcamp. Somewhere, Marilyn is quoted as saying that it’s like bootcamp minus the steel toe, but don’t quote me on that.
Flash fiction is oddly satisfying. Probably because it’s so short. It’s not flash fiction because it’s written quickly (though I heard some really amazing stuff written in 10 minutes!) but because the story is concise but so complete. The story is told in what isn’t said as much as it by what is said. I will be making a folder for it in my Scrivener.
I did the most insane thing ever and signed up for the Reported Essay class. It’s part personal essay, part journalistic research. It’s bleeding on the page and then interviewing people about the theme. The teacher, Taffy, has had 12 of her student’s published. If I’m serious about writing, this is the class that I have to take. I’m super nervous, but I’m serious about my future as a writer and I want to write as much as possible. What a way to start my path to creating/maintaining/doing my thing!
I know that the 24 hour read a thon is over but I ended up having an impromptu one this weekend anyways! I started reading Breaking Beautiful on Friday and just finished it now at 9:15pm on sunday. I was first heard of this book on The Contemps website and my major attraction was based solely on it not being based in a post apocolyptic setting. Seriously, come on, how many more of these do we need? Okay, maybe a ton, but I don’t need to read any more.
I am so impressed by this debut novel. Jennifer Shaw Wolf is one hell of a writer. Her language isn’t over simplified or poetic- it just is. Set in a small town in Washington State, the main character, Allie, is the lone survivor in a car accident that killed her abusive boyfriend Trip. She’s lost her memories of the night and no one in the small town will let her forget who she was or who she is. This is especially an issue when her best friend takes care of her and fills the isolated spots in her life.
What Wolf does best in this piece is plot. I found it to be seriously tight and completely captivating. She also does a great job of capturing the simple voice of a teenager. I’m not saying that teenagers are simple people, I’m saying she does away with the dramatics and the over emoting that could turn complex emotions into cliches. I totally aspire to have this type of ability someday. Told in first person present tense Allie’s emotions are raw and real, not cloying or hackneyed, as she takes us through dealing with her boyfriend’s death, her secrets, and dealing with the town and their need to know what happened the night he died.
I couldn’t put the book down. I look forward to her future work!
That’s my stack for the Read-A-Thon. I love the fact that I finally have an excuse to read all the hard copy books on my book shelf. I usually read a lot on my kindle so it feels good to be showing these books some love.
I just finished Heather Havrilesky’s Disaster Preparedness. While it was well written, it was a tough book to finish in one (broken into many starts and stops) sittings. I think that’s my own fault. Next October, or even in this next hour, I’m breaking up my reading to keep me focused. I met Heather at a Writing Pad retreat, and let me tell you, she is as much of a hoot in person as she is in writing. By “hoot” I mean hilarious observer of life who tells it like it is even if that means swearing. LOVE HER.
I enjoyed Heather’s musings on her life and the themes in all of our lives that truly require some disaster preparedness: parents getting divorced, first love, surviving middle school, our relationship (or lack thereof)with God, our relationship with our brothers and sisters, our parents, their relationships, parent’s death etc. Don’t get me wrong, this did not read like a “how to guide to life” like my list of themes might suggest. Those are just the themes of the chapters. The narrative has a definite non linear quality to it though it feels like it starts when she’s younger and by the end more stories of her adult hood are included.
Heather does a great job of weaving together her experiences of the same theme and showing how she had grown because of that these experiences. The narrator not only changes by the end of the book (which is the standard structure for memoir and most narratives) but also develops and changes with each chapter. This also makes sense because as an essayist, each chapter reads like a short delightful essay. It was fun and a funny read. There were definitely moments that made me laugh out loud.
Book 3 and 3 are The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown and From Capetown with Love by the actor Blaire Underwood. These two books couldn’t be more different. Don’t let Blair Underwood discourage you. His book is cowritten by two other writers who are awesome, Tananvarie Due and Steven Barnes. Apparently their past collaborations have been award winning. I won a copy of the Weird Sisters in a random drawing from The Debutante Ball. I love winning things. I’m going to be breaking up my reading to keep me going! I’m diving in. Happy reading.
Image credit: me
My next book is Heather Havrilesky’s memoir Disaster Preparedness. I met Heather at a writing retreat and she was a hoot. I can’t wait to read her memoir.
Goodreads describes her memoir as: A perceptive, witty memoir about the transformative humiliations of childhood-and adulthood-from a unique, already-beloved voice.
Actually the Goodreads’s description was as long as a blog post, so that’s the short version. I’m diving in. Happy reading.
I just finished Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. It is truly the answer to my constant question of “where are all the people of color in dystopian fiction?” Post Apocolyptic America is a huge theme in young adult fiction (Delirium, the Hunger Games, Matched, etc.) right now, as well as fiction in general, especially if you include the zombie themed writing (World War Z, The Walking Dead). The difference between YA dystopian lit and World War Z and The Walking Dead is its curious lack of diversity. (World War Z happens all over the world. The Walking Dead graphic novel is way more diverse then the TV show.) This lack of diversity in the main characters was really annoying to me. It’s not the world I live in nor the world of many of my friends.
Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower starts in 2024 and takes us through September 2028 in Southern California. Written in 1993, Butler creates a Southern california and a United States that is seriously resembles issues that we currently face in 2012. The issues the characters face in the story aren’t on the door step of Main Street but they are definitely around the corner. The main character, Lauren Olamina, sees the writing on the wall and decides that being prepared is better then being complacent. The story begins when she is fifteen and takes us through the events that shift her world and disrupt her community. I feel like I can’t say too much about the plot without spelling out major spoilers, which I hate. I will say that an important theme is how Lauren’s understands God and the development of the Earthseed. This is threaded throughout her recolletion of events that make the plot but its not overwhelming or disrupting the plot.
I really enjoyed this book.
Things I learned and hope to include improve in my writing (I will try not to include any spoilers.:
– using clean and simple language. The story is told through entries in Lauren’s diary, a young girl, so it lacks the flowery descriptive language in which I tend to get myself caught up in order to show and not tell. I didn’t feel like I was being “told” anything. I felt that I saw exactly what needed to be seen.
– the characters were people, diverse people, not caricatures of people of color though race was still an issue in the story. This was not at all a panracial world in which Lauren lived, which I appreciate as a person of color. Lauren describes how race impacts the relationships within her community. Each character is like a person any of us might know but because of the situations that pull them together and Lauren’s knowledge of how the world works, there are very real descriptions of their race and gender effect there lives. Each character has lost a lot.
There is so much more but I’m struggling to write about it because I don’t want to spoil the book for you. I just really hope everyone gives Octavia Butler a try!
Reading and reading a lot is key to being a good writer (as well as writing, and writing A LOT). Last night I went to a book reading by author Tayari Jones at Eso Won books in Lemiert Park and wow, am I inspired to not only write, write what I want to write, but to read and to read a lot. At the reading I met a woman from a book club, Mocha Girls Read, and another woman in Los Angeles who quit teaching and is writing. She’s writing freelance, which pays, and could be an awesome mentor. When I joined the book club there was also a link for the Dewey’s Read-a-thon. The read-a-thon is just reading for 24 hours straight. I have to work and waking up at 5am is not really that productive for me so I’m starting some of those hours tonight. I’m really not sure what I’m supposed to do other then read, so read I shall. To kick off my first read-a-thon I am reading Octavia Butler’s Parable of the sower.
Goodreads’s synopis: When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister’s young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny… and the birth of a new faith.
As of 4pm on Friday after a few hours of reading, I really like the book. I enjoy her use of simple language to build vivid detail. This is not a quick read or an easy read but it is interesting. I think I read for story as well as for language and structure . I want everything to influence what I am trying to do with my life: write full time.