Posted at 9:23 pm , on April 7, 2018
Madeleine, My Dear Old Cat
What do you when your cat has a heart attack and dies and then comes back to life? You write a novel I guess. At least I did, for fun. Or not so much for fun but because I was freaked out by the experience. My cat had had a urinary tract infection and gave up eating. She vomited. So I took her to the emergency vet where after a routine examination, she went into cardiac arrest. Luckily, the doctors revived her. Afterward, the experience was on my mind and in my heart, my aching heart. In fact, I struggled with the trauma for months. Now, finally, she’s infection free and as good as a thirteen-year-old cat can be.
The artistic outcome was I started writing a story about it and couldn’t stop. It’s about a young woman who’s just finished graduate school and comes home to care for her family home while her mom’s away in rehab. The working title is Sophie and the Tree Hollow. And here are the first few paragraphs. If you like it and want to read more, let me know. I may self-publish it, I may shop for representation, I’m not sure yet. Regardless, here it is.
Posted at 8:12 am , on April 1, 2018
My William Morris Celandine Journal
I’ve always thought keeping a journal meant writing long passages of insight about your life and its meaning, a diary a la Anais Nin or The Artist’s Way that someday after you die would reveal who you secretly were. I’ve tried to do this in the past but it never stuck. But after reading Show Your Work, I’ve realized that keeping a journal is the opposite. It can be disjointed, messy, inspired, and mundane. It’s a reflection of the nonlinear mind, of the creative journey. Like a painting of thoughts, ideas, notes, and even drawings, its bits and pieces coalesce to form its beauty. Continue reading
Posted at 11:39 pm , on February 25, 2017
What author do you turn to for predictability? For a story that’s not too unlike one the author wrote previously? Perhaps, it’s a fantasy series set in a particular world (a la George R.R. Martin) or a mystery series featuring the same protagonist (a la Agatha Christie). It might even be a literary author whose books, while featuring fresh characters and storylines, offer the same, quality writing and beautiful insights (like Barbara Kingsolver). For me, it’s the police procedurals of Donna Leon.
I’ve always read literary novels, the kind that are brimming with gorgeous, profound language but lack a substantive plot. These books are rewarding for what they are, in fact, in most ways, they taught me how to write with deeper meaning and still inspire, but when I discovered the crime genre works of Leon, I discovered an entirely new side of the novel. Leon’s books aren’t weak on sentences, but they aren’t there for the language and profound insights, they’re there for the story, all while featuring compelling plots and interesting characters and layered social commentary. Continue reading
Posted at 7:40 pm , on January 9, 2017
Last Saturday, I saw a movie about comedy that inspired me as a writer. It was Mike Birbiglia’s Don’t Think Twice, a sharply realistic yet sweet portrait of a New York improv group. Not-so-famous comedians who make people laugh by night but work by day to financially stay afloat. They are friends. They are smart and loving and sometimes selfish. They’ve performed in The Commune for years but when the manager of the theater announces the building’s been sold and the theater is closing, they are squeezed by change. Often, that squeezing is not pretty to watch.
There are six members in The Commune: Miles, Bill, Lindsay, Allison, Jack, and Samantha. Miles, the founder of the group, faces the challenge of finding another small, inexpensive performance space. As he fumbles for a plan, he meets an old high school flame whom he’s attracted to but is ultimately more grown up than he at 36. As their relationship deepens, he questions whether he wants to continue the hard task of doing improv for little money or give it up and be a father to his girlfriend’s coming child. Continue reading