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I wish I had a peach tree. Or maybe just a peach.

Today in the early morning I was on a walk with my baby boy on my back.

We saw a peach fallen from someone’s tree.

I wanted to eat it.

I also wanted the lady who owned the house to come out in a house dress and curlers and blue lips, screaming and threatening to cast a spell on me if I took one teeny tiny bite. 

I wanted the spell to horrible. 

I wanted to plead with her that I thought she wouldn’t mind. That I hadn’t eaten for days. That the other baby in my belly was a girl and I’d heard that girls need peaches to come out sweet.

I wanted the lady to tell me that her peaches were made of tears and heartbreak and molasses and anyone who ate them would have a life of sadness and misery and only crumbles of joy.

I wanted to hold the peach to my lips and watch as her hand trembled.

I wanted to open my mouth and feel the fur on my tongue, taste the nothing of the peel and imagine the juice that would spray once I bit. 

I wanted her to cry. Don’t do it.

Don’t do it.

Don’t do it.

And then I wanted to . . . 

 

What would you do? What would your MC do? And what would happen afterwards? And what if a semi-truck came along right then and splashed mud and water all over the both of you and she shrunk into a puddle of green and you grew into a Christmas tree with a baby in your belly and baby on your back and every year people would come decorate you and tell the tale of the woman and her two babies who dared to almost eat the peach from the evil woman who lived in the house with the curlers and the house dresses and the trembling hand that gave everything away? 

What would you do? 

 

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Dialogue. It’s killing me.

by Lisa Sledge

 

And what do we do when we’re stuck in our writing? First we eat a lot of chocolate-double-fudge-brownie ice cream with a dollop of peanut butter on top. Then we look for inspiration.

 

This time I had my “sloppy writing intervention party” with  The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing. (Shout out to my fabulous WIFYR writing buddy, Elizabeth Chappell, for recommending a book that is saving both my WIP and my sanity!) It gave me ideas for how to write in silence into conversations in a variety of ways beyond saying, “He was silent”, reminded me that dialogue needs a creative life of its own, and showed me subtle ways to incorporate details from the world of the novel in order to keep the reader grounded. It was exactly what I needed.

 

What are your favorite books or resources to turn to when your writing goes flat? Who or what do you look to for inspiration?

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Three Things Thursday

1. Kyra got an agent! He’s shopping her book even as we speak!

2. Cheryl Van Eck:

Do you remember back when you were the greatest writer in the world? Back when you didn’t know a single thing about writing?
All you had to do was sit down and “let the words flow.” And whenever it sounded bad, it was only because you’d hit writer’s block. So you just had to sit back, let it pass, and then you’d write brilliantly again.
Ah, those good old days.
However, now you’ve actually studied writing. And so you have a constant editor on your shoulder, screaming at you after every  sentence. Shoulder Editor can quote Stephen King verbatim and never fails to remind you that everything you’re writing reeks of the first draft stench. And if you ever claim “writer’s block,” Shoulder Editor smacks you upside the head.
Shoulder Editor is your best friend on the second (and third and fourth) draft. He polishes your manuscript, banishes your adverbs, and murders your darlings without an ounce of remorse.
But during the first draft, you’ve got to kick him out. Self-doubt is the worst form of writer’s block. Be the confident writer you were before you knew what poor writing was. It’s hard to be proud of the quality of a first draft, but you should at least be able to revel in the freedom of it.
3.Brenda Bensch:
Here’s just a quick question to ask yourself — and, hopefully, to write briefly about (the questions are always “quick” — it’s the answers that take a while):
What do I hope to achieve by making a commitment to engage regularly in the writing process?
A soul-searching few moments may point the way for you: good luck!

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Dried Cereal

Yesterday, as I was cleaning up yet another unsavory mess, the question came to mind, what is worse, worrying about teenagers getting drunk and having sex? Or stepping in poo and/or pee every day? 

Today is the first day of school for my oldest. He is in second grade, rode his gigantic bike all by himself (with Dad and little brother trailing–I’m a little protective), and decided he wanted to use his dad’s old messenger bag instead of a backpack. I love him. And I can’t believe he is this old. And not pooing on the carpet. Or etching his name in our van (and if you know his name, you will know why this was pretty bad). 

I go from moments of utter overwhelming-want to scream-chaos, to feelings of nostalgia and sadness that these boys are growing up faster than I have time to breathe. 

Sometimes I feel like I never get ahead. I never get anything done. I never write enough. I’m never becoming the person I could become because I’m too busy scraping dried banana off the floor. Or stopping fights. Or beating myself up for yelling. Or eating chocolate chips with peanut butter in my closet.

What if I could be a prolific, famous, influential writer holed up in a beach house on the Oregon coast, creating poetry and music that could change the world if I only had time? Or what if I could be traveling to Egypt or India or Africa and learning and saving and teaching and  becoming a wise and traveled soul full of memoir-material If I didn’t have this house and these responsibilities and this kitchen floor? Or what if I could be a full time professor, immersed in study and reading and writing and talking and going to lunch and flying away to Rome on sabbatical and changing young minds if only there was no laundry? 

One of my favorite books is the Bell Jar. I love it because I related to it as a young women and in some ways, I relate now. She has all these things in front of her: jobs, more school, boyfriends. How to choose? How to make decisions that will forever shape the rest of our lives? I think YA lit if full of these kinds of questions. Maybe all lit. is. Who are we? Who do we want to become? How do we know what we want to become? And what if it’s the wrong choice? Is there a wrong choice? And how do we find joy right where we are? And if we can’t find joy right where we are, what do we do about it? 

I am tired often. I have a lot of kids and I have one more coming. Sometimes I do find myself wondering. Wishing. Maybe even envying. But at the end of the day, I know down in my intestines, that this is a good place for me. That seeing him ride off on his bike, my heart breaking but also soaring just a little bit, is what I’m supposed to be doing right now. I will keep writing. I will keep thinking about these pretend people and their decisions and their heart-breaks and their triumphs and I will keep scraping rice Chex off the floor. 

Because that’s who I am right now. 

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Mad Mystery

Dear Everyone,

Happy Tuesday. Today I hope I get in some real clothes that can fit over my belly. I also hope that I write something. And I hope to make something for dinner other than quesadillas.

The other day I checked out a mystery at the library that SEVERAL people had recommended. I read it. Fast. The premise was intriguing from the start–an old unsolved mystery that comes back up because a new murder has occurred in the same spot. The lure of TWO murder mysteries, one old and storied, one new and present, was a very big draw for me. I don’t usually read a lot of mysteries but I wanted something that would pull me in and keep me reading (I’ve been putting down a lot of books lately).

Well, I finished it and . . . the author only solved one of the mysteries. The new one. Not the old, most compelling one. In fact, throughout the entire novel, she had the MC remember more and more details about the old mystery, dangling these scenes and these memories seemingly moving toward some kind of answer and then . . . NOTHING.

I was so frustrated.

I really was.

And I am all for not tying things up in a bow but in a murder mystery isn’t there some kind of rule that you must umm, solve the mystery? Isn’t that part of the contract with the reader? This was a more literary adult mystery so maybe you can break that rule but I have to say, I was left unsatisfied. And bugged.

So you mystery writers, what do you think? Do you have to solve the mystery? When can you break the rules? How forgiving do you expect your reader to be? Do you have examples of other mysteries that do this and it didn’t make you mad? The writing was good, btw. And she did answer the one mystery but not the one that was far more intriguing and pretty much unsolvable (which is what made it so frustrating that she didn’t solve it! Like I can write a crazy murder premise with weird sounds and blood and scratch marks and all kinds of spooky stuff if I don’t have to actually say why all those things are happening).

Sometimes I think I’d like to write a mystery, a really good one but I recognize how very very difficult it is.

That’s all for today! Hope you get some good quesadillas for dinner

xoxox

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The Giant Waterbug

Here is a figure of speech quiz:

Define the following

1. Metonymy

2. Synecdoche

3. Personification

4. Metaphor

5. Simile

6. Hyperbole

7.Oxymoron

8. Pun

Do you use these in your writing? Does it come naturally? Or not so much?

Now read this.

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The Ocean

Last week I went to the raging ocean.
The sand blew at my legs and my skirt flew up and I felt like I was in a novel.
Do you ever describe yourself in your head. As if someone were writing a novel about you right now?
Third person.
I think about it all the time. Grand sweeping descriptions we sometimes write, sometimes read, about a person. “She was overcome by children and middle age,” or “her once SOMETHING body, was now sagging and tired, her energy swept up with the legos and the ants that crawled across the kitchen floor.”
I always feel bad for myself that this is how I’m being described. Is this what people see? Is this their sentence when they interact with me, or observe me wrestling my kids? How dare they! They don’t know me. They don’t know what’s really happening, the hope and the joy and sadness and the fears. They are putting me in a sentence. A generalization.
I get all kinds of upset.
And then I realize no one has written this down about me except myself in my fake novel in my head.
And then I really feel sorry for myself.

Also, I read The Ocean at the End of Lane by Neil Gaiman. I’ve been wanting to read this for a long long time. It took me a day. Less than a day. And I keep thinking about it.

Listen to this podcast and see if you want to read it too.

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