Campus Crimes

Performance anxiety even though I won’t be on stage

So last night I dreamt of even more things going wrong at Local Authors Live! It’s the reading at the West-Falls Colden Library that I’m hosting on 25 April. There were 50 people; I had no food. I borrowed pretzels from Eric Tertinek, then worried if they were all right because he had a half-eaten pan of Jell-O in his cupboard. A woman who wasn’t on the roster wanted to read first. I get her to understand there was a line up and so I go to introduce Stephen Eoannou, but I can’t pronounce the name of his book because his son wanted him to read from the different one. My print out with intros was lost not once, but twice. My mother was selling pop in a tent in the front, while in the back, a storm raged and an owl threatened to break the window. This set of dreamed problems is just as whacko as the other disaster dream I had the day before.

I’m exhausted and there’s still over a week before the reading.

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In other news, I went out for my birthday and well, so much for weight loss goals. The day after, Betty and Angela dropped by with wings and pizza and a gift certificate for the The Meat Shoppe. *Sigh.* I did get these lovely tulips from Angela. I have 9 flats of seedlings growing now. I’ll be getting a workout in the garden soon enough.

After this horribly long winter, the weather has warmed up and the crocuses are out.

4.16Stripe

Husband finished the prototype swing seat. There are a few tweaks we’re considering and then he’ll make it out of cedar.

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The Camp NaNo book has stalled out. That’s all I want to say about it. At the moment, I’m in a reflective mood wondering if I even want to write anymore. It is hard and scary. With exercise, I can look in the mirror and see that I’m making progress. With writing, well, I’m a better writer than when I tackled Campus Crimes, but other than that? Eh. If I go farther in the latest manuscript I’m not sure I can write through the scenes well enough.

Why yes, I do have lousy self-confidence. Thanks for stopping by and reading my Creekside Reflections. I trust your experiences will vary.

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Wrapped up in reading while waiting for the thaw

The long, cold weather resulted in the water under the driveway’s bridge freezing. Solid. We had a bit of a warm up and the snow started to melt. Guess where the water in the ditch went? Yes, right into the lawn and the driveway. *Sigh* When Husband came home last night, we shoveled slush and made a pathway for the water to flow toward the ditch on the other side of the bridge. This morning it was iced over, but the flooding seems to be staunched for the time being.

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In general, I’m not a fan of driving in winter. Luckily, I have nowhere to go…except to my chair to read. And read I have. In the past month, I’ve read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Sylvia Cassedy’s Behind the Attic Wall, Jodi Picoult’s Leaving Time, Tea Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife, and Allison Pearson’s I Don’t Know How She Goes It.

I also read Ryan Boudinot’s essay, “Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One.” I don’t understand the uproar the piece caused. Not all writers are created equally. Why is that shocking for someone to say that?

The new piece (and I really need to come up with a working title for that thing) had me scared to continue writing it, so I set it down. I’ve worked on a few things, but next week, I’ll have sent half of “Campus Crimes” to the writer’s group and I know from the last book, the end flies by. I have been going to bed with the thought that I’ll dream of which one of the two rough first drafts I have to work on.

What I’ve consistently dreamed of is being naked, but not self-conscious about it and in mostly empty rooms where different men show up. XO man one night, the guy in Australia another night, my brother-in-law the night before that. Right, so as I was telling someone about this (the desire for the dreams to guide me and the nakedness, etc.) it dawns on me that maybe the message is to work on this new book that scares me. I’m not sure I’m ready.

*Sigh*

I mean, I really should finish Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted first…and Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted. Plus, I need to keep an eye on the lawn drainage situation. Also, I want to add some Yoga to my morning Pilates routine. Where is that DVD? Finding it could take a while. And the kitchen pantry needs a good sorting…

Yeah, I know, that all sounds like I’ll be procrastinating, but I’ve already broken out the colored index cards and tape. Looks like I’m going to plotting “Dreaming Lettie.” Kidding! I’ll be too busy thinking of a working title for the new piece, which will probably continue to tear me open. That’s why I set it aside.

Thanks for stopping by to read my Creekside—and ditch on the other side—Reflections!

It’s too cold to do anything but fill out forms…

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It’s the middle of January and I already have my NEA paperwork sent in as well as my packet for Bread Loaf. Had NYFA opened before 5:30 p.m. on Friday, I would also have had that paperwork filled out and sent in, but then life got in the way. Yesterday, I prepared and uploaded the files. All I have to do is hit “submit,” but I’m doubting everything and will go and futz with it after I post this.

Gina and Mary had gorgeous weather to come here on Tuesday. It is fantastic to sit and talk with other writers about writing and each others work. They are very kind about the novel I’m sending them. It was written so long ago and there is so much head hopping! I don’t know when I’ll get to revising it properly; this new piece won’t let me go. The funny thing was that Mary commented I needed to go deeper with my characters in Campus Crimes. I’m in so deep with this new piece I’m scaring myself.

It’s been bitterly cold, but there are many tracks: squirrel, rabbit, deer, and cat. This morning, several birds were singing when I went to the mailbox. The new piece takes place in winter so it’s easy to pick out details to add to the setting…which I should be working on, if you don’t mind.

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Sorry this is short, but thank you for stopping by and checking in!

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Oh, “Could of Have Been Us” comes out tomorrow (1/16/215) at Vine Leaves . If you get a chance, check it out. I think you’ll like it!

 

Thank you!

(*These are my creekside reflections. Your experiences should vary.)

Can I blame the most excellent kid for this happiness?

In case you didn’t know, I do have a kid and he’s awesome. For MD, he ripped a CD of Lost Souls, Inc. music for me. It was returned because of postage issues, but I got it on Saturday and listened to a song or two before the “Events” took over.

Brother-in-law was here for the Mike Korabek memorial. I’d never been to such a lovely thing before–being a part of the sending off of a man who loved the Grateful Dead. Suffice it to say I had a lovely, happy, joyful time on a Friday night before the trip to the cemetery followed by the VFW tribute. I’m still so happy about the whole thing–not that the guy I’d never met was dead, but that I got to be a part of such a great tribute. I mean there were red roses everywhere and people Husband has referenced since I met him were there to see and talk to–it was fantastic. I loved it.

Lately, I’ve loved a lot of things.

In the “joyous” part of that Friday night, I had a stupid tap hammer slam me in the forehead. I won’t say what, but a tie rod of plot support showed up. I was excited and awed. I mean, how did I not see the organic progression before?

I laugh.

I can’t wait for you to read it and then I can laugh with you when you agree with me–I should have seen it!

Since then it’s been Revision City.

Well, not quite. On Sunday, I went to Vineyard Conference with Mary Jo and everyone had lunch at the McClurg Museum. Shout outs to Mary Jo Hodge, Nancy Leone, Peter Hamilton, Chuck Joy, Michele Meleen, The Can the Man men, Ron Androla, Nancy Kay, Linda Lavid, and Tom Noyes for making it wonderful. (Yes, if I met you, remind me and I’ll tag you, too.)

I’ve been in a good mood for quite a while. Maybe because I haven’t been paying as much attention to the news as I normally do, maybe the purple flowers in my yard are giving me a happy, maybe the last hard scene for my MC was written yesterday and I’m down to the nitpicky edits for this latest book. I don’t know what it is, but it feels good to listen to Ronnie Hall and Phraugue on CD. I feel good even knowing some lousy rejections are bound to roll in soon. I’m okay with them. I warned Husband that I was partial to J. Peterman swag. Yesterday, I ordered a blue dress. It was on sale and beautiful and I cannot remember the last new dress I bought…maybe it will work out with a new car to pose beside like I did back in the day of wrapping up “Campus Crimes” with my car Grace.Grace2

Flashes, Novels, and Hope

I’m looking forward to my first official reading. I know, it’s a month away, but I’m excited. It’s a good time in my life for flashes. I’ll be reading “Wildflower Wishes” at the West Falls-Colden library; I was just awarded second prize in the Mary Kennedy Eastham Flash Fiction Competition, part of the Soul Making Keats Literary Competition, an outreach of the National League of American PEN Women, and “I’m Calling Him Skippy” will be up at Matter Press any day now.

If good things come in threes, let’s hope the next good news is about my books because I’ve been having a tough time sitting down to work on my latest. I wrote the first draft for Camp NaNo last spring and let it sit. Now that I’m in the novel critique group, I’ve been going through it twenty pages at a time and that’s been fine, but the last two days, I haven’t made any progress. It’s frustrating. I have until the twentieth, but I’d been hoping I’d be done by now so that I could work on other things.

Deadlines are the way I work best, though. In the past few weeks, I submitted “Campus Crimes” to the Barbara Kingsolver PEN Bellwether Prize, an application for the Rona Jaffe Scholarship at Breadloaf, “File It Under Whatnots” to Disquiet’s International Play Competition, and NYFA packets for both the Nonfiction and Poetry categories. Yeah, I’ve been a little bit busy with those things, and on top of that, I’m taking baby steps toward finding an agent.

Getting used to the dog being gone is taking some time. I wrote Grandma about Tye’s last few days. It was hard, but I know she’d want to know that Tye didn’t suffer. She loved that dog so much–I think she would have been happy just to have Tye visit her; Husband and I were just extra. Regardless, I’ve walked in the house expecting Tye to be in front of the fire and she’s not. She’s been in a few dreams which is sort of comforting. I don’t know. She was a good girl.

Tye

Otherwise, I guess that’s what’s going on around here. And as always, these are my creek side reflections. Your experiences may vary.

I’ll quit drinking and we’ll stop speaking.

Doesn’t that sound promising?

I’m just about ready to stop drinking for good AND demand everyone else do that too so we can all be on even ground when we interact.

And how were your past two weeks?

I’ve been practicing the “wear a smile, you’ll feel better” exercise and it does seem to be working. Really. Even with this seemingly unending pile of rejections and disappointments, I do feel a bit better. I swear.

By the end of today, the garden should be completely planted and weeded. We’re supposed to have decent weather this weekend and with any luck, the other bed should get tilled and then the clover can be planted. Yeah! My sister brought me two broccoli plants which are now in a big pot and they’ll go in the resting bed as soon as possible along with the peas. I’m hoping for a good second crop since I couldn’t get the first planting in this year.

Aside from the “smile even though your life is a crap heap” exercise, the biggest thing going on is that I have new goals. Mary Aker’s book launch is on 21 September at the Roycroft. I’ve already bought my ticket. That gives me a few months to get my act together. The library I volunteer at is going to summer hours so I’ll be able to achieve my Camp NaNo goals a little bit easier in July, and I’ve made it halfway through “Campus Crimes” with edits. Not too shabby.

So the next time we meet, I’ll be a few days into Camp NaNo. I wonder if I’d like going to camp so much if I’d ever gone to one as a kid. This go round, I’m planning on essays and short stories. If I manage the not drinking by then, in the evening hours I’ll be editing the hell out of the book I wrote for April’s Camp NaNo. Plans are such beautiful, encouraging, elusive things.

Oh, the title of this blog was culled from a poem I wrote twenty years ago. Part of it goes like this:

I’m a perfectionist
and if I do things badly
I don’t want to do them at all.

I never could get drunk right,
so I’ll quit drinking and
we’ll stop speaking.

No. I don’t want to explain the circumstances that brought about that poem into being or anything else that’s bothering me… So, go on with your awesome lives. Be pretty. Be smarter than I am. Pay attention. There may be a test you didn’t study for…

(*These are just my slightly nutty creekside reflections after two weeks of things going off in directions I wasn’t expecting. Why I ever think things will settle/calm down is beyond me. Your experiences may vary. I should hope so.)

Doing so much I forgot what I was supposed to do

I surprised myself yesterday when I looked at the calendar and noticed I was supposed to have blogged and hadn’t. Oh well. I have put in 5 contest entries this week. There are 5 more I want to enter this month—well one is the NEA Fellowship. I am also looking over reader notes on both “Ellie’s Elephants” and “Campus Crimes.” No time consuming confusion there.

I also “found” an angle for a baseball story. I had the story months ago, I just didn’t have the frame for it. At the library last Saturday, I sat at the return counter and it wrote itself, so I hope to finish up a first draft soon.

I’m reading Gone Girl and The Art of Fielding and several stories for r.kv.r.y

And I made a loaf of bread.

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What a week.

 

(*These are just my Creekside Reflections. Your experience may vary.)