Writing tagged posts

Hey Laura Axelrod, What Are You Doing Now?

TypewriterWriting, of course.

For starters, I’m working on getting back in the groove with this blog. Several lifetimes ago, I was a dedicated blogger. I wrote about everything from the mundane to the political, but mostly I focused on my writing career.

About a year or so ago and with much relief, I turned off the lights on the site. With that chapter closed, I felt like I could start anew. Which is what I’ve been focused on for the past two years, along with overhauling my writing process, working on a book series, bringing a film to market and a whole host of smaller projects. I’m busier now than ever. So busy, I haven’t had time to go on the Internet to track or discuss it.

Now is the time to change that. If nothing else, blogging gives me a chance to reflect on things.

Right now, I’m working on a story about tornadoes. I thought it would be a short piece, but it has become something much larger. I would consider it a sidebar story to a much larger work. Right now, I’m writing it as a play because playwriting tends to be easier for me. I’ve done it longer and I still tend to think of things performed on a stage. However, being in my position, I still don’t have access to resources or that kind of thing. Publishing is big here – playwriting not so much. Plus, I’m not sure how people in theater would react to these characters. Culturally the country is very divided right now. That, too, is a consideration.

One thing I’ve gotten in meditation, over and over again, is that it is my responsibility as a writer to find the right audience for what I have to say. Keeping my eyes open while living in Alabama has changed me in so many ways. It has been difficult to see poverty, racism, hunger and whatnot. I know it has made me more introspective, which is one of the reasons why I have gone so quiet publicly. I can also see that it has given me more colors on my literary palette. The characters and themes I write today are a radical departure from my previous projects.

The past two years, in particular, have been educational. Being quiet on the Internet has given me the opportunity not to run with the herd. I’m so glad I made that decision.

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Natalie Goldberg and the Art of Being Present

Natalie Goldberg Writing Down the BonesI love this period of time. I don’t think I’ve ever worked this hard. Since June of 2015, I’ve been pushing out a new project. It’s as unpredictable as the news of this year, and that’s no exaggeration.

To recap, I dropped out of my extracurricular life activities in the middle of 2015. I’ve already mentioned the reorganization process from last summer. As I was doing that, I also began writing a series of essays. They came out, one after another. I allowed myself maximum freedom – no outline or expectation. Just be present and write. It has turned out to be the raw material for a new project. After all the energy has been exhausted, I will edit and shape this material. Right now, the important thing is to be present and write.

Be Present and Write. I learned that through Jack Kerouac. And you know how one writer leads you to another? That’s how I found Natalie Goldberg. I was living in San Francisco in my 20s. I don’t remember where I bought her books, “Writing Down the Bones” and “Wild Mind.” It is quite possible I bought them at City Lights. I’m not sure. Both books were an immense help. It was difficult to write after the breakdown. Plus blending spirituality and writing was my truth as well.

I thought of Natalie Goldberg recently. There are only a handful of writers whose work has stuck in my brain for decades. I haven’t written about how much her work has meant to me. When I’ve talked about things like that in the past, I’ve gotten dissertations in response lecturing me about various aspects of a writer’s work. Those kinds of responses steal the connection a writer has with a reader. The work meant something to me, something I’ve carried for many years. That response is mine; it’s personal. To invalidate such a response with a “you don’t know what you’re talking about but I do so here let me enlighten you because you are a blazing idiot” is terrible. So often those discussions come from ego rather than heart.

I don’t mind sharing among strangers, friends or colleagues, but it has to be respectful and equal. We can all learn from personal responses; however, the minute someone plays expert, the connection is lost. It used to happen so much in theater. That’s why I’m sensitive to it now.

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Organizing and Planning for 2016

Organizing Writing FilesIt’s shaping up to be a busy year. As I mentioned earlier, I spent much of 2015 organizing my writing from the past 20-25 years. It definitely got me out of the doldrums. I didn’t realize that I had written so much. Drafts and drafts of stories, plays, essays and poems are now tucked into colorful folders. I also created a corresponding filing system on my computer. All the duplicate drafts have been discarded. Documents trapped in out of date software have been opened and updated into PDF files.

The result is that I feel more in control.

As I combed through my work, I was careful not to get tied up in sentimentality. I didn’t read every draft or reminisce about where I was when I wrote it. Although my memories of writing were sometimes quite vivid, I chose to ignore that and move forward. Keep it moving, keep it moving.

My next step was to place work into the following piles: Projects to work on, Possibilities, Scraps and Completed. All stories, plays, essays and poems fit into these categories. How best to determine what went where? I went on my gut feeling. A part of me knew what had potential and what was best left behind.

The result is that I now have a list of projects I will work on, probably for the next few years.

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