Letting the Words Come to You

washedout elle at computer
Sometimes the words just come to me. In a dream, or as I hear something on TV or on the radio or in a passing conversation. They jump out at me and force me to pay attention. It can be a fragment, or even a whole sentence. I was always told that you should pay attention when that happens. They might go into a poem or one of my stories.

I want to tell you all more about how I think when I write (and do more of it!) I recently wrote a short story called “A Little Not Music.” There is a part in it: “‘You didn’t listen.’ It was all she could do not to.” That came to me just before I went to sleep one night and stayed with me. I just knew that I had to do something with it, it felt so strong.

Pay attention to things like that. The words that just jump out and stay with you. I’ve found things written on the backs of receipts, napkins, jotted down in my phone, scribbled on scrap paper…

…But I know that even those scraps are holding gems.

What’s your process when the words come to you?


Lost Baggage

Well, summer’s pretty much over and school is starting up again. I don’t know if I had enough BBQ in my life. I can’t say that I have. I also didn’t get a chance to go to the beach. That is highly suckful.

What I did do this summer was to sit down and write again. Even wrote poetry again too. I submitted a short story for the Long Hidden anthology and I hope the editors enjoy it. I am proud either way because I did it and it felt good. Really good. The anthology is not only just in my genre, but a fantastic idea. I wish it much future success.

Although I never truly stopped writing, this is the first time I decided to submit a short story for anything in about 2 years. Wow. Two years. WTH? A toddler will do that to you though. Thing is, I’m filled with stories. I see them play out like movies in my mind. I have manuscripts I’ve started and much to the frustration of many of my friends and colleagues, have not finished. Ugh, that’s so “stereotypical writer” of me. I admire my friends for finishing theirs. Time for me to do the same.

Now that I have lost my writing baggage, there is work to be done.

Up for a Breath

Heh. Anyone who writes or edits a lot will get that…

One thing about being in grad school is the huge lack of a life you voluntarily commit yourself to. It also means that everything creative kind of takes a back seat to “academic brain.” I am love, love, loving what I am learning, but it means switching off thinking about my fiction writing, poetry, and art. Essentially, anything that would take time away from my studies and research. Good thing is that summer break is a week away.

This means, I’ll be back. And in an effort to keep my mind from doing that atrophying thing that happens from too much vegging out, I’ll just switch gears to focusing on creative goals instead. A short story for an anthology submission. Putting together a short story collection. Revamping and revising a novel. Writing poetry again. I’m not Emily Dickinson…these stories and poems have got to get out of my computer and into the world! And let’s not forget ART! Think I’ve got time to squeeze in some classical guitar lessons? I’ve put it out there to the universe. Now to get crackin’! Need to keep this brain clicking!

Summer break here I come!

Five Cents for Zora

Zora Neale Hurston by Carl Van Vechten, 1938

Zora Neale Hurston by Carl Van Vechten, 1938

A few years ago, I read Langston Hughes’ autobiography, The Big Sea. In addition to stories of his own experiences in Paris and Harlem among the minds and creatives that made up the Harlem Renaissance, some of the most interesting things he talked about was his time spent with the irrepressible sheer force of personality that was author and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston.

I recently came across a story from it that I had written down because it stood out to me. I remember laughing when I first read it, imagining her practically bouncing down a Harlem street doing this. Hughes said:

“She tells this story on herself, about needing a nickel to go downtown one day and wondering where on earth she would get it. As she approached the subway, she was stopped by a blind beggar holding out his cup.

‘Please help the blind! Help the blind! A nickel for the blind!’

‘I need money worse than you today,’ said Miss Hurston, taking five cents from his cup. ‘Lend me this! Next time, I’ll give it back.’ And she went on downtown.”

I remember the first time I read her masterwork Their Eyes Were Watching God and it was your usual dissected-to-death-beyond-meaning school assignment. Honestly, I didn’t really appreciate it until re-reading it years later and that time, it was the nuances of the words, the way she could make a character’s voice so true and her snap-crackle-pop way of writing that were more clear to me.

As a writer, it’s something you hope for…that the reader actually “gets” what you are trying to say. Otherwise, something can become lost. It goes without saying that we writers need readers and I think that we can evolve as readers. That at some point something “kicks” in and we become better readers. When I say “better” reader, I’m not talking about what we read–as to me the medium and genre doesn’t matter–but how we read and understand it.

I mean really, if the story’s not speaking to you…why would you listen?

As Seen in the Restroom…

Interesting writing in the restroom stall...

Interesting writing in the restroom stall...

Yes…I really did take a pic of this while in a movie theater restroom in Toronto. No, I did not write that myself. My handwriting’s actually a bit more on the chickenscratch-y side and makes my schoolteacher grandmother shake her head sometimes while trying to read it.

Anyone else in there must have thought “Let me hurry up and get out of here” as I laughed in the stall while reading it. It did remind me that I needed to get cracking on this blog. Put some stuff out there in the interwebz.

I’ve been thinking a lot about “What do I want to say in this blog?” and finally, I’ve got an answer: It’s “whatever.” As in, whatever strikes me. Maybe art. Maybe writing. The state of the world of publishing or the world at-large. Maybe history or architecture or geek stuff or whatever gets me hyped.

Feel free to get hyped too…

Oh, and “Angels and Demons” was time in my life I can not get back now.

And So It Begins…

Poetry is life distilled” –Gwendolyn Brooks

That quote could probably apply to the arts in general. The creative process of trying to sum it all up in one piece as manifested through its maker. Either way, in the immortal words of Bender Bending Rodriguez: “I’m back baby!”

I took a bit of a hiatus from writing (long story) and thought, “I need a kick in the rear” to get back on track on the keyboard and bang out pages like I used to again. I’ve also got some of my art quilts out in the world on exhibition right now and I need to wield some paint and fabric and thread and get to cracking on finishing up some more.

So in the meantime you get to hear me grumble and rant and “philosophize” ever so slightly about writing, art, travel and culture, all sorts of other things and that big thing we call life.

Shall we begin?