Reading Too Much. Writing Not Enough.

On WordPress’s Freshly Pressed page, I read this blog post (featured by WordPress. How nice of them, no?) There are some great books listed there that I am interested in reading. But not until I finish the books that are currently on my nightstand and other convenient places throughout my apartment.

In no particular order or preference, here are the books I’m reading:

  • Eats, Shoot & Leaves, The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynn Truss
  • A Double Life, Discovering Motherhood by Lisa Catherine Harper (Winner of River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize)
  • Old Friend from Far Away, The Practice of Writing Memoir by Natalie Goldberg
  • Writing Down the bones, Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (although I have not opened it in a few months…)
  • Nothing to Envy, Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick (I only have a few more chapters of this one…I got distracted by Natalie Goldberg!)
  • The Memoir Project, A thoroughly Non-standardized Text for Writing & Life by Marion Roach Smith
  • River Teeth, Stories and Writings by David James Duncan
  • The Second Comforter, Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil by Denver C. Snuffer, Jr.
  • On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder (I’m reading the Little House on the Prairie series aloud to my daughter.)

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There are so many good books and just not enough time to get through them fast enough! But remember a previous post of mine about doing one thing at a time? Reading books should definitely fall under that – and it does. But I just cannot help myself! Sometimes I feel like something light, and other times I am crave instruction and mentoring. I create a menu that includes everything from gourmet to fast food material and as each mood calls, that need can be met. Its brilliant really, although my husband would beg to differ. The library fines add up and the books clutter the house.

Does anyone know of a good book that will teach me how to speed read? That is the answer!

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In case you didn’t click on the link above taking you to River Teeth Literary Journal, (there it is again) I’ll share a little bit about that here. This Literary Journal publishes the best of the best nonfiction work in the country. Authors and novice writers like myself will be gathering for a conference in May. A writing conference. Did you hear that? I am so lucky to be attending this prestigious writing conference! I hope to rub shoulders with a few published authors and learn how to better apply myself to the craft of writing. I will be able to go over a manuscript with a professional and get some feedback on my projects. I am both excited and nervous about that…

I attended a writing workshop in Park City when I was 16 called Writers @ Work. It is in its 27th year. Dear old Mr. Daugherty, my Jr. English teacher, submitted my application and with the help of a scholarship (and my dad) I went for a weekend and received writing coaching from poets like David Lee and other fiction and nonfiction authors whom I cannot remember. It was a while ago and I am certainly in need of a mini writing boot camp. I will be going to OH for this conference with my mother. It should be a fun time, and a trying time as I am forced to dive headlong into a project that has been eating at me for years.

I’ll keep you posted on that. Wish me luck on all the pages I’ve got to read and more so for all the the thousand’s of words I will be writing.

Writing Down the Bones

I’ve always wanted to be a better writer. This blog has been a small outlet for me to express raw material to a few readers. When I post something, I never edit it. I write, do a spell check, do a once over for any major errors and quickly click “publish”. I have to do this process quickly, otherwise I will chicken out and decide what I wrote was crap. It is easy to just run away or avoid writing because of fear. I admit I do this more often than not. But I am still scared, but I am getting more brave. I’m scrave. (That is a “word salad” that little Jack from the book Room taught me.) If I can get to the last line, I’ve written something. And at least it won’t fester inside of me creating a fluster-cluck of jumbled thoughts. Those make me insane.

Writing makes me sane.

For as long as I can remember, I have always written in a journal. I have 20 or so of them lined up like crows on a power line behind me. They mostly contain crap, but at least I wrote. Every day I would scribble what I saw in front of me. I’d write about my thoughts, rambling this way and that. I’d write about how boring my day was and how I couldn’t believe I was writing such boring prose about a boring day.  And then I’d read it and think, gosh, that was boring! As I learned it, it is called Free Write.

I don’t know what happened really, but those journals slowly stopped being used. My writing hand got out of shape.(Lefty) My trusty pen lost. The internet took over. Facebook. Children. Just other things that I thought took up all the time in the world. There was no time to write. Seemingly. But I was going insane. Stuck thoughts with no outlet just banging around inside of me like a full-term baby with no exit strategy. So uncomfortable!

I must write. I’ve been getting back at it recently. And though what I write may be crap, (see previous post…no, actually- don’t waste your time on it!) at least I am writing. Writing practice makes a better writer. Eventually I will have written something so extraordinary that even I will be amazed that it could come from an individual such as I.

I attended a writing conference as a 16 year old called “Writers At Work”. It was so much fun to be surrounded by other fledgling writers like myself, as well as published authors who were sharing the tricks of the trade. I want to do something like that again. I came across a conference that is scheduled for May in Ohio that I am considering attending. I’d love to be inspired again and surrounded by others who, like me, may feel stuck in their head and need some coaching to get it out. I’d love to get some feedback on how to write a memoir. I’d like to be solid at writing Nonfiction Narrative. Because that is what naturally comes out.

In Writing Down The Bones, by Natalie Goldberg, she teaches many simple truths as they relate to writing. First and foremost, she suggests writing everyday. A free-write of whatever you want. I have written today for a few hours and already I can feel a few thoughts breaking lose like the melting ice of a frozen lake. I am learning to be uncensored and more real in my words. I am re learning how to “show, not tell”, as a dear high school English teacher taught. There are so many ingredients that go into really good writing. I acknowledge that I am missing a few essential ones and am committed to the practice of writing over and over and over to finally get it right…or is it write?

Writing with the intent to teach or share information has been my M.O., but I realize that I have been going about it all wrong. The truth is, I write to more clearly see something for myself. When I write for real, it is just me telling myself the things falling out of my mind. Here Sycamore Girl, look at this. And now turn it around and see it from this side. See what you can learn from it. Look at this. I really do write for myself. And then I get scrave and click that little blue “publish” button and wait to see what happens. I go over and over in my mind the things that a fellow blogger wrote about in his very humerus post  Did my post suck today?

Maybe it did suck. But at least I am writing.