28 September 2009
My new school year starts Friday, October 2nd, which meant I had to painfully cough up $1135.25 this morning to clear my account or I wouldn't be able to register. What I didn't do this year is apply for scholarships or grants and now I'm regretting it. Although I worked a part-time editing job the last three months to make it easier, everything went up this semester, the transportation costs to get to school, room and board, tuition, technology fees, loan origination fees for student loans...you get the point. While I looked at Scholarships.com for scholarships and grants throughout the summer I never followed through with any of them so now I'm looking early for next semester at Scholarships.com.
Remember the reputable scholarship sites are FREE. Don't pay money to anyone who says that they can find you a scholarship. It takes work and a lot of follow through but there are scholarships out there if you really want to go to college and fund your education.
The Writing Nag
27 September 2009
26 September 2009
22 September 2009
James Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
I was probably around eleven when I started my first scrapbook. I pasted in cards, awards from school, photographs, ticket stubs and a lot of other ephemera. It wasn't particularly popular to scrapbook back then, there weren't any scrapbook stores, magazines, layouts, classes or websites...but when my mom brought home a big red book filled with plain manila paper, stamped with the word Scrapbook in gold cursive writing I was hooked.
I just got this beautiful book out of the library and I'm fascinated with it! It immediately got added to my Amazon Wishlist. One of the featured scrapbooks in the book is also from my hometown Waterbury, Connecticut.
If you're into ephemera, stories, history and the lives of ordinary Americans who scrapbooked their personal history you might find this as intriguing as I did.
Here's a video of author Jessica Helfand describing one of the featured scrapbooks.
21 September 2009
George W. Bungay
20 September 2009
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
This morning I did something I haven't done in awhile. I wrote a 975 word short story in about 2.5 hours. I decided on Friday I would enter the 24 hour short story contest that Writer's Weekly holds every quarter. It's not the best story I ever wrote but it has a beginning, a middle and an end. And I submitted it.
Here's the link to the winter contest. Even if you don't place there are a lot of great door prizes and it's very motivating if you find yourself struggling to finish work. The submission fee is $5.00.
Today, find a contest that has a deadline coming up this week. Polish up your work and submit it. Now get back to work!
The Writing Nag
19 September 2009
"The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
And Mother cuts
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze."
John Updike, September
It's been a busy week, we had three rooms and the entrance way in our house painted, finished up a 8-week editing project, and worked on the last minute details for my trip back east. Now I sleep in a celery bedroom, a very beautiful shade of pale yellow-green that seemed like a good period color for a 1914 bungalow. The living room and entrance way is painted Hawthorne cream. I am drawn to New England colors. This morning I wrote a quick article on celebrating October. Last year I took a photo a day but I know with my busy school year ahead of me, that won't be possible this year. I'm pretty sure I posted this quote last September but I think John Updike really pulls together the greatest details for the month of September.
Today, with September almost over start a poem or a one page essay with Mr. Updike's first three words...the breezes taste...or if you're like me ready for October, start a poem or story with an October theme, for brainstorming try using Joe Brainard's "I remember" technique: Here's mine from last year.
- I remember buying many white paper bags of apples and the sweet smell when you opened the door to the unheated porch where we stored them all winter
- I remember their names McIntosh, Cortland, Empire, York, Newtown Pippin, and Red Delicious and how my mother knew what each apple was best used for baking, eating, or saving
- I remember I liked McIntosh the best, crisp, sweet and sometimes sour
- I remember the farm where we bought apple cider donuts, unfiltered apple cider, and large striped Amish candy sticks
- I remember that the farmhouse there was old with worn, wide planked wooden floors that moved and creaked when you walked on it and that the apple cider press was in the back of the store
- I remember my dad was always raking leaves and leaving piles for us to jump in
- I remember diving into a pile of leaves and just lying there for a while covered with the smell and the darkness until the leaves make you itch and it scared you for a second when you thought about being buried forever under the leaves
- I remember running through the dark on Halloween night with a pillowcase full of candy and feeling free and crazy and a little bit scared
- I remember the side attic in our bedroom where we stored the candy, the creak of the door and the smell of chocolate mingled with cedar and wool
- I remember the weight of the pillowcase full of candy, and how it could last until Christmas if you rationed it
- I remember getting to eat some candy when you got home even though you’ve been eating it all along the way
- I remember when everyone was afraid of razorblades in apples or candy tampering, even though very few people gave apples and they later found out it was family members
- I remember the commercials on TV and the warning parents were given to check all the candy and look for signs of tampering
- I remember looking for needle holes in my chocolate bars and asking my sister and brother if they thought this was one? Over and over again
- I remember stealing candy from my sister’s bag and wondering if she ever knew
- I remember sharing my birthday with my older sister every year because our birthday was only a day apart and close to Halloween
- I remember ice cream birthday cakes from Carvel and how you never got enough of the chocolate crunch layer
- I remember orange and black crepe paper, balloons, black cats, and the large paper pumpkin man my Nana put on the front door every October
- I remember when I didn’t want to trick-or-treat anymore; even though I thought that time would never come
- I remember the house where you would get comic books, they were all strewn on the floor and you could take as many as you wanted
- I remember being scared at one house where they always dressed in really good costumes and never said anything but just motioned to the pile of candy, it was a family and I wondered if they were really witches
- I remember loving the houses that gave good candy or said you could take as much as you want
- I remember I always picked Little Lulu, Ritchie Rich, and Archie comic books and I couldn’t wait to go home and look at them
- I remember reading the comic books lying next to my Nana in her bed
- I remember always wanting to dress like a gypsy or a princess, wanting red lips and a beauty mark
- I remember my brother’s costume when he was Popeye but that’s the only costume I could remember
- I remember the boxes the costumes came in with the cellophane cut out so you could see the mask
- I remember how you slipped the costume over your clothes and tied it in the back like a hospital gown and how the picture was drawn on the silky fabric
- I remember how weird and scratchy the plastic masks felt on your face and how hot they were.
- I remember how your voice sounded inside the mask, hollow and echoing and how you always wanted to stick your tongue through the lips but it had sharp edges
- I remember the pumpkin flashlights and the orange plastic bags that said Treats
- I remember the white paper bags with orange and black graphics on them that said Trick or Treat in a scary Halloween font sometimes they had witches or cats on them
- I remember the record album my dad bought for us, Thrilling, Chilling Sounds of the Haunted House, and how we would listen to it in the cellar with the lights shut off to scare ourselves over and over again The Haunted Mansion: Haunted Hits
- I remember being scared of the ladies voice that read the stories
- I remember how October smelt, tasted and felt although it doesn’t feel, smell or taste the same way unless I was home in Connecticut
Now get back to work!
The Writing Nag
17 September 2009
15 September 2009
14 September 2009
Do you keep a journal or a diary? I used to when I was in grammar school, and boy I wish I had it now. It was a pink lined hard cover book with a minute lock and key that had gold lettering on the front, emblazoned My Diary. I'm sure it was fascinating stuff, I remember writing in it such incredible details. Like ate dinner with family, brushed teeth, read Mandy and then slept. But then I also read the encyclopedia before bed too. So another day might have read went to school, ate dinner with family, interrupted by piano lessons with Mr. Wein, got Mr. Wein glass of ginger ale, Mr. Wein said I didn't practice long enough, brushed teeth, read A-B and then slept.
Now I know journals can be fascinating books filled with illustrations, poems, short stories, lists, favorite words, travel info and ephemera. These illustrated journals can be every bit as helpful to you as a writer because it can spark your creativity. Next time you go on vacation, bring a blank book and journal your trip. I recently found a notebook from a trip to Ireland when I was in my early twenties.And it really helped me in my poetry writing.
Today,if you have been keeping a journal find an entry that you could expand on.And really what is a blog but on online journal. How has blogging helped you as a writer?
Now get back to work!
10 September 2009
Saturday's poetry workshop on titling poems was also very motivating. Local poet Ben Humphrey led an energetic workshop with some "new to me" tips on how to approach the art of the title.
He started the workshop by offering some examples of what a title can be.
- A title can be descriptive as a reference to what the poem is about. i.e. Humphrey's example was Birches by Robert Frost.
- A title can be useful. It can tell the reader what to expect in the poem.
- A title can show intent or meaning.
- A title can allure the reader by having some mystery in the title.
- A title can immediately give an image to the reader. i.e. Five golden pancakes in the snow (my title for a work not written yet)
- A title can be funny or ironic. Humphrey's example of a humorous title is Lucille Clifton's "homage to my hips" which he also encouraged us to read.Read below.
1. Probably shouldn't use the name of the poetic form in the title. i.e. Sonnet to the pumpkins in my garden.
2. Avoid personal references that won't make much sense to the reader. i.e. To my postman, Mark.
3. Google your title and make sure it's not a title of a famous poem.
4. Short titles work better than long titles.
5.Does your title suit the reader? Who are you writing the poem to or for? Who is your audience?
6. The first line of the poem "is not a title." Even though this is commonly done, and I have quite a few in my collection that use this style.
7. After you title your poem, try to think of three or more alternative titles trying different out styles. Doing this exercise also helps with revision.
8. Don't forget that "the title is part of the creative process." Give some time to your titles.
Today, take a look at the titles of your poetry, short stories, works in progress and/or essays...Can you creatively come up with some better titles that will be interesting to the reader? Now get back to work!
The Writing Nag
08 September 2009
"I am sewing today, sewing all of my poems into a quilt. Gathering the words, ripping out the stitches that never worked, slowly, carefully I am piecing it together. I am admiring their place in my quilt. I am sewing them together." Writing Nag
Today, what prevents you from organizing all of your work? What prevents you from sending out work? What prevents you from finishing a writing project? Fear of success or fear of failure. What can you do today that will get you one step closer to your creative writing goals? Now get back to work!
The Writing Nag
Photo Credit: Rune T on Flickr
06 September 2009
Today, consider writing in another voice. What observations would you make if you wrote in a voice quite different than your own?
My next door neighbor Sophie, a Great Pyrenees rescue dog has caught the writing bug and started her own blog.
The Writing Nag
04 September 2009
Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
I never got back to the "Nag" yesterday to write a prompt. So here's one this morning based on a delicious anthology I just read called Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone.
Write about a meal you eat when you are completely alone. Do you cook a gourmet dinner or do you eat crackers and peanut butter, Cocoa Puffs and soy milk, pizza waffles, or spaghetti out of a can?
The rituals people have with food especially when they are alone are interesting glimpses into their lives. Of course be descriptive but remember to tell a story...write your essay so that your readers will be engaged with your life and what you choose to eat when you are alone. Now get back to work!
The Writing Nag
03 September 2009
01 September 2009
"But now in September the garden has cooled, and with it my possessiveness. The sun warms my back instead of beating on my head ... The harvest has dwindled, and I have grown apart from the intense midsummer relationship that brought it on." Robert Finch
This has been the best summer I ever spent in Colorado; weather-wise, rainy afternoons, not so sweltering hot and just a pleasant place to be. I wanted to take a picture of my favorite pumpkin I rescued from the garden before the squirrels got to it but my memory card is MIA. I hope to find it by tomorrow and post it.
I have been reading a lot of young adult books, mostly because I want to write one. Or at least that's my goal for the next year. I just finished Kissing the Bee by Kathe Koja and I loved it. You can find good writing in all genres and this book inspired me. It was one of those books I read and think "wow, I can never write like this," while simultaneously thinking "wow, maybe I can write like this." On that same note, I thought I should pass on the link to our Goddard literary journal. On the right hand side of the blog are links to many of my classmates work. They are a talented group of people. I didn't submit work this time because I was part of the editing process. But maybe next year!My friend Dan who will be winning the Newbury Award for his soon-to-be published young adult book has an excerpt on the site.
As does my friend and award-winning poet, Yvonne Garcia, her poetry and photography here.
The Writing Nag