Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rush hour

Hard to keep up with the blog these days. I'm taking a 6 week writing course that has Tuesday and Thursday writing deadlines and so am somewhat consumed by that. This leaves the morning subway and my iPhone as the easiest means of doing an update here.

Two invasive photos of my co-travelers this morning.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hair Dirty, Must Get Home to Wash It

But I'm stuck in Jersey for a little while longer, in this coffee/ice cream/bakery shop in a strip mall; a place that plays non-stop fifties music just this side of too loud. It's okay though, because it's closer to Dan's yoga studio, and I got my 750 words done this morning. Am suddenly working on this story about an introvert named Hazel. Isn't that a great, under-used for good reason name? Anyway, it's strange how you can start writing about something and then, if your write like me and just want to get words on a page, you find that there are other pieces to the story that you didn't plan out. Like, for instance, I started with Hazel having this unrequited crush on an attractive guy from work, and she's a little strange, so instead of trying to talk to him, she follows him home to find out where he lives. The next day, she calls out sick and goes back to his house and rings the bell. An old man answers (her crush's grandpa). She pretends she needs to use his land line, and then they start talking and she helps him with this 1,000 word hunting puzzle he's working on, and so on. Today, I had her start writing a letter to this guy from work (Jacob, the most popular boy's name in America for a bunch of years running now), and she starts telling him how she's one of a set of triplets, etc., etc. None of this may amount to anything, and, in fact, it might all be trash. But I still like the discovery part of writing.

This is where I am. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Library Books

I lost two Penn library books and was in despair-- the fine to clear my name was $195, and so I called them and was told I could buy the books and replace them and the fine would be reduced to like $50. So, I ordered them from Amazon and was able to check out more books. I'm really going to try to keep hold of them. Liz picked this one out for me and I'm already hooked.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Maybe I'll go back to my project from last fall, taking pictures of subway people every morning. Yesterday, watched this old couple squabble. He had a tiny ponytail, gold hoop earrings, and an oxygen tank. She wore a visor and a fanny pack. They made up and she gave him a little peck on the lips, saying, I love you. He grunted something back.

Friday, May 11, 2012

100 Days of Writing in a Row

At heart, I'm really still in 5th grade where we used to get animal stickers for a job well done, such as reading ten books in a month or having good cursive penmanship. Belonging to 750 provides the same kind of gratification--you get these little badges for different accomplishments. On Wed., I earned the 100 days in a row badge--I think it's like a screaming eagle or something. Next badge is for sure a flying dinosaur of some kind (a pterodactyl? I need to bone up on my dino lore). But truthfully, there were a few days out of the 100 where I cheated. You can cheat on the website by cutting and pasting work from somewhere else; it doesn't count your words in real time, just counts the number of words that appear on the webpage for the day. So, yes I did have mornings where I didn't make it--not too many though. It's also not true that I wrote all fiction on those days--often, it's more journal-esque or it's about this dream I had the night before or it's complaining that I don't know what to write. But sometimes, it's fiction. I spent a few days on this novel idea I had to take the story line of The Scarlett Pimpernel into modern times, but the voice was wrong (highly unlikable) and I couldn't figure out how to make it plausible that a woman would marry or stay with a guy she didn't like that much. For awhile, I tried setting it in high school, but realized quickly that it was becoming teen lit or a bad impression of an Amy Heckerling screenplay. Also, what the hell do I know about how kids these days talk or act or LOL or OMG. It's so different now.

We're celebrating Alumni Weekend for the next several days. Here's my outfit for today. I love red & blue.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What's happening this AM

On the way to the subway, I usually see this guy in the window.

And then this is today's train friends.

I could do this all day long!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Confessions of a Band Wagon Reader

I gave into the impulse at the bookstore and bought the unthinkable--50 Shades of Grey. I also bought Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, to obscure the original purchase. It's probably a bad idea to buy a book that's already got the movie poster on the back of it, but I've started both of these books, and the Abe Lincoln one is entertaining and off-beat and has this strange historically authentic feel to it. I like it. 50 Shades of Grey is also interesting, if only in that the same six things happen over and over and over.

1. She blushes.
2. She bites her lip, causing him to have to restrain himself from leaping on her.
3. He runs his hands through his perfect hair.
4. She mentions her inner goddess.
5. They perform sexually transgressive acts that are the equivalent of dying your hair purple--at the heart, there's nothing truly that shocking going on.
6. He buys her something huge (a laptop, an Audi), she resists taking it, and then she capitulates. 

That's it. But since I've lately been wrestling with the idea of trying to write a novel, at least she's done it--she's written three books, all of them with the same basic idea, and she's done well with them.  No doubt someone will option this as a movie within the next ten seconds. It would've been good if she had an editor to help her along--to ask her to include more concrete details, to develop the characters further, to add some layers of plausibility, to consider ix-naying the inclusion of emails. But she at least keeps it in scene and tries to make sure there's conflict...Does he love her or is he just using her? We know from the very start that of course he's going to fall in love with her--the foreshadowing isn't subtle--and my guess is that the tables will turn at some point, so  more than anything, it's an escapist romance fantasy. A pretty boring one overall though.

Friday, May 4, 2012

What I Wrote in 750 words Today

This weekend, I will consider looking up a bunch of free writing exercises, maybe even ones that have to do with writing a novel. I need some direction and path in these morning writing sessions, because I feel like I'm mostly just doing them to get the words done, though I did actually go back to an entry this week to write the script for the animation.

Had this crazy vivid dream last night of trying to find Dan's house and getting lost but going past this house that had these super giant cats--like Maine Coone cats, but they were larger than leopards and when I looked in the window, I could see that there were many, many of these animals except that then, they turned into dogs, and one dog was blind, but his blind eyes were huge and had swirls of amber and gold whirling around in them, like a dog who might try to hypnotize you. I think this is because I've been hearing about this blind Chinese dissident who escaped political captivity by jumping over a wall.

Also had a dream that Suri Cruise, off-spring of the faux couple, Katie and Tom, had her own reality show, but her parents were never seen on the show, because they didn't want to tarnish their reputation by being associated with such low TV programming. This comes from watching a bit of the horrible Bill and Guiliani show (or whatever it's called); the one where the woman is this tiny, insect like alien creature with a giant head and third-world country eyes that say, Feed me! and we get to watch people suck up to her and say sycophantic things like, You look so amazing in that size negative 5 dress. And, You're going to have such a wonderful life, I see your future as being lighter and she says back in this fakey, I believe you, because why would you bullshit me about how great I am voice, Awwww!! Thanks, you're so sweet!

Novel ideas:
Story about a woman who keeps going through these cycles where she's like growing her hair out and then getting it cut really short and how each time, she imagines her life will be better as long as she can figure out the proper length. An historical murder mystery novel where I have to do tons of research to find out if fountain pens have been invented or not yet. A coming of age novel set in the 1970s and 80s with many references to Dorothy Hamill and Star Wars. Novel about the cut-throat world of community theater.

Short, heart-breaking novel about someone dying young and the narrator realizing how precious life is and maybe finally deciding to join the Peace Corps against her family's wishes.

Story about a girl and her cat and how they travel across the country together and then finally the cat makes a sign about where she should settle down and who she should marry and then the girl puts the cat to sleep because she has server her purpose.

A modern day retelling of Frankenstein, except the genders are switched and it's a comedy, but also a social commentary on the way we judge others by their looks alone. It would also tackle the issue of bullying, as the female monster creation is about 15 years old and has to go to the local high school. She breaks people's fingers, but only because they've been throwing spitballs at her on the bus and writing profanity on her locker.

Romantic comedy novel that's written just to get a movie contract--the writing's not very good and it's formuliac, but you can just see so and so playing the lead female role and Ryan Gosling as the guy. It's about a guy and a girl who have been best friends since they were kids--like their families were friends and then went camping together and they talked to each other every night via walk-talkies, but then her parents get divorced, and there's this scene in the movie/book where they have to say good bye together on the driveway and he gives her like his lucky amulet that he saved up for with all of these cereal box tops and they have some special hand signal that she does as she's pulling away in the back of the Buick window. Flash forward ten years later, and she's a harried ad executive in Manhattan with an asshole boyfriend and they end up passing each other on the street and like she sees him on the subway and kind of notices him all the time, but they don't recognize each other until one day they do...blah, blah, blah, she still wears the amulet all the time and then they either get together at the very last second with this kiss where he puts his hands on her face, or, if it's written by Nicholas Sparks, one of them dies tragically. You decide. There may be two endings or three, like a Choose Your Own Adventure book.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

In Poets & Writer's

I got the latest issue of Poets and Writers and self-indulgently turned to the back pages where they announce contest winners. My name was there for the Zoetrope prize. It has not changed my life. Here it is:

 And then, when I was visiting my parents in Florida, I mailed back two boxes of stuff I'd saved way back when, including an envelope marked "Save, Diabla's whiskers and fur," from my 8th grade best friend's long dead cat. Did I throw it away? No. I'm keeping it at least until I catch the next episode of Hoarders.  Found old notes from high school, three of my yearbooks, and lots and lots of stories, including the beginning of a sci fi novel that reads something like this (I loved adjectives and I think I may have written this after an English class focused on setting):
The planet was one of the most peaceful ones in the galaxy. It was also one of the most beautiful, full of gardens bursting with bright blowers and fruit bearing trees. There were lots of bubbling babbling books that shined down smooth mountains in cascading waterfalls into rushing waters. The sky was clear blue with puffy white clouds. Although the planet was extremely small, it was one of the most admired in the galaxy. Along with the beautiful land, the people of it were equally good and pure. They lived in closely knit, comfortable communities, and all was peaceful, as it had been for many decades. There were no wars, or threat of war, and everyone respected and loved one another.

 And, I also found my old head shot from when I was in high school. I think I needed it for an audition of some kind, but I can't remember what. This photo should've gotten me a lot of roles as the older sister, Gina.

In unrelated news, I found a great collection of short stories at the Princeton Library this weekend---Jenny & the Jaws of Life by Jincy Willet.  Never heard of the name Jincy, but her stories are funny and dark. You should read them.