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Yeah, it’s been interesting thinking about this scenario that Michael Downing has provided for us.  (And yeah, it’s kinda fun giving you a different link to Michael Downing with each post.)  Anyway, here’s the latest version of his first assignment.

(To see the actual assignment check this post)

That’s Not My Name 

As Joe lay there, I thought, “Should I have warned him?  A small heads up?”  But no, that’s not my way.  Some call me Fate, some Free Will – I guess it’s all in your stance.  Makes me no mind, I don’t step in. 

 Who knew a girl would bring Joe down?  Truth is, I may have. 

 When the door swung in and he felt no one in the room, felt the chill breeze, he did not think, “I’m done for.”  And he may not have been.  Joe’s a Free Will guy.  That’s me.  He knows is path is his choice.

 That girl – she was so like the ones who had been there with want, with need, with a hole in her gut, a hole in her arm, a plea on her lips.  And yet, she seemed not like them – like her need was so deep, it could be her time, her chance.  He’d been where she was, could show her the way. Joe could, but she chose to leave.

 Joe looked out – made a Free Will choice.  He climbed out and walked her path.

 Kris is a Fate girl.  That’s me.  I save her from blame, from guilt, from her own life.  She knew Joe would come, knew they would be close. 

 Joe caught up.  “Uh, Kris, right?  You should come back. We can help.  I can help.”

 She smiled.  Held out her arms, kissed him

 As Joe lay in the snow, he thought, “I used to dream this.”

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So, I haven’t posted in quite a while.  Work piled up, travel to see my girlfriend, the needy cats requiring lap time – oh how to get it all in!  The blessing I guess, is that this year I didn’t disappear because of SAD.  I got a wonderful light that has been like a Goddess-send.  It imitates sunlight and according to medical research, triggers chemicals that trick my body into thinking it’s summer and so I have more energy and am just happier.  Love that!

I’m taking a writing class over the next few weeks with Michael Downing, a New York Times Bestselling Author.  That feels a wee bit intimidating.  But, in previewing the books he’s asked us to read before the first class, and the writing assignment he’s given us, I think this is going to be WAY fun! 

As a matter of fact, the first writing assignment has me so excited that I may write it several times.  My girlfriend and I had lots of great conversation about it over the holiday break, looking at our first assumptions regarding the scenario, and then deliberately thinking of alternatives.  She’s quite the writer herself, so deconstructing the assignment with her really helped me think way, way, way outside the box! 

I thought it would be fun to post the work I’m doing for this class here, and invite you (whoever you are) to play along!  So, without further ado, (I actually looked up the spelling of this word and found that there is debate as to whether it’s ado or adieu,) the assignment:
There is a woman in a room.  There is a door, a window, and a chair in the room.  A man comes to the door.  He says, “We’ll be with you in a few minutes.  Don’t open the window.”  He leaves.  He returns.  The window is open.

The assignment is to write a story that begins after the man returns.  For this exercise, you can assume that readers know everything in the scenario, so you don’t have to account for that material.  Your story begins as the man returns and sees that the window is open.

The technical requirements are these:

–No more than 250 words.
–Past tense.
–Third person (limited or omniscient; the idea is simply to use the convention of a narrator who is not a character in the story)
–Use only monosyllabic words. (Really.)

Okay, sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  So now, here is what I wrote on my first go-round, before my girl and I had deconstructed the scenario:

Frank came back.  “You had to do it.  I told you not to.”

“Of course,”  She had the smile of a cat in fresh cream.  “No rules for me.”

He went to the sill.  The ground five flights down was wet and slick with oil. Drops of rain caught in his hair.

“Be hard to get free, then.”

“Don’t bet on it.” 

The sound of her breath came close.  He felt her warmth on his back, her hand at his belt.  “No Rae, I won’t play.” 

“Oh, I think you will.”  She spun him to face her, took his mouth with her lips, her length full force on him – just a lean, just a push.

When Bill came in, the sound of the rain was dull behind the glass, and Rae was in the chair, the gun snug in the small of her back.

“Where’s Frank?”

“He went out.”

So, I know, it’s debatable as to whether this is truly past tense.  But, Oh My Goddess!  I had so much fun writing it!

Tomorrow, or the next day, or just soon, I’ll post another version.  In the meantime, come play with me and post yours!

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It’s like being back in college. With a paper due. Tomorrow. And I’m way, way, way behind. Except that I’m not in college. There is no paper due. And I’m behind, but in a very manageable way. I’ve done this to myself. NaNoWriMo. I started it on a whim. The closest thing to fifty thousand words I’d ever written was my Master’s Thesis and it was only seventy-five pages. That’s roughly 18,750 words, although, since it was a giant Web site, most of it was hand-coded html, so I get a little more cred than the average bear.

So I’ve got 12,000 words more to write. The beginning of my story is funny, fast paced, on track and fun. The middle, oh my Goddess, the middle – it’s gone somewhere that it will take months to recover from. Now I’m headed toward the end, and you know what? I think it’s going to be longer than 50,000 words. But I know how it will end, and hopefully it will be good.

About the process. Some days I didn’t write. Most days I did. I started behind and never caught up, but never really fell too far, either. I’m feeling grateful for that. I set a hard goal, and I’m meeting it. And I’m meeting the other goal – it’s stress free. I’ve been able to knit (I actually made a pair of socks this month, and a pair of handwarmers) I’ve gone away twice. It’s been good. The only thing that has fallen behind is housework, and that is not really a function of my writing, but I’m using it as an excuse.

On a day when others are celebrating the European Invasion of North America, anhialating several cultures that existed here before they did, I am quietly celebrating my ability to realize a hard goal, without obsessing on it.

My other piece of gratitude will be toward my friends, those who are here and those who are not. For what they bring to me and most especially for what they allow me to bring to them. It’s all about the service, folks!

Today’s reading: The Road from Coorain by Conway

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Kinney

Today’s Music: Savage Garden, Tracy Chapman, Bonnie Raitt, and Diana Krall

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Channeling

I spent the weekend in NYC. Much of it was spent writing. My novel is taking some interesting twists and my characters have much more to say than I expected. Turns out that they are actually three dimensional and they want everyone to know it. Sometimes I feel like some sort of conduit – like one of those psychics who channel spirits. Except I’m channeling for my characters. And there are others in there. Others who are starting to push insistently to be heard. My life is not my own. I hardly have time to knit and the only reading I can do is research in style or content to satisfy my character’s needs. Am I the puppet or the puppeteer?

I wrote in two charming little coffee shops in Brooklyn. The first was Bread Stuy. Nice place, but way too crowded. My characters embarrassed me by making me laugh out loud and then cry in the middle of the shop. The second was Food for Thought. I love this place! Great vegetarian food, ample space, wonderful ambiance. Everyone is friendly and strangers all talk to each other. From now on, whenever I write in Brooklyn, I will be there. My characters didn’t embarrass me there, even though they did the same things to me. There, they invited new friends and garnered sympathy for their sadness.

I took my car to the city this weekend, although I usually take public transportation. But I had to take some tools to my friend’s apartment and they tend to frown upon loaded reciprocating saws on the subway. (Although you are pretty much guaranteed a seat!) We had fun remodeling the view in her apartment.

You know, every time I go to the city, almost everyone I pass speaks to me. This doesn’t happen to my friend when she goes out. We’re doing little experiments to see what the difference is. Sadly, we are coming to the conclusion that the only difference is skin color. What’s up with that?

It was a good weekend. Not what I had originally planned, but productive and soul-satisfying nonetheless.

Today’s reading: Run by Ann Patchett Read this – it works!

The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater I read this kid’s book every Thanksgiving

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold My characters for my next book are demanding this re-read

Today’s Music: Tori Amos, Melissa Etheridge, Tuck and Patti (If you’ve never heard Love Warriors, then you should go now and download it!)

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Stuff and NaNoWriMo

I have had seven things that have been hanging over my head for over a month to take care of. Things that involve other people. Today, I took care of four of them and it feels great. Hopefully, I can take care of two more today, and the last will be gravy. Problem is, I can’t seem to get to sleep. I hate that.

I’m having trouble navigating a stretch of friendship with someone. She’s going through some stuff and being newish friends, I want to be supportive and yet not overwhelming with the support. Not sure how to do that. I tend to be rather enthusiastic in my interactions with people. Added in that this is a long distance friend who is really, really private. I’m thinking I will simply do what I would do with any other person I care about and if it’s not the support she needs or wants, she’ll let me know. And I will tone down my caregiving enthusiasm if need be.

I have decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. Hopefully I will come out on November 30 with a completed novel and my sanity. I have no story to tell, but I write well and I’m sure something will come of this. Maybe I’ll find out that I really have something to say after all.

Reading for today: Mousetraps by Schmatz, The Arsonist’s Guide to Writer’s Homes in New England by Clarke

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Have you ever thought about what you would be doing, where you would be living, what would be your priority if you could stop, think, and choose what your life would be like? Have you ever wondered how you got on the track that you were on? Have you ever come to a place where you realized that you don’t have to be on that track anymore? Welcome to my world.

When I was 23, I became pregnant with my fabulous son. I was at a low point in my life, homeless, sleeping on a pool table in the back of a bar and completely without focus. When I got pregnant, I decided that my child would never know this poverty or way of life. By the time he was three, I had gotten my bachelor’s, a teaching license, built a new house in the suburbs, bought a brand new car and was on a career track. For the past 22 years, I have lived that suburban life. I have been an amazing teacher, connecting with children that have been regarded as “really tough.” I have raised and supported my son in the way that I thought I was supposed to, in an upper middle class, socially liberal, socially responsible way.

But I have always known that I was sacrificing me for what was best for him. For the past few months, I have been working on my intentions and what it means to live an intentional life. I have been evaluating my priorities and passions and looking at how I could incorporate them into my life in a meaningful way. I have kept coming back to “when I can afford this,” or “when I retire, I can…”

Last weekend I went to visit someone that I had had a really deep connection with at Fest. The connection I felt with her is a topic for someplace much more private, but the connection I felt with that land and the way she has been able to structure her life to not just incorporate her passion, but support it as her main focus hit me in the solar plexus and took my breath away. I love, love, love her land, the feel of her space, and the peace of that very rural area. It really wouldn’t matter if she lived there or not – the space felt like Home to me. It felt like Home, Fest Home. And I was hit with the realization that now is the time to take that for myself. I no longer support a child, I have no one to take care of but me and I don’t want to waste it in the vestiges of the remains of the life I created to support him. It was as if my higher power had wanted me to know the possibility didn’t have to be abstract. It can be real, it is real for others and I am certainly capable enough to make it real for me.

And so I have started the active process of leaving this life for another. One that supports my soul, nurtures me and my environment every day, is hard, and beautiful, and worth every minute that I am privileged to experience it. I don’t know where I will land, but it sure won’t be the suburbs. Wow.

Music for today: Mary Gauthier (miss you in Boston), Natalie Imbruglia, Kinnie Starr, Gretchen Phillips, Van Morrison, Little Feat

Reading for today: The Sparrow by Russell, Cavedweller by Allison, and Fledgling by Butler

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So it seems that I have a base of 22 dedicated readers who check my blog regularly.  I didn’t really think about having people who regularly checked in until yesterday when I was with some friends and one of them told me how glad she was that I was back from that place where there is no email because she missed my blog posts.  I’m not sure how much I like knowing exactly who is reading my stuff.  It kind of censors me in a way that I really hadn’t thought about.

Like, I was going to write about how I had totally convinced myself that my festie dresses could be real world wear and so I wore one out with my friends.  But when I did, another woman who probably thought she was being funny came up and stuck money in my cleavage.  Very disconcerting and disrespectful.  I’ll never wear that dress outside of Fest again.  But now I wonder if my friend who reads this blog will talk to the woman who did it, because I know they are friends. I wonder if I will be causing hurt feelings.  (C, I trust you will keep this to yourself.)  Ah, well.  There’s really nothing to be done about it.  I guess when you put yourself into public space, you have to consider the risk and what is acceptable to you.

So then I began to wonder about the people who do read my blog.  I originally started it because I had to.  It was a requirement for the Secret Pal Swap.  It was supposed to be all about my knitting.  Obviously, I have gotten away from that.  BTW, my knitting is going slowly.  I am still working on my socks (2 pair) and three hats – none of which are for me.  Read the socks are for me, the hats are not.  So, I am asking – what is it that keeps you reading my blog?  Are you looking for more about what I create or more about my life?  Let me know.

New topic:  I saw the boy yesterday.  It was pretty emotion neutral and he was full of lies.  Pretty sad.  I cleaned out his room and it is once again a guest room.

Music for today:  Hootie, James Taylor, Digney Fignus, Emmylou Harris, Spin Doctors (lots of Spin Doctors) and Natalie Merchant

Reading for today: Big Mouth and Ugly Girl (the author has me so uncomfortable and filled with feelings of helplessness that I’m having trouble getting through without putting it down occasionally to breath.  Only on Chapter 6.)  Anne of Green Gables (that redhead sure does talk alot!)

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