Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Creativity – It’s all in your head

“Mind isn’t a tug-of-war with the left brain on one side and the right brain on the other, but a collaboration, an open exchange.” (Diane Ackerman, An Alchemy of Mind)

Editing and revising sometimes feel like glorified secretarial work: typo annihilation, grammar correction, formatting perfection. It’s easy to let the mechanics of writing override the rest of the process, to get so stuck on the getting the words exactly right that you miss the message. At least, this is the way I feel of late, revising Brighter Than Bright for the 8th time (yes, the 8th full revision; my friend Jimmy’s discovered enough ‘ouches’ to cause anemia). Editing gets old. Real quick.

I missed writing new stuff. Waking in the morning, cup o’joe steaming by my side, the full moon blaring through the window, the rest of the world asleep, greeted only by a fresh white piece of paper daring me to write… anything my mind desired. It gives me shivers just thinking about it…brrrrrr… The revision process removes me from my characters and their sticky, complicated, crazy lives. It has to, because this stage requires the entrance of distanced critic, not the emotional writer. In other words, the polishing stage requires the left hemisphere of the brain, the home of language and linear thinking and logic and laterality, to assert control of the creative process.

Left-brain thinking, though necessary, is not sufficient. My right brain, where images and patterns and spatial relations reside, is where the ideas flow from, where the brilliant bon mots and the realization that your protag sports a ying-yang tattoo under the right shoulder blade originate. It’s the imagistic, intuitive, FUN side of creativity.

After two solid months of sinister-side revisions, my right brain rebelled: WRITE!!!!! SOMETHING!!!!! OTHER THAN LINE EDITS!!!!!! At first, I was reluctant, feeling compulsive (and obsessive) about finishing this revision of my novel. So I started small: micro flash fiction and poetry. I’d steal a few minutes a day to tool away on a paragraph or stanza, feeling guilty I wasn’t spending the little ‘free’ time I had for ‘writing’ not finishing my much larger project. But something funny happened on the way to the forum… the more time I spent pontificating poems on paper, the faster and clearer and easier went the revising process.

The battle is over, my cerebral hemispheres have struck a compatible balance. At least for the time being. Here, a small poetry offering…

Gloria (Montepulciano, 1996)

In my sadness you lead me -
caretaker, confidant, friend –
through olive groves casting dark shadows
on burnt earth. We lay amidst silvered
sheaves, hidden from all
but the eyes of God and bees
buzzing, sodden and soporific.

Time slows, time stops,
clouds drape across an azure canvas,
The wind sounds low, softly stroking
the grass, your mussed hair, our tumbled limbs,
hearts halcyon in this infinite instant.
Eyes reflecting sky, you turn,
absolve my melancholy.

Sanctified, we sleep.


FREEBIE: If you want to read some fascinating interviews on creativity with an incredibly talented and diverse group of artists, check out this blog: Cecil Vortex

May your mind transport you to places you never imagined, and provide you the tools to tell the world about your journeys… Peace, Linda

Monday, October 22, 2007


Got your attention? The title sounds a bit… salacious. But I don’t mean internet dating or porn or enhanced ‘telephone’ nookie. Noooooo, nothing like that from this staid blogger. Heh-heh-heh...

Lea (holding her friend Scruffy), me (in black and red), Heather (the gorgeous one), and Michael (cute, huh?)

What the title refers to is the incredible ability of hardware and software and whizzing wires to bring together like-minded individuals. To read each other’s work. To become intimate with stories and characters who only exist in our minds – and on white pages. To develop strong attachments because of shared passions for writing. And sometimes, you get curious: who are these people? Really? What do they look like? Is their voice squeaky or low? How do they dress? What quirks or mannerisms do they have? Are they frenetic or so low-key and relaxed you could slide them under a closed door?

I had the recent pleasure of meeting one writing colleague – I can call her friend now – in the flesh. Wildstrawberries, a writing buddy from the Writer’s Digest forums who has published a memoir, has a couple of hobbies: traveling on a whim, and visiting famous authors’ homes. When she mentioned she wanted to visit Edgar Allen Poe’s home in Baltimore, I posted that I was (rightfully) embarrassed I had never visited – and I work less than a half-mile away. So WS - Heather to me now - flew with her lovely hubby from Wisconsin and we met in Molly McGuire’s, a great Irish pub, and chatted for more than two hours about… writing. And more writing. And a little bit about reading, then more about writing. And all the wonderful people we’ve met and experiences we’ve had. My daughter Lea and her hubby Michael made goo-goo eyes at each other while we indulged ourselves. Sheer heaven.

We did get to the museum – eventually – and visited Westminster burying grounds where dear EAP lies with much of his family. Thanks for visiting, dear friend!

Kelley (aka Twizzle), another cyber buddy sent me a ‘meme’ last week. Freaked me out – a meme? Some sort of disease? Actually, it’s kind of a chain letter ‘tag’ you send to fellow bloggers. I guess this means Twiz likes me. Yoo-hoo, because I like her, too. A lot. And when you check out her blog, you will, too.

Anyway, the meme theme is: Describe your five strengths as a writer. So here goes:

1) I am persistent. Yep, like a fly on poop. I may not have talent, but at least I will write and edit and market until some poor slob recognizes my… persistence. Or my OCD.

2) I am a perfectionist. Dot the ‘i’ and cross the ‘t’ used to be my nickname. This is why I can sometimes spend an entire day on a single paragraph. And come back to the same sentences the next morning. Maybe I really am obsessive-compulsive...

3) I am a damn good editor. ‘nuf said. (There are meds for excess attention to detail. Right?)

4) I am generous with myself to other writers. Sounds virtuous, doesn’t it? Don’t let me fool you – I’m the most selfish writer in the world. I learn from everyone else’s work, which is why I love to read their stories – then tear them apart. Gently, kindly. And they return the favor.

5) I have a very high pain tolerance. Why else would I put myself through the maddening torture of writing?

So I’ve said my piece and I tag… Deborah and Chrys! Pay the cyberlove forward, girls… Peace, Linda

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Guest Blog: Of Poetry and Prose, Princes and Pasts

An easy blog today - did my work last week while Ms. Moffett was quaffing Rioja in sunny Espanol. Si!

Sarah Moffett is a self-described writer who moonlights as a lawyer, a relative local who lives within mere miles of me. She's a published author, an accomplished blogger, and an intrepid marketer - check out her Book Tour. At age 27 (or so), she's trapped in time - she should've been on Ken Kesey's bus, as Sarah loves all things beatnik.

Check out her site and her amazing book - Growing Up Moffett. It's a funny, wry, and at times heartbreaking tale of coming of age under family distress and ills. It's also a love story - of family bonds created and kept.

I'm honored to contribute to her site. Hope y'all enjoy! Peace, Linda

Monday, October 08, 2007

My Six Small Sentences - Published At Last!!!!!

How sweet it is to get some form of external validation from Six Sentences.

I enjoyed submitting to this wonderfully eclectic site. The very short stories selected and posted here daily range from coffee-sputtering hilarious to heart-breakingly poignant. The postings here are the delectable pastries that accompany my morning coffee.

It's a challenge to write a story in six sentences. As I write (and rewrite and rewrite yet again) BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT, I realize how every sentence must precisely and concisely carry it's own weight. And I thought that philosophy just applied to poetry... Thanks to the exercise of perfecting my small offering to Six Sentences, I now find I approach each paragraph as it's own little microcosm. Now if only there was a site called Six Words...

And the process was equally sweet: after acceptance Rob McEvily, the fellow who runs the site, not only sent a personalized, enthusiastic response by email, but also a small card with a REAL STAMP and Curious George stickers. Beats Happy Meals by a long shot... (thanks Rob...).

So yoo-hoo!!!!! A small victory. And yes, Kelley, there will be an all-you-can-eat chocoblitz. Come on over and make yourself giddy off all the good dark stuff... cacao nibs and all... Peace, Linda

Friday, October 05, 2007

Tonight I Rest...

Today BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT printed off hot and beautiful onto 20 pound white paper. All 642 pages, 123,992 words. Finito. Exactly three weeks past my self-imposed deadline of September 15, but better late than never.

It was the ending that delayed me. Two months spent on the last 50 or 60 pages. Not sure why it was so difficult, I suspect psychology was involved. I simply couldn't get into Phoebe's head, make her FEEL. Really respond to Ben, the situation. How does she FEEL? My Nudge-Nudge Collective pushed me to the limit, three versions in a week. How grateful I am for their tough love (Thank you, dear friends...). But early this morning, as the gentle fog reflected the soft glow of the streetlamps, I found my flow, cranked it out, tweaked it over lunch, and... Voila!

This, of course, is the end of the beginning...again. I packed the 642 pages into a fedex and shipped it to Chrys, who is valiantly taking on a third reading. I'll do the same with her MOONCHILD memoir. My friend Jimmy is reading from the beginning as I read his DARK SIDE OF THE SOUL. He's found omissions and redundancies that a dozen passes by six pairs of eyes missed. I'll continue revising - his suggestions are almost always spot on - and wait for Chrys to give me her verdict.

But for now, I rest. Let the book marinate in its juices. Peace, Linda