Monday, March 30, 2009

Flash Fiction?

Now that I've cleansed the palate with a couple of silly posts... something completely different.

I'm collecting bookmarks for flash fiction websites, as I've recently learned of the idea and find it intriguing, at least as an exercise to tone writerly muscles.

Check out 365Tomorrows, Every Day Fiction and Vestal Review. Any other ideas?

I'll be ready to submit soon! One particular tale jumped out of the percolator and is struggling toward completion.

Ganesh says, "You can do it!"

Friday, March 27, 2009

How Could I Not Know About This?

Maybe this is completely insane or just borderline gender confusion, but I've had several opportunities to wear glue-on mustaches in my lifetime, and I enjoyed those experiences a bit too much (folks from the Lunch Bunch will know what I mean by that). Being a fan of both silly mustaches and tattoos, how could I miss a whole subcultural niche concerning cute mustache tattooing?

There's even social networking for these folks at

Oh, stop worrying. I'm not going to do it. It's very silly.

Coffee is Bad

A great cup of coffee is a joy. Hot, creamy, sweet and comforting. After drinking it, I begin to feel a sense of overall well-being, then a sort of euphoria, and then I experience a period of zippy, enthusiastic productivity. I can do stupid things faster, with more energy!

But apparently a really great cup of coffee makes me ill. After a while, I withdraw and feel awful for hours, woozy and even nauseated. Of course, I tend not to eat much because I'm feeling satisfied. Maybe it's the sugar, or the caffeine, or a combination of both. Another problem is that people look at me funny when I'm talking, as if I am behaving oddly or possibly speaking faster than I should for good communication. Maybe I'm even slurring like a drunk, who knows.

Enjoying and craving that sense of well-being makes it easy to forget the bad feelings that are sure to follow. I feel like an addict, I guess. Not that I know what that's like.

Anyway, I need to cut back.

On Fire

Woo-hoo! Ideas are brewing in the noggin!

I am very pleased with the fact that in spite of my busy life, I am creating. Mostly outlined and jotting, but new story seeds are being collected. I am also researching markets and have found three that I plan to submit to in the next month or so.

The freelance writing is also going well; I have two new projects.

Hopefully, a more substantive post will emerge a little later. Gotta go to see to that progress.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Had to do it!

This is so cool, I had to repost.

From E.J.'s blog over yonder:

“If I were an earthworm….”

“If I were a dragonfly….”

Over at the Sundance Channel website, you can watch Isabella Rossellini’s Green Porno videos, in which she dresses up in colorful costumes and enthusiastically and accurately demonstrates the sexual behaviors of various invertebrates. Utterly fabulous.

Check it out, especially those folks I know are Rossellini fans.

Omens, Free Association and Writing

Yesterday, before the bad news, I went into a used bookstore to drop off some posters for a local concert. I happened to be waiting in line at the counter just long enough for my eyes to drift over the rack containing film novelizations (which I generally look down upon, bleh). The very top and left book happened to be The Affair of the Necklace, written by Elizabeth Hand, a Clarion workshop leader. Was it a sign? Not a good one, as it turned out, but I did receive news just a short time later. However, it should not surprise me to see an author's name, on a book, in a book store.

The day before that, I was in the bath, trying to relax and stop obssessing about acceptance/rejection, when the shampoo lather floating in the tub formed into the shapes of two fish. The smaller had a wide-open mouth poised to consume the larger. A sign? I don't even know of what, but I was distressed and dashed it away.

As a child (and even then I was an aspiring writer), I used to think that writerly work was mythically channeled from some great source, that the ideas burned writers up from the inside until they were let out. The whole notion was that writing is always passionate and exciting, and that great writers were like half-mad artists. When I was a kid, I wanted to be that. Of course, now I'm actually writing, and although at least one story kinda burned its way out, the work I'm doing now has more to do with craft. The difference is that writing craft is taught and learned and shared (and requires time-consuming self-discipline); it's not wild talent that madly creates in an isolated trance. Ideas come from everywhere, especially for speculative fiction, and random word association can springboard the writer into exciting new directions. All this has something to do with omens (random signs and symbols that are assigned meaning) that I'm not expressing very well here. Maybe you get the point.

Now that my summer has been freed up, I am hard at work on new writing, with the goal of two fresh subs before June in mind.

The current project, tentatively titled "In Like the Lion," is a short story I started during the wait. It began with a phrase of simple word association, and at the time, I thought of it as very goofy, but at least diverting from the stress of waiting. Now, it seems to be taking on a life of its own, as stories tend to do, and the characters want to go places and see new people. And there it goes, with me in tow.

I'm also shopping around for good online writing workshops to join, if anyone has suggestions.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Back to Normal?

Finally, word from Clarion, and sadly it's no. But also some encouraging words:

"The admissions panel feels that you (sic) work shows promise and says you came 'very close' to being admitted."

I'll keep working and try again next year. At least the process has motivated me to rethink my life a little and put me over the hurdle of first submission fears. In the meantime, I need to start subbing my work elsewhere.

And, my posts can go back to normal instead of just functioning as Clarion tweets.

A big thank you to everyone who sent me good wishes and support!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Go, go, gadget optimism!

I am occupied by other thoughts, and I am not, not, not freaking out! I am taking stupid pictures of myself (which I will have to add later because Blogger is acting stupid and won't let me upload).

I am harvesting collards that I grew with my own two black-thumbed hands, and cooking them for my pagan group's potluck (photo).

I am making out with my husband in the driveway in full view of my neighbors (no photo).

I am thankful to other people for their support and good wishes. I am not complaining.

Edit: Sorry the pics are sloppy, I really don't get what is going on with Blogger right now. But there they are, anyhow.

P.S. I May Develop an Ulcer

Dear Clarion folks,
Perhaps you are inundated with similar requests this morning, but I am writing to contact the program coordinator about my application as suggested on the Clarion website. I have not yet received notification of my application's acceptance or rejection.

Please clarify if possible. Many thanks for all your hard work.


Friday, March 20, 2009

And, so?

It is after 8:30 P.M. here, and still no word. I just keep telling myself that reviewers are probably on Pacific time, so it's early yet for them. Here, it feels very late.

I took a nap (I had a weird dream that there was a neglected dog living in my garage) and then went out for dinner, leaving my phone at home so I couldn't check email. After that, I took Cinder-Boo out for a long walk (see Sith's apprentice in earlier post), and then cooked her dinner. Yes, she is that spoiled (and/or I am that yuppy-ish these days). Then I checked the emails again. Still nothing.

Sigh. I'm not even going to speculate. Not out loud, anyway. I need a hug.


It's Friday, the 20th of March, and there is still nothing from Clarion. Yet.

Mr. B and I went to homeschool playgroup and to the farmers' market, and I checked my phone for email alerts about every fifteen minutes or so. You know, casually, trying not to seem disinterested in regular life.

I have cramps, it's the first day of spring, and momentous news should arrive any time now. I need a nap, but I don't know if I would sleep, as keyed up as I feel.

In other news, Mr. B is a Sith Lord.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What's Wrong With this Picture?

Because I teach grammar, I can't help myself when I see things like this. The mistakes are maddening!

I must look like a crazy person taking pictures of things like gas pumps with my cell phone.

But it's something to do while waiting.

No More, Make It Stop!

I've just been over reading posts on the Clarion West forum, where some familiar names are joshing around and wringing their hands in a nervous sweat. See, I was over there because Clarion San Diego, or East, as some folks are calling it, doesn't have a forum for applicants. Hence, a thread was started over on the CW form, and lot of folks there applied to CSD and CW, so it's relevant for them. All manner of second-guessing and over-analyzing going on. I realized that I can't take it, and I'm going to go completely crazy if I keep reading all that stuff.

I'll just hold my breath for the next 36 hours or so. That should be easier than trying to avoid the blogs and forums. Ha.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Obsessed or Determined?

I guess I'm thinking too much.

It occurred to me this morning that the Clarion acceptance contact I've been waiting for could be a letter in my PO box, which I haven't checked since Thursday, so I hitched the trail bike to my cheapo boardwalker, and Mr. B (my child) and I pedaled on down to the post office.

"Oh, my legs!" he wailed at some point. Anyway, no letter in the mail. I know that some lucky folks like Jordan Lapp have been contacted via phone call, but I'm thinking that may be a Clarion West thing. I have it in my head that the Clarion SD contact will be emailed/written. Correct me if I'm wrong!

But alas, nothing of note in the PO box so far. On the upside, while I was at the post office, I finally mailed the contract for the academic volume I'm editing to my collaborators so they can sign it, too. Nothing much is happening with that, so I keep forgetting about it.

Then back home to return to repeatedly checking my email in case there's a notification in there. I also discovered a tidbit that might appeal to other Clarion hopefuls who are sitting around biting their collective fingernails. Clarion's website suggests reading Kate Wilhelm's The Storyteller while waiting, and a large portion of it can be found for free here. Or you can pay $16 for it.

I also tooled around in my garden today and got my toes dirty, which always forces me to slow down. It reassures me, too, that life goes on, however cheesy that sounds. I went back and listened to the UU service about springtime that I did last Sunday, which you can listen to here if you like, mortified as always by the weird sound of my own voice. There's probably a scientific reason why we don't sound the same way to ourselves as we do to other people, just like a kind of body dysmorphia where we don't perceive ourselves the same way others see us.

Mentally rambling, that's been my day. Just trying not to think about it as much by keeping busy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Quote to live by

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

Douglas Adams

What to do while waiting

The long, drawn-out period of waiting for news about Clarion has finally driven me to accept Vylar Kaftan's challenge: write a complete story before receiving acceptance/rejection. The point is to stave off anxiety by making it productive. I picked a random idea from the voice recorder app on my iPhone (good ideas come to me while I'm driving), wrote a hook and outlined ideas for conflict/rising action/development. I challenged myself further to write in third person, which I typically feel uncomfortable with. No conclusion yet, though. Is it normal to begin writing on a story before you know where it's going? I follow that method most of the time. It keeps me from procrastinating too much.

So, now I have until Friday to finish it, maybe. Unless the Clarion folks miss their own deadline for notifying applicants. I fantasize concerning the reason they still haven't notified me. I won't go into details there. These thoughts make my stomach hurt.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Haiku of the Day

Overcast daylight
trees bloom yellow pollen falls
good day for writing


I haven't posted in several days, and I just don't know where the time went. It got eaten by the zen-eating monster again, I guess. Lots of little side projects and articles, but no fiction. Gonna try to change that today, even though I'm under another deadline for an article.

At least it's kept me busy enough to keep my mind off the lack of response from Clarion. Apparently, I am not the only one. Like Oso Muerte, I am in a holding pattern on that part of my life. It's surprising how many opportunities have come up for that part of the summer, and how optimistic I can sound saying, "I may be at a writing workshop in San Diego then, I'll have to let you know." Maybe absurdly optimistic, I don't know. I get this sensation in the pit of my stomach when I think about Clarion. Whether I get in or not, the process so far has been a touch emotional, which has really taken me off guard.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Haiku of the Day

Black keyboard click-clacks
Cool breeze through open window
Another sweet day

Monday, March 9, 2009

Clarion reading

In between writing and making phone calls for freelance work, I have been jumping around the blog-o-sphere, reading what other applicants are thinking about (anxiety, anticipation, fear of failure, determination). Leaving a few comments, too. Trying not to be such a lurker. It's nice to feel like I'm in touch with other writers on this particular wavelength.

Also, I've been making the rounds on library websites for books by the workshop authors. Here's what I've come up with so far:

-- Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand, at public library (nabbed it)
-- Nebula Awards anthology #31 and 28 (1997 and 1994) which include shorts by Hand and Kim Stanley Robinson, respectively
-- The Year's Best Science Fiction 14th Annual Collection, with a story by Paul Park. He's the only person I'm having trouble finding (for free, anyway) on the shelf

I may get started on those later in the week or while I'm munching down snacks at work on Tuesday.

Haiku of the Day

Warm sun on the fence
Spring is in full bloom today
Happy sensations

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Haiku of the Day

Green garden outside
I slow down to look again
Aphids on the leaves

Waiting for Clarion

I have been thinking of how to say it for a few days now; I am SO anxious about my application to Clarion Writers' Workshop. I think about it constantly. The pleasure and sense of accomplishment I felt the day after applying (March 1) has worn off, and now I daydream about it and search the internet for advice and journals from Clarion graduates. The picture is pretty much uniform and coherent: it was amazing and stressful. Some of the things folks say they learned (for example, how first person present narrative is SO newbie) stress me out because I'm still doing those things. But I get to thinking that maybe those newbie mistakes are okay. I gotta start somewhere.

After reading about the experiences of others at Clarion, I don't know what I'm more afraid of: acceptance or rejection. Well, probably rejection. Of course, I want to go, for all the reasons that people state, like validation of my work, the experience of workshopping with other writers, producing work that has real potential, having the time to write and the motivation (at the same time) and so on.

However, I have anxieties about how I will handle the emotional part. I've done fiction workshops many times before, but the criticism there was not usually anything harsh. I want honest critique, but I don't want to cry like a little baby in front of my peers. I don't want to be sleep-deprived and snappy. I don't want to come home feeling depressed when it ends. I don't want to make friends and then mourn the loss of them when it's over.

Last year, Vylar Kaftan over at the Clarion West Writing Workshop forum challenged applicants to write a story while waiting for notification. That way, you write without knowing the deadline. It could be tomorrow, so you have to work hard. I may try that.

Friday, March 6, 2009

By the way...

Thanks, Brian.


I am finally reviving the old blog, after a long hiatus. Time slips away when I schedule it to the hilt, and that means I've finally realized something basic that anyone could have told me: I didn't lose my zen, and no one took it. I gave it away. I'm still doing that, but I'm slowly getting better.

I gave it away to:

--PCC, every time I signed a full-time contract.

--Waste, to where, I don't really know, but it went, and I'm unhappy about it.

--Television, a profoundly addicting escape.

--Time spent wishing I could write but not doing it.

--Volunteer work, which gratifies me but is also slowly sucking life out of me.

What I'm doing to make it better:

--saying no.

--practicing magick.

--gardening, which means slowing down.

--writing. Ah, writing.