Archive | Books and Reading RSS feed for this section

Take a Look, It’s on a Book: Book Title Poem

9 Feb

I was sick last week with a bugger of a cold and gave myself a pass from blogging. I thought I was going to have to wuss out of this week’s post, too, since I had no news, no motivation, and no clue what to write. Unfortunately, this is getting to be a familiar feeling. You remember my New Years resolution to maintain a habit of creative writing? Yeah, not going so well. My Giraffe Story is giving me problems because I can’t decide who’s narrating/what perspective is most appropriate to write from. It’s not exactly writer’s block….more like a split personality disorder. I have–no joke–six drafts saved that are ALL from different perspectives.

We are not amused.

So I’ve abandoned the Giraffe Story for the time being, just until I can sort myself out. Today I played with a horse of a different color. I was really impressed and inspired by Judy Clement Wall’s post This One is a Poem on her blog Zebra Sounds. She wrote a really lovely poem composed almost entirely of book titles. Is that a great idea, or what?

Do you know where this is going? Yes, I totally stole her idea.

It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was time consuming and guilt-inducing. (While going through my bookshelves to collect titles, I realized how many books I own that I have yet to read…) I still haven’t put all the books that I used back on their shelves. (Ugh. Seems like a lot of work.)  But it was fun! You should try it! I like the prettiness of Judy’s poem better–and don’t get me started on my photography skills–but clearly poetry is a window to the soul and mine is trying to get a message out…
(Read the poem in normal text after the photos) 

 

Humor Me:
What should I do with my life?

This is a story of
A girl named disaster
playing with books
becoming a writer
the real pretend

She is
the woman warrior,
the bitch in the house,
the blind assassin
searching for Mercy Street.

Watch her
hopscotch
through
the art of choosing,
blink
away
one hundred demons
blame
the known world
till the cows come home

The funny thing is,
the heroine’s bookshelf
is
a map of the world
a gesture life
a contract with God

Finally,
the plot thickens
the awakening
the 3 am epiphany
when you are engulfed in flames
where the lightening strikes
seeing things
truth and beauty
wild magic
miracles

 

Advertisements

The Truth is, I Never Left You…

6 Jan

Well, okay, I did leave you.

I left you for about two months. Two months without a word. Two months without my words. I’m not sure how you survived without me and will admit that I got a warm and fuzzy and guilty feeling when a couple of folks inquired about my disappearance. (Hi Allenavw! I’m alive!)

I’ve been an irresponsible blog parent. I’ve been a grade-A procrastinator. I’ve been working on a secret project that will remain unmentionable until it isn’t. 

If you’re at all grateful for my prodigal return (fatted calf burgers anyone?), then you must be grateful for my friend Lisa and the New Year. Lisa is out of town, so I am dog sitting for her. With an empty house–apart from Ginger the sweetheart golden retriever, that is–it seemed like the perfect opportunity for some blog writing/brainstorming. Thus the where and the when blogging puzzles were solved. As for the why….

One of my New Years resolutions is to get back on the blogging horse. No more M.I.A. Oh My Words! This is actually my only resolution that made the cut. Those that have already hit some bumps in the road include:

1. I will not buy another book until I’ve read all those that are lining my shelves, piled on my floor, propping up lamps, hiding under coffee tables etc. etc. etc. 

In theory, this resolution is top notch. It’s practical, fun, and good for the soul. I’ll feel so accomplished if I can finally read the books I’ve been meaning to read. The hiccup? There is another library used book sale coming up and, if you’ll recall, the last one had me swooning from sheer joy. I can’t not go to this sale. Can’t do it. And I can’t go and not buy anything. That would be Hell, pure and simple.

So, within 24 hours of making my book buying resolution, I was forced to amend it. I will try to go easy on the book-buying, I really will–but a book nerd and bargain hunter only has so much strength. For my new goal, I will tackle my To Be Read list and occasionally post about my reading. I’m not into book reviews (more specifically, the idea of writing them gives me the heebie jeebies), so this will likely mean just quotes or random thoughts. But look at me, combining one resolution with another! I. Am. Good.

2. I will spend more time on my creative writing.

The vagueness of this resolution is a problem. “More time” is relative, since I haven’t seriously devoted myself to my writing for quite a long time. I could spend a minute writing today, and it would be more than I spent yesterday (or the day before, or the day before that). Also, this blog doesn’t count. I know, I know–but it’s still writing! It’s still engaging the right (write?) part of the brain! Let’s not forget the blogging resolution already! All good points. What would I do without you?

What I need is a writing schedule. Or a daily word count goal. Or some stick-with-it-ness. What I need is a writing resolution without a lot of wiggle room. (See “more time,” discussion, above.) What I need is a cookie.

Other resolutions I’ve bandied about: working out/exercising more diligently (cliche and vague!), being braver (just vague), and following all horoscopes and fortune cookie fortunes to adventure (call it what you will).

For now, you can rest assured that I’m back, baby! As always, thanks for reading. You can expect more words soon!

“More” being relative, of course…..


6 Reasons Why an Apocalypse Tomorrow Would Be Inconvenient

20 May
  1. I just started a new tube of toothpaste. I don’t know what the odds are of a holy bread-dropper getting beamed up tomorrow (I’m thinking not so good…) but either way, I’m pretty sure that toothpaste would never get finished. It’s a minty-fresh tragedy.
  2. I’m in the middle of a good book–The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. It’s not an edge-of-your-seat kind of read (more of a full-recline-on-your-bed) but I’m still hooked and I’d like to finish it. Also, it’s a library book, and even if the world were to end, I still wouldn’t like my library track record to include the apocalyptic destruction of a borrowed book.
  3. I just signed up for an online creative writing class that will begin in June. The end of the world would mean a) the world would miss out on my creative writing and b) I wouldn’t get my deposit back. Bummer.
  4.  I’ll NEVER know what happens next on Fringe! So many unanswered questions! So many plot twists! An apocalypse would leave my obsession with this show completely unfulfilled. Talk about your ultimate cliffhanger. Top that, J.J. Abrams.
  5. It’s my friend’s birthday tomorrow. I’m sorry, but doomsday = party pooper.
  6. I have a story to tell you all about job letdowns and a sweet, older gentleman named Pete. I was even going to share the recipes for some scrumptious goodies.  I have the post half written, but I think it would be a pretty pointless post, post-apocalypse. 
See ya on the other side! 🙂

End the world in style, with a tin foil hat. Timeless, classic, reflective--this is one fashion statement that will never go out of style!

Floppy Disks and Shitty First Drafts

19 Apr

My family is finally getting rid of an old computer we’ve had for years and I’ve been combing through the documents on it, trying to determine if there’s anything worth saving. This is an old relic of a computer. It’s bulky and solid, and when I forced it to boot up last week, for the first time in years, it wheezed ominously. I had a brief flashback to the Flintstones because it almost sounded like a little critter was inside trying to power the computer through sheer physical energy.

This computer has a lot of my old school reports and essays on it, and I hate to think of the agonizing hours I spent picking just the right words to describe the colonial revolution because now the results of those hours are going to be deleted permanently. I can almost see the specter of my past self sitting at the desk with a word-choice headache and a half-finished essay. I want to reach out to her and say “you know, that perfectionism is going to be a real pain in the ass in college,” and “you can sit here until 11 obsessing, but you’ll just end up deleting this essay in five or six years.” That’s a bit doom and gloom though, so I guess I could also throw in something reassuring, like “don’t worry, you will get a good grade on this” or the more helpful “don’t worry, in college you’ll obsess over your writing but be accompanied by gallons of grown-up coffee and hours of laughter from your roommate.”

Besides school stuff, this is also the computer that had the duty of storing my early attempts at creative writing. I’m talking poems written when I was in middle school, and short stories from high school that were slightly dark and more than a bit wobbly–like the moody drunk that everyone avoids. I feel actual, physical pain when I read some of these pieces because I can remember feeling inspired enough to write them, thinking that I really had something, and the truth of the matter is: they’re just not that good. And yes, this was years ago and I was in high school and you really can’t expect anything good to come out of high school. I know. But still, it’s more than a little disheartening to read these bits of writing and realize that it was no great tragedy that they were locked away on our family’s ancient computer for years and years. In fact, maybe that plastic block was containing them for my own good, acting as a sort of asylum for the creatively deformed.

I consider Anne Lamott a patron saint for aspiring writers. Read her book Bird by Bird and just try not to be motivated and inspired. Bird by Bird is my bible, my self-help book, my continual aha moment. I am currently rereading it, because Ms. Lamott herself is going to be speaking at a nearby bookstore this week and I plan to make the pilgrimage to hear her talk about her new book. (I regret that I have not read her new book, but it’s on my ever-growing, ever-lovin’ To-Read list!) I am SO excited about this book event. It’s the same level of excitement that someone else might experience for a concert or when meeting a movie star. Anyway, one of the chapters in Bird by Bird is called “Shitty First Drafts,” and it is the sole reason why I have not sentenced my old creative writing to be deleted and forgotten. “For me and most of the other writers I know,” Lamott says, “writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts.”

I am saving those old pieces of writing, poor souls that they are, because it occurred to me that they might be really, really shitty first drafts. And that’s a good thing! Maybe, beneath and between the awful transitions and stiff dialogue, there’s a gem of a sentence or a character that’s desperate to be developed. (“Make me three-dimensional!”)  I’m definitely going to find whatever hidden treasure awaits because, as part of this file conservation process, I have to re-type the horrendous poems and short stories of my high school days onto my laptop. See, the old clunker computer only has a slot for floppy disks (USBs were a distant dream when it was made), but a floppy would do me no good when it came time to transfer the documents. (My nice, relatively new laptop has never even heard of a floppy disk, although, I do happen to have a few that have been saved from being tossed out thanks to the what-if-I-need-it-someday philosophy.) So I’m being forced to confront my old words as I transfer their ugliness to a new computer. It’s possible there is a more efficient way to go about this, but at least this way I am reading and typing and thinking and mentally calculating possibilities and ideas. I am trying to be loyal to the originals, trying not to automatically edit as I re-type, because then I’ll get bogged down and lose the whole point of the exercise and probably miss anything worth saving.

I imagine that Future-Me is looking at Now-Me and nodding in approval, or maybe saying “Don’t worry, it’s for the best—you’re gonna want to save your old words, no matter how cringe-y they are. Wonderful, beautiful new words will follow!” That’s nice. I like Future-Me. But then, that’s to be expected. I imagine Future-Me is very wise and patient and happy and successful and has great hair with a part that isn’t crooked.

Or, she’s working on Now-Me’s shitty first drafts and is miserable and wants company and expects Now-Me to have to deal with Past-Me’s shitty first drafts. Wow. Future-me is sadistic. 

Book Ecstasy

26 Mar
 
There is a huge book sale going on in my area this weekend. Not only is it written, circled, and starred in my planner–it’s the only thing marked for the month of March. Some may consider this sad (“this” being either my social/professional life or the waste of trees that is my planner), but I know that other bibliophiles would understand. Huge. Book. Sale. Say it slowly, and it’s almost like praying.
 

Now, I happen to know that some of you are book nerds like me–so I’m gonna lay the specifics down and you’d better hold on to something. There will be over 30,000 books at this sale.  And get this–prices range from 50 cents to a whopping $2. Is your blood pumping yet? Do you see why I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve? Can you understand why I might be in reading hibernation after this book extravaganza?

I treasure all my books, whether I’ve read them yet or not. (These days, unfortunately, most of my books fall into that latter category. My To-Read list is getting out of hand.) I’ve always said that if I could have any extravagant, dream-home details, I would want a huge bathtub and a heaven-sent library. That’s why I love, LOVE bookshelf porn. It’s “porn for book lovers” and it makes me swoon. These are fantastic, eye-popping, majorly enviable libraries. Someday, someday I will have shelves like that. In the meantime, I’m going to spend a rainy Saturday carefully picking through 30,000 or so books. And if I whisper to them that I’ll love them forever and will give them the sanctuary of their dreams someday? Well, that’s my biblio-business.