Friday, September 17, 2010


In a week when I did little writing, I was thinking about Stephen King's The Tommyknockers The aspect that intrigued me was that under the influence of an alien spacecraft, Roberta could actually write by using her thoughts to control her typewriter. Of course, there's a terrible price to pay.

I often write in my head. When I walk with Spike I think about this blog--writing lines for entries as well as lines of poetry. I think about plots for novels and sometimes I narrate my actions (a la Tobey Maguire in Wonder Boys.) When I'm hiking, I look at odd shapes in rocks and tree branches and let my imagination go. Sometimes when people watching, I imagine myself driving off in a passing car or being part of a nearby family.

I tell myself that this thinking is an important process--a crucial part of my writing. But I need to produce on the paper. Suddenly I'm reminded of the SAT: ETS doesn't care about the actual work done nor does it give partial credit. The only thing that matters: did you darken the correct oval?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Taking Stock Again--and Failing

Fall is in the air. My tutoring has picked up. I started with two students this week, will finish up a postponed tutorial and start another tutorial that will stretch into the spring.

August was not a productive month for me. The plan was to concentrate on writing. I was going to write a memoir piece between 1000 and 1500 words and enter a contest. The entry was due Tuesday and of course I would blog about it.

I wrote several short and medium pieces about the Russia trip and my father's death. The Russian material didn't flow. My idea was to weave my recollections from my journal entries. Oh, there is some good stuff there, but I couldn't bring it to life. I wrote one piece on the midnight train to St. Petersburg. It was too disjointed--it needed some overall theme or structure.

I think I'm too close to Dad's death to write about it. Let me rephrase that--to publish something about Dad's death. It's hard to know if what I'm writing now has any meaning to it. But I continue to write about it it my morning pages--one way of processing things.

As I wrote earlier, I wanted to blog about the memoir contest--about entering it--and later (I hoped) winning it. I'm not comfortable writing about failing. It wouldn't be so bad to lose the contest. I lost much more by not entering at all.


Today is my sister's birthday. Joanna would have been 60, but she died in 1996.

I've been thinking about her a lot lately, Primarily because I've been reading my journal from our Russia trip in order to write a memoir piece (more of that in a future post.)

Now I'm focused on a loss of shared memories, Joanna's perspective on things and stories she could tell me. I can't compare notes on Russia, for example. I would have never gone to Russia without Joanna. My journal isn't as thorough as I would have liked. Some of the things that I remember so clearly I didn't even write about. At least I'm writing them now.

Of course, this focus on memories is also because of my father's death in April. I remember thinking a while back that I should sit down with my dad and hear more of his stories, maybe even take notes. I didn't get around to it. That's the downside to procrastination.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy September

I love September. For one thing, it's the beginning of fall--my favorite season. The cool brisk air invigorates me after summer heat and I love the changing colors of the leaves.

September is a time of celebration: Jeff's and my wedding anniversary, Jeff's and other family members' birthdays. September is an ideal month for vacations--it's less crowded and often cheaper than the summer and the weather is usually good.

Most importantly, September is a chance to start over. While I no longer anticipate a new school year, I work with high school juniors and seniors who are laying the groundwork for new life chapters. As for me, I revisit my own dreams and goals for the year.

I'm not where I want to be. I've been blindsided, as the B-52's sing in Vision of a Kiss, "my life jumped the track." But I've accomplished some things anyway. And I've still got a third of the year left to make my mark.