Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Short Assignments

Photo: Bird by Bird, front cover, from

Well, the ol' writing hasn't gone well lately, and a harsh bout of strep hasn't helped, so we're back to the basics.  I've gone over some good ideas from Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird--which I reviewed here--and I've taken some advice from a writer who's been nice enough to answer some questions for me.  (That would be Dr. Julie Holland, author of Weekends at Bellevue, which I reviewed here, on Goodreads, and here, on this blog.  I'll be posting the Q & A between us, broken down in a few posts, coming soon.  I thank her again for doing that for me.  Her tips about writing were helpful and often eye-opening.  I hope she comes out with another memoir soon.  Buy Weekends at Bellevue.  On another side note, she is unbelievably fast responding to emails and interviews.  I've taken longer to respond to a direct question, with the person standing right in front of me.)

But I digress.  Helpful hints.  Back to basics.  Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird.  By the way, if you haven't read Bird by Bird, you should; if you've ever considered writing anything at anytime, for any reason, you have to read this.  Often.  I've re-read it now many times; I always find something new in it.  It's funny; it's helpful; it's well-written.  I think I'm finding new things in it at different times because I need different types of help at different times.  (And I always need help.)

So the helpful hint today that I'm going with, via Bird by Bird and Anne Lamott, is: short assignments.  Too often I'm aghast at all the ideas I have, all the writing I want to do.  All the novels, the short stories, the articles, the memoir pieces, all the chapters and characters--they come at me fast and furious, and lately they've buried me.  I'm paralyzed.  Too much going on.  And having the living room wallpaper taken down, the walls painted, the carpet ripped up, the floors sanded and treated three times each, living in the small and cluttered den downstairs because I can't walk on the treated floors for 8 hours, paying all these guys, and an overwhelming time with mountains of work to do at and for the job--and throw in everyone's birthdays all in the last week, plus the swollen throat and ears because of the strep--oh my lord, who wouldn't be snowballed?  Oh yeah, there's been that, too.

I've been going a little nuts and stir crazy over here.

So, short assignments.  Narrow it down.  Break it down.  Do something small, but productive.  So, today I'll work on just one scene from...(the wheel spins)...The Gravediggers.  Okay, no problem.  I have to choose something, because there's revamping another novel in 3rd person to do yet, and...okay, whatever, block it out and work on just one scene from The Gravediggers.  Which scene?  I don't know...there are so many.  Okay, let's....let's start revamping the novel in 3rd person instead, and see where that goes.  I think it'll go in a great direction that I'm very excited about, so...okay, let's do that.  Revamping a work into the 3rd person.

Wish me luck!!!  Oh, wait.  Which scene from that?  Easy choice--the first one.  Okay.  Now wish me luck.

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