Monday, May 28, 2012

Pulling Out of a Nosedive

My first draft was flying along, and then … it stalled in midair.

Everyone I know was happily announcing word counts and numbers of chapters completed. Facebook friends proposed plans for extending their creative spurts. My nosedive accelerated.

None of my usual methods for banishing a writing funk worked, so I tried to figure out why my ideas were gridlocked.

Sometimes writing bogs down when the characters aren’t doing anything. (That wasn’t my problem.) Writing blocks may occur when there’s an inherent problem with the story, and the subconscious mind won’t let the conscious mind continue. (That was closer, but not exactly it.) I finally decided I didn’t know what I was talking about. My research was incomplete. I was trying to describe things that I had no knowledge of. I had too many questions about the climate, architecture, artwork and topography to write a scene. So I spent a couple days combing the internet to learn all that and more. Yesterday, I revised the last two chapters. Today I’m eager to soar.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Overheard #196

"They gave you two bars to solo, and you wanted to fit in as many notes as possible."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tastes Like Home

Last summer when I accompanied my husband to a scientific meeting in Italy, one of the graduate students at our table took a bite of salmon and said, “Mmmm. Tastes like home.”

That phrase evokes strong images. For me, it is ripe strawberries. When I was little, before Southern Californian property values skyrocketed, Japanese immigrants had strawberry farms in an area known as Portuguese Bend. When my mom took us to her favorite stand, the elderly woman who worked there would pick two of her biggest strawberries and give them to my brother and me. Those fresh-picked berries, still warm from the sun, had a million times more flavor than the grocery store kind.

What tastes like home to you?

What tastes like home to your characters?  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

Overheard #195

"I don’t like the expression 'thought experiment' because it implies there should be thought controls."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Banquets, and Concerts, and Tournaments, Oh My

In a few weeks, Jeremy will graduate from high school. There are many evening events with dishes to pass, uniforms to collect and decorations to create. For Sam, it’s tournament season in Taekwondo. In a few weeks, I’ll probably spend much of my 28th wedding anniversary running the electronic scoreboard for a sparring ring.

In between all this, I sent a few queries this week for my spy novel. I need to jump back into the fantasy novel that I put on hold while working on critique comments.   

None of my projects would have been possible without these distractions. My spy novel depends heavily on my first-hand knowledge of Taekwondo. My recently set aside tween novel could not have been written if we did not have a rock band that practices in our basement. Writing my fantasy novel requires that I know about contemporary high school life. It’s all grist for the mill.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


dripping May apples

drying samaras

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Overheard #194

"I had some intuition – most of which turned out to be wrong."

By the way, this is my 1000th post.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Another Airport Bookstore Story

Our flight to New York was delayed for over two hours. After accompanying the kids on a red train tour of the Detroit airport, I pulled out Hunger Games. Possibly, I was the only female on the trip who hadn’t already read it. My lack of tears at the end of the first chapter shocked my fellow chaperones, but that wasn’t sheer hard-heartedness on my part. I, like everyone else in America, knew what was going to happen.

As compensation for the flight delay, Delta Airlines graciously granted us $25 coupons to spend in the airport shops, so I again chased my charges around the airport as we searched for ways to spend free money. I was making fast headway through Hunger Games, so I searched for Catching Fire and finally found it in hardback. As I was standing at the cash register, one of the tenors held up Mockingjay.

Tenor: Mrs. Finkelstein, here’s the third book.
Me: Mmmmm
Tenor: It’s 50% off. I can see that you’re tempted.
Me: But I’ll have to carry it to New York and back.

I didn’t buy the book, and I didn’t have another moment to read until the trip home.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Overheard #193

"Normal is a setting on the washing machine."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New York Memories

It’s not easy to condense an action-packed New York tour into a blog post or two. As a person who writes for teens, probably the most relevant discussion is about the kids. I was so impressed.

There was no drama, spats, or intra-group resentment.

The kids were polite and considerate.

Before we left on the trip, several of the kids downloaded the music from Newsies and Once so they’d get the most out of the performance.

When my group of boys got tired of shopping in Manhattan, we found a coffee shop. They took out the sheet music they’d purchased earlier and began to study it, tapping out complicated rhythms and discussing guitar chord fingerings.

The 9/11 Memorial moved everyone, even though the kids are too young to remember much about the actual event. 

When asked to perform at the Apollo Theater, several soloists and small groups volunteered to sing – without time to rehearse. 

The picture shows Jeremy and me eating cannoli at a Bleecker Street cafĂ©, something I’ve wanted to do since I first heard Joni Mitchel sing Tin Angel. While searching for the YouTube link, I also found Bleecker Street by Simon and Garfunkel.