Grumpy Words

January 4, 2009

writerly resolutions

Filed under: Uncategorized — grumpywords @ 8:14 pm
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Sorry this is way after-the-date, but I forgot how to post on the blog so please pretend it’s New Years Day again…

It’s Shira, your long lost blogger here (well, if writing two entries a year ago makes me a blogger…), but I plan on being very present in ’09!

My junior year craziness has made me lose sight of what it really means to write as a form of therapy, to write purely for the sake of writing, to write to make sense of myself. Without Morgan or Girls Write Now, I seriously fear that I would never take a pen to paper for the sake of original thoughts.

So, this new years, I am not making a self-improvement resolution (face it: those only damage the self-esteem of the creative); I am making a self-acceptance resolution. The act of writing allows me to accept myself as I am in the present, no strings attached. The reason I, as a writer, struggle with self-improvement resolutions is because writing is about documenting the past and present. Self-improvement is about being ashamed of the past, dumping it, and reworking the present to shape the future. But that is not how writers write. Whether it is fiction, poetry, or journalism, I do not write to predict the future; my writing unravels the future.

I did a few things here and there for New Years Eve, but nothing big and I was a little restless. Then, at around 11pm, I accepted myself. I accepted that I was inside on this freezing New Years Eve and that I was inside specifically to write.

The residue of trying to push unwilling words out from the keyboard when writing my application essays for a summer program, I was faced with writer’s block. Upon exploring my packed bookshelf, I emerged with my glorious copy of Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Though I have read these pages before, they seemed like new possibilities when I perused them last night.

I chose the first writing prompt on Goldberg’s list of 15: Tell about the quality of light coming in through your window. Jump in and write. Don’t worry if it is night and your curtains are closed or you would rather write about the light up north—just write.

And that is just what I did. I wrote two beautifully pointless original pages in my relatively new journal (an amazing gift from my two great friends for my seventeenth birthday) and I understood what I needed to understand: that my presence lies on the page, that I have an amazing writerly support system in this book and in Girls Write Now. Knowing that I have this support to rely on, I can resolve to write for the present, to write for me (and, of course, for this blog of which I can hope for new readers).

Does anyone else have any readerly or writerly resolutions for ’09?

November 18, 2008

Finding time for fiction

Filed under: Uncategorized — grumpywords @ 7:28 pm
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I never thought I’d say this, but…

I have too many books to read.

I know, it’s blasphemy. And it’s a good problem to have! But I’ve just been signing up for some new blog assignments for my corporate life, and most of them require me to read some awesome new books that are coming out early next year. Plus, a coworker friend of mine has a book coming out in March, and she’s just given me a hot-off-the-press copy. So my pile keeps growing, a nice blend of yet-to-be-released YA books, some highly-reviewed contemporary novels, and a bestseller or two.

In between them, though, I’m trying to write my NaNoWriMo stuff (uh…trying would be the operative word there), and to organize my “real” novels I’ve been working on for a year+, and now, I’m obsessed with villanelles and sestinas after Saturday’s Girls Write Now poetry workshop. It’s tough, y’all. There is no time to do all of this, but it’s all so amazing, that I’m trying my best.

I have a sinking feeling that I won’t get anywhere near the 50K word deadline for NaNoWriMo, though, but I had fun trying. Maybe I’ll post bits and pieces of what I’ve done here when the month is over.

September 14, 2008

Twilight post #2, in which I may have been wrong about post #1

Filed under: Uncategorized — grumpywords @ 6:25 pm
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Well, what do you know. 

I might in fact be a Twilight fan after all! 

I finished the book. By the time I got to the last third of it, I could not put it down. 

I still think the writing is atrocious – if I had a few free hours, I would go through and count how many times Bella “grimaces” since I think it’s a world record. And the gender roles are hugely obvious and insulting, and the vaguely religious undertones make me uncomfortable. But yes, Twilight was a captivating book. I guess this means I need to read the rest of them. Anyone want to loan me a copy?

August 29, 2008

English teachers to blame?

Filed under: Uncategorized — grumpywords @ 12:37 am
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Confession: the first time I visited my older sister’s fourth grade classroom, I wondered if I’d made a mistake by not majoring in education in college. I paced her carefully decorated room with its high windows and deep closets, its blackboards and tiny desks and bookshelves, and though, “Crap. What am I going to do with this English degree?”

Suffice it to say, I love teachers. I still keep in touch with some of my high school and college professors, and I know they have an extremely tough – and usually underpaid and undervalued – job. So when I came across this article in the Washington Post, I posted it to my facebook, and immediately got some reactions. 

Essentially, the writer is saying that the constant and unchanging tests, stock writing assignments, and focus on book trivia has taken the love out of reading for students. I can see her point. I’ve been a devoted reader since second grade, and even I would sometimes roll my eyes at the multiple choice tests (what’s more important: grasping the themes of Gatsby, or memorizing what happens in each chapter?) and standard essay questions. But I worry that this article blames the teachers a little too much. And considering teachers already get all the blame for most things that go wrong with students, I’m not ready to jump on board with this, too.

July 22, 2008

Going back in time…

Filed under: Uncategorized — grumpywords @ 2:02 pm
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Ever since I started working at my current job, a children’s publishing company, I have been swimming in nostalgia for the books I used to read growing up. I even ordered a raft of Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley Twin books from eBay (and I’m a bit shy to admit how much I enjoyed re-reading them!). It’s like every day, I remember another book that I loved.

The problem now is that I’m remembering fuzzy characters and strange sentences, and I cannot, for the life of me, remember which books they’re from. One in particular is driving me crazy; so, any people in their 20s or 30s who read a lot as a tween or teen, you may be of assistance:

There was a 3- or 4-part series I read back in 1993-ish. The books at the time felt pretty modern, so I doubt they were much older than that. It was a mystery series for Young Adults, and the narrator, a teen girl, was trying to figure out who killed her cousin and best friend April. As she uncovers clues, she realizes April had some secrets — including a secret boyfriend, Spike, whom she used to sketch often. There was also a character named (I think) Lacey, who was popular and rich and friends with April at one point. They used to swim at Lacey’s pool and drink diet soda and eat cookies. (Sidebar: it’s amazing what stands out 15 years after reading a book…I remember specifically that the Lacey character would always say “save the calories for the cookies, babe”!)

I am desperate to recapture this series. I don’t have a name or an author, and since I borrowed the books from the library I don’t even have a visual for the book cover. If anyone has any leads or answers, leave a comment!

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