Sunday, September 25, 2011

Blog Hopping and Banned Books

I'm blog hopping over to Donna's blog at Bite My Books to kick off Banned Books Week. Stop over to rant with us!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I have always wanted to be one of those Zen-like relaxed people who nod and listen and never worry. This past summer, a woman I met was talking to me about yoga. I figured if I tried yoga, I would become more Zen-like and calm. Right? Isn't that how it works?

While she was showing me some of the positions, I was following what she did as fast as I could. Finally, in a softly, barely perceptible tone, she said, "Anne, you don't rush through yoga. You have to let things flow more."


So I did. I relaxed. Well, I thought I relaxed. I slowed down and tried to look sort of beatific and focused at the same time which is how she looked. (Go ahead - try to look that way; it's not as easy as it sounds) She finally said we should try it on a day when I wasn't quite so harried. 


Only I wasn't particularly harried on that day. That's kind of how I am. I tend to speak and move quickly, put on dinner while folding laundry, talking on the phone, and going through the mail. I have trouble driving at the speed limit. I never leave the house for only one errand: I average about four. I figure out my lesson plans while I'm grocery shopping, organize my paperwork while on the bank line, think about writing while doing dishes.

I think I'm just geared sort of twitchy, and the yoga woman is geared more gently. It's pretty much inbred. I couldn't imagine her saying to her kids, as I regularly do, "Salad or colon cancer?" "Sun block or melanoma?" or get texts back such as, "Mom, don't think I'm dead! I just had no service in the mall." No one in our house bats an eye at any of this. Then again, the yoga woman had no kids...

But I think, too, how we move, how we are geared has an effect on our writing. I don't think Emily Dickinson moved too fast - she noticed things like grasshoppers and that certain slant of light - whereas when I read Dr. Seuss, I would think from the pace of his writing that he would be a little more twitchy than most.

I'm revising a YA, yet again, and that's what I realized about it: it has a rushed quality that it can't have since it deals with a serious theme. Well, yeah, I was writing most of this late at night, and rushing, and it shows. But I put it away for a month and only noticed that during a fresh read when I was moving more slowly. 

I was contemplating how I would slow down the pace, how I would make the story unfold more easily while deleting all the spam from this blog. So in case you're wondering what happened to all the comments, I was rushing and accidentally deleted YOUR comments and not the spam. There's a lesson there. 

Still, I think I'm onto something. Rushing makes for thin, undeveloped writing. Maybe even if you're not geared to move quickly when you're writing and trying to finish, it will show. I'm wondering now if that's the essence of revision - slowing things down, having scenes and characters unfold more slowly?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Firsts! (and Mutant Wings)

We've had a lot of firsts around here in the past few days. We finally celebrated  Emma and Grandma's hurricane-delayed party (they share the same August 25 birthday) and we finally met my oldest brother's new family. And  we  I celebrated the first day of school. Celebrated may be pushing that verb a bit for the kids, but I actually think, deep down, they were glad to get back to see their friends.

Philip's artistic girlfriend, Tiffany, decorated the cake. She remembered that Emma is completely insane for zebra stripe and that's not particularly easy to translate into cake, but I think she did a great job. 

And these are our adopted grandparents, the Baos, who are as gracious and lovely as people can be. They are also calm, so I was a little worried about introducing such gentle and balanced people to my house, with my three teenagers, their friends, and half a dozen animals, but somehow it all worked. 

Eric Spollen, Jing and Chris Spollen, Grandma Bao
And Emma, now officially thirteen, is in her first year of being a teenager. She's my first girl teen, so when she came home from the first day of school, I asked the usual Mom questions. I was expecting, "It-was-ok-where-are-the-pizza-rolls?" then off to play video games. But girls are different.

She began by explaining how the rain was the perfect weather for such a terrible event as returning to the middle school. She ended with a thorough critique of one of her teacher's eyeliner application.

"You know the wing, Mom? When they extend the line up and out like on Jerseylicious?"

"Ummm, sort of."

"Well, I think she was going for that. But it didn't work. I mean, not at all. I felt so sorry for her. She was up there talking and she had this like mutant wing. I would be so embarrassed."

Maybe the best thing about firsts is that they bring seconds.