a journal of observations, obsessions and inspirations

Writing

Posted in: Writing

Writing Books – not exactly the “glamorous life”

How’m I supposed to explain it to my friends? I mean, that was me, the one who swore I’d never put myself through the anti-social agony, the jigsaw-puzzle-from-hell nightmare, the mano a mano word-wrangling that is writing another book. People tell me the life of an author is “glamorous,” which I’m gonna say can only be in that really puzzling category of someone else’s job always seeming more interesting than[…]

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Posted in: Writing

Accuracy versus entertainment – 10 rounds

Nearly 140 interviews into the tenor book, I’m trying to wrangle all the material. I have binders full of transcripts, and tapes yet to be transcribed. Typing up a verbatim record of the conversation is hard to do. The hardest part, I’m not kidding, is deciding on the punctuation. Think about it: no one talks in complete sentences unless he’s reading a speech. And when you’re discussing topics and themes[…]

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Posted in: The Tenor Book, Writing

Mixing things up

As I start getting back into the book, I’m running into options. Forks in the path. This is my favorite part of a writing project, the not-knowing-where-it’s-going. Can’t wait to see the twists and turns it will take (and take me with it) towards the final form. The way I answer the questions that come up helps determine that path, of course. Here’s one: cameras and film. When I go[…]

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Posted in: Books, The Tenor Book, Writing

Hey, old friend / What d’ya say, old friend?

Today: recovering from a particularly intense (and tense) week at work, intended to catch up on homework for my class. What did I actually do? Spent every moment I could find with my old friend, the Tenor Book: organized files, electronic and paper glanced at some of the work I’d done over the years, both text and layout gathered samples and wrote instructions for Vivian, who will be transcribing interview[…]

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Posted in: Writing

She’s back… with some whine

Has it really been a whole year? Ay ay ay. Been working on the site, new design, mental commitment… hasn’t quite translated into sustained activity. I tell myself I’m getting there (does that count?) and console myself with awareness that this is connected to my real work, my writing. And try not to make myself miserable with thinking about how much the real world interferes with that work. But it[…]

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Posted in: The FAB Book, Writing

How to write a book, 15 minutes at a time

What, am I nuts? I work full time at a high-stress job. I go to school at night. I’m the sole caretaker for my 84-year old mother. And I think I’m going to write another book? Me? I don’t have time to write. That was a year and a couple months ago. This week I’m taking a look at a test book — effectively a press proof — and my[…]

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Posted in: Writing

Finding my writer’s voice

Since the fourth grade, I’d been pushed, prodded, scolded and guided to a particular style of writing. Something formal. Suitable for school. In dozens of English, history, literature courses, I learned how to write appropriately for class papers. Later on, I’d learn how to write appropriately in an office, whether I was working for attorneys, in marketing and corporations selling products. Sure, I could do it. But none of it[…]

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Posted in: Reading, Writing

Variation on a theme

Do you know “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the 1892 story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman? Reading it makes me feel I exist on a couple of intertwining levels, neither dominating. It’s both an extremely well-crafted piece of writing and a compelling story from the opening paragraphs. It makes me long to know what happens to her – not just the final result, but all along the way. Despite several early references to[…]

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Posted in: Writing

Am I now, or have I ever been?

Things are not what they seem. Depending on the day, my world can range from slightly off balance to pretty much skewed to completely upside down. Talking about a life in balance and taking care of oneself, that’s all well and good – in theory. But taking care of even one “self” is a challenge (I’m supposed to say) or pretty flippin’ impossible if you ask me, what with the[…]

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Posted in: Reading, Writing

Reading is . . . something you do

Out with the old notion of the unsociable aesthete, pale and too-thin in a lonely room, huddled next to a stack of books. In with the idea of the reader actively engaged, all senses on high alert, merging body, mind, and spirit, ready to transform to read to an action verb. Reading is now a full-contact sport. Stanley Fish might agree – I’ve appropriated his words for my title –[…]

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