The First 10 Chapters: On Final Revisions and Discovering the Limits of My Self-Imposed Seclusion
The deadline for the first 10 chapters of my book comes at the beginning of December, so I’m entering this month-long intensive maelstrom of reviewing everything endlessly, living with the thesaurus perpetually open on my laptop, engaging in spirited internal debates about the merits of the semicolon versus the period in very specific scenarios, and generally rewriting every single sentence out of thousands of them with the hopes of teasing the illusion of genius out of it.
From my other Tumblr, which I started to accompany the writing of my book (good time for a plug. It’s Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors, due out sometime in 2014).
The Writing Group: Summer Passed Us By
The writing group has grown. No longer an oh-so-manageable three souls scribbling away under the stars in Greg’s backyard, today we number seven, so many that there’s a waiting list now for new members.
It means that only two of us now have apartments large enough to accommodate the group. It also means that not everyone sends their stories in to me in a timely manner. Seven people is a lot to track down, and I’m lazy. Thus, I present to you four stories, in the order in which they arrived in my inbox. (I put mine last because I didn’t have to send it to myself.)
And oh yeah, this time around we used first sentences from other literature as writing prompts, the sentence being required to appear somewhere in the story…
Notoriety and mediocrity are often interchangeable terms.
Edith Wharton writing in bed (which is accurate), as re-imagined by Annie Leibovitz in the pages of Vogue.
The whole shoot took place at Wharton’s country estate, The Mount, which you can visit.
I’m including and additional photo from the series below, not because there’s any writing under way, but because the dress worn by “Edith Wharton” is making my heart beat so fast.
My Rainy Friend the Puddle
There’s one lucky puddle that I always look to when it’s raining to tell me how hard, or has it stopped. The puddle reappears, in identical form to its predecessor, every time there’s a storm. I’m the only person in the world who knows about this puddle or cares about this puddle, gathering as it does to the side of the house behind ours, perfectly placed to reflect what little light remains on a muffled afternoon.
I’ve been staring out the window a lot. Yeah. So how’s your work coming?
Writing What You Don’t Know
This is the story from my writing group that I chose not to include in the last roundup. I like it though, so I’m posting it as a stand-alone. The photo I used as a writing prompt is of Sacha’s great-grandma.
I particularly love writing stuff like this because it takes me so far away from autobiography. They always say write what you know, but when you are a nice girl from the Midwest with memories of a happy childhood and supportive parents, you also have to learn to use your imagination if you hope to ever write something that people will find interesting.
Nabokov Was Insufferable (Maybe I Should Be More Like Nabokov)
In the past two weeks, I’ve read two sprawling Nabokov biographies, one less sprawling Nabokov autobiography, countless interviews with Nabokov, plus a smattering of essays and the like about Nabokov, plus a bunch of letters he wrote. I’ve read enough about Nabokov recently not to be an expert in the sense of, say, securing a tenured post in Nabokov studies at some small liberal arts college where it’s always peak foliage and the student body has the okay from their parents to explore their sexuality, but definitely enough to be an expert in the sense of saying with complete authority that the guy was somewhat of an insufferable asshole.*
The Writing Group: May/June Double Issue
The May writing group stories never got posted, which was majority my fault, although I will diffuse the blame by saying that there are some slacker story filers among us! Among those slackers are not the two newest members of the group, Matt and Jessica, who sent their very impressive stories in promptly, like new people always do. At any rate, because we have so many stories now and only one blog post to contain them, everyone chose their favorite story from among the May and June efforts for this entry. What I’m saying is that this batch is extra great — the best of the best.
I decided not to include the photos that inspired the stories this time around, partially because I’m strapped for time and it’s a bitch getting them scanned and formatted, partially because I’m not even sure I know where they all are anymore, and partially because I think it’s time we see how these stories hold up without the visual guidance. I have, however, provided a photo of the rose-tinted spread with which we got our June session started, up above, to help you develop envy of our charmed writerly existence.
You may notice that Ebeth’s story is missing — if Ebeth ever sends it to me, I’ll add it! (UPDATE: It’s added!)
I’d also like to point out that I wrote my story before I ever heard of Almodovar’s new film I’m So Excited, which I’m afraid it may very closely resemble.
Finally, now, onto the LITERATURE: