Week 7/ Keep the Pen Moving - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 56 Old 11-19-2004, 12:13 PM
 
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It is a natural compulsion to reach for something that we want. Even if someone’s eye is in the way, a three year old cannot stop reaching. Every fiber of their being is telling them to do something. A severe corneal abrasion occurs when someone’s eye gets in the way of the target. That is what happened to me Monday before noon. It seems as if my life stopped for a week: enough time to restore gratitude for my eyes, and the force inside that drives me to see, to open my eyes, to read, to write...

Jorge Luis Borges, a fantastic, incredibly brilliant Argentine writer, went blind before he died. It has always struck me as the greatest irony that a writer would lose their vision. Someone has been given a gift, which then turns to an obsession, a passion, and becomes ingrained—a natural compulsion, and then the major organs which drive the compulsion: the eyes are taken away.

According to the Webster’s New World College Dictionary, compulsion is defined as “that which compels, driving force” or psychologically as “an irrestible, repeated, irrational impulse to perform some act.

It is a natural and irrestible compulsion for me to write. With “broken” eyes, writing was not an option. I went through withdrawals from the computer, books, and email. What I had been working so hard on: to form the habit of writing every day was suddenly stopped. This Monday when my eye was scratched I had never felt so much pain. I had to keep both eyes shut. When my left eye moved, the right eye did as well, sending additional pain signals to my brain along with the ones that were already pulsing their hurt song. The light hurt, movement hurt, head hurt—the compulsion to see was stopped. But the ingrained, signal to open my eye and look could not be. I just wanted to keep my eyes shut, but brain kept saying, “eyes open, eyes open: look at your baby, look at the fine print, look at your inbox, look at the clock..”. On the second day, I opened my eyes enough to see my baby smile. He was being held by his father, and taken down stairs. There I stood at the bottom of the steps. He saw me, he saw my left eye open, and his face opened up as well. What joy to see my baby smile. What joy to see my boys’ faces.

Writing, for me, is a compulsion. It is both natural and irrational. It seems irrational that I let my two children totally run wild, and destroy my house during this thirty minutes that I must write. But, it’s worth it to me. Time’s up and so is this baby’s patience—he wants to see his mamas eyes, focused on him…

Feedback welcome: How could I develop this more as an essay?…I will be posting a short story that I would like to resurrect and submit somewhere, I would really appreciate feedback on that as well.
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#32 of 56 Old 11-19-2004, 12:17 PM
 
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Which One Wins?

The day that I met my husband he was walking his dogs in one of the many plazas in old Savannah. I was struck by his beauty and theirs—all of them were wolfishly handsome, muscular beasts with a raw vigor that stopped me completely in my tracks. I stopped, I stared, and then as they were about to walk past, I finally found my composure and was able to smile charmingly and comment, “Oh my, what beautiful dogs you have…” Tentatively, I reached towards them as their master jokingly said, “go ahead, they won’t bite, they’ve been fed today.” I reached out my hand and immediately fell in love as the two of them nuzzled and licked me and then sat back to get a good petting.
“What are their names,” I asked while continuing to give the dogs a massage. He hesitantly replied, “Fuego and Aire—that means fire and air in Spanish.” Anticipating my next question he continued, “they are a rare breed of domesticated wolf. I found them in a remote Andean village when I was trekking through South America in 1999. They’re litter mates and are inseparable. One can not live without the other but they are polar opposites—thus the names, fire and air.” “Wow,” I said, feeling like a bit of dumb ass with an inferiority complex in the face of such a good looking, cultured man with such exotic pets. But then I thought, fire needs air, but does air need fire?
“My name is Seth, and you?” he asked. “I’m Bella.” “That you are.” He replied. I blushingly accepted the complement while wiping the sweat off my brow that had started to accumulate in the sultry afternoon. “Hey, you look hot, why don’t we go have a drink and cool off a little?” he asked. I quickly replied, “yeah, that sounds great.” So off we walked heading towards the nearest watering hole.
“Where to?” I asked. There are countless bars, coffee shops, and restaurants down in the historic quarter. I was curious as to which place he would choose. Would he be the juice bar type—super health conscious and fit, or would he be the sophisticated espresso kind of guy, even in the face of such heat, ordering a glass of water along with his cup, or maybe an ice coffee instead, or was he up for a cocktail already, after all, it was Saturday afternoon. Either way, I could hang. In the end, he opted for none of the above and chose a homestyle diner, with a few outside tables….“How about Rudy’s?” he replied. “Sounds great,” I beamed. This was phenomenal. Here I was with the most handsome beasts on the planet getting ready to have a nice glass of iced tea with lemon on a lazy southern day.
We talked for hours about anything and everything. He was surprisingly open with me, professing that he had fed his demons for too long and that he was ready to settle down. Since he opened up to me, I figured I would share with him as well. I felt an uncanny kinship with him. So, I told him of my vices, too. It is not uncommon for a college town or any town, for that matter, to hold its share of illicit pleasures. Not that cigarettes with cocktails, bong hits before class, or bumps to get through finals were all that bad…But, I was ready to transcend to another “adult” level, after all I was in grad school now and ready to get on with my life, find a mate, a job, a mortgage, get insured, have a child, and surround it all with a white picket fence. No more swingin’ singles bar scenes. I was already tired of watching the new freshman batch of hemp-attired, skinny, tanned, vegan, aspiring hippies roll into town every August. It made me feel tired to see their braless perky tits smile at me through their thin t-shirts, knowing that my perky days were down to the wire. I yearned to meet the man of my dreams who would settle down with me and in that instant Seth was the man. He like Jimmy Buffet, I liked Jimmy Buffet. We both had had it with the single scene. Our parents were alcoholics. So, we were both dysfunctional, adult children of alcoholics, parrot heads ready to settle down. Perfect.
He walked me home that night and gave me the sweetest kiss. It was magic, pure and simple. He had cast a spell over me…As of that night he became my official suitor. He called every day after that, left notes and flowers, we dated on weekends and soon he started sleeping over. I saw less and less of his dogs, but didn’t think much of it. I just assumed that I was his pet now.
In three months time, I became his fiancé. And during that time, true to our desires, we had both “settled” down into a comfortable routine of romantic dinners, movies, and sex. We figured that we were spending so much time together, that one of us should save on rent. And even though he was always at my place, since Seth’s place was bigger and had the fenced in yard for the dogs, I moved in there.
From that point, our relationship officially became co-dependent. We were inseparable. There was no Seth-time or me-time. It was our time. I couldn’t think for myself or about myself. It was fortunate that it was during summer break or my grades would have plummeted. And since it was time to start working on my thesis. I was about to get my self into a serious stressed-out funk. While Seth was at work. Instead of working on my thesis, I decorated his house, slowly unpacked my boxes, organized our closets, and made myself a merry little homemaker. I became obsessed to the point of buying the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and began making my man meatloaf and scalloped potatoes. I desperately needed him to love me.
In addition to my other self-imposed domestic duties, I also became keeper of his domesticated wolves, or dogs, as I liked to call them. When I started caring for them, I was shocked at how thin Fuego had become. I asked Seth about it, and he said that he had been sick with stomach problems. He said that he had taken him to the vet, and was instructed to feed him very, very small portions. It seemed strange to me that he was having stomach problems because when I fed him, he wolfed his food down without hesitation and begged for more.
Besides wondering what was happening to his dog, I wondered what was happening to me. Wasn’t this exactly what I had longed for? A man to love, to live with, a mate to build my picket fence…But instead of feeling the love, hope, joy and peace that I thought would come of this union I began to feel greedy for all of Seth’s time, angry at him when I didn’t have his complete attention, angry at myself for the inferiority that I began feeling while watching him excel at his architecture firm while I did nothing to stimulate my mind except read Betty Crocker. In three months times I had changed from the witty, thin grad student into a plump homemaker with no goals. My thesis was now Seth; my homework was his dinner. My goal was to feed my man and his beasts--hoping that my mother’s old saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach was true.
Seth didn’t seem to notice how much I had changed. We had settled into a routine. I had begun to incorporate a little marijuana in my day to help with the cleaning and organizing of our house, then I would cook and eat when the munchies sat in. When Seth came home at five it was cocktail time. We added cigarettes to that. Then it would be time to eat. He would be so pleased with the meals that I had prepared for him. So much so, that he gluttonously ate plate after plate. Our eyes would be glassed over with our eating and drinking. But we were not celebrating life anymore as we had before. There was no joy, it was as if we were in a coma. After the meal, I would clean up while Seth went through his brief case, organizing and preparing for the next day. We would then go to bed. On the weekends the routine was pretty much the same except cocktail hour started earlier, we would also walk the dogs and then throw in an afternoon of kinky sex.
While I was nurturing the dog, Fuego back to health what was left of my romance soured. And, inadvertently by spending so much time with Fuego, I began to neglect Aire. I still fed her, but less and less and began giving Fuego bigger and bigger portions. He thrived, gaining a lot of weight in a couple of weeks. It was during this time that I noticed Seth’s behaviour becoming more and more erratic. He worked like a man possessed. He started to verbally abuse me, but my self-esteem had already fallen so low that I took it and I started to feel like Aire, his neglected dog. The verbal abuse soon turned into physical abuse.
The first time he hit me was during one of our kinky sex episodes. I saw his eyes turn red, and it was then that I knew there was a demon inside him. Only I had no idea that I was the one who was feeding it.
The next day I was beside myself with terror, I did not know how to get out. Should I just leave? Should I take the dogs, would he begin to beat them in my absence? In an effort to find something, some answers about who this demon man was that I had fallen in love with and committed to marry, I started rifling through his photographs and journals.
I found a journal marked 1999 and I began to read of his trek in South America. A piece of paper unfurled itself out of the diary and fell to the ground. And there was the answer. A story of two wolves. It read:

A wise old Indian is telling his grandson about a fight that is going on inside himself. He said it is between two wolves. One is evil: Gluttony, anger, greed, lies, ego…The other is good: Joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility…The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “which wolf wins?” The old Indian simply replied, “The one I feed…”

There it was, I had been feeding his demons for him. So, I was responsible. Or was I? Without further hesitation, I went to my dresser and got out the little Beringer pistol that I had inherited from my grandmother, went out the back door, and shot Fuego dead. It hurt to watch him fall to the ground, bleed, and die. But I had to save my man from his demons.

Feedback ????: How/where could I develop more dialogue? Which parts need to be eliminated? Too much description in some places? How could I liven up the flow/pace? I would like to make it a bit more "fairy tale esque" along the lines of magical realism--any suggestions?
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#33 of 56 Old 11-20-2004, 12:09 AM
 
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as a reader, i enjoyed your story tremendously. i am also working on short stories right now and in my last creative writing class I did the piece that I just posted. With that story and the other three that I did for that particular class the feedback was always along the same lines, "you need dialogue to move this story along..." when I read your story a light bulb went off in my head because I see that your story needs dialogue to move it from a personal narrative to a short story (if that's the direction you want to take it in). It was enlightening for me to see that in your work: to see how strong the story line is, and how dialogue would enhance it. It is a scene that clearly unfolds...Unfortunately, I'm not an expert dialogue writer (as of yet ) so i can't exactly tell you how and where i think it should be translated into dialogue. However, it seems that there are several places in the story that would flow very naturally into dialogue and help to move, and enhance the story as well as flesh the characters out a bit.
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#34 of 56 Old 11-20-2004, 12:15 AM
 
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?????I wonder how it strikes a reader though, as I move through time and verb tenses.

you did beautifully here for me, i never paused when reading through--so noticed no problems with time and verb tenses

???? Also, I never come out and say, the letter was created in order to discredit me because of what I knew and could spill at any time. I think the story should convey that for the reader to figure out, without me spelling it out. Does this come through clearly?

i often have a problem with spelling stuff out--i don't you think you did that. i did wonder what that meant at the end, though. but i just thought that he knew it was about you and was being fecetious (however the hell you spell that word). no, i don't think you should spell it out, but maybe give it a bit more dialogue to make it clearer.
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#35 of 56 Old 11-20-2004, 12:46 AM
 
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I suppose that we will miss next week if they go through with the MDC down time, this time. Oh leader, what will we do? I see that we are to be cut off tomorrow morning....I was wondering if we could do some email feedback on the posts that we have up to this point? or maybe "spam" our work to each other? and perhaps Tanya could send us our week 8 via email???
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#36 of 56 Old 11-20-2004, 01:35 AM
 
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Wow, I usually put computer to sleep for the weekend but somehting I guess made me leave it on and log in here - feedback for me...

zenfulmama, thanks for taking the time. I appreciate that you found the story interesting and were not tripped up by the verb tenses and time shifts. I did not put dialog here because it's not a story, it's true, and 20 years later do I really remember exact words? I know that when true stories are told there is dialog, which I'm sure has to be done to the best of the writer's ability/recall, since a commercial work would be impossible to read any other way. For a personal work, a few steps up from a journal entry, I wouldn't want to start adding supposition.

This man was not being sarcastic. What he meant was, the letter was written out of something bigger than just my performance - that something major and political had happened in which it was necessary to cover tracks by discrediting me. When I say I never questioned if he threw the letter out, I was saying that the way he trusted me to be not who the letter said, I trusted him to purge my file of the insinuations.

OOOOO, I'm going to have to print more so I can keep reading everyone's work, since we're offline soon...
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#37 of 56 Old 11-23-2004, 10:19 PM
 
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Joining a bit late but hope that's okay! I've been scanning the other posts and am delighted to be in such accomplished company here. Though I am insanely busy, I need to make writing a priority. I absolutely must! So, without further comment, a quick freewrite on...

Being Still...

Quick...before he cries again. But...is it possible to be still...quickly? Time is always stolen. It sifts through my hands and filters out to be rationed among those I love, those who rely on me for their very lives. And there are nights, days, when I feel stolen.
He cries. Again. The image of him crosses my mind. His thighs, so perfect in their newness, the baby creases outlining the edges right above his smallish knees. He stands in my lap, swaying, anything but...still.
Still. I never seem to be, these days. Not even on my back, on a yoga mat, staring up at a ceiling I had never seen before, contemplating...stillness. Thoughts swept over my mental landscape as I attempted to just be my breath. Perhaps I was missing the point. As I worked the kinks from my body stillness eluded me. I shook, my muscles so long unused except to lift children of varying weights. My biceps have grown in proportion to the growth of my baby, while my legs have faded from the limber strength I remember...when I was 15 years younger. Fifteen years ago when I could run from one end of a soccer field to another, and control a speeding ball. Did I know stillness then? Back then, when the only life I held in my hands was my own? Back then when I felt stolen by parents, expectations, society...but not by the very fabric of life as steals me now? I find shards of myself in four smallish sets of eyes.
And I know that I am not stolen but necessary. Not still...certainly not that.
And yet I am. For just now the flow stopped. Stillness rose up in me, and stilled my voice, my fingers.
And he stopped crying....
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#38 of 56 Old 11-23-2004, 10:51 PM
 
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That was under the thirty minute writing assignment.... well, that wasn't thirty minutes, but, well, he cried again! As 5 month-olds are wont to do....
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#39 of 56 Old 11-23-2004, 10:51 PM
 
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MamaO, You talk about a much undiscussed area. You captured many of the discoveries I and I'm sure many others here, have made. What you wrote could be a nice letter for someone's baby shower. Because everyone scared me with talk about how "everything changes...nothing will be the same again," and no one told me that something would happen to my brain and being that would make me not terribly miss the things I once valued. At hearing that, I would have been incredulous, but still reassured.
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#40 of 56 Old 11-23-2004, 11:01 PM
 
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zenfulmama: I like the flow of Compulsion. Starting with the epitome of compulsion, a 3 year old, I could relate well! Stopping for the definition gave you a chance to go from the result of her compulsion, to you dealing with one you didn't know you even had until it was gone: to use your sight to maybe sometimes do things you don't need to...does the inbox really need your attention??

I don't know what you mean by essay, but it's good start on something that talks about taking our senses for granted, as well as our daily rhythms and supposed important activities.


Which one wins made me think of something my mother said about my father: how he turned into a monster and she looked back and felt she contributed to it's creation. She never criticized or questioned him when she thought he was wrong in their first years together, she felt like she needed to boost an ego that wasn't as secure as it pretended to be. She felt like she gave him an unrealistic view of himself. I'm not sure this is true, but it's interesting how she, like you/your progagonist (I can't tell if your story is true or not) both took the blame for the man's deteriorating behavior. When maybe it's just that the guys can put on an act for awhile, but eventually their true natures emerge...and the self blaming woman had nothing to do with it.
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#41 of 56 Old 11-23-2004, 11:05 PM
 
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violafemme: as a adult beginner level musician I enjoyed hearing how it really feels to be a professional musician. The truth comes out, nothing is as it seems. I know better than to imagine a life of glamour, but envision a life devoted to art and personal expression, but you show an overriding struggle to maintain identity...I like the line about how you now want to make music with words. I found it an interesting glimpse into a world unknown to me.
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#42 of 56 Old 11-23-2004, 11:15 PM
 
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Insomniamama: I enjoyed all the little things you do in Trying to Hard, I liked the detail on all the silly compulsions....you could have called it compulsion too...you carry out while thinking of that thing we think of from the day of learning of pregnancy - the day they will leave. We all have our own trademark rituals and it made me think more of what I do, to read yours.

I especially liked the line 'tiny agents of destruction."
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#43 of 56 Old 11-24-2004, 08:33 AM
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I didn't mean to take the bag. It was just a reaction. Especially now, post nine eleven. It has been drilled into me, to all of us. You don't touch suspicious packages. You don't hold a strangers' bags at the airport. You certainly don't hold them here, on a city street!

But when the woman put the bag in my hand, smiling, murmuring, "Here you go", as if I had been standing here, waiting for her and this bag, instead of just walking out of the lecture hall into the bright sunlight and hurrying hoardes of busy people, I took it. If my mind hadn't still been occupied with the "why's" and "how's" of "Writing Great Fiction", I never would have accepted the the bag.

Now that I havethe bag, one question begs to be answered. There are soooo many people hustling back and forth, bumping me even. If the bag contains, oh say, a million dollars, I don't want anyone else to see it! A piece of red tissue covers the contents of the bag, protects my millions in cash---or maybe jewelry!---from strangers sight as well as mine.

I hurry back inside the hall. I will use the restroom, go in a stall, remove the tissue. It is difficult to make my way inside while so many are still in the process of leaving. I have to push my way through, protecting my bag from being jostled too severely. It is, I notice, heavy, weighty. It pulls at my arm but the weight is evenly distributed, the heft is not the result of a bulky or unwieldy item, rather a solid, steady, even weight across the bottom of the bag.

As I push open the door and enter one of the small stalls, my eagerness to peek into the unknown depths of the bag fades. Less pleasant things than money and gold might lie in the bags secretive depths.

My first unpleasant, if unlikely, thought is mice! That they don't weigh enough to be the source of the heft doesn't matter anymore than the fact that the item--or items!-- within are still and silent, as a bag full of mice certainly wouldn't be.

Logic wills out after a quick mental debate. But under NO conditions do I now wish to open the bag while locked in a tiny stall. Too many "what ifs".

The bathroom is still busy with after-lecture business. I decide to find a safer, more open, yet more private place to peer into the bag. I exit the building and walk a few blocks to the park, sit on a dilapidated old wooden bench. My excitement at the excellent lecture is nearly forgotten as I contemplate the bag, it's possible contents. I check all around, making sure I am alone, unwatched. I push the bag as far to my right as I can with my foot, making room for anything frightening to jump out and away from me. With exagerated care I reach over and remove the red tissue and look inside my bag.

A free write with some editing. I'm looking for how to make it come more alive, how to make the street, the bathroom, more real. Feel free to offer advice.
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#44 of 56 Old 11-24-2004, 11:23 AM
 
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Oh Red, the suspense!

I might add more sensory stuff to bring the setting and bag alive. Not enough to keep the reader from using the imagination, but some description of the street bustle, the bathroom with echoing voices against the tile and such. And probably not toooo much on the bag, because you want us all to keep wondering.
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#45 of 56 Old 11-25-2004, 07:50 PM
 
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I neeeed to know what was in the bag!!!!!!...............
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#46 of 56 Old 11-25-2004, 10:35 PM
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Sheesh, seems like every time I checked in, MDC was down. So, now i'm here to try to leave feedback, and to do it right! I hope. So, if you didn't specifically ask for feedback, I'm not giving any. If you did, I'm tryin'.

Tanya, back to the last thread for a sec. Thanks for the encouragement and advice about writing the query. I'm working on a new one, and I'll post it here as soon as it's done.

charmarty, in the beginning, Tanya said we should write everything out longhand to connect with it better(or something like that) and then type. It's what I do anyway. "trying to hard' was beautiful. I absolutely understood the point of it, and thought calling your dh the 'other' waas a good move, though normally I hate it when someone does that it fit the piece, though, and made it seem like she was hte other half. I have NO advice, just lovely!

heatherdeg, I find supoosedly true pieces like yours to be the hardest to leave feedback on! I thought it was well-written and expressed your feelings, but maybe not the depth of feeling I expected. Does this hurt you? Your 'secret desire'! Ah, it comes through much more strongly there! Your pain and fright, your dh's pain. The fruit tree reference is very powerful.

violafemme, I don't think your piece was sappy at all! Very pretty, made me want to meet your dh, I like the "dances with abandon adn sings with amazement." esp! Just read you 'trying too hard' piece. Forget feedback for a sec. I used to feel exactly like that! You are a writer! You are you, first, of course, but do not wait for permission to be a writer to be bestowed on you. Get some books at the library on writing, I've found most of them to be very encouraging and they've given me the courage to 'think' of myself as a writer.


lavender, ohh, I dated like that too! You use a lot of similies. I'm working on using them and found yours to work so well. I like the rubber band and jigsaw reference, thought they worked. In your 'where the heart lives piece' I noticed the same things, your use of similies! I'm going to use your pieces to help me!

mommadance, I think if you came back to your gardening reference form the beginning of the piece, it would help.

Norhtport, as a mother of twins, that piece really struck me. I like the the reuse of the word 'happy', it made me remember how it was with the two, crying one minute....

Curious (this is post 25 for anyone I've confused!) I did have some trouble, mostly with the longer sentences. I will admit that this is a problem is most likely more mine than yours, as I have it with other authors, famous, well known ones! I didn't notice verb tenses changing, so I guess that wasn't an issue for me. I did understand the purpose of the letter.

mama o THe first piece was fuuny, well-done. I really liked the way you compare your heart to different things in the second piece, the descriptions made it come alive. I'd cut the last paragraph if I were you. I didn't think it fit as well.

zenfulmama, I think it was going great till you ran out of time. (Your poor eye!) I think you just need to go over the last paragraph, find an ending. Whoa! JUst infished the short story! Fuego, dead! Real surprise that the ending was so literal. (not bad, just shock) You might want to include some feeding of the other dog, as a balance?

My goodness, I made it! I'll never wait til hte end of the week, or the middle oif the next, again!

Procrastination, that's what I should write about.

Um, what was in the bag? I honestly don't know. It was a writing assingment in a book I tried, you weren't allowed to have it be a baby! That was my first instinct. Maybe that's why. I think the voices echoing off the tile walls is just the kind of imagery I need!

Thanks everyone. THis is fun, both geting help and tryin got give it. I hope I 'did' feedback right!
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#47 of 56 Old 11-26-2004, 12:00 AM
 
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My thoughts 'bout the handwriting vs. typewriting original entries...about this...well, I read and understand Tanya's guidelines regarding our homework/writing excersises. However, if I am to get any writing done whatsoever, sometimes it has to be directly into my electronic journal first and then copy and paste to entry as I can type and nurse my baby cakes at the same time, but can not handwrite in my journal because all he wants to do is grab the pen (now, he is pulling my hair....) I find it to be very cathartic to journal it out, but usually I have to semi guess at the time between the interruptions, etc. and type it in while nursing a baby--other times i can steal away early in the am or late in the pm, naptime, etc. and write into my journal, then type to the 'puter...

i missed our group, and like a jilted lover went searching elsewhere for affections. I found some great writing tips and resources that I would like to share with you. Some of these sites and tips you might have already seen, but maybe this will help/inspire others...

I "found" Literary Mama zine, and was so inspired, particularly by the columnists and poets. They have a writer's group as well and the zine came about as a result of their group. There is some superb writing there and it is presented in a very visually appealing manner as well (it's a pretty site ). There were some good tips about when to find time for writing (for mama's) which I've included below, and there are some great resources out of their page, job links, contests, etc.

Also I joined a practicing writer's group that seems to be mainly a monthly newsletter with contest info., and good links resources.
yahoo groups:
literarymamawritingsupportgroup: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/litera...gsupportgroup/
literarymama zine: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/litera...guid=157156709
practicing writer group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/practi...guid=157156709

Tips

… car naps as time for writing
… journal beside bed
… child care exchange
… writing while nursing
… heidi¹s tips on making a day for writing versus days for housework
… rebecca¹s on the 10 minute time period
… sybil¹s on Thursday nights out
… leave computer on
… get up early
… tape recorder
… stroller walk
… dream journal
… making book with child
… responding to e-mail
… work on more than one project at a time
… go back through your journals
… using butcher block paper to map out story
… Keep a dream journal that you write in the minute you wake up or when you can't go back to sleep after responding to a child, when the memories of your dream world are still fresh. After a few months, go back through your dream journal and mark any strong images you find. Pick one, put on the top of a page, and begin to write about it.
… Using PDA
… Using art time to develop characters or plot time lines
… How to negotiate with your family for writing time
… Picking up scrap paper
… Distracting child with paint supplies in tub

Happy Thanksgiving!
I'm grateful for this group. Thank you all...
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#48 of 56 Old 11-26-2004, 01:31 AM
 
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I've been meaning to hop on this forum since it started. Tonight w/ DD sleeping and some peace and quiet I think the time is right.

First, my writing goals: I've been writing since I learned how. That is, I've been making up stories or writing down journal bits. I have notebooks going back to 2nd grade. Some are fanciful stories I never finished and now I wish I knew how they were supposed to end. Others are journal entries from painful times I can't read. Others make me smile and provide me hours of entertainment for myself. Much of it was the product of collaborative efforts with my best childhood friend. She no longer speaks to me, and so I have been without a way to share any of my writing.

I write to process things I'm going through emotionally, and fears/hopes about the future. I write to help myself process things I'm learning, both as a mother and as a college student. It is my primary creative outlet as well. My goals include learning to finish what I begin, and making my descriptions more vivid. I tend to focus on dramatic moments and character exchanges, and as a result the settings and much character development remain in my own mind and stories don't get finished even in outline.

Trying too hard...................

Sometimes I think I'm trying too hard to make it all work. From the outside looking in, I wonder, am I a fool? I can't know the shape of the forest because I am a tree within it. I want my life's work to make the world a better place. In some way, grand or small doesn't matter to me. I wonder if I try too hard to make my marriage work, to get along with people who don't care if they get along with me, to please people who never go an inch out of their way for my benefit. I wonder if I'm trying too hard to be someone they find acceptable, and if they find me lacking, why do I stay? But if I go, will I always wonder if I simply didn't try hard enough? I'm trying too hard to not be a failure, but in so doing will I simply ensure that I'll never succeed? I am skeptical, and in a house full of the status quo. I think I'll never carve a niche for myself. I must mold myself to what they want me to be. But then I think perhaps if I just try harder, they'll accept me. But all I can try to do is be more of myself. According to my cultural anthropology professor, that doesn't work too well. If you try harder to make the world what it was, you won't succeed and what is will mow you down. Conform, flee, or fail. Of course he was talking about indigenous societies in the face of Westernization, but I love analogies. Maybe I try to carry them too far.

I sometimes think I'm trying too hard in school. The tests I take never are as hard as the tests I study for. But I have been the overachiever most of my life. Maybe I tried too hard to get noticed when I was young. But when you're a mouse and a singleton with cute, attention getting identical twin sisters you have to stand out somehow. So I was the smart one.

I think I try to hard to encourage my daughter. She will learn to walk whether I clap or not. She will learn to walk whether I insist on holding her hands and having her do so when she'd as soon crawl. We aren't competing with anyone, so why do I feel like we're in a race?

Where my heart lives....................

My heart lives with my daughter. When I drop her off at day care, my heart stays there while my mind carries my body off to class. My heart lives with my family, and I do not feel my husband is my family. My daughter, my mother, my sisters. I have a matrilineal knot in my heartstrings. Sometimes I wonder how I would feel if I had a son. I think it would be strange, not while he was a baby, but as he grew would he grow away from me? Men are aliens, no man could truly hold my heart. I love my husband, but I will never grok him as I do my sisters or my mother or my grandmother.
My heart lives in my head as well. The woman in the mirror is strange to me, she does not look like I feel. Parts of her don't seem to belong and parts seem to be missing. How do those size 8 pants fit? Are they mislabeled? How do they fit over this wrinkly flabby belly of mine? I'm proud of that belly, how it swelled to carry my daughter, but my hips melt away and I don't feel thinner. My steps are as heavy, either because I carry her with me and she grows even as I shrink, or because I have left her behind and my heart with her. And I wonder if I'm really me, because the me I expect in the mirror isn't a mommy, her heart belongs only to herself and is always in her head. Without my daughter I might have found contentment as a consumer, a cog. Or I might have found purpose serving my country. She drives me, and because of her my heart is a dwelling place for compassion. It mystifies me that the same transformation never came over my husband. Is fatherhood a lesser heart-link? Or did his experiences prior to our marriage damage his heart beyond capacity for compassion, limit it only to his immediate family, to me and our daughter and, a bleeding stump, the connection to his first daughter? He hasn't even compassion for himself.


Secret desire....................................

Indepenence is my secret desire. To not have to rely on the consumer culture. To not have to rely on my husband. But I desire the impossible. No man is an island, and I cannot escape my need for other human beings to accomplish my goals in life. I can't do it alone, I only wish I could.

breastfeeding, babywearing, homeschooling Heathen parent to my little Wanderer, 7 1/2 , and baby Elf-stone, 3/11!

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#49 of 56 Old 11-26-2004, 04:42 PM
 
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Aaaaahh.

I have not had the time to turn my computer on or write...much less think! My sister and her two young children have come to stay with us for awhile, so we have seven people packed into this tiny two bedroom house and it is HECTIC.

I desperately miss my tranquility. And I desperately miss writing. My assignments may be late, but I am making my husband watch the girls this weekend while I head to my favorite hole-in-the-wall coffee shop...alone! I will post later!

"The best things in life aren't things."

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#50 of 56 Old 11-26-2004, 05:33 PM
 
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Just letting people know I am still here, and have overwhelmed myself in jobs at the moment. I am reading these pieces and am still in awe at the grace and expression in all of them. I promise to be of more help, and thank you those who have done same for me. :

Hunger is political.  Wherever there is widespread hunger, it is because people with guns are preventing other people from bringing in food.  
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#51 of 56 Old 11-27-2004, 12:38 PM
 
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My heart of hearts, my joyful painful place, the wellsprings of my soul...I do know where you live. I find you often in unexpected moments, and other times I feel you beating, and I wonder if I will stop breathing. I felt the presence of my heart, my love with the feeling of perma-grin that I had on Thanksgiving day, on our way back home from picking out our Christmas tree. Ds was freezing cold because I listened to his daddy’s advice, “oh, no, it’s not cold out there…” but we still had fun. Ds jumped through the mud puddle and got even colder. While I carried baby (25 lbs. of baby), Daddy (dh) carried big boy on his shoulders, back from the “country mile” that we walked to get the tree; and then stood around gazing at each, then walking a cuadrant in order to scope out the Perfect one. We found it and Dh drug it back to the shed to pay for it. Oh joy. My heart is so thankful for my family. That we can celebrate the holidays in a holy manner, that the Divinity within me is acknowledged, and respected…that my “others” the ones who I love so much that I feel them in the same place that my heart lives—all together, that they are respected. I find my heart in the sapphire eyes of my youngest. I find my heart in my man as I watch him tend the fire. I find my heart when my eldest says, “mama, I yuv you so much…” Acknowledging the child’s heart that is still the core, I feel its presence. I cry when it tells me to, and laugh, and feel for others. The “big” adult heart has wrapped my inner one in the flesh of compassion. Sometimes the needy child’s heart, the core, speaks first, and I humor it. But then look at my own children and remind myself, oh so gently: I know where you live, and you are safe, and protected, and respected. You have enough for yourself and everyone you love.
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#52 of 56 Old 11-27-2004, 11:47 PM
 
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I began this post by explaining my absence, my too-busy-cooking-cleaning-entertaining-in-laws-who-really-don't-get-it-and-a-sick-toddler-falling-apart-in-my-lap-ness this week. Then I thought, why do we women writers begin and end so many of our posts with disclaimers? I wonder what a Writing Into Fatherhood workshop would look like. I bet the opening lines would go something like "This is my best piece yet..." So I'm not going to tell you what I didn't do this week. But I am going to respond to one of the many thoughtful and thought-provoking entries you remarkable mamas made the time to share. Thanks so much.


violafemme:

Your post on 11/18 is a gem. First, the pacing, with it's long, sinuous descriptions--"the gracious curves of a pine box and the tension of steel wound strings"--mixed with choppy, declarative breaks--"But anyone didn't snap: I did"--conveys a real sense of movement that works beautifully with the musical theme. The self-deprecation throughout the piece is almost charming (the irony, of course, is that you are a writer and a good one at that). But be careful of indulging in self-pity, which is distancing and sentimental, as in "I could only find the apologetic sounds of regret for not being perfect...." The repetition of your theme "But that was from a life when I was trying to hard to be a viola. Now I am trying to hard to be a writer," is very effective in reminding us why you're telling this story and illustrating in the structure of the piece what you've described in the content: that the narrator (not the writer) is an inexperienced storyteller who is easily carried away. Finally, your explanation of synecdoche in the conservatory where "he became 'a wind' or 'a brass' or 'a string'" is an insightful and humorous observation, making your conclusion "It was nerve wracking to be a string: a tightly wound piece of cat gut" all the more poignant. Gaining or losing one's voice is a common trope in literature, but the play on voice and box (literally, the voice box used to speak or sing, and figuratively, as an instrument that stands in for the person as a whole) is interesting and original. Because the piece is so much about identity, if you choose to expand it, I'd like to hear about how the narrator became a musician to begin with, and to see in more concrete detail the same juxtaposition of humor with self-analysis and critique of the musical establishment you've hinted at here.
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#53 of 56 Old 11-28-2004, 12:56 AM
 
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Upon reading Boston Mama's feedback for violafemmes' trying too hard (i see the irony in your user name, now--perhaps you should change it to femmescritur). I had to go back and reread it and to give some feedback:

you paint a realistic scene of the professional musician's life...The box metaphor is almost sexual. The contrast between the two arts is very interesting. I disagree about one thing that was said in previous feedback, The self-deprecation throughout the piece is almost charming (the irony, of course, is that you are a writer and a good one at that). But be careful of indulging in self-pity, which is distancing and sentimental, as in "I could only find the apologetic sounds of regret for not being perfect...."

I agree that it is charming...I can totally see a perfectionist, insecure young woman musician, i can see myself or many other of my extremely intelligent, talented, smart, stylish, perfectionist friends of mine being this type of self-pitying character. I identify with the narrator/you. I remember getting in trouble in 2nd grade when a little boy that i had a crush on told the teacher that I was feeling sorry for myself. what a sin.

Question: When we write real sometimes it is sappy, self-pitying and sentimental. so what? when we write real and then consider publishing the journal or memoir or autobiography or even fictionalized short story or something similar to Lamott's Operating Instructions, Then do we take the self-pitying sap out? I think not. (okay, maybe some, but definetly not all--my great grandmother belle said to me often, "oh, are you on your pity pot again?") Why should you not indulge in self-pity in writing? why not grovel in it? I say, If it feels good, write it. It felt good to write that word : grovel
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#54 of 56 Old 11-29-2004, 12:53 AM
 
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get it together. breathe. sit up straighter in the bed before you sink down into something deeper, darker. There will be times when i am living. oh, but guilty. not knowing where to go. not wanting, really, to go anywhere.

a piece of me, i thought while he nursed to sleep. Like that good pure piece of me that i used to talk to as a kid. sitting on my cool bedroom floor waiting for the door to open and daddy to tell me, "allright, you can come out now."

I never had an imaginary friend. Just another self. A better self. And we would talk and she understood just what i was saying. She would tell me that everything would work out, that he would come and open the door.

He is what she was. or maybe she was what he was just waiting to be.
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#55 of 56 Old 11-29-2004, 01:22 AM
 
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Red,

Does the bathroom have grafitti? Does it smell? Are toilets flushing or sinks dripping? Does it have windows or ugly florescent lights? are coeds apply lipstick or not glancing at the cracked mirror because they are in sweats and tee shirts they fell asleep in studying for finals............inquiring minds want to know.................oh and for goodness sake woman WHAT IS IN THE BAG?
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#56 of 56 Old 11-30-2004, 08:33 AM
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I have no idea what is in the bag! I didn't from the moment I started

I challenge those of you who wish to know, to tell ME what was in the bag. THe original rules said, NO babies, dead or alive. My first thought was a baby!
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