Wednesday, August 25, 2010

When the student is ready, the teacher appears

In the midst of writing. And found this. Maybe it's time for you to read it, too.

Learning the Characters (Yue Liang — The Moon) by Koeeoaddi

My hand,
stiff as horsehair
falters and balks.

"The moon," he tells me
and draws the lines.
Listen to me.

I grind the ink,
look into the wet black slab
but see no sky.
I worry my hand
across the page
the sun fastened tight
to obstinate dusk.

"Watch" he insists.
His lesson forms
in rock and light.
I retrace his strokes,
and he smiles —
my crude moon
climbs a crumpled sky.

But later
alone at my desk,
I sketch the spiny shadow
of the asparagus fern,
a cat on the sill
looking into the night

And the moon blooms
like an orchid
my astonished brush.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Take the Challenge!

An amazing event is happening on Jungle Red, my group blog. It's the brainchild of Jan Brogan, who has thrown down the gauntlet to all of you writers out there. It's a fantastic idea, and I have signed right up! Come join us!

Tweet about it using the hasthtag #JRWriteFirst --see you there!

JAN: If you are a writer, the Internet is both your best friend and your mortal enemy. Need to find an expert or see what a Glock looks like?? The info is only minutes away by Google.

But sometimes, all that time you save goes down the drain in lost productivity. In terms of writing (not promotion) that would be Email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Here's the challenge:For six weeks, starting tomorrow, you must write one, full page every day -- even Saturday and Sunday -- BEFORE checking email or visiting anywhere online. That's the critical part. You can get online as soon as you finish your one page, but no sooner. If you have to check email at work in the morning, the challenge can start as soon as you come home. You are not allowed to go back to the Internet for ANY reason until you write that one page.

Why one page?
Because if you only wrote one page a day for an entire year, you'd have a novel.
Because when I gave myself a five-page-a-day quota, I found myself writing drivel, just to get the pages done.
Because with with a one page quota, you have time to go back and revise earlier pages.
Sometimes they bulk up, lengthwise, to create an extra page. (and yes, that counts as a new page.)
Because one page is eminently doable.
Because even on the weekends, you can get yourself to sit down at the computer if it's ONLY one page. And the consistency of a writing every day enhances productivity in terms of story structure.
Because one page often leads to another. In other words, one page is the minimum, not the maximum.

Why now?
Because for many of us, August is the least productive month of the year. (hey, and I'm even going to do this on vacation)
Challenging yourself in January when is snowing outside is no challenge.

Why six weeks?
Because after six weeks, we'll all have 42 pages. If you are starting a novel, that's about where you'd end on a hook, so you'll have enough material to send it to the agent/editor with a query.
If you are writing short stories -- that's at least two of them.
Because I host the blog every six weeks.

Why do you really want to do this?Aside from becoming a more disciplined writer and an all around superior person, we're also giving away prizes.

No cheating:

One page is defined as the FULL page, double spaced.
If, by any chance, you are writing a screenplay, you can still do the challenge, but that's TWO AND HALF pages a day for you.

How to enter?

Sign into the comments page on Jungle Red ( any time through Sunday (okay Monday for you procrastinators).
Report in (via the comments page) every Sunday.
Tell us anything, your obstacles, your solutions, your progress, the best sentence you wrote, or any tricks you've learned along the way.

Prizes:If you post at least three times (on different weeks), we enter your name in raffle and the winner gets a signed copy of Hallie Ephron's Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel. I will also read and critique your work, if you want. (you can forgo that prize if the idea of critique stunts your productivity. It's your choice.)

There's also second and third prizes, as well as a prize for the most inspired, insightful or helpful comment.

In no particular order, those prizes will be signed copies of:
Teaser (Jan Brogan)
Dead Head (Rosemary Harris),
Air Time (Hank Phillippi Ryan) (Agatha and Anthony nominee!)
Asking for Murder (Roberta Isleib)

JAN: The challenge technically ends Saturday September 18th and you have all weekend until 5 p.m. Sunday on the 19th to post your comments. I'll be drawing and deciding winners one minute after 5 p.m.
I'll announce winners on Jungle Red September 20th.

So get started and good luck!!

The Women of Jungle Red - Jan Brogan, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Hallie Ephron, Roberta Isleib, Rhys Bowen and Rosemary Harris.