Copyright notice

All content copyright 2010 by Chelsea Biondolillo. Seriously.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 76

Last night, a guy at a bar thought I was Joan Jett. He asked a nearby Abe Lincoln if he could recite the Gettysburg address. Lincoln couldn't, but I started to, having memorized it in junior high. I didn't get very far, but anything past "seven years ago" is impressive to your average adult. The drunk guy then peered sideways at me in the peculiar way that drunks have to prevent double vision, using only one eye to look at a thing. He said all slow and importantly, "Do you know the Preamble?"

I do.

So I sang the Preamble in my squeaky wavery voice and the drunk dude began leaning into Jeff and telling him that he needed to stay on his A fucking game and not slip up or I'd be outta there, and then fair warning, he'd be all over me. Because even knowing what the Preamble IS is hot, apparently.

365 days of being a writer: day 75

It's Hallowe'en. Today's taken off. More tomorrow, for now I'm living two high school dreams. I'm as goth as Siouxsie, AND I'm dating Robert Smith.

All your cities lie in dust, my friend

Also: boo!

Friday, October 29, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 74

I'm not an alcoholic, but you can still be my sponsor. More on why you shouldn't later.

Today was pretty much a waste. I slept terribly, woke up late, had bus mishaps, and ultimately went home early because I was a walking zombie. Ergo, little writing has occurred. I did finalize some edits on the 4th of 5 pieces from my initial manuscript, and I may just leave the last one out. Or use my Alaska piece. I don't know, I'm still pretty tired.

I also gathered some resources for my 15 page bee essay. Just typing "15 page bee essay" wearies me. But I'm! Going! To do it!

I'm picturing a thesis along the lines of "saving native bees is possible, necessary, and best done by individuals AND governing bodies" or something like that. Then I can include research about dwindling numbers, invasive honey bees, colony collapse disorder, importance of pollinators, and use hummingbirds as the example of how individuals can have as much impact as farmers and legislators. Maybe. Save the bees!

If this sounds like a really stupid research paper, let me know, but only if you have an idea for something else.

About the new sponsor button. A follower wrote to me after yesterday's post and suggested I let people sponsor the 365 project. He had had a few gin and tonics, so I am not holding him to the commitment of
$0.10 per day. But it was an intriguing idea. I thought that after all of the nickel and dime talk yesterday, it would be funny to offer readers the option of sponsoring at $18.25 or $36.50 for a year's worth of posts. Or, a flat $20 to get me a pedicure. Har.

Then, I took a nap. When I woke up, I decided that really, that money should go to or or or or any number of other more deserving non-profits. So after you do that, if you still want to throw a few bucks my way, I have added a PayPal "Donate" button. If you have a website or a twitter, I will add it to a sidebar list of sponsors. If you don't, I will send you a nice postcard. Any donations (except those coming in even $20 increments) will go toward my grad school application fees.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 73

More edits.

I worked myself up into a well and tearful lather tonight over the fact that (essentially) I am lacking critical guidance for MOST of this process and also there is a lot to do. It sounded more tragic earlier, I swear.

And really, it is--maybe not tragic--but it is sure as hell is a godamned drag. Not that the tragedy or drag-ness of it matters for anything. It's tragic/a drag I spent my twenties pursuing a career that wasn't right for me. It is tragic/a drag that my mom got laid off, that my car has grown unreliable to me, that my paycheck is so much less sufficient than it once was.

Gone are the days of pedicures, so while we're at it, my toes are a godamned tragedy, too.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 72

I almost watched another episode of House, feeling maybe too tired to write. But then I wrote.

Well, I did some solid editing to the starlings piece. Then moved to the next one, the blackbirds.  I had been pretty proud of it, and sent it off to several places. My reader (whose time and experience and feedback I appreciate) called it out for having no arc. Nothing at stake for the characters. No one wants a glass of water (apologies to Vonnegut).

So then I started asking my characters who was thirsty, and started thinking that I was, and not just thirsty but also hurt, a bit. It's a piece about birdwatching with my grandparents. I was dumped off at their house a lot when I was younger, presumably because it was more convenient for my mother and her new husband. Even at 6, he and I did not get along, even at 16, and I was the one sent out to the country so everyone else could have some peace.

And then I stopped, because this wasn't an essay about me being shuffled out of town. It was an essay about how I came to like looking at birds. Except now that it needs an arc, because looking at birds isn't thirsty enough, it becomes this other, angrier thing. Like the manuscript sent back by the editor with MORE SEX scribbled across it, this bird-watching essay needs MORE CONFLICT. So I think some up. Maybe I wasn't kicked out of the house for being a brat. Maybe I'm imagining that, though I doubt it. My mother loves to cite how independent I was as a child, and every time she does, I think that must have been so convenient for you, trying to start a new relationship and family and career and all. Maybe I am mad about that. I had my grandparents to play with instead of friends. I spent my weekends learning embroidery and bird calls and how to walk with a book on my head. (Yes, and also going to the beach, and playing in the woods.)

However, did I feel abandoned then, or do I feel abandoned now? And does a my reasons for liking birds require that anyone feel abandoned at all, or is that an opinion of one reader that I can appreciate without acting upon? Aren't there such things as contemplative essays about a place that don't have drama? How do I write the quiet drama of discovery so that anyone else gives a shit?

As of this moment, I liked this essay better when it was an essay about birds. So I'm going to bed.

It's better than wallpapering with the rejection letters...

I finally tacked up all my race numbers and medals as inspiration. My life was never an athletic one, and I didn't finish my first triathlon until I was 34. But these numbers all signify my (demonstrated! not hypothetical!) ability to achieve something that I put my mind to.

Inspiration for application season

Have I put my mind to writing, yet?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 71

I am back to doing social media a few hours a week at my day job, though the focus has shifted from blog posts to heavier Facebook and Twitter "engagement." I'll still take it--writing's writing. And the more I do it, the better I get, or so I hear.

Today I heard back from one of the reviewers of my application manuscript. The amount of red pen was a little staggering, and I was pretty bummed out at first. Luckily albeit uncharacteristically, I was well-balanced enough to recognize the inappropriateness of responding to constructive criticism with emotion. Now, the plan is to begin tackling the feedback tomorrow, after I've put a bit of space between my receipt and my evaluation of it. Already some bits have got me thinking and some I have shrugged off (for better or worse).

Overall, I am focused on not letting it get me down over the pieces that have been submitted all over the place that seem to need so much work.

As far as writerly activities, I wrote a blurb that will hopefully be up on a website in the next couple of days. It is a little celebration of one of my favorite artists, which coincidentally fits in nicely with the holiday season. 

I also got my first Missouri Review (my reading fee included a subscription) so now I am going to curl up and read myself to sleep.

Monday, October 25, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 70

It's weird to think that I have been thinking about writing (and writing about that thinking) for seventy days.

This was kind of another day off. I sorted through more stuff. Winnowed out some more wheat, piled the chaff in the to-go pile.

But I also put together the packets for my recommenders. They only need to send four letters this year, since I am reapplying to three schools. I'm still not sure about the Kansas thing, but I have plenty of time to think about it. I've been playing at learning Spanish on my iPhone. After I finish the first 50 lessons, I will switch to my Rosetta knock off package that I bought ages ago. Between that and getting help from folks at work, I should be in a position to take Spanish 2 by Spring semester.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 69

Nothing today directly contributed to my being a writer, except a quick email to photographer that I am going to cover in a post for a magazine blog. I could call it a day off, but several things indirectly contributed, so I will call it a working vacation.

Mainly, I cleaned the hell outta my bedroom. Not just in terms of the rhinoceros-sized fur clouds that the cat seems to leave everywhere, but also weeding out unnecessary possessions and ragtag organization. My abundant yarn, for example, used to take up 3 space bags that kept filling with air and tumping over. Now it all fits into plastic bins which are stacked in a way that I am sure is not perfect feng shui, but is at least more orderly. I also started with a total of five plastic bins, a laundry basket, and a cardboard box full of miscellaneous papers, toys, flotsam and etc. I managed to reduce that junk by over half.

It took a 17' truck, packed solid, to move me into this place. When I move, I want to fit in a ten foot truck. If I get into school, I will need to fit in a smaller space than I'm in now.

Ultimately, less stuff equals less stress and I need all the less stress help I can get. My room feels bigger already, more open and maneuverable. I like that my closet and shelves all function. There is still some excess (I don't need that Grindhouse lunch box, but I really like it.) I hang onto things that I think I should keep, even when I don't want to. That not wanting to takes up valuable mental energy.

And, all the stuff I am getting rid of is going into my garage sale, which will hopefully make me some application money. How's this for today's moral: Sometimes being a writer means taking care of the shit that allows me the mental and fiscal space to write.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 68

Here are three animals you have maybe never heard of: soala, okapi, and fossa; alternately each are known as the Asian unicorn, the jungle giraffe, and the giant mongoose.
When I was in the third grade, one of my favorite songs was Piano Man. It was released the year I was born, and must have already been in heavy rotation on the oldies station by the time third grade rolled around. My parents were huge Billy Joel fans, and I would hear the record at home and ask that the radio be turned up when it came on in the car.  There came a day when I was fairly certain that I had memorized all of the lyrics, and to be sure, decided to write them down. Stanzas and line breaks were unknown to me, but stories were not. And as this song surely had narrative qualities, I wrote the lyrics like this:

Friday, October 22, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 67

"Of all the unhappy people in the world, the unhappiest are those who have not found something they want to do." ~ Lin Yutang.

Remember when you were like, ten, and someone asked you, all loud and patronizing-like, the way we do--as though all kids are dim bulbs, or deaf, or possibly Hungarian--what you wanted to be when you grew up?

What did you answer?

I used to say that I wanted to be a Graphic Artist, or else a Fine Artist (once I learned the difference). I figured I would probably paint for museums but also sometimes for the cover of books, as several of my small hard bound horse books (Black Beauty, Sea Star, Man-O-War) had lovely oil paintings of magnificent steeds. One of my first great works was of a unicorn and pegasus, it was a wedding present for a friend's parents. There were going to be plenty more where that came from, though I had no intention of limiting myself to horses. I also planned to dabble in fashion illustration, ideally for Sears catalog, and maybe paint watercolor greeting cards as well, to--you know--pay the bills.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 66

I am waiting to hear back on ten (ok, 8) submissions right now. Two are assumed rejected as those sites say, "you'll only hear from us if we want it." A third is likely rejected, though the editor still hasn't responded, even after a follow up. So then there were seven. Those seven include four essays (two are out at more than one mag).

Four feels like a lot to have out. I'm sure it's not for more accomplished writers, but this little bear brain grows weary from hoping in so many directions at once. Of all those pieces I mentioned yesterday, I want to spend the next couple of months working on two of them. The bees and the glacier. I am adding one to the list, too, about a night hike at geology camp in the sixth grade. The bees are for school, and the other two are for contests I plan to enter by January. Other than the bees, I am not setting myself a word minimum, but I am sternly looking in the direction of "more than two grand."

Yeah, I went to geology camp.

I bought some copies of my GRE scores and sent them off. I also printed out transcript requests from my two main schools. That's all I can swing this check, but next check I will try to get the rest (four! because, hell "why not take it for credit if you're going to take it?" = dumbest thing ever) of the transcripts off.  I guess that means I am applying. So far. I can keep backing out up until I have paid the actual applications fees. Hell, up until I lick the stamp on my manuscripts, really.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 65

Only 300 days left to go. Then maybe I can settle down to a nice office admin job at a real estate company or something. Maybe get a certificate in transcription.

This application business is paralyzing me before I even start. All I can write are tiny little snippets, a paragraph, a tweet. Luckily there are some places that take tiny bits and bobs. And especially luckily two have been taken in (sea stories and the rejection piece).

All year, I've only written one piece longer than 2000 words. Not that writing needs to be long, I am just exhibiting a lack of discipline to stick to a piece. I keep hoping for this email or letter to show up that changes everything. Really: it would be nice for a bit of external validation. I know that's lame. I know I am supposed to have a crazy unshakeable ego about my work. I am not supposed to give two shits about what anyone else thinks. I know. I know. But if readers don't matter, every writer would just be content keeping a journal.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 64

When I get older, losing my hair, many moments from now... Today I read several short stories in The Best American Short Stories 2008 (and yes, full disclosure: if you buy that book using that link I will make around $0.03). I was stunned and awed by a couple of them, as one should be at the end of a story, sad to see them finish. All I wanted to do today is read. I forget how a great story does that to me. Good nonfiction makes me think, and want to have conversations and want to learn things. But quality fiction wraps me up in a cocoon of story that I don't want to leave.

This morning, I started my day by working on the "Personal Statement" for my Texas Tech application. It's an agonizing process, trying to distill one's whole person and potential into 500 convincing words. It is also no way to start the day. So, I printed out some materials, made some stacks of manila envelopes. Then, on a break at work, I called Kansas State to ask about the "critical writing sample" requirement.

Monday, October 18, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 63

School days, school days. Dreary, bleary school daze. Or whatever.

All day I looked up promising MA programs, and ultimately added two to my list of schools to which I will hopefully apply. So far one app is for sure, the rest are potential.

Texas Tech (MA - creative writing)
Kansas State (MA - creative writing)
Portland State (MFA - nonfiction)
Penn State (MFA - nonfiction)
University of Arizona (MFA - nonfiction)
University of Washington (MFA - fiction w/ nf concentration)
University of Wyoming (MFA - nonfiction/environment & nat resources dual)

Then I compiled all the application requirements, plus fees (a whopping  $507), and some reasons why each school or program is important to me.

Finally, I put together a draft of my manuscript. It is 27 pages right now, and includes five essays. It would work for 4 of the schools. Two others would require that I leave out one or more pieces, and the last school, Washington, would prefer a mix of fiction and nonfiction. I'm thinking of adding to the piece I posted yesterday as I am currently enamored with it. If I don't love it after tweaking, I may use The Boxer.

Lastly, I sent the manuscript off to two writing teachers and begged them for feedback. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 62

Today was spent hobbling around popping pain pills like an old lady, thanks to yesterday's capoeira class. Oh, and writing. And editing. I made the mistake of following through with both rough drafts from last night, until I had two workable, passable stories. Then I couldn't pick which one I liked better.

All day, I finessed one, then tweaked the other. They are night and day from each other, sharing nothing in common except the constraints of "Drama, Race Track, and Laser Pointer." I fell to begging writer friends for their advice. I considered flipping a coin. I read a ton of flash fiction online, trying to decide which one fit the genre better. Then I re-read a few stories from the competition forum, to try to determine which was the more winningest. In the end, I went for the "likeable" characters. I hope the judges are into uplifting as opposed to sarcasm and teen boy vernacular.

Speaking of. Here is the story I didn't send (after the jump):

365 days of being a writer: day 61

I take 1, 1, 1 'cause you left me and 2, 2, 2 for my family...

That means only 998 left to go!

I spent the day working out alternate plots for my flash fiction contest entry. I started with six brainstorms, narrowed down to three outlines and then wrote out two drafts.

Now, sleep. Tomorrow I pick one to edit.

Friday, October 15, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 60

Two whole months. Yet, somehow it feels like it's been six. Is that good or bad?

When I got engaged--not even out of college yet--this one guy Jeremy said, "Wow. Marriage is, like, forever. That's so much longer than even three years." My marriage outlasted Jeremy's longest relationship by two years, and Jeremy outlasted my marriage by only five. Time is weird. Two months can seem like forever, but five years, ten years ago, feels like a few weeks at a low budget summer camp (fun moments connected by generally crappy conditions).

There's a great story out in the world, called My Pretty Pony. It's an art object / book designed by Barbara Krueger and written by Stephen King. [Note: If anyone out there wants to buy me a copy, I would totally be your best friend.] It is about the elastic nature of time: how in grade school, at the start of summer, each day lasts forever--summer will be forever, but by the end of August, the days are rushing past in short, stumpy hours. I feel trapped in a time elasticity model right now. The time ahead of me stretches interminably while the days fall past me uncatchable as dandelion fluffs.

I am waiting for my Flash Fiction Round Two assignment, due any second. Once I have it, I will brainstorm some plots, then pass out.

Ugh: Drama. A racetrack. A laser pointer.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 59

I made it into Round 2 of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction competition. I will get my round two genre/location/object assignment tomorrow at 9pm. This weekend I will be flashing my heart out, so to speak. More on this later, but I am very disappointed with the lack of thoughtful organization on the part of the folks in charge over at NYCM. The second challenge in Round 1 was scheduled over a Jewish holiday, writers didn't get feedback on their first story til the second was done being judged, and didn't get elimination notice until 24 hours before the second round. Would I go through this again? Probably not at this point.

Still not getting up on time. Still going to bed too late. Tonight will be a minor exception. I wrote for a total of 30 minutes today, but just barely. Creative Nonfiction magazine has a twitter account, and holds a contest every Thursday for engaging non-fic in 140 characters or less. Can I count #cnftweets as content (that would add 15 more minutes to my writing time)?  I did three today. This week's topic was "shoes":


Here is an excerpt from my McSweeney's column contest submission. They were clearly looking for darker, more sensational stuff, such as war, sex, death, and sex. I really liked this little mini essay, but can't for the life of me think of anywhere else to submit it. So here it will lie, under losers.


Chelsea Biondolillo knows a little bit about a lot of things

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 58

I promised myself I would be in bed before eleven tonight, so this is going to be short (er than usual).

This morning after writing a long and awful forced paragraph on one of my essays, I edited, then submitted something to McSweeney's (with an embarrassing typo in my cover letter). This afternoon I started some brushing up on tech writer speak. That is all.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 57

I was doing so well, waking up early--two weeks ago? Now, it's all I can do to get to work on time. My day job has cleared me to do two more weeks of social media. Perhaps that will help my mood, and my schedule.

A new headhunter friend has also submitted my resume for a technical writing job. It helps, being focused. Already I am downloading documentation tools and getting back into the habit of saying things like "wysiwyg editor" and "iterative development environment".

Today I wrote a letter to another writer, one that I don't know. It wasn't "writing" but, I ended up talking about some things that I did not intend to talk about when I started. For that, I will consider it writing.

A very good friend has offered to "sponsor" my application to Texas Tech. I have agreed to let him. I am immensely grateful for the faith in me that my friends have.

Monday, October 11, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 56

Was today saved from the things that have ruined other days? I don't think so, maybe I just took it all less seriously.

I am still having trouble writing words, so today I focused on edits. I sent out the blackbird essay to Superstition Review and the Coney Island piece to Cavalieri Literi. I also read a couple of great short stories and applied for a technical writer job. I am trying to get out from under myself.

File under: what's that called?

Kickplate: The metal plate that connects the doorknob to the door itself. Usually smudgy with fingerprints and punctured by a keyhole.

Pillion: The "backseat" on a motorcycle or saddle. Also known as the bitch seat.

Ear & Chin: Parts of the letter g. The ear is the little bit that sticks out on the top of a lowercase g, and the chin is the part that forms the little interior table of a capital G.

Gorget: On a bird, the gorget is the front of the neck, where a turtleneck dickie might be worn. Male hummingbirds have bright ones, many pigeons and doves, ringed. In the case of knight's armor, its the same idea: picture a shiny dickie--that's the gorget.

Vamp: A portion of the upper in a shoe. The vamp is the band that runs through laces (if there are any) and holds the arch of the foot to the footbed. In saddle shoes, the vamp is often a different color than the rest of the shoe.

Key ward: This is the part of a key made up of grooves and shapes cut so as to allow access to the lock. Old keys had elaborate wards with cut out designs and shapes. Note: the "bit" is the part of key that the ward is cut into.

Bridge (vs Pickups): On a guitar, the bridge is where all of the strings attach to the body (not the neck) of the guitar. The bridge is a terminus. The pickups, found on electric guitars and a few acoustics just under the strings and before the bridge, "pick up" the vibrations of the strings and turn them into electrical signals that can be amplified and transmitted.

Enallage: A deliberate misuse of grammar, to characterize a speaker (or create a slogan): "I eated it" or "We was robbed."

Your free-write assignment is to pick one of these things and write about it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 55

Today was just an epic fail, start to finish. I wrote about three lines on the hummingbird essay then just sat and stared at the screen for a bit. It's not writer's block. It's just Block. I am the Queen of Doing it Wrong.

Here's one vote in the don't get an MFA column: Get A Real Degree, Elif Batuman reviews Mark McGurl for London Review of Books

Saturday, October 9, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 54

Have you head of the "Worthless Word for the Day"? It's a yahoo group that sends out periodic messages (not quite daily) with worthless words. The last one I got was "goditorium." Goditorium is a slang word that has appeared in press and print and is presumed to mean, "a church, perhaps a huge and gaudy one".

You can sign up for a worthless email of your own, here:

I got up late again. My weariness is taking too much toll on everything. Something, as they say, has got to give.

Friday, October 8, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 53

Is 53 a magic number? Why the hell not.

I woke up so late today that I had to try to get my writing done on the bus. Which didn't really work.

I did get an abundance of reading done: I'm nearly done with Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food. I can see why the tone turns some people off, but the information is important. Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was suggested to me as a better version of the same message, so I plan to read them both then compare. Maybe I'll do it up all book report style, here.

Today I interviewed for a social media job. I find out Monday if they'll want me to move to the next round--the odds aren't good that they will, but for reasons I consider to be sort of ridiculous. But if the last few years have taught me nothing else (I mean besides geology, astronomy, and the Phoenix freeway system) they have taught me that life is not fair, not in any conceivable definition of the word. 

My mood is so bleak and I know running would help. But when the fuck am I supposed to run? Tell me.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 52

It was hard to get out of bed today. I had plans to take a brisk walk and then write. But I rolled around in the blankets, obstinate and moody. In the end, I only had 20 minutes to edit and add to my riff on the disgusting sidewalks of New York that I started the other day.

Each "Monday" at my day job sees me weepy and hopeless. It is humiliating. Today there were compounding issues, but there always are. Ultimately, I spent the day agonizing about what I want out of Life, when the question was just move, keep moving. (Both literally and figuratively.)

I applied for a job doing social media far from here. I don't know what will happen (who can ever know?) but it is a direction that is not down on which to focus my gaze. So it's something.

Here are some writing related things I have read recently that I found interesting:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 51

I started today off late, in bed, as my hours have been cut at work and they didn't need me.

Did I use my time wisely? Not really. I finished a great piece of fiction, Parasites Like Us, knit a few rows and did a mountain of laundry.

Today, Orion magazine kindly rejected the Starlings essay. It was my first personalized rejection note. The editor noted that it was "a good piece of writing" but that it was too report-y for their pages. She mentioned that some of the editors thought maybe The Smithsonian would be a better home for it. TS doesn't take manuscripts, only queries, so I have to work up the nerve and do a couple of drafts of that note before trying that.

All I did toward being a writer today was reach out to an editor who may have some more unpaid opportunities for me. I sent a list of what I could/would be able to write about. But I don't even want to write, right now.

The depression that had been weighing down on me before the trip never went away, I just had other things to think about in NYC. Now it is back with a pressing, urgent quality. I don't want to be near to or talk to anyone at all, I don't even want my cat near me. It takes every force of will to have a conversation. It's not you, it's me. I thought for sure I wasn't going to apply for school, but then allowed myself to hope for a little while that I could save up the money to try. Then they cut my hours. I might not actually be able to pay all my bills this month. What goes? The internet, the phone, or the car? Only back a day and my low grade migraine has returned. I have to get out of here.

365 days of being a writer: day 50

Long travel days put me in the most introverted mood. I need time to myself afterwards:  lingering and loitering prolong the stress of the day. I seem to be alone in this idea, however, judging by the knots of people clogging the walkways at the airport. Everyone wants to stand around and discuss plans. I am impatient because my plan is 1. Home, 2. Bed. There is no need to discuss, no need to linger over it.

I don't mind traveling, I just mind everyone else traveling. I get wildly frustrated by all the people who seem to be doing this all for the first time (even though in most cases, they probably are not). These people are surprised at every turn, fumbling to unlace tall boots or dig out ID cards at security, staggering under bags too heavy to lift while everyone else bunches up behind on the jet-bridge, or my favorite: upon de-planing, these folks walk through the gate door into the terminal and just stop, while the rest of the passengers pile up behind them like Lucy's conveyor belt chocolates. It's like they've never seen an airport terminal and are blinded by the vision of it. I want to shake those people and say, from between gritted teeth: STEP TO THE SIDE.

Monday, October 4, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 49

Let's hear it for mornings! I got up relatively early, did some editing, submitted a piece of flash non-fiction to Brevity and did some research. The day started out on a much better note.

This evening I was able to stroll around The Strand and was able to add the Sand County Almanac to my stack of books from NYC. They (like every other used book store in this city) did not have Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, or TTW's Refuge, both of which are also on my list.

We head home tomorrow. The flight gets in around 10 pm, and then we still have to take the train home... Which means I may not get a chance to write a real post tomorrow.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 48

When I have nothing to write about, as has happened here most evenings, I write about something true that has happened to me. It's just for practice, for moving the pen across the page. Tonight it took every ounce of effort just to sit my over-stimulated mind down for a minute to do even that.

Today I told my friend a story over breakfast about my parents, and started to write it down, but stopped after only a paragraph. Then I wrote three pages about a humiliation suffered in grade school.

Another friend agreed over lunch that this isn't the city to get a writing life started in, but she said it was because this town requires you to work so much just to stay afloat that one would never have the time. Here I naively thought it would be because of all the interesting things to do.

It was good to sit with friends and talk and knit today. The writing was terrible, but I did that, too. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 47

I don't really expect many people to read these dispatches, so it surprises me when they do. Since they are a personal experiment in accountability there seems to exist great potential for uninterestingness. Having heard from people in three states now who are following along, I am starting to feel some pressure to be more entertaining.

That sort of thing makes me nuts. While I like telling a good story, being the center of any attention (besides my own, har) makes me wildly uncomfortable. This is why I am not interested in performing improv, why I hate to be the reason anyone else is late, and why driving freaks me out (so! many! opportunities to screw up in front of everyone!). Thank you for reading.

It has been tough to get any substantive writing done here, there is too much to do, and too little quiet time. I'm not sure if it's the time change or what, but it is hard to get up early and get my shit done. When I get back home, the morning writing experiment will continue. This afternoon, I jotted down a rough sketch of a story I told at my good friend's wedding reception earlier in the day. I don't know if anything will come of it, but I just wanted to write before the day was over. It felt like faking it, but I suppose something on paper is better than nothing.

Friday, October 1, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 46

The drunken debauchery had to end eventually. I am too old for more than a couple of late nights in a row. I spent today trolling two used bookstores in Carroll Gardens and knitting, reading, writing.

Here's an interesting fact: I prefer solitude to write. I can rewrite or add-to something in public, but free writing, brainstorming, the beginnings are all too stifled by crowds. Like the ideas are too raw at first to bear scrutiny. Like I am embarrassed by my expressions, sighs, and stretches of staring into space.

I wanted so badly to move to Brooklyn the spring before last. I told anyone who would listen that it was my plan to sell everything and try to make it here (this was before I understood how little my everything was worth compared to the expense of moving to this town). Once at a reading, the poet John Poch, said to me, after my elevator speech about New York "why would you want to move there? There's so much going on there, you'll never get any writing done. You need to go some place like Lubbock, where it's the only thing you can do." I listen to my friends talk of 80 hour work weeks, an hour each way on the subway, and I think, there really wouldn't have been any time to write. I become the incurable voyeur, instead. Watching, eavesdropping on passing conversations, creating narratives from the people I see. In my mind, I write a sentence about their lives, then forget it by the time the next train car barrels by.