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All content copyright 2010 by Chelsea Biondolillo. Seriously.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 315

If you missed it, yesterday's post had to go up on Tumblr, owning to some issue with Blogger.

Today, I wrote for an hour. Not on any of the essays that I'm supposed to be working on, but I'm totally OK with that. I also worked a bit on the project that will follow this one. Yes! There will be something after 365 days of being a writer: but it won't be something that happens every day.

My snow tent showed up. I set it up in the front yard (which is a big square of red bricks on a sea of pinkish rocks) in 110° heat. It only took a few minutes all on my own. I was going to test it out in Flagstaff this weekend, but I was too worried that it wouldn't show up in time and booked myself a room. I probably shouldn't spend the money, but I really need to get out of the heat and go for a hike and look at the stars. It will be money well spent.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 313

I finished another stupid DS article today.

In better news, I received my totally intimidating teaching packet. I hope I can teach English comp, you guys.

And these showed up:

snow boots
Are you singing Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow?
Because I AM.

Monday, June 27, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 312

Can I bitch a little more about content-on-demand writing? The site I have been writing for just got a new batch of editors and now the same work I have been writing is getting lower and lower "scores" as far as content and structure. It is all shite, but now they're telling me I am not a good writer.

All this, and less than $15 an hour? I just can't bring myself to do them, anymore! I mean, who gives a fuck about the history of workmans' comp or how to grow squash or what kind of rocks are on Mauna Loa that isn't way better off finding that shit out in a LIE-BERRY?!

There has to be a better way to make some cash on the side. (Pre-requisite: I must still be able to respect myself in the morning.) I'm demoralized right now. It's fucking sweatshop writing, and I'm desperate, so they have me over a barrel. Can I imagine the sort of mindless work that I'd be willing to do? No. Hopefully grading papers. Heh. If anyone out there knows of an alternative to Demand, please share.

In better news, I am in the new issue of Creative Nonfiction! I could die from being stoked. One of my cnftweets made the Food issue. Go, buy one!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 311

Here's the problem with Demand articles: I hate writing them so much that I drag ass all day and my productivity plummets with them hanging over my head. I did manage to finish three--but it is totally unacceptable that it took me all day.

It's like I go into stubborn kid mode and dig my heels in until the last minute. It sucks, because I feel like there is a way I could have made better use of the day knowing this about myself.

And yet, like Charlie Brown and the football, I run toward a goal that never succeeds. I tell myself to finish them first, so I can work on more pleasant tasks later. It's a "don't eat dessert first" kind of mentality. And then, all day, I am stuck at the table refusing to eat my vegetables until it's too goddamn late for dessert.

At least I got a bit of reading done (another comic memoir), but damnit: I'm kind of bummed out.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 310

I've taken a few days off this year, so I'm not going to apologize for taking today as a mental health break.

I saw a weird and possibly good movie (Tree of Life). I'm still thinking about it, that's something. I had a ridiculously tasty burger avec gorgonzola and caramelized onions some good beer, then I soaked in a hot tub (in the desert! in summer! who's crazy?) and jumped in a slightly less hot swimming pool (they are all close 80 degrees at this point in the year).

Writing? Nope. Though I talked about it a fair bit. Yesterday, I wrote to a center in Ecuador that I am going to try to get to over my Christmas break, if that's even remotely possible. But the best part was that I wrote partly in Spanish (though, they haven't written back yet--hopefully that is not due to my poor language arts).

So today will close with only one note to a writer sent, one note from a writer received.

Friday, June 24, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 309

My current hangup is WHY.

In fiction, they call it the arc. But I am not sure if that's the right term for nonfiction, maybe it is. I've mentioned it before and maybe it will always be my biggest doubt. The only way to know why I want to write this stuff is to just keep doing it and hope for clues along the way, but what about the question of why anyone would want to read it?

There are structural issues, still. That's part of it. I need to improve my copy editing skills. Or, I need to slow down and be more diligent in my edits. But that's not the main reason I doubt my abilities. I still make too many poor decisions in my prose. I'm too uptight; I don't let enough of my own voice out--and this is because while I really want to enchant, entertain, and educate my reader, I doubt my ability to do so as myself.

I have always tried to adapt to my environment, blend in, get along. But if the environment is a blank page I need to define rather than assimilate and I am much less adept at that. I get so hung up on making "good writing" that I forget to first, just write.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 308

Is anyone else bothered by Target's use of "Funner" in their summer slogan, or the Gain commercial that says "Gooder"? It would just seem dumb if I hadn't seen Idiocracy, now it's a goddamned harbinger of electrolyte-enriched DOOM.

I managed to read quite a bit today, and study some Spanish. I read an awful interview with a mean-spirited smug critic, half of a graphic memoir about weight loss, several chapters in Snow Leopard and the beginnings of several pieces in the new Poets and Writers. I didn't read Love and Rockets #9 (which just came in the mail today) because I want to savor it. It's got a storyline about Izzie's writer's block. I also read about Broke-Ass Stuart's Goddamn Television Show.

This feeling I'm having lately must might be writer's block. I am afraid to begin writing either essay on my plate because I don't want to fuck up the potential they have right now as just ideas. Once I start carving a path, there is so much opportunity cost in paths eschewed. How can I wreck the creamy white canvas with a paint splotch? So my last task tonight is a simple outline of each, only down to two levels. Easy-peasy. Except I've been putting it off all night.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 308

I'm tired, y'all.

I read today about the occurrences of extroversion and neuroticism between people with pets and those without. If I told you who was crazier, you wouldn't read my essay.

Of course I had to take one of the tests mentioned in the study myself, specifically the one that measures your neuroticness... Let's just say that me and the 90+ percentile have been friends ever since the PSATs. I can own that. I know I am difficult and high strung. I'm a wreck most days. But I'm also smart, funny, and a great kisser, so fifty-fifty.

I've been thinking about what Steve Almond said in the Tin House podcast I linked yesterday (if you haven't listened, go! now!) He says we've all got something deep down that we need to say, some truth about the things that matter most deeply, something we have never had the voice to express.

Most people who know me would say I talk too much. Most of what I say is silly, but it's sort of a test, too, if an inadvertent one. If you don't care about the little things, then how can I trust you to listen to the big things? Or another way: what you consider a matter of consequence might be very different from what I do. It's maybe not the most direct route to finding out, but it's not a race either, so what's the rush?

I don't know what my neuroses or chatter-mush have to do with writing just yet, but probably something.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 307

Some sternly worded letters I want to write:

Dear Summer, get off my back.
Dear Day Job, Maybe I'd pay more attention to you if you made more of an effort to look nice.
Dear Essays, I'm sorry it's been so long since I've written. I have no excuse for my behavior.
Demand, Please suck less -immediately- as I need a lot of gear for Wyoming and have no money.

I got sucked into more research through the university, but have no time to read it all. I listened to a great talk by Steve Almond at Tin House about what they don't teach you in an MFA. My favorite line is about learning to second guess your decisions without second guessing your talent. Right now, I am still doing both.

Also, it is summer in the desert: all my motivation is being leached from and baked out of me.

Monday, June 20, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 306

I can't seem to pick between writing about cats or writing about my girlhood of scientific embarrassments. So, today I researched big cats and women in science.

This part of my process needs work: I think and think and think and take notes or make lists and sometimes even outline--but I don't write until I have some direction. That can't be ideal. So far, for the cats I grabbed an article on the psychology of cat people (I am SO glad to have uni access to research papers already), I'm reading Matthieson's Snow Leopard and I ordered Alan Rabinowitz's Jaguar. I want to write about giving away my cat and how we coexist uneasily with them at times. Maybe.

In the sexy ladies of science department, I grabbed a piece on Title IX as it affects women in the STEM fields (I just learned that one today: Science, Tech, Engineering, and Maths), one on the glass ceiling for women in science, and a wild little booklet on a few lady scientists you've probably never heard of, including an ichthyologist and the women who discovered the first Ichthyosaurus. My mind is inexorably drawn to visions of fish on bicycles with these revelations. But what does that have to do with me looking at scabs under my microscope or holding a variety of creatures in grade school when others recoiled, including but not limited to: a tarantula, a fire-bellied salamander, and a python? Something, but I'm not sure what just yet.

This, this process of chewing vignettes and facts like a slurry of cud--this isn't a process, is it? It feels like something duct-taped into performance, rather than crafted. I wonder if I will be able to sit and write every single day, once I have the time and focus to do so. Or if it will be more of this read-amass-pupate (I like the visual of this, better than digest) produce. Maybe it could be a process if I were able to work on multiple things in a variety of stages. As it is, I feel like I only wrote one essay last year, the starlings, and so far only one this year, the hummingbirds. Coney Island was tweaked, the blackbirds have been picked at... And I did have to write two academic essays last year for my apps: the bees and the one about Diane Ackerman's science poetry.

I guess it boils down to my worrying about my ability to produce once I'm in school. Not just writing, but reading. And lesson plans. And Environmental homework. I need to write a book about something! Can I? And what in the world will it be about?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 305

Just two months left of this little experiment. I am going to have to start thinking about recaps and summary posts--in between thinking about moving, that is.

I have seven weeks left here, and I feel like I am not using the time optimally. I haven't done as much Spanish homework as I wanted, and my to-do list feels like it is languishing.

Part of the problem is being back on the Demand wagon. (I finished two more articles tonight, which met my goal of five for the week.) And part of the problem is the television.

In other news, the new graduate student directory is up at UWyo, and I am in it! That makes it seem realer and realer. Just like my new and improved bionic vision. I had very little scratchiness today and it seemed even more like just my eyes, seeing. I still get the sensation that I need to take my contacts out from time to time, but mostly: wow.

This week, I am going to work on something other than the completely birding essay. Perhaps it's time for some cats...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 304

I finally sent the hummingbirds off to a journal. It feels like a stronger essay, but after awhile it's hard to know if I am reading a stronger piece, or just seeing all the work I've put into it and hoping it's actually stronger.

My eyes are still recovering, but I was able to drive today--in the sun and in the dark. There's quite a bit of haloing to get used to, and some prisms (those are a result of the first laser, and will abate more quickly than the halos). I went to the Botanical Garden. I played with the king snake at the snake exhibit and then saw a wild one in a tree, trying to swallow a bird it had killed.

I also saw a nighthawk. I actually saw it and wondered what it was, then overheard a description at one of the demo tables that matched. They literally fly into their insect prey with an open mouth. Their throats are coated in bristles to help trap flying ants, mosquitos, flies, and beetles. They dip and soar like swallows or bats and have two bright white spots on their wings. One echinopsis was blooming and the senitas were going nuts, little blossoms all over them by full dark. Still no queen of the nights. Now that the hummingbird paper is submitted, I can't really call these night trips to the garden research, but the mental health break is nice.

I was supposed to write a few Demand articles today, but I didn't have it in me. Tomorrow I will make sure that a couple get done.

Friday, June 17, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 303

So my eyes are apparently fixed. It's crazy and surreal, and I don't quite believe it yet, as they still feel pretty scratchy--like contacts left in too long. I think once the scratchiness wears off, the fact that I have pretty regular vision without contacts or glasses will sink in.

I was overly conservative today in my staring at things. No reading or writing was accomplished. Tomorrow, I should be back on the epistolary horse.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 302

I'm getting laser-eye surgery tomorrow. Will it make me a better writer? Probably not in any immediate sense, but if it does even HALF of what invisaligns did for my confidence 5 years ago, then look the fuck out, world.

I got about half-way through Grasshopper Dreaming today on my luxurious "Rapid" bus commute. It's almost a straight shot from a Park-n-Ride that's not too far from my folks' place. It's more expensive than the lightrail but it is a 35 minute straight shot, no stops. The reading is downright luxurious--and it's quiet! Because it's more expensive, these riders are more like the commuter train riders back east. They read the paper or a paperback or they doze or they talk in low tones to each other.

Compare this to yesterday's lightrail convo, which was shouted, since the two speakers were on opposite ends of the car.
"Hey man, where you been?"
"Home man, hadda take Cheryl to the hospital last week. Her fuckin ovary dissolved."
"No shit?"

Poor Cheryl.

Anyway, I was reading this book on the bus. It was written by the guy who will be leading my first graduate nonfiction workshop (in less than TWO! MONTHS!). He's an entomologist and much of the book is about his moral struggle over loving grasshoppers but having the job of killing them (integrated pest management). He used a great analogy: he's like the guy who tries to design a more humane electric chair. It's good for me, because I was just going off the other day about how people can't just hang out in the middle in the hopes of not taking an unpopular opinion--except Lockwood's in the middle and (likely) some of his views are unpopular to both sides.

I need to submit the hummingbirds, but I'm stalling. I'm hoping a name will come to me tomorrow while I am staring down a laser that's burning my eyes into more useful shapes. Also, that troublesome Demand article? Totally accepted. Ka-ching, baby!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 301

The two-week window for submissions to one of my Bucket List journals opened up today. I need to send the hummingbirds off, but I am fretful. The essay needs a better title.

I submitted an article to Demand last night that pays better than most of the how-tos I have written for them. It came back with lengthy edit requests. At first I was bugged, but I am committed to learning to take unasked for criticism with a more open mind. My over-reactions (in general) are the result of rushing to act. If I just take my time to respond to people and situations, it's fine. But in the moment, I get flushed and panicky and defensive. (Being prepared for and expecting criticism is totally different, these are ambushes that I'm talking about.) Anyway, all this to say, I waited until I got home from work to deal with it. And I even gave myself permission *not* to deal with it--but then I rewrote the article from a place of being genuinely appreciative of the editor who pointed out about a dozen little mistakes I have apparently been committing over and over in my formatting. Hopefully, what I know now will mean that my "grammar" score will go up. 

Even if they are paying me well below what is fair or right, copy-editing skills are valuable. I can learn from this.

And I can't believe I keep forgetting to put this up, but my review at Necessary Fiction is UP: Daddy's by Lindsay Hunter

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 300

I wish I could make this post into a bunch of CGI word-warriors. Madness? THIS. IS. WRITIIIIIING.

The day started tense, got frustrating in the middle, and then mostly worked itself out at the end. I have two of my five articles in, and a new (to me) mountain bike to take with me to school--not that that's writing related, but it was a stressor hanging over my head.

I also finished two more essays from the never diminishing stack, this time from the last issue of Creative Nonfiction. I've had a block about reading it because the next essay is about killing starlings. Why not just write about stepping on hummingbirds next? Oh sure, drowning kittens is off the table, but starlings? Have at it.

The first two essays failed to knock me on my ass, as others have of late. They were both good, but too heavy in message for my taste. It's interesting, because in both cases, I consider the author to have an overt motive (and maybe that's what I am responding to): in the first, she's a psychiatrist and the essay is all about how she has thoughts about horses and child-rearing that aren't bogged down by an unhealthy obsession with sex like everyone else's and in the second, the author is chemically-sensitive and uses the delicacy of butterflies and their habitat to highlight how chemicals are killing everything beautiful. I will call these the Expert writers, whereas I hope to be more of an expert Writer.

Monday, June 13, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 299

You guys, it is totally true about reading making us stronger writers. Well, I can't yet say stronger, but more focused. After analyzing the structure of several essays over the last few days, I came to understand better why the hummingbirds still felt unfinished. Essays culminate. Not always in any grand philosophical denoument, or universal theme, but they gather to a loud or quiet crescendo, and then they give you a money shot. (My hummingbirds would never be so vulgar, this is a metaphor.)

In this piece, through all the edits, the ending had always felt rather flaccid to me (yeah, I'm going to keep it up [heh]: keeps the hysteria at bay). It limped across the line when the experience behind it deserved better. Over the last two days I have been trying to figure out how the birds and the night flowers and my layoff  relate to each other, why they matter to each other. It felt like the crucial thing, but I seemed to just talk around it, instead of to it.

So, on the stuffy, drunkful lightrail, after some unpaid overtime and being too emotionally tired to self censor, I made some notes. Then I made some more notes, and some of the feelings from last year came back, when that hope I had for my applications was first snuffed out. I had kind of a breakdown on the drive home as the Fear bubbled up and out. But after the wave passed, I came upstairs and somehow wrote about endurance.

I'm not sure I can handle it if I have to have a breakdown each time to break through. I don't even know if it made the essay better or worse. But it's up and out now, and that feels better.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 298

We descend, we descend. First, time takes too goddamn long to hurry up and get over with its long, hot, trafficful days. Now, it comes rushing past, like school kids heading for the buses after the final bell, an unstoppable babble.

I finished three Demand articles today. I need to finish an average of five a week from here on out to make enough money for the tires and the few other things I need. I will do my best to finish them early each week so that I can spend the weekend working on my other writing.

I started Townie today, and finished an essay in Alimentum. I have this huge backlog of lit magazines that I really want to read--so I decided to focus on the essays, as trying to read them cover to cover was too daunting.

I'm hoping to get some bus passes tomorrow that will afford me the pleasure of a little less driving. That will make everyone on the road happier, I think. Not just me.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 297

How long did I last before I came slinking back to Demand articles? Two weeks?

I spent all the little bit of money I saved on books and coffees. And now I need new tires before I move to a town with actual winter. Demand is the only way to make more money right now, since I still can't seem to sell any decent writing. And every other penny is going toward getting out of debt.

Now that June is almost half over, the next seven weeks will speed by. I am supposed to get back in shape, write several essays, read a big stack of books, and study Spanish. And try to make $400 off Demand. That's about 26 articles. I am hoping to finish three tomorrow.

In cheerier news, I finished Never Cry Wolf in two days. I am taking a break from the official reading list to Read Andre Dubus' Townie.

Friday, June 10, 2011

365 days of being a writer: day 296

I applied for a paying writing job, today, on a soon-to-be launched website. I also checked out the galley for my latest book review on Necessary Fiction (goes up Monday). And I talked at length with a collaborator about an upcoming writerly project.

Also, I received the latest issue of H.O.W. magazine. They are running a writing contest, and (for a change!) I decided to buy a copy before deciding whether or not I wanted to enter the contest. First thing, I noticed the name of someone I "know" in the list of contributors (Hi, Molly!) So, it feels very grown up, buying an issue first to read through all the essays before deciding if they might like me or not.

I also posted a bucket list earlier. These are all the places that I would LOVELOVELOVE to see my name in someday. There are definitely other places that I want to get into, but these are my little ponies, my crossed fingers. It's a wish list, a motivation list etc, and it is totally subject to change.

Journals on my list

Call it a writer's bucket list (in no particular order and subject to change without notice):
  1. Orion
  2. Creative Nonfiction
  3. Flyway
  4. Alimentum
  5. The Sun
  6. Bellingham Review
  7. Outside
  8. Audubon
  9. Smithsonian
  10. Poets & Writers
And the online journals I want to get into:
  1. Brevity
  2. World Hum
  3. Terrain
  4. Superstition Review
  5. Slate

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    365 days of being a writer: day 295

    Time is taking so long to pass.

    Every day, the traffic--which I am becoming increasingly unable to handle--wears me down before I even get to my cube. My coworker starts in with whatever petty political brouhaha is going to obfuscate our priorities before I even sit down. And then I spend eight hours highlighting text and changing it from normal to heading 1 and back again. Sometimes I turn Word documents in to PDF fillable forms. This involves a lot of repetitive clicking and the typing over and over and over of "Address Line 1," "City," "State," and "Zip."

    I try to stay focused on the copying and pasting and saving as. I try to look interested when someone wants to tell me all about this one show they saw last night. There is a certain amount of goofing off allowed in an office, but only if it is goofing off with others. Shared fate.

    Today, a copy of the Bellingham Review showed up. I think I paid for a year's subscription --last year-- when I entered a contest. In it was a beautiful, brief essay about birds. It brought out a sort of desperate feeling, like an emotional rash. I wanted it to be something related to what I write, at least. But it was gorgeous in a more delicate way than what I've been writing. So, rather than bolstering me up with the idea of Look! People are publishing bird stories! It said, This is the bird story you can't write.

    But, I tried to soldier on. I opened up my latest bird essay to assess. As predicted, the copying, the pasting, the slow then far too fast drivers, the talk show recaps, the ones who don't signal before drifting across three lanes, the table of contents that refused to forget an errant tab, the closed door meeting over when CONFIDENTIAL should be used and when CLIENT CONFIDENTIAL, the story about picking peaches out in the yard (that was it), the guy on my ass all the way down 19th, the woman going too slow after that... and I got nothing, unsurprisingly. That could change tomorrow, but for today, a few fixed typos. An axed paragraph. A reworded sentence. Quoth the raven, nothingmore.

    How do people with lives write? How do you still the bullshit out there so you can get to writing in here?

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    365 days of being a writer: day 294

    The final edit of the hummingbird overhaul is done. I don't know if I've added enough of an arc to make the majority of readers follow along or not, or if I've added too much sentimentality.

    I will wait a couple of days before doing my "read it out loud" final check, but I think it is ready to send to another round of magazines/contests.

    It was an interesting process, trying to know when to use and when to discard reader comments. Some were easy. If they came from a clear unfamiliarity with naturalist writing in general, or stressed phrasing that conflicted with my voice, I tended to focus more on their spirit than their letter.Clarity, typos, and awkward phrases were quick fixes. Sometimes it really just take another set of eyes.

    I'm so fried right now, I'm not yet sure the new piece is better (see also, "wait a couple of days"). I'm hoping it is. I feel like a few ideas were better fleshed out.

    And in (FINALLY) finishing Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, I have also gained a greater appreciation for the work of a naturalist writer. I am thinking now about what I want my writing to do, as surely it must do more than just lie orderly on the page. Fiction writers are best when they are developing and investigating themes (vs just plots)--so too are essayists. I have an idea about some of mine, but it is a topic that needs more investigation.

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    365 days of being a writer: day 293

    I gotta get to bed, stat.

    But I finished the majority of the (hopefully) last changes to this draft of the hummingbirds. Now it's in the hands of an editor. I'm hoping she is able to root out my chronic hypercommalia.

    And, as though heralding the rebirth to be, Sonora Review turned down the last draft of this essay, completely impersonally. Not even a "we liked parts of this, but." I really hope it is worth saving.

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    365 days of being a writer: day 292

    I have less than 2 months left, officially. While it will drag by it will also rush past--I know this.

    I tried to gain some clarity today about this hummingbird piece. There has to be a big picture; I feel like it is at the tip of my tongue. The essay isn't about nothing. But it's obviously not clear, all of my readers want more plot. (I am a little afraid of the "writing by committee" that supposedly happens in MFA programs--it is hard enough for me to carve out anything interesting on my own, will workshops kill what vision I have? This is a rehash of the artschool-deja vu-fear, but it's in there.) I made some notes, thought in circles. I've been struggling with this thing since last summer. That might be crazy, right? I mean at some point I have to let it go, don't I, if clarity doesn't appear?

    Words I abuse: really, just, only. I have to modify everything! It's all either really great, or just a small thing. And all the damn time: I think. No one cares how much I think except me, apparently. Oh! And apparently.

    I'm too grouchy for this. There are too many work, traffic, TV & sugar distractions right now. I can't fucking think.

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    365 days of being a writer: day 291

    My goal for the weekend was to get a new edit of the hummingbirds finished. I think I did. It needs to decant for a day or two before I'm sure.

    Here's the thing: I never know how much to explain to the reader. In my relationships, I am a big fan of "you should know what I'm thinking"--this is awful and unfair, I know, but it's a paradigm I can't seem to let all the way go. And I think I do that in my writing, but even MORE unintentionally than I do with my love interests.

    Part of me feels like I shouldn't have to spell it all out. Hemingway doesn't spell it out in Hills Like White Elephants. (Though Faulkner does in A Rose for Emily.) It's not that I think the reader is dumb, it's that I feel stupid explaining basics, or I don't know how to without condescending or being clunky. For example, I always forget to describe how people look--since they are real people, how they look is so clear in my mind I forget that the reader needs to know this sort of thing.

    Not like there's any mystery in my essay, but one of the reviewers said that I should explain more clearly and earlier on where I am and why. I agree that it shouldn't be a mystery to the reader, and if it is, I should paint a clearer picture. But how? And how much?

    I think this is the sort of question that could be answered (in part) from the reading I am doing. Annie Dillard spells a lot out, but she doesn't talk down to the reader. In what will hopefully be the last week that I spend reading Pilgrim, I will be trying to better see the structure and what she shows vs lets me figure out. No idea if it will work, but it can't hurt.

    365 days of being a writer: day 290

    I kind of want to sing "61 Days to Leave The Summer" (to the tune of "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover").

    Today was my first Saturday at the 'rents. It started slowly, as Saturdays should. But I did get some research, writing, knitting, and Spanish done. I even made it to the botanical garden (that's what I'm calling research). I fell in love with at least three of the docents--they were so excited about their scorpions and agave fibers and cardon cacti! So I'll give the day a gold star.

    I am waffling about the hummingbirds. If it isn't in a new, tighter form in time for the Orion submissions window, my heart will probably break. But if it isn't ready and they turn it down, my heart will definitely break. I need an afternoon of peace to find the small kinks that need straightening, but I am not sure how to get it. Maybe headphones at the library? I wish I could head north for a weekend between now and then... Perhaps the 18th, if I am still freaked out.

    My to-do list suddenly seems really long! But I don't need my medals up in this temporary shelter to know that I am the queen of getting shit done on a deadline. Here's to the next 61 days in town.

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    365 days of being a writer: day 289

    A real day job makes me appreciate the weekend more. But I'm torn. I want to go hiking and to the Botanical Garden, and do all the things I know I'll miss when I'm gone--but I have got shit to do! I need to get some real writing done this weekend. No more fucking around.

    I did get both a walk and a Spanish lesson in, and I did even more *talking* about writing (mostly talking about publishing).

    So a friend asked me why anyone would start a literary magazine, when so many already exist. I said that was like asking why would anyone open a bar when there were so many already. I think it's about trying to craft the kind of bar you'd like to hangout in--even if in doing so, you aren't able to actually hang out there yourself. But you get to create a place for people of a like mind (hopefully) and if you are a better business person than a drunk, well it's a no-brainer.

    That's kind of a crappy analogy, sorry. Suffice to say, I am glad people are still starting lit mags.

    Also, I'm pretty beat. Goodnight, sweet peeps and jellybeans.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    365 days of being a writer: day 288

    OK. Seriously. Today all I did is get some brainstorming/writing done (well, and I wrote some emails to writers which can actually be kind of nerve-wracking). But, no walk and no Spanish. It's like doing all three in a day is just impossible. Even though I know it's not.

    It's a process, right? But I brought a notebook, and scribbled notes as I was able. I was thinking up topics for a bus essay. I am trying hard to be able to write in small bursts.

    In other news, will I EVER be done with Annie Dillard? Why is it taking so long? I still like it, but it is sort of starting to kill me that I have been two thirds of the way through for at least a month. Who reads that slow? This guy. That's who.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    365 days of being a writer: day 287

    They told me no LASIK, today. Which was really disappointing, and yet... I wasn't as upset as I have been when set-back before. I don't know what this means, maybe nothing. Or maybe a sign that I am on the right path and just that very fact is enough to reduce the outward displays of my inner anxiety. That would be cool.

    My writing time was spent talking, today. That happens. It was all writing-related talk, but no actual writing occurred. NO WRITING.

    That, I am not ok with. It's this weird space and the constant inquisitive presence of my parents, I hope. What are you doing, when will you be back, etc. For this reason, I am going to write for a bit somewhere downtown before I come all the way home from work tomorrow.

    I did however, get a walk in and some Spanish. And as Meatloaf told me when I was a little child: 2 out of 3 ain't bad.