The perfect school visit Saturday, Jan 30 2010 

I like middle school kids.  Some people find them larval, loud, mercurial, incomprehensible.  Sometimes they are all those things; we all were, once.  But an impassioned middle school student with fierce opinions and his/her own unique way of expressing those opinions – about writing, taste in music, taste in candy, taste (or lack thereof) in clothes, how many hours per day a person ought to spend online, etc etc etc etc. – oh, I love that.  To  spend an entire day talking with that middle schooler and his/her comrades, learning from them, without having to bow to the clock, a schedule, the curriculum, someone else’s idea of what needs to be accomplished on a school visit … that would be perfect.

Rabbit hole Sunday, Jan 24 2010 

This week has apparently disappeared down the rabbit-hole of Under the Poppy revisions, though I did pop in to a convention last night, where Christian Klaver and I talked briefly but intensely about work, work habits, what we’re reading, what we’re writing, so that counts as working too, doesn’t it?  True, we had fun, but then work is supposed to be play.  Remember, the Operative Word is in effect for all of 2010, at least . . . Actually, if I’m not having any fun with a book, a story, an essay. that’s the first, worst sign: This Is Not Good.  If the writer’s not enjoying it, why in the world would anyone else?

Blog on! Monday, Jan 18 2010 

Well, how fun is this? Imagine the conversations, the disputations, the recommendations …!

The smell of the paint, or revisioning Sunday, Jan 17 2010 

I’m busily working on revisions for Under the Poppy like a cross between a silkworm and a burrowing owl, using editorial notes as my head lamp (hello, Kelly!) and instinct for my engine.  This is a limbic stage . . . One of the things I enjoy about getting together with other writers, as I did too briefly at Seton Hill, is asking them about their process, how do you make the trip from A to A prime, then to Z,  do you like to revise or hate it, what puts rocket fuel in your tank? It’s universally individual, and endlessly interesting, this process of making, and if it isn’t, why in the world would you do it?  The great Annie Dillard tells this story:

A well-known writer got collared by a university student who asked, ”Do you think I could be a writer?”

”Well,” the writer said, ”I don’t know. . . . Do you like sentences?”

The writer could see the student’s amazement. Sentences? Do I like sentences? I am 20 years old and do I like sentences? If he had liked sentences, of course, he could begin, like a joyful painter I knew. I asked him how he came to be a painter. He said, ”I liked the smell of the paint.”

The snow, the Hershey’s Miniatures Tuesday, Jan 12 2010 

…and the words: miles, piles, huge drifts of writing, of talking about writing, of question and answer and reverie and plan: it was a very busy residency weekend at Seton Hill.  Plus the cold dazzle of the snow, the campus architecture, and the break room … And I believe that’s inspiration, coming in through the window.  (PS, my mentees  – Mary, Kari, John, and Michelle – are awesome.)

Residency Road Friday, Jan 8 2010 

Off tomorrow to the residency weekend at Seton Hill – eager to meet my students (future YA mainstays all). Remember the Operative Word (there will be a quiz), and get ready to start your pencils, one … two … three … GO.

[Photo: Diane Cheklich.  Pen: DC. Ring: Milieu. Hand: KK.]

The operative word Tuesday, Jan 5 2010 

You know those end-of-the-year word lists that tell you “defriend” or “teabag” is, like, the Annual Word to Be Shunned?  Well, here’s my shortlist for the beginning of this year, let’s call it the Word to Not Defriend (or teabag either, come to think of it).  Let’s call it the Operative Word for 2010, and let’s go out there and have some, people.

How did you know, Mr. Bezos?! Sunday, Jan 3 2010 

Amazon.com: Recommended for You, or, in this case, me, the following tomes:
Quiet Bunny, by Lisa McCue
Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel, by Edmund White
Field Experience: A Guide to Reflective Teaching (7th Edition),
by George J. Posner
American Moderns: Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century, by Christine Stansell
Naked Lunch, by William Burroughs

I’ve already got the Burroughs and the White, but bunnies and bohemians are fields of great interest to me, and I’m heading to Seton Hill next week, so the reflective  teaching one….Some soulless program’s got me pegged, yo.

Sidebar: with a gift certificate in hand at Brooklyn’s fun Word, I spent it on Edmund White’s Hotel de Dream and Baby Farm Animals, a Little Golden Book.  And the gift-giver, shopping with me, smiled in amusement and said, “As soon as I saw that Little Golden Books carousel …” So he knows me pretty well, too.