Busy times – it’s all good!

For the last ten days I was working in my old technical writer/proposal manager capacity - helping a small business write and deliver a proposal to the National Science Foundation. The proposal was due yesterday, and I'm proud to say we got it in electronically as required with two hours to spare. Within minutes of finishing the proposal work,  I changed modes and started thinking about the Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference happening this weekend. I'm scheduled to appear on two panels tomorrow, and up until yesterday I had done nothing to prepare. This morning I went into my files and found notes from past panels I've appeared on, and  found what I needed to provide some good information on writing a memoir and building a marketing platform, using the social networks. (This blog was the first thing I did to start building my platform prior to the publication of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On.) One more thing that's happening at the conference is an oppor … [Read more...]

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I’m writing poetry this month

I'm writing poems while a group of beta readers reviews my  novel draft. And I'm loving it. Again this April I'm taking the prompts from Robert Lee Brewer's April Poem A Day challenge, though not especially concerned about entering the challenge. I'm a little poetry rusty after spending so much time this past year revising my novel. I'm satisfied just to have a poem prompt to write to every day. I'm in it for the practice. That said, here's a couple that might pass muster (with Brewer's prompts). I'd love your thoughts. 4. Write a departure poem. Many people depart to school and/or work every day, and they depart on a plane, train, or automobile–some even walk or ride a bike. Of course, that’s keeping things rather physical; there are also emotional and psychological departures. You may even decide to make a departure from your normal writing style in tone or structure today. The Long Departure On the platform she, in a flowing white dress with gloves, shoes, and hat to ma … [Read more...]

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Ageism doesn’t apply

I’m Going Back to Work I wasn’t looking for consulting work when I retired in April 2010 at the age of seventy. I was intent on working as a creative writer rather than a technical writer and proposal manager. For me it was either now or never. And I succeeded. In the last four and a half years I had my memoir published, I’ve written for several websites, I’ve written poems for two books of photography, and co-edited three poetry anthologies. Now I’m knee deep in revising my first novel. So really I have no time to work a day job, as they like to say. Actually, in the last couple of years I worked a couple of short-term consulting jobs – helping a group of engineers write proposals to the U.S. government. And it was easy-going back. I found that once I walked in the door I got into the swing of the work immediately. It was like I’d never been gone. Of course after doing the kind of work I did for almost thirty years, I shouldn’t have had any doubt that I could still perform … [Read more...]

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Novel revision next steps

I’ve finished the big read of my novel, made brief notes in my notebook – not on the book itself – to remind myself what inconsistencies and repetitions I’ve found, and I’ve hung the whole book, page by page, on six by eight foot, quarter inch foam board panels on my hall wall. (I used Moore aluminum push pins. And by the way, each board has space for thirty 8-1/2 x 11-inch sheets, which allows me some room to grow). Now I’m ready for the next step: i.e., experimenting with first person narrative. I am going to see if I can rewrite a couple scenes in first person. If that works I'll take on the job of rewriting the whole book in first person. If not, I’ll move on to Part Two of my novel revision process: rewriting and fleshing out the later chapters of the book to catch them up to the level of the first eleven chapters, which I’ve worked over several times already. Then I’ll start the real revision, starting at the top. It looks like I have months of work ahead of me. … [Read more...]

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So how was the writing workshop?

Back from four long days at the UCLA Extension Writers Program's Novel Revision Techniques workshop. And when all is said and done, I must say I got a lot out of it. The instructor, Mark Sarvas, was well prepared and he enthusiastically imparted his knowledge of novel revision. It was hard to tell that this was the first time he had ever taught this workshop. As a result I’m very tempted to sign up for his Novel IV class that starts in April. His best advice is: Read Like a Writer He also encouraged us to keep reading novels all the time. The class was really grueling. It included lectures on these subjects: The Many Drafts of the First Draft Revision Tools Structure Scene Character Language The Essential Revision Questions Mark used The Great Gatsby over and over again to illustrate his points, and believe me, he is an expert on The Great Gatsby. He reads it at the start of every year. As much as I like the book – and I like it even better now that I know some of … [Read more...]

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My UCLA workshop starts tomorrow

I’m scheduled to start a novel revision workshop through the UCLA Extension Writers' Program tomorrow, taught by Mark Sarvas. (He looks like he could be my grandson.) I just hope I’m doing the right thing by taking it. Not that I don’t think my work is any good, it’s just that it might be premature for the stage I’m in on my novel. But I know one thing for sure; it will jump start my work on the novel – something that has been too much on the back burner lately. So to prepare for this class I had to pick a portion of the novel that others could read and critique. I chose chapters three and four. That took up the allotted page count – 15 pages double-spaced. We were also required to turn our selections in by January 22 with a one-page synopsis and what specifically we want help with going forward. On January 23 I received a compilation of the entire classes’ work – or so I thought – and began reading. At the outset we were told that if our material wasn’t received by the 22 … [Read more...]

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