The last collage style thing we were supposed to do this week was make a treasure map of what we wanted our future to look like. I made mine a “From Here to There” style map. I know y’all are all laughing at the bottom middle one, but it’s the hardest thing to do for me. I like to help people, but I spend far more time on that than anything else. If being published is a goal of mine, I’m going to need to spend less time volunteering and much more time writing.
I had to go out and purchase more magazines. I tried a couple local thrift shops and in one I found National Geographics from the early 80’s, which was perfect because these next couple collages were supposed to be things from Birth-Age 5 and Ages 6-10. Even more perfect: one had a whole section on Nebraska in celebration of writer Willa Cather. I literally cried seeing photos that my heart knew were Nebraska before my brain read the words on the next page that told me they were, in fact, Nebraska. It was wild.
There weren’t a lot of magazine pictures left for the second poster, sadly, so it mostly got old family photos, interspersed with a few magazine bits from England or California, which were big family trips during Ages 6-10.
I’ve been doing mine longhand, but it’s about killing my hand after three pages in the morning. Today’s task has us writing a personal narrative and I’ve had to write another six handwritten pages in the afternoon. Our class calendar gives us three days to do 10-15,000 words of a personal narrative and I just don’t write that fast, especially not longhand. What to do, what to do?
Fortunately, some of the writing I have already been doing for BYOB dovetails nicely with some of the questions suggested by Julia Cameron to answer, so I do have some of that kind of thing written already recently. I’ve also had two decades of blogging about my life to draw from, so I have some things I can go back to here to kind of look through for inspiration. I may just not be able to do all of it by hand. Typing or dictating is much easier on the hands.
Before I knew I was going to be running behind on my BYOB project, I’d already signed up for this writing class/workshop/book discussion group covering Julia Cameron’s The Vein of Gold. I have done a book by Julia Cameron before, many many years ago, called The Artist’s Way, and then several years ago, I also went through her book Blessings. So I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy this when I saw it come up as an option on one of my book groups.
Today’s the first day the group is meeting (and coincidentally also the kids first day back to school). I just discovered that, sadly, I’m already a little bit behind. Apparently a calendar went out over the weekend when I wasn’t paying attention to the group yet, starting daily personal activities last Sunday. Ah well, it looks like it should be pretty easy to catch up, as I actually already have a Morning Pages and Daily Walk habit. I just have to catch up on the very small amount of reading. 🙂 I cannot wait to get started!
Another one of Julia Cameron’s big things is taking yourself on an Artist Date. Julia describes them thusly: “The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic”– think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy.”
A bajillion years ago when I did my first Julia Cameron experience, I had no kids, I lived in a big city, I wasn’t immunocompromised, and there was no pandemic going on. So there are big changes in the here and now version of my life.
I’m really not leaving the house much these days. I go on walks around the neighborhood, the grocery store occasionally, and Wal-mart even less often than that. Not much more than that. So Artist Dates are hard to imagine right now. Fortunately, the group I’m doing this with is awesome and came up with a list of alternate ideas for artist dates, some of which I’ll share below:
- Hike in a nearby nature preserve
- Virtual the Met Opera: https://www.metopera.org/user…/nightly-met-opera-streams
- Virtual museum list https://upgradedpoints.com/best-virtual-museum-tours/
- Other Museums: https://naturalhistory.si.edu/visit/virtual-tour?fbclid=IwAR3zE0xcyW_ZlqOqNUBiVtFKc9OeAx9nw-5K-_fx0X88SoZtEZ9iDYkUxyI
- Virtual pop concerts https://raisingcanes.com/virtualentertainment
- Virtual lecture series with culinary professionals. https://www.internationalchocolatesalon.com/chocolate-events/
- Virtual classical music performances from the Kennedy Center: https://www.kennedy-center.org/digitalstage/
- Virtual events at the AT&T Performing Arts Center: https://www.attpac.org/culturecalendar/virtual-events/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw-O35BRDVARIsAJU5mQX8kdTXKcBWXCn9lw-LUcHDEiiX04y9rCLeyt5HfatTRSfHxJEuaOMaAiAiEALw_wcB&fbclid=IwAR3hl0QMInWPcgYio1Q6UwfDGNIPveCniVYfJJm2ySY3Gmf9jayNrmKI-RQ
- Virtual — Find a documentary that somehow relates to your WIP or to something that intrigues you.
- Virtual — Observatory tour. Followed by planetarium presentation: https://sites.astro.caltech.edu/palomar/visitor/virtualtour.html?fbclid=IwAR3ZVCiFIcl4atZBEavTNOlXuopt9ohTOA4pEVkhN2xz44V0VITDreOg1cMtps://www.astro.caltech.edu/…/visitor/virtualtour.html
- One more Observatory tour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZwDmvwEpxk&fbclid=IwAR1BCZuwppK4c5Wis6EUixspVh4V3J9MrTZGsZbJjLQH_YRzj-pj3xWy0YQ
- IRL birding tours of local parks.
- This nature/music/photography Youtube Page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcGPU4A6xJ1OYOkvfMoo25w
- Virtual Nasa Tours. (Updated every 2 weeks): https://www.nasa.gov/nasa-at-home-virtual-tours-and-augmented-reality
- Virtual psychology: Happiness Lab Podcast: It is interesting how so much of the “what you think will make you happy really won’t” relates to writing. Because that’s exactly what our plots teach our characters. It’s the first time I’ve heard agency applied to actual people — but it makes the importance in writing make sense. Done by a Harvard professor. https://www.happinesslab.fm/
- Virtual: Virtually visit a city in your WIP, or one you’ve always wanted to go to. Put the city name in to search YouTube and you’ll likely get hours worth of travel videos, history clips, etc. In advance, look up CITYNAME recipe and find a recipe to make on your virtual visit.
- Virtual: Add Webcams to your Virtual city tour. Select areas may be featured in Webcam Taxi. https://www.webcamtaxi.com/en/
- Virtual: Here’s six hours of being at the beach. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsNZiGXwKtc
- Surf Web Cams: https://g-townsurf.com/
- IRL: Painting makes a great artist date
- Virtual: She said that watching a good film can count as a date. Kanopy has incredible foreign films. You can watch 6 free films a month, and can sign up with google or with your library card. Kanopy.com
- Virtual: the DMA has a bunch of online activities: https://dma.org/programs-virtual-date-nights/out-world
- Virtual: Dallas Theater Center has a bunch of videos about prop making and wig making and sound design. You can learn about backstage at a live theater! https://www.dallastheatercenter.org/production-classroom/
For this week, I did an Artist Date with my youngest son. We painted “pawtraits” of some local rescue cats as part of a charity fundraiser to raise money for O’Malley Alley Cats in Tyler (the group we fostered for this spring and summer).
Over the summer, both of my critique groups faded away to until it was just me and one other person, so we advertised for new writers to join us. I’ve been doing critiques this afternoon and am so happy with the first half of our new members (we got so many we split into groups of four that send submissions every other week). I could just cry. Such good writers!
My youngest has pneumonia — they diagnosed it on Monday. My family of five had four dentist appointments and one doctor’s visit scheduled this week even before that happened. We’ve been to the doctor every afternoon this week besides that. I still made it to a critique group on Tuesday and led a lesson on the Snowflake Method at the public library group on Wednesday. My eldest son sat with the smallest so I could go. Other than that it’s been pills and breathing treatments and trips to the pharmacy over and over. In one five-minute window, while sitting in the doctor’s office and overseeing a breathing treatment, I spoke to one other doctor’s office about how the scan from last week showed that my thyroid was “super enlarged”, the dentist about my husband’s recovery from minor dental surgery, and the endodontist to schedule an appointment for my abscessed gums, all while texting with the flute teacher about her own bout of pneumonia and the French horn teacher to say that we really couldn’t make it this week. Today I had to reschedule two other appointments because of bad schedules at the places I was going (how do they manage to schedule people onto days the doctor won’t be there?). All this to say that there has been no writing this week, other than the four-page document I wrote about the Snowflake Method. *sigh*
Here’s what I love about my critique groups:
- We have so many kinds of writers, so everyone has a different way of looking at stories.
- Everyone has a different thing they’re serious about, too. One hates adverbs, one obsesses with having enough romance, another is super descriptive about what she likes and what doesn’t work, one loves my sticky words, another one tells me every time I have a good hook…
- I can go through all four critiques and still have things to work on by the time I’m on the fourth one. It’s amazing how that works.
- No one can tell me why transferring from Scrivener to Word destroys half my apostrophes and half my italics. No one knows. It’s a mystery. I look at it in Scrivener, and they’re fine. Move stuff into Word, they’re not. WHAT EVEN IS GOING ON?!?!?!
- They would all get onto me about my excessive use of exclamation points and all caps in the last point. I can’t help it –I’m excitable.
- People in my groups know the difference between all three dashes and can talk about it. I have to have it in a file on my desktop and remind myself every day. I still don’t remember. Also, the shortcuts for them vary across apps and that drives me insane.
- Sometimes people draw pictures on my critiques. I love that.
I’m sure you’ve been wondering where I’ve been lately. Here’s the scoop:
Toward the end of 2018, just before my mother passed away, I joined a local professional writing group. I’ve spent the last year waiting for a spot in one of their critique groups to open up, and meantime I (and my friend E from NANOWRIMO2018) started attending a weekly writing group at the public library as well. The library group has writers from many genres, but doesn’t critique the work we bring in. Mostly we do several writing prompts for 10 minutes each. It’s been fun stretching my writing skills with them.
In December, a spot finally opened up. Two, actually. I brought my friend E with me to this group. We got started and then a week later, our library group started an off-shoot group for critiquing as well. E and I both have multiple novels in our back pocket needing critique work, so we joined this group as well. Both groups meet every other week. One group has five ladies and one has just three for now. One group has no other speculative fiction writers, the other is all about that.
I also joined two book clubs. One with the Unitarian Universalist church my mid-kid and I have been attending. It meets in person once a month and they have a full 12 month schedule plotted out—most of the books are some historical fiction or something similar. Last month it was The Secrets We Kept. This month it is Rules of Civility.The other book club is a feminist book club with an old college friend and some of her other friends. It meets online twice a month, and is covering an Audible book Warriors, Queens, and Intellectuals: 36 Great Women Before 1400.
In between all that, there’s been the usual PTA/BPA stuff, family events (Board Game Extravaganza! SuperBowl!), and the kids had band All Region events. We visited an event at NASA that my dad’s cousin spoke at (he was one of the Gallaudet Eleven) and got to spend time with him, then went back to BCS and visited with my sister, her new girlfriend, and my best friend.
I lost my planner sometime in the middle there. Finally gave in and bought a new one, so now I’m back on schedule. Literally. I wrote out a new schedule. Expect more blog posts, FB, IG, and Twitter from my author accounts. I even set up Hootsuite to help me keep track of it all.
Hope everyone’s doing well out there. Drop me a comment if you’re interested in seeing any photos from the NASA event. 🙂