Tag Archives | Portland

Five on Friday: Mind Miasma

My brain is like a boggy swamp.

My brain is like a boggy swamp.

How I’m Feeling: The title of this post. I’m in a mind miasma.  I finished the rough draft of my novel, which was such a non-event it barely even registered. No glowing feeling of satisfaction or bragging to family and friends. I just quietly wrote the last word, fell on my office floor and cried “Thank you, God!” as I genuflected. Not really, but I am glad to be done with it.  I just know the rewrite is a huge job and I’m putting it on the back burner for the moment.

I have projects galore that I’m excited about. The whole time I worked on the novel all I could think about was how I wanted to be done so I could move onto the new things. And then I finished–and suddenly the new things aren’t so shiny any more.  Mind miasma. Does that ever happen to you? It does to me all the time when I finish something.  It means I just need to take some time off and give my brain a rest.

What I’m Excited About:  We’ve had a couple more people sign up for the France retreat and that’s made me think about it anew and get excited. If you are at all interested, now is the time to raise your hand because slots are filling fast.  You can reply to this email if you’ve got a yen to write in the south of France come September.

But maybe you don’t want to go so far? How about three days at the Oregon coast? Registration for my Sitka workshop is open, and several wonderful people have already committed. The workshop is called Mapping the Novel and it is going to be a ton of fun.  Here’s the link.

What I’m Disappointed In: My knitting. I went to Knit Night on Wednesday with only one project which was a big mistake because I ended up ripping it out and then I didn’t have anything to knit so I had to go home early. Ever since then, my knitting has been kind of like my writing: all my fun, shiny projects seem dull and boring.  Maybe I’m in a creative slump. Nah. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the eons and eons I’ve been a writer, its that creativity is a process. And part of that process is ebbs and flows. Right now I just have to be in an ebb.

What I’m Obsessing About: Organization.  Not macro-wise, but mini-wise. As in, should I put those notes I want to take about that book on index cards, the computer, or a min-binder? The issue is ease of retrieval, as in, where will I be able to find them again? (This is my the desktop of my computer is covered with icons–out of sight, out of mind.) Yeah, such are the things I worry about when I’m not writing.  Which is why it is VERY GOOD that most times I am writing. Because I drive myself bat shit crazy when I’m not.

What the Weather is Like: It is full-on spring here, sunny, a light breeze, 70 degrees, everything that blooms or has ever thought of blooming is abloom. There is no place better on the planet than Oregon in the springtime. But whatever you do, don’t move here.  We can’t take many more people! The population is expected to increase by another 50% by 2020 and already our housing prices have increased higher than anywhere else in the country. Trying to buy a house in Portland these days is about as easy as training a cat or selling a book.

What’s up with you?

Photo from freerangestock.

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A Brief History of Publishing (And Publishing Workshop Info)

So, I found the cool infographic below in my travels as I searched for information on the history of literary agents. Because, of course that is what one searches for in one’s travels.  No, really, it is because I’m co-leading a workshop on publishing this weekend and since Thanksgiving was so time consuming, I’ve not told you much about it.

If you’re in Portland and you want to learn more about publishing, here are the details:

The Ins and Outs of Publishing

Friday, December 4th, 6:30 to 8:30 PM and Saturday, December 5th, 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

Another Read Through, 3932 N. Mississippi, Portland, 97277

Cost is $107, which includes a fabulous boxed lunch from Elephant’s Deli.

If you’re interested, contact me, okay? It’s going to be a lot of fun.

And here’s that infographic.  It’s a little dated, but interesting nonetheless:
A Brief History Of PublishingInfographic by Finvy

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Five on Friday: Happy Halloween

IMG_20151025_174656It is a wonderful rainy, blustery day here in Portland as I write this–my favorite, at least for once in awhile.  And here’s what’s going on:

What I’m Reading: Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie and The Untethered Soul, both of which I’m pretty sure I was reading last week.  Things have been busy around here!  Next up is After You, which I can’t wait to dive into, and Rise of the Machines, a book on marketing.

What I’m Working On: Settling into my downstairs office (see photo) after a marathon work session on Sunday in which I unpacked a ton of boxes.  Alas, its been pointed out to me that there are still some unpacked boxes upstairs that never got moved.  But, honestly, I haven’t missed any of that stuff for a few months now, so I’m thinking most of it is going out the door.  I’m also writing my next novel, working with several clients and I have a new sort-of ghostwriting project.

What I’m Struggling With: Sugar.  There were sugar cookies in Halloween shapes for the adorable granddaughter to frost last week and that meant I had to eat a couple also.  And I’m baking pie tomorrow.  My chiropractor just reminded me that sugar aggravates inflammation and that it and this weather system that came in overnight were probably why my hips hurt so bad when I walked yesterday.  I’m going to be good starting Monday, I swear it!

What I’m Excited About: My blog redesign, a new feature here starting tomorrow and best of all A GIVEAWAY OF J.D. FROST’S NEW BOOK on Tuesday.  So come on back here to join in.

What I Want to Remind You About: If you live anywhere near Nashville, I’ll be there in January for the Room to Write retreat. Its a chance to have lots of time to write, meet other writers, plus get some good writerly info from moi and two others.  Read all about it here.

And of course, Happy Halloween to all!  What are you doing to celebrate?

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Rain or Shine Readings

School-study-person-3790-lMy business partner Debbie and I have volunteered to take over the organization of a local reading series.  It was begun last year by a mystery writer and when he moved away, one of our local writing groups, the Oregon Writer's Colony, took it over.  

The series is held at a coffee shop close to my house called Rain or Shine.  It's every Thursday night from 6:30 to 7:30 and Rain or Shine kindly stays open just for us.  Anybody can read, published or unpublished, member of OWC, or not.  You just have to sign up ahead of time (this is not an open mic deal). The series runs from September through June and we are already booked up for this year.

Debbie and I decided it would be a lot of fun to get out once in awhile and meet more local writers.  Portland is nothing if not a great writing and reading town.   Last week was our first time as official hosts and it was great fun.  It helps that the coffee shop serves pie (which, ever since Pi day is my new obsession despite the fact I worry so much about eating sugar that I rarely let myself consume it) on Thursday nights and that they make great lattes.  We try to encourage everyone who attends to buy something in order to support the venue.  The host of the evening gives a brief intro for each reader and the reader reads for 20 minutes.  

I have a feeling we're going to get way more out of it than we put in because that's what happens when you get serious about making connections.  I've written recently about ways you can connect with other writers, and going to readings is one of the best.  They are not as much of a commitment as a workshop or retreat (though I'm a huge fan of those, so much so that I host one in Europe every year) and take just an hour or two of your time.  And yet the rewards are great–you get to meet other writers, hear their work, and get a night out away from the computer.

So, PDXers, check out this series on Thursday nights!  (We'll be taking names for next year's schedule soon, too, if you'd like to read.) And if you don't live in Portland (and most of you don't) seek out readings you can attend.  I know I've been guilty of going months or years at a time without bothering to attend one, blaming tiredness, or rain, or sheer laziness.  But supporting other writers is a huge part of the writing life and the more actively I engage, the happier I am (I just need to remind myself of that on cold winter nights).

And, don't forget, you have until this Thursday to enter my drawing to celebrate this blog's birthday. I'll be drawing the names of the winners on Friday morning.  Wahoo! 

Do you attend readings regularly?  Do you have a favorite venue where you live?

Photo by Svilen001.

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Ah, LA….

where it is illegal to look different from anyone else.

It is a requirement here that you be thin, tan, have long hair, wear sunglasses and pout, AND be young.  Thus if you are not young it is required that you go get plastic surgery really, really fast.  And then you look like you are trying hard to look like everyone else, even though everyone knows that you went under the knife to do it.

Ah, LA.  I love it so, and I'm not even sure why.

Being here always makes me muse on the nature of identity and true self.  These are important topics for writers because letting that ole true self out in words is pretty much the key to it all.  You will find success only when you find your voice and you find your voice by writing enough that you can let it rip, and open a direct line from your deepest inner being, through the arm, out the fingers, and onto the page.  Or keyboard.  Or digital recorder.

My friend Deidre, who lives in Silver Lake, says that everyone in LA strives to look alike and act alike and be alike and then the one person who is not like everyone else arrives and they are the one who makes it.  So why does everyone else persist in attempting to be like everyone else?

And once you hit 40, forget it.  Actually, it might even be 30.  Soon it will probably be 20.

Lat night I had drinks with a friend who is an entertainment attorney and he says its a hellish culture of youth here  (my words, not his, but they have a ring to them, no?)  As an attorney, he is expected to be wise and mature so he doesn't have to worry about the the age thing, but if you are flailing about on the creative side trying to make it, you gotta be young.

The hell part is, of course, that everyone ages.  Even Hollywood Goldenboys.  Then they have to dye their hair and pretend they are still young.

I realize that none of this is news, yet it continually perplexes me every time I come down here. Why do we all persist in trying to make ourselves just like everyone else, when there's only one of each of us in this whole world?  I'm veering dangerously close to getting teary eyed and talking about snowflakes here so forgive me, or better yet, explain it to me.

I'm reading Harriet Rubin's latest book, The Mona Lisa Stratagem: The Art of Women, Age, and Power, and she talks about how if a famous actor is on stage and a cat is on stage, all eyes will be on the cat. Why?  Because the cat is uniquely, gloriously, himself, no matter what.  Animals just are.  (This might help to explain why the most popular photos on my yahoo home page are always of animals.  So we're not as simple minded as I feared.)  Its the same thing with babies.  Ever notice how nobody can keep their eyes off them? 

Somebody ought to tell all the 20-something wannabe actresses that story.

And yet, despite my horror at the preponderance of clones everywhere and the cult of youth here, there is something about this place that keeps luring me back. 
Maybe I like coming here so much because I can flee back north to
Portland, where everybody seems desperately determined to not look like
anyone else, ever. 

Or maybe its just the palm trees.

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