Writing Away From Home

I’m in Nashville, which is beautiful and warm (although pretty much anything is probably warm compared to Portland) and would be perfect in every way except for….the pollen.

Which has me sneezing and my eyes running and itching in a way I’ve never quite experienced before.  It still does not affect my love for this city, however (just don’t tell Nashville that I had a brief fling with Asheville, okay?)

The beginning of the week was full of Loft-related activities, and the past two days I’ve been at Sue and Walt’s, dog sitting the beloved Juni, who sleeps on my bed every night.  She is about twice as big as my pug, so she takes up a bit more of it than I am used to, but I don’t mind.  I love having her with me, and she makes the best security system in the world.  (Note to Sue and Walt: the non-canine alarm does seem to be working).

While tonight and tomorrow night are taken up with more Loft-related activities, the past two days have been mine.  And, when not busy corralling four other writers so that I could submit a proposal for a panel for the AWP conference next year, I’ve been writing.

But it strikes me that writing is different when one is away from home.  I feel like I’m getting a lot done, like I have more time and more freedom.  The truth of the matter is I have just as many things pulling at me here–the AWP proposal, a forced marched into downtown Nashville yesterday to see my friend Suzanne, dinner with Melinda last night, manuscripts to critique and so on and so forth.  And there are dishes and clothes to wash and Juni to walk.  Life is nearly as complicated as it is at home, and yet it doesn’t seem so.

For some reason it feels like the day flows easier when I’m away from home.  I eat at different times, and walk at different times, and eat different things and walk different places (of course).  And so the writing seems to flow easier, too.

I suppose this is in part the psychology of a writing retreat–minus the responsibility to do anything but write.  But even being here, still with responsibilities, it feels easier to write.  So I guess the moral of the story is to travel whenever you can–especially if it give you time to write.

Loft-y Tennessee

I am in beautiful Springfield, Tennessee, where there are rolling green fields and the air feels totally different than it does in beautiful Portland, Oregon–mostly because it is warm.  I’m staying at the home of Terry Price, and we are theoretically working on the Loft.

No, we are really working on it–we have been chatting all morning about it and millions of other things, while also eating Monkey Bread, monitoring the process of the log cabin which is being built in the backyard, and listening to Van Morrison.

I’m here for the opening semester of the Loft, at least the opening semester with Terry and me at the helm.  This is only the beginning, folks, and we are very excited about our five hardy students.  The program has actually been up and running for five years but it had fallen on hard times before Terry and I, who have both been with the program since the beginning, decided to petition to take it over.   

Next fall we’ll have an official orientation weekend, complete with opening reception and other exciting events, so stay tuned.  And though the Loft is centered around Nashville, TN, please keep in mind that we are also working on plans for true distance learning. 

Go the Loft page at MTSU here, or read about it on the page I wrote.

Nashville to New York

Well, I’ve been home over a week now and as a matter of fact I’m taking off tomorrow for New York City. But that is another story and another blog post. Anyway, the time seems right to post my photos from Nashville. Actually, the time was right about a few days ago but I started posting and things went haywire for reasons unknown to me and then I ran out of time. And it is only now that I am all packed and almost caught up on my work that I’ve had time to sit down and post.

And let me just say, I still forget that I own a camera. So sometimes it remains discreetly packed away in my purse or wherever, while I glibly forge on with life, never thinking, ah, I could take a photo of this. But here are the photos I did manage to get, starting with the single most important one of all:

Well, you are just going to have to imagine a photo of a coconut cake here. It is gorgeous and white (amazingly enough) and it is sitting on a blue and white checked tablecloth. Why aren’t you seeing a photo of it? That is a very good question. We shall have to put it down to technical difficulties because for some reason, Typepad is not allowing me to download my photos. I am not nearly techie enough to figure out why this may be.

So you’ll just have to wait a little longer for my wonderful photos of the Nashville Skyline and lots of shots of people sitting around drinking talking about writing.

Instead, I will regale you with stories of my plans for my trip to New York. I am attending the AWP conference. That would be me and 6,999 other people. Yes, that is correct–7,000 literary and writerly types are descending upon Manhattan to attend the annual conference of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs.   Take a look at the roster of speakers and readers if you head on over to the site–John Irving is the keynote on Thursday night and I’m also looking forward to hearing Sue Miller read on Friday night.  Along with many others, not to mention the multiple panels and presentations, one put on by my friend Diana. 

We are staying at the Hilton New York, which is the conference hotel and which sold out long ago.  The only reason I have a room is that I’ve strong-armed my way into sharing a room with Maryann and Linda.   Maryann, being far more organized than I, had the foresight to make the room reservation last summer.  Maryann and Linda and I are all members of the infamous Novel Goddesses.  What?  You’ve not heard of us?   We are a group of writers, all members of the first group of MFA students at Spalding, who came together in the first novel workshop that the program held.  This NYC trip is exciting because it is the first time so many goddesses have been together in one place for quite some time, since we all had a retreat in Alabama on Dauphin Island a few years ago.  Besides Linda and Maryann and I, we will also have Katy, who will be working at the Spalding booth and not quite as free as the rest of us.  We’re only missing two–Deidre and Julie, who are both in southern California.

So that’s the scoop.  Raise a glass to the goddesses on Friday night, when we are all meeting for dinner.  And check back here because through the magic of technology I’m going to have some posts up while I’m gone

Hi ho, hi ho, its off to Nashville I go

I’m leaving on a jet plane tomorrow.  (I know, I know, I can’t help it–I have all these old songs playing in my head.)

800pxnashville_panorama I’ll be in Nashville for the Loft Literary Day, which is on Saturday.  I get to meet with students and sit and enjoy the lectures of other mentors.  Usually I am giving a lecture myself, and all nervous, so it will be a treat just to sit back and listen to others. 

I’m also meeting with private students and a client or two.  Oh, and all my wonderful friends in town.  I adore Nashville. 

Downtown_gatlinburg2c_tennessee On Monday, I’m heading over to Gatlinburg to have a writing retreat with my friend Linda Parker.  Since I finished the second draft of Emma Jean, I think I’m going to have a look at my first novel, Language of Trees. 

There may be a good reason for this.  But I’m not sayin’ anything yet.

Anyway, don’t miss me too much.  I’m not going to give you a chance to, because you know how I am–just can’t stay away from the blog.

Now excuse me, while I go in search of some fried okra.  Or better yet, fried dill pickles.  They never met a vegetable they couldn’t figure out how to fry in the south, God love ’em.

Photo of Gatlinburg used under GNU Free Documentation License 1.2.  Photo of Nashville by Bill Penn, used under Creative Commons License 2.5.

Fourth of July Updates

Happy Fourth of July. 

It strikes me as amusing that this is one holiday we often refer to by date, as in have a good Fourth.  Rarely do we refer to it as Independence Day.    Think about it–we don’t say Happy Twenty-Fifth for Christmas.  Odd.


Joe Bare sent me a link to a sight about lucid dreaming.  You can access that here.  Its pretty cool stuff.

In my post about Blog evangelism in Orange County, I forgot one of the most important things.  I won one of the prizes they give out at the end and it was a beautiful collection of soap and lotions from the Tara Collection.  These are wonderful products.  Check them out here. 

And Happy Fourth.  Or Happy Independence Day.

A Post Not About Writing: Party in Venice

Canalsml Went to a party on the Venice canals on Saturday night.  It was a large party, with multiple bands playing sequentially, the grill going full time with hot dogs and hamburgers, and a great potluck spread.  We were there as the guests of film director and producer Lina Shanklin, even though she never made it to the party.

I had a blast.  I love the canals and the people at the party were friendly and fun to talk to.  Everyone was named John and came from Culver City.  Okay, that’s not true, but I did meet two different men named John and they both lived in Culver City.  The first actually spelled his name J-O-N and was a retired computer guy who now played in a band and experimented with lucid dreaming.  He wasn’t especially old, either.  The second spelled his name the traditional way and was in radio.  He was one of the people who made a fortune (I might be exaggerating a little) selling ring tones when that business first exploded.  Now he’s going to write a novel about internet dating.  I also had a nice talk with a professor from USC.

Came home with a headache from the wine and Mary-Suzanne got it go away with ThetaHealing.  (The photo of the canals is by her, too.)

What does all this have to do with writing?  Not a thing.  Not one thing.  But there will be more posts to come on that topic very, very soon. 

Creative Commuting

I’m in LA this week, to see clients and friends. 

I flew down here yesterday on the first Alaska flight out of Portland on Monday morning, and the back of the plane was full of creative commuters.  Besides moi, there was the Danish screenwriter that I sat next to.  Across the way, a man was doing audio mixing on a powerful laptop. I never figured out what the man in the row behind me did, but he was a commuter also, because they had all been stuck on the last flight out of Burbank the previous Friday, which was memorable because it had been delayed five hours.  Which happens to be over twice as long as the actual flight itself.

Anyway, apparently there’s quite a group that commute back and forth on a regular basis.  Its a nice combo–LA/Portland, so very different.