Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Back in the Saddle?

I'm having a rare night at home. Relatives are staying with Mother and I'm joyously sitting in my big green chair and (glory of glories) writing. Of course, I should be finishing up the grading of the 1200 writing assessments, but time at home is so unusual, well, you know.

I once asked the question, "Are you a writer if no one reads your work?" Tonight I had an epiphany. The answer is a resounding, "Yes." My great moment came when I felt the need to rush to my keyboard and pound out a few words. I am a writer, whether a good one or a bad one. I need to spend time weaving intricate plot lines just like I need to breathe. That must mean that I AM a writer, no matter how many doubts I've had in the past.

Time away from the thing you love does make the heart grow fonder, at least in my case. The absence of writing made me irritable. A psychological study of that long ago case of the railroad spike that somehow ended up in a man's head said that the spike made him irritable, so I guess he and I have something in common. Not being able to write gave me the same symptoms. Go figure.

Although this particular blog has been touted by some, it's sort of fallen by the wayside. That is, it has fallen by the wayside since I've been unable to update frequently. I choose to believe the sparing entries are the cause rather than think my muse has slipped away and I've become uninteresting and boring. The multiple visitors that I once enjoyed with each entry have found other blogs to visit and I seldom get many hits these days. This doesn't stop me, however. I write. I write on this blog and a couple more. I comment on the blogs of friends and ,sometimes, strangers. I am a writer, whether I have the means to write or not. Undaunted by disinterest, I keep on plugging...writing away, commenting on the joy of the written word.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Alas, poor Yorik.

I've been spending my downtime working. Not writing, unfortunately, but grading 1200 papers for the university writing assessment. Although tedious, I've found what the students have to say about writing very interesting. For example, almost all of the papers I've read so far say something to the effect that writing would be fun if there weren't so many "rules." I suppose that's true. If we never had to stop to insert a comma or indent a paragraph, if we could just keep going and ignore spelling and mechanics, everyone would enjoy writing. Alas, we cannot. We cannot ignore the basic rules of composition.

When I'm teaching, I try to explain that the rules of grammar are in place for a purpose. I use this analogy:

You've been invited to the party of the year and you've been given written directions: turn right at the second stop light, left onto Elm, go the the third stop sign, make a left onto Bird's Eye Ave, and the party's at the third house on the right. You put on your best duds, jump into the car and start out. Suddenly, you realize that there are no stop lights, no street signs. How do you find the party? You're hopelessly lost with no way to find the party of the year.

I tell them that grammar and mechanics are like those roadsigns. They help the reader interpret the writer's work. Without those rules of grammar, no one would understand anything that's ever been written.

There are rules, some can be broken by the wants/desires of the agenting and publishing community like that "single space between sentences" thing that's all the rage. Cormac McCarthy seldom if ever uses quotation marks during dialogue (but then he's Cormac McCarthy). The comma preceding a conjunction in a compound sentence is now dust on the publishing house floor. BUT (big but) most of us still cling to the rules, those grammatical roadsigns we so desperately need. To write, the would-be author must not only be good at spinning that fascinating yarn. He/she must be good at the craft of writing, the rules, the mechanics.

Well, there's my two-cents worth, but then again, I'm an English teacher by avocation. Those rules of grammar work and they've provided me with one more semester of work as a member of adjunct faculty.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Hello Again!

It's been quite a while since I had time to post. My mother's injury requires that she have care 24/7, and for the most part, that's me. As for writing, it's in my head mostly. I seldom have time to spend concocting a storyline or adding to the WIP.

As for the novel that's with my betas, still no word. I don't know whether they've just given up on me, it's so bad they can't find the words, or if they haven't even opened the file. That's the way it goes. Abscence, my friends, does not make the heart grow fonder. All I have to work with when it comes to edits is the new crit partner. She rocks, btw. She has given me a few suggestions as to how I might better develop some characters and she's pointed out a few grammar gaffs. If and when I get time, I'll work on those elements, all the while hoping that the Dawg Pack is chewing on my latest offering.

I may write something about my recent experience with my mother. I'm not sure whether it will be a short or a novel length story. I've been mulling over lots of things. For example, when my late husband and father were involved in hospice care, one of the nurses told me a story, a story that corroborated an experience I'd had with both. My conversation with that nurse has sparked many a sigh and many long periods of deep thought. Now and again, it still pops to the forefront of my brain, and for some reason, I think my hind brain is formulating something, a book or maybe just an essay on the event. Whatever is happening back there in the recesses has been bubbling up lately, maybe because I am once more a caretaker and maybe because it's almost completed percolating. Who knows?

At this point, I'm just so tired I can't think straight. Ever been there?