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Archive for December, 2010

One of the many questions I am asked about Becoming Alice is, “How long did it take you to write your book?” My pat answer is always: three years. Now, that is not true. It didn’t take me three years to write the book. I took me about half that time to write the book and the other half was spent in rewriting it.

Of course, I had the book edited by someone who I trusted to do a good job and many things were picked up which need to be redone, fixed, or eliminated altogether. I was prepared to do that. What I didn’t anticipate was that I became aware of the fact that about a third of the last part of my book didn’t hit the mark as powerfully as I wished. I had to make a decision to either publish a book that I myself knew could be improved, or to rewrite that third all over again. Being the Type A personality that I am, I rewrote that third and had the book published. It is the only way I can operate and I am so glad I did. Becoming Alice has done so much better than I ever dreamed it would.

I have begun a second work. I think it will one day be a good story. My trouble is that I don’t have as much time to write now as I did when I wrote my memoir. So I write about a dozen pages and don’t get back to them right away. When I reread them to get into the swing of the piece, I always find ways to improve it. And then I take the time to rewrite those dozen pages. I haven’t been able to get beyond about twenty pages. I am in a rewrite rut.

My New Year’s resolution is to pick up my new work wherever I left it off and get on with it. I can always take a year or two after it’s completed to rewrite the darn thing. I think there is no way to avoid the rewrite, rewrite, rewrite law for authors.

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Christmas is about a week away now and I am still trying to stop reeling from all I have to do. Lucky for me I live in southern California and it has been raining non-stop for days and the forecast is for more rain in the coming week. I am thrilled. I don’t like driving the freeways in the rain, especially since I just heard on the news that the accident and fatality rate has quadrupled over the weekend. So I am at my computer catching up on just about everyone and everything.

During the overload period just prior to this week, a period when I also needed time to move from one home to another, I had almost forgotten that I write a blog, namely a WordPress Blog.

Then, out of the blue, I received a Comment! The email from WordPress announcing this comment reminded me that I, in fact, write one. I love writing this blog and I love receiving comments, but I get very few of those and I must wait a long time from one to another. It matters not. It is the writing I really enjoy doing.

Then, about ten minutes ago, I got a comment. And it was a comment on a blog I’d written quite a long time ago. It reminded me that the blog world goes on even without me and even when I haven’t added my thoughts to it. I am so gratified to know that, that I even took time out to tell all of you how important a comment can be.

And, as soon as I get through rewriting the story I’m working on the umpteenth time, I shall write a blog about rewriting. Come on back and read it … then write me a comment!

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In case you didn’t know about this organization, check out California Readers at http://www.californiareaders.org. Their mission is to connect California children, young adults, and their school communities with California authors, artists, and their creative works. I just joined, as did my memoir Becoming Alice.

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How to Understnd Love

Before I could write a word, I took some writing classes. The first thing I learned was “if you can talk, you can write.” I could talk. That led me to have the confidence to write … which I did about this and that. My experimentation took me to write some poetry and essays and eventually it led me to write my memoir, “Becoming Alice.” But one thing a teacher of mine said has stuck with me over the years and has come back to me often. He said the most difficult thing to write about is love. Love! It is what everyone wants. It is what not everyone can give. It is something which is hard to describe, yet many people feel. Now it seems to have become measurable. How often have you heard, “I love you more?” I guess that means ” I love you more than you love me.” How can you tell?

There was an interesting study done recently which was televised. I found it most interesting. It about a young couple who had recently become engaged and felt themselves “head over heels in love.” A brain was done to see if anything unusual would show up on the film. In fact, some areas did show some differences in color. This couple was followed over a several years and were studied again. They professed to be still very much in love. However, their repeat brain scan showed a dimished brightness in the areas which had been so vivd before. How about that? Is “love” then a physiological state of mind, or just a depth of feeling, as we had always thought of it? I like to think of it more as a feeling, even if it does change the colors on a brain scan.

And then there is this business of depth of feeling. “I love you more (than you love me.)” I think that could be true. I think that not everybody feels love to the same degree as the next person. I think some people may not even be capable of feeling love. Just as we are not all born with the same genetic material … just as not all people are as smart as others … some people may not be able to feel as deeply as others.

So often people will profess to be in love for alterior motives … money, status, admiration, subsituting their love object for another, etc., etc.

I like most people fairly well. But there are some whom I like much less and some whom I like much more. I think it is very much the same with love. In my mind, one must first have the ability to feel deeply; then the depth of that feeling is dependent on all the other variables.

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A Writer’s Space of One’s Own

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and this year it has been especially enjoyable for me. My husband and I flew from California to New York to spend the week prior to the holiday with our oldest daughter. We shopped, we chatted, we went to a marvelous Broadway play, we cooked and cooked, and cooked. The dinner was outstanding; but being with most of our immediate family was the best part.

“So how was your flight over to the East coast?” one of my friends asked. The look on her face, lookin like she’d bitten into a sour lemon, told me that she didn’t think it coud have been much fun. She must have been thinking about going through security at the airport, sitting in economy class smashed between two strange people, having to eat a dry sandwich and drink a cup of cold coffee, and sitting immobile in one place for over six hours.

Our plane from Los angeles to New York was fully booked; not an empty seat available on the flight. People entertained themselves in a variety of ways: Many were on their computers. Others read their paperbacks. Some elected to sleep the time away. I decided to pull out a yellow lined tablet and worked on a story I had started some time ago.

You may remember Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own in which she proposes that a woman must have a room of her own to be a writer. Well I felt that I was the owner of that little bit of space on the airplane. I had a space of my own in which no one could intrude. There was no telephone that could ring to pull me out of my thoughts. There were no chores to be done which would prey on me and come back often to remind me they were undone. There would be no interruptions from anyone unbeknown to me. I was in, A Space of my Own.

I have over twenty handwritten pages of a story to show for the time I was on that flight. It is almost finished now. I am so happy to have had that plane ride in which I had a space of my own.

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