Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I had a visit today from one of my professors. I really enjoyed having someone in the container, showing off what I've been doing. It was also very nice to hear that my professor thinks the work is good - very poetic, nice imagery - and also nice to hear that she thinks the book piece is as beautiful as I do.

The artists have been asked to weigh what we collect, to see how much we are diverting from the landfill. Deborah said she thinks everyone will be surprised by how much we're pulling out. I think she's right. Today, I collected 200 pounds of stuff. I got a fabulous chandelier and one of those chairs that looks like something from ancient Rome - all for party girl's apartment - along with a really frilly pink party dress. I also found a crate full of metal cooking tins from a restaurant or something - mini cake tins, mini muffin tins, and a lot of escargot holders, go figure.

I also have a new idea for the faces piece - I found a set of silver charger plates that reflect would reflect the viewers face when you're looking at the piece and reading the poem. I like that a lot.

One of the biggest challenges of working at the dump is needing to balance what you'd like to create with what you can create given what shows up when you're collecting. Everything comes to the dump sooner or later, but you better hope that what you really want shows up while you're there. For the most part it does, but I've had plenty of times of walking into the shed and having one of the guys say, "You should have been here yesterday (or this morning), we had...." The experience is a great zen experiment - don't get attached to any one idea, be flexible and willing to change, and don't stress about how it's all going to come together.

No pictures today. Phone running out of battery power and I forgot my camera at home, but no real progress on any one piece. Today was mostly about collecting.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Here are a couple more pictures of things I'm working on:

The faces are part of a piece that uses a poem I wrote - a 'fractured' sestina "Meditation on Color." I'm still trying to figure out what to mount the faces and text on and have a couple of options - either individual pieces of wood or this large piece that kind of reminds me of an altar.

Here's what the container looks like right now:

And here's a better image of the weaving piece:

All through my day, while I'm working, I'm trying to tuck away things to post on the blog, but then, by the time I'm sitting in front of my computer, I'm so tired, I can't remember most of what I've been thinking. But they're really amazing things. Honest. Someday, I'll be able to write them all down. Although mostly, right now, what I'm thinking is: I so love my life. And how many times can I write that without getting really boring?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Here are some photos of the work I've been doing for my residency.

I think this may become my favorite piece. The book is actually falling apart, turning into the most amazing, velvety feeling dust. Part of what I'm looking for with this piece is watching the disintegration that occurs every time the piece gets moved.

A little box piece where I was playing with image transfers. You can't see the image on the right too well, but it's a man (actually Teddy Roosevelt)

My first week, I found the most amazing box of ribbon. The first piece I created, the one that will be on the postcard, came out of that box as did this one. I love the colors of the ribbon in this piece. I made a mistake with the hanging, I need to put the metal pieces on top of the wood, not behind it, in order for it to hang correctly, but that's not a big deal.

So I'm into the home stretch here. One more month of making art and then it all has to stop to put the show up. The show will be called "The Demise of Party Girl and Other Stories." I'm getting very excited.

I had a slight moment of panic about how all this will get done - the novel, the show, and my course work (not to mention my family) and then realized - HANG THE SCHOOL WORK. I am being a working artist here. The 4.0 average I've got right now is nice, but dang, I'm not going to short-change the REAL work just to keep my GPA. I realized that was just crazy talk and having my priorities in the exact WRONG place. Now that I've got my head on straight, I feel much better. Hang the 4.0 if it comes to that. I won't fail my classes. I know that.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It's been a busy and exciting week so far. It's a strange thing when you are standing in the moment that could be a major turning point in your life or it could be just another moment.

I queried the agent yesterday and got a request for the first 100 pages. Which meant that I needed to do some quick revisions to make sure some things were in the novel in those first 100 pages that I realized in the final 100 pages, like Matt's step dad being African American. Okay. Got that done. Read through it this morning and just sent it off. So...fingers crossed, this will be a turning point, not just another moment.

And, I suppose, whatever the outcome, it is a turning point. It's the moment of realizing I'm a professional fiction writer. I'm at that point where I can claim that description. No matter what the outcome of this particular contact, this is the reality of who I am from now on.

I'm going to go hyperventilate now.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sending My Work into the World

One of the things I have been doing this semester is working one-on-one with one of my professors with the goal of finishing Choice. Well, we met last Tuesday night to go over the final pages of the novel. Once again, Alice told me it was wonderful and had few suggestions or questions - most of what she's flagged have been things I knew already were dodgy (which is good because it means I'm reading my own work accurately). But there wasn't much, and then Alice asks if I've got an agent in mind for the novel. I do - I have a couple, though, doing some research over the past couple of weeks, it turns out one of them is not accepting new clients and the other seems to be doing really well with memoir but not doing so much with fiction. So...Alice offers me the name and email of an agent at her agency who's looking for new clients and says she wants me to query this week.

I kind of dismissed it. We talked about some other things. Then I asked, "What do you want me to do for next week?" And Alice says, "Query my agent." Again, I dismissed it, talked about something else, and asked again, "What do you want me to do for next week?" This time, I heard it. Alice said that the things I think I need to go back and fix, the things I think are so huge, are really minor and it's time to send Choice out into the world. Really? Are you serious? Yes. She's very serious.

Oh my. It's taken me a couple of days to come to terms with this and accept that I'm going to be querying an agent about taking me on as a client. It seems quite odd and unexpectedly soon, but there it is. And I will be querying this week. I'll let you know how it goes.

On another note - we finally got our new windows, and I am so happy. It's so quiet in my house now. I'm ecstatic. The noise level has been driving me nuts since October, lots of dogs barking all day long. Very difficult for me to be able to get into my writer-brain space. So I've got acoustic glass in my office now and it's heavenly quiet. The funny thing was that the windows actually arrived at the glass place on February 12th and then we had almost continuous rain until this past week. But they're in and I'm very happy.

And on another note completely, had to take the puppy to the vet today. All circumstantial evidence pointed to her having consumed a sock. The fact that two socks had been on a table and I could only find one of them last night, the fact that she wasn't eating, the fact that she seemed a bit lethargic, and the fact that she threw up this afternoon. The vet induced vomiting, and it turned out she had not one, but TWO socks in her stomach. Sock Puppy is doing much better now and I have told the children that if they leave their socks lying around, they will be fined. Plus, if they leave socks lying around and she eats another one, they will be helping to pay for the vet bill.

Well, onward to bed.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

One of the most challenging things about the residency is developing the ability to not only keep specific things in mind when looking at what is being unloaded from the trucks and cars, but to keep an open mind about the possibilities for other items. A case in point - as I develop my abecedary poem, I'm thinking in terms of items that start with a specific letter. When I started, I was thinking in general terms. A doorknob, that starts with D. Good. A gravy boat, that starts with G. Okay. Not that the poem is underway, I have to stop myself from thinking in terms of what will fit and keep thinking in terms of 'this item starts with this letter' - it's developing the ability to recognize what's useful (I most often find a lost object when I can visualize what it looks like - that's when it pops out of the rest of the clutter I'm seeing) but not stop myself from being able to see what else is in the pile of debris in front of me. What can I use? That's my most constant question.

This is also, I think, one of the most useful things I'm learning in the course of the residency - to not get hung up on a particular answer, to keep myself open to possibilities while, at the same time, developing a particular line of thought. It's keeping two opposing ideas in my mind at the same time, actually. Open but not open.

Catching Up

I realized, I'd fallen behind on posting my notebook working notes. I've been posting thoughts directly to the blog, but not putting in my actual working notes that I jot down throughout the day while I'm working or out and about. So here's a core dump of everything since the end of January.

7 March
Nor does Party Girl need to be fully developed. It just needs to express the idea of the birth of consumerism and suggest the outcome we all know.

An article I read today showed me that I am actually on the cutting edge of artistic thought. I feel so validated. I know it should not matter – I do what I do and I try to express myself as best I can, but to find out that I’m actually on the edge of the artistic curve, makes me realize that my work has artistic merit, has artistic validity. And that feels like a great big pat on the head, a huge thumbs up, keep going, you’re doing something that people will actually want to pay attention to. You do know what you are about.

“I am becoming what I am.” This is my mantra right now. I tell myself this over and over again.

6 March
Need – toothbrushes, spray bottle, bleach.

If I were only writing a novel, it would be enough.
If I were only writing one short story, it would be enough.
If I were only doing the residency, it would be enough.
If I were only a mom, it would be enough.
If I were only breathing, it would be enough.

5 March
David – what happens when a person can’t fulfill their dreams in the way they originally wanted but can only touch a simulacrum of that dream.

David does not want to be ordinary.

Why does David come back to the stage? Why did he quit?

Choice – Alan’s shoes – all these pairs of shoes with one shoe unscuffed, untouched, the other one used – Matt wears a pair of Alan’s shoes to the funeral.

3 March
Ideas about consumption – what we consume, what we throw away. Party Girl – about the demise of the consumer culture, the story, the narrative we are telling ourselves about our consumer culture.

That our objects need us as much as we need them. What are our objects without us? What do they become?

Need – tape.

Recognizing that it is all about exploration – I don’t need to have a complete answer. I don’t even necessarily need to believe exactly what comes out – but it’s about the exploration of the idea and what it means.

The fallacy of the object – we don’t’ believe in objects anymore, we believe in ideas, and ideas about objects.

I have to keep reminding myself that it is okay to play – I get very tense when I’m at the dump because I see all these objects come in and I’ve been saying to myself “If I were a better artist, I’d be able to do something with it.” But that’s not actually what’s going on. It’s more “If I were a DIFFERENT artists, I’d be able to do something with it.” That’s more the truth of the matter. Because if I were a different kind of artist, the wood would be great, the metal would be great, the sheet rock and broken sinks and toilets, and all that stuff, would be great.

I think the hardest part is knowing that the thing I want (like wooden boxes) will probably come in while I’m not there. I’m also having issues of logistics with my materials and my workspace. So I’m packing up everything from home and moving it all to the container for the rest of the residency where my only issue will be running water. I’ll have all my mediums in one place and I’ll be able to play more.

I really get what Beth said about not getting fixated on solving individual problems – like my abecedary poem – I need to look at all the boxes as one piece so everything fits together. (or do I want to create one large piece with all the elements in it? And the poem – like an I Spy kind of piece?)

New idea – using found paper and plaster to create masks (I can do a yin/yang kind of thing with one of the sectioned metal trays – that would be nice.)

Party Girl continues to take shape – she was apparently a make-up rep after leaving Mr. Combover – I found all these samples of make-up from the ‘60’s with instructions on application. Very, very cool. I think Party Girl will be my next fiction workshop submission – really give them something to chew on and mull over – images and text.

1 March
Party Girl – the demise of the consumer culture. Elegies for party girl.

The Demise of Party Girl and Other Stories.

24 February
For student chair – a Spaulding Gray type of narrative about an event.

11 February
Mainly, my deep passion and longing to be taken seriously as an artist, to connect on some deep level with the people who view the work.

The Demise of Party Girl – installation piece

Ehyeh asher ehyeh (אהיה אשר אהיה) – I am becoming as I am.

1 February
It never ends – the garbage coming in. The violence with which people throw stuff out – joy in destruction – throwing things as far from themselves as possible.

“Whatever you are looking for you will find it here. Everything comes here eventually.”

29 January
Residency – alphabet – boxes for each letter and things that start with each letter. – composing the world.

26 January
Nikki – this wasn’t courage. Staying here was the most cowardly thing I could have done. The easiest way to prove love. Staying where it was the easiest to find us.

Burroway: Stories do not begin with ideas or themes or outlines, so much as with images and obsessions.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Happy March

I can not believe a month has already gone by since the semester and my residency started. I am still very wiped out by being sick and feel seven shades of brain dead. I keep coming to the computer and thinking I'm going to get work done, but, instead, all I do is play Spider Solitaire. It's gotten bad enough that I'm thinking of deleting the program from my computer - I can not be trusted with it.

It's a strange space I'm in at the moment - that kind of fog where I know there is so much that needs to get done and not being able to settle on any one thing in particular because as soon as I get started on something, the rest of the monkeys come screaming about needing attention and, at the moment, I'm out of monkey chow. I know this is how my semesters usually get started, but this time, I also have the added pressure of the residency and wanting that to come out well. I am very high up on the "I don't know what the hell I'm doing" scale at the moment - a place I live in so often you'd think I'd get used to it, but no, I don't. The air is very thin up here, so it takes a while for my brain to start functioning again. But I wish it would. And soon.