Thursday, July 28, 2011

Notes from the Life

Couple of things today:

I'm going through my file cabinet right now, becoming reacquainted with various piece of paper I have collected and held on to, sometimes for several years. I've found some story starts from more than a decade ago (probably more like two decades - it is astounding how recent they seem and yet, when I do the chronology thing, I realize how long ago I actually put those words on that piece of paper - have I really been at this writing thing that long?)and been pleasantly surprised at how good they are (which, of course, begs the question of why it is so easy for me to doubt the quality of my writing. Believe me, I do. And often).

I also reacquainted myself with my "success" folder - it contains acceptance letters (and also "good" rejection letters - my favorites are rejections of the short story "Choice" which has become the novel I'm working on: "Although there is much to admire here, sorry to disappoint you on 'Choice.'" and "This story is hovering on the edge of being a great story..."). There are also comments from editors and people I interviewed during my freelancing days - my favorite, after adding a concluding paragraph to a run-of-the-mill round-up article about the top ten innovative tech businesses in Nevada, my editor e-mailed back, "Perfect. Good fluff is an art form." Love it!) Looking at the success folder was a great shot-in-the-arm and I'm grateful the younger version of myself thought to create the folder and keep it in the very front of the filing cabinet where it's visible every time I open that drawer. Good job, younger self!

I'm also going through the vast multitude of folders full of stuff from grad school. It's too early to start doing a thorough culling, and there's sooooo much good stuff in these folders, that I'm not doing a lot of thinning here. But what is interesting is coming across things I wrote for exercises and not recognizing them as my own writing nor remembering their creation at all. This has happened quite a few times. It's completely understandable. The pace of grad school was tremendous - I did my MFA in three years. It was three years of constant pressure to create and write and get work out there on a deadline (maybe that's why the work has been moving at such a slow pace during my first post-grad school year). Looking at these snippets of stories or novels (I mined previous novels and novels that were still in development mercilessly in an effort to short cut the creation process when a professor asked for scenes - a totally legitimate way to create what I needed to for the class), I'm amazed at what I produced, and how much of it there is, and how GOOD a lot of it is. I've thought I hadn't really written anything during my time in grad school. Um, hello? It makes me very glad I'm doing this culling and pruning thing right now. (though I truly wish I didn't have to keep reminding myself that 1) I'm good, and 2) I'm productive, almost prolific.)

The other thing is that I saw George RR Martin last night in Redwood City courtesy of the super in dependant book store Kepler's. What I did not know until last night was that Kepler's promoted George's first book in the series, Game of Thrones, and sold more copies of that book than any other bookstore in the country.

It's an odd thing to see an author in person, especially an author who has achieved the kind of super-star status that packs out a 1,000 seat theater or, as happened at ComicCon, has 7,000 people lined up for hours to get seats in an auditorium that only seats 4,000. There is never enough time for all the questions to be asked let alone answered (in this case, George talked a bit about why this latest book took so long and about the HBO series, then there were a few questions from the audience and then George sat at a table and signed books for the 1,000 people (several of whom had brought the full limit of three books for signing) - the event started at 7, my friend and I got out of there at 10 with our signed copy) and it always seems like the author can't quite answer the question the audience wants answered the most: what is it like in your head?

Having been to a number of author readings and signings, etc, I truly think that is the one question the audience really wants answered, but neither the audience nor the author knows how to get to it.

Anyway, back to the files and the ever rising pile of paper in the recycling bin.

(There will be a picture of George attached to this blog post as soon as I can get it from my friend. Promise)

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