A very Happy New Year, to all of you who so graciously read my intermittent musings on this blog. I hope to post more regular musings this year although I’m not sure right now what “more regular” will mean. I’m up to the challenge, though.
As I was writing these words, I remembered Anne Lamott’s chapter titled “Short Assignments” in her book Bird by Bird. Lamott describes how she redirects herself when her mind spins into overwhelm about writing:
“I go back to trying to breathe, slowly and calmly, and I finally notice the one-inch picture frame that I put on my desk to remind me of short assignments. It reminds me that all I have to do is to write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame. This is all I have to bite off for the time being…. I remember to pick up the one-inch picture frame and to figure out a one-inch piece of my story to tell, one small scene, one memory, one exchange”
The one step at a time approach can help to allay the impact of the spinning mind that can so easily whip up panic, fear, dread, desire to give up as all is lost, etc. Thank goodness for the breath and the patience we can develop to work with it.
I plan to also continue writing nonfiction essays this year, thanks to the brilliant Vanessa Mártir and the #52essays2017 challenge. I look forward to what is to come in this genre for me. I found treasure in carving out time to write prose reflections on life, love, the world around me and so many things. Bless you, Vanessa for you are truly a gem.
You can learn more about Vanessa, read her work and find out about the classes she will be teaching this year at https://vanessamartir.blog/
And on we go…
Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone—An Online Learning Experience – National Writing Project.
This summer, I decided to hop on board an online course and community of educators led by teachers and authors Cathy Fleischer and Sarah Andrew-Vaughan called the Unfamiliar Genres Project. Their book “Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone: Helping Students Navigate Unfamiliar Genres” is the basis for the course.
Part II of the course/community is active during the month of July. Each participant chooses an unfamiliar genre to research and to write in. I’ve chosen vignettes since most of the students I work with are training to become clinical psychologists and therapists and they write papers in which they are learning to assess clients by reading and responding to vignettes. But I’ve learned through my research that vignettes are also used in Psychology and Sociology research in surveys. And I’m knee-deep in reading journal articles that describe the research and reveal the vignettes. And I’m loving it!
Of course, rereading “The House on Mango Street” is a great deal of fun as is reading “Deer Table Legs” by Katayoon Zandvakili and “Slide” by Monica Zarazua.
Katayoon’s poems are vignette-like which may be directly connected to her other creative pursuit, which is painting. And Monica’s short fiction has vignette qualities. Until I did a reading with these two writers on Wednesday, I was unfamiliar with their work. So, I’ve had pleasant synchronicities occur with this project. And I have two new books!
I admit that I’ve been away from this Blog. However, I have not been out of the country, away at my country home (don’t have one), or unavailable. No. It is the end of the summer quarter, and my head has been filled with other people’s writing and writing problems. Not a bad thing, but it means that there hasn’t been much room in my head for my writing or my writing problems. Funny, I’ve missed the challenges of my novel. I’ve missed the challenges of revising a poetry manuscript – make that 2 manuscripts. Not things I thought I’d miss, but…..
In 1 1/2 weeks, I’ll be back to my own writing and its challenges and joys, mountaintops and deep sea dives. And I’m looking forward to it!