Spring Cleaning, Writer-Style.
I have been inspired to spring clean my office this week by beautiful photos in the New York Times of one writer's lovely writing space. It was so tidy and pretty. Mine, on the other hand, looks like some kind of re-cycle center for white paper and old coffee cups. I print out every draft. Just in case. And I save them all. Just in case.
Not anymore. I pretended I was moving and tossed all the school work (drafts, revisions and final drafts) from three years of an MFA program. Drafts of both books. Drafts of columns. Old funeral, basketball game, and Blessing of the Fleet programs. I did save one eulogy. But I tossed piles of handouts from writers' conferences and very wise teachers. Actually, a few of those stopped my hand from dropping them in the rapidly filling boxes for the real recycle center. The one by Stephen King about everything a writer needs to know-- in ten minutes? I saved that. The trouble is that rule 1 is, "Be talented." That can be a problem, but if you assume you are, then plow ahead. Even if it turns out not to be true, you will still compose better letters and submissions for the church newsletter if you follow the rest of his rules: Be neat, remove every extraneous word, never look at a reference book (or Google one) while doing your first draft, know the markets, write to entertain, ask if you are having fun, observe the proper rules for each submission-- and most important, if it's bad, kill it. Then I found a handout from one of my UAA teachers about how to write fiction that is true. Rich Chiappone quoted Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O'Connor --and me-- well, sort of. He included a paragraph from my novel-in-progress (I love writing that) the one I'm clearing the decks in my office to make room to complete--
Shelly walked to the window and looked down on CC's truck in the driveway, and nearby his deckhand Benny's Datsun 280Z. The yellow woodshed lights faded into the shoulder high snowbanks. Benny sat on a snowmachine drinking a beer. CC was on a folding chair nearby, leaning over a rifle resting on a low bench. He squeezed the trigger and fired through the aisle of the woodshed between walls of cordwood. The bullet whizzed in one doorway and out the other toward a padded bull's eye at the end of a chute shoveled into the woods. The way was lit by the twinkling Christmas lights Shelly had strung on the porch the day before. Her back still hurt from balancing her swollen belly on that rickety ladder. Benny chucked a crumpled beer can into the snow and reached in the cardboard half-rack. He pulled one out for himself and lobbed another to CC. Something about that underhand toss, the high slow arc and effortless one handed catch, made Shelly so sad she sat down. Nothing about her marriage was that easy.
Which is a long way of saying that's what I've been up to. And the family of course, and walking Pearl in this morning's snow. (Can we pretend for a moment that April showers will not bring May snowmen?)
What you need to know for today is that you have some hard choices this evening-- Choir practice is at 6, the K-4 school spring concert is at 6:30, and at 6:30 Tlingit storyteller Ishmael Hope will be speaking via teleconference from Juneau at the library on what he has learned from the elders about life, culture and spirit. There is also open gym at 7, and yoga from 5:15-6:30. If you are in the spring cleaning mode as I am, you can drop off stuff for the Hospice Rummage Sale tomorrow all day at the ANB Hall, but remember, only two boxes of good clothes allowed. If you would like to donate a cake or pie for the bake sale, please drop it off at the ANB Hall tomorrow or Saturday morning.