January 31, 2012

Photo Collection: January

One of my resolutions this year was to take more time out to explore the world through my camera lens and share one collection of photos for every month of 2012. These photos were taken in my Mom's patch of beachside woods after a light dusting of snow.

Music Magpie

I recently read a blog post concerning Lev Grossman's writing process, and liked this very much:
"... when you’re in a certain phase of novel-making, you’re like a magpie: when something gleams at you funny, you swoop down and grab it and take it back to your nest, because you know, you just know, you’re going to need it later." 
I've always found this to be true: I pick up images and snatches of words until they start to click into place, transforming themselves from snatches to stories. I've been collecting shiny things for my next writing project for several years now, waiting to be ready to write it, and I've found some music that I know I'm going to need. This is music that begs to be shared.

The Civil Wars - "Barton Hollow"

It's not every day that my mother introduces me to music that I fall heartily in love with. We have different tastes, but my thirst for haunting, rich bluesy music has me loving this duo an awful lot. If there was a book trailer for my WIP, this would be playing in it.

Boy & Bear - "Moonstone"

Oh, Australia. I love you in so many ways, specifically for introducing me to some of my favorite music. I love every song on this album, although this is one of the catchiest.

January 21, 2012

Things I'd Like To Give My Students

I just wrapped up my last day of teaching for the time being, which coincided with the seniors' last day of classes. I had many of them in my creative writing class, and I wanted to leave them with something to think about as they start to imagine the shape of the rest of their lives. I was daunted by the task of saying something that wouldn't sound trite or hollow.

So I told them what I wish someone could have told me:

As you get older, you'll find that it's easy to get lost. Lost in love, lost in work, lost in life's dramas and complications. It's easy to lose your sense of who you are and who you want to be. Which is why it's important to make yourself stop: stop and reflect on what matters to you, on the things you never want to let yourself forget. Writing is a beautiful way to do that. So today I want you to write your future self a letter. Tell yourself what matters to you now, and what you want to make sure you never lose sight of. 

It was a really nice class, and a really nice moment. They all put different "open me" dates on their envelopes, and it was interesting to see what dates they picked. The first week of college. The last week of college. Their 25th birthday. I found myself fervently hoping that they hold onto their letters, and that whoever they turn out being is an even better version of themselves than they can currently imagine.

One of my favorite things about teaching has been talking to kids about books. It's given me the chance to reflect on what books helped change my world when I was their age. The books that made me fall in love with reading all over again and that made my last year of high school more memorable. These are the books I'd like to give my students:



January 16, 2012

Book Cover Love: We The Drowned

I didn't know what this book was about when I bought it. At all. I didn't even read the jacket flap. I ordered it because I needed it. I needed this cover in my life. It is everything I love: layered but clean, tactile and arrestingly beautiful. I almost want to frame it. Hopefully the book's content will prove as satisfying. Have any of you read it yet?

January 14, 2012

Resolutions 2012

It's that time again: time to set some lofty goals for myself to keep me on my toes in 2012. 

I'm pleasantly surprised by how well my goals for 2011 went given the number of mammoth obstacles. I managed to accomplish many of them in spectacular style: I travelled to a several amazing places; I got the opportunity to work with teens; I grew as a writer/editor, and got a lot more comfortable calling myself one.

Hey there, 2012. I've got a good feeling about you.


1. Finish Novel #2 and start shopping for agents. I'd hoped to have this done by now, but I'm actually glad I didn't. A few extra rounds of editing have made my story so much better than it would have been had I rushed it. I feel confident now that it's the best book it could possibly be, and I'm hoping to be sending letters out by the beginning of March.

2. Write Novel #3. I also thought I'd have this done by now, but major life changes/Novel #2 took up all of my creativity. Last year I still wasn't sure what I wanted this novel to be. But now I do, and I'm really excited to write it.

3. Make photography a bigger part of my life. 2011 showed me how much I love taking photos. So this year I'm going to try and put together one photo collection a month of things that make me feel inspired and share it on the blog.

4. Take myself on a writing retreat. Travel + writing + long walks through beautiful landscapes = my ideal trip. I'd love to go to Ireland or Wales, finish my novel, drink dark beers, and amble along clifftops. Care to join me?

5.  Learn to play the violin. So this is something I always thought I'd do once I retire... I love love love string instruments but have never thought of myself as very musical. But lately I've been wondering why I should wait. My spindly fingers were meant to play something!

6. Run for a cause. I'd like to train for a run this year, particularly to raise funds to help find a cure for diabetes.

7. Get back in touch with Shakespeare. Teaching eighth graders Romeo and Juliet has reminded me how much I love it, and how many of Shakespeare's plays I've yet to get properly acquainted with. I'm hoping to read/see as many of them as I possibly can.