Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Writing Day 1

Today, I had to clean up my study from an art project, so that I could write. I need two studies.
One for art projects, which are generally messy, and one for writing, which can be emotionally messy, but generally not messy messy.

I have not joined the writing marathons that have enjoyed popularity this month: the thousand words a day (4 pages) nor the weekend marathon. But I have decided to spend a few weeks writing every day for a couple of hours including weekends. I don't like to make page goals. It makes me anxious. It is good enough to sit at a clean desk every day doing something, anything, with a novel.

Today, I made notes on where I was going and started going there. I read what I had written aloud to Tom and it was like God said when he created the world: it was good. I am feeling more hopeful about writing, a feeling I haven't had in two and a half years. I felt so hopeful today, in fact, that I set a goal for finishing it. I never do that unless I'm sure I can make it. I don't like to set myself up for failure.

I hate failure.

Sometimes I'm not all that great with success either. So there you go.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Drey jar

This afternoon I drank my water from a Drey jar while eating chocolate chips straight from the bag. Perfect.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Since Tom got his new Nikon, he's been posting a picture a day and this one of our dog, Alice, is one of my favorites. See the rubber toy? We are supposed to throw that thing across the room ad infinitum, and if we don't, she whines like the annoying little dog that she is.

Don't tell anyone, but I feel most protective about Alice. More than any of the dogs we've had. It may be because my children despise her. It may be those perky ears and that perfectly proportioned four-pound body. It may be that she loves me and wants to French kiss me every moment of the day. Ech.

The only real tension in our house is between Tom and Alice. Alice yaps and Tom yaps back louder. "Why do you want a dog if you don't want the dog to be what she is?" This is my question. I would never go out and buy a dog. It wouldn't even occur to me. But when we are without canine, Tom begins shopping and then says the curdling, "Let's go have a look at these Yorkies," which is, yea verily, the same as "Let's go spend several hundred dollars on a Yorkie."

Then for the next fifteen years, he and the dog bark at each other.

I imagine I will miss this interaction some day.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Plum House

Every once in awhile a house goes up in a color I love. This dark plum makes me happy. I think it would be great to be a Plummer and live in a plum-colored house. (It's like I'm still in third grade).

We had a grand time at the Cannon wedding last night which was like old home week at the 27th Ward. It was held in the Sky Room at BYU which looks out to mountains from every window, including the one with our old house on it. So it was old home week for Provo as well.
I felt nostalgic and grateful for beloved friends and places. (This prose is sounding like a bad Christmas letter).

I started a new P.D. James novel today. It's a rest from Dostoevsky who'll I'll take up again when I'm done with this one.

On the writing front, I'm outlining my book, because I'm lost, and I'm not writing another scene until I know where it's going. I did some drawing this week. I like playing with my colored pencils and ink. Really, I'm too happy to write. Happiness doesn't make for good writing.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Oh, how I love you Fyodor. I'm thinking of framing your picture and hanging it above my desk. I haven't paraded an author above my desk since Earnest Hemingway in 1961. You know the one. You out write him, Fyodor. He's good, but you're a genius. The things you know about human character, religion, philosophy, history, demons--you had demons, didn't you? Demons and epilepsy. The Brothers Karamazov took three weeks to finish. It was like being my teenage self sopping up a long novel like toast and honey. I read Crime and Punishment last summer. I'm going to read every novel you've written. But first I'm taking a break with P.D. James. Then I'll return to you, my love.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Game up!

I haven't blogged since Ms Pacman entered our house a couple of weeks ago. My addictions take many forms, but Ms Pacman may be one of the more insidious ones.

I first became addicted to Ms Pacman the week of a summer writing class in Quadna Resort and Conference Center in Minnesota under the tutelage of Marian Dane Bauer. We workshopped all day, but after dinner we gathered in the game room and played the newly developed Ms Pacman, our pockets loaded with quarters. This was 1982, the summer before I turned 40 and Magnum P.I had just finished its first season. I loved Ms Pacman and I loved Tom Selleck and I loved the idea of becoming a writer. Marian Dane Bauer took me out to lunch to tell me that I had what it took. One of the best days of my life.

We bought Ms Pacman for our Coleco set and I stayed up into the wee hours of the night trying to clear boards so I wouldn't be shamed in front of my sons.

Then all of it disappeared for a few decades and now I have a Wii and at Christmas I found out that one could still get Ms Pacman and so we bought one. But it took us months to get the other necessary accouterments to get the game up and running.

You may be interested to know that playing Ms Pacman is not like riding a bike. Don't use it and lose it. But it's coming back. I have a blister on my left thumb. I have cleared the second board. Right now it's hard to imagine ever seeing the third and fourth boards.

I do other things. Really I do. There's temple work, church, institute class, writer's group, cleaning up, finishing THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV.

I'm so busy.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Max's piano recital

Max and his piano, teacher, Betsy, are two of my favorite people on earth. So it was wonderful to be invited to his piano recital last Friday night. Tom and I were early so we could sit on a sofa. Old people think about these things.

Betsy's twenty-one students played crisply and clearly and had been taught to bow before and after playing without breaking into sniggers. So not only has she taught them to play piano, she has taught them poise.

I kept a pleasant smile plastered on my face during the whole evening, realizing almost immediately that a recital is NOT a concert. A recital is full of glitches, second starts and sighing, and then continuing despite breakdowns. This creates a morbid tension in the listening audience who is invested in these children playing well.

Max played "The Gray Donkey" and "Splashing in the Brook."

A genius.