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18 November 2007 @ 10:53 pm
Les Semaines entry for November 18, 2007--We Are Still in the Writing  
Yeah, back to work. Back to the second novel. No rest for the wicked. I have to say, that it feels good to be back actively rather than only back-brain working on it.

The Canada Council poetry manuscript definitely has a solid start. I wrote a bunch of poems at the start of my grant time, but recently have been concentrating on research as there are a lot of things I want to look at. I am really lucky to have a mother who knows where to find a lot of West Coast stuff--she's doing research for me amidst doing her own. She emails me with story tracks and tells me what she's found. Our friend John who lives a few blocks from her is coming down to visit over U.S. Thanksgiving, and has agreed to carry down some paper from her for me. I've also been reading all kinds of bits and pieces of Scottish folklore. I have over a shelf full of books about it, so I have a lot of reading to do in a short time, which is a problem for someone who would rather read fiction. I indulged myself and used some of the grant money to buy a set of Childe's English and Scottish Popular Ballads, which I figure will be great for both this project and for the novels, since they're ballad-based. There a new and wonderful edition out, but only three out of five volumes are completed, so I got those three and used copies of the last two volumes. Before that I made do with an all-in-one volume edition.

I feel like I would love to wrap up my Scottish travelogue poetry manuscript, The Walk She Takes, but since there's a deadline for the Canada Council manuscript, it is taking precedence. I know I'm close to finishing this one, but I do have a few more poems to write for it, and I'm just not focused on them right now, even to figure out which poems I want to write.

Jim also has a manuscript going out in the world, and is deep into the start of a new one.

Karen's preparing her synopsis. Barry's back into his novel. It's all good for the monthly writing retreat gang.

Karen and I write together once in person and a couple of times separately with phone calls at either end of the sessions each week, then once a month the four of us get together for day-long writing retreats. At the retreats we writer for forty-five minutes, take a fifteen-minute break, then repeat, taking a break for lunch. Then we have dinner together and watch a movie, which we take turns choosing because we all have such different tastes. We decided that was way more efficient than the hour-long sessions we would have standing in the video rental store together trying to come to some kind of agreement. So far we've all enjoyed (sometimes more than others, of course) seeing the movies the others have picked.

Twice before in the fall we've gone for longer retreats down at Rockaway Beach in Oregon, but that didn't work out this fall. The weekend's session was in lieu of that, and the timing was perfect for me to really get my head back into this novel. Hooray!


See Les Semaines for my recent listening and reading, and my old journal. Right now I'm typing out Jim's journal from our 1994 trip to Scotland.
Stephanie Burgisstephanieburgis on November 19th, 2007 09:24 am (UTC)
Ooh, those retreats sound heavenly! I'm very jealous. And so glad your writing's going well!
Neile Grahamneile on November 19th, 2007 05:30 pm (UTC)
They are. There's something about the rhythm of that 45 minutes writing 15 minutes relaxing that works well for all of us, keeping us more productive and working all day without burning out. Apparently, it's based on children's play patterns. It was Eric Witchey from Clarion West '98 who told Karen, who was also CW'98, about it who told us.

The Rockaway Beach one is especially wonderful. We're thinking maybe we could do it in the spring, though October is such a great time to be there.

It sounds like your writing is going well, too, despite having to be so careful about your energy level. I was glad to see that, though I'm sure there must be frustrating times, too.
Carlcarl_allery on November 20th, 2007 05:25 am (UTC)
When I did my O levels back in *mumble* (early 80s) our Head of Biology gave us a lecture on revision habits which was based on biological rhythms. The first fact was that concentration generally declines after about 45 minutes, so he advised 45 minute sessions followed by a 10 or 15 minute break. To this he added that the brain generally works best in the morning, worst after lunch and better again in the evening. He recommended, revising morning and evening and using the afternoon to do something more physical, which I've tried to follow as a general rule. :)

Sounds like things are going well on both novel and poetry fronts. Well done. I also am jealous of the writing retreatery!