Sunday, July 25, 2010

Space Traveling Unicorns

I've done NaNoWriMo a couple times and written a novel at a slower pace. I don't like to tell people what my story is about right away because I want to protect the story. When you say you're writing a novel the next question is "What's it about?" My answer "Unicorns." (Note- my stories aren't really about unicorns I just say it to let people know that I'm really not talking about my project yet). If I need a little variety I'll say Vampire Unicorns or Zombie Unicorns.

This weekend I went home and picked up a "book" I wrote and illustrated in second grade. The cover was pink floral wall paper and the story was printed on construction paper written in my second grade printing font. My mom found it when she was moving and has been telling me about it ever since. She has been talking about how I was a writer even back then.

I remember making books in Miss Johnson's second grade class. Miss Johnson read to us every day and introduced us to the world of chapter books. She assigned me to read Dear Mr. Henshaw and I will be forever grateful for that because the book helped feel not so alone during my parents divorce. But she also had us make some books. I was really proud of the illustrations in my book about Easter but I couldn't find that book.

When I opened the wall paper cover and read the story I laughed so hard I cried. It was about a unicorn. But not just any unicorn. A space traveling, environmentalist unicorn with magic powers.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Like camp for writers

Today was day two of my writing class.
I'm trying to change things up and try something different so I took a week long class at The Loft on Writing the Short Personal Essay.

Here are things I learned so far.

1. The Short Personal Essay is not what I thought it was. I thought it was the entry I'm working on for the Real Simple Essay contest. Turns out it is more "literary" than that. We are reading essays from a book and using them as examples. They are reflective, lyrical and sometimes poetic. We talk about form and structure.

2. To be observant. Yesterday we went out on our own and observed a person we saw and wrote about them. Today we walked around the neighborhood on our own and observed a sound, a found object and a symbol of the past/future.

3. I have a hard time sitting still for long periods of time.

4. I am finding it easy to share my work in class. I'm normally pretty shy so maybe the last couple years of sharing work in class and critique groups has made me more comfortable sharing my work in class.

I have to admit that I felt a little like Harriet the Spy yesterday when we went out to observe people we saw walking on the street. It was fun and I think even if I never write a personal essay that I may use some of these exercises next time I'm facing writers block.

The form is short. The book we are using sets the limit at 2000 word. In picture books the limit on word count means every word is important and has to really mean something. I feel like that is true in the Short Personal Essay so maybe there is more in common between the two than I think.

Monday, July 19, 2010

More Vacation Adventures

Tomorrow I start a week long writing class at The Loft. Since usually there is a matinee or tech week that gets in the way of me taking a week long class I decided to take this class during my two weeks off.
OK really I wanted to take a class at Madeline Island School of the Arts but there weren't enough participants. I did go to Madeline Island last week to visit a friend who is working there this summer and to check out the school so I can make plans to go there next year. I biked, swam in Lake Superior, used a paddle board and swam some more and spent some time with my friends and making new friends at Tom's Burned Down.

I didn't get much writing done. A little in my journal remembering family vacations. My mom and stepdad would always take us for a week at a resort in Wisconsin. We would leave our house early in the morning and drive forever. Towards the end of the drive we would be passing resort after resort and I wondered why my parents had picked the resort that was farthest from our house. Couldn't they have picked something closer?

I have been to Madeline Island before. During these family vacations to Wisconsin we usually went on a trip to Bayfield or Madeline Island. Once we even went to Thunder Bay. I don't actually remember anything involving a big boat trip because my mom gave me medicine to prevent motion sickness. Being in a car on a ferry boat was like a double whammy. So when I visit places I visited as a child it is like seeing it for the first time.

I stayed with my friends who run boat tours of the islands at Adventure Vacations. The wind was too strong and the tours that did go out were to full for an extra person. I did consider walking to the marina and taking a sailboat tour but the waves were too much for me so I stuck to land and calmer waters in Big Bay.

My friend Jen says that despite how much there is to do on the island she still hears people saying they are bored. After spending a couple days on the island I would recommend coming to the island prepared. Bring a swim suit for sure. Maybe bring a bike over or rent a bike or moped from Motion to Go. My friend's store sells boogie boards, swim suits and pool floats. They also rent paddle boards which is a fun way to get out on the water if it isn't too wavy. I spent more time falling off the board until I gave up on the whole standing thing and decided to kneel on the board.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Vacation adventures

I have been in full on vacation mode.
My mom came to visit for the first two days of my vacation.
On Sunday we used the new Minneapolis bike share program, NiceRide. I've been wanting to rent a lime green bike since they showed up around the city a month ago. We biked to the Lyndale Farmers Market and ate at The Magic Bus Cafe because The Grateful Dog is my favorite summer food. My mother is shocked at my meat eating habits. After all I bike a lot and I eat vegetables, how can I possibly want to eat meat. I didn't really point out to her that this meat consumption is like a once a week thing but whatevs.

On Monday we rented pedal boats at Lake Calhoun. Wow. Pedal boats are much harder than I remember from the last time I was on a pedal boat when I was a kid. While we were struggling to move our cumbersome water craft through the lake we decided we wanted to get a closer look at some lily pads. There were a pair of ducks by the lily pads and one was stuck and the other one kept quacking and trying to help her duck friend. While my Mom and I were trying to pedal over to save the duck (an idea that would have taken at least five minutes and might have gotten us stuck in the lily pads) a guy in a kayak swooped in and saved the duck. Which made my mom want to rent kayaks today. We ate lunch at The Tin Fish.

So today back to Lake Calhoun to rent kayaks. After renting the kayaks I'm never renting pedal boats again. Also at $11 an hour what a great way to use use a kayak without actually owning a kayak. Not that it wouldn't be fun to own a kayak but I live in a condo and don't have the storage space for a kayak and at $150 for the season renting a storage spot by the lake makes the $11/hour to rent a kayak pretty reasonable. Being on the lake, out in the water was great and I think I need to spend more time doing this.

Vacation adventures continue tomorrow. I'm bringing some notebooks and pens and maybe I'll write. Or maybe I'll just swim, bike, kayak and whatever.

Next week I'm taking a writing class at The Loft. All week. All day long. Some people might not think of this as vacation but since many of my childhood and teen summers included a week long creative writing class at College for Kids I think this is like my grown up version of that.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I love my new bookcase

I have been resisting the urge to buy a new bookshelf for quite a while. I believed that since I read mostly books from the library that I wasn't acquiring new books but that is wrong. It turns out I have been buying new books- like the two bargain book shopping adventures.

This weekend the call of the Ikea summer sale was strong. I found myself getting in my car and driving to that wonderful temple of organization. I zipped through the showroom like a pro who has been to Ikea numerous times.

I love Ikea. Everything is organized and just being in Ikea makes me feel like I can be organized. Somehow no matter how many Ikea items I buy it still seems like my house doesn't look like the showrooms.

I found the bookcase section and decided on the BILLY
BILLY/ NYCKELBYBookcase with glass-doorWidth: 31 1/2 " Depth: 11 " Height: 41 3/4 "  Width: 80 cm Depth: 28 cm Height: 106 cm

I brought Billy home and was able to assemble the bookshelf in about thirty minutes. Yay. The desk I bought a couple years ago came with an eighty page instruction manual and took three days to assemble.

Billy is amazing. The books which were previously on my childhood bookshelf easily fit on one shelf. All the books I had stacked in front of the books on my other bookcase and on makeshift "bookcases" a.k.a nightstands, end tables, and under the bed fit on the second shelf.

OMG there is still a third shelf. I love Billy. Clearly I was just fooling myself to think that I didn't need more bookcases. I'm also glad my bookcase came with a name name. It makes it easier to talk about how much I love my bookcase.

I haven't figured out what to do with my childhood bookcase which is now sitting empty and sad. I called my mom to make sure there was no family heirloom type importance but this bookcase has housed my books since I was reading The Monster at the End of This Book. There is a ring on the top shelf in the shape of a Sea Breeze bottle from my teen years. I might have a hard time letting go even though I love Billy.

Monday, July 05, 2010

I'm Back

I'm back from my little facebook/blogging vacation.

At first I thought that not checking my facebook a couple(OK more like five) times a day was going to be hard but it turns out it wasn't that bad. It was actually freeing. My house is a little cleaner but that could be from my new dish want and my revision is a little farther along.

The biggest thing I noticed was that I wrote(or cleaned) at times I would normally be on facebook. I wrote in the morning, when I had a spare half hour, before shows, between shows. Now normally I would think nothing of checking my facebook between shows and catching up on status updates but the idea of sitting and writing would feel somehow wrong. But it wasn't so wrong. Turned out I had to keep an eye on the clock but it was good.

I have gotten to the place in my facebook life where I don't update my status often. But the first day of my week off all I could think of was status updates. But without the status updates I put all those witty little thoughts in my journal.

One unexpected side effect of not facebooking was the amount I read. Now I'm not saying the books that I was reading were really hard but I read three books in the last week. Trixie Belden and the Mystery in Arizona, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Prom Dates from Hell. I'm a reader so I usually read about a book a week but I was excited to find that not reading status updates freed me up to read more books.