Sunday, January 31, 2010

Vonnegut's Eight Rules



 On Writing...

In his book Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction, Vonnegut listed eight rules for writing a short story (in my opinion, ANY length story):
  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
Vonnegut qualifies the list by adding that Flannery O'Connor broke all these rules except the first, and that great writers tend to do that.
Friday, January 29, 2010

May your weekend be this lovely...


E-Book Readers simply cannot enchant me, make me swoon, like this sweet little corner of yumminess.


xo Lola

photo: This Is Glamorous     
Thursday, January 28, 2010

You Can't Do THIS With Your e-reader...(and RIP J D Salinger)


Or this...



not this either...

Or this (so pretty)...




Books = art in so many ways...




(above image on right by Wabi Sabi)





Keep Books Alive...buy them....read them...LOVE them.

J D Salinger lived a long life...and gave us the gift of his talent while he was here.
Catcher in the Rye is one of my favorite books.
I am forever grateful.
Rest in Peace.

~ Lola

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sa-weeet Solitude!!

Much is said about the solitary life of a writer, like it is a bad thing; melancholy, lonely, desolate.


Perhaps because I am a mother, have dogs, a teen kid who loves to play rock band on the XBOX with her teenager friends, someone always wanting to be fed or driven or wanting me in some way...there is nothing I crave more than solitary confinement. Give me thirty days in the hole (with my laptop and some books), please. PLEASE.
Who do I need to kill to make it happen?
I kid (sort of). I love my family, truth. I love my home and gardens. I love my dogs. I love my husband. I even love caring for all of them, I really do. Being a mother is an honor and gift I do not take for granted.

But a few days alone to write in peace? Hell to the YES! Sign me up. Where can I get me some of that action?

Really, back to my first sentence, being solitary should not be confused with loneliness.
Why is it so often associated with being unhappy?
I have been lonely, so lonely in the arms of another, as well as in a crowd of people.
I have been blissfully happy hanging out all by myself.
As social as I am, (I do like a party, yes I do. I love hanging out with my friends, dining, shopping, going to see live music, dancing, cocktails, pool parties, beach parties all equals good times to this writer chickadee). Yes, I am outgoing and social.
Yet, I have never felt lonely being alone.

I do believe to be a good writer, one must get out there and LIVE, have experiences, do stuff, people watch.
But when it comes time for me to sit down and write, to tell a story, having luxurious large chunks of Alone Time (without having to do chores/errands/field phone calls) is rare.
Unicorn siting rare.
Instead of living the (luxurious) solitary writer's life, I have (sort of) learned to pretend I dont hear my name being called unless someone's hair is on fire, and have become the master of ordering pizza delivery. (I am on a first name basis, by voice recognition, with our local pizza joint.)  I am pretty sure I have the only teenager that whines, "pizza again?"
I am a good cook, and occasionally even enjoy cooking. (LOVE eating!) But, when I do have some [rare] Alone Time, I want to get lost in my writing world. Instead, I have to start and stop a million, frustrating times.

But today, this moment, I am sitting in a silent house. The dogs are sleeping. The kid is out with friends.
The house is relatively clean (from my earlier January cleaning and organizing frenzy)...and I am free to spend time with my WIP.

To those of you without a household of craziness, you may not appreciate what I am saying, but essentially it is: WOOHOO!!!!

Just keepin' it real, yo.

~Lola out.
Friday, January 15, 2010

January Reflections

January evokes something poignant, profound and uniquely January-ish in me every year, a sort of odd co-mingling of quiet reflection, with the intense need to clean, organize, polish, decorate and get indoor projects done -stat.

I suppose in their distant ways they are both forms of nesting.

The frigid, grey weather keeping us inside, the beginning of a new year (and this year being a new decade as well, adds to the intensity), the end of a year/decade, the kid back in school, the Christmas tree and holiday decorations put away, the house quiet...I'm left with a blank slate, a fresh start.

Naturally one is inclined to take stock of the year(s) past, reflect on what went well, what needs improving, as well as reevaluate and make plans for the future. I rather enjoy this bit of ennui that early January delivers to me. Every year when the house gets naked after all the holiday decorations are taken down, I feel stripped down, too, just like our house and the winter landscape. My thoughts finally have the time and freedom to roam, and the permission to focus inward. That lasts through the first half of January (hence my rather moody last post), then, stock of my life having been taken, I'm READY.


Today our house smells of diluted bleach, Windex and Orange Glo; everything within her walls shines. Stacks of outdated magazines and catalogs have been thrown out to be recycled. Lists upon lists have been made and prioritized.

Next, the indoor house projects that have lingered undone and those more recently noted will be taken to task. I'll make plans for our summer vacation and get it booked, I'll finish my WIP, make plans to craft and lunch with friends, make Dr./dentist appointments, car apt.'s, vet apt.'s, etc..
 Ideas full of inspiration have been ripped from magazines and placed in a binder. Trips to Ikea, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn and the paint/hardware store are in order this weekend. The hive will be active in the coming days; Mama bird is doing her mid-late January nesting.


By the middle of February I will be slowing down (burning out!) and beginning to dream of spring, warmer days, the smell of the earth and green things growing. I will relax by the fire, in my newly re-decorated/re-organized home and pore over the seed and plant catalogs, drool over garden magazines. Flower and veggie seeds will get planted in little organic, peat cups and egg cartons and I'll begin drawing plans for my gardens and other outdoor projects in my garden journal, just as the ice and snow begins to thaw.
Because spring is coming and spring is its own new beginning. Mother Nature's New Year. Welcome 2010.

Love,
Lola

PS Please keep Haiti and its people in your thoughts, and consider giving whatever you can to help. They were in dire need before the earthquake. My heart aches for their anguish.
Monday, January 11, 2010

All that we see or seem...

Searching.
A dozen or so years ago, perhaps even a dozen years before that, the search for my particular purpose in this life gradually became more urgent and the need to understand became a painful quest, much like it does for most young people. I have years of journals in which I have pondered at length my (cliched) meaning in this life.
I've reached some level of success with relative ease in everything I've ever tried. And just as quickly grown bored with it.
Always, always, I am searching. It will be around the next corner, the next event,the next accomplishment, when I open the pretty gate and walk through, the secret will reveal itself to me at long last. My special purpose will illuminate me and give me peace, perhaps there will even be harp music in the background and a beam of light will shine upon me.

Or, maybe I am too broken. This thought frequently gave/gives me angst and sweaty palms. Maybe I am too broken; rendered unworthy of meaningful purpose or talents to share with the world. A broken promise.
But still I held out hope; the search continued. Perhaps, I think, it is hiding, lurking just out of sight under the narrow crooked stairs of my mind. Maybe it's all a mirage, a lake in the desert, taunting my dry gritty mouth.
Maybe no such a thing exists.
But then I get married and have a child...and, I believe, THIS must be my purpose.
And, in truth, I was in love with being pregnant, with being a mother and in love with my daughter; charmed by her every movement.
I read ALL the books and baby-proofed and bought only organic baby food. I never allowed her premium diaper to be damp more than a second. She was gorgeous and healthy and happy.
She never had a temper tantrum, there were no 'terrible two's'. She was a pleasure, smart, loved.
I cried soul-deep watching her walk into the school with her little backpack on that first day of kindergarten. So sweet she was, and how my heart broke that she was growing up and away so fast.
She excelled in school, straight A's.
Now that she is in her teens, I know I will be without my "job", my purpose in life...soon. What then? What will my purpose be?
Worse than The Search, far worse, is the gripping fear that I've handed this painful legacy down to my daughter. That my brokenness has somehow broken her, in spite of my best efforts. She is showing all the signs, in these teenage years. She has become lazy recently, her only "passion" is listening to music on her iPod (tuning the rest of us out) and reading and texting her friends. I call her Les Mis when she is PMS-ing (in my head, not aloud...much); because the look on her face when she is hormonal tells you all you need to know: Stay Away.
  The physical affection/cuddles she was always at the ready for, now rare. Her grades are still pretty good, but as of this school year, they are peppered with some B's. I don't love some of her new friends. I dont love her eye rolls. No, I don't love those damn eye rolls. I know most of this, if not all of it, is normal teenage "stuff", but still I have so much guilt.

Guilt that for all my best efforts I have failed her; my voice too formidable a weapon when acquiescence would have served her better. My heavy sigh and resigned defeat when I should have had a strong voice and held fast to the discipline.
I know too, that all of this is normal parent "stuff", but it doesnt make it easier.
I cant fail her. It's not an option. I brought her into this world and I want the best for her. She is lovely and I dont want her Searching. I want her Knowing her worth, her purpose, her gifts.

Still I know I am one of the lucky ones. I am one of the very luckiest of the Broken People that come from Broken People. I know, in spite of my guilt and worries, that I'm doing my best as a mom. My daughter is healthy, gorgeous and smart, and she does KNOW she is loved. She will never have to Search for that knowledge.

I am happy and healthy. I am loved and more importantly, I love the wonderful people in my life. Yes, I have known physical and mental pain, and yes, I have been unloved and unlovable. I have been betrayed. I have been beaten, choked and abandoned. But I am still lucky.
 I'm blessed to intimately know the luminous joy of being a mother, and of loving and being loved by my husband. He is a steady rock; faithful, loyal, patient and generous. He cools me when I feel scorched. He sees the good in me when I see none. He loves me when I am unlovable. He mortars over the holes in my heart and believes in me when I don't believe in myself.  When I am an agent of chaos, he soothes me. I believe I do the same for him, though he isn't broken. He is a Superstar.

Sitting here today, laptop under my fingers, silence but the bark of a distant dog, I hear the message loud and clear. In the words of Edgar Allan Poe:

"All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream"

If I never have any special gift to offer this world, I do have a purpose, purposes rather. To love and be loved, to write, to dream.
~lola

May your pen be mighty

May your pen be mighty

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Lola Sharp
My name is Lola. (I'm not a showgirl) Yes, L-O-L-A Lola. It's the least of my worries. Let's move on, shall we? This blog is mostly about my misadventures on the journey to publication and beyond. My passion for lush prose, quirky characters, art, music, literature, performing arts and anything creative will be a major theme here. This journey of mine will not always be pretty. Much like rubbernecking a train wreck, I know sometimes you just can't help but look at the carnage that is often my life. So strap on your neck brace, helmet and 5-point harness and come along for the ride! Licentia poetica.
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