Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Spring cleaning-out

It's my day to post at YA Outside the Lines, where I blogged about spring cleaning. Well, in my case, the spring cleaning-out that I've been working on for months: The Great Decluttering. I talk about how it's going and what it has meant to me. A sample:

"I feel as if I'm making room for newness, because I can't fit anything new in my life if all the space is still stuffed full of the past."

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday afternoon

One thing I have sought in simplifying my life is more room for stillness--stillness meaning "quiet" and also "rest," the rest from being in constant motion. Sitting and listening. Reading, but also taking breaks from reading just to look around, to listen.

Right now the trees are shading our lawn, but the sun makes the upper layers of the leaves and pine needles glow. The birds are conversing with their own twitters and cheeps. A few insects fly about. There is no wind. The sun hits the prism in my window and paints rainbows on the walls. The scent of pine needles wafts in through the open windows. In the background, a commuter train goes by, and a child across the street fusses.

Now a breeze ruffles the leaves on a tree branch outside the window. Car doors slam; the child has stopped crying. Rectangles of sunlight lie on the floor.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thankful Thursday

Thankful today for:

--good books and good bookstore events
--fresh salad greens
--my nutty cat
--whoever first thought of putting chocolate and mint together
--the radio playing some songs I haven't heard in a while
--a long weekend coming up
--my husband
--a hot shower on a cold rainy day like this
--the Cornell hawk cam
--people who speak truth to power
--this rain that we've needed for weeks
--you who are reading this

Saturday, May 16, 2015


In reading a back issue of Tin House, I came across this sentence in a review by Luis Jaramillo:

"It's amazing how persistent the feeling of not-enoughness can be."

Amazing indeed: we see the fruits of it everywhere. In the people who puff up and become too aggressive, who overcompensate. In the people whose talent we admire like crazy, but who shrink from putting themselves out there. In the people who keep grasping without asking what they really need. In the various little voices that war inside us about whether we can do what we are trying to do.

Not-enoughness keeps us seeking, keeps us striving, gives us goals. It can keep us humble. It can give us a reason to get up in the morning. But every now and then, I like to take a pause to say, Right now, in this moment, I have enough. I am enough.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Last weekend I spent more hours than usual reading, especially reading outside in the warm air, enjoying the shade and birdsong and breezes.
It did wonders for me.
It slowed the world down, allowed me more space to think. It improved my concentration, made me happy, made me hungry to write more.
Writing has its ups and downs, but reading is still, always, a pleasure.

Friday, May 8, 2015

All's well that ends

The ending. The resolution (or not) of the story. The last taste in the mouth, the take-home message, the good-bye that lingers in the ears. This has always been the toughest part of a book for me to write. The endings of all of my novels were rewritten many times--far more than the beginnings.

I'm at it again, trying to figure out how to end a story. I am on at least the fourth version of the ending, and will try others.

These are the things I'm balancing: what I want to happen, what should happen, what I think the readers want to happen; what feels complete but not too pat; what readers need to know; what changes should be driven by whom; whether Character A forgives Character B after all; the desire for justice vs. the knowledge that some mistakes can't be repaired; my need for symmetry; the need for this scene to be interesting but not set up a whole new range of problems.

Yeah. Fun times.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Walking in everyone's shoes

One thing I like about writing is that it stretches my perspective. I'm always trying to see every scene from every character's point of view. Even when I'm writing in first person, I'm thinking about how every other character is experiencing events. I try to do this in life as well. With writing it's easier, because I can know the whole story of my own characters, while in the real world I can never fully know another person's story. But just acknowledging that, and trying, may be worth something.