Monday, December 31, 2007

On This Day 12-31-2007

On this chosen day, Writer Woman looks into 2008 with a backward glance into 2007. What can be said about 2007? It was a year of surprises and change. Writer Woman is becoming accustomed to both. She almost sold her novel and then the deal fell through at the last minute. A tree fell on her house due to the drought conditions. One of her personal essays was accepted for publication in a large popular anthology. She began a memoir on her mother’s last two years of life. Good news arrived on the eve of New Year’s Eve. Writer Woman was contacted by a magazine editor who wants to feature her Black Mountain stories in her April issue. This is a first for the magazine to feature only one writer for the issue, and Writer Woman is beside herself. Maybe this is a good sign for 2008.

What happened to the cake? ‘Love of Her Life’ came by last night and picked it up. He had no idea what he held in his hands. Writer Woman restrained from pointing out how long and what effort went into the baking. Instead, she only smiled.

Shortly before for ‘Newly Married Daughter’ and ‘Love of Her Life’ showed up, the Christmas decorations came down. With all the best intentions and promises, Writer Woman still didn’t get started until late afternoon. Funny how it’s so much fun to put up all the festivity, but when it comes to taking it down, the task is more like a household chore. Soon the house was stripped of any remaining sign that Christmas had arrived and left. The rooms had expanded in a matter of a few hours. She could breathe.

Writer Woman made vows not to put so many decorations out next year, but she knew this was just a lie to get her through the cleaning process. Next year would bring just as many decorations or maybe more.

It’s the same when Writer Woman writes a story. Always there is a paragraph, sometimes several, that she falls in love with. The sentences make her sound like such an articulate writer. It is just such sentences that takes away from the story and must be cut, put away for a better a use. She promises herself that she will not write such stuff again, will not get carried away with the sound of her own voice, but it is a lie. A writer has to write without the editor sitting on her shoulder, dictating the good and bad. A writer has to love her voice.

So, in this coming year, Writer Woman has promised to write only her best work, but this makes her laugh. Because it’s within the worst prose she writes the jewels, the glimpse of a wonderful story, a better chapter than the previous.

Writer Woman wishes you a Happy New Year and a year of writing. Now get to work.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

On This Day 12-29-2007

On this chosen day when Writer Woman debuts her new blog, she decides to cook a German Chocolate cake from scratch. Writer Woman is mostly a fiction writer with sometimes a flair for cooking, but more often just a struggling writer. Her cooking expertise seems to be in fast dishes such as tacos or salads. So why would she choose to bake a cake from scratch?

Last night Writer Woman's daughter was married in a civil service to the “Love of Her Life.” Writer Woman doesn't know “Love of Her Life” too well. She was asked by “Love of Her Life” to make a German Chocolate cake, his favorite. Writer Woman agreed. Why? That's a question she is still pondering.

As Writer Woman gathered her ingredients, she felt sure, confident, that yes she was the best. This confidence lasted until the three layers came out of the oven. By this point, her kitchen was covered with dirty bowls of every size: one to separate the whites from the yolks, one to cream the sugar and butter, and one to mix all the dry ingredients.

She knew she was in deep when the layers refused to let go of the cake pans. The coconut and pecan icing simmered on the stove as she knocked the edges of the pan with a knife. At first this was a soft beat, a rhythm, but then the energy increased into banging when it became evident that the layers would not release and fall to the plate provided.

Finally after much coaching, the layers were free, but not without damage. Writer Woman thought of giving up, throwing in the towel and driving to the bakery, but her husband had the car.

Another hour later, the icing was applied to the cracked and lopsided layers, hiding all defects, or most of them anyway. Writer Woman shoved the cake into the frig and closed the door, vowing not to look at it again. She then proceeded to eat a good size bag of Doritos. The salt enhances the sugar. She has done this ever since she kicked the habit of smoking ten years ago.

What does any of this have to do with writing? Well, for one thing, this piece of ranting and three journal pages amounts to Writer Woman's accomplished writing for the day. Second, cake baking has everything to do with writing.

When one begins a writing project, she has an idea of how perfect it's going to be. Let's say a short story is envisioned. It's simple write down what has been playing through one's head. Ah, but fifty pages later and a whole other story, she is lost and can't release the earlier project from her thoughts. The fifty pages are disconnected and fragmented. She patches here and there with cleaner sentences, an image or two, maybe even a few similes. After stepping back to review the damage, the story is not as bad as she expected, not the same story, but not too bad after all. If she puts it away for a while, the story seems stronger, better than she had ever hoped.

As writers we have to be prepared to make a few lopsided cakes. And on that bit of wisdom, Writer Woman signs off for today.

Oh yeah, she was going to post a picture of the cake, but alas her husband took his digital camera with him. Too bad. Readers will not get to feast their eyes on her cake.

Stay tuned for more adventures of Writer Woman as she fights to remain on the page.