Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Shut Down

Hello Writing Friends-

I've come unveiled, so to speak. I will now do all of my blogging, writing and otherwise, at my home blog, Be aware that this blog encompasses all aspects of my life, including journaling, personal and family current events, rants, and the sharing of all my creative ventures.

Thanks for all the support!

Hoodie / Joni

Friday, May 7, 2010

Well, Hello Stranger

I recently got a comment on my last post from Szelsofa wishing me happiness wherever I was.

So I decided to tell you where I am. Thank you, Szelsofa. You can take credit for bringing the blog back to life.

I don't know who'll even see this, but I just might show my face, so to speak, around the old stomping grounds. I've peeked in on you more than you may realize.

It's been 8 months since I posted. I think I stopped posting because after my pregnancy-induced hiatus I came back to blogging looking for the same community I'd known and it had kind of moved on. I think I was disappointed. I also think (make that know) that I was in a place in my life where I was overwhelmed and confused. Was writing even for me? It seemed I had misplaced my Mojo.

Fast forward to the present. My kids are currently 7, almost 5 and 16 months. We've got the routine nailed, I'm sleeping at night and this time it is I who have moved on. To great things.

My biggest news is that I am returning to college. When I got pregnant with my oldest I was just beginning my senior year at a state university as a Literary Studies major. Pregnancy was not what I anticipated and I found myself reluctantly dropping my classes after the first week due to such severe illness that I was missing too many lectures. After that, life just took me for a ride, one that didn't involve me going back to school. We moved 1500 miles away so my husband could attend grad school and by the time we made it back to my home state I had three kids.

The stars have re-aligned for me, however. If I take two classes at a time I will be able to graduate in spring of 2012.

My first class begins on Monday. I'm completely excited and nervous. Mostly nervous about how my being a student will throw off the routine we've nailed. But I feel confident in my path. It is my time.

Another tremendous landmark for me has been my joining of a wonderful organization called Bloomsbury. A non-profit organization patterned after the group of the same name that Virginia Woolf and her contemporaries started, it focuses on bringing like-minded women together to discuss, teach and learn. It's not quite a book club, not quite a writing club. More like a learning club. A renaissance club. I was actually approached by one of the founders to be a member of the original chapter. The coolest part is that she and I had never actually met before. She had only read my blog.

One example of how writing can really bring people together.

On a final note, I am anxiously looking forward to attending a two day writing class taught by Orson Scott Card in June. I've long admired his work. I hope that it will jump start some confidence in my writing.

And perhaps you will see more of me. Whoever you happen to be these days.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The World Keeps On Spinning

I was just doing a bit of blog-surfing (a habit that has slipped significantly), just checking up on people, sniffing around.

I got on Jaye's blog and watched the first half hour of her little interview thingy. 1. I feel cool just knowing her. 2. She seems like the kind of person you want to chat into the AM hours with. 3. I realized just how little I know about the process of getting published.

Then I went to Jamie's blog where he talked about the Squaw Valley conference and how he's come full circle in three short years. 1. I feel cool just knowing him. 2. He just might be the best thing that's ever come out of Montana? 3. I realized that he's right, the world does keep on spinning. Whether you've become a NYT Best-selling author or if you've stumbled back however many baby steps you may have taken into the writing world.

I entered Jason's contest last month. Writing that piece was stiff and uncomfortable for me, but I entered it anyway because I had encouraged my sister-in-law to enter and didn't want to be a hypocrite. I didn't score tremendously well, but wasn't bothered by it. In the end I was pleased with the concept even if my execution was lacking.

I think I'm rambling, but I'm also unconcerned about that because I think I'm only getting readers by accident these days anyway.

I have always wanted to be a writer. I have always wanted to be published, not because I want to be famous or have money. I'm not that delusional.

I want to be a writer because I love books. I can imagine nothing more thrilling than looking at the spine of a book, fresh and smelling of the press, and seeing my name on it. Because that means a part of me, my ideas, my words, will be seen, be read, be hated or loved, but most of all, be known.

I've been trying to take a realistic look at my writing. I'm not doing a lot these days. This makes me sad. I could take the easy way out and say that having three small children has got me so bogged down I just don't have time. That would be convenient, but untrue.

I think I've stopped believing in myself. Or something. I'm trying to be honest with myself, but honestly assessing ones own skills and abilities is tricky business. We are all our own worst critics. But I would hate to be the writing equivalent of those poor souls on American Idol who really actually think they can sing and it's clear to everyone with ears that they can't.

I think I've discovered something about myself. With a lot of practice and lot of focus I think I can be a good writer. Good enough to get published? Who knows. That's always a gamble.


I don't know if I'm a very good story-teller. I've had this one book idea circling my head like a vulture for two years and I've been waiting for the plot to pounce. I have the world in my mind. The characters. The basic story arc. It's the details I lack. What should happen in each scene. How the conflict plays out. I'm at a point where I think if I haven't been able to figure it out yet then how can I honestly expect to make it in the writing world?

I'm not writing here for encouragement. I'm just writing what I'm feeling.

At least it feels good to watch my fingers on the keyboard. To hear the click of the keys. If nothing else, I can keep writing for that.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Failure To Thrive

I remember once when I was just on the cusp of teen-dom I got invited to a party. It was a party of all girls, but it was the first time I had been included with a particular group of what I deemed popular girls and I was very excited. I felt like I had climbed a rung on the social ladder.

This time in my life coincided with a blossoming awareness of my appearance. I had been fairly unconcerned with it up to this point, but I was coming to realize that a little lip gloss, a pair of earrings and some curl to my blunt-edged hair made a difference to how I was perceived.

So this was the night, a culmination of my sudden recent spurts of "growing up." I got all dolled up and remember curling my hair with marked excitement. Doors were opening, oh yes. I even put on mascara.

My mom had told me I could use the curling iron on the condition that I turned it off when I was done. Sure, Mom. Whatever you say.

I walked to the party, about 6 blocks away. Sure enough, there were all the popular girls and, to my smug delight, they didn't seem surprised that I would be there and I was quickly accepted into the heart of the conversation.

We did tweeny things. Talked about boys. A lot. Ate Twizzlers and Doritos. Gushed about each others clothes. It was pure heaven, with a strong current of laughter throughout.

Then my mom called. I had left the curling iron on. She wanted me to come home and turn it off. "Mom!" I protested. "Can't you just do it?"

I was informed we had made a deal. Apparently I had a lesson to learn. I could come home and turn off the iron and then return to the party or she was going to take me home to stay. Something about being reliable.

Feeling extremely mistreated I scuttled home, my curls bouncing all the way. I didn't even speak to my mother as I made a great show of flipping the tiny switch on the curling iron and heading back out the door.

By the time I returned to the party my curls were falling pretty flat. So was the party. A couple of girls had gone home. Everyone else was watching a movie that I had missed the first several minutes of and my return was barely acknowledged.

It just wasn't the same after I got back.


This time it wasn't a curling iron. It was a plain miserable cross-country move and then an even more miserable pregnancy.

Have I changed? Or did everybody else just shift without me?

I came back to Hoodie land and the party just wasn't here anymore. I know my efforts at reconnecting have been feeble, but having a Kindergartner, a three-year old Energizer Bunny and brand new baby have left me feeling less enthusiastic about anything but my shower and a pillow.

I guess I have changed a little.

So. Umm. I'm not really throwing in the towel. I'll still check in on y'all now and then, but I'm not going to feel guilty about not posting anymore. Sorry to the people who check in now and then. Both of you.

Keep on living the dream, my friends. Sorry I had to leave the party.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Artistic Overlap

I consider myself a tad over mediocre in the creativity department, but drawing and painting have never been my strong suits.

My dad put me in charge of designing T-shirts for our huge extended family reunion this summer. I tried to enlist a couple of artist friends who politely declined. My family is notorious for groan-inducing cheesy slogans/pictures at family reunions and I wanted to shy away from that. It would seem from past reunions that only puns and rhymes were at our disposal.

So I decided to try my hand and see if I could possibly come up with something myself that didn't completely suck.

As I thought about the location where the reunion will be held I remembered that the last time we had a reunion there, about a decade ago, the big memorable event was when a large moose wandered through our camp. I decided to make the moose our mascot. After using a few pictures online as references, this is the picture I drew to go on the shirts.

Remember, I don't normally draw particularly well. I sketched this in pencil and utilized my eraser A LOT. It took me about 3 hours, including the family name which I cropped out of the picture. I can tell you, I haven't felt this proud about creating something in long long time.

You are now free to tell me how awesome I am.

Monday, April 20, 2009

"Yeah, Right!"

My husband considers himself a lucky guy when he sends me to RedBox to pick out a movie and I come home with Hellboy II. I don't tell him it's because it's 7 PM on a Saturday night and the good stuff was taken and everything else was either college raunch or kiddie cheese. Besides, as with most fiction, I can usually always find something redemptive in a fantasy film. I'm dorky like that.

So we're watching the movie and there's a part where Hellboy is standing next to a row of lockers and the magic-smoke-guy is making all the lockers open and smack him all over. He then precedes to gradually fall down from the battery of locker doors, to which I emphatically replied, "Yeah, Right!"

My husband started laughing. "After all the stuff that has happened this seems incredible to you?"

"Yes," I said, "because two scenes ago he was fighting with a virtually indestructible troll-thing for a full two minutes and even though he was continuously pummeled and even lost a tooth he never once withered like he did just now from a couple of aluminum doors."

See, the problem wasn't that I found a magic-smoke-guy pushing locker doors open unbelievable. It was the fact that they didn't follow their own rules. This is such a basic concept in speculative fiction that I'm amazed how often, particularly in film, the rule gets broken. You can make anything happen in fiction. ANYTHING. But if you establish that your protagonist is strong enough to withstand blows that would kill any other mortal, without so much as a shake of the head, then you can't break that rule and have him wilt later at a series of much lesser blows. When you create a world you have to create its rules. It's the keeping of those rules that makes an audience able to suspend their disbelief.

Hellboy II is RedBox worthy, but don't pay more than a dollar to see it. The fantasy characters were intriguing (though I'm still wondering why the elves looked like vampires) but the action fell flat.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Language Killed the Story

When it comes to fiction I'm generally a cup-half-full kind of gal. Even when a story might not be right up my alley I'm usually able to find a measure of enjoyment in it and appreciate that it is probably right up someone else's. (Why does that sound vulgar?) I usually find something to applaud no matter what the content or style and very rarely have a beef with the author's choices. Even if it's not my favorite, I can concede that it might be someone else's.

I recently finished reading Prospero's Children by Jan Siegel. I found the story to be fascinating and I was very impressed with her grasp of language.

Until that grasp became so strong it was like a choke hold. My beef with this book was that Seigel clearly has the ability to write an enthralling book, but used so much muscle in the vocab department that it tipped the scale from impressive to irritating. The language and sentence composition became so ornate that I found myself wallowing through the text instead of gliding though it. Her lovely story was overshadowed by the flower in her words. Seigel is plainly talented and without doubt highly intelligent.

But, in some cases, just because you can doesn't mean you should.