Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Wake up

A friend of mine lives in Swaziland, which is a tiny country inside of South Africa. She reports that 62% of Swazi women aged 30-34 who live in her area (urban Hhohho) are HIV-infected. 

I don't even know how to wrap my head around this reality. It's not enough just to love the people who live around me.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Writer's Tip

We have lovely friends who have an organic farm, and every week I love seeing the changes as everything gets plowed and planted and starts to grow. Farming is a hard, labor-intensive job and, like, writing, it's best not to calculate how much you're making an hour, but it yields visible, edible results. In revising a novel (and revising it again), progress means you scroll farther down your document. In order to set goals and to give me a sense of achievement, at the end of each major writing session I calculate what percentage of the way I am through my revision. The length of the novel fluctuates as I write new material and delete sections, which is why I don't use page numbers. And of course, the closer I get to the end, the more I feel myself pushing onward, cheering. Which is why all I have to say right now is

89.4%, baby!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Dramatic Rescue to Cheer Your Heart

Listen to this NPR story about US aid worker Jessica Buchanan's dramatic rescue from Somali pirates by Navy Seals. Followers of this blog, note that the interviewer is asking just the kind of questions a past article from Transom recommended in order to create a good story.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Writer's Tip

Here's a handy tip for freelance writers: try posting your profile on www.thumbtack.com. For all others, it's a handy way to locate services in your area. When you go to the site, it asks "What service are you looking for?" and "Where do you live?" then connects you with options. Started in California, this service is available in all 50 states. Enjoy!

Friday, May 3, 2013

On Re-reading

Do you have any books that you've read and reread over the course of years, so that layered over the story is your experience of reading here, here, and here? I remember opening this book for the first time, in Maine, so that I always think of the ocean when I see this book, even though it's set in the Arizona Territories. In the time since I last read this book, I've become a wife and a mother. I find myself relating to Sarah Prine's marriage and motherhood in a whole new way. Suddenly, those details of the whining toddler, the pile of diapers to wash, rise to the foreground for me. And that's a pleasure. I've also, in the time since reading this, gone through an MFA program, and I'll never read any book quite the same way again. There is no turning off the curious part of me that wants to know how it's written. Suddenly, I'm catching and critiquing odd choices in the diary format (when exactly during the day did she write this?). I'm noticing pacing and action and improbability, and I don't want to see these things. I want to turn that off and jump wholeheartedly into this world, rather than hanging on by one hand to the world of the editor. Sigh. It's still one of my favorite books, though.
City of Rivers New from McSweeney's, 25 year-old poet Zubair Ahmed's debut poetry collection, City of Rivers. Check out my (favorable) review through Late Night Library.