Wednesday, May 30, 2007

rain, divisadero

We finally had some rain last night, need more, please send.

The new Michael Ondaatje novel, Divisadero, is in my pile, which is getting to be like a pie full of plums.

Friday, May 25, 2007

why writing groups?

Because after just one meeting (yesterday) in which I didn't even read, I have already tackled the new opening to the second novel, rewritten the blurb, and gotten some key things straight in my head.

Because this particular writing group has been there for a very long time and will be there for as long as I'm likely to need it. It has roots. (and in returning to it after a two-year hiatus, my roots are still there)

Because just this one question, "Billie, can you read next week?" has catapulted me into major writing action.

Because these writers and their feedback are stunningly good.

All hail Laurel's Thursday morning group and my summer sojourn there. :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

the catkins are blooming and the toad prince is back

The toad prince continues to elude the paparazzi (me and Matthew) but I am still trying to get his photo w/o using a flash. Meanwhile, he is doing a wonderful job eating flies in the barn.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

tree of enchantment

Couldn't resist - this lovely creature showed up in my garret last night. From the gift tag:

The weeping pussy willow is among the most graceful of trees. It is connected with all that is feminine - dreaming, intuition, emotion, enchantment, healing, and revitalization. The willow has long since been recognized as a sacred tree by poets, philosophers, and religious leaders because of the flexibility of its twigs. The willow's flexibility symbolizes resilience and inspires us to move with life rather than resist what we are feeling.

Legend has it that willow is bestowed with magical power capable of fulfilling wishes. For a wish to be granted, ask permission of the willow, explaining your desire. Select a pliable shoot and tie a loose knot in it expressing your wish. When your wish is fulfilled , return and untie the knot. Remember to thank the willow for your gift.


What a wonderful thing to find. Will let you know if the wish comes true. :)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

taking a break

I'm taking some time away from camera-obscura to focus on book stuff, riding schedule, and some projects around the farm that need doing.

I'll check in with any news/announcements/updates, but otherwise, will plan on being back here regularly in the fall.

Have a great summer!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

new location/writing update

I've brought my laptop to the big front porch that overlooks our front pasture. There's room for a crowd here, and I've often imagined a writing group meeting here some evening, reading out loud with glasses of wine and horses blowing in the background.

Now, it's mid-morning, I'm alone, except for the illustrious black cat Keats, a fitting companion for a writer, the low-flying small plane passing overhead, and four happy horses grazing and snorting to my right.

There is an easy breeze rustling the leaves, sounding a bit like distant surf, or waterfall, and it's one of those sunny spring days that prefaces summer but without the heat.

I've come out here mostly to enjoy the atmosphere, but also to get a new perspective on my writing agenda.

The official work-in-progress is on the back burner, simmering quietly but absolutely still in my head. Every few days I have a thought that needs jotting down in the black moleskine and it will be a wonderful day when I open that file and have several pages of notes to incorporate.

The main project right now is the second novel's revision. I've been fortunate in the past month to have two new reads to add to a previous read done last fall. And one close read of the first five or so pages. In June I'm heading to Weymouth with all these notes in hand, and a serious intention to dig in and implement some very good suggestions.

Next week I'll be rejoining my Thursday morning writing group for a summer sojourn - through mid-September - to focus on the second novel and gear up to query it after Labor Day.

And in little creative bursts on the side, my daughter and I pulled out the picture book we started a year ago and made some progress continuing the story.

I rewrote the first chapter of the YA novel I'd started a year ago and am awaiting feedback from my son, who can spot a plot hole a mile away and will also tell you without the blink of an eye if you're not hooking the reader.

All this should get me through 'til fall, when I hope to get back to the work-in-progress. There's a kaleidoscope-making workshop that figures largely in my plans to dive back into that ms.

And finally, the first novel is still being considered. Send it some good energy and if you have time, tell me about *your* creative agenda. I have lots of good energy ready to send.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

loudon wainwright on songwriting

"Writing songs is like fishing. You sit in the boat and you wait. It's true you have to know the best spot, time of day, which bait to use, the difference between a nibble and a strike, and most importantly, how to get the damn fish into the boat. Talent is essential, craft is crucial, but for me, it's mostly down to waiting and luck."

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

the cure for anything

The cure for anything is salt water, sweat, tears, or the sea.

-Isak Dinesen

And gorgeous horses in fly masks in the back yard. :)

Some things...arrive in their own mysterious hour, on their own terms and not yours, to be seized or relinquished forever.

-Gail Godwin

I was thinking about this quote on the way to my office today, how fleeting things are sometimes and how easy it is to miss them altogether. There's an art and a talent to seizing the moment. There's an art and a talent to letting one go.

Just as I was thinking that, a song came on XM and while I've heard it before and liked it well enough, this piece resonated today:

Our lives are made
In these small hours
These little wonders
These twists and turns of fate
Time falls away
But these small hours
These small hours
Still remain

The small hours and little wonders of horses munching first cut organic orchard hay soft as silk, children with sore throats sipping ginger root tea and soup before napping, the gift of a much-wanted novel in the mailbox today.

At the office, walking in, this, which seems to mix spring, summer, and fall all into one:

Inside, seeing clients, the small hours became therapy hours and the little (and not so little) wonders continued.

I was not in the best mood earlier today, but by the time I came out of work into a soft but steady rain, that had shifted.

Seize. Relinquish. Knowing when to do which thing. Being present enough to see what's landed at your feet.

Monday, May 07, 2007

the week's end

Yesterday afternoon this image on the wall outside my garret perfectly captured the mood of the week's end ... golden light and dancing shadow, warmth inside as the wind outside took on a chill.

The image here doesn't quite capture the color and definitely not the movement, but it has its own grainy appeal.

And now, of course, we're on to Monday and a new week's magic.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

the list

There's a piece of paper fluttering around my chair, fuzzy here b/c I'm too impatient to fuss with the camera.

Books to buy:

The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood

Skylight Confessions by Alice Hoffman

Ten Days in the Hills by Jane Smiley

Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Finn by Jon Clinch

The Blade Itself by Marcus Sakey

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

I'll Steal You Away by Niccolo Ammaniti

And some books that have disappeared from my library and need replacing:

Haven Kimmel's novels

Huck Finn

Tom Sawyer

Catcher in the Rye

The frustrating thing is that I can't just go out and buy all of them at once. But, even if I did, there would be another such list in about three days' time.

If you like, feel free to add suggestions. I'm getting an early start on building my reading pile for the coming winter. :)

Friday, May 04, 2007


I'm guest-blogging at Murderati on Saturday, so come on over and say hello!

You'll find a line-up of wonderful writers and always great conversation. See you there...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

the work ahead

A novel, in the end, is a container, a shape which you are trying to pour your story into.

-Helen Dunmore

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

may day

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

-Anais Nin