Archive for the ‘Alum Experiences’ Category

One Hundred Words A Day

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

One hundred words a day — a promise I made to myself. They are born by forceps, or by Caesarian section. They arrive after hours of labor, slippery with blood and vernix and shit. They come out blue and still, and the doctor turns away from me. They come out screaming, with an APGAR score of nine, and the doctor tells me to be patient as he cuts the cord. They present as breech, or get stuck and won’t budge, or slide out so fast the doctor doesn’t need to turn the shoulders and almost drops them. Sometimes labor is short; breathing controls the pain. Sometimes it is induced, after pre-eclampsia sets in, and the pain is indescribable; I tear the sheets with my teeth and beg for comfort. After the birth, after the cord is cut and the fingers and toes are counted and the weight and length recorded, after that… after that… there is the flood of something joyful and welcoming and strange. (more…)

Drano Dreams and the Writing Mind

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

I went nine months without REM sleep.

This must be an exaggeration (me? exaggerate?). I recall a general truth that a few nights without REM leads to insanity.

So maybe it’s not an exaggeration.

What I know is that suddenly, for the past few nights, I’ve swirled deeply once more into the darkness of REM: I’ve had to perform in a play for which I’ve not read the script, which I have to (unsuccessfully) piece together from crumpled up wads of paper before hitting the stage (thankfully not naked). (more…)

15 Minutes

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

doughnut

 

“Just bring a notebook with you wherever you go,” Erika said and then took a bite of the sea salt caramel glazed doughnut we were sharing, followed by a slug of coffee.

Erika Schickel and I were having breakfast at an impossibly hip diner in downtown Los Angeles; one that I joked was way too cool for my nerdy self.

“We’ll become hip by osmosis,” Erika assured me. “Who knows, we might even walk out of here with tattoos and beards.” (more…)

Fog and Flow on the Path to Publication

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

MtTamHike

A few weeks ago on a mountain hike, a friend who has been following my writing journey asked me enthusiastically: “So, now that you’ve finished writing your book, are you in bliss until it gets published?” At the time we were slogging along a very foggy trail on Mt. Tamalpais near San Francisco. While that trek often provides vistas of rolling hills, the blue Pacific and a glimpse of islands far out to sea, we were so shrouded in mist that day I often lost sight of the hikers ahead of me. Not a good idea. On these trails we are cautioned not to get too far behind our group, so as not to accidentally become coyote or mountain lion “bait.” (more…)

Knocking at Hedgebrook’s Door

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Applying for writing residencies is not for sissies. Hedgebrook, I love you dearly but I bear your scars. Every year, since 2005, I applied for a Hedgebrook residency. I was rejected each year, so I would work even harder the following year to make my essays shine and to choose a stronger writing sample. (This time an excerpt about the darkness of the human heart! This time a story that tackles a complex political subject! This time a humorous social commentary!) My file of Hedgebrook rejection letters grew and grew.

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