field notes (9.30.16)

A gem of a quote from Tobias Wolff via Mary Karr’s book, LIT: A MEMOIR

“Don’t approach your history as something to be shaken for its cautionary fruit…Tell your stories, and your story will be revealed. Don’t be afraid of appearing angry, small-minded, mean, immoral, amoral, calculating, or anything else. Take no care for your dignity. These were hard things for me to come by and I offer them to you for what they may be worth.”

field notes (9.23.16)

I found this quote from Bowdoin College’s web site and have not been able to determine the author beyond the fact that s/he is an instructor or professor at that college. But, I’ve got to share this. I’ve been going round and round with keeping a journal and this quote is so helpful:

“The function of a research journal is to set down your thoughts about the primary and secondary source material you are reading. It is a record of your questions about the materials you read, and provides a place to record the questions this material raises. The object of the journal is to record your thoughts about the primary and secondary material at hand. You want to do this as close to the moment of having the thought as possible, and you want to minimize anything that hampers this objective. Make your journal accessible and easy to use. Use a special computer file devoted to the purpose, or a spiral-bound notebook, or whatever device works best for you. Don’t worry about correct spelling or punctuation. The journal is not for anyone’s eyes but your own.”

In short, your research journal is a record of wondering.

Now, I’m off to read HARRIET THE SPY  by Louise Fitzhugh (again).

field notes (9.16.16)

RANT: I read one of the worst YA novels I’ve ever encountered this week. The main character was surrounded by loving, intelligent adults who solved 95% of the MC’s problems. I was irritated the entire time I was reading because YA books should be about the struggle of adolescence (of course) but also it must show how the MC acts to save themselves because that’s what adolescence is all about: trying to act adult-ish for the first time. 3-year-olds need adults to fix everything for them. The point of a YA novel is to sort of show that “Hey, you 15-year-old, you’ve got the emotional resources to do more than you think.” The point is not for the MC to run to doting mommy and wise teacher and helpful guidance counselor so that they can fix all your problems for you. I didn’t stop reading because after the first few chapters I started studying how NOT to write YA. As a kicker, in the final scene, the girl kisses the boy and then everything is OK because boys are the solution. When that happened, I threw the book across the room. [No, I’m not going to name the title or the author because that is mean and there is enough mean in the world.] RANT OVER.

And then I read ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES by Jennifer Niven and my hair almost caught  fire this novel is so deeply amazing. Read this book! Niven did not take short cuts, she did not take the easy route. She took the hard, brutal, HONEST route and it was such a beautiful book. This is how you write YA. Read it and learn from it. Brave, brave, heart-filled writing. Well done, Jennifer Niven.

Having a blast writing my next column!

Writing a grant (which seems to be an acceptable form of navel-gazing)


field notes (9.9.16)

(slowly) transitioning to early morning writing again and realizing that this isn’t just a quick habit, but a choice that I need to build my life around

my latest column in the Bemidji Pioneer published BRAVE-HEARTED CHOICES

doing research and wondering about the practice of keeping a research/reflection/inspiration/purge/character/etc. journal

noticing abundant signs of autumn’s arrival: leaves beginning to change color, increased wild animal activity, temperatures dropping, geese flying south, and craving steaming cups of hot chocolate

writing against a grant application deadline (grant writing is difficult for me, but ultimately such a beautiful way to clarify my vision and goals)

preparing for a research road trip

reading: FEATHERS: NOT JUST FOR FLYING by Melissa Stewart, THE YEAR AT MAPLE HILL FARM by Alice & Martin Provensen, THE PRINCESS AND THE CURDIE by George MacDonald