Monday, January 24, 2011

Carpool line writing class

Finally.  The first full week of school for the kiddos since early December.

No. More. Snow.  


It was fun and all, but one good snow in Mississippi every five years is about all we can handle.  Even my snow-happy children have cried "Uncle!"

We're ready to get back on a regular schedule of school, carpool lines, piano, guitar, tennis, ballet, choir, gymnastics ... So, yes.  I pretty much live in my mini-van after school (yes, I admitted it--I drive a mini-van).

But, I do have a luxurious block of time during the day, and I'm tackling my final illustrations during that time.  I've just recently found my groove, and while I still have to redo entire paintings from time to time because of a giant out of control blob of brown paint or a dropped paintbrush right in the middle of my main character's face (argh) or a millions other reasons ... I feel like I finally have the time to really get rolling.

Of course, the weather man has predicted another snowfall for Wednesday.


How do you people who live up north handle it?  Oh.  Right.  You have snow plows and snow removal equipment.  We just don't have all that stuff, and the tiniest dusting of sleet causes our entire town to shut down ... except for the toothless people who find a way to show up at Walmart in their tank tops and house shoes--is THAT what the zombie apocalypse is going to look like??  Yikes.

But, one of the main reasons that I'm hoping for a normal schedule (second only to getting to work on my illustrations) is my latest discovery--The New Yorker Fiction podcasts.

In these free downloads from iTunes, writers choose and read a short story that has been previously published in the New Yorker.  The podcasts last anywhere from twenty to forty-five minutes (perfect carpool-line length) and include a discussion between the fiction editor and the writer who is reading the work.  

I am learning so much about subtle character building and plot from listening to these readings.  I love the sparseness and empty spaces found within short stories--it reminds me of how important it is sometimes to leave things out, things that keep the reader wondering and questioning.   Plus, just like in children's writing, word choice is all important because you don't have the luxury of pages and pages of description and character building.  The art of "showing not telling" is mastered in the pages of short stories.

And, sometimes the stories are just plain off-the-wall weird.  Like crazy, mind-blowing bizarre.  Kind of like the people who show up at Walmart in an ice storm.

So, wow.  I just realized that whatever the weather, I'll have some good story ideas.  I'll either be sitting in carpool line sipping tea and listening to literature ...
                                                                                           or shoveling a path to the Walmart.


  1. Ha! I was scrolling down in hopes of finding one of those weirdos at Wal-mart pics :))

    YAY for school! And good luck on the new paintings.

    I cant' wait to check out those podcasts. That's so cool.

  2. Love reading your will find inspiration everywhere, no doubt!

  3. Good luck with finding your groove - hopefully the weather will cooperate! :-)

  4. Ha! Loved this! Hope your schedule is not derailed again! Meanwhile, we can't seem to get any snow up here in the Northwest (at least in the valleys)! Thanks for the podcast heads-up!


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