Thursday, June 30, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Here is my father, Paul Langella, playing for the Zweibr├╝cken Warriors (U.S. Forces Europe) of the International Cup League while he was stationed in Germany during the early seventies. I would have liked to play that guy in a game of one-on-one. Most accounts say that I had more skill, but it's no secret that he was tougher. Maybe I'll write a story about us meeting on the ice, both in our primes.

Happy Birthday, Dad! Thanks for everything!

VCFA Blog Initiative Pt.2

As promised, my post about writer's block is being hosted today by recent VCFA graduate and Montpelier native Pam Watts over at her blog, Strong in the Broken Places.

The entire VCFA blog initiative schedule (as it stands right now) has been complied and posted by my classmate, Ingrid Sundberg, at her blog, Ingrid's Notes.

It is definitely worth checking out all of the posts and poking around all of the different blogs. There are a great deal of creative people out there with very impressive thoughts to share!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I'm printing out my workshop packet. Very exciting. Close to 200 pages of amazing writing from 12 fabulous writers. It should be a glorious afternoon of reading, dissecting, and thinking. Can I get any other feel-good adjectives in one paragraph?

Monday, June 27, 2011

The In-Between...

It's a hard place to exist in. I've been done with my semester for a couple of weeks, but my next residency is still a couple of weeks away.

I have found that producing quality work has been difficult. The sense of urgency is gone, and I have reached a bit of a plateau. Its time to follow my own advice and create something new. I'm going to write a new little story this afternoon just for fun; just to create.

What will it be about?

I have no idea and that excites me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

VCFA Blog Initiative

I am joining several other students/alums at Vermont College of Fine Arts by participating in a blog initiative this summer. We have each produced a couple of blog posts that are being picked up by other blogs about writing and/or children's literature. Our posts will allow the regular blog writers to take a little bit of a vacation, and the goal is to draw attention to the wonderful program we have at VCFA.

I will update this space with more information as it becomes available. I have included one of my posts below that will be appearing on several blogs in the next couple of months. I will link to them on the appropriate days.

Working Through Writer’s Block

As a student at Vermont College of Fine Arts, one of the most challenging requirements that my classmates and I face is the dreaded deadline. Each month we must submit a ‘packet’ of work that contains a reflection letter, essays, revised and new creative work, bibliographies, and exercises. You name it, and we probably have to do it. It’s intense. We have to consistently produce quality work at a torrid pace. So, you ask, what happens when writer’s block sets in?

First, if you never get writer’s block, please stop reading this immediately and go do whatever it is that you do when you’re not procrastinating or trying to figure things out. This is not for you.

Okay, now that we got those guys out of here, let’s get back to business. Writer’s block is a blessing, not a curse. That’s right. Even for grad students with deadlines. It provides us with valuable time to clear our minds, and it gives us ample opportunities to formulate future plans. So, when writer’s block hits, don’t try to fight through it at any cost. Don’t try to force yourself to write just for the sake of writing.

Relax. Take a break. Recharge.

Here are some things that work for me:

- Get away from the computer. I happen to live in the hills of Vermont, so I usually go for a walk, a hike, or a run in the middle nowhere. The solitude is great for thinking. Before long, ideas for my current work-in-progress always spring into my head. I think it’s because my brain no longer feels captive to the keyboard. There’s no pressure. The same reaction can work in a city. Find a place that you love to be. Go there. Let your subconscious take over.

- Immerse yourself in the creativity of others. Go to concerts, art shows and exhibits, farmers’ markets, museums of any kind, lectures, sporting events, etc. Insert unnamed event or activity here. People are amazing, and they’re all around us. I find that just being close to talented individuals or the things they create gets me going. It makes me think about my own creations. It makes me want to race back to the computer. Creativity is contagious.

- Start a completely new project. Maybe there's an idea that has been swirling around in your head for years? Write a chapter. Maybe there’s a short story contest that you’ve always wanted to enter? Do it. Write it. When you return to your previous work you’ll be refreshed and ready to go.

- Read. Read something for pure pleasure. Throw off your reading-like-a-writer-hat and just enjoy. Get lost in the story, regardless of style or genre. Let it take you to that place that only great books can find. I guarantee you’ll come across some useful ideas while your visiting.

I count myself very lucky to be part of the VCFA writing community; a place where things like introspection and exploration of any kind are encouraged. I could even write my next essay about writer’s block and how it affects me. It’ll have to wait though. I have a packet due in a few days, and I’m feeling a bit cloudy. Nothing like a run in the Green Mountains to clear the mind.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Tale of the Tape

My first semester is over. It has been a truly remarkable experience. I have grown as a writer in ways that I never thought possible in five short months. As always I'd like to thank my wife, Jesse, for supporting me while I chase my writing dreams, and I would like to thank my first advisor, Laura Kvasnosky, for creating such a great learning environment for me this term.

I thought that I would fill you in on the amount of work I have done this semester.

I have read 81 (Yowzaa!) books, including:

39 Novels
30 Picture Books
7 Writing Craft Books
4 Graphic Novels
1 Short Story Collection

I submitted 321 (Yowzaa Again!) pages of written work.
These pages included letters to my advisor, essays, picture books, short stories, memoir vignettes, and pages and pages of new and revised work on a novel. The novel is still very much a work-in-progress, but I now have over 100 revised pages that I feel good about. I think the story has a bright future.

Just thinking about that has made me a bit tired. Time to get some lunch before I get back to work.

p.s. I just checked the date from last term, and I should be getting my new workshop packet any day now. I'm excited about the piece I submitted this time, and I'm even more excited to dive into the other submissions.

p.p.s. Go Tim Thomas!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Semester Over. I'm going to be a huge rebel tomorrow. I'm not going to read for even one second. Not even one.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rounding the Final Bend

My final semester work is due next week. After that, I have to compile my term's reading and writing to turn into the office at school. I should have some interesting stats to pass on about my progress.