Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lucky Day

Today has been a great day! A lucky day!

I'm on vacation in Millbridge, Maine right now. It's way up there, over an hour north of Baa-haa-baa (Bar Harbor). This afternoon while kayaking, we saw a wild BALD EAGLE! It was amazing. We thought we saw it float into a group of trees on a small, uninhabited island. We rounded the next bend and there it was, perched on the top of an ancient pine. It checked us out for a minute or two before it took flight, soaring over the islands to the open ocean and the horizon to the east. We watched it soar and soar and soar until it faded into the clouds. What a sight! I will never forget that.

As if that wasn't enough, I beat my wife in Scrabble tonight. She has probably won the last 150 games we've played against each other. No joke. No exaggerating. She's amazing at the game. It was nice to win. Maybe I'll win again in a couple of years.

Finally, I'm reading Beyond Lucky by VCFA grad Sarah Aronson. It's a soccer story and, so far, I'm loving the main character and his authentic voice. Looking forward to finishing before bed!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Residency Over, Back to Work

My second residency in the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College of Fine Arts ended yesterday. I now begin my second semester. I'll be working with Jane Kurtz.

I plan to post more about how it feels to be a part of the VCFA community, but it's hard. It's a cliche, but it's really nearly impossible to put it into words. I'm very thankful to my family for providing me with so many opportunities along the way, making it possible for me to up up where I am. I'd also like to thank my wife, Jesse, for everything that she is. Jesse, thank you for encouraging me to dream!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cynsations!

Today, my post about my writing routine is being featured on Cynsations, the amazing blog/kidlit advocacy site created by former VCFA faculty member Cynthia Leitich Smith. View the homepage of the site here and, if your visiting after some time has gone by, view my specific post here.

This blog initiative has been such a great project, and being featured on Cynsations is an amazing way to bring my residency to a close.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's Grrrrrrrreat!

Can't you just see Tony the Tiger pumping his fist into the air. I used to love that guy.

My residency is going super. Too busy and intricate to even really discuss right now. VCFA is the most amazing school/community I could imagine.

I served as a reporter for yesterday's events over at Through The Tollbooth, an amazing writing craft blog run by VCFA alums. You can view my post here.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

So it begins...

I head in for residency this afternoon. Leading a hike for those interested tomorrow morning. Trying to get mentally prepared for the amazing onslaught of writerly knowledge that it about to take over my brain.

p.s. I'm anxious over who my next advisor will be.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Writing My Way into a Routine

My second residency at Vermont College of Fine Arts is only a few days away. As I prepare, I've been thinking a lot about these first few months.

During my first residency, I kept hearing the word “routine.” I knew they were talking to me. I was disorganized, and I needed to create a routine around my writing. I needed to figure out where and when I produced my best work and, hopefully, that would lead to some consistency.

I started with mornings. I told myself that I would write first thing each morning at the kitchen table. Strike One. Life got in the way. I then tried late-nights, reverting back to my old college ways. Strike Two. I realized I’m not really a night person. Next up were early evenings; a nice block of time before my wife got off work. Strike Three. I had too much energy. I couldn’t focus most days. My quest for a routine ended in a strike-out.

But then I realized there are no strike-outs when it comes to writing. There are no right or wrong times and places to write. Coming to terms with this was the solution to the problem. The routine I found is more of a mindset than a time and place. I’m never going to be someone who writes at 7:00 a.m. each morning in the breakfast nook, and that’s ok. I’ve gained consistency through the realization that as long as I’m writing each day, it doesn’t matter for me.

A minimum of 1,000 new words per day. That’s my routine. It doesn’t matter if it happens at dawn in my kitchen, or at midnight on the moon, as long as I get to that 1,000. The words can be for my work-in-progress, school essays, random tangents and exercises, or a letter to my wife's grandmother. It doesn’t matter. Finding my routine was just about figuring out exactly how I work, and now that I have, here's to the future...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Workshop Packet

I'm reading through the workshop packet for my upcoming VCFA residency. What an amazing group of writers that I have the pleasure to be part of!

After only one semester in this program, I am a much more skilled reader. I am able to dissect a given piece of writing's strengths and weaknesses, and I have learned to articulate my suggestions and criticisms to better help the writer. "Reading Like A Writer" as Francine Prose and many others say is definitely a learned skill that has informed my own writing for the better. By being able to appropriately dissect a group of words in others' work, I can now revise my own work with much more clarity and objectiveness.