09 March 2011

A Week in the Life

“Where women are pirates and princes and wildflowers grow in the soul.”

                                                                        Priya Parmar from her novel Exit the Actress
                                                                        “Nell” Gwyn talking about the theater pg. 6

            Well, buccaneers, what daftness be this? I disappear for a week, true as true, but d’ye see this is part and parcel of the writin’ life?
            And no bones about it, I’ll not be followin’ the subjects as given ya below. Keep ya on your toes. ‘Sides, writer pirates have a fancy for following the non-linear, if ya know my meanin’. Methinks I shoulda called this log “How Writer Pirates Lose Their Way and Grow Snarky,” but there’s much to learn and a few pieces of eight at the end, so I’ll gamble this won’t be a sodden loss.
            Confession:  I had me a meager writin’ week. By weekend, my temper coulda turned wine to vinegar. Writin’s the wind that keeps me sailin’. When I complained to Quartermaster Dan that I wrote but “Just one day!” the damned rascal said, “You best be speaking with your scheduler.”

            Aye. So I tell you plain by my reckonin’ what happened and see for yourself the trouble we make.
            I start out fine as monkey snot, puttin’ in a day of writin’ at B&N where I hide out from bloody rogues who push me off course. A good day, all told, followed by a workout, then back to home ship to read email, watch a YouTube video, heighho!, of Margaret Atwood talkin’ ‘bout the publishing world. She’s a wicked sense of humor, makin’ ya laugh through the pain.
            As all hearty writers must nowadays, I LinkedIn, joining a few groups and readin’ about bloggin’, jottin’ down tips. If ya ask anyone in the trade, they’ll tell ya, devil a doubt, ya best be on the net. The pity is, it takes a bleedin’ blasted lot of time.
            I set sail the next morning, going’ from home to Eugene town to meet with Pirate 1st Class JoJo Jensen who has a new ship she’s launching, a business for writers called Chapter to Voice. As an author and professional voice talent, she’ll be offering a recorded, three-minute professional read of an excerpt of your novel or book. Bloody awesome! Use it on websites, blogs, publisher’s page, as soundtrack for a YouTube vid. Three-hundred George Washingtons means you own it, lock, stock and barrel. No contract, no hurdles, all yours. We buffed her marketing materials. I clacked a few words of advice as a Captain is wont to do, and by the time we were done, we were ready to lift a pint if it hadn’t been ten in the mornin’.
            Then I was off to meet a very dear mate Judith Watt who gave me the seed idea for my current novel and who offered to send my “Gobsmacked” to a few friends who love to read. Every little doubloon of assist makes me shout, Huzza!
Crafty, the parrot
            Following that, I was off to pillage and plunder for victuals to fill the larder before the crew eat my parrot or me, those corkers, as if they dared.
            Alack, keepin’ the ship shipshape is a job in itself. It’s not ‘till dark that I finish some business in my quarters. Bein’ involved with the likes o’ Oregon Writers Colony, I give my time as advisor on the new logo and marketing materials, have worked on new uses for Colonyhouse (Mentor-in-the-House begins in April), and serve on the facilities committee. Ay, faith, it’s worthy and precious to keep all good writer pirates on the high seas, offering them a port for their writerly needs. Amen.
            Mark me, all this time, I’m sittin’ next to a box that contains my new Kindle and I have no time to open it. I wager some of you will say, Arrr! What ye be doin’ with a Kindle, you scumbag!
            Watch ya gob! I weighed and measured, and betwixt us, I was tired of haulin’ a suitcase of books to Colonyhouse retreats or Vermont Studio Center or off to Florida where I’ll be sailin’ the end o’ this month. I’m no spring chicken, and that’s all there is of it!
            But I do love the feel and heft of a hardback, the smell, the dust jacket, the cover art. But right now (I’m at the Colonyhouse as I write this), I’m reading a mate’s novel manuscript on the device and making notes and will send it back without fallin’ a tree. I’ll still buy books, like the badass beautiful book Radioactive, a graphic novel about the romantic and professional life of the Curies. The blasted thing glows in the dark! Ye won’t get that on no stinkin’ Kindle.
            The third day, I work for wages on a fellow Buccaneer’s poetry, marketing over nine-hundred poems as he travels to Iceland, Africa, China, and Israel for business. Terry Brix, a green chemical engineer, spins poetry like an Irishman downs Guinness. On plane, in airport, sailing the world, his sanity is bein’ a writer. After puttin’ in my hours, I turn to bookkeepin’ for 2010. Double arrrgghhh! Bloody taxes.
            But I’m obliged to finish all this before sailing on the 21st to Florida to see my fabulously formidable pirate family, and our clan from Wales, who are flying in for a few weeks of joviality. We’ll be sailin’ to Key West, too, where I’ll search out a giant pirate who dresses in elaborate regalia and chases unsuspecting tourists twice a day, cutlass swinging, “screaming pirate epithets,” according to George Choundas in The Pirate Primer. Photos to come!
            With work done, I finally spring free my Kindle, letting my pirate pal in Seattle, Randy Sue Coburn, send me her manuscript for my reading pleasure. Talented and successful, this female John Irving is creating her fourth novel. Clear the decks for captivating action!
            Hark’ee now, I’ve been clacking too long. Alas, I dare swear, I’ve not said one word about my #1, the man who trims my jib and keeps me afloat. Not much of his company this week, I fear, as we both sail on different ships. But at night we climb into bed together with a few pages betwixt us, then a … well, you ne’er mind, you scallywags!
June Joint mid-afternoon
            The fourth day, I sail before sunup, in for a dance class, then a meeting with my financial advisor. Are the doubloons flowing or not? ‘Tis always an irregular sea, that one. The ship demands more errands on shore, so the afternoon fills, but I stop off at June Joint and start this log, getting’ in a few paragraphs before headin’ off again to meet a talented shipmate from the Seattle 7 Buccaneers, Jennie Shortridge. She’s in Eugene town to speak at Mid-Valley Willamette Writers on characterization, but afore hand, we tip a Cosmo, sup with soup, catch up with our tales and laugh mightily. Her fine novel floats out there amongst you fiction lovers. When She Flew. Make sure ya read it, or I’ll watch ya dance the yardarm jig. She also told me the Seattle 7 have added to their crew with Erik Larson, author of one of my favorite books The Devil in the White City.
Jennie Shortridge
            A little more about Jennie: she’s workin’ on a fascinatin’ novel, takin’ her creativity to spin a yarn that was born from a true tale about … har, I forget! Now what was it? Ah, right, mates. About amnesia! Har, har!
            I’d better clap on sail and finish this. I must needs say that the following day was spent all four watches doing a different jig each time—shopping for victuals for Colonyhouse; working on a log for next time, methinks; meeting up with me mate, Barbara Sullivan (her blog: “The Solace of Lowered Expectations”), who just received an Elizabeth George Grant and a professional leave to work on her memoir. Huzzah!! We talked about my novel and she helped diagnosis a few tough items while we listened to a fine combo at The Loft. The next day was all about preparing for the week here at Colonyhouse.
            Time here is like going round the southern tip of Africa and losing a day, snap, just like that! I darr tell you, I’m wishin’ I could stay a month. My pal Lesley Howard is back at Vermont Studio Center for this month and, as glad as I am of it, I miss bein’ there with her and havin’ a month of writin’ time.

            Ah, well, none’s the pity. Until next time, I leave ya with this lovely command, spouted by John Flint in Porto Bello Gold. I reckon it might come in handy.

“Belay for a – lackey, ye slab-faced chunk o’ rotted seahorse!”

All my duty to you, lads and lassies,
Captain Val 

Coming Up! 
"Dangerous Territory: the Mind of a Writer"
"The Fountain of Creative Ideas, or Why My Resume Wouldn't Land Me a Normal Job"
"Platform, Flatform"

... and an interview with Jessica Maxwell of Roll Around Heaven

Links to Forementioned: