The Sense Of Immediacy And Thoughts On Revision

I have the luxury of spending roughly four hours on writing-related ventures today (I am so lucky!) due to a fluke in my schedule and a quiet week school-wise. I have been writing like fiend, whenever I get a chance, and I have been caught up in my subject in a way I haven’t been since grad school, when I started writing Purge: Rehab Diaries. It feels really good to be so caught up in something, and I’m so motivated right now. It feels quite urgent that I get everything down on the page. It’s a matter of necessity. The creative part of my brain is firing away. And so I’m writing, writing, writing. The sense of immediacy looms large. I have to get everything down, because it just feels urgent, and I’m afraid I will lose momentum.

While I’m plowing ahead and writing away, I’m also revising earlier stuff. Move forward, stop and look back. Revision is difficult. It sometimes seems counterintuitive to the sense of immediacy I’m feeling, but if I don’t revise (I’m talking structurally) then I can’t move forward, because there is no road map to where I’m going. Two steps forward, one step back.

Still, I am in a great place right now, writing-wise, despite the push and pull of creation and revision. And so I keep moving forward, and looking back.

Some Musings On The Evolution Of Authorial Voice

It’s 2:23 on Wednesday, and I’m at my favorite coffee shop in Minneapolis, where I wrote the majority of Purge: Rehab Diaries. I’m drinking some Montana Gold tea, which is my new favorite tea, and watching huge, wet snowflakes fall to the sidewalk and melt. My favorite barista is working. It’s a cozy scene, and a perfect day for writing.

I’ve been mulling over some thoughts about writing lately. Mostly I’ve been thinking about authorial voice, and how it can change over time. I recently went on a historical expedition through my old computer files, and hard copies of papers, essays, stories, etc. I wrote while in undergrad and grad school. I had no particular reason to go through these files, other then they were a good distraction and procrastination tool (I should’ve been studying for a midterm). But, what I found made me think, and provided and explanation for some writerly troubles I have been dealing with over the past few years.

How I wrote in undergrad is much different than how I wrote in grad school. This seems like it would be obvious, but it wasn’t obvious to me until I read through my old work. My undergrad voice was excited, over-the-top, a bit ridiculous, but really fun. I took risks and chances with my writing. There were lots of cringe-inducing moments when I reread that old stuff. But there were also some hilarious moments, too. And amongst all of the rough material, there were a few gems. In undergrad, I was 18-21, and it shows. Next I read over my grad school writing, and I noticed that my authorial voice grew more authoritative, and more solid. My diction and descriptions improved. I still took risks, especially with structure and form, but they were calculated risks. My grad school writing had a more mature voice. I was 22-24 in grad school, so it makes sense that as I matured and changed, so would my writing.

Now, I am 30, and I feel that my authorial voice is changing, again. This seems like a natural progression, but it’s still difficult, trying to find and establish my new voice. Just like I wasn’t the same writer in undergrad as I was in grad school, I am now experiencing another evolution. I am not the same as I was when I wrote Purge: Rehab Diaries. My voice has changed again. I remember how shaky and uncertain I felt writing-wise when I transitioned from undergrad to grad school. I was cognizant of the fact that my authorial voice was changing. It was a hard, distressing time, but ultimately, I came through the confusion more sure of myself as a writer. It was a good change.

I need to take calculated risks again. When I read my writing from undergrad, it makes me smile (and sometimes cringe) because I didn’t care about publication, agent deadlines, or anything like that. I was free to experiment, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was completely artistically unencumbered. I had loads of encouragement from the PSU-Erie English folks, both students and faculty. Anything went. I miss that freedom, even though in a way, I still have it. I just need to turn off my internal censor, and forget about the outside world for awhile.

Tybee Island, Georgia (con’t)

WordPress wouldn’t let me post all of my pictures in one post, so here are the rest of my Tybee Island pictures:


They were all over the beach.

Gators at The Crab Shack

More Gators


Tybee Island, Georgia

In addition to going to Savannah, my mom and I went to Tybee Island as well. It was a bit blustery when we went, but I didn’t mind. I still waded in the ocean and looked for shells. We saw lots of jellyfish, shells, pelicans, and sandpipers. After we walked on the beach, we went to the Crab Shack for lunch (I keep typing Carb Shack!), where we saw lots of gators! Check out the pictures below:

Sandpipers on the Beach

Tybee Island Pier (that's me!)



Artsy Pier Shot

More pictures to come…

Savannah, Georgia In February

It is 10 degrees above zero in Minneapolis (with a windchill of -3) and I am especially cold because I just got back from spending six days in South Carolina and Georgia, where one day it was 77 degrees. Those of you living in the Twin Cities know it’s been an incredibly mild winter, but nonetheless, I still had a bad case of cabin fever. February is my least favorite month. It feels like winter will never end, and while the days are growing longer, they don’t seem long enough. So I went to visit my parents in South Carolina, and my mom and I took a trip to Savannah, Georgia.

My parents moved to SC in 2007, so I’ve been to visit them in SC many times, but I’d never been to Savannah, or to any part of GA other than the Atlanta airport. While I’ve traveled extensively in the United States, I have never spent much time in the Deep South. I rolled through Texas and Arkansas on the Greyhound, and I visited Florida, but otherwise, the Deep South is new to me, so it was fun to do some exploring. For any of you have never been to Savannah, I highly encourage you to go; it is absolutely beautiful. And, if it’s so beautiful in February, I can only imagine what it’s like in the spring, when everything is blooming.

Here are some pictures I took of Savannah:

Forsythe Park

Isn’t that pretty? Savannah has over 30 town squares, and each one of them is gorgeous!

Forsythe Park

I love that there are so many old trees in Savannah, particularly the live oak with Spanish moss.

Tree with Spanish moss

Check out all the Spanish moss! I love that stuff, although I wouldn’t want to touch it since it has bugs in it.

Occupy Savannah

This is the first “Occupy” demonstration I have witnessed. I know there is one in Minneapolis, but I haven’t chanced upon it.

While in Savannah, my mom and I took a trolley around town, and we did a lot of walking around the town squares. We saw where General Sherman promised “40 acres and a mule” and we saw the square where Forrest Gump sat on his park bench. For me, the highlight of Savannah was going to Flannery O’Connor’s childhood home. If you are in Savannah, I highly encourage you to check it out. It’s well preserved, and the curator is incredibly knowledgeable (and friendly!).

There are lots of good places to eat in Savannah, including Belford’s (delicious lobster and crab ravioli) and The Distillery (fabulous pecan pie). I recommend any dish with Wild Georgia Shrimp in it. They are hands down the best shrimp I have ever eaten, and they are especially good in Po’ Boy sandwiches. That reminds me…if you’re ever in the Augusta, GA area, you should visit Old McDonald’s Fish Camp, which has amazing seafood, along with unlimited hush puppies and grits.

Right now I’m teaching a writing class with a travel writing theme, and I think it has given me a case of wanderlust. My trip south satisfied that to some extent, but I’m yearning to travel more. I’ve been thinking a lot about the bus trip I took across the US in 2002. We’re reading Blue Highways in the class I’m teaching, and I keep wondering what a trip like Least Heat-Moon’s would be like today. It’s got me thinking about what my 2002 bus trip would be like now, a full ten years later.

I digress.

Savannah was lovely. You should visit it. My mom and I had a great time. But, you should also visit Tybee Island, which I will be blogging about later.

Here’s a link to the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home website:


Florence + The Machine: Shake It Out

I first saw Florence + The Machine on SNL and I was transfixed. I am madly in love with this song right now. I keep listening to it on repeat, at top volume. I love the music, and love the lyrics. I’ve embedded the music video below, and posted the lyrics as well.

Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play

And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn

And I’ve been a fool and I’ve been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I’m always dragging that horse around

All of his questions, such a mournful sound
Tonight I’m gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues drawn
But it’s always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah

And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart
Cause I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah

And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

And given half the chance would I take any of it back
It’s a final mess but it’s left me so empty
It’s always darkest before the dawn

Oh woah, oh woah…

And I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t
So here’s to drinks in the dark at the end of my road
And I’m ready to suffer and I’m ready to hope
It’s a shot in the dark and right at my throat
Cause looking for heaven, for the devil in me
Looking for heaven, for the devil in me
Well what the hell I’m gonna let it happen to me

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah

And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah

And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

Wildcard Weekend

Even though the Steelers lost this weekend, I had a blast this past Sunday. As usual, Cami and I went to McGovern’s in Saint Paul to watch the game. I knew it was going to be packed, so I got there around 1:15, even though the doors didn’t open until 2, and the game didn’t start until 3:30. I stood in line with my fellow Steelers fans, and I made some new friends. Here I am standing in line:

Can you see me? I was trying to get online on my kindle. Meanwhile, Cami and Tanya where at the bar drinking Bloody Mary’s and Coke. I didn’t mind waiting in line, though. It’s always fun to talk to my fellow Steelers fans.

Steelers Fans of Minnesota (SFOM) had special chocolates. Here is a picture of Tanya and I moments before we devoured our chocolates:

Aren’t those cool?

Tanya is not a football fan, and she was literally the only person not decked out in black and gold. Cami and I are trying to get her hooked on football, but so far it hasn’t worked, although she did enjoy people-watching at the bar.

Cami and I took the best picture we’ve ever taken:

Aren’t we the cutest? Cami has a Steelers shirt, but she washed it and it wasn’t dry in time to wear, which is why she needs a backup Steelers shirt. I’m fairly certain we lost to the Broncos because Cami was not wearing the right shirt.

Even though we lost, it was an excellent game. Anytime the Steelers scored the Steelers polka was played and the Terrible Towels were waving. I was hoarse from screaming and cheering when I left the bar on Sunday night. I also drank six Diet Cokes and was all amped up on overtime adrenaline, and I had horrible insomnia, but it was worth it.

Football season is over for me, although Prince Charming’s Packers are still in the running, so now I must shift all of my energy to rooting for the Packers. Hopefully this will keep me from sinking into a post-football depression.

Cami and I are thinking about going to Pennsylvania for training camp in August. That would be amazing.


Erie Street

Whenever I see Erie Street, over by the University of Minnesota campus, I smile. My first year as a grad student at the U, I’d walk by Erie Street and get incredibly homesick for Erie, PA and all of my Penn State buddies. I still miss that time and place, but now the sign just makes me happy, much like seeing Pennsylvania Avenue in St. Louis Park does. They’re a reminder of the places I’ve called home. 

Football: The Best Way To Bring In the New Year

My friend Cami is from South Dakota, but I have inspired her to become a Steelers fan. On Sunday, we celebrated the New Year by watching the Steelers game at McGovern’s in Saint Paul, which is the official Steelers bar of the Steelers Fans of Minnesota (SFOM) of which we are both proud members. I love going to the Steelers bar and seeing all the displaced Pittsburghers in their black and gold finery. I love hearing the Pittsburgh accent. Sometimes I get a little misty-eyed, especially when they play the official Steelers polka. There are Terrible Towels and people who say “yinz” and “Stillers” and it’s wonderful. The food and drink selection is great, and there is always a raffle. So far Cami has won a Pittsburgh hat, and I have won a Pittsburgh bottle opener, Pittsburgh beer cozy, and Steelers Superbowl coaster.

Here is a picture of me and Cami post-game:

This Sunday, we will once again be at the Steelers bar, cheering them on as they beat the Tebows (I mean, Broncos). Prince Charming is jealous that we have such an awesome Steelers bar. Part of me wants another Steelers/Packers Superbowl, but if that happens, I know Prince Charming will not set foot in the Steelers bar, as he is an avid Packers fan (he’s from Wisconsin).

Here are some of my favorite game day pictures:

I love football. 🙂

Happy Holidays!

I’m currently still in my pajamas, and just ordered a boatload of stuff from Sephora. There is no snow in Wisconsin (we are visiting my husband’s family), but the tree is pretty, and I have absolutely nothing to do today, which is perhaps the best present of all. I think there are still a few showings of A Christmas Story to go on TBS (you’ll shoot your eye out!), and rumor has it we will be eating prime rib later, so I’m content.

Happy Holidays! I hope everyone is relaxing with friends and family, and enjoying themselves.

PS: One of my New Year’s resolutions is to blog more.