Thursday, July 16, 2009

the business of writing

Miss Daily Writing Habit has a recurring idea to cut out the prints from Naomi Lewis' Fairy Tales to Read Out Loud and frame them, hang them in her writing room, and order another copy...for reading, of course.

She hasn't been writing profound thoughts or writing much. It occurs to her that writing is a kind of business, in terms of the discipline and product! Where's the product?

Started Seal Wife.

Planted lavender.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Miss DWH wants a good story

Miss Daily Writing Habit begins reading Kathryn Harrison's The Seal Wife and immediately picks up subterranean currents in her head. For instance, she seems fascinated by neighbors.

What the book jacket says about the writer gives her energy: she has written novels, essays for The New Yorker and Harpers.

Again the recurring question: what if Miss Daily Writing Habit devoted genuine time and energy to writing?

Call this: one writer's journey into writing, into her craft. Delving where no writer has gone before.

Burbs and blurbs, or maxims and taxims

Harold Bloom: we shouldn't read to understand history or politics or culture, but to understand the human condition.

We all get frustrated department: Nelle Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird) spent eight years working on a novel, and when she couldn't get it "to come together" she threw it out her apartment window. All the pages landed in snow. (Her editor told her to get outside and pick up the pages, she did, the rest is, as they say, herstory.)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Return to spin

Yesterday I return to spinning. Since the all women private gym I attended closed, it's been nada in the exercise department. Now I go to the student recreation center - it's institutional, but it has good fans. (Four oscillating large fans are mounted in the ceiling's corners.)

What is the drive to write about experience? Oliver Sacks, for example, who devoted his life to studying and helping people...then wrote about these experiences. What inner, undefined purpose (besides the obvious ones) does this serve?

Short note today, sorry -


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

process vs product

So, the blog is about my writing process, it is not "the book" or "the novel."

The blog and the book--the bell and the candle--they are two different things, just like the policy and the policy process are two different things.

Yesterday I pick up a swing for my granddaughter. It's a tire cut in the shape of a pony, with a red white and blue tassel.

Willing Suspension of Disbelief

I pick up the audio book Three Cups of Tea and also K. Harrison's The Seal Wife and J. Harrison's Legends of the Fall, books I didn't get through in my earlier foray back into reading.

Generally I like non-fiction for audio books, which I listen to on my commute to work. I don't, or am unwilling to, suspend my disbelief in that environment. Not sure why!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The left arm does the work

What if writing is like my golf "lesson": I make it too hard, I try too hard, just need to realize that one thing: the left arm does the work, leads. It's not an act of praying over the club, both hands clasped together at the waist, swinging with both arms, eyes closed, please hit the ball, make it fly above the ground and not be a pantie waist effort, help me be not klutzy this once.

I want my writing to be about more than a domestic comedy. I recall that my favorite books have a backdrop of cultural/societal change: How Green Was My Valley, Dr. Zhivago. I want it to be a book I'd wanna read, a page turner, a truth.

Stumbled over these two writers with a different process:

From Writer's Almanac: David McCullough would find something he wanted to learn more about, go out and see what was written about it, and if there wasn't much or it wasn't good, he would write it himself....To research Truman and Adams, he not only read their letters and visited their homes, but he imitated their daily rituals, read the same books they read, and reenacted pivotal events in their lives.

Robert Heinlein took up writing because he needed money and it was safer than stealing and easier than working.

But maybe mostly they learned to golf with the left arm doing the work.

Monday, July 6, 2009


I read over my last blog entry and it's so long! Who wants to read it, including me?

Again, I wonder if I settled down and concentrated, what I'd get done, what truths I would realize.

I write until I feel relief: ***oh I have something.*** like a leaf swinging gracefully down a tree.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cooking escapades

We don't need no Julie and Julia.

Last night Mr DWH flames some olive oil, readies vanilla beans, sears some scallops, adds butter - yo ho, caramelized scallops with vermicelli and rice! Mr DWH scans a recipe quickly and moves on. I study it, repeatedly, constantly picking it up and worrying it.

We are into oil spatters right now - last weekend we tried the new french fry slicer. It didn't work, but the oil was ready. Hand sliced fries are probably much better, anyway.


Yesterday Miss DWH promised a first line of a book. This morning she grabbed Lost Letters of Jane Austen, Volume I and here it is:

I am leaving again. I am throwing away the remnants of my past into a black plastic garbage bag with yellow handles, which sits on the painted hardwood floor like Santa's bag. Maybe it has presents in store for someone.

And I examine the presents, each with its own story.

And then there's this: ...the overriding question of my life at this point seems to be: will I find love? Maybe I want to find myself in a Jane Austen novel, unfinished. I seem to have moved past the heroine's age even in the autumnal Persuasion, although I am always a sucker for a good love letter.


And here is my epigraph, my book's guiding principle:

For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.
--Rainer Maria Rilke


Baby, Miss DWH is cookin' now!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Disappearing act

Miss DWH is fascinated by ordinary people who disappear - not the ones who are thought to be victims of some ruthless, violent crime - but the ones who seemed to have changed their mind about who they are and where they want to be. And they cannot be found.

She used to imagine that if she left for a trip and didn't come back, what would the investigators deduce about her from what she left behind? And where would she be? There was a time when driving out to California in a little red sports car, her long blond hair flowing behind her, was appealing.

So it is she arrives at the first sentence of her novel.

You know of course some of the best first lines of novels:

Call me Ishmael.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a singe man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy it its own way. (My favorite)
It was the best of times, the worst of times.
This is the saddest story I have ever heard.
We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall.
I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.
They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.
In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together.
So tonight Miss DWH will find her first line, in a box, in a drawer, in the woods, in the eggs - and she'll be back.

Until we meet again
Miss DWH