Our Year of Blogging

This month marks the one-year anniversary for Rooms of Our Own, the webbed site of three “rooms” housing me (writer) at LeeFullbight.com, and photographer Geri Wilson in her own “room”—and right now we have a vacancy (interested parties can contact lfullbright@prodigy.net for a room of your own, “almost” ready for move-in and, naturally, no rent here in Blogland. Our only requirement, if you can even call it that—we’re pretty loosey-goosey, and our “rooms” are autonomous—is that you have a passion you want to write about and know where spell check is, and that you attempt a blog post every couple weeks—or more!—and, yes, I know I just said “autonomous,” but we live in the same “triplex,” a click away, and gotta keep the ‘hood up).     

So when Geri and I started this blog, we were so neophyte-ish we didn’t know about brevity (I still have trouble with this; I’m used to a big canvas!), or what we might look like a year down the road. I had a novel to introduce (The Angry Woman Suite, which wasn’t even out then), and uber-photographer Geri Wilson had a line of greeting cards (featuring her amazing photography) to debut. 

Where are we now, a year later, and what do we think of blogging in general?

Well, Geri is just returned from a photography expedition to Bryce Canyon, so expect those photographs to go up in her room anytime now—I’ve had a preview and they are awesome.   

And The Angry Woman Suite (Goodreads link here:   http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13555924-the-angry-woman-suite) is now the 2012 Discovery Award winner for Literary Fiction.         

(One thing, though is unchanged: Baby Rae and I still dance to Gregory Page every night.)

I have another novel in the works, but I also have an idea for something else (based on the truism that we can only talk about our stuff so much and so long without risking emptying a room and/or triggering our own gag reflex—both pathetic)—and it’s this:  

I want to write about other writers, and about other books in particular—btw, I just started Dancing on Broken Glass last night, and I think it’s going to be love.      

So, I will begin reviewing occasionally, starting with Dancing on Broken Glass (next post).

However, reviewing isn’t a permanent thing (what is?). I don’t read as many novels when I’m actually writing one, for two reasons: It’s too easy to subconsciously pick up another writer’s voice, and reading is passive (as in I’d get lazy and never finish my own work). But, until I pick up my own manuscript again (a few more months), I’m enjoying reading novels again!  

As for blogging itself, I do think it’s kept my brain limber, plus I’ve discovered I am totally capable of shorter sentences and paragraphs (and shorter posts!!)—however, I don’t think blogging has yet revealed how funny I am (and yes, I am funny in real life—everybody knows).

Advertisements

Writing Mountains

Crime writer Patricia Cornwell (of the best-selling Scarpetta series) said in a recent interview that writing is hard work; that “it isn’t just sitting around fantasizing, or having a drink with somebody and talking about how cool it would be if you write a story. It’s work.”(italics mine, because of course I agree)

Cornwell also said, “And research isn’t easy. But if you’re going to have a character who’s a musician, you should learn everything about that you possibly can.”

As an aside, The Angry Woman Suite (see sidebar), does have a musician; a pivotal character—and guess what? I don’t play an instrument or even sing (at least you wouldn’t want me to), and I don’t remember how to read music … everything this character (Francis) does in the way of music was researched.

But what really, really struck me about the Cornwell interview is when she said this:

“You don’t become a writer—you are one. And if you really are a writer, it’s like telling a songbird to shut up—you can’t … (and) you have to be willing to be bad at something to be good at it.”

So this is what I thought (and not for the first time): What kind of person is willing to really suck at something and feel like a total failure, and yet still get up in the morning and go back to her or his personal challenge?

A freakin’ masochist, that’s what.

My brother is a self-described non-athlete. He also just summited Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States. He said it was the hardest thing he’s ever done. The first time he tried climbing Whitney, he lost part of his gear. Back down the mountain he went, crestfallen. The following year he tried Whitney again, but his hiking partner got altitude sickness, so back down the mountain he went with his partner, because that’s the kind of guy my brother is.  

This year, like the two years before, he trained for months, hiking and climbing in San Diego’s backcountry, and the Sierras. He and his partner agreed that if one became ill, the other would continue to the top.

Why’d my brother keep plugging away at this mountain?

Because that mountain was calling for my brother’s personal best, and my brother heeded the call.   

It’s the call that goes out to each of us; to all athletes, professional or aspiring, and to all writers, seasoned or fledgling. You name the job or challenge, the call’s there. It’s the call that makes every morning a promise, and each day an opportunity to go a little farther and a little higher than the day before.

Patricia Cornwell also said this (about being sucky before you’re proficient):

“You are going to trip over your own feet … (and) you will never be good at writing the first time you try, any more than Nadal hit a tennis ball the way he does now the first time he picked up a racket…. The only way you get better is to just do it all the time. And if this is the inevitability of how you express yourself, you’re still going to get up after failures.”

And you will climb mountains.

PS The Angry Woman Suite is currently on a blog book tour, and it’s going very well– I love bloggers! And Emlyn Chand over at Novel Publicity. Check out GoodReads for new reviews each day….

Image credit: kamchatka / 123RF Stock Photo

Aha Moments

Sunset from Pt. Loma (San Diego, California) Photo by Geri Wilson

The topic of Aha’s—inspiration or ideas or those nano-seconds of perfection when we know, without qualm, we’re on the right track to something—has  come up more than once the past few days (which I’m sure is a sign). 

Put those occasions together with the most spectacular, and currently hot San Diego weather, complete with red sails in my Point Loma sunsets, and coming home from the office and getting into shorts and little else, and opening up the whole house so I can hear the mourning birds last thing at night and first thing in the morning, and the foghorns and the trains—and I’m practically brimming with ideas and inspirations. This is my favorite time of year; always has been.

Where I can hardly wait to, 1) get in the pool, and then, 2) get to my computer and start writing. Oh, those trips I can take in my head, and those perfect aha moments, the almost trance-like ones, when a story flows right through you.  

I asked two friends what inspires them.  

My one friend, a photographer, said, “Sage, and infants, and sunsets and waves … and the first (and very recent) realization that I could hike without pain, with the right shoes, after a (debilitating) car accident.” 

My second friend, an artist, said. “I love my creative and silly co-workers who help keep the atmosphere fun and lively! I love that my arthritic dog got up easily this morning and raced me to the top of the stairs. I loved taking a shower with the windows wide open and feeling the warm breeze, and I loved singing all the way to work with the Beach Boys.”

“And what inspired you to write this book?” 

That’s the question put to me by a book blogger who interviewed me about my literary suspense novel, The Angry Woman Suite (a Kirkus Critics’ Pick, 5-starred Readers Favorite, and 2012 Discovery Award winner for Literary Fiction). My answer centered on one of my biggest aha moments ever, ever, ever (after seeing my husband for the first time, that is):

“I was in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, sightseeing, and stopped at the Chadds Ford house where George Washington plotted his infamous Battle of the Brandywine. I wandered the battlefield, thinking about this lost battle and what was being fought for—freedom—and then there was a second, literally, when something took hold within my imagination: the beginnings of a novel about 20th century characters also struggling for autonomy. I knew on that day that one of my characters would be a woman looking back on her life, and that her journey to autonomy would be interwoven with another character’s similar journey, and analogously with Washington’s fight for freedom at Chadds Ford.”  

Along that same line, The Angry Woman Suite will be going on tour starting August 27th though September 21st, stopping at book blogs not only in the U.S., but also internationally. The tour is being facilitated by the incomparable Emlyn Chand of Novel Publicity http://www.novelpublicity.com/, and I think it’ll be fun, maybe inspiring, and perhaps produce a couple more aha’s along the way … oh, and one other thing: I’m on Twitter now. I’d thought it would be impossible to say anything in less than three full paragraphs, but I’m getting the hang … follow me at @LeeFullbright, and I’ll follow back!         

Oh, and one last very important thing: A huge Congratulations! to San Diego jazz artist Gregory Page, my absolute favorite musician (sorry, after Mick, that is, who is, after all, a god), for his Best Jazz Album win (for Shine, Shine, Shine).  You’ve got to check him out. http://www.gregorypage.com/

Baby and I (below) dance to Gregory Page every night. Gregory also inspires me, and Baby’s dancing is improving.  

Try on a little Gregory Page and consider what inspires you.