Tuesday, January 26, 2010

This only seems like a digression. Really it's about writing.

According to research, interval training helps you burn three times the calories you burn during regular workouts. Those of us who are time-challenged and a tad bit rotund know interval training is the shiznit.

Interval training is short bursts of manic working out (speeding up the heart rate) combined with longer periods of regular working out (bringing the heart rate back to normal). Apparently we burn a lot of calories getting our heart rates back to normal. We burn tons getting our rate back to normal a bunch of times instead of just once.

Another reason interval training works: When you only have to give your all for short bursts of time (think 15 seconds!), you actually give your all for the whole 15 seconds.

You know what I mean. I've done some long stretches on the old treadmill--and honestly much of it is just going through the motions--not trying as much as being carried along on the relentless drone of the conveyor belt. If I can burn just as many calories through 20 minutes on the elliptical (with 15 15-second bursts that get my heart going like a Grateful Dead drum solo), I'm all for it.

In my quest for more time, I'm considering if interval writing might produce three times as much good writing. I tend to aim for large blocks of writing time. Here's what happens in large blocks of time: I think I have so much time that an email check here and there doesn't matter. I read a blog for inspiration, which links to another blog, and perhaps a stop at Go Fug Yourself and next thing I know, I've read the entire cache of Cheezburger sites and written under a page.

Large blocks of time are harder to find the older I get, but I can usually create a half hour out of thin air. With interval writing, I get in a couple 30-minute blocks of nose-to-the-grindstone writing per day interspersed throughout so I can get my writing heart rate back to normal in between. Absolutely no breaks during the interval writing block! A single break can take over the entire block if you're not careful.

If you're having a hard time getting anything written lately, try interval writing. You gotta have 30 minutes lying around somewhere--while the chops are in the oven, while you're waiting for Idol to start, while you're supposed to be paying attention in class. Write at a pace that raises your creative heart rate--no editing, no reading through, no emailing your writing group about whether your main character should be 17 or 18. Commit to straight-up cardiovascular writing. Let me know how it goes.

Monday, January 25, 2010

From: "Passer Mortuus Est"

"Death devours all lovely things...

After all my erstwhile dear,
My no longer cherished;
Need we say it was not love,
Just because it perished?"

from "Passer Mortuus Est"
Edna St. Vincent Millay

Friday, January 22, 2010

It's Friday: Why not laugh so hard you cry ?

I don't know if you watch the world news or if you watched it last night, but this is my new favorite humor blog.

From: "Thirty-three"

Deep in thought, I forgive everyone
as the cluttered streets greet me once again...
Tomorrow's just an excuse away,
so I pull my collar up and face the cold
on my own.


For a moment, I lose myself
wrapped up in the pleasures of the world.
I've journeyed here and there and back again
but in the same old haunts I still find my friends.

Mysteries not ready to reveal,
sympathies I'm ready to return:

I'll make the effort.
Love can last forever...

Smashing Pumpkins

Thursday, January 21, 2010

From: Jesus' Son

"There were many moments in the Vine like that one--where you might think today was yesterday, and yesterday was tomorrow, and so on. Because we all believed we were tragic, and we drank. We had that helpless, destined feeling. We would die with handcuffs on. We would be put a stop to, and it wouldn't be our fault. So we imagined. And yet we were always being found innocent for ridiculous reasons."

Jesus' Son
Denis Johnson

If you haven't read Jesus' Son, you're missing the best novel/collection of short stories of all time (in my humble opinion). It's dark and makes you wonder. It also illustrates a definition of "desperation." Oh yeah, and it's my favorite book. What's yours?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Looking for: Time

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears... and your time-management secrets.

Is it just me, or is 2010 moving in fast forward? Hopefully, it's just January. Although, I have been contemplating the possibility that the speed of life moves in direct correlation with one's age, so that every year the speed of time increases. At the end it just seems like your life is flashing by. In reality, you've reached your personal mach 4.


Got any nifty time-management tips to share? I've already given up sleep, but in my real-time life, someone suggested more sleep would boost productivity in my waking hours. I can't wait to test this theory tonight. So seriously, be creative. How do you fit it all in?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

From: "A Mood"

"A blight, a gloom, I know not what, has crept upon my gladness--
Some vague, remote ancestral touch of sorrow, or of madness..."

T.B. Aldrich

Friday, January 15, 2010

Found: A Reminder

"The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for."

Maureen Dowd
Thanks yet again, Writer's Almanac

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Access Denied, Stressballs

"Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your permission."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Let's Confer.

I went to an SCBWI conference last year, which resulted in the following:
  • I made a writer friend
  • I made a few more writer friends
  • I decided to never pay for a 15-minute critique again
  • I rewrote my first chapter based on a 15-minute critique
  • I embarrassed myself in front of an entire table of children's book editors and agents
  • I decided I probably wouldn't be going to any more writers' conferences.
So anyway, I'm going to the SCBWI conference in NYC this month. For the first time in the history of ever, I'll be meeting my beta girls in person. If I stop posting around the end of January, you can assume that one of them has been lying about her identity for more than a year and that she has killed me and stolen my writings.

Anyone else going to the SCBWI Conference in NYC? Got any conference plans this year? Experienced attendees, tell me which is better: the down home SCBWI conference in Middle-of-Nowhere, PA, or the big fancy SCWBI conference in NYC?

Monday, January 11, 2010

How to Read 20 Books for Free

I hope you've been surfing through January, keeping those resolutions in check, reading some books, writing some words.

January is a busy time for the booknapper. It's when she puts her haus in order--not her actual house, which seems orderless, but actually runs on an irregular routine that only she understands. I am paying bills (and organizing the post-Christmas evidence of a pre-Christmas spending spree). I'm revising my goals, my budget, and all of my ideas regarding the universe.

Next: that dastardly TBR pile--my, how we've grown in 2009.

My 2010 goals are based on the work/life blend principle, or "worlindiple" (wer-lyn-dipple), my made-up philosophy in which I attempt to feed two birds with one worm.

Goal #1: No buying books, movies, or CDs until I demolish the TBR pile.

I know. I know. It's going to be tough, but it's also going to be cheap and rewarding. You know what helps when you're doing something tough?

Having someone do it with you.

So who's in? Anyone else want to put a moratorium on pop culture spending until his or her TBR pile is no more? Make it public in the comments.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

From: "The Dead"

"She was walking on before him so lightly and so erect that he longed to run after her noiselessly, catch her by the shoulders and say something foolish and affectionate into her ear. She seemed to him so frail that he longed to defend her against something and then to be alone with her...

Like the tender fire of stars, moments of their life together, that no one knew of or would ever know of, broke upon and illumined his memory. He longed to recall to her those moments, to make her forget the years of their dull existence together and remember only their moments of ecstasy. For the years, he felt, had not quenched his soul or hers. Their children, his writing, her household cares had not quenched all their souls' tender fire. In one letter that he had written to her then he had said: "Why is it that words like these seem to me so dull and cold? Is it because there is no word tender enough to be your name?"

Like distant music these words that he had written years before were borne towards him from the past. He longed to be alone with her. When the others had gone away, when he and she were in the room in the hotel, then they would be alone together. He would call her softly:


Perhaps she would not hear at once: she would be undressing. Then something in his voice would strike her. She would turn and look at him...."

from "The Dead", a story in Dubliners, a short-fiction collection by James Joyce who said "One of the things I could never get accustomed to in my youth was the difference I found between life and literature."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

From: "The Final Cut"

"...If I show you my dark side,
will you still hold me tonight?
And if I open my heart to you
and show you my weak side,
what would you do?

Would you sell your story to Rolling Stone?
Would you take the children away and leave me alone?
And smile in reassurance as you whisper down the phone--

Would you send me packing?
Or would you take me home?"

"The Final Cut"
Roger Waters

(And now for a Wikipedia-napping within a Booknapping: "Q Magazine once compiled a top ten list of depressing records, and this [The Final Cut] was on it. Enough said, I think.")