Monthly Archives: October 2008

Update-Brief Hiatus

There was a shooting at my university.  My friend Monda wrote about it far better than I possibly could, so I’m going to refer you to her on that one.  But the end result has been that I am only just coming out of a torpor that meant only stuff that absolutely needed to get done (kids, fed, bathed, read to, check) got done.

Unfortunately, I committed weeks ago to holding a yard sale that I was pretty excited about at the time–so I’ve been working on that too.  It’s over this weekend, so hopefully I’ll be back soon.


Bye y’all,



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How I spent my fall break . . . so far

1. I got a colonoscopy. Hey, if Katie Couric can do it, I can do it. Actually, I’d recently read some medical news about how female children of smokers (and I was a child of a smoker long before smoking AWAY from the child herself was de rigeur) were at risk for a type of colon cancer that appeared earlier than most colon cancers. So at 41, I just went ahead and did it. Hey, I just had an ovary removed, and am taking heavy duty drugs to induce temporary menopause, I figured I was already on a roll.

It was a lot of work (it took me 12 hours to drink the horrendous stuff they gave me), but the drugs they give you, the “I don’t remember a thing” kind, are pretty swell and I had a nice 6 hour nap yesterday afternoon. Now I’m clean as a whistle and don’t have to go back for about 9 years.

2. I went to a bunch of yard sales today, but they were pretty disappointing. Then I went to the thrift store, where I always go when the yard sales are disappointing. It wasn’t much better. I had lunch with my husband. I painted a bunch of stuff, including a small armoire I got for $15 a couple of weeks ago. I watched several episodes of the original Get Smart with my kids.

3. I read Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. This deserves a LOT more than I can give it here. All I can say, is I am so very, very diappointed in the editing of this book. Lots of potential, in desperate need of some good editing. No excuses.

That’s all I can say on that front for now.

Tomorrow, more painting, paper grading, a visit to Pinnacle Mountain and the Little Rock Antiques show. Yes, I’m getting up earlier than usual for a Saturday.

Bye y’all,


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Me ‘n my Book Guys Watch!!!

You can see me posing with my Book Guys watch here. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page on the right. There aren’t too many people with watches on there, so I don’t think I’m too hard to find.

Unfortunately, the watch has stopped, but I’m hoping it just needs a new battery because I really love that watch. I was hoping it would last forever.

In other news, my friend and colleague, Anna Leahy has started a group on Facebook called Creative Writing Pedagogy and she’s asked me to join her as co-leader/coordinator. Fun, fun! We’ve reeled in 60 members in just two days and already people are posting questions and books. So go join already–you don’t want to miss out.

I took a seminar this morning in van driving in anticipation of driving a honking big vehicle for the writing project in November (to the annual conference in San Antonio). It was actually kind of fun; they fed us well, we watched videos, discussed hypothetical hazardous driving scenarios and then took a written test. I think I might even have gotten a perfect score–if not, I did pretty well. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, especially after my youngest asked me as I went out the door this morning, “Well, what are you going to do if you fail?”

How’s that for a vote of confidence? He may be remembering the family legend of how I–ahem–had to take my driver’s test three times. But that’s because New York State is really tough and you can’t pass if you ride the clutch–which was a teeny, tiny issue with me back then. As in, I eventually had to rent an automatic car to pass the test.

In case you’re interested, the two most important things you need to know when driving a big honking (like 16 passenger) van are:

Avoid Backing Up At All Costs!!!!
Stopping time, acceleration time, stopping distance, you name it: YOU NEED MORE.

That about sums it up.

I think I might frame my certificate of completion.

Bye for now y’all,

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And people wonder why I love mail so much. . .

When at any given time, something wonderful might pop up, whether in the black mailbox on my house or the little electronic inbox in my groupwise account. Like the message I got today from poet Marguerite Bouvard telling me that her book, Mothers in All But Name, with my essay, “One Morning in May” in it, had finally found a publisher.

The essay had been accepted in Fall 2004 but I hadn’t heard from her since then and I’d all but given up. In fact, weary of changing the date from “forthcoming 2006” to “forthcoming 2007,” and then “forthcoming 2008” I had actually deleted the entry from the most recent draft of my CV/resume. I don’t know why I gave up so quickly; God knows, I know how long these things can take. Can It Really Be Taught: Resisting Lore in Creative Writing Pedagogy, the book Kelly Ritter and I issued the Call for in spring 2002, did not see publication until spring 2007.

So now I can put the essay back on with “forthcoming 2009” on it. Telling a story about my “former life” experience as a Nanny, it’s a piece that’s very dear to my heart. Look for more news when the book comes out.

In other news, I can thank Heather Sellers’ great book Chapter After Chapter, for talking me down from a “Sexy Next Book,” crisis. Sexy Next Book is the well known phenomena whereby a fascinating, all encompassing book idea throws itself at you while you’re deep in the middle of another book. Sexy Next Book is one of my biggest challenges as a writer. I had this memoir idea a few days ago and began to get swept away. I started taking notes, starting doing research, it was the PERFECT memoir for me to write, after all. So perfect, I was practically breathless.

Even in the beginnings of my new affair, I had bursts of sanity. “I think I might be going down the “sexy new book” road again,” I told my husband nonchalantly, struggling to hide how badly I was jonesing to get on the internet right then and start the research.

“Why don’t you do that exercise Sellers had in her book,” he suggested offhandedly (he always suggests things offhandedly). “To see if it’s the real thing.”

To make a long story short, I didn’t even have to do the exercise. Oh sure, I flirted a little this morning, took several pages of notes, looked some stuff up online. But then I borrowed back my copy of Chapter After Chapter (he’s teaching it this semester) and felt myself calming down and coming to my senses just a few pages into that eponymous chapter. The memoir idea will keep; I’m pretty sure the experience is unique enough that no one will beat me to it. Burning Down the Garrett, the creative writing in higher ed book I’m working on now, won’t. Either someone else will beat me to it or no one will care about the subject by the time I get it finished and hopefully, published.

Deep breath. The notes are there. As long as I don’t lose it, the great new notebook my friend, Monda gave me will keep sexy next book safe for me until I’m ready to give it my all.

Untill then, I’ll just keep you in suspense.

Bye y’all,

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