Weekend update

Met britzkrieg and her s.o., Jaime, for dinner at a little Indian restaurant that’s just a hop, skip, and scamper away from us. Greatly enjoyed our discussion and hope to repeat the experience again soon.

But while we were sitting at the table gabbing, post food, Thomas, my yoga instructor came over to say hello as he was coincidentally also there for dinner. It’s strange having different spheres of my world overlap. For a second when he appeared at our table, it didn’t register who he was because I wasn’t expecting him out of the yoga studio. Introductions around were conducted, which was weird too. Matthew and I do nearly everything together, and so we tend to meet and socially interact with people as a couple. It was odd introducing a person who I’ve interacted a lot with to Matthew who hadn’t ever set eyes upon him before. That just doesn’t happen very often.

I was also horribly wracked by guilt as I’ve blown off the last two yoga classes. But Thomas elicited a promise from me that I would be back to class next Monday, and jauntily strolled off to have his meal.

The season of yellow pollen hath begun. There’s nothing like this back in Illinois. For people unfamiliar with this phenomenon, for a month or so in Georgia (does it happen elsewhere in the South?) the whole landscape is coated by a dusting of this yellow powder. Fortunately, I don’t appear to be allergic to it, but it’s still a physical irritation. I tend to have problems with my eyes, being unable to wear my rigid contact lenses and having to switch to soft (which I can’t see as well with). And yellow isn’t my favorite color.

Got my issue of Speculations the other day and read the Bruce Holland Rogers and Holly Arrow article with some interest. It was on writerly engage v flow where “engage” is more the work of writing, forcing yourself to pound out the pages, hammering out sentence after sentence with focused intent, and “flow” is that transcendental state where the words pour out and you are but the vessel that captures them with your fingers flying over the keyboard. They speculated that whether one is primarily a flow or an engage writer is based upon many things, including one’s personality proclivities. The psychology of writing. Oooo.

Anyway, they went on to say that most writers experience both engage and flow, although to differing degrees. Personally, I think I tend to start out writing engaged, and if I get into whatever zone my muse hovers in, I enter flow and hours can fly by as I rack up the word count. But if I can’t hit that flow zone for whatever reason, then I flounder in engage mode, forcing sentences out by sheer willpower. I think the quality of my work is fairly similar, whatever mode I’m in, but one way is easy, and the other is grueling. Wish I had a flow pill I could take that would take me to that state of consciousness where the words just come when I want them to.

Anyway, I couldn’t hit either engage or flow the other day, so instead I did ten critiques on Critters as I’m out of MPCs. That’s sort of like being productive. But I started reading through the novella to get back into the groove, and I couldn’t stand it. So I put it aside. I’ve got another story outlined and ready to go, but I couldn’t bring myself to start on that as it’s going to be a fairly challenging undertaking. What I want to write is another fairy/folk tale.

I think 2003 is going to be the year of the very short story. It’s all about the flash-length piece, and juvenile fiction-length works. There’s this instant gratification of being able to complete something in one or two sittings that’s so very seductive.

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19 Responses to Weekend update

  1. jenwrites says:

    Interesting engage vs. flow bit. I find that my rough drafts always work well if I can get into flow mode, but I need to shift to engage mode for revisions, because for that, I need my rational brain.

    And flash fic is fun. I’ve only written one piece, and it was something to get a rough draft done in 40 minutes! F&SF should be rejecting it any day now.

    • Eugie Foster says:

      Yah, the article was discussing engage v flow as it pertained primarily to first drafts. I think re-writing is all about engage. Although I find re-writing in engage is a lot easier than creating fresh prose in it.

      F&SF takes flash? I didn’t know that. But then, they take poetry too, so that makes sense. Good luck with your sub!

      • jenwrites says:

        I don’t know if F&SF encourages flash submissions, but I’ve seen a few two-page stories on their pages, and they have no lower word count limit, so I figured it was only a week out of my life to give them a shot.

    • reudaly says:

      I’m impressed with people that can do Flash fiction. I did a children’s thing that was 900 words – still too long for Flash – and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

      And the F&SF comment is amusing – mostly because I understand it. Works with Analog and Asmiov, too, if you’re looking for those first quick rejections!

  2. alladinsane says:

    Pollen is a spring menace…the yellow stuff stacks up in Mississippi as well…bees have been working overtime on my bushes…my azaleas dont want to do anything yet though…they may have given up on me, but I’ll see…

    • Eugie Foster says:

      The buzzing, stinging contingent is really out in force, isn’t it? A wasp managed to make its way into our house which freaked us out, mostly because of Hobkin. I don’t know what a sting would do to him . . . although his wild brethern eat stinging insects so maybe it wouldn’t bother him much, and he’s got such good armor with his thick fur and all.

      I think there’s a nest or something close to our house. Every time I go out the front door, I hear buzzing or see these big bee/wasp things.

  3. britzkrieg says:

    Jaime and I had a great time last night! Thanks for hanging with us.

    “Flow” is such a magical state, isn’t it? I’m the same way you are – I start out in “engage” and endeavor to gain the momentum to reach “flow.” If I don’t, though, I start taking breaks to surf the web. Not good. I think caffeine can help one reach a “flow” state of mind, as long as it’s consumed in moderation and there aren’t other mental distractions.

    Sometimes I will “write” most a piece in my head while I’m just lying in bed free-associating. Usually that’s a journal entry rather than a novel, of course, but what do you call that? “Spontaneous flow”? Ew, sounds gross.

    Have a great weekend!

    • Eugie Foster says:

      We had a great time too!

      And yah, if I don’t hit “flow” when I’m writing, I’m in great danger of being distracted by the Internet, or the television, or anything else at all. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten to the point with caffeine that I think I need it in order to write, but at the same time my system is so tolerant of it now that I can’t get the kick I need to bump me into “flow” unless I slam it quick, or have a lot of it. So frustrating.

      I have developed an understanding of why artists have traditionally had such dysfunctional relationships with various and sundry chemical aids and recreations. Glah.

  4. reudaly says:

    Texas doesn’t have YELLOW pollen dust – it has GREEN. I think it has to do with the abundance of pecan trees. Be glad you don’t have dust AND sap. That just makes it icky.

    Agree with the Engage vs Flow in the rough draft stages, etc. It just scary when you’re already to work on ENGAGING a story and the pervsities of the Muse decides to FLOW out something completely different. 8-P

    • Eugie Foster says:

      Green and sticky? Yes, I think I’ll pass.

      It just scary when you’re already to work on ENGAGING a story and the pervsities of the Muse decides to FLOW out something completely different

      That happens to me with all too frequent regularity. Aggravating is an understatement. Usually I switch to whatever floats the flow muse then–path of least resistance and all. But when that happens, it often means that I end up abandoning something half finished indefinitely. Sigh.

      • reudaly says:

        And now you know WHY I have 13 unfinished projects – and an article I never thought I’d write out at a publisher!

        The Muse Cannot Be Denied!)

        And at this time of the year – I learn NOT to park under trees.

  5. It happens in NC, too. What’s gross is when it rains and turns into yellow goo. My mom always calls it pine pollen, but I don’t know.

    • Eugie Foster says:

      I’ve heard that it’s pine as well, but I can’t remember the source. When I first experienced it here, I didn’t know what was going on. There’s so much of it!

  6. amokk says:

    Thankfully the pollen doesn’t seem to happen as badly here in middle TN, either way I’d rather be in Illinois. 😉

    We have/had a wasp’s semi-next on the back porch. I was taking old boxes we left sitting for a couple months to the trash and after tearing one of the boxes up, picked up another and there were 4-5 wasps in it. I calmly put the box fully into the trash bin, closed the lid tightly and shuddered. I’ve always hated wasps. Anything with a stinger that buzzes actually. So, today, comes screaming down the hall (ok, not that bad, but she did yell for me) that there was a wasp in the kitchen. So I windexed the sucker so it couldn’t fly and squished it with a shoe.

    I hate wasps.

    • Eugie Foster says:

      I’ve never been stung by either bee or wasp, and they don’t really freak me. But the ones I’ve seen down here are monsters. And I’m worried about what they’d do to Matthew or Hobkin. I prefer not killing them if I can avoid it, and trap them and release them outside usually. But yesterday, we found another one in the house that was just plain scary. It was black, and as long as my index finger. The thing could’ve flown off with a field mouse! Yikes.

      So I dispatched it with a spatula and felt bad about killing it. But it looked too lethal to risk not being able to get with capture-n-release methods.

      How in god’s name did the thing get inside? I mean, it was HUGE!

      • amokk says:

        Never been stung, simple childhood fear. I used to scream when I heard one, let alone saw one.

        Maybe the big one got in like everyone else: it walked in the front door. 😉

  7. oracne says:

    Flow/engage: interesting.

    I think I am similar to you; the quality of my work is about the same, no matter the method. But if it’s “flow” work, it FEELS like it’s better, if that makes sense.

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