Monday, February 25, 2008

Confession Tuesday

Forgive me reader; it had been one week since my last confession. I have been traveling reader, and retreating. I thought I would write more than I did. I revised. I took naps. I organized poems in my head as I watched the waves from my window. I wanted to do more, reader. I thought I would leave with so much more. And I did in other ways...

Let the Tuesday Confessions begin--

1) The image below of the blue house on the cliff is The Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon (yes, Peter you were right!) I spent the last 4 days, 3 nights there on a retreat with 9 other writers. Each room is styled after an author. I stayed in the Emily Dickinson room. Other writers stayed in rooms styled after Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Oscar Wilde, Hemingway, Tolkien, and others. It was an amazing time. (more blogging/photos on this experience soon)

2) For the last five months, I've been trying to schedule my writing time between 9-3 because it fits the hours of a regular job. I realized this weekend at my retreat that I am *not* a daytime writer. I do my best work now, late at night when the neighborhood sleeps.

Even at the Sylvia Beach retreat, all day I would pace, read, nap, get coffee, organize manuscripts, revise, snack, move from desk to bed, bed to desk, climb the stairs to the library then return. I hardly wrote new work until around 5:30 when the light That was when I could write. Of course, dinner was at 6, so I was stopped in the midst of a poem more than once. But I wrote after dinner when I returned to my room.

I have been trying to force my internal writer's clock into a time that isn't conducive to writing for me. I have ignored what I know best about myself as a writer-- that I write best and most late at night.

Why have I been doing this and why have I just figured it out?
**I started doing the 9-3 thang because after graduating I felt to have the "job" of a writer, I needed to have a schedule. 9-3 made the most sense with my daughter being at school and having an MFA made it feel as if I had to be taking my writing more serious and approach it like a job. I have been wearing the veil to the wrong wedding. 9-3 is not my time. I thought I found Mr. Perfect, but what I found was someone who was perfect for someone else. I need the vampires, the night owls, Conan O'Brien.

We had many incredible talks about our lives as writers at the retreat and it occurred to me how much more productive I was when I wrote at night. In my life 6 hours of daylight hours = 3 hours of night time hours. It's true. I write 2x as much. And I figured this out because I finally had a moment to reflect on my life instead of trying to live it. I was able to step back in the Emily Dickinson room and consider--how can I do this better? It seems so simple, so obvious now.

New writing hours? 8 p.m.-midnight (or 9 to midnight) except during new Grey's Anatomy shows, then there's a brief delay.

3) I played a game at dinner called 2 truths and a lie. (We played it 2 nights, here are 4 of my truths and a lie.)

One of these is a lie (can you find it?).

1) I high-fived Tom Selleck on Rodeo Drive.
2) I inadvertently became part of a sidewalk act in Nice, France.
3) I have never snowskiied.
4) I spent a number of nights in the Seattle Mariner's locker room as a young teenager because 2 of my friends were bat boys.
5) I once pranked called Drew Barrymore.

4) I watched Oprah tonight because Valerie Bertinelli was on and in high school I was a huge Van Halen fan. In fact, my mom wrote me a note excusing me from classes so I could take the 8 a.m. Metro bus down to the Seattle Center coliseum to wait in line with my friend Karen for our general admission tickets.

5) My mom also wrote me notes so I could skip school to go to the Nordstrom sale.

6) I hope when my daughter is 16 I'm able to write her an excuse for something she wants to do without the whole public education system coming after me with voodoo eyes and truancy hipsway. I hope I am not so serious that I say no.

And I hope I can do it without the worry that follows mothers around, the worry of strangers and car crashes, men at concerts who steal teenage girls.

I don't believe the world is more unsafe than it was when I young(my God, in my neighborhood there actually *was* a kidnapper for awhile and a decade before me, Ted Bundy), but I think we're taught to believe (from the media? tv news? our crazy aunts?) that the strangers outside out doors are just waiting to snatch us up and carry us to scaryland, that there's a hazard waiting and if we live our lives, we might possibly accidentally, inadvertently, maybe, kind of run into it. And well, we need to be "safe," don't we?

7) Metaphor alert: I'm learning how to rent a tiger and walk it around the block.

8) I still like classic Van Halen, but no longer like Nordstrom sales. Some things change, some stay the same.


  1. i also work best at night. i'm also trying to allow for it and encourage it instead of fighting it. i'm thinking about using school hours (mine all will be in school beginning in september) for rest and chores. flip-flopping the day like a 3rd-shifter.

    i'm more interested in the rented tiger than the emily dickinson room. is that sacrilege?

  2. Valerie B. is on Larry King tonight. I know this because I turned her off in an effort to stop watching so much TV. Because, like you, I am more productive when the house is quiet.

    Sounds like the retreat was just what you needed. Just fabulous. I would have stayed in the Woolf room for the irony alone.

    Did you really prank Drew Barrymore? I once passed JFK Jr. walking around the NBC studios at Rockefeller Center.

  3. I love Bon Jovi, the poor man's Van Halen. :)

    As for writing, I write better at night, also. Something about the way my brain works.

    I'm DYING to know what was the lie? What a fun confessional.

  4. My first year in high school, in fall 1969, my high school once allowed us to skip school in order to go to an anti-war demonstration in downtown Minneapolis -- we could go as long as we had a note from our parents saying it was okay. (My parents wrote me the note.)

    I'm guessing the lie is the one about spending some nights in the Seattle Mariners' locker room. (My only reason for guessing this one is that it's several words longer than the others, like you were making it up as you go along.)

  5. Kelli--Check my blog. I've tagged you for a six word memoir.


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