Thursday, April 23, 2009

Back in the Adirondacks - Getting Settled in

We arrived in the North Country on Sunday, under Thurman's sunshiny blue skies. By Monday I was already knee-deep in small town fun, although still surrounded by unpacked totes, bags and boxes. There is so much to do, and I feel as though I'm slogging around in circles in quicksand. Slowly, slowly there is progress.

And there are bright spots! One of the best sparkled during a discussion with another writer on that perennial topic of squelching the inner critic when we write. I had just had several conversations with Robin, a Gainesville writer, on that very topic, as we commiserated about how tempting it is to polish every new sentence, fix every comma...and then loop back and rewrite the whole paragraph. Perish the thought that someone might see our typos and think we are illiterate!

We know there is much to be gained by resisting that editing impulse and just forging ahead with the story -- "vomiting words onto the page," as friend Shari calls it. (Shari is really good that way.)

So when e-acquaintance Jen said that she had found a neat solution to the first draft self-conscious nitpickiness I can be so guilty of, my ears shot up. She shared a trick that her friend Laurie had learned from SARK, author of "Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper: Gifting the World with Your Words and Stories, and Creating the Time and Energy to Actually Do It." SARK says to give your internal editor a job, to keep her busy so she'll leave you alone to create.

Here's how Jen describes her way of utilizing the idea:
Have given my inner critic a job (per advice from another literary friend). Have sent her to count calories so that she is too busy to jam me up! It is pretty funny to visualize her with calculator in hand, donning an old-fashioned draftsman's green visor, working furiously at tracking the calories and reporting them on a yellow legal pad.

I'm still grinning over that one. I love the image, and I love the sharing among members of the writing community. I owe so much to so many.

Maybe tomorrow I'll find the top of my desk.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Adirondack Mountain Writers' Retreat Opportunity

The Adirondack Mountain Writers' Retreat is coming up, and I have good news for writers looking for a way to save money on the registration fee. One commuter registration to this summer's retreat will be auctioned off in the WMHT public TV spring fundraiser. Bidding opens April 21st and ends May 5th. Log on to, get registered to bid, and try your luck. You might just get a great deal and benefit a good cause at the same time.

If you are not the successful bidder, remember that other discounts are available - the Friends' Discount (for two signing up together), the coupon discount for returning Beaver Meadow or St. George Island Retreat attendees, or, new this year, the coupon to be found with my retreat ad at I hope all who wish to sign up will find a way to make attendance affordable. Because attendance is limited to ten writers, those seriously interested should inquire soon.

The retreat, August 20 - 23, will again be held at rustic Beaver Meadow Lodge in Thurman, with the gifted and intuitive writer Irene Sherlock, who knocked our socks off last summer. This year we offer a four-day creative writing workshop (fiction, memoir, personal essay) and invite writers to bring a work in progress to share in readings and critique groups, and for private consultation with Irene. Find details and registration forms on, and, as always, don't hesitate to email or phone (518-623-9305 after April 19) with questions. It will be wonderful to hear from you--or anyone with whom you care to share this message.

Perky Granger

Friday, April 10, 2009

Adirondack Bound

I can count on one had the number of days left before we hop in the car, point it north and return to the Adirondacks. Between now and then there will be countless decisions to make: take this? Or leave it here? Finish this? Or hope I can remember to do it when I get home? Scrub this? Or assume it is clean enough until I get back again next fall? Decisions! I hate them. And packing--so stressful.

And when we get back, there are the inevitable "re-entry" problems -- getting re-accustomed to cold weather, heating with wood, possibly not being able to drive all the way to the house until snow is gone and moisture-laden soil has had a chance to dry. And then there will be all those things we can't find, and the inevitable question: did we pack that somewhere, or is it still back in Florida. Stress--oh, yes.

But there is, as you guessed, a big payoff. It has been way too long since we have had family time, and the littlest ones have grown so much. We can't wait to see them all. And then, there are those beautiful mountains and woodlands. Maybe I'll just click together the heels of my ruby slippers and get there faster.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

"Girl with a Pearl Earring" - That simplicity thing again

As far as I can tell, I'm the only person who didn't read Tracy Chevalier's "Girl with a Pearl Earring" years ago, when it hit the New York Times Bestseller List. I admit I'm not what you'd call "au courant." I probably didn't even spell it correctly. But I read the book recently (thanks, Astrid) and loved it. For anyone out there who might be even less "courant" than I am, this is the story of a fictitious sixteen-year-old Dutch girl who becomes a maid for the family of the Dutch artist Vermeer in the 1600s. The story is told by Griet, the girl, who is working to help support her family, impoverished due to an accident that caused the blindness of her father, a tile painter. I can't describe the plot better than the jacket blurb, which says this is a novel about "artistic vision and sensual awakening." Griet's narrative is powerful - not because of what it says, but because of what it does not say--what it enables our imaginations to provide. The passion that lies beneath the surface of this story ignites the plot.

If you've been following the ramblings of my blog, you know that this "simplicity thing" is something that I've been trying to get a handle on. Once again in this novel we see the power of simplicity in writing - the old "less is more" principle. I'm going to be scrutinizing my work, looking for ways to achieve simplicity. If you know of other published works that achieve this effect, please leave a comment.