Mojo Monday: How to Move A Rhino

It’s Mojo Monday, and as always, I’ve got a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge (or better yet, catapult) you into writerhead.


If these folks can fly a black rhino (a RHINO!) to a new home via helicopter, you can get yourself into writerhead today.

Talk about inspirational…

Check it out.

Flying Rhinos from Green Renaissance on Vimeo.

Writerhead Wednesday: NaNoWriMo Writers Tell All

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author answers three questions about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


Hey, beautiful NaNoWriMo writers, I’m wildly, insanely curious about how writing 50,000 words in 30 days is affecting your writerhead!

[Need a quick definition of writerhead? Writerhead = the purest moments of creation. Those beautiful (sometimes excruciating) "Sh, sh, sh, ssssssshhhhhh, I’ve got to get this down" moments when words are bubbling, popping, zinging, and swinging. The ones when the “real” world disappears behind a gauzy cloud (insert sucking sound here…) and the imaginative world takes on firmer lines and brighter hues. A.k.a. “the flow" or "the zone."]

So…

Is your writerhead the same as it is during “regular, ole, non-NaNoWriMo writing stints”?

How is it different?

What does it feel like? Smell like? Sound like? Rev like?

To what can you compare your writerhead right now…today…23 days into your adventure?

What do you say to your writerhead to get her moving in the morning?

How do you shut down your writerhead for a little R&R?

What do you know about your writerhead that you didn’t know before?

At this point, does your writerhead look more like this:

or this…

Share, share!

 

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Image: think4photop / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Writerhead Wednesday: The “Tell Me About Your Writerhead” Giveaway

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author answers three questions about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


This week, Writerhead Wednesday is all about you.

Yes, you!

Yes, yes, you, the writer in the red shirt.

You, the writer in the tweed jacket.

And yep, you, too, sleepy writer still tromping around in your pajamas.

All about you and YOUR writerhead.

Here’s the scoop:

This week, I’m giving away a $25 Visa gift card…with the hope, intention, and understanding that the lucky winner will use it to buy necessary writer-related stuff—books, pens, paper, a shiny new stapler, one-third (one-fourth?) of a much-needed therapy session, a thumb drive, business cards, a couple of double-shot lattes, a few hours of babysitting time, a bottle of Jack, etc.

And all you have to do to win is share a little something about YOUR writerhead. Tell us what writerhead is like for you.

If you need a bit of inspiration, check out these recent writerhead interviews with authors Eric Olsen, Alma Katsu, and Diana Abu-Jaber.

Easy peasy.

If you’re new to this site (welcome!) or need a refresher course on what exactly writerhead is, keep reading:

Writerhead is “a (usually) temporary state of dreamy concentration and fluctuating consciousness during which a writer is most creative, productive, and artistic.”

You know…the purest moments of creation. Those beautiful (sometimes excruciating) sh, sh, sh, ssssssshhhhhh, I’ve got to get this down moments when words are bubbling, popping, zinging, and swinging. The ones when the “real” world disappears behind a gauzy cloud (insert sucking sound here…) and the imaginative world takes on firmer lines and brighter hues.

Some writers call it “the flow” or “the zone.” Some call it “hell.” Others refer to it as “writerland.” I’ve always called it writerhead.

(“Sshshh,” I growl at my husband if he tries to talk to me in the morning before I hunker down to write. “I’m in writerhead!”)

For example, perhaps your writerhead is something like this (lucky you!):

Or maybe, on a tough day, more like this. (Don’t worry…we’ve all been there.):

So get moving…post your description of your writerhead in the comment section below. You’ve got until midnight on November 22 to do so.

Good luck! Can’t wait to read about your writerhead!

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GIVEAWAY RULES & REGS:

*To enter the giveaway contest, please leave a comment about your writerhead.

**Comments must be posted before the clock strikes midnight on November 22, 2011. (That’s Eastern Standard Time U.S.)

***This contest is open internationally.

****A winner will be drawn on Wednesday, November 23. Be sure to check back to see who wins.

*****The winner will be drawn randomly by the highly scientific method of my 3yo pulling a name out of a hat (or some other convenient container).

******Though I welcome all charming comments, only one comment per person will be counted in the contest.

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Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mojo Monday: Theo Jansen’s Kinetic Sculptures

It’s Mojo Monday, and as always, I’ve got a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge (or better yet, catapult) you into writerhead.


What are YOU going to make today?

 

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Want to learn more about artist Theo Jansen? Click here.

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Áine Greaney

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author answers three questions about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


Say “Áine Greaney” to bookish people anywhere up in New England and you’re met with a lovely hushed reverence. She’s a cool person, a gorgeous writer, and yep, she’s Irish…as in “of the country.” (Or, I should probably say, “of the county, County Mayo.”) And now you, lucky you, get a wee glimpse into her writerhead.

So pull on your Wellies and let’s get moving…

The Scoop About Dance Lessons

A year after her husband’s death in a sailing accident off Martha’s Vineyard, Ellen Boisvert bumps into an old friend. In this chance encounter, she discovers that her immigrant husband of almost fifteen years was not an orphan after all. Instead, his aged mother Jo is alive and residing on the family’s isolated farm in the west of Ireland.

Faced with news of her mother-in-law incarnate, the thirty-nine-year-old American prep school teacher decides to travel to Ireland to investigate the truth about her husband Fintan and why he kept his family’s existence a secret for so many years.

Between Jo’s hilltop farm and the lakeside village of Gowna, Ellen begins to uncover the mysteries of her Irish husband’s past and the cruelties and isolation of his rural childhood. Ellen also stumbles upon Fintan’s long-ago romance with a local village woman, with whom he had a daughter, Cat. Cat is now fourteen and living with her mother in London. As Ellen reconciles her troubled relationship with Fintan, she discovers a way to heal the wounds of the past.

Deeply rooted in the Irish landscape and sensibility, Dance Lessons is a powerful story of loss, regret, and transformation.

The Buzzzzzzzzzzz

“A beautiful examination of three women’s lives, this novel deftly explores both relationships and solitude, with Ireland’s gorgeous countryside as backdrop.” ~ Booklist

“The author is able to capture emotional nuance with minimal flourish; her characters emerge as strong individuals confronting unexpected pain.” ~ Publishers Weekly

First Sentence

“The kitchen phone is ringing again.”

_________

And now, Áine’s writerhead…

1. Describe your state of writerhead (the where, the when, the how, the what, the internal, the external).

If I’m working on a project, I’m usually in writerhead on and off throughout the day and (horrors) mostly at night. Honestly! I do dream about my work quite a bit, and when I wake up at 3 a.m. and again for work at 7 a.m., I am immediately thinking about the project and puzzling it out in my head. I keep a notebook beside the bed, and my favorite way to write is to just get up, get coffee and get going. It’s much easier for me in the morning.

My favorite way to write is to go away and hole up on writer’s retreat. When I’m away on writer’s retreat, the project and the words and the voice are there all day and most of the night, too. I love that kind of intense (manic?) immersion in a project. It’s my favorite way to work. When I go away to write, I pack the usual bag but truthfully, I rarely unpack or wear even half of it. I live in a state of total slobbery for days on end. The summer before last, I was under deadline for my writer’s instructional book, so I sneaked away to my little hideaway. Imagine how mortified I was to realize that I’d been wearing a grungy stained T-shirt most of the week. (Hmmm… so that’s why that snooty poet was gawking at me like that!). But when I’m truly immersed, I tend not to care about the basics—except food, of course. Writing the battle hymn or the disco dance numbers for Noah’s Ark’s next grand voyage would not keep me from my three squares.

2. What happens if someone/something interrupts writerhead? (a spouse, a lover, a barking dog, an electrical outage, a baby’s cry, a phone call, a leg cramp, a dried-up pen, a computer crash, etc.)

Hmmm… that depends on the project, doesn’t it? Sometimes, I’m delighted to be interrupted, and have been known to keep the mail man in longer and deeper conversation than is ever necessary (“You deliver ‘round these parts often, then? You know, blue really *is* your color”). But when the project is humming and happy, I can quite easily ignore a ringing phone or even the front door bell. When I was writing the first draft of my first novel, The Big House, our local library had been relocated to another building while they were renovating the main library downtown (speaking of Noah’s Ark era stuff). It was deep winter and I was clacking away on my old laptop and never looked up to see why or if the library had emptied out of all other patrons. Eventually, one of the librarians came, touched my shoulder and said, “We’re closing the library early because of the snow emergency. Will you be able to dig your car out?” I had an old Saab 900 back then, and, sure enough, there was the poor thing, the last car in the lot, absolutely buried under a day’s snow. Who knew? It wasn’t snowing where I had been, right?

3. Using a simile or metaphor, compare your writerhead to something.

When I’m in writerhead I feel like I’m chomping into some homemade apple pie (there’s that food thing again). I’m in love. In ecstasy. It tastes and feels fabulous, but then, there’s that small voice that’s saying, “you’re going to pay for this.” I’m always excited when a project is going well, but I’m always bracing for when it’s not. Yes, it’s a very fatalistic, glass-half-empty outlook. Err … must do something about that.

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Áine Greaney is an Irish writer who lives north of Boston. She’s published four books, including two novels, a short story collection and an instructional writing book, Writer with a Day Job from Writers Digest Books. Her most recent novel, Dance Lessons was released in April 2011 by Syracuse University Press. The Women’s National Book Association has chosen Dance Lessons for 2011 National Reading Group Month. As well as writing, she teaches creative workshops at various schools, arts organizations and libraries.

Intrigued? Thought you might be. To learn more, skip on over to Áine’s web site (www.ainegreaney.com). Pop into her blog, Writer With a Day Job. Give her a nod on Twitter (@ainegreaney) or like her (love her!) on Facebook.

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Q4U Readers / Writers / New Englanders / Irish-philes / Writers With Day Jobs: Glass-half-empty or glass-half-full?

 

Mojo Monday: The Kind Of Woman I Am

It’s Mojo Monday, and as always, I’ve got a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge (or better yet, catapult) you into writerhead.


Nuff said.

Thanks to one of my fav online peeps Christa for posting this a few weeks back.

 

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Megan Stielstra

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author answers three questions about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


Way back in the day, Megan Stielstra was a student in my “Intro to Fiction Writing” class at Columbia College in Chicago. She was a freshman, and even back then, she kicked ass. She was smart, savvy, uber creative, generous, supportive, intrepid on the page. A natural storyteller with voice oozing from every pore.

She still kicks ass, and today I’m super happy to report that her first collection of short stories—Everyone Remain Calm—will be released as an e-book later this month.

Whoop! Whoop!

The Scoop About Everyone Remain Calm

In this debut collection of stories, Megan Stielstra will explain the following in revealing detail: how to develop relationships with convicted felons and 1970s TV characters; how not to have a threesome with your roommate; the life and death nature of teaching creative writing; and what happens when discount birth control is advertised on Craigslist. Witty, tough, imaginative, and hot-blooded, Megan Stielstra’s fiction and first person reporting are the missing links between Raymond Carver and David Sedaris.

The Buzzzzzzzzzzz

“Here’s the thing about Megan Stielstra: she has a profound understanding of where we all go in our minds, and the unique ability to turn it into a story that sounds like your new best friend is telling it to you. You know, the kind where you’re going ‘Oh my god that totally happened to me’ or ‘It’s like you see inside my head’ until she gets to the part where there’s suddenly a marching band following her down the street or she’s sleeping with the Incredible Hulk or having a three-way which is the part where you go ‘Okay that didn’t happen to me but damn, why does it still seem like it did?’ Megan Stielstra brings it to the party and rocks it.” ~ Elizabeth Crane, We Only Know So Much

Everyone Remain Calm is a rarity: a bold, imaginative, and cunning collection of stories. Spanning a wide variety of styles, forms, and tones, the language here is unapologetically inventive and often humorous, while the sentiments are deeply heartfelt. Ms. Stielstra’s inimitable voice is a fiercely unique creation.” ~ Joe Meno, The Great Perhaps

“Stielstra writes beautifully and kinetically. Her work possesses a rare aural quality, no doubt the result of spending so much time onstage, or even in front of a classroom…. in Everyone Remain Calm, she gleefully tests the boundaries of the short-story form.” ~ Time Out Chicago

First Sentence

“When Wade Del Dallas put his fist in my eye on our third date, my dad went after him with a .375 Holland and Holland magnum.” (from “Shot to the Lungs and No Breath Left,” the 1st story in Everyone Remain Calm)

_________

And now, Megan’s writerhead

1. Describe your state of writerhead (the where, the when, the how, the what, the internal, the external).

At this point in my life, writing is more about time than space. I have three jobs and a three-year-old. I’m trying to market one book that I dearly love and finish another that’s got me so distracted I keep missing El stops. Last night, on the way home from teaching a 6:00-10:00 class, my writerhead was in Prague in the late 1960’s with a sixteen-year-old waitress deciding to sleep with her customer—a leader in the Communist party—in order to get out of the country. How ridiculous and terrifying and necessary is that scene when she takes off her clothes in front of him, what does she think about this swanky hotel room—a kind of opulance she’d never imagined—and here’s this man, so much older, so ugly, so desperate himself, and as her dress hit the floor I heard, “Next stop—Howard!” I was eight stops past my house. It was 11:30. I was exhausted. But the writerhead was so, so good—so really, who cares?

I’m going to admit something here, and don’t laugh, ‘cause I feel lame even saying this: my fantasy life, right now, involves a desk. No, not sex on a desk (although that’s fun, too!); rather writing on a desk. Having my own space, my room of one’s own. I think of wallpapering it with corkboard so I can pin chapter arcs to the wall and just… look at them. Just… think. Right now, since I’m always coming from somewhere or on the way somewhere else, I jump into writerhead when and wherever I can. I write in coffeeshops, 2nd Story’s studio space between rehearsals, in the car in front of my son’s school, in the school library before or after class, on the kitchen floor. Every night, before I go to sleep, I copy the messy notes I wrote all day in a longhand journal into the computer, and then, during longer stretches of writing time on the weekends, I see how those notes fit into the overall scene or story. I think of how Flaubert would copy whole sections from his letters and notebooks into his fiction—that’s what I’m doing.

The truth is, I’m always in writerhead. All of my jobs involve story in some way—I teach creative writing, I teach teachers to teach creative writing, and I’m the Literary Director for the 2nd Story storytelling series—so there’s a constant dialogue about literary craft and creative problem solving with very passionate, talented, and diverse artists who inspire the hell out me and challenge me to go deeper and take risks. Last week in class, we were discussing the scene in The Things They Carried where Tim’s in the boat at the Canadian border, and a student commented that this was the first moment where we saw Tim being honest about himself. Up until then, he’d been describing the experiences and feelings of other characters, but it was this moment of vulnerability that really made him a fully realized character. Hearing this slammed me right into writerhead: What does it mean to fully realize a first-person narrator? When in my own work am I showing the character’s vulnerability? This sixteen-year-old girl in the hotel room in Prague—is she vulnerable in this moment? Or powerful? What would be a moment of vulnerability for her? I was so excited just then! And excitement is a deliciously contagious thing—my students can feel it and feed off of it in the same way I feed off of their comments and questions, and those comments and questions lead to more realizations and ideas, and this all happens to me twenty times a day. Quite frankly, it’s awesome, and even as I fantasize about my future desk, I wouldn’t change where I am right now. The ideas—of story, of how to tell the story, the writerhead—is my day-to-day, hour-to-hour, and while I can’t currently have Ass In Chair for six/seven hour stretches, I can get it in six/seven hour bursts—in the chair, in the classroom discussion, in my head on the el, back in the chair, in my head while I’m cooking, in my head on the tredmil, in my head at the theatre, in the chair, in the chair, in the chair.

The only time it really, honestly turns off? When I’m building super-ramps with my kid. I make a mean super-ramp.

2. What happens if someone/something interrupts writerhead? (a spouse, a lover, a barking dog, an electrical outage, a baby’s cry, a phone call, a leg cramp, a dried-up pen, a computer crash, etc.)

A few weeks ago, I was trying to finish a story—I was on deadline, which is great ‘cause you have to force yourself to finish but also awful ‘cause you have to force yourself to finish—and my three-year-old kept tugging on my pant leg. I kept saying, “Five more minutes, baby,” but it wasn’t five more minutes, it was five five more minutes, and when I finally looked up, he was sitting on the carpet holding a Hot Wheels car in each hand staring at me. “Am I now?” he asked, and I started to cry. I picked him up, rocked him on my lap, and cried. He didn’t know what was happening, and the truth is, neither do I. How do you do it? Be a writer and a mom and a wife and a professional and a friend and a human and all of it; I feel guilty and excited and fortunate and grateful and crazy.

I’m in the process of figuring it out.

I’ll always be in the process of figuring it out.

Last spring, Robin Black was featured on Writerhead Wednesdays, and in answer to this question she said, “I have been known to weep.” I loved that. I laughed my ass off because it’s so, so, so true. You weep because an interruption takes you out of the story—but sometimes, I need to be taken out. I need to be in the world.

Right now, this very moment, I’m writing this from a coffee shop next door to my son’s school. When I dropped him off today, he said, “Have good writing, mommy!”

I’m the luckiest girl in the world.

3. Using a simile or metaphor, compare your writerhead to something.

Writerhead is like Sookie Stackhouse on True Blood; she’s telekinetic, and is constantly, 24/7, hearing the thoughts of everyone around her all the time. It’s nonstop noise, an endless stream of voices. Sometimes writerhead feels like that, like I’m off in this fog and unable to be fully present in the moment. I’m trying to be mindful of this, trying to imagine that there’s a dial on the side of my head that I can turn up or down: all the way up and I’m fully committed to the story I’m imagining; all the way down and I’m fully committed to the story I’m living.

_________

Megan Stielstra is a writer, storyteller, and the Literary Director of Chicago’s 2nd Story storytelling series. She’s told stories for The Goodman, The Steppenwolf, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Chicago Poetry Center, Story Week Festival of Writers, Wordstock Literary Festival, and Chicago Public Radio, among others, and she’s a Literary Death Match champ. Her fiction and essays have appeared in Other Voices, Fresh Yarn, Pindeldyboz, Swink, Monkeybicycle, Cellstories, Annalemma, Venus, and Punk Planet, among others, and her story collection, Everyone Remain Calm, is forthcoming October 2011 from Joyland/ECW. She teaches creative writing at Columbia College and The University of Chicago.

If you’re smart (and I know you are), you’re going to want to tip your hat to Megan cause, well, she rocks! So pop on over to her web site (www.meganstielstra.com). Or give her a wave on Twitter (@meganstielstra) or Facebook.

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Q4U Readers / Writers / Moms / Dads / Writing Teachers / Storytellers / Jugglers Extraordinaire: What’s your take on Megan’s statement that “excitement is a deliciously contagious thing”?

 

Expat Sat: Writing Prompt #9: “Raindrops on Roses…”

Welcome to Expat Sat, the culturally kooky, map nonspecific, sometimes bewildering, always fascinating intersection of expat life and writerhead. And where every Saturday, I offer tips for writing, publishing, and thriving to expat writers around the globe.


This is #9 of 10 in a series of writing prompts for expat writers. So listen up, my nomadic pals. Then grab your keyboards and start writing.

__________

One of my favorite things about living in Shanghai was that I was constantly (constantly!) inspired to take photographs. In addition to writing, I’m a wee bit obsessed with taking photographs.

In Shanghai, I carried my camera everywhere. On the walk to my daughter’s preschool/play group. On the drive to the grocery store. To my fav foot massage place. To friends’ houses. To Pudong. To Xian. To Chengdu. Up the street to buy a pack of toilet paper. Down to the Bund. Along the lanes. To Dongtai Lu. Into the wet markets. To the Ambassy Club swimming pool in the summertime. To the Longhua Temple.

I was inspired by, well, just about everything: people, objects, transportation, movement, weird & wacky stuff in window displays, birds in cages, birds not in cages, noodles, the frog-tying guy on Wulumuqi Road, the ice delivery chicky-babe who could hoist a massive block of ice onto her shoulder and tote it down a lane as if she were carrying feathers, bamboo scaffolding, Chinglish, monks, temples, fish that escaped their baskets and flopped on down the road trying to find the sea, nametags, and oh, so much more.

I have a gazillion photographs (like the one up there in the corner) that in the end loop back to my writing. It’s all part of my creative process…my writerhead.

Assignment: Write about your favorite thing–okay, one of your favorite things–about living in your host country. What gets you up and out in the morning? What makes you say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I love this place”? What inspires you?

Tip: Be specific. Dig in. If you love noodles, tear them crazy-delicious noodles apart. Don’t stop at “I love noodles.” What kinds of noodles do you love? How do you like your noodles to be prepared? How many times a week do you eat noodles? Do noodles remind you of anything back home? Where did you first eat these life-changing noodles? Did you ever burn yourself on a noodle? Slip on one? Stretch one out to see how long it was? Take a noodle-making class? Watch a noodle maker at the market? From what do these noodles set you free (boxed ramen, perhaps)?

 

Now spend a little time thinking about your favorite things…and then, as always, get thee to writerhead!

Expat Sat: Writing Prompt #8: You & Her…Here & There…This & That

Welcome to Expat Sat, the culturally kooky, map nonspecific, sometimes bewildering, always fascinating intersection of expat life and writerhead. And where every Saturday, I offer tips for writing, publishing, and thriving to expat writers around the globe.


This is #8 of 10 in a series of writing prompts for expat writers. So listen up, my nomadic pals. Then grab your keyboards and start writing.

__________

Folks are often hesitant to do the old “comparison/contrast” when it comes to writing about their host country or their fellow expats. They’re afraid of offending people, stereotyping, etc. I get ya, but sometimes there’s nothing better than a little “us and them” to reveal truths, highlight key cultural differences, and maybe even make your reader laugh out loud. Believe me, you can poke a little fun at yourself, your culture, your fellow expats & their cultures, and yes, even your host country’s culture…all without being offensive. (And besides, not all comparison/contrast essays are funny. Many are quite serious. That part is up to you.)

Writing Assignment: You’ve got a couple of options:

1. Choose something aesthetic that you like: literature, food, movies, music, dance, art, clubbing, photography, architecture, etc. Then pick one example from your home country and one from your host country (for example, if you choose food, you could compare Chinese hot pot to good, old-fashioned American beef stew). Once you’ve narrowed your topic:

a. Explain why one thing is better than the other. For example, if you’re a fan of Chinese hot pot, explain why it’s better than stew back home in the United States. (In my mind, ANYTHING is better than stew.)

b. Reveal a little something-something about both by doing a side-by-side comparison. For example, hot pot and stew are both delicious but each reflects certain aspects of its culture. (Both are comforting, cold-weather dishes but stew-eaters are lazier than hot-pot aficionados. Stew-eaters like their dish to arrive ready to eat whereas hot-pot aficionados like to participate in the cooking.)

2. Compare and/or contrast two groups of people: taxi drivers in your host country and taxi drivers back home; store clerks in your host country and store clerks back home; bosses in your host country and bosses back home; mothers in your host country and mothers back home (yep, been done by Amy Chua, I know) ; etc.

a. Explain why one is better than the other. For example, why taxi drivers in the U.S. are way better than taxi drivers in your host country.

b. Reveal a little something-something about both by doing a side-by-side comparison. For example, taxi drivers in both countries USUALLY get you where you want to go, but both have their quirks.

Tip #1: Figure out what your purpose is. Are you explaining your two subjects…saying both are good (or bad), just different? Or are you evaluating your two subjects…saying that one is better (or worse) than the other?

Tip #2: Before you start writing, make lists. (Always a good time to make a list!) List the characteristics of both subjects that you will compare. (For example, make a list of hot pot characteristics and beef stew characteristics. Then also characteristics of people who eat each of these dishes.)

Tip #3: Keep your audience in mind. Imagine someone reading your piece in the next edition of “Best Travel Essays.” Make sure you give that reader all the info she needs. (Perhaps this poor reader has never had the privilege of eating Chinese hot pot!)

Un-Goal: This is not a rant. Your goal is not to mock or make fun. There’s a fine line between funny and making fun. (More on this in a future post.)

 

Now…get thee to writerhead!

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Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Meg Mitchell Moore

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author answers three questions about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


Please give a warm writerhead welcome to Meg Mitchell Moore, author of The Arrivals. Very excited to have Meg here today for many reasons…including the fact that she spends a good bit of time writing in my favorite library.

(Ooh, also…giving away 2 copies today! Just leave a comment to enter! Complete guidelines below.)

The Scoop About The Arrivals

It’s early summer when Ginny and William’s peaceful life in Vermont comes to an abrupt halt.

First, their daughter Lillian arrives, with her two children in tow, to escape her crumbling marriage. Next, their son Stephen and his pregnant wife Jane show up for a weekend visit, which extends indefinitely when Jane ends up on bed rest. When their youngest daughter Rachel appears, fleeing her difficult life in New York, Ginny and William find themselves consumed again by the chaos of parenthood—only this time around, their children are facing adult problems.

By summer’s end, the family gains new ideas of loyalty and responsibility, exposing the challenges of surviving the modern family—and the old adage, once a parent, always a parent, has never rung so true.

 The Buzzzzzzzzzzz

“An empty nest fills back up with alarming speed in Moore’s promising debut….Moore finds a crisp narrative in the morass of an overpacked household, and she keeps the proceedings moving with an assurance and outlook reminiscent of Laurie Colwin, evoking emotional universals with the simplest of observations, as in ‘the peace you feel when you are awake in a house where children are sleeping.’” ~ Publishers Weekly

“A tender portrait of a tangled, complicated, all-too real family, The Arrivals left me teary and fulfilled. A sparkling, page-turning debut.” ~ New York Times bestselling author Allison Winn Scotch

“The novel is told from multiple points of view, always a tricky maneuver. But Moore handles the shifts in perspective with ease, nimbly evoking the reader’s sympathy for each family member.” ~ Entertainment Weekly

First Sentence

“It was eight thirty in the morning, June, a Saturday, and the sunlight was coming in the kitchen window at such an angle that William’s granddaughter, Olivia, had to shield her eyes with one hand while she bent her head to sip from the straw in her glass of orange juice.”

_________

And now, Meg’s writerhead

1. Describe your state of writerhead (the where, the when, the how, the what, the internal, the external).

There are certain places where writerhead is more likely to occur for me. My house, once the kids are off for the morning and the beds are made, is one. (I will admit, lamely, that I could never experience writerhead when the beds aren’t made.) A study room in my public library is another. You sign up for these rooms for two-hour increments, and you can close the door and therefore play music softly, but one rule is that the room must remain occupied by at least one person for the duration of the two hours, or you lose your slot. I am a rule follower, and a little bit scared of librarians, so I don’t leave the room. This is a great way to force myself into writerhead. Certain songs can bring it on too. I happen to be a huge Josh Ritter fan. When I wrote my second novel, out next May, I started every single writing session listening to a song of his called Lantern because it seems to me to be a song that speaks to the themes of the book. For my work in progress, it’s another song of his, Orbital, that is working for me. I can’t get started, and I can’t get into writerhead, without playing that song.

2. What happens if someone/something interrupts writerhead? (a spouse, a lover, a barking dog, an electrical outage, a baby’s cry, a phone call, a leg cramp, a dried-up pen, a computer crash, etc.)

If a kid is crying but it’s not my kid, no problem. Ringing phones I try not to answer. But mostly I set myself up for very few interruptions if I really want to write. I don’t do a lot of (any) real writing when my kids are around. I can’t multitask that way; it’s really hard for me to get into the right state when someone can’t find her blue headband or someone else decides it’s time to practice the treble jig in hard shoes for Irish dance class. I can block out a lot when I’m concentrating, but Irish hard shoes are really loud. If I’m hit with a real interruption, I take it as a sign that it’s time for a break, and that the good, messy stuff has come out and needs to simmer for a while before being reworked.

3. Using a simile or metaphor, compare your writerhead to something.

I am a fairly competitive runner. For me, writerhead is a little like experiencing a “runner’s high”: the feeling that everything is lining up for a few magical moments and that I am doing exactly what my body (running) or mind (writing) is meant to be doing. I don’t achieve this high every time I run, and I don’t achieve it every time I write, but experiencing it every now and then is enough incentive to keep going with both endeavors.

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Meg Mitchell Moore worked for several years as a journalist. Her work has been published in Yankee, Continental, Women’s Health, Advertising Age and many other business and consumer magazines. She received a B.A. from Providence College and a master’s degree in English Literature from New York University. The Arrivals is her first novel. Her second novel will be published by Reagan Arthur Books in 2012. Meg lives in Newburyport, Massachusetts, with her husband, their three children, and a beloved border collie.

If you’d like to learn more about Meg and The Arrivals, pop on over to her web site. You can also greet her on Twitter (@mmitchmoore) or Facebook.

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Q4U Readers / Writers / Moms / Dads / Jugglers Extraordinaire: Anyone else find the time/space to slip into writerhead in the library?

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GIVEAWAY!!!

Today—Wednesday, September 28, 2011—I’m giving away 2 copies of Meg Mitchell Moore’s The Arrivals.

RULES: To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment for Meg right here on WRITERHEAD. Show her some love!

*Comments must be posted before the clock strikes midnight on September 29, 2011. (That’s Eastern Standard Time U.S.)

**This contest is open internationally.

***Winners will be drawn on Thursday, September 29. Be sure to check back to see who wins.

****Though I welcome all charming comments, only one comment per person will be counted in the contest. (I know, I know…but this isn’t “American Idol.”)

*****The winner will be drawn randomly by the highly scientific method of my 3yo pulling a name out of a hat (or some other convenient container…blocks box, [unused] cereal bowl, sand bucket, etc.)