Saturday, June 30, 2018

Letters from Marilyn - Update 26

Two things have been on my mind this past week: time and causality.

Time, in the purest sense of the word, is defined as the system of those sequential relations that any event has to any other, as past, present, or future; indefinite and continuous duration regarded as that in which events succeed one another.

In connection, causality is defined as the relation of cause and effect. 

When I was in college, my writing professors would have us participate in various freewriting techniques. The one I remember the most is called loop writing, in which the writer engages in a topic of choice for a timed interval. When the timed interval is up, the writer goes back to underline three or four key words, or even phrases, in their writing. One underlined segment is selected, and it becomes the starting point of the next timed interval. In essence, the writer is writing in a loop, a continual chain of ideas that are the result of the previous.

If we could describe the way our minds work, 90% of the time I would state that mine is in a loop. One idea is a result of another, and so on and so forth.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Letters from Marilyn - Update 25

Do you ever wish you could freeze time? Just to hold onto a moment for a little longer?

I have been re-reading M's letters, trying to find the words to launch her story. I have written middle chapters and end chapters, but no beginning chapters. When I place the cursor at the very start of that first page, I find myself staring at it, watching its pulsing and blinking like the ticking of a metronome. It feels like the cursor is waiting for me. Waiting for me to give it letters to form words, and words to form sentences.

Beginnings are the hardest. In writing, in starting over, in taking a step forward into an uncertain future. It is hard to change beginnings, after all. You can alter your path, change your steps, erase your words, create a different ending. But that first moment, it can never be taken back. And since my last post, I have felt without words, stuck staring at a blinking cursor on a blank page.

I have had this mental block for months. I have spent hours, days, weeks pondering how to find the words to lift the fog. I have been on countless drives to nowhere, hoping that the clear roads and skies would somehow clear my mind. I have read dozens of books, believing that immersing myself in a story would perhaps spark ideas for Marilyn's.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Letters from Marilyn - Update 24

Good morning from Montana! 

I promised myself I would take one morning to write while I was on vacation, so here I am, typing away at City Brew Coffee. 

Many of you have written to inquire how I am and how the Marilyn project is going (my last update was March 25, yikes), so I'll take some time to fill you in.

If I am being 100% honest, the last 2 weeks have been rough. I had injured my hand, which came with the frustration of canceling a piano lesson and finding two vocalists a new accompanist. A former student of mine died, too young, too soon (a death I am still processing as I try to find the words to write to her family). 

Meanwhile, my current students have been especially challenging as summer vacation draws nearer. I was in technical rehearsals for our play, which was giving me some serious sleep deprivation. I woke up at 4:00AM the night before performances with the nightmare that my entire set had disappeared, no joke. During this time, a friend had mentioned an email correspondence I sent, in which I had signed off as simply "Liv." She stated that when I don't take the time to type the remaining 3 letters in my name, it is apparently a sign I am losing my marbles. Needless to say, I am going to be more mindful when sending emails from now on!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Letters from Marilyn - Update 23

I have a love/hate relationship with my writing process.

Once I get an idea, I cannot let it go until I have furiously scribbled it on paper. In fact, I think I may have reached a new level of madness recently: inspiration struck, and the only paper on hand was the back of a few old receipts lying neglected in the bottom of my bag. 

That inspiration? In the form of a novel I had loved as a child. I received a pristine copy of Little Women from an old writer friend of mine, who knew it was one of my favorite books. "Perhaps rereading it will get you out of your writer's block," he had said soothingly. My scholarly friends have always heard me vehemently claim that writers are influenced by the literature they have read, and I am certainly no exception to that. Sidebar: don't believe me? J.K. Rowling stated in an interview after the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that her tale of the deathly hallows was based on "The Pardoner's Tale" from Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. Harvard has a nice translation from the Middle English here.

I couldn't remember the last time I had reread Little Women. "When am I going to have the time to read this?" I had whined. I needed to make headway on my novel, not reread old literature! "Just try it," he had coaxed. "Take a break. Read a book. Heck, read a few! What harm could it do?"

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Letters from Marilyn - Update 22

Hello world!

Today finds me being the stereotypical writer: sitting at Starbucks, earbuds in, busily typing away. I know it has been quite some time since my last update, and many of you readers have emailed, Facebooked (is that even a word?), or tweeted to ask how I have been. Let's recap, then I'll update on the Marilyn progress.

On the life front, the musical wrapped up with set strike on January 28. Moving forward from there, this past week had been a challenge. After 3 months of being at the theater until at least 6:30 Mon-Fri - and yesterday being my first free Saturday in 4 weeks - I have had major rehearsal blues.  

January 28 through February 15 is my small window of time to do "all the life things!" I'll admit, I'm very stir crazy and gloomy right now, which is unusual for me. To try and distract myself, I've spent this week contacting all my friends about getting together, lining up piano gigs, cleaning my apartment, writing a bunch of Marilyn chapters, and polishing my nails multiple times. Sidebar story: yes, multiple (3) times. Yes, I know you all find this weird, friends of mine, that polished nails are a sign I'm stressed. My piano teachers believed in clean, short nails, and to this day, I tend to keep them that way. At the moment however, they are turquoise. Let's hope that doesn't change again.

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