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Rain, Writing and What to Do Next…

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I’m working very hard to get my thesis done, and as the rain falls outside of this window next to my shoulder, I wonder what I will do when the book is finished. I know I’m supposed to look for an agent, find a way to put this book on the market, and then sail off into the sunset (or is that sunrise?) of Publishing Glory. However, I find myself wanting to suspend this period of time when I’m only responsible for my book, and I can sit around in sweatpants with my hair uncombed, and anticipate nothing but five months of glorious, glorious me time.

Oh, and Valentine’s Day is coming up. Oy.

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Written by Alyss Dixson

February 9, 2014 at 4:56 am

MSS BLUES

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Dear readers:

I regret to inform you that the manuscript is not complete. I know back in the spring I promised that I would be delivering a full sometime this fall. Oh, the follies of youth! My relentless pace throughout those early 2010 months led me to believe that I would steamroller this story that’s been in my head, knock it out with a one-two-buckle-my-shoe. Alas, I believe it has turned the tables on me. I stand before you nearly defeated.

Of course, I never scheduled in major life changes, the weather (it’s HOT in LA, like, way too hot to be writing with a computer in your lap!), hang nails, HULU PLUS and NETFLIX streaming, Angry Birds, Bejeweled, Words with Friends, Twitter, RSS feeds directly to my iPhone, SONS OF ANARCHY, MAD MEN Season 4 (I mean, really, Don. Draper. People.), new girlfriends, old girlfriends, trips domestic and almost international, diets, binges, that new bar in DTLA with the mescal that I can only find while driving around, the places my new GPS found for me, the time lost after said GPS was stolen, police reports, car window repair, shampooing carpets, hair, and waxing legs—and let’s not forget that allergic reaction to the Persian post-waxing oil that caused a regrettable hive response in….places—family, family, family, holiday dinner planning, running into ex-boyfriends, running into current wives of ex-boyfriends, babies (not mine but the kind that need their Aunty Alyss, damn it), nephew visits, facebook status updates to read and compose and one-up; the mid-term elections, Sarah Palin, Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, Bush II in print, and don’t get me started on The Wedding Matters videos or Glee, I mean, seriously, who can write under these circumstances?

In light of the world’s continuing shameless use of its powers of distraction, and my insistence on being a compassionate citizen and artist, I can do only this: pledge to write five pages a day. Not stop until done. Keep my fingers crossed.

best,

Alyss

Written by Alyss Dixson

November 18, 2010 at 3:25 am

Writers Junction in the LA Times

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Came in to work on the book today and saw this wonderful article in the LA Times about the space where I write, the Writers Junction.  Of course, the picture in the print edition shows me hard at “work” with my crap spread all over the desk. LOL.

I love groan-inducing puns, especially visual ones — they are the main reason I love shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy — so when I flipped the paper open to the article and saw me sitting there, remembered how frustrated I was that day working through the dreaded Chapter 8 of the novel, and then noticed I was underneath a picture of a gun, I about fell out. Get it? I’m “under the gun”? *nudge* *nudge* *wink* *wink*

I’m promising myself to get through a draft of Chapter 10 today no matter how ugly it turns out. I have time to make things “purdy” later. Like when the entire draft is complete. I also write screenplays and I have learned the hard way that the only draft that matters is the completed one. I try not to let myself get to compulsive about ‘fixes’ because that’s just an endless process and at least half the time, the work has a meta-issue that needs to be resolved before any local adjustments will work. I try to always question whether or not I’m simply “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic” with something, or if it’s a legitimate issue that has to be addressed before I can continue composing.

I’m really pushing hard to get the book completely drafted in the next 10 days and it’s STRESSFUL. The deadline is entirely self-imposed which makes it more real for me. I have a great schedule for getting the book revised and out to agents and in order to stick to it, I’ve got to write every single day until the middle of the summer. Very doable, just have to manage the mental health.  Another reason working out of the collaborative space has been such a blessing. I’m not the only self-motivated person here. Almost every one is a freelancer or working on a project that is near and dear to his/her heart, so there are none of those comments like, “that must be so hard, how do you keep going?” Those kinds of existential questions can lead me into a spiral of procrastination like nobody’s business, so, honoring that I’m easily distracted, I try to surround myself by people who know what the writing thing is about…. That said, back to work!

** UPDATE** Eileen over at WJ blog just added the pic from the print edition that shows me “working”. More like trying not to cry over Chapter 8!

Written by Alyss Dixson

March 26, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Terremoto block

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[forgot to hit publish!!]

We had an earthquake this morning. It was a “small” one by Los Angeles standards, just 4.4, centered about 10 miles from my house. The bed shimmied, the dog woke up, disoriented, and a lovely little watercolor in the kitchen fell to the floor with a busted glass.

It has put me on edge today, I feel like I’ve reached for a drink, knocked it over, then caught the edge of the broken glass as it shattered. Ouch. I left late for my office, spent most of my day reading and lamenting the lost hours of productivity, wrote exactly three sentences of the work I’m trying to finish, then left to get my eyebrows groomed.

It’s hard to re-group when your writing day is derailed before your even out of bed.

Written by Alyss Dixson

March 17, 2010 at 2:41 am

Posted in The book, Uncategorized

The Writers Junction

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I’m working on the book everyday until it’s finished. I’ve even gone so far as to rent space at a writer’s collaborative called The Writers Junction. So far, I’ve had about 3 gallons of coffee and produced 25+ pages. I’m hoping to push out another 25 pages this week.

The "Womb" room at the WJ

When you are writing, you don’t have co-workers, there’s no boss, no clock, no time “off” from the work. I’ve never rented space to work before, although I’ve always encouraged my other friends to do so. I’ve been very productive working at home or at coffeeshops or the library so it never appealed to me, especially with the responsibilities typically associated with opening up your doors: utilities, parking, leases, etc. This place has made that pretty unnecessary, although today I did circle for 20 minutes looking for parking until I gave up and went to an early lunch and found parking on my way back. That was aggravating, but not fatal.

One of the unexpected benefits is that the other writers here are like my co-workers, only we are each working on independent projects and no one shares responsibility for failures… I do expect to get a little champagne action going when the book is done and sold. Oh, yeah. Maybe more than a little of that!

My writing group has also been fantastic. I’m working on a part of the book that I’d initially cut because it felt like I didn’t have enough conflict and story to merit the pagework… I somehow saved over the draft that contained the original version of this section with an older draft last fall, and I’d pretty much put the book down at that point out of heartbreak. Now, 25-pages into the new version of that section, I can honestly say I do not remember what I’m missing which is a very good sign.

OK, enough navel-gazing, back to the salt mines. I mean gold mines. 🙂

Written by Alyss Dixson

March 9, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Fatherhood Matters

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My book is about two children who have a very present father… present but destructive.  Writing it has made me intensely aware of the importance fathers have in the lives and well-being of their children — not just materially but emotionally and in terms of their self-esteem.  Young women raised without the presence of a strong father figure are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior (which increases the risk of STD transmission, and pregnancy), and have trouble creating meaningful emotional attachments to the men in their lives.

Young men raised without their fathers present and accounted for suffer a tremendous emotional burden as they essentially raise themselves and have to discover manhood on their own without that vital link to the men who came before them, the culture of manhood in their own families… except in that it too was emotionally distant, neglectful and absent.  I cry for these poor babies.  (Of course, I’m a pretty soft touch especially in regards to children, so me crying isn’t that unusual an occurrence.)

This Father’s Day, I’m so excited to see Barack putting an emphasis on the need for father’s to step up and participate in the lives of their children.  And not just as rule-makers and authoritarians, but as mentors and friends.  Every man I know wants to be a leader, to be granted respect and authority, well, no place better to start than with your own kid!

TheHill.com – Obama enlists celeb fathers in parenting push

Last year, during the presidential campaign, Obama took some heat from prominent blacks after he delivered a speech in Chicago harshly criticizing absent black fathers.

“They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men,” Obama said last June, noting his own single-parent upbringing. “And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.”

On Friday, two days before Fathers Day, Obama, some of the invited guests, and senior White House staff will pair off and visit different nonprofit organizations that focus on mentorship, the White House said.

Later in the afternoon, the president will hold a townhall-style meeting in the East Room of the White House “featuring five fathers from a diversity of backgrounds discussing their personal stories and commitment to fatherhood and personal responsibility.”

I hope that this starts a national dialog about fatherhood, and how it is about helping children to become independent and responsible, good people. He took a lot of flack last year for airing dirty laundry, but, honestly, none of that was news and anyone complaining is well aware of the Runaway Daddy epidemic we have going on in the Black community. Whether we lay it at the feet of sociological pressure or not, Black women have had to step up and take care of children under circumstances that are just as dire, if not more so, because of the threat of domestic and sexual violence that many women (of all economic and ethnic backgrounds) face.

As a dear friend of mine says, “Put on your Big Girl Panties and Deal.” So break out those Big Boy Britches and get to it!

Written by Alyss Dixson

June 19, 2009 at 7:14 pm

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