Sunday, July 4, 2010

TSS: Happy 4th of July!!

It is Independence Day here in America - which for our family typically means a cookout with hamburgers and hot dogs, homemade ice cream, and watching the city's annual fireworks display.  Of course, we have experienced perfect weather all week -- sunny, high in the 80s and low humidity -- so that means that there is a good chance that all outdoor activities will be cancelled tonight due to rain.  Oh well, the food will be delicious and knowing that tomorrow is another day off will more than  off-set the lack of gunpowder in the air.

It has been a rather lackluster week in the reading department.  I did finish listening to The Life and Times of Thunderbolt Kid on the drive home from our long anniversary weekend celebration, and I have thoroughly enjoyed researching 19th Century France while reading Impressionism:  Art, Leisure, and Parisian Society by Robert L. Herbert.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the art of this time period.  There are numerous large color prints of various paintings, and the author does an adequate job of analyzing the style for a neophyte like myself.  What I like best about this book, however, is that it is organized by the different aspects of Parisian life --- not just a straight chronological order by artist like most books that I have previewed.  For example, the table of contents looks like this:
  1. Paris Transformed
  2. Impressionism and Naturalism
  3. Cafe and Cafe-Concert
  4. Theater, Opera and Dance
  5. Parks, Racetracks, and Gardens
  6. Suburban Leisure
  7. At the Seaside
The cultural background that the author provides has proven invaluable to me and it has also given me the necessary information I need to more fully appreciate each work of art.  This was exactly the kind of reading I needed to accomplish this week in order to begin writing.  Yes, it is true - I did actually start to write.  UGH --- this is not pretty, that is for sure!

I hope to write a 12 chapter adventure story, because that is what is required of my students this upcoming year.  In the end my story may be more of a thriller or a character study, and it may be longer than 12 chapters, but for now I have set my sights on this goal.  I started writing Chapter 1 on Thursday, July 1 and wrote approximately 1,600 words Thursday and then I completed Chapter 2 on Friday with another 2,600 words.  I did not write yesterday but rather spent time finishing the above book in the hopes that I might find some ideas for character conflict.  I will try to write another chapter today or tomorrow and hopefully in that time I will discover an adventurous path to pursue. 

I am very glad that Belle has organized a Facebook summertime read-along of Anne Lamott's book, Bird by Bird, because otherwise I would probably quit this pursuit before I even started.  The entire second chapter of the book is devoted to the Sh*tty First Draft and she insists that all writers - novices and bestsellers alike - write horrible first drafts.  Well, I am here to tell you that my first draft is indeed horrible (if I turned this paper in for me to grade I would probably struggle to earn a "C") and it is taking every ounce of willpower I can muster not to go back and edit my work.  But I have been told that the process is just to write it all down first - and then worry about making it good.  So....I am trying to trust the process.  At the very least this exercise will certainly help me be more sympathetic towards my students' struggles.

As far as reading is concerned I think I would like to read some fiction this week that pertains to this time period.  My rationale is that the more I immerse myself in that culture, the more realistic my own story will be.  I have started reading Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland and find it to be a rather light, summertime choice.  It is good for me to pay close attention to the word choice in an effort to hone my own descriptive writing skills.  I am also giving thought to reading something by Emile Zola - an author who not only lived during this era, but was personal friends with many of the artists whom I am focusing.  I cannot decide if The Masterpiece would be a good choice, or perhaps L'Assommoir.  Have you read either of these?  Is there one that you would recommend over the other?

I would also like to try to read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.  This has been high on my TBR list since I first read about it on EWs list of top summer reads.   I waited nearly two months for the book to become available at the local library, and now it is due back early this week.  Alas, I am just not sure I will be able to read it by then, and that makes me "particularly sad" as well.  There just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day - even in the summer!


  1. Happy Fourth of July, Molly! I hope it doesn't rain for your cookout. I'm a little jealous - I miss them! I'll have to persuade my dad to do a late barbeque when I visit next week.

    Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm

  2. Happy Fourth! Hope you have a fabulous feast...the homemade ice cream sounds wonderful. I can't remember the last time I had this...

  3. I'll keep my fingers crossed that the rain stays away! Enjoy your 4th!

  4. Hope you have a great day, Molly! And we'll try not to send our rain north to you guys. We've dealt with the Hurricane Alex effect all week here in Texas.

  5. We have gotten an insane amount of rain the last few days and forecast for an insane more today. Oh well! YOu can eat when its raining! I've been digging into a few of those EW Summer books as well. I think I picked the absolute very longest ones unfortunately, but they've been great so far! Have a great long weekend!

  6. Hope you have a wonderful celebration--without rain! That art book sounds mighty interesting. Keep plugging at your novel, Molly! You can do it!
    Happy 4th!

  7. Maybe this will be your week in books :) We need rain desperately. It was a hot weekend here.

  8. At least you're writing!! don't be too hard on yourself! I really like Vreeland's writing so I may have to look into that one!

  9. Happy 4th of July, Molly! I agree - there is NEVER enough time to read!

    Hang in there with your writing...I can't encourage you enough NOT to go back and edit. Just get the first draft down - shitty or not! Having participated in Nanowrimo several times, I can tell you that simply writing and writing and writing and not editing is the key to finishing :) By the way, Lamott's book on writing is fantastic. Glad to see you are reading it :)

  10. That homemade ice cream sounded good. We have made it a few times for the 4th and there is nothing quite like it.

    I so admire you writing a book, Molly, and can only begin to appreciate the process. I am sure it will be an exercise in doing and redoing. I just completed descriptions of gardens for our local garden walk, which took me forever in writings and rewriting, correcting and clarifying - I can only imagine a book. Good for you. Hang in there.

    Herbert's book sounds interesting. I may see if our library system has it.

  11. Hope your 4th was a good one! I love Zola, but haven't read either of the 2 you mentioned. Have read both Therese Raquin and The Ladies Paradise. TR is often mentioned as a good starting point, but Germinal is often said to be his masterpiece.

  12. I haven't done that much writing myself, but the little bit I've done holds true to the "first draft sucks" theme. :) Don't get too discourage, I'm sure it will work out in the end. That being said, I still haven't worked up the courage (or found the time) to get back to some of the short stories I've started and given up on in the past. Good luck with your writing!

    I've had my eye on the Lemon Cake book too - it looks so good!

  13. Mt first draft is 40,000 words in and it is utter crap.I feel better knowing that is normal,LOL. Well done on writing so much already. I would have joined you, but July is just so hectic and I am away twice within the month. I shall cheer you on and hope I can start in August.

  14. I hope your 4th ended up being a good one and that your ice-cream was as yummy as ours turned out. The good news? We had leftovers (2 family's make it) so we get some more tonight!

    I so admire you for tackling your dream of writing a book...I used to think I would be a writer when I grew up, but that dream died as I reached adulthood. Now I derive great happiness reading other people's works! ;)

    Have a great week--

  15. It may have been a lackluster week for reading but it sounds like you're making a great start on writing. How exciting!

  16. Keep on writing ... listen to Lamott!


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