Archives For new year’s resolutions

“Be regular and orderly in your life,
so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

-Gustave Flaubert

It’s Friday the 13th! This year is almost two weeks old, and I am at last prepared to announce my New Year’s Non-Resolution. Instead of resolutions–which I resolve to do one day but forget to do the next–I come up with an idea, theme, or guiding principle. A word or phrase that sets the tone for the year. I’ve blamed everything in the last two months on the fact that I came down with Mononucleosis immediately after my last post in November about my book launch, and I am tempted to blame it on this untimely announcement. But the fact is, I tried out several ideas for 2017 and none of them felt right.

Until now!

Since I have already waited almost two weeks, I’ll just out with it. My theme for 2017 is Order.

Order is not a very sexy theme; perhaps it’s the least sexy theme ever. But look at the quote by Flaubert at the top of this post. Order may not be sexy, but making violent and original work/art/writing is.

Backstory: A week ago, I thought my theme would be “meander.” I was feeling stressed by my constant desire to getthingsdone compounded by my procrastination, so I liked the idea of letting myself meander about, slow down the pace. I even painted a river with lots of meanders (from a photo of one in California).

meander

But it didn’t settle right. Then I hit on “Wabi Sabi,” a phrase I think I could say multiple times a day and feel delighted, and which means, basically, “nothing is permanent, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect.” I love this so much, and I tried it out this week, but the problem with both Wabi Sabi and meander is that they both already speak to my aesthetic, so I felt they weren’t really pushing me in a new direction.

I needed a word that I don’t already sort of do. 2016 my phrase was “Own It” because I had a book coming out, and I have a tendency to apologize for things. (“I’m so sorry I wrote a weird book.”)

I’m a pretty productive and reliable person. I get a lot done in writing and teaching. But it ain’t pretty; in fact it can be pretty chaotic. And it often takes its toll on me in terms of stress. What I need is ORDER.

Each day of 2017 I want to take small steps each day toward ORDER in my life. And I want to be WILD in my art.

(What are your resolutions and non-resolutions, dear reader?)

 

Book Launch Party!

November 16, 2016 — Leave a comment

for The Bitter Life of Božena Němcová! There will be Czech beer, snacks provided by Evil Czech Brewery, and trippy video footage of Prague. Thursday, 11/17/16 at 7pm at Langlab in South Bend, Indiana.

bozena-book-party

“Parker Ervick has transported me to Prague and shown the blending of fairy tales, history, and cultures laying the groundwork for Kafka’s surrealism (and exported far away, magic realism). With a touch of her magic, Parker Ervick plays with the shrouds of mystery surrounding Božena’s life and origins.”

– Josip Novakovich
author of April Fool’s Day, finalist Man Booker International 2013

Silence of the Blog

February 17, 2014 — 14 Comments

This week’s DP Challenge/Writing Prompt at WordPress is to write about SILENCE. One thing they suggest is “breaking the silence,” which I would like to do right now. My blog has been silent since November. I haven’t even posted any author interviews in my How to Become a Writer Series. So, imma try to get back in the swing. Starting with a new super-awesome interview that will post tomorrow. And who knows what I’ll post after that? Maybe I’ll write about all the places I’ve been traveling to give readings for my book (Chicago! Iowa City! Pittsburgh! DC! Baltimore! Milwaukee! Lubbock! [that’s TX, y’all]). Maybe I’ll write about my New Year’s non-resolution-phrase-of-the-year, which I’ve been meaning to write about since, you know, Jan 1. Or about all the books I’ve almost read.

Until then, I leave you with a strangely silent sight. Fallingwater – the setting of my new book Liliane’s Balcony – frozen. So much of the experience of Fallingwater is the constant sound of the water. And this polar vortex – or whatever the hell it is that is happening this winter – has also managed to silence the waterfall of Fallingwater.

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Thanks to my facebook friend Missy for the link, and to Fallingwater’s FB page for the image.

Every year I have a theme. No resolutions, which I’d just break by tomorrow and hate myself for the next day. Just a guiding principle, a phrase to think of when faced with laziness, lack of focus, or a looming decision (or, more likely, indecision).

Last year it was Live Lovely because I really needed a fresh way of thinking of life after turning in my tenure dossier. The year before was Put Yourself Out There because I needed to be brave when my first book was published.

Sometimes I have subthemes for certain parts of the year. Like during my sabbatical this fall it was Finish the Fucking Novel. Which I basically did.

This year the theme is Dig Deep because that’s what I need to do. In my writing and thinking and reading and blogging, even my cooking with my daughter. We’re armed with lots of new kitchen tools and cookbooks. I’ve got essay ideas brewing and notes for blog posts. I’ve started reading Les Miserables, and I’ve finished 87 of 1463 pages.

And in Digging Deep, I hope to do what Neil Gaiman wished for us all this past year:

Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

Happy New Year to all my blog readers, and here’s to all of the glorious and amazing mistakes we’ll make this year!

The Ides of March, Beware! (Better yet, Be Idle!)

Two years ago today, on the Ides of March, I started this blog.

Since I occasionally wrote interesting things back then but had almost no readers, many of my posts are buried in the sands of blog time. I thought I would look back at what I wrote and – to pile on the unrelated metaphors – do a bit of a highlights reel of old footage.

Last year’s anniversary post: On the importance of Idle Time
The Idle Ides of March (celebrating 1 blogging year) 
– Here I reflect on the importance of idle time; in fact I blame the idle time of spring break for leading me to start the blog in the first place. I quote liberally from Brenda Ueland’s lovely, quaint, inspiring book, If You Want to Write.

Interview Series with Writers

This past year I also started my author interview series, How to Become a Writer, and my interview with the poet Carrie Oeding got Freshly Pressed!

This connected me to lots of new readers, and several of my recent interviews (and another coming soon) have come directly from reader recommendations: Cila Warncke, Andrew Porter (thanks to Denise at San Antonio Tourist), and Donna Miscolta (thanks to Gemma at gemmaDalexander’s Crooked Road!). Donna Miscolta then recommended an upcoming interview with Anne Germanacos. Thanks to all!

Thoughts about academia in general and the Ph.D. in Creative Writing in particular

What is a Ph.D. in Creative Writing?

To Ph.D. or not to Ph.D.

Why Intellectuals Need to Go Public

Why and how to become a writer

How to Become a Writer: Questionnaire – Ten questions for you to answer about yourself, your goals as a writer, your vision.

How to Become a Writer

Why Submit Work to Literary Magazines (only to get rejected over and over?)

How to Be a Writer: Discover a New Writer, pt. 1

How to Be a Writer: Writer a Fan Letter

How to Be a Writer: Copy a Passage

Maybe you’ve noticed: I’ve been posting interviews, but I haven’t been blogging so much. Where am I going? AWP in Chicago! Where have I been? Busy. In a good way: Taking an online mixed media art class. Teaching my classes. Applying for grants. Writing new stories.

I’ve been here at New Purlieu Review, where my flash piece “Three Women” was published in January. There’s a Professor Plum and a Lady Bret. Here’s a snippet:

In Plum’s office Lady Bret wanted to slide across the floor to the shelves of books and inch her way into their pages, like an actual bookworm, eating away the words and pages until she created a space she could fit her whole body in. Plum said you need to develop this section and read so-and-so’s article on that section if you want to—. But Lady Bret didn’t want to. She wanted and wanted.

The art class was part of my 2012 New Year’s LIVE LOVELY campaign. Here’s a portrait I made (inspired by Alfred Henry Maurer):

I also made air-dry pottery, drawings of moths, a rhinoceros, a peacock, lots of portraits, collages, etc.

Now it’s time to head to AWPthe annual conference of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs – in Chicago.

My book For Sale By Owner will be at the Kore Press/Arcadia booth 822.

And Rose Metal Press (Table N4) will have a bit (a very little bit) of promotional material about my forthcoming book, Liliane’s Balcony, set at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater house.

I’ll be on this panel on Saturday:

Home Sweet Home: Short Story Collections and Small Presses
Caitlin Horrocks, Amina Gautier, Shannon Cain, Adam Schuitema, Kelcey Parker

(4:30-5:45 Sat. 3/3 Lake Erie, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor)

With trade publishers less willing to take a risk on story collections and agents and editors advising writers to just finish a novel, where can the story writer turn? Five debut authors discuss their experiences with the small, independent, and university presses that are increasingly the most welcoming homes for story collections. They’ll discuss how they found their publishers, what small publishers can (and can’t) offer story authors, and how these presses are helping collections thrive.

And I’ll be spending quite a bit of time at the 42 Miles Press table – M 12.

Carrie Oeding – who was featured in my How to Become a Writer Interview series – will be there signing her book Our List of Solutions on Friday, 3/2 from 1-3 p.m.

If you’ll be at the conference, stop by one of these tables, say hello!

Happy New Year! I just returned today from an awesome family holiday in Colorado, filled with skating, hiking, skiing, hugging, crying, laughing, eating, and drinking. Here’s a view from the gondola up the mountain at Keystone (which was way out of my league skiing-wise):

It’s resolution time, but I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. Here’s what I said about them in a post a year ago:

A resolution is something we should do, don’t do, resolve to do in the future, do a few times, and then fail to continue doing. Which makes us feel bad.

I respond much better to commands. So I’ve started choosing one meaningful command that repeats in my mind as if yelled by a drill sergeant at top volume, or, better, as if sung by an awesome singer who repeats it as a refrain I can’t escape.

Last year – 2011 – my command was: Put Yourself Out There  (See full post here.)

And I did! Against my own shy nature, I gave lots of readings for my book, developed my blog, made a new web site, won awards, applied for a competitive Fulbright post in Belfast (survived preliminary round!), submitted a tenure dossier, gave more readings, and just generally Put Myself Out There.

Before that, in summer 2010, my first blogging summer, my command was: Finish What You Started

I’d started all these manuscripts that I hadn’t finished, and this command, repeated over and over, helped me get focused and finish lots of projects.

Which brings us to 2012. My theme for this year is: Live Lovely

This basically means I’m tired of putting myself out there and I want to turn my focus toward living well, slowing down, making art – literary, visual, decorative, culinary – and toward my loved ones.

It’s a weird phrase – Live Lovely – so I’ve been trying it out for a few weeks in my head. And it’s already working! For Christmas I made a few gifts, which combined art-making with loved ones. Here are some vellum votive candles I sent to my mother and grandparents, and I made some for dad and sister too:

[Update: I got the idea from this cool book: PHOTOCRAFT Cool Things to Do with the Pictures You Love]

A friend and fellow writer keeps a terrific blog – I Will Not Diet – where she posted lots of Non-Resolutions by contributors (like me!) HERE.

What did YOU accomplish this year? What’s your command/theme/non-resolution for 2012?