Friday, March 12, 2010

Remember Gordon?

So, as has become typical on Fridays, I've got another old television show from the 80s for you to reminisce about. I know, this is a blog about not watching television - it doesn't make much sense for me to be doing this.

Oh well, it's fun, and it's really rainy outside today.

So, remember this one? Be the first to guess it right and you will win an awesome prize.

Nuclear family has something crash into their garage. His name is Gordon Shumway.

Did you guess it? Okay, the prize today is (drumroll please):

. . . the pleasure of knowing that you are right.

I gave this prize to my 6 year old son yesterday and he just stared at me for about ten seconds without blinking, then said, "no, really, what's my prize."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

2nd Favorite Novel of All Time

Just thinking about my second favorite book of all time suddenly has me so eager to read it again that as soon as we move (next week) and get our stuff out of storage, this is going to be the first book that I break open.

The book is "A Prayer For Owen Meany" by John Irving, and if you love reading fiction and you haven't read it . . . FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GO OUT AND BUY THIS BOOK.

Ever feel like your life has no purpose? In this book you'll meet a character who knows the date that he will die, and he lives his life in a way that every experience is preparing him for this final purpose-filled event.

The book is written in the first person, and the narrator's best friend is a strange little fellow named Owen Meany. The book begins with this reflection:

"I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice. Not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God. I am a Christian because of Owen Meany."

There are so many interweaving storylines and characters and events that I won't even attempt to summarize it, but the following are some quotes from the book:

"If you care about something you have to protect it – If you’re lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it."

"When someone you love dies, and you're not expecting it, you don't lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time -- the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes -- when there's a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she's gone, forever -- there comes another day, and another specifically missing part."

And a quote that I have to include due to the tv-less state of my life right now:

"If watching television doesn't hasten death, it surely manages to make death very inviting; for television so shamelessly sentimentalizes and romanticizes death that it makes the living feel they have missed something - just by staying alive."

Next Thursday, my favorite novel of all time.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Workshop Topic: Setting

Last night at our writing workshop we explored how the setting in which we grew up affected us as people (trying to then get at how the setting in which we place our characters illuminates / affects / transforms them). It made me think a lot about the various settings in which I grew up, and how they affected me.

The first place I remember living is Laredo, TX . . . I was four or five, there were lots of lizards and heat and fire ants and dust and I saw my first real life road runner. From there we came back to where my parents grew up - Lancaster, PA. I often wonder how that homecoming at such an early age affected the way I feel about Lancaster, made it seem even more like where I belonged.

Growing up in Lancaster gave me a strong sense of community and family. A love for open spaces and fields encroached by forests and streams, especially streams with rich deep banks and lots of sky hanging above them.

So where did you grow up? How did your setting (either landscape or type of house or type of family) affect who you have become?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What Better Thing To Do This Spring Than Write?

Happy Tuesday! Spring is finally here . . . the snow is melting, little green buds will soon peek out of the tips of the branches, and life will start pressing up through the ground . . . what better time of year to get more deliberate about writing?

My first round of writing workshops are coming to an end, and we’re starting up again on April 7th and 8th. This time around it will be on Wednesday or Thursday nights for 6 weeks (there are 6:30 and 7:45 time slots available on Wednesday evenings, and 7:45 time slots on Thursday evenings) – each week we focus on a different aspect of writing as they pertain to storytelling in fiction and non-fiction: imagination, narrative voice, plot, dialogue, setting and living a writing life. Each person will work on short pieces to clarify their voice and sharpen their writing.

There is also a second-level course available on Thursday evenings at 6:30, also for 6 weeks – to enroll in this class you will need to either have completed the first level course or submit a writing sample. This particular class will focus on completing 3-4 short stories or refining/writing one longer piece.

Check out Janelle’s blog to see what she thinks about the class.

Both evenings are at the Family Center in Gap, PA. I may also be conducting a 6-week, first-level writing workshop in Gettysburg, but the details for that are still up in the air. The cost for all 6 weeks at either location is $125. Please let me know if you or anyone you know would be interested – I can be reached at

If you don’t mind sharing a link to this on your Facebook page or blog, I’d appreciate it!