Sunday, July 31, 2011


After the necessary two-day cool-off time, I got out Bink's manuscript and read it through.  I could see there was a good basic shape and structure in there...but a shape and structure so obscured by underbrush, extraneous limbs, and an over-abundance of foliage that it was at times difficult to discern.  And so began the lopping, slashing, snipping, slicing...
I am following the pruning procedure I have always used:  Start the day with a fresh copy of the latest version:
Read through it once without stopping, to get a sense of the whole.  Then go back and begin to read with pencil in hand, marking as I go.  Repeat this last step ad infinitum, ad nauseum, or until I realize it is 3:30 in the afternoon, my stomach is howling, and I have once again forgotten to eat lunch:
The final step of the day:  re-type the manuscript, incorporating all the changes, rewritings, deletions, hemmings and hawings, into the newest corrected version.  Print it out and put it on the desk, ready for the next day.  
I always try to do this re-typing on the same day that I have made the corrections, while everything is still fresh in my mind.  If I delay the re-typing for a day or two, my scribbles, scrawls, and intentions are sometimes difficult to decipher or remember.
Today's writing began at 9:30 am; paused at 3:00 pm for the forgotten lunch break; resumed at 6:00 pm for the deciphering and re-typing; and ends now at 9 pm for a tired, but satisfied, author.  

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Of the three protagonists who have been simultaneously competing for my ear---Raymond, Bink, and Moses---Bink is currently...well, I suppose I might say, the loudest.  I have just completed a rough draft of his story.  I've put it away in a drawer, and I'll get it out in a couple of days, hoping that it will still seem solid, on the right track, and strong enough to profit from rewriting and editing.  Some readers may have come to the conclusion that all of these characters have sprung full-blown into my life within the past few weeks.  This is not the case.  Each of them has occupied a separate folder in my file cabinet for several years.  In fact, I had already done a fair amount of research for Bink's story, and perhaps that is why he is now the first to have a complete rough draft.
The setting for Bink's story is the diner where he works.  Over the years I had visited several diners to take photographs of their exteriors (this one still operates in the original building)...
...and of their interiors (this one still has the original stools, mosaic floor, and counter).  I had also been collecting news items of quirky crimes and misdemeanors---factual events that I could possibly work into my diner setting.
Bink, Raymond, Moses---each of them has surfaced for a time to demand my attention, and then has subsided for further subconscious rumination.  What has been new for me in recent weeks is that when, once again, they all began talking to me at once, I---to the best of my ability---began listening to all of them at once. The result seems to be Bink's complete rough draft.  Perhaps cacophony is not to be avoided after all...

Sunday, July 24, 2011


As I've been working away on Raymond and his story, a completely separate protagonist, with his own story---Bink---has thrust himself quite rudely into Raymond's and my little world.  This is certainly not the first time in my  life that characters and stories have disregarded what I have always thought of as The Rules Of Etiquette Concerning Authors And Their Creations.  In the past I would have spoken quite firmly to someone like Bink, bundled him back to wherever he came from, and told him to wait his turn.  Of course the muzzled protagonist would not always take kindly to such a rejection, and would often retreat into an obstinate silence that could be difficult to reverse.  A somewhat painful situation for me, the author (and for the protagonist, too).  But the alternative, allowing characters and stories to dictate working habits---that would be anarchy.  Obviously.  Except this time, when Bink burst through the door and announced his presence---well, maybe I'm older and wiser, or maybe I'm just plain tired of arguing---but I thought, Why not? 
Raymond was momentarily on the back burner.  I knew that my subconscious was unravelling the current knot for me, and would reveal the solution when it was ready.  Why not listen to Bink while I was waiting for Raymond?  Which is exactly what I've been doing for the past couple of weeks.  It's too soon to tell whether this is a completely successful experiment in my writing process.  But I have  seen that by sandwiching Raymond between Bink between Raymond between Bink, I'm certainly producing more rough draft pages for each than I would have if I had been working on just one.
The thing is...a third protagonist knocked on my door just yesterday.  Moses, his name is.  I'm a little embarrassed to admit it...but I let him in...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


By popular request, I'm posting my recipe for the bread from my blog "Replenishing the Creative Well" (  I've adapted this recipe over time from two sources:  the King Arthur recipe for "Classic 100% Whole Wheat Bread"; and my mother's recipe for "Whole Wheat Bread".  


Dissolve 2 Tbls active dry yeast in 3/4 c warm water
Then add:
2 c warm water or non-dairy milk
1/2 c maple syrup
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
6 Tbls vital wheat gluten flour (optional---will produce a higher loaf)
about 7 cups whole wheat flour (I don't know exactly---I never measure, just go by texture---enough to make a firm but still elastic dough)

Knead until dough is very smooth and no longer sticks to counter or hands---this may take 10 or 15 minutes or so, but it is worth putting in the long knead time, as the texture of the bread will be much finer.  Allow to rise once in the bowl.  Punch down, divide in two, shape, and allow to rise in well-greased pans.  (The dough, being salt-free, will rise more quickly than a salted dough.)  Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then at 350 until done.  Makes two 9 x 5 loaves.

I use Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour and Gluten Flour; or for my second choice, King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour.  Either one will produce a superior flavor, especially important when creating salt-free baked goods.  I haven't given any details here for bread-baking; you can find them in numerous cookbooks and websites.  Three of my favorites for basic how-to's are older editions (1950's or 1960's) of The Joy of Cooking, the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, or The Betty Crocker Cookbook.

I've gone over this recipe with a fine-toothed comb and don't think I've made any typos.  If I have---well, you will let me know, won't you!

Monday, July 18, 2011


When I haven't finished breakfast by one in the afternoon because I don't want to waste time eating...'s time for me to take a break.  Whether I want to or not.  Ignoring that screaming, kicking slave-driver inside me, I put away paper, pencil, thesaurus, dictionary, computer, glasses---and spend at least one full day, preferably two full days, on activities that require none of those tools.  (Well, I might need to use the glasses...)  
During my most recent break, I made bread---my standard 100% whole wheat, salt-free loaves...
...refurbished my front-door garden area, which had become rather straggly...
...and completed another 5K road race.   As a result of my break, I've now got more energy for writing; delicious bread to eat as I work (if I remember to eat); and an array of flowers to contemplate as I come up with my next phrase.  As for that kicking, screaming inner slave-driver---she's changed her tune, at least temporarily, and is now telling me that taking time off is actually fun.  In fact, she's saying, perhaps...a third day...of replenishment?