Last Tuesday was the last day of our class. Usually, I’m feeling relieved by then, but this time it was different. I met some wonderful classmates and a great teacher who really helped me. Not only that, the deadlines really disciplined me to write everyday. I was afraid that once the class ended, I wouldn’t keep up with my writing. 

It happened somewhat. I missed a couple of days of writing, and when I tried to write, I couldn’t even make a sentence. Oh, sure. I’d write a sentence. Cross it out. Rewrite it. Cross it out again. I got really frustrated because I felt like I couldn’t do it without class deadlines. Of course, I knew that I can’t depend on class deadlines for the rest of my writing life. I had to get out of my funk. 

T, I woke up at 2:00 am. After thirty minutes, I gave up. I made some coffee, took out my notebook, and started writing. By some miracle, the words just flowed right out my pen. By 7:00 am, I wrote 8 pages. I stopped because I was getting sleepy. 

I don’t know how exactly I got back on track, but at least I’m out of limbo. For now. 

 

I haven’t finished reading a book in a month. There. I’ve said it.

I’ve been busy lately with my online writing class at Gotham. Up until last Monday, the short story I submitted for class was in the Booth. Every week, a certain number of students gets a chance for their manuscripts critiqued by fellow classmates in the Booth. After everyone in the class gives their feedback, the teacher will critique the story. During  critique week, the student who submitted the story can’t defend their story or asks questions until everyone in class including the instructor is finished. That’s why it’s called the Booth. It’s like being in room where all  the student writer can do is listen (or, in this case, read) to the comments. Everyone in the class has a chance for their story to get critiqued by each other.

This is my third class with Gotham, and I still get nervous when my story is in the Booth. While I never received a bad comment on my story in the Booth, the waiting is the toughest part. Some comments are expected (Develop your story more. Add more descriptions, Helenita). Some comments are not. This is a good thing for me. Sometimes I’m too close to my story, and a fresh set of eyes gives a different perspective, which is greatly appreciated since I want to be a better writer.

Even though I haven’t been reading a lot lately, I really like this class. The class routine is the same: lecture, online discussions, assignments, and the Booth. So far, the only thing that’s different is that we get to read wonderful short stories by published writers and study their technique.

Another advantage on taking this class is that I’m forced to write everyday because I have deadlines. By writing everyday,  I feel like I’m improving.

The only bad thing about this class is that I’m sacrificing my reading time. I know that in order to write better, I must read frequently too. Somehow, I haven’t found the balance yet because there have been days when I just want to read, not write. Realizing this, I should try to schedule both, and that way neither is compromised.

Juggling between classes and a full-time job, it won’t be easy, but it’s still worth a shot. Whether I finish a book in two months or three, I don’t think it will make me less of a reader. Nor it will make my love for reading any less.

I don’t know about you, but the month of March really felt like it disappeared into oblivion. I mean, where the heck did it go? Did it really feel like four weeks just went by? Did it really feel like I didn’t blog for a whole month? Yesterday, I felt really guilty for not blogging, and I knew I had to start blogging again somehow.

Last month, I took a week vacation in Florida. It was exhilarating to get away from work and, well, everyone. It was a spur of the moment trip, but honestly, it was much-needed. I’m hoping to go back in the summer.

I hadn’t read a book in a month either. I did listen to two audio books last month during my trip to and from Florida. I will review Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island soon. I didn’t finish listening to The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell. I thought the plot was good, but the  main character sort of annoyed me. I’m not sure if I will continue listening to it. We shall see.

I’m taking an online writing class with Gotham Writer’s Workshop who is working with Zoetrope All Story Magazine. I think the class is amazing. I have submitted one short story to be workshopped. I have learned a lot so far in class, but it has kept me extremely busy. I love the class though. I can’t wait for the next lecture.

Well, there you have it. My excuses why I was invisible for a whole month. Hopefully, April will be better.

Have you read a book where you can’t really decide whether or not you like the character? That’s how I felt with Olive Kitteridge.

Olive Kitteridge (the book, not the character) is a collection of short stories. Some of them are focused on Olive. Other stories, where Olive makes brief appearances, are about different characters.

I obviously can’t talk about every short story in this book, but I will talk about Olive Kitteridge. She’s definitely one of the most interesting and complex characters I’ve ever read about. She’s sharp-tongued, mean and paranoid, but she’s also misunderstood. I can’t say that I hate the character, but I can’t say that I like her, too. I do know that I pity her.   

All in all, I liked the book. It was depressing and touching at the same time. The stories in here are just like Olive – unforgettable.

 
Meet the Carterets, a wealthy family who seemed so perfect until Pony, the youngest daughter, was killed in a drowning accident. Or was it really an accident? William Carteret, the eldest and only son, believed that his favorite sister was murdered. Later, he discovers another shocking secret in the family that will change their lives forever. 
 
The Perfect Family was just okay for me. The plot was solid. I liked how it was part mystery and part literary fiction  at the same time. I loved the how the author described the settings – whether it was in Vermont or in Idaho. However, I failed to connect with the main character – William. For reasons I can’t say and because I’ll ruin  the suspense, I thought he was an ungrateful jerk. I thought the other minor characters were more interesting – particularly Mira – the middle sister.
 
I enjoyed this book. Readers who enjoy mysteries may appreciate it.

My writing days are moody. Some days words rush out like a bullet train. Sometimes words roll out smoothly – not too fast and not too slow. Then here are days when I’m trying to pull the words to get on that paper, and sometimes I have to pull hard.

Up until yesterday, I haven’t worked on any fiction stories.  I haven’t even touched the novel I began from NaNoWriMo since November. The holidays and my full-time job really ate my time late last year. By January, I was trying to put some air and revive my old blog, A Reading Collection.

Last Friday after finishing a long week at work and recovering from a 20 hour shift, I realized that it was already the 3rd week of February. I still hadn’t written anything. Guilt began to seep in. I knew I had to write about something. Anything. So I whipped out my journal and scribbled how guilty I felt and moved on. Yes, moved on. I realized that self-pity wasn’t going to help me. I took out one of my writing notebooks which I called and labeled, “Never Have a Writer’s Block Notebook” along with The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron.

I love The Writer’s Idea Book. This book has over 500 prompts that has jump started my writing. It’s my savior. At first, I felt awkward putting the words down, but by Sunday, it was a bullet train day. I’m also proud to say that yesterday I began to work on a new short story. I’m not worried if the story is crap because I can always fix that.  I was just glad – relieved – that I got back on track.

Although I can’t promise myself that I will keep my writing schedule consistent, I know I will try to get back to it like I always do.

I’m still doing some updates. My blog is almost to a point to where I want it to be. I love how it looks so far.

I’ve added some widgets so that site navigation is easier (I hope) for my visitors. I’ve also added some blogs and sites that I visit. I will add some links as time goes by.