Archive for March 2012
Two summers ago, I was on a cruise ship in the western Carribbean. It became novelty amongst my travel companions to stay up all night and watch the sunrise. I’ve mentioned this before–it’s quite an experience when you’re watching the event on water instead of land. You can see the whole thing slowly unfolding. It starts with a purplish glow below the horizon, and then that glow slowly tranforms into orange. A few rays shoot over the horizon before you see the top of the sun, kinda like teasers before the big show. If you’re patient and keep your eyes on the horizon, you’re in for quite a treat. Watching the sunrise that night was one of the most memorable events from my cruise, and is something I wish I could experience with more frequency.
I’ve been thinking about that sunrise a lot the last few weeks as April 5 looms just below the horizon. See, there’s really only one thing that would get me to wax so poetic over a natural event like a sunrise: Baseball. Because waiting for the baseball season to start is a lot like that night spent waiting for the sun to pull itself above the horizon and drench us with warmth and light. What’s made this anticipation even jucier is the incredible weather we’ve had the last two weeks. As I write this, it’s 75° at 7pm. The fans are on. There are ribs on the grill. I’ve been riding my bike all weekend. I’m wearing shorts. The only thing missing is freakin’ baseball, and it’s not going to truly be here for 18 more days.
I have the fantasy league setup and ready to roll for the summer. Hopefully I won’t finish in second place YET again. I’ve been tuning in to preseason broadcasts for a few minutes here and there, despite my loathing for any preseason sports (they truly are a waste of time). Last weekend, I dug up a few scorecards from last season and read through them. A few weeks ago, I had a funny thought: Will I renew my subscription to MLB TV? I don’t know what the deal was. Maybe I wasn’t feeling well or something. Of course I’m going to renew my subscription. But it’s not going to do anybody any good until the freakin’ season starts in 18 more days.
It’s going to be an interesting summer. As far as I’m concerned, the Cubs are still in “Suck It” mode. I’ll tune in and follow, but I’m not going to be giving them much of my energy until I see them emerging from their perpetual suckage. Still, they could contend for the playoffs this year, though I doubt they’ll make it. A winning season might be enough to hope for. As for the Brewers, it’s definitely an all-in year. They still have the pitching to take them pretty far, and bringing in Aramis Ramirez as a replacement for Prince Fielder’s bat wasn’t a bad idea. Ramirez still has some quality miles left on him, and he can definitely hit (.306 last year, plus 26 HR and 93 RBI–all that on a horrid team). But the Brewers have to get used to something the Cubs never really got used to, and that is that Ramirez will never be a team leader. He’ll usually play just about as good as the team is playing, though he’s capable of torrid streaks. He’ll have some decent bats around him, and that will help. Still, can you ever replace Prince Fielder? If the Brewers tank this year, they might be able to sell off some of their solid pieces to contending teams and quickly turn things around. Supposing they don’t tank it, I think they could be a wild-card team. It’s hard saying at this point. The division is pretty much up for grabs between St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Cincinnati. But really–Cincinnati? I’m sure, as per normal, that Dusty Baker will find a way to screw things up.
I’ll also be keeping my eye on Detroit this year. I don’t often take much interest in American League teams, but these guys have had my passing attention for the last few seasons. I love that they picked up Prince Fielder, and think that definitely qualifies them to be a division winner and to make a run to the World Series.
Not that any of this matters. It’s a long season, and it’s always full of unexpected things like injuries, trades, Cinderellas, and suspensions. Now if only the damn thing would get here.
I mentioned last time around that I have fiction ideas exploding out of my head like I never have before. I credit working in the Fictive Dream workshop with that, but I have to give a fair share of recognition to my creative writing students, too. They’re cranking out some solid stuff, and that is inspiring me to keep working (and this is far from the first time I’ve mentioned that my creative writers have kept me inspired). There is a major push in my Creative Writing class to master the fundamentals of writing prose, and I’m thankful that I get to revisit that twice a year so I don’t forget what they are and can continually work on them. I’ve thought of this type of practice before as similar to the musician who practices and practices scales until he has mastered them, and then keeps on practicing them because it’s a good idea to be in constant touch with those fundamentals. I think that practice with my Creative Writing students keeps me consistently sharp, and it can lead to some unexpectedly great things–like getting into subconscious writing a lot faster than I otherwise would when I sit down to write.
I’ve heard before how many professional writers set a goal to write 500 words a day. That sounds easy, like you could crank that out in about 40 minutes–and you can. I cranked out 630 yesterday in that amount of time while my Creative Writing students were typing first drafts of their stories. But when you want 500 good words, it can take hours to get them after editing and rewriting and editing and rewriting, and… you get the idea. Nonetheless, I’ve found myself working with the 500 words-a-day philosophy with a story I’ve started since The Fictive Dream started. I’ve never put that type of structure on myself before, preferring instead to write as much as I can (writing myself to exhaustion, actually), and then coming back whenever, editing, and doing it again. The 500 words seems to be working effectively right now. I’m not bouncing off the walls after hours of bleeding my mind onto the screen of my laptop or onto the pages of my journal; rather, I’m pleased with having an effectively-managed chunk of writing; a decent step towards having a full draft of a story. I’ve had three 500-word episodes of writing with this story over the past two weeks, and as such I’ve built a story with a solid foundation. Each time I sit down, too, I already have problems to address in the story; or, more appropriately, jumping off points so I can get right back into the plot without asking myself what I’m going to do with the story whenever it is that I get a chance to sit down and work on it.
To add to all this crazy new stuff, a colleague mentioned the other day how he read about a writer who constantly edits from the beginning of her story up to the point where she’s left off writing. If she has 10 pages, she writes perhaps two more, but goes back to page 1 and edits all the way to the end of page 12. Then she writes 2 more, and edits from page 1 to page 14. This produces a story that has been edited a whole lot by the time she gets to the end. It’s already so tight from the start to wherever she is that there is little editing left to do by the time she’s ready to send it somewhere for publication. I’ve let this philosophy trickle into my work, too, and as a result, right now I have 1500 words that have already been edited three times.
These “new” philosophies and structures have been quite a boon these past few weeks. Altogether, I’m writing with relatively little stress. When that’s happened in the past, I’ve been very pleased with the results.