Plug: Creative Experiments

I’ve been so busy, gang, but I found time to write a post for popcorn called Creative Experiments.

Here’s a teaser:

“Over the next three weeks,” I told my students, “you will undertake an experiment in your art-making, artistic approach, or creativity.”

Check it out.

And coming next week: the new young adult novel by Jeffrey Blount!




Plugs and Hugs


Couple interesting things you all should check out.

Today’s post on popcorn, by Tara Conklin, is “My Top Five Books for Fall.” Recommendations for what to read this rainy, cool, wonderful season. She distills the much-awaited and much-acclaimed down to five, including the new novel by Zadie Smith. I won’t spoil the rest, but get your browsing self over to popcorn to investigate.

Bay Area folks, put on your calendar the November 3 screening of the short film “Sully Marooned” at the Castro Theater in San Francisco, between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. (the film is less than ten minutes long; it will show with a bunch of others at the same time). This is the second film by my friend Chrissy Loader, who writes about music, love, loss, and frailty. This one is a hit–I loved it. Looks like you can buy tickets here.




Plug: A Rumpus of Strumpets

I have been trolling the Web for good blogs about reading and writing (part of another project over on popcorn), and I found a couple that are witty, well-written, and fresh, including this great blog by the Bibliostrumpet. Beautiful writing, gracious book reviews. And that title! Methinks sex-obsessed San Francisco writer Stephen Elliott (whose site The Rumpus is another fave) would approve.

Which writing, reading, or literary blogs do you love, readers?


Notes on a Week

I know I promised, barring disaster, a Fall Reading List, but I woke up thinking meh. Suffice it to say that on my nightstand are Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions, Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, a book by Eleni Sikelianos called The Book of Jon, a book about tigers that my husband recommended, and Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, which I started last night. Oh, and those damn New Yorkers.

Been a little crazy in Crazytown of late. I remarked to another preschool mom the other day that I am a “yes-sayer.” She said breezily, “Oh, I’m not. I’m so good at putting up boundaries and saying ‘no’ that sometimes I look around and realize I haven’t seen anyone all day!” I instantly liked her.

But not me: I took on a bigger position at the school because they needed someone, I decided to revamp one of the major assignments in my composition class, I agreed to a more aggressive blogging schedule over on popcorn, I took an extra shift in the writing center—you know, the usz.

And fun stuff, too. My friend A. is getting married this weekend. I arrived at her house yesterday morning to find her and her family dreadfully hungover. The wedding dress was slung across a chair in the living room. The bride answered the door in false eyelashes, heavy mascara, and sweatpants, talking on her cell phone. Her mother told me three times, “I’m so glad you’re here!”

There’s a short story in there somewhere, I know it.

I’ve coined a new phrase: “procrastiblogging.” As in, blogging instead of writing your book or doing your schoolwork. Not that I’m guilty of this or anything, but you know.

Have been thinking I want to start a food blog…

Need to learn how to use Twitter…

I have had a good idea about how to treat all the extraneous characters in my memoir—all the fellow travelers, the hostel owners, the guides, the people who are a very real part of the fabric of life when you’re backpacking for a year but who make the fabric of a book a little overcrowded. I think I have figured out how to retain those characters without them being too distracting.

I am ruminating on titles, too. I have two possibilities that are exciting me a little (still top secret, sorry).

The end stage of a book is excruciating, you know that? I keep telling myself I just need to work harder at finishing it (maybe true; see above about being compulsive yes-sayer and procrastiblogging). On the other hand, I remember that writing is a process and that this process may be slower at some times than at other times. That maybe dragging out this last revision is just





And to quote Garrison Keillor, here is a poem for today.


God grant me the serenity to work things

hard, and carefully.

I accept the things I cannot change. I lie

fallow between mountains.

God grant me the hamster wheel, fly wheel, nautilus.

Copper pipe with brass fittings.

God grant me the Mill river, all in a sheet

over the dam. Grant me the wide Connecticut

and everything that falls beneath it

because it is fast, and silent,

and sometimes I feel breathless.

(© Susie Meserve, 2012)

Plug: Great Reads!

On the suggestion of fellow popcorn blogger Susan Szafir, I am reading a fun memoir called The Motion of the Ocean: 1 Small Boat, 2 Average Lovers, and a Woman’s Search for the Meaning of Wife by Seattle writer Janna Cawrse Esarey. In the in-between times, I have been trolling the NationNewYorkerAtlanticMachine and getting stuck in some excellent pieces of journalism. Here are a few plugs, if you’re feeling like some socio-political commentary or just good old-fashioned voyeurism:

This fascinating article about Salman Rushdie from the September 17 issue of The New Yorker (yes, I am still behind, but at least I have made it to September).

This great interview with blogger Julia, by Ruth Whippman on popcorntheblog, all about privacy, blogging, alienating your in-laws, and writing about your kids (Julia’s blog is a fun read, too, if you’re inclined towards kidsy-things).

This article about teaching writing from the latest Atlantic Monthly. It may be inspiring a revolution in the way I teach.

This blog post, on The Nation, by Jessica Valenti, all about Momming and identity.

By the way: how did I find the time to read all this last week? I have no idea. Not this week: I must commence to sew a tiger costume for a certain someone’s Halloween.

Later this week (barring sewing disasters, earthquakes, illness, childcare snafus, or the like): my Fall Reading List.

Have you read anything great lately, readers?

39 Things

Yesterday I had a big birthday. To my mind, the one before the conventionally-thought-of biggie is actually more daunting, because then you know you only have one year to stare it down. To wait for it to hit. D-Day. The Birthday of Doom. Lordy Lordy.

So, in honor of my birthday, here is a list of writing resolutions/goals, things I hope to achieve in this last year before the Big One really hits.

39 Things

1. Finish one memoir.

2. Find one great title for said memoir.

3. Write three short stories.

4. Make twenty (or more!) submissions to literary journals or magazines.

5. Get five acceptance letters.

6. Write five poems.

7. Write one song.

8. See my name in print twice (not counting on my own blogs).

9. Find one perfect, wonderful, and, more to the point, amenable, literary agent.

Care to share your birthday goals for this year?


Plug: Britt Bravo!

Here’s a plug, bloggers: Britt Bravo and her Juicy Blogging E-Course!

I took Britt’s course last spring and was really jostled, in a good way, into rethinking how I wanted to share information and the best ways to do so. Britt will give you weekly homework assignments like “write a 500-word post” (difficult!) and “add five blogs to your Google Reader” (what’s Google Reader?) and “find one image using Google Advanced Image Search” (uh…). Maybe you have these skills in hand already. I, on the other hand, did not, so I benefited a lot from Britt’s expertise.

There is also a wonderful sense of community built in the course, because you’re watching other bloggers change and grow, too.

Ms. Bravo herself

Britt’s Juicy Blogging E-Course: The Art & Play of Blogging runs from October 16 to November 6 this fall and costs $99. Kind of a steal.

You can learn more here.

And if you’re in the Bay Area, Britt has a couple of workshops this fall, too. Like this one and this one.

Finally, look here for thirteen Juicy blogs, spotlit in the Juicy Blogging eNews.