Monday, April 30, 2018

A Writerly Week

                   
Even though we are on "vacation", in Galicia once again, I work part-time most days, either writing or doing research. Rajan takes pictures, mostly black and white, that he develops when we get home. I take my point and shoot camera everywhere and snap less professional shots. I couldn't resist this one on the left: in the far distance on the hill is the Parador of Monforte de Lemos, the town that has built up all around it, below.

Meanwhile, this has been a "writerly" time for me. First, shortly after our arrival two and a half weeks ago, I received word that a short story I had submitted was accepted. The title is "Going Home" and it was published on April 13th by a cool magazine called Page & Spine. If you are interested, you can read it HERE. 

Second,  I've been doing research for a character in my current WIP. In my  book, one of the characters turned out to have been in Vaudeville in  her earlier years. (I'm sure all you writers know how that happens. You suddenly learn something about a character you didn't know earlier. She let me know she had been in Vaudeville.)

Well, I knew next to nothing about Vaudeville, and I love research, so off I went to find information. I've been mesmerized by a book called No Applause — Just Throw Money, by Trav S. D. (Yup, that's the author's name.) The book is expensive online, unless you go for a used copy. I did, and I was fortunate to get copy in pristine condition. Here's the book:

The writing is fast-paced, humorous, and at times brutally honest about the racism and prejudice that permeated the industry. (Vaudeville was one of the few avenues open to minorities and immigrants, but the actors themselves played off their own stereotypes in the early days.) The author gives a comprehensive history. I hadn't realized the differences between music halls, saloon variety shows, or how gradually respectability was worked into shows that once were a step away from medicine shows, freak shows, etc. They had an unsavory past, too, thanks to after-hours entertainment before they gradually evolved into what became known as Vaudeville. Then Vaudeville became cut-throat business for managers, theater owners, agents, etc., until the movies came along. I'm only halfway through the book, but since one of my characters wants to be a movie star, I'm glad to see this book has information about the early days of the movies as well.

Third, while doing the research I need for this character, I've been writing poetry. A blog friend mentioned a poetry challenge for April ( National Poetry Month). (She writes Haiku and has a wonderful blog called Words and Such; she always has rewarding posts, which you can read HERE.

The challenge was actually a contest: You register to write 30 poems in 30 days around a theme of your choice. At the end of it, you have a chapbook. I started on April 1st, but I didn't register in time, so I missed the contest. Still, I gave myself the challenge anyway, because I felt I needed to be writing while I worked out what I was learning in my research in terms of the characters. I felt I couldn't afford not to be writing.

Well, "I did it!" I wrote 30 poems in 30 days. Today I wrote my 30th. I'm done! Whew! But it really was a nice way to start each day. I actually woke up many mornings thinking about the new poem for the day.

How about you? Do you like poetry? Do you like research? Do your characters surprise you with revelations about themselves? Have you ever written a chapbook? (If so, I'd sure like some information about how to put one together.)

16 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

You have been busy. Going home was powerful and poignant. Thank you.
I do like poetry. Someone (Rumi?) said that poetry is the language of the heart. Which makes sense to me, though I hope my heart is multi-lingual.

Kenda Turner said...

I'm so happy for you on all your accomplishments--having a short story accepted for publication, progress in researching a new book (vaudeville? that would be a new area of research for many!), and writing a poem a day for 30 days. It was a good month for you, for sure! I, too, wrote 30 poems in April and like you often woke up in the morning thinking about something to write. It's encouraging to think our subconscious is working even while sleeping :-) More than that, such a challenge can help show us more of what we're capable of if we just try. Thanks for your mention of my blog. I always enjoy 'chatting' with you :-)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Elephant's Child, I love that quote by Rui. I think it's a good description of poetry. Like you, I hope my heart is multi-lingual, too. I'm glad you liked my story. Thanks for stopping by.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Kenda, I'm glad you finished all 30 haikus. Did you apply for the contest? If so, are you making a chapbook? I would love to read them, as I love haiku and you had a very nice post about haiku a while back.

Mark Noce said...

Glad you're having fun and researching. Cool that your husband does black and white photos too:)

Mirka Breen said...

My favorite writing involved some research and finding out thing along with my hope-to-have readers...

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Mark, yes, I do find research fun. (It helps when the research material is well-written. Lol.) Re: my husband's black-and-white photography, for a while he was doing calendars. I wish he would get back to doing that, because they really were nice Xmas presents and his pictures are really captivating.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Mirka, that's it: it's so nice to find out things I didn't know before, and I always hope that layer of enthusiasm gets translated into the storytelling.

Kate Larkindale said...

Gosh, you have been busy! Research is fascinating, isn't it? I always hate that everything I learn about a subject can't be shoved into the pages, but all that extra knowledge comes in handy when doing pub quizzes.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

You are so right, Kate! I love crossword puzzles, and every now and then, as I answer a clue, I wonder, "Why do I know this? Hah! Yes, the research I did for . . ." Lol. But I do confess, I'm a research junkie.

DMS said...

Wow! 30 poems in 30 days. I can see how it can start a pattern writing poems daily like that. Sounds like you have lots of great stuff going on. I love to take photos- even if they aren't professional. :)

Congrats on the short story getting published.
~Jess

Tanya Lynne Reimer said...

Bringing your camera with you is brilliant! Researching can be so rewarding and fun! The things we can learn is endless.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

HI, Jess. Thanks for stopping by. I loved doing that poetry challenge. It was really weird: each morning when I woke up, I knew what I had to do: write a new poem. (These all need revising, BTW). Then, when it was over, I woke up thinking, "What am I going to do today? Lol).

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Tanya. I really love research for exactly that reason: to learn things. Sometimes, though, I can get lost in it and forget the purpose: to write.

Sandra Cox said...

Congrats on the upcoming publication, Elizabeth, and for completing your thirty poems. My husband writes poetry.
Fascinating info on Vaudeville. Thanks for sharing.
Have a productive week.
Hugs,

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Sandara, how cool that your husband writes poetry! Meanwhile, thanks for the congrats. I was glad to get that story accepted finally. I submitted it to tons of places and almost didn't submit it to this one because it had been turned down so many times!