Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. How are you this morning?
JOE: Good. I sat down to write a chapter of Marital Property yesterday and ended up writing two instead.
CALLIOPE: How do you suppose that happened?
JOE: I was planning to write a dinner scene with the family next but had also thought about a scene in bed with the parents. Once I started I just kept going. I was surprised how easily they both emerged.
CALLIOPE: Sometimes it happens that way. Maybe you were just anxious to write a sex scene.
JOE: Could be. It's the first time I wrote about sexual intercourse between two people.
CALLIOPE: What have you been waiting for?
JOE: A relationship where such a scene would be expected. I guess I could have put one in my last novel, but my protagonist was more drawn to boys.
CALLIOPE: I see. What was it like to write it?
JOE: I discovered that sex is not so easy to put into words. But then, many people don't talk about their encounters in detail.
CALLIOPE: Were you satisfied with what you wrote?
JOE: I'm glad I got it written. But I won't know if I am satisfied with it until I get to the revision stage and look at it from several different angles.
CALLIOPE: Will you wait until you finish the first draft?
JOE: Yes. I have learned from experience that it interrupts the flow of the story if I stop to edit what I have written before the story is finished.
CALLIOPE: Good thinking. I guess we will revisit this topic again.
JOE: I guess so. TTFN
(World War II Navajo Code Talkers)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. How are you this morning?
JOE: Quite good. I finally received the e-mail address of the film producer I met a couple years ago.
CALLIOPE: And what are your intentions with her?
JOE: She has produced some films with meaning and not "high concept." I think she might be interested in considering The Pastor's Inferno.
CALLIOPE: Did you approach her?
JOE: Yes. I sent her an e-mail introducing my novel accompanied by a synopsis.
CALLIOPE: What do you think the chances are of her being interested?
JOE: I can't say. But if I don't try I will never know.
CALLIOPE: Well put. Any other developments?
JOE: Yes. I found an agent who handles books with spiritual connotations. I will query him today. I was planning to expand my agent search anyway but I think he might have some promise for me.
CALLIOPE: And your writing?
JOE: I wrote another chapter involving the children considering what they could do to help and how they might approach their parents.
CALLIOPE: Are you happy with your progress?
JOE: I am resigned to it coming in short bursts as far as the novel. I tend to think about each chapter for about a day before I write it. This also worked well with The Pastor's Inferno.
CALLIOPE: I'm glad you found an approach that works. On with the the show.
JOE: Okay, I'm ready for today.

(Church stove heater- Genesee Country Village)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. What's up this morning?
JOE: I had to struggle to meet my writing goal on Saturday.
CALLIOPE: Tell me about it.
JOE: I planned to at least finish the chapter with my wife and her sister on the beach. I put it off all day until I had barely enough time to finish it. I knew I would be mad at myself if I didn't and just set down and wrote. At first I said I would at least write a little but once I got going I was compelled to finish the chapter.
CALLIOPE: How did that feel?
JOE: Like an accomplishment. Sometimes I have to wrestle with myself to get going but once I do, I enjoy writing.
CALLIOPE: Sounds like an inertia problem. I guess you just have to push yourself to get going sometimes.
JOE: It reminds me of my Uncle Dick's Model T. Most of the time he had to get it rolling down a hill and kick it into gear.
CALLIOPE: I guess times have not changed all that much. How about today?
JOE: I have been working on ideas for several chapters. Cynthia's sister suggested consulting a lawyer which I had not considered but now I think both spouses had better see one. I also have more to do about the children and a supper scene with the whole family.
CALLIOPE: Sounds like it is moving along pretty well.
JOE: It is. I just have to make sure I get my fingers moving every day.
CALLIOPE: Well, don't let me get in your way.
JOE: I won't. Talk with you later.
(Nineteenth century printing press-Genesee Country Village)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. How are we this morning?
JOE: I can't speak for you, but I'm doing pretty well.
CALLIOPE: What news?
JOE: In this morning's paper, the column above mine was a rant about the war and its cost financially and in human life. Right under it was mine about finding ways to get along with people.
CALLIOPE: Did you think they fit together?
JOE: To some extent. They are opposite sides of the same coin. The problem is that getting more angry does not usually incline us to find ways to get along.
CALLIOPE: Agreed. So where does that leave you?
JOE: With parallel approaches. But I guess that's okay. I will keep doing what I am doing.
CALLIOPE: And how about the book?
JOE: I'm making some progress. I started the next chapter but found I needed to do some research.
CALLIOPE: Such as?
JOE: Such as where my wife's shop is located in Edgartown. I was in one just like the one I use in the novel. I also had to scout out a restaurant for my wife and her sister to lunch at before going out to Chappaquiddick for the afternoon.
CALLIOPE: So you did get some writing done?
JOE: Yes, but not as much as I would have liked. It seems things such as arrangements for my writers group keep cropping up.
CALLIOPE: That's life unless you want to be a hermit. At least you are moving in the right direction and got something done.
JOE: I plan to do some writing today and feel in the mood to at least finish this chapter and then think over the weekend about where to head next.
CALLIOPE: Be patient with yourself. It doesn't all have to be written at once.
JOE: That's sometimes hard to remember. I guess I need to learn how to slow down and enjoy the process more. There is really no rush.
CALLIOPE: Agreed. Besides you don't want to tax your muse too much.
(Lighthouse- Nantucket)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. How goes it today.
JOE: Good. I learned what I needed to about Medicare supplement plans yesterday for the moment. I also weathered a board meeting.
CALLIOPE: Do you find all this distracting from your writing?
JOE: Yes and no. It takes time away from my writing but it does give me some other things to think about. I met several people in various stages of dealing with Medicare and got to know a little about their lives. I also got a sense of all the things lacking in our mental health system.
CALLIOPE: So what do you do with all that information?
JOE: File it in case I need it at some point. I have come to realize I can't save the world but knowing its ills helps me focus on things I can address through my writing.
CALLIOPE: How do you see your role?
JOE: To help people think about ways to envision their lives and also to realize that there might be other ways to view things and to interact with people.
CALLIOPE: Do you feel you are accomplishing anything?
JOE: Sometimes I do. I receive favorable comments from people I meet in my wanderings. But sometimes I am overwhelmed with the problems in the world and wonder if anything can make a difference.
CALLIOPE: I guess all you can do is your part.
JOE: I agree. I am trying to stay focused on that rather than all that needs to be done. If I do my part, maybe others will do theirs.
CALLIOPE: So how about the book?
JOE: I finally finished the chapter between my husband and his brother. It took a while, but the writing came easier yesterday. I guess it varies from day to day.
CALLIOPE: Yes it does. How about today?
JOE: I have fewer distractions. All I have on my schedule besides writing is a trip to the farmer's market, working out at the Y and doing some laundry.
CALLIOPE: So what's the writing plan for today?
JOE: I will focus on my wife meeting with her sister and finding a conducive spot on Chappaquiddick for their conversation.
CALLIOPE: Have you been there?
JOE:Once I drove out to the end of it with Carol stopping to look at Ted Kennedy's famous bridge spot. It is about as far from civilization as you can get on the Vineyard, but should be a good spot for a heart to heart.
CALLIOPE: I am looking forward to seeing what develops.
JOE: So am I. I guess it is time to get on with it.
(Ferry from Nantucket to Oak Bluffs)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. How are you this morning?
JOE: Feeling a little discombobulated.
JOE: I expected to get a fair amount of writing done yesterday, but didn't manage to do much at all.
CALLIOPE: What happened?
JOE: I started out with good intentions. However I was waylaid by work for my writers' group, baking cracked wheat bread, working out at the Y, two appointments and the soup crisis.
CALLIOPE: What appointments?
JOE: I still see a few people now and then for a little extra income until I make it big with my writing.
CALLIOPE: Is that why you write?
JOE: No. I write because it is exciting and I think I have something to say to the world about how to live and how to do it constructively with others.
CALLIOPE: Lofty goal. What about the soup crisis?
JOE: I planned on making pea soup and had all the ingredients. I found I had a little too much for my crock pot and decided to make it in a large stew pot instead. While it was cooking, I went to the Y for some exercise. When I returned, the house smelled terrible. I discovered the water had been boiled away and the peas burned to the bottom of the pot. As I say, a mess. And I had promised to provide Carol with bread and soup for dinner.
CALLIOPE: Then what?
JOE: I spent quite a bit of time cleaning up and airing out the house. I also found ingredients for borscht and decided to make that instead. Fortunately it turned out fine and was something Carol had never tried. She liked it.
CALLIOPE: Did you get any writing done?
JOE: A little. My husband and his brother finished breakfast, walked out to the lighthouse and headed for Menemsha. All in all a meager output.
CALLIOPE: Do you think you will get more done today?
JOE: If I get right to it. I am meeting with the powers that be this afternoon about Medicare and its finer points. Later I have a board meeting at Mental Health.
CALLIOPE: Sometimes it goes like that and only dribs and drabs end up on paper in a given day. But just think about what one or two pages a day adds up to in a year. Okay, lets not waste any more time. On with the show.
JOE: Agreed. See you at the manuscript.

(West Chop Lighthouse- Vineyard Haven)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.

CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. How are things this morning.

JOE: Good. I had hoped to write another chapter yesterday but got waylaid by the need to write a newspaper column. I did manage to at least start the chapter.

CALLIOPE: Did you write about commonsense and the cowboy mentality?

JOE: Indeed I did. I was afraid it would be too political but I managed to keep it focused on the individual person rather than our current country leaders. After all, almost half of us elected the current leadership.

CALLIOPE: A tad sarcastic. But you are right. Our national leaders and local ones for that matter can only lead us if we let them.

JOE: I focused on my frustration about trying to stay positive and seeing such negative news suggesting we are becoming a nation of gunslingers (literally or figuratively.)

CALLIOPE: So, with that out of your system, what about your book.

JOE: I reviewed my enneagram typings for my husband and his brother and had them meet at the Martha's Vineyard ferry dock in Vineyard Haven. As we speak they are suspended in mid conversation while they wait for their omelets at the Black Dog Restaurant.

CALLIOPE: I hope they get a little farther today.

JOE: I hope so too. They are planning a walk out to West Chop Lighthouse and then a drive on to Menemsha and a walk on the beach.

CALLIOPE: Walking seems to be a fairly prominent theme.

JOE: Yes it does. I plan to incorporate what they encounter on their walk as reinforcing what they discuss.

CALLIOPE: Good idea. How will you accomplish it?

JOE: I was hoping you would help.

CALLIOPE: I'll keep my eyes open. Let's get going.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. What's new today?
JOE: I spent a fair amount of time working on enneagrams for the two children.
CALLIOPE: Did you end up using what you developed?
JOE: Later in the day I did. I wrote about another conversation between the children after school and felt I had a better sense of how they would both react to things.
CALLIOPE: Good. What's next?
JOE: Today I will work on enneagrams for the husband's brother and wife's best friend, both of whom are appearing in chapters soon.
CALLIOPE: Sound's like it's moving along. Did you ever come up with an overall plan for the plot?
JOE: As a matter of fact I did. It just came to me a little while ago.
CALLIOPE: Are you going to share?
JOE: Of course. I plan to heighten the conflict through conversations and receiving conflicting advice on how to handle the problem. Then there will be some false starts with each trying to solve the problem in a ways which antagonizes the other. As they finally realize they are working at cross purposes, they might find a way to work together and both get at least some of what they want.
CALLIOPE: Sounds good. Any thoughts about the ending yet?
JOE: I have been considering the possibilities, the main ones being divorce, resolution or the promise of resolution without actually getting there.
CALLIOPE: Are you leaning toward one or the other?
JOE: No. I thought I would let my characters lead me to the conclusion, with your kind assistance of course.
CALLIOPE: I would be glad to provide any help I can.
JOE: Thanks, I appreciate it.
(Mayan Road- Cozumel)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good Morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good Morning, Joe. What's going on in your mind this morning?
JOE: I was just planning my day. I was bragging last week about being so organized and then could not find four books I had to return to the library.
CALLIOPE: Did you finally find them?
JOE: Yes. I was trying to be so good at organization that I put the books in a row with some others rather than leaving them in a pile. There were still where I put them.
CALLIOPE: I guess organization can be overdone. How about your novel?
JOE: First, I contacted the sister of the producer I met and am waiting for her e-mail address to send her a friendly query. The screenplay business is quite a mystery to me. But I think it helps to have a contact.
CALLIOPE: I agree. Did you do any actual writing over the weekend?
JOE: I did another chapter of Marital Property. Both spouses now have appointments to meet with advisors. He will be meeting his brother, and she her best friend.
CALLIOPE: Do you plan to write about those meetings today?
JOE: Probably not. I have some research to do on their personalities and interactions first. I also have a chapter to write about the two children talking after school.
CALLIOPE: Anything else going on today?
JOE: Yes. I have a column pending and plan to do it on Commonsense Wisdom and the Cowboy Mentality.
CALLIOPE: Sounds interesting. What is it about?
JOE: Mainly my frustration with positive writing all these years and feeling like people in our country are descending back into frontier diplomacy or what I call the gunslinger approach.
CALLIOPE: Let me know how it goes.
JOE: I will.
(Cannon- siege tunnel- Gibralter)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. Have you been busy already this morning?
JOE: Yes, but not entirely with my writing. I have been wrestling with my computer to get it to play movies from Netflix. It's a long story with as yet no satisfactory conclusion.
CALLIOPE: So what about the writing?
JOE: Yesterday was very busy wit a great deal of running around. In late afternoon, I finally got a chance to do some writing. I wrote another chapter with my husband contacting his brother to set up a meeting.
CALLIOPE: Are you ready to write about it?
JOE: Not quite. I have to go back to the ennagrams and find out more about the brother and decide how the two should interact.
CALLIOPE: Any other news.
JOE: I have been thinking of contacting a producer I know in Hollywood to see if she might be interested in The Pastor's Inferno. I gave her card to someone and now it seems to be among the missing. I called her sister for her e-mail and am waiting to hear from her.
CALLIOPE: Sounds like you are going in a number of directions. Does it get confusing?
JOE: Not yet. I think I am keeping everything straight. I must be developing some new skills. In the past I would have been overwhelmed.
CALLIOPE: Good. I'm glad you are getting more organized. It does make life easier.
JOE: I will try to write another chapter today about the wife contacting her sister.
CALLIOPE: The plot thickens.
JOE: Well it should if the story is to stay interesting. See you on Monday.

(Rails near Cedar Street- Batavia, NY)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. Did you get any writing done yesterday.
JOE: Of course. But I had to do it early. After our conversation, I got down to work and wrote a chapter about my wife in her kayak and thoughts she had about the marriage.
CALLIOPE: And that was all you had time for?
JOE: Not exactly. I took my son to Wyoming, a gaslight village about twenty miles from here. It was an artist colony at one time and is making a minor resurgence in that direction. Anyway, Pete had arranged to deliver some of his prints on consignment to the W.G. Handyside Gallery of Fine Arts.
CALLIOPE: So where did your writing come in?
JOE: While he was negotiating, I looked around the shop and found that she sold books as well, but mostly about art. I asked her whether she sold other books and she was open to the idea. Flash. I just looked outside and found the most beautiful sunrise I can remember seeing. Wow!
CALLIOPE: Glad you enjoyed it. Sunrises are in a different department from mine but I enjoy them too. You were telling me about the gallery.
JOE: Anyway, I got to talking to the owner, Dianne Burnham, about my books and she took several copies of both of them on consignment.
CALLIOPE: Congratulations. Did you talk with her about your art as well?
JOE: Yes, somewhat hesitantly. I am less sure of my painting and drawing than of my writing and have trouble evaluating it.
CALLIOPE: Most artists do.
JOE: I remembered the old sayings, "Chacun a son gue" and "De gustibus non est disputandum" and talked with her about the relativity of impression of art on different people.
CALLIOPE: So are you going to show her some of your work?
JOE: Yes, I am. I might also put together a set of photos similar to the one I am preparing for the Christmas show at the Arts Council.
CALLIOPE: My, you are getting bold. Good luck with it. Well, back to the writing.
JOE: Yes, Ma'am.

(Main Street in winter)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.

CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. glad to see you are up and at it early this morning.

JOE: It's a short writing day. Later this morning I'm taking my son to place some of his prints at a shop in Wyoming (New York that is). While I am there I will explore their carrying my two books. Then it's off to Lance's in Warsaw (also New York) for a Pennsylvania Dutch lunch and some baking supplies like whole and cracked wheat. Then I have two meetings this afternoon.

CALLIOPE: Minimal writing time I see. Where does the writing stand?

JOE: Yesterday I wrote a chapter about my husband reflecting on the state of his marriage while he walks on Gay Head Beach. That required a little research on the Martha's Vineyard beaches, beach plums and roses as well as Makani Kai Marina in Kailua for a fantasy sequence.

CALLIOPE: Sounds like it is coming along. What's next?

JOE: Separate but equal time for my wife's reflection as she kayaks on Nashaquitsa Pond.

CALLIOPE: Do you know the next steps?

JOE: Yes. Each of the couple has siblings and best friends with varying input depending on their personalities and points of view. The plot thickens.

CALLIOPE: I guess it does. Do you know where all this is headed?

JOE: In a general way yes but the characters and you will lead the way toward major developments. I was reading what Heather Sellers had to say about compost of the mind where all our experiences reside and moulder until they are ready for use.

CALLIOPE: Have you drawn on yours?

JOE: Of course. Most of what I include about the Vineyard is based on personal experience there but is reinforced by some research.

CALLIOPE: I can't wait to read it.

JOE: Neither can I. I am anticipating further developments and am as intrigued as you are.

CALLIOPE: It's nice to be on such an exciting journey, isn't it?

JOE: It sure is. Let's get on with it.

(Lillian Hellman's Cabana)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good afternoon, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good afternoon, Joe. Where have you been this morning?
JOE: I had an early morning appointment with my physician.
CALLIOPE: Anything wrong?
JOE: No. Just a checkup to see what condition my condition is in. Everything's fine.
CALLIOPE: Good. What's new on the writing front?
JOE: Yesterday, I decided to find another possible agent rather than relying on just the one.
CALLIOPE: How did it go?
JOE: I think well. I started again with the editor and I think learned why he was recommended.
CALLIOPE: Why was that?
JOE: He recently published a somewhat controversial book which differed from mine but had a similar theme of wrestling with God.
CALLIOPE: Did you find the agent's name?
JOE: No, but I did find another agent who worked with him and his publishing division and found a book she represented with a kinship to mine.
CALLIOPE: Did you query her?
JOE: Of course. I am being much more careful about crafting query letters lately rather than just using my old shotgun approach.
CALLIOPE: Good luck. Did you have time for any writing?
JOE: Yes. I think the agent process enlivened me. I wrote a chapter yesterday afternoon and another one this morning.
CALLIOPE: Sounds like you are making good progress.
JOE: I think so. I feel like it is full steam ahead and I have something to write about each day without much effort, although I need to do a little research along the way. This morning I had to look up Makani Kai Marina in Hawaii, alimony in Massechusetts and beach roses. I am glad I have the internet.
CALLIOPE: It is a help. Don't let me keep you from your writing. Let's get back to work.
JOE: Fine with me. Let's go.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. How is the writing going?
JOE: It's going well. I wrote another chapter yesterday, the one we were discussing. A conversation about the marriage between the mother and her two children.
CALLIOPE: No difficulty?
JOE: No. I had in mind what I wanted to do and did it. I had no idea what the actual conversation or even specific topics would be but it went smoothly.
CALLIOPE: How did you approach it?
JOE: I imagined I was in the room listening to what each person had to say and what each was thinking and just wrote it all down.
CALLIOPE:How do you know when a chapter is finished?
JOE: Most of my chapters tend to take place in one room. I think of them as movie scenes and have an idea what should take place. When the action for that scene is finished, so is the chapter.
CALLIOPE: I was wondering how you prepare to write a chapter.
JOE: I usually start thinking about the next chapter right after I finish the last one. I also try to fall asleep at night thinking about it. I don't wake up with the whole dialogue in mind, but I somehow know I can sit down and write it and I can when the time comes.
CALLIOPE: You realize that while you are sleeping, I am busy working on the details and leaving them in your mind to find while you are typing?
JOE: I guess I didn't know this for sure but certainly suspected it. I think we make a good team. Thanks.
CALLIOPE: My pleasure.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. How was New York?
JOE: Great. I was in the middle of the publishing world but did not do anything directly toward publishing.
CALLIOPE: Did you do anything indirectly?
JOE: Yes. I talked with a friend to whom I had given the name of an independent filmmaker in Hollywood whose contact information I had lost. He will send me her information.
CALLIOPE: Are you going Hollywood now?
JOE: It's hard to say. I didn't think it would hurt to see if she might be interested in converting my novel to a screenplay. If not it would not be a bad idea to be able to tell publishers it is under consideration.
CALLIOPE: You mean your last novel, The Pastor's Inferno?
JOE: Yes. I know it gets a little confusing. I thought about muses while I was gone. I almost went to see Xanadu but we ended up seeing the Spelling Bee. But I did think back to the movie and the role the muses played in it.
CALLIOPE: Somewhat fanciful but at least we got some consideration.
JOE: I also read Heather Sellers opinion that at least in her experience, if she took one day off from writing, her muse would take three off. That sounds a bit spiteful. You wouldn't do that to me, would you?
CALLIOPE: That's her experience. Between us, I will always be there. But if you don't write every day, you will get out of practice, a little like any creative artist. I will always be here, you just might have to look a little harder after taking a break.
JOE: I will remember that and try to write a little something each day, even if it is not my current magnum opus. While I was watching Van Morrison perform Saturday night, I wondered how often he practices to create such a show.
CALLIOPE: Practice is always a good idea. What are you planning today.
JOE: A scene in which the two children talk with their mother about her difficulty with their father. I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow.
CALLIOPE: Good. See you then.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good afternoon, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good afternoon, Joe. What have you been up to all day?
JOE: A marker of getting older, I have to deal with choices about Medicare in preparation for turning 65 in January.
CALLIOPE: Is it as much of a pain as I hear it is?
JOE: Yes, it is. The choices are astounding. Each one seems to make sense in certain circumstances which are quite hard to predict.
CALLIOPE: I don't envy you. Any progress on the book.
JOE: Some. I have envisioned the next scene which involves the girl and boy of the family discussing their parents' difficulties.
CALLIOPE: Is the writing going easily?
JOE: No. I would say fitfully. Let me tell you a story. I lived with my grandparents until I was three. My grandfather and I would listen for the steam whistle telling us a train was coming into town. We would bundle into his car and drive to the end of Park Avenue to wait for it. The engine puffed smoke while the train let off passengers and packages and reloaded with both. When it was ready to go, the conductor signaled with his lantern to the engineer. At first nothing seemed to happen. Then CHUG...chu...chu...chu and the train would move a few inches. This process went on until the train started making some steady forward process. That's what this book feels like.
CALLIOPE: Very graphic. So building up a head of steam is a slow fitful process.
JOE: Yep. I'm still chugging. I can get some chunks of words on paper but then have to stop and think for a while to imagine the next scene.
CALLIOPE: How does that compare with your last book?
JOE: I wish I could tell you. With all the months that have gone by since I started it, I don't remember the process too clearly. I wouldn't be surprised if was just like this one.
CALLIOPE: Neither would I. Are you frustrated?
JOE: Not really, this is my fourth book and I know that with perseverence, I will finish this one too in its own time.
CALLIOPE: It sounds like you are starting to mature as a writer. Keep at it.
JOE: Thanks. I'll talk with you on Monday after I get back from New York.
CALLIOPE: I'll be waiting. It sounds like there might be a story in that as well.
JOE: I guess you will just have to wait to see.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. What's new?
JOE: I visited my rheumatologist yesterday. I thought back to several years ago when my arthritis was bothering me so much I couldn't close my hands to make a fist. I had great difficulty with typing, making frequent mistakes because my fingers would not go where I wanted them to.
CALLIOPE: And now?
JOE: It's almost as if I never had arthritis. I have a tiny bit of stiffness in my hands but not enough to interfere with my writing or anything else.
CALLIOPE: Great. Do you have an exercise for today?
JOE: I decided to skip a few since they were primarily for just beginning writers or those who had het not been able to bring themselves to write. But one exercise seemed of interest and applied to me.
CALLIOPE: And what was that?
JOE: Along the theme of not writing alone, I should list all the voices which are with me as I write.
CALLIOPE: Sounds interesting. I'd like to know what they say as you write.
JOE: Here goes. Different people are with me at different times. As I write now, my Uncle Bob stands by watching with his smile but not saying anything. John Updike reminds me to think like a poet when choosing words. James Michener tells me that structure is a good way to organize a book as he did with The Source. Annie Lamott reminds me of the importance of writing each day. Henry David Thoreau reminds me to list things for which I am grateful each day (and have not done yet today.) And of course there is your quiet input.
CALLIOPE: It sounds crowded in your little room. Remember to think of all these helpers the next time you start to imagine writing is a lonely endeavor.
JOE: Thanks. I will.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. How's it going?
JOE: I guess okay. Yesterday I wrote Saturday's column for the paper about Rose and Russ. I learned some things writing it that I can use in my book.
CALLIOPE: Such as?
JOE: Such as secrets to staying married. I can use the ignorance of their secrets in writing about my troubled couple.
CALLIOPE: Good. Did you copy your lists from yesterday?
JOE: Yes. They are right here in front of me for inspiration.
CALLIOPE: So what are we going to do today?
JOE: My goal is to better understand the private and social aspects of being a writer. The social part is for getting ideas while the private part is where I write them down. The first question is whether I want my social part to be any different.
CALLIOPE: Well, do you?
JOE: I think I am getting good at getting people to talk about things I would like to include in my writing. I would just like to spend a little more time doing it.
CALLIOPE: Do you have the resources to do so right now?
JOE: I can't afford to travel everywhere I want. But I can take advantage of opportunities which present themselves. For example, I had an e-mail from a forensic accountant who got wind of my blog and volunteered as a resource.
CALLIOPE: The second question is whether your communal self needs to be balanced or enriched.
JOE: Sometimes, but I would not want my community around all the time. I would have to sneak off to write. My ideal commmunity would include people like John Updike, John Irving, Stephen King, Anne Lamott, Julia Cameron, Natalie Goldberg and Heather Sellers.
CALLIOPE: That's quite a group. You don't have them sitting in your parlor but you have most of their books and can ask for their input whenever you want. The third question is who helps you with your writing.
JOE: Excellent point about my support group. My helpers include Carol who keeps me specific and clear in my writing, Gerry who always asks incisive questions, Bob who cheers me on, my column readers who stop me around town and encourage me, Steve who is helping me find a publishing direction, and my writers' group who challenge me and help me stay on target.
CALLIOPE: Anyone else?
JOE: Yourself of course. You have been quietly in the background helping me in ways I don't even know.
CALLIOPE: I'm glad you recognize my help. On with the show.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. How are things this morning.
JOE: Good, I guess. I can see signs of Fall finally arriving but have immensely enjoyed the extended summer. My plumeria seems to be about at the end of its three month blooming season but a gorgious red hibiscus blossom awaited me this morning on my porch. I am feeling a stronger urge to delve into my new writing project.
CALLIOPE: That's good. How are you coming on Marital Property?
JOE: A little slow. It's hard getting into a new project after finishing a novel I spent eight months on. I picked up Heather Sellers' book Page by Page yesterday. She suggested some exercises to start and stay writing consistently. Do you mind if I share them with you?
CALLIOPE: Be my guest.
JOE: Thanks. The first exercise is to write three lists. First is qualities of my ideal writing guidebook. The book would be clearly written, well organized, specific, give quotes and refer to excellent examples of the points made, give me concrete tasks, and give suggestions for the roadblocks which appear before me as well as help me incorporate the rest of my life and experiences into my writing.
CALLIOPE: A good list. What is the second.
JOE: The second is the qualities of my ideal writing class. I recall my writing classes in high school and college and do not remember any encouragement. Writing petrified me. My ideal class would encourage me to write, initially ignoring quality but just getting my pen (or reasonable facsimile) moving, teaching me how to incorporate information from my senses and from my inner life, balancing dialogue, internal reflection and description, making dialogue intriguing and interesting, making my characters alive and unique, helping me have my characters tell my stories rather than relying on narrative, and not be afraid to have my stories be metaphors for my own hopes, dreams, worries and fears.
CALLIOPE: Well stated. What is the third list?
JOE: Imagine I am a small new pupil, a writing student, and list the attitudes I have when I am loving the act of learning something. I sit in wonderment of all that goes on around me, see the story in each movement, gesture, color, smell or sound, realize that there are words to express each of these, try different kinds of writing implements to see what my writing is like with each one, find fascination in my words and sentences, regardless of what my teacher thinks of them, realize that each person I see has endless stories within him or her, and know that what I write has the chance to be unique.
CALLIOPE: Great. I think you should put these lists on your wall with other things you want present while you write. Look at them when you feel stuck or tend to get down on yourself for being only human. I am here to help but you will still be you and the one who does the actual writing.
JOE: Thanks, I'll try to remember that when the going gets tough as it does from time to time.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. Did you have a nice weekend?
JOE: Yes and I learned some interesting things.
CALLIOPE: Such as?
JOE: On Saturday morning, I did some research on forensic accounting to help me understand my husband character. I have enough experience with art to give me some understanding of what my wife character does.
CALLIOPE: What about the rest of the weekend?
JOE: On Saturday evening I attended a sixtieth anniversary party for my neighbors Rose and Russ. I learned quite a bit about what it takes to stay together in a relationship and got to know their large happy family. They did it the right way although both did say that sometimes it was not easy.
CALLIOPE: So that contrasts with the couple you are writing about in Marital Property.
JOE: It certainly does. It will help me with an understanding of the mistakes my couple might make.
CALLIOPE: I'm glad you are keeping your eyes and ears open. Did you learn anything else this weekend?
JOE: Yes. I visited the Charlotte lighthouse in Rochester on Sunday after I dropped off my two clowns where participating in the River Romance. Other than the architecture I explored the design and some of its history as well as the history of lighthouses in general. I think this will help me with the lighthouses in Martha's Vineyard and give me a little better sense of my setting for Marital Property. I also enjoyed listening to an Irish band, Wild Geese. In the evening iI finished reading Diane Ackerman's Natural History of the Senses.
CALLIOPE: Even though you did not do any writing, it seems you made some good progress. Back to work.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. Nice to see you functioning in the morning. What news.
JOE: I got back to my Marital Property manuscript yesterday. I didn't do much actual writing though.
CALLIOPE: What did you spend your time doing?
JOE: I think I told you this story was set in Martha's Vineyard.
CALLIOPE: Do you think you know the island well enough to use it for your setting?
JOE: I think so. I have never lived there but have visited often enough to be familiar with it. I can also get the Vineyard Gazette on line twice a week to keep up with local events. I found a report of a heated meeting in Menemsha about who should be wholesale distributo for for local fish.
CALLIOPE: So how did you start with the setting.
JOE: I remember looking up at a house above Menemsha Pond last month and decided that was where my fictional family would live. I also got topographical maps of the area and checked on map directions to help with details like ocean breezes, sunrise and sunset and have already incorporated them into the story.
CALLIOPE: Speaking of the story, what is happening?
JOE: Everybody had breakfast and there was another to do on the deck in which the details of the conflict became evident. Then both spouses retreated to their own spaces.
CALLIOPE: So, one step at a time. What's next?
JOE: I'm not quite sure. That is up to my characters. I will start writing and see what develops.
CALLIOPE: It sounds like it's time for me to get to work.
JOE: I would appreciate your help.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Just barely, it's almost noon. What have you been up to.
JOE: Mostly working on updates for my writers' group. But that's another topic. I'd like to tell you what I found about my compatability with my main characters in Marital Property. Their names are Dennis and Cynthia in case you are wondering.
CALLIOPE: That's nice to know, I already feel like I know them a little better. So what did you learn about you and Dennis?
JOE: Glad you asked. Dennis and I are fairly similar in some ways. We are both assertive, high energy and outgoing. We are both optimistic focused on the future and are good at communicating our ideas.
CALLIOPE: So what's the dark side?
JOE: We can both be exhausting to keep up with and have difficulty looking at problems. We both feel pressure to excel.
CALLIOPE: Okay, so what about Cynthia.
JOE: We tend to be quite different in our priorities and can complement each other when things are going well. I can help her overcome her shyness and she can help me concentrate on what I really want as well as to respect my feelings.
CALLIOPE: And the dark side?
JOE: We can both be impulsive and frustrated when disappointed or when things don't go they way we would like them to. Our differences can also be a source of conflict instead of complementing each other.
CALLIOPE: Sounds like an interesting mix. It should make for a good story.
JOE: I think so. On with it.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good Morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. Glad to see you up and at it this morning.
JOE: I'm up but feeling a little punk. I think I might be getting a cold.
CALLIOPE: At least your fingers still work. I was wondering about something you said the other day before the editor/agent excitement. You talked about using enneagrams to form your characters. Did you ever look up your own?
JOE: Odd you should mention it. I have mine right here. I turn out to be type 7-The Enthusiast.
CALLIOPE: Interesting. What does the typing say about you.
JOE: I am described as being "busy, productive, extroverted, optimistic, versatile and spontaneous, playful, and high spirited."
CALLIOPE: That sounds like you. What's the down side?
JOE: I also tend to become "overextended, scattered and undisciplined." I "constantlay seek new and exciting experiences and become distracted and exhauted by staying on the go." I also have trouble with impatience and impulsiveness.
CALLIOPE: This sounds like you as well. Where did you find all this information?
JOE: On the website Now I just have to figure out how to apply it to my writing and use it to my best advantage.
CALLIOPE: I understand the site also tracks interactions between types. Have you thought of looking into interactions between the types of your characters and your own?
JOE: No, I never did. But it sounds interesting. I think I will try it.
CALLIOPE: Have fun and let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good afternoon, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: And late afternoon at that! Where have you been all day?
JOE: Busy with my publication activity. After the letter from my editor friend yesterday, I got busy developing and implementing a strategy.
CALLIOPE: So what did you come up with?
JOE: My friend suggested I approach the editors he mentioned through an agent. So I started tracking down recent books each of the two had published. Then I went through web references to them and found agents listed as representing those books. I found two who seemed to be a good match for the suggested editors.
CALLIOPE: Did you query both agents?
JOE: No. As it turns out, both editors are at the same publishing house and both agents are at the same agency. I decided to begin with the agent who seemed to have the strongest connection with the editors. I spent most of the day preparing the best query letter I could as well as revising my synopsis and list of publications. I just put them in the mail.
CALLIOPE: Did you mention your editor friend?
JOE: No. He asked me not to use his name since he did not know the editors personally. I wish I could have.
CALLIOPE: Still it seems you did the best you could. Now what?
JOE: Now I wait. In the mean time it is back to the drawing board with Marital Property.
CALLIOPE: Okay. Let's get to work.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning , Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. What have you been up to?
JOE: Quite a bit. I finished working on character descriptions of my main two characters for Marital Property using enneagrams. I also finished chapter two and discovered what the couple were arguing about in the first chapter.
CALLIOPE: I guess you never know what you will discover when you start writing a story. Anything else new?
JOE: I woke up twice during the night. Once I realized what both characters did for a living, which I had been wondering about. The other time, I realized the story should be set in Martha's Vineyard. Did you have anything to do with these revelations?
CALLIOPE: Did you think I just worked when you did? I thought it was about time I made a contribution. You have been working pretty hard. I wasn't sure you would notice.
JOE: Of course I noticed. I know that these ideas were not there the day before and I had not even considered seriously what the setting should be or their occupations. Thanks.
CALLIOPE: You're welcome. Anything else going on?
JOE: Yes. I heard from my editor friend in New York who recommended two editors who might be interested in publishing my last novel, The Pastor's Inferno. I will get on their trail today.
CALLLIOPE: More excitement. Good luck with the hunt.
JOE: Thanks. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Conversations with Calliope

JOE: Good morning, Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning, Joe. What's going on today?
JOE: Not much yet. I am just about ready to get back into my writing after a very busy weekend.
CALLIOPE: Did you work on your book at all yesterday?
JOE: Not directly, although I did think about it and had some experiences with I think will enrich it. I started the day with a fundraiser walk for breast cancer and noted a fair amount of men present. I thought about how breast cancer must have touched their lives. Although breast cancer is rare among men, unfortunately having a daughter, wife, sister or mother with breast cancer is not so rare.
CALLIOPE: Goodpoint. What else did you do?
JOE: I visited my girlfriend's aunt in the hospital and thought about the two husbands she had outlived and the family who still flocks to be with her.
CALLIOPE: And then?
JOE: Carol and I discussed a list of "schemas" she found in Oprah magazine outlining patterns which cause trouble in relationships.
CALLIOPE: You said these experiences related indirectly to your book. How so?
JOE: The breast cancer walk made me think of how serious illness affects relationships. My guess is that after all is said and done, illness can strengthen a strong relationship while it can further stress one which is already in trouble.
CALLIOPE: I cna't argue with that. What did you learn from the hospital visit?
JOE: Aunt Lucille still speaks fondly of her husbands long after they have died. It made me think of how we sometimes take spouses (and others) for granted and fail to fully appreciate their good points while they are with us.
CALLIOPE: And the schemas?
JOE: I think they were good as far as they went, but were limited to destructive patterns. It has been my experience that everyone has good and bad aspects of their personality patterns. It made me more sure of the enneagrams which I am using to consider my characters' personality patterns.
CALLIOPE: It sounds like you learned some good things yesterday. How do you plan to use them in your writing?
JOE: Today I plan to look further into the enneagrams of my main two characters and consider the good and bad points of their interaction and how to weave them into the story.
CALLIOPE: It sounds like you have a good plan. I will be waiting to see how it works out.
JOE: I will let you know the next time we talk.