Friday, September 30, 2005

Touring day today. My special tour guide, Al, took me first up A Mountain, a small mountain (hill?) by Tucson that has a huge letter A on top of it. Symbol of the University of Arizona. Many stories about the painting of the A, and how each year newbies to UA have to climb up and repaint it. Great views of Tucson. And we also saw another road runner that stopped and posed so I could get a photo of it.
Then over Gates Pass. We diverted into the viewing area near the top, to interrupt half a dozen motor cycle police all neatly lined up with their shiny bikes having a photo taken. From the viewing point, we could see across to the mountains (including the observatory) and the water recharging area where they are taking water from the Colorado River and putting it back into the underground water table.
The mission of San Xavier was very old and beautiful. Many relics and icons and statues, as well as paintings on the walls. As it was a weekday, there weren't many tourists and it was very quiet and peaceful. Celebrations for St Francis of Assisi are coming up so the statue that they carry around was out of its resting place, ready for the ceremonies. They have candles that people light for blessings and prayers but you can only use the ones there which are specially developed so they don't make more soot and pollute the paintings. I only had my digital camera with flash inside so I hope the photos are light enough to see the details.
From there we drove to Tubac, which is a small town on the way to Nogales (Mexican border). Many craftspeople live and exhibit there - there are more than 20 shops selling everything from pots and garden ornaments to jewellery, Tshirts, paintings. sculptures, every kind of craft you can think of. Plus galleries showing artwork of all kinds. I saw many things that I would have loved to buy, especially some of the large pots and ceramics. There were also a lot of Indian crafts, including arrows, wall hangings and beadwork.
On the way back we were stopped by the Border Patrol for a check. A large sign by the road said they had apprehended over 9000 illegal immigrants - I presume they meant this year. And 2.2 kilos of cocaine.
Home again and a big thank you to Al. He was incredibly knowledgeable and I have a potted history of Arizona now, as well as a number of interesting facts and stories. I collected my photos (thankfully OK) and investigated posting some of my books and papers home - $46 minimum, from what I was told, so that isn't going to happen.
Have relaxed tonight, done some laundry (all currently hanging around the room as yet again I didn't have enough quarters for the dryer) and catching up now on emails.
Tomorrow I am off to speak to a class of trainee teachers, then have to return my car to the rental place and meet up with Meg for dinner and poetry reading.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Another busy day, although no classes today. I'm starting to lose track of the days but I think that's because I did the weekend workshop and those two days felt like a Monday and Tuesday. Hard to believe that I only have two full days left.
This morning I went to the Poetry Centre at the University of Arizona. The Centre has a huge library of poetry books and journals and magazines - I got to have a quick look at a few, including a few I have never heard of. They have poetry from all over the world - I saw books there by Les Murray and Alan Goudge, among others - and a lot of videos/DVDs and audio CDs of poets reading. They have a big program of visiting poets and many of their photos were on the walls.
I talked to Maurynne, who works with lots of kids, doing poetry classes with them, mainly out in the schools. She has just finished working on a book which is about "teaching" poetry to 4-6 year olds. It sounds really good so I have put in an order. Arizona has an artists' register so schools can contact artists to work with their students. It sounds a little like our Artists-in-Schools program.
I would love to see a poetry centre at Vic Uni, but don't know how much support I would get! Maurynne said there is a very active, enthusiastic poetry "network" in Tucson so lots of things happen.
Then I walked around the university - up the main boulevard under the palm trees, enjoying the sun for a little while before it got too hot. I had a salad in the caf and visited the bookshop (of course). Tonight is the memorial service for the young female basketballer who died the other day - she had a clot in her lung, apparently. Only twenty-two. Very sad. She was a popular, well-liked girl.
Then I drove to the biggest Borders in Tucson where I finally found a copy of the one writing book I had been after - "From Where You Dream" by Robert Olen Butler. Then I wasn't sure if I wanted it or not (hard cover - $24 - it was the weight more than the price!!) so sat and read bits for half an hour until I decided yes. I liked the bit in the introduction that talks about two different writers inside us - the one who wants to write and the one who doesn't. In order to write, you have to fool the one who doesn't.
Wandered around the shopping centre for about an hour, looking at clothes - didn't buy anything but saw some lovely things (in the really expensive shop of course). The shops here are a shopaholic's paradise. I could have gone to the third Bookman's but I was very stern with myself and went home instead.
Got home and there was a message from Meg - inviting me out to dinner with her husband and Robert, the journalism teacher. So we went to Li'l Abner's and the steaks were very very good. That's my iron for the week!
Tomorrow I am off touring with my tour guide again - the mission and a place called Tubac where there are a lot of crafts and some very old buildings. I put my first 35mm film in for developing tonight, with some trepidation. I've had two films damaged in processing recently, and I just hate to lose photos, but I decided if something happens, I would have time to take one or two replacement photos, whereas if the film gets damaged by security Xray on the way home, that would be it.
Am also taking digital photos but the SLR produces such quality landscape photos that I prefer it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

What a long day, but extremely interesting. Three classes, and each one slightly different. The first I posted about earlier. The second was similar to our Industry Overview class at Vic Uni - I talked about writing fiction as a career, so covered the things that make it different from non-fiction freelancing, some stuff on how royalties work, record keeping etc. The third session was with the journalism students who work on the Pima student newspaper - Aztec News. They were on a deadline to write a front page story about a student who had been shot and died on the weekend, so they talked a little about how they had been gathering material for their article.
At lunchtime a writer friend of Meg's, Nancy, took me out to her house in the desert, over Gates Pass - the road has been closed for a few weeks for widening and resealing. It is still a fairly winding narrow road but the views are great. Lots of saguaro cactus and also teddy bear cactus (it's fuzzy).
On the way to the campus this morning I saw a funny bird run across the road and when I asked Nancy and described it, she said it was a road runner. So now I have seen the real thing!
When I got home tonight, I was so talked out from the classes that I had to get out and do something where I could just listen (and TV wasn't it!) so I went to the movies up the road. Saw "The Constant Gardener" with Ralph Fiennes. It was OK, not madly exciting, but the ending wasn't totally predictable.
I'm starting to get a bit worried about my luggage, and considering posting some stuff home to avoid weight problems. I might have to investigate postal rates tomorrow, but I seem to remember last year that it would cost a fair bit, more perhaps than excess luggage penalties. I shall see...
It's time they invented books that only weigh a few grams or ounces each. I think one of the ones I have bought feels like a brick.
Back in the journalism class - a different one this time. But in the same room. I wonder how this would work with a fiction class - set a writing exercise and everyone has to type it up and print it out for me. Too confronting? There is something about putting fiction out there straight away that sounds scary. No time to rethink and rewrite.
The class I am in right now asked me lots of questions and now they are (like yesterday) writing up their short articles. I am intrigued with the idea of "the angle" and how they will approach what I said. So while they are madly trying to come up with their angle and write something that is accurate and interesting, I decided to add to my blog - a kind of reciprocal thing!
Today we have three copy editors checking on accuracy. Every now and then someone comes up and asks me an extra question or for a clarification. Several students used tape recorders too, so now I can hear several versions of myself echoing around the room.
I wonder if our nonfiction teachers at Vic Uni will be interested in this process? We struggle to get access to the computers, but I'd like to try it too. It might bring out some very different kinds of writing, especially in poetry and fiction classes.
Time for coffee!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Off to the gym this morning, to work up some sweat and create some energy. Otherwise I was going to lie around and be a blob all morning. Did some grocery shopping on the way back - there are some really weird cereals around. No wonder sugar growers are not in danger of going out of business (unless of course you are in Australia and the government decides you can sink or swim against cheap overseas sugar). I settled for good old Raisin Bran. Now I need to drink more water!
Today's class at Pima was with 1st year journalism students. This class was very news-oriented so I gave a talk and answered questions, then their task was to write a short piece on me, with a lead and at least one quote. It was very interesting to see who focused on what! Everyone was different. I must ask the teacher tomorrow what he thought the outcome "should" have been. The class was in a computer lab so they all wrote straight onto the computers and printed out their stories on the spot. What I found really intriguing was that one student was designated as the copy editor for the day, and everyone had to run their pieces past him first.
At 5.30pm Meg took me to a local community radio station KXCI (91.3) to read two poems as part of the poetry moment program. My reading will be broadcast 4 times this week. I worked it out that for those in Australia, if you go the the website and click on the streaming link on the left, you can listen to the 2am reading - which will be 7pm Friday night Australian time. The wonders of the internet!
I am still working on another Tucson poem. With another idea percolating.
Tomorrow is more journalism, and a short trip out to the desert in the afternoon. I still want that 4.30pm photo of the Santa Catalinas. Maybe tomorrow?

Monday, September 26, 2005

The workshop is over and I wonder how the students are feeling - exhausted? overwhelmed? Hopefully not despondent or depressed, which sometimes happens. Although shorter things (like a weekend) tend to be more energising than attending a class for a whole year.
In a year-long thing, your feelings about your writing can change from week to week, depending on how you think it's going, how much you have written, whether someone in the class that day annoyed you! It's like any kind of long-term "project" - you have to keep at it but at times it's hard. That's why I keep saying that perserverance is the key (although sometimes I have a momentary sneaking wish to be instantly brilliant! until I think about how that would take the challenge out of it, and therefore half of the enjoyment - the other half is completion, the self-pride in having actually written).
It was interesting to see all the different things they were writing, and how they used the writing exercises I set. We ended the day with a session on publishing. I wish I had some really good examples of query letters - I think I will have to find some to use in class as it can be difficult to explain without samples to discuss.
Today I raced down to Bookman's in the lunch hour, and it took way longer to get there than I thought. I still look at the map and think, That's pretty close, it won't take long, and then it does. But I am learning. Found a book on writing personal essays (by Sheila Bender) which I bought. We have been doing some of these in Short Story 2, and it will be good to have a useful, user-friendly guide.
Called my husband last night and now he says I can have a pet snake if I really want one! Hmmm. I think he might change his mind when he sees one. And as for the cats... this could cause a mutiny.
Tomorrow is the Journalism class in the afternoon. My morning is free, a good thing as I need to wind down a little. I started a new poem today and am putting into it all the things I have seen and heard so far that have appealed to me or made me laugh. A personal poem that probably no one else will be the slightest bit interested in.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Tonight I have the table right by the front door. Reception is marginally better. Connection only drops out every five minutes instead of every two.
If I could work out how to place a photo into this blog, I would show you some photos of me with snakes. Yes, me. And a photo of a woman not too far from me who has a tarantula on her hand. No that is definitely not me!
Today at lunchtime Meg and I went to the reptile show (she is so nice - hates snakes but still came along with me and took photos). I got to handle three snakes -a black snake (I have to find out what it was exactly), a very small boa and a huge boa. The big one was a posed photo thing - they drape it around you and take a photo for $6. But Meg also took photos of me. I did like the little ones a lot. But I don't think my cats will be very impressed, and neither would Customs at Melbourne, even though I could have had a king snake (a very pretty patterned black and cream one) for about $45. Oh well.
After the introductory session last night, today was a full day of writing and lectures, 9-5. I think a lot of the students came in with a picture book and as we have done a lot of character work, their ideas have developed into something longer. Not necessarily a bad thing, considering how difficult the picture book market is right now.
I have sent them off to do homework tonight. This is a credit class, therefore they have to do extra work beyond the class to ensure the hours are met. It is hard to come up with a project and then work on developing it within a weekend, but I stress the experimenting part of it. If you don't give it a go and see where it leads, how will you know what is possible?
Too tired tonight to even contemplate the movies. If the man next door gets up at 5.30am tomorrow and starts reconstructing his room(or whatever it is he does in there that makes so much ^%#@* noise), I might have to have words with him. So instead I am doing washing (laundry) and relaxing and getting ready for tomorrow.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Having carried my laptop all over my room in order to find a place where the wireless internet connection would stay connected instead of fading on me, I am now crouched on the edge of my bed, madly typing before it dies again.
Hurricane Rita is still all in the news, more now for the terrible things happening to the people trying to get out and the fire in Galveston than the hurricane itself (which is down to Category 3). The levees in New Orleans are gone again - just awful.
A very cheery man on the weather report has just now informed me that it was 101 today, and I hardly noticed. Well, that's a bit of a lie as I was inside most of the day. Attended the poetry workshop this morning that some of the teachers at Pima have every Friday. A great idea - would love to do it at Vic Uni if it wasn't for the fact that we all work different days most of the time (it's OK, Sue and Moss, I wasn't going to make you write poems!).
Sat in on an interview Meg did with a Tucson journalist about self-publishing. I was very interested to hear that going with iUniverse and PublishAmerica is called self publishing here. The lines are blurring more now that the court cases have got rid of the worst scams (there are still plenty around - beware anyone who calls themselves a publisher but requires you to pay for everything!). It will be very interesting to read the final article in the paper.
I also spent a little bit of time at the Tucson Mall, shopping of course, but also window shopping. Always fascinating to me to see what shops sell, what's trendy and the latest fashion. Saw some beautiful earrings handmade by Indians but at $199 they were out of my price range, I'm afraid.
Tonight my writing for children workshop started. 16 students, mostly all just getting started. I think they will be a good group, and most seem to be writing picture books or have ideas for them. How to fit in all the things I want to do with them?

Friday, September 23, 2005

What do they say about mad dogs and Englishmen? Today it was mad me, covered in sunscreen but still out in the Tucson sun. Amazingly I am a little sunburnt but not too bad. If I am going out in the sun again, a hat is definitely the thing.
A student at Pima College has a father who is a retired tour guide and he offered to take me around Tucson. So this morning we went out to the Sonora Desert Museum. On the way we travelled through the Saguero National Park and saw lots and lots of cactus. Al, my guide, is very knowledgeable so not only did I get geographical and geological info, he also identified all the cacti and vegetation for me.
At the museum, quite a few of the animals were out (as the morning went on, more of them were asleep or hiding from the sun). I saw a Mexican boa, but wasn't allowed to touch it as they can get grumpy and bite. Also saw more snakes behind glass, and then a lot of geological stuff, including a bit of a meteorite.
Other animals included a wolf, beavers, otter, gophers, lizards, squirrels and a multitude of birds (hummingbirds too). All quite amazing and I think I got some good photos.
Then we went to Sabino Canyon which is north of Tucson in the Catalina foothills. We caught the trolley up the canyon but saw virtually no wildlife (probably being sensible and staying out of the sun, unlike moi). On the way back I thought we could walk the last two stages but it was further than I thought. Talk about 'are we there yet'!! Took me ages to cool down. Did see a couple of tiny lizards and an antelope squirrel. There were lots of warnings about mountain lions but not a one in sight. I liked the instructions that said if you come across one, throw rocks at it. Next instruction said 'don't bend down or take your eye off it'.
Got home in time to visit Bookman's which is a huge second hand book and CD/DVD shop. Found a couple of interesting writing books, plus some magazines that will come in very handy.
Tomorrow I will be doing washing (laundry) and then going to a poetry workshop in the morning. This means I might type up my snake poem and workshop it. Tomorrow night the first part of the children's book writing workshop starts.
My two pairs of shorts from Goodwill are very handy (the new clothes shops here all have their winter clothes in stock). More sunscreen, less sun, I say.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Have just finished reading all my emails from "home" - after giving a public lecture tonight on writing and place. At first we had technology problems (don't we always?) but eventually the laptop talked to the projector and we had action.
I didn't want to just give a lecture-type thing where I did analysis and theory stuff. It was at 7pm so I figured everyone wanted at least to stay awake! So I had lots of photos in a Powerpoint thing, and I interspersed the lecture with poems. The audience totalled about 30, I think. Quite a few people came up to talk afterwards, including a young man from Sydney who has been living in the US for 5 years. You just never know who will turn up. I wasn't sure if I had insulted him somehow? He commented on how his perspective of Australia was different. I would have like to talk to him further. I guess I was in some ways saying that New Zealand is greener and has better beaches than Australia, plus other stuff. That is something for me to ponder on now - how would that lecture be received in Australia? Maybe I should present it when I go back and then ask people to say what they thought!
Today I visited a children's writers' group in Tucson - all published writers. Their topic was self promotion - very interesting and I picked up a couple of extra good ideas. They were all really nice and welcoming. The problem for writers is always that once the initial hoo-ha over a new book is over, the marketing dept moves on to the next book. So then it really is up to the author to continue the promotion and marketing. A lot of people find this difficult, but it is the reality.
I also went shopping. Tried out Barnes & Noble, mainly for writing books but only found one new interesting one. They didn't have the one I wanted by Robert Olen Butler. I also found a new Billy Collins poetry book, and some literary magazines like Glimmer Train, which was very useful.
All the shops here have winter clothes now! For a suffering heat blob like me, this is not a good thing. So I went to the local Goodwill and picked up two more pairs of shorts. 39 degrees is not jeans weather!
Now to tackle Bookman's which is all second-hand books and CDs.
Tomorrow I am off on a tour of Tucson. Maybe this is the opportunity I have been hanging out for - to pick up and hold a snake!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Couldn't sleep last night and began thinking about how to write a poem about the snake I got to pat at the county fair. And after a little while, the words started coming and I had to get out of bed and write.
So I now have a snake poem, and what is even better, today while Meg and I were having our lunch at an outside table (in the shade) this guy came along with his boa constrictor! It had been in his car and he was exercising it - which meant putting it on the grass and giving it some fresh air, I guess - and I was able to pat it as much as I wanted. So cool. It felt really warm because it had been in the hot car. I was tempted to run inside and get my camera but that seemed a bit OTT so I just kept stroking and patting it.
This morning I found a gym where I could go as a casual member - at last I don't feel quite so couch potato-ish. Then I made it to Pima College in time for the Advanced Short Story class. I talked to them for nearly an hour and answered questions, and we talked about my short story they had read. It's really interesting to see what people ask, and then you have to try to give helpful or responsive answers. As this was a story that came out in bits and has many small elements that kind of wove themselves together, sometimes it's hard to answer properly and usefully.
Tonight is Advanced Novel, and then I will also visit the other poetry class. Already I have sat in on workshopping and learned new ways of approaching it in the class - very interesting - and bought Meg's short story text which will be a great resource. It's called "3 x 33: short fiction by 33 writers". I found a second hand copy in the bookshop, and a pocket rhyming dictionary which I can also use in class.
Tomorrow night is my talk about Writing and Place. I still haven't found the USB drive with my back-up copy of my photo presentation, but it's on my laptop. And I have made another back-up copy! Nothing like being anal.
I need to flesh out my notes now, as I have talked a bit about place in the classes so far and I don't want to repeat myself. Also I need to make sure I have the photos in the right order.
This may well be the most nerve-wracking part of my exchange project!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

94 today, so they tell me on TV. I thought it was cooler and then thought I was imagining it.
News Item 1: I have a car, a rental. Dodge. Maybe if you see me driving along, get out of my way. This right side of the road thing is a challenge. I am the person driving like a little old lady. Beware.
News Item 2: I am finding that margaritas are very cooling and a great way to end the day. Now to discover the perfect recipe.
Today was my first class day. First of all, Poetry 1. A lovely group, very quiet, and it seemed that I talked and talked, but those who know me won't be surprised, I guess. Does the phrase "Talk the wire off a fence post" mean anything? Yes, I did make that up today. I was only asked to translate once (serviette to napkin).
Then Fiction Writing 1. No poems to read to them, but we (Ok, I) talked a lot about fiction writing, plotting, novels vs. short stories, and where ideas come from. Quite a few more questions this time. Another very nice group.
I have to remember that this is only about 3 weeks into first semester, whereas back home we are up to Week 9 in Semester 2.
I'm really looking forward to having Meg visit us next year. I think it is going to be just great.
I ate Mexican again tonight. It's like the national food in Tucson, and the more avocado the better, I say.
All the new seasons of TV shows seem to be starting here, so last night I watched the new season of "West Wing" (can be bribed for a summary). Tonight it was a new series called "Surface" which seemed like a TV series of the movie "Sphere".
I have cable in my room but none of the channels match the TV guide so it's pretty much hit and miss what I find. Missed CSI last night because it wasn't on the channels I tried. Oh well, it's only TV, and I am supposed to be writing.
Hmmm, yes. Soon. Head is nearly back in the right space for new words.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Another 99 degree day. And I got sunburnt. Forgot the sunscreen, but didn't forget the water. I went for a walk about 9am, thinking it would be cooler then. Well... it was. It was only about 85 (28-30). I visited the 99cent shop to buy more water.
At 10.30 I was off to Sonoita to visit children's writer Juanita Havill who I met last year at Chatauqua. A friend of hers (also a children's writer) and his family picked me up and we drove for about 80 miles south of Tucson to where Juanita lives.
While there, I went to the County Fair and saw many entries of quilts, onions, peppers and tomatoes as well as kid's projects. With lots of prize ribbons. And I also saw a reptile exhibit - lots of rattlesnakes and other non-venomous snakes. I even got to pat a big orange and brown snake. Amazing. I thought it would be kind of hard, but it was soft and a bit squishy. The handler said it was because the snake is basically all muscle and spine.
Beautiful lunch at Juanita's house, and then a walk which is where the sunburn comes from. The trip back to Tucson seemed almost soporific.
Tomorrow is first day of classes at Pima College, which should be fun and interesting. I have met a couple of the students already. I am planning to get a rental car soon - it is just too far to get anywhere, and there are lots of things I want to see - squeezing them in between other commitments.
Writing seems limited to emails and blog so far. Maybe being in a class will stir some inspiration!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Tucson, Arizona. 39 degrees (99F). Very hot. Thank goodness for air conditioners.
Flights from Australia were amazingly on time leaving, and 35 minutes early getting into Los Angeles (a fact that the captain reminded us of four times!).
Managed to go the wrong way in the airport and had to go through security again. I had also had my bags searched at Melbourne Airport which at least got me to the front of the check-in queue.
How is it that during the flight they can show 5 movies and I have seen 4 of them? And the one I hadn't seen (Sahara) was on while I was asleep? Also I think they should make it a rule that seat-kickers and snorers be banned on all flights. I always think of a long flight as a lovely opportunity to read, eat and watch movies. I forget about how you are in very close quarters with a lot of people, some of whom are smelly and some of whom cough incessantly.
Arrived safely in Tucson, found the wonderful Meg Files and am now at what I thought were the Untown Suites. Strange way of writing their Is. It's actually Intown, and I am, as you guessed, in town.
Tucson is very spread out and it is miles to anywhere but the roads are wide and it feels very relaxed. I love the cactus (saguaro)- was told they don't start growing arms until they are 80 years old so the big multi-armed ones must be several hundred years old. Before I got here I thought 'cactus - and?' but these are amazing. The vegetation is all amazing. Lots of different cacti and some bright orange flowering bushes. Tucson is flat but surrounded by hills and mountain ranges that change colour during the day.
Today I met a friend whom I originally got to know at Fresno. She was visiting Tucson for the weekend which was a coincidence (she lives near Phoenix) so we had breakfast and spent some time catching up. She dropped me at the bookshop - Reader's Oasis - where I did my reading and book signing this afternoon. Only half a dozen people there but then the Dalai Lama is in town apparently so how could I compete?!!
The reading was good but I realised as I read out different things how many of the words would be a mystery to the listeners so I did periodic translations (gorge is a canyon, had to explain what a flying fox is, and also that chooks are actually hens or chickens!). Sold ten books which was pretty good really.
The problem was that I bought ten!! The bookshop (one of only two independents in Tucson) is going out of business - result mainly of online book buying and B&N/Borders, so they had a sale. How could I resist?
Tucson has lots of Mexican restaurants so I've had one Mexican dinner so far, including a Margarita, with the promise of more to come. The Mexican border is close but I don't know if I will go shopping there - there is too much to see and do here, and I don't have large blocks of time.
No writing done, apart from a poem on the plane, but I have wireless internet in my room which is great.
A busy time ahead. Should be great fun.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

There were many moments when I thought - must do my blog now - and then something else came up and I never got to it. I've just been away for a writers' retreat weekend with my writing group, to Mansfield in Victoria. The house we stayed in was on the edge of Lake Eildon, or should I say, what used to be the edge. We've had a fair bit of rain over the past year, probably exceeding the average, but when you see the lake, with its "normal" water line etched across the hills and the water itself way way below that, it reminds you how low our water reserves are. Lake Eildon is artificial, dammed to provide water back in the 50s (I think) and when I look at the old waterline, I wonder if it will ever get back to where it was.
Anyway, I did manage some writing while I was away, as well as vast amounts of eating. I did a final edit and polish on a short novel, and finished the first draft of a short story. The story has been sitting there for about 4-5 months. I wrote one bit, was happy with it but then couldn't see where else to go with it. It has turned out shorter than I expected, but that's not a bad thing probably. This week maybe I'll get time to look it over again and think about it.
I've also had my brother staying for 6 days, which was lovely - more eating, but also lots of walking.
And being the end of term (mid-semester) I've had lots of student assignments to mark. Mostly a pleasure as many of them were very good.
Right now, I also need to print out the poems from my new verse novel for children. I have written 32, which amazes me. They seem to come out in bunches, and I type them up and put them away again for a while, then more come. But now it's time to lay them all out and see what I have, and where I can go. The story is the thing, and how to write poems to fill the gaps yet make them meaningful in themselves. It's always the way - you do it once and it works, but it doesn't really make the next time all that easier.
On Friday I am off to Tucson, Arizona, for a 2 week teacher exchange. I will be teaching classes and a weekend workshop at Pima College, working with Meg Files. Then I go on to San Antonio to stay with a friend. She is a writer so I am looking forward to a special writing/talking time.
This blog will become what it started as - a travel diary for friends and family to read if they're interested. It may well have more readers than it's ever had! I'll have to mind my Ps and Qs.
Notes from the Writers' Festival? Well, I had good intentions... Now I just remember Carrie Tiffany and Kate Grenville, and the session where publishers and editors and agents and marketing people talked about the realities of publishing - will this sell? And how many? then no, sorry, we won't publish it.
I have since read Tiffany's book and was a little let down by it. She read some great stuff from it and it has some wonderful moments, but overall it felt a bit like it didn't really go anywhere. I attended a session with Alexander McCall Smith, who has the greatest giggle ever, and he was very entertaining but didn't talk about writing much at all.
I did feel sorry for the brand new writers (first novels) who were struggling with being on stage at the festival and expected to "perform". A hard task, to sound intelligent, entertaining, worthy and likeable, all at once!