Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Garden of Idiom

We visited Yuexiu park.

I like this sign.
(Luckily it is also in English.)
The name gives me lots of fun writing ideas. It would be fun to create a fable garden of idiom in a story. What an interesting setting.

I love the settings in stories. Changing the setting changes a story just as much as changing a character will change the story.

This wall is from the Ming Dynasty. (Around 1400)

The ancient tree roots have become one with the wall.

Yuexiu park is huge. It is also very, very crowded. It is hard to explain how crowded the park is. It is hard for me to fathom (even though I was there) how such a huge park (similar in size to Central Park in NYC) can have so many people in it. It was a challenge to take pictures without people in them; the photo of the wall does have a few people.

We became the site to see. People kept counting our kids and whispering to each other, snapping photos of us with their cell phones, and a few people asked (in Chinese and English) if they could have their photos taken with us.

We are fairly noticeable. We were the only foreigners in the park. Plus, we had kids with us! I'll never get used to being stared and pointed at.

We ate ramen noodles for lunch. We couldn't resist when we saw the ramen noodle stand.

The Chinese parks are beautiful with their walking paths (paved with decorative stones) and lakes and flowers and traditional architecture.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

MFA update

I'm almost finished with everything for my third packet, which is due Friday. It is hard to believe I'm halfway through my first semester at Vermont College of Fine Arts!

I'm thrilled to be working with Margaret Bechard. She's an award winning author, and is also a great teacher. I've loved both her books, Hanging on to Max (contemporary) and Spacer and Rat (sci fi), that I've read. Her feedback to me is incredibly insightful, detailed, and useful in improving my writing immediately. It is also applicable to all my future writing. I'm lucky I got her as my advisor.

So far this semester I've written a lot and learned even more:
-Six critical essays.
-One picture book.
-Two short stories--one decent, the other in need of CPR.
-34,000 words of a first draft of River, a contemporary YA adventure novel. After I finish this draft I'll need to step back and make some hard POV (point of view) decisions, choose the best way to tell this story.
-I've read 3 craft books and stacks of other books.
-Plus, I better understand many craft issues, especially ones related to characters and their development, POV, and showing emotion.

My break is over. Time for me to get back to work. I still have some revising to do on the essays and need to write more of my letter to Margaret, where I discuss my writing this past month.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Danger Working

Danger Working

"Danger working, keep away trom the wall"
This sign is across the alley from the front entrance of my youngest child's school. I'm not sure what the Chinese characters say on the sign.

My imagination went to work.

Is Danger a character?
Or is Danger something else?
Is there a story in this sign?

I want to include Danger in a story I write. The ideas are swirling.

Signs like this (or notes from school) are not a rare occurrence. In every country I've lived there are mistranslations. Translating is hard and a native should always read to insure accuracy. I've read papers (in English) for very educated people who realized they need a native speaker to check their grammar and word usage.