Thursday, March 27, 2008

Making a Literary Life

I have to thank the universe for Carolyn See. Aside from being a terrific writer, she's a wonderful person, one of the most generous of all writers.

She's been on my show a few times, and last night she spent an hour on the phone with my class of 12, and me.

If you haven't already, read her chapter on magic in Making a Literary Life. The concepts she talks about have been around for a while, and most recently made popular by The Secret.

Her chapter, though, is for writers (and other dreamers). Read it. Read the entire book, actually, more than once. There is so much wisdom and love and fun in this book.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Our 14th anniversary! Here's a writing exercise for you: What are we doing in the hard-to-see photo?

Travis' window

JoJo wants to come in.

I'm you become impatient when the bloggers you visit post infrequently? Take me, for example. I'm so sporadic, I admit. Does it bug you? Or do you have a ton of blogs you visit and so it doesn't matter?

I visit blogs--not often, but I do. Some I wish would post more, others it doesn't matter.

If you would like me to post more often, send some topics this way that you'd like to read about, and I'll do my best.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Snow, and St. Patrick's Day

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

I just went to Writers Almanac and not only read a lovely poem about one of my favorite things--snow--but also the history of St. Patrick's Day.

Are you wearing green? I am. I also spiked my son's milk this morning with green food coloring--about the only time all year I use food coloring in food. How do you celebrate the day?

Also learned that on this day, in something like 1901, Vincent Van Gogh had his first major show--and he was 11 years dead. Yes, I know. Fame after death is a depressing thought, but hey, it's better than nothing, right?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

So much for rituals

Just when you think you're in a routine, your routine is blown to bits.

I exaggerate. But only a little.

My goldfish and the tank they live in have been looking sad. So this morning, I decide I'm going to do a quick clean, then write. (I've been putting it off for days.)

I clean the filter and put it all back together but now the filter doesn't work. I end up taking the filter apart and finally, many minutes and attempts to fix it later, get it to work. I go to refill the tank and water sprays everywhere. Now, an hour and a half have gone by, the tank is clean, refilled, and the fish are happy. And the water has been mopped up off the floor.

I think I'll go shower and try to salvage the morning. The day sits before me, splayed out, ready and waiting.

(But I should call Toyota, too, something else I keep putting off.....)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Memoirs are booming

Interesting story in USA Today on the memoir genre.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Monday morning. Weekend's over. Time to get serious again. Time to write.

My ritual is (after I get my son to school, walk with Kim, and clean up for my cleaning expert Cornelia who comes every so often) I shower, dress, and stop somewhere for a latte. Regrettably, that "somewhere" is most often than not Starbucks. I've tried all the lattes in my neighborhood and they make the best.

"A grande nonfat latte, extra foam."
When the barista calls my name, she says, Babbit. The one who took my order heard the mispronunciation and says, "Have a good day, Miss," and I think he's also shooting me a look that says, "Sorry...."

If the variant form of "Barbara" were actually my name, I would be more delicate, sweeter, maybe even French!

Barbara has 53 variant forms: Bab, Baba, Babara, Babb, Babbett, Babbette, Babbie, Babe, Babett, Babette, Babita, Babs, Baibin, Barabara, Barb, Barbar, Barbarella, Barbarit, Barbarita, Barbeeleen, Barbel, Barbera, Barbette, Barbey, Barbi, Barbie, Barbora, Barbra, Barbro, Barby, Barra, Basha, Basia, Baubie, Bauby, Beba, Bebe, Berbera, Berberia, Berberya, Berbya, Bibi, Bobbe, Bobbee, Bobbi, Bobbie, Bobby, Bonni, Bonnie, Bonny, Borbala, Varvara and Varina.

Hmm... Barbeeleen. I'd have to live in the South to use that one.

Anyway, so then I drive to the library and find a table upstairs, where mostly what I hear is the ventilation system. As quiet as a church.

I turn on the computer. While it's booting up, I look to my right and see that today I'm sitting beside the fiction stacks. Fiction: DO-ER. Farther to the right: DA-DO. I go to see where my novel will sit. A little above my head, between DelVecchio and Kathleen DeMarco (no relation, not that I know of), above DeLillo.

Now I'm back to it. Done with this blog (thanks for bugging me, Jordan--I think). Time to write.

What were your pre-writing rituals today?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Working in the car

Does anyone else work in their car? More and more it seems I am. When Mary Rakow (The Memory Room) came on the show, she said she often wrote in her car and I thought, Hmmm. I wasn't sure what to think of it. Now I find myself doing just that. It's pod-like. Fewer distractions than the library. I still work at the library, at home, and elsewhere, but now the car is one more place that works for me.

Today, after I dropped Trav at school, I went to Tully's for a grande nonfat latte, extra foam ("How much extra foam? A lot or just a little?" said the naughty sounding barristo who made me feel San Francisco was right here in Newport Beach ... yay!) and then drove to UCI, parked in a radio station space, and worked up until it was time to go in and do the show.

Dennis McDougal (Five Easy Decades), on the show, said, Carry a pen and paper wherever you go. Always.

Because you forget. You think you'll remember that snippet of conversation but you never do. Not as you heard it.

As I sat working on "A Peeping Tom Comes to Call," two young women got in their car beside me. As they did they said something with a particular inflection, and I meant to memorize it exactly the way they said it, but I was caught up in my essay and I didn't write it down.

But that was before Dennis came on and reminded me of what I thought I knew.

The show will be podcast in the next week or so. If you have current technology, it'll be easy for you to listen.

So...does anyone else work in their car?