Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Prodical Student Returneth

The Senior Frampton

As if our lives were not busy enough.
As if our days were not short enough.
As if we SAID we were going to slow things down.

What do I go and do?

I apply to the University of Illinois as a full time student.

And what do those misguided folks do? They accept me. Really. What have I done? I start as a Junior this August in the Creative Writing Program. I plan to continue straight though and obtain my Masters in the very same field.

Why not? I'm going to get old and die anyway, I might as well finally learn the correct use of colons and semi-colons.  If I really want to write and be published then I best learn the techniques. Besides, spending the day in a library trying to sort out the poetry of Yeats is a day well spent in my mind. (well it would be better spent at Galway University but I'm still wading through the Study Abroad requirements.)

The desire for this end result has been a very long time coming but ALWAYS in the back of my head, since 1976 when after a disastrous first semester at the same University I was non-ceremoniously expelled for a grade point average lower than the ground I was passed out on back in those days.

Seemed I love attending all those Peter Frampton parties a wee bit more than I actually attended class. Do you do?  Well I did. To say my mother was pissed, sorry there is no better term, when she made that 3 hr RT drive to collect my sorry (not enough) butt, is a gross understatement.

She brought me back into their home and said "You got two weeks Madame Butterfly, to get a job and find a lace to live." She had four other children who needed her and as far as she was concerned I had already flown the too crowded nest. I was 17, part of the problem. I graduated HS after three years and had no more enough maturity for campus life than a new born calf is ready to produce milk.

Two weeks later I was living in a rented trailer and working as a nurse side, which lead me to South Dakota and nursing school and marriage and kids, a divorce, a wonderful remarriage,  36 years in health care and a farmer and BAM! here I am at almost 55 and ready for a big change.

So , you might ponder, how does this fit in with our Poor Farm plans? Very well I hope. At first, until this farm is sold and new house is built it will indeed be insanely busy. But the University is only an hour away and classes can be scheduled for three times a week.  Since I plan to actually ATTEND classes this time it's likely I'll get better grades than oh say 38 years ago.

That will allow me, outside of study and travel time, and I'm a big believer in listening to classes on CD while driving, 4 full days to work with my Keith on our new place, and continue to write free-lance articles as I do now for additional income.

I still believe the only reason they have accepted me this time is that my records were so old they had returned to dust, unable to place blame where it was due. In fact my old immunization records are so ancient (1959) I have to have new measles, mumps and rubella shots, a health requirement of the school.

I just hope I get a nice bottle of something warm and soothing to drink right after, like any good baby would.

Of course being the most brilliant blog followers in the world you might wonder "How is she going to pay for this little venture.?"

I'm not. My parents are.

You see, due to a  limited scholarship which grants full tuition waivers to U of I for the children of war veterans whose parents served either in WW2, Korean Conflict, Vietnam , Southwest Asia Conflict, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. I have been blessed with four years of paid tuition. I received notice of this award just two days ago. Here is the link in the event you are interested:

Even though my parents, both veterans of the Korean Conflict, who have been dead many years, who were never able to attend college themselves, never made more than $16,000 a year.

I believe my mother is up in Heaven right now hysterically laughing at the irony of this more than anyone.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

How I Write

There is this great regular feature in The Writer  magazine called "How I Write" where they focus on a well known author and his/her writing habits.

They will ask about their writing routine, how they do research, what PC writing programs do they use, who they rely on for sounding boards etc...and although I always read this entire feature every month, I am always left wanting MORE.

I want to know the really important stuff like, do they brush their teeth, feed the cat, start the dishwasher before they start to write? Do they bother to get dressed or do they write in old underwear and their husbands flannel shirt? Do they take breaks every 15 minutes to check EBAY for any new swimsuits available in size fat for this years summer vacation?

Do they sit at a perfectly organized solid oak desk complete with a stunning reproduction bankers light , Lucite files, and brand new laptop or do they create on something that looks like this?

Yes, that is my writing desk. It is crammed into a corner of our guest bedroom upstairs where our granddaughters sleep when they visit. The typewriter on the left is just for show. I have never, not once, taken a typing class in my life. The desk was made for my husband by an uncle of his over 40 years ago. I painted it green over 20 years ago when I put it in this room (then belonging to our son who is now 25 and long gone from the room)
I hate that shade of green.
The memos taped on the shelf above contain a few inspiring quotes from other but mostly remind me to do laundry and buy more of those cool blue writing tablets. Yes, that is a picture of my mother towards the back of my desk, and those are wooden fruit crates on the left propping up more books. One day I'll get a real bookshelf.
So lets go on as if I am the well known author being interviewed by The Writer.
So Ms. O'Shaughnessy what is your writing routine?
"I'm very structured. I write every day between 8-10 am unless there is farm paperwork to be done, then I write every afternoon between 12-3 unless we have piglets to castrate then I write every evening from 10-1am unless I have fallen asleep with my head resting on the keyboard and drool dripping into the letter B. Then I write during the night when I get up to go to the bathroom. I always keep a copy of my manuscript next to the toilet, except when I forget"
What is your revision process?
" I always write an entire chapter before I revise. I think it is imperative to get the entire scene nailed down before you start playing with muse interrupters like grammar and spelling."
I see. How long are your chapters ?
1-2 pages.
Who is your biggest influence?
"That's easy. Mother Teresa, and Joan of Arc. Only real martyrs understand what writers go through.
What are you working on currently?
"Well I started to clean the frig yesterday but when I found the 1/2 onion I put in there last week wasn't all that mushy I thought I might as well dice it up for an omelet since I've been eating way too many carbs lately and my hind end is really showing it..."
I meant WRITING, what writing project are you working on?
"Oh that. Well I am still editing  and revising my first novel, even though I have sent it out to a few agents it could be so much better and I figure the longer I keep playing with it the longer I can put off starting my second novel which is about 4 sisters traveling in Ireland and will most likely tick off my siblings even though its FICTION I will tell them. "
So there it is. My future interview with The Writer magazine. And you didn't even have to pay the subscription price.
"You get what you pay for."
Hey! Who said that?