Tuesday, March 31, 2009



I’m a sucker for NaNoWriMo. It’s how I brought Folly into the world. If I had it in me (and knew my husband wouldn’t divorce me), I’d do NaNoWriMo every month. So when I heard that Writer’s Digest was doing their April Poem a Day (PAD) marathon again, I felt the creative fires start to stir. I love a trumpet call to recklessly create. Just thinking of it made the words flow juicy in my mouth.

Then I remembered: I’m no poet.

Creative chick that I am, it occurred to me that I do write in a form that bears some resemblance to poetry. Yes, you know what I mean. The mighty Six.

Sixes are these amazing little micro stories, dense with image and metaphor and emotion. They’re the brain child of writing pioneer, Robert McEvily. Rob is a creative thinker and a true friend to struggling writers. You have something to say? Rob wants to hear it.

But in my opinion, the Six form itself is Rob’s greatest contribution. The form of the Six is so tight, the content can't help but burst free. The story lives outside and between the sentences. Sixes knit themselves together in the reader’s mind. The more understated, the better, just like haiku. To write a good Six, you need to invoke feelings and pictures. If you write a great one, it will read like a poem.

So, my challenge for April: to visit Robert Brewer’s PAD blog and use his prompt to write a Six every day. Out of the thirty, there’s bound to be some winners. I’ll post those worthy of public consumption here for you to enjoy/mock/tear to shreds.

One last bit of business: all journeys are more fun when shared. If you want to MySixWriMo with me, give a holler. I'd love to have the company.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Star Is Born!

Yep, we're already planning the next play :)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Show MUST Go On!


It all began with a rainy Monday and The Kiddo’s bright idea to put on a play.

It went from there into full-fledged crazy.

First, I was up against some serious obstacles. My star is only three years old. She doesn’t read yet, which makes it tough to run lines. My other problem? The little diva wanted a role for her stuffed Stegosaurus, Dino.

I love a writing challenge. It wasn’t long before I had the problems solved. Insert myself as narrator, who could spoonfeed The Kiddo her lines. And as for Dino—I had her voice down pat. Creative juices were flowing. This was going to be fun.

I curled up in my favorite chair with my pen and a notebook. Fifteen minutes later: I had a working draft of “The Princess and the Dinosaur.”

Now here’s the thing about me: when things go well, I don’t know when to put on the brakes. Next thing I know, I’m on the phone, inviting Wonny and Papa (grandparents) to our fabulous play on Friday.

And of course my mom informed me she wanted refreshments. Shit.

Monday afternoon, we jumped into rehearsals with gusto. I read my lines with all the flourish I could muster. The Kiddo’s face collapsed and she bawled red-faced through both rehearsals. I thought, Crap! This is SO not good!

During her nap, I designed and printed programs and tickets, praying it would all work out. Good news: the programs looked better than the ones from our local professional children’s theatre. The bad news: the star still hated the play. Damn.

Tuesday morning, The Kiddo told me she didn’t want to do the yucky play. She informed me she thought the Black Moment was too black. The writer in me couldn’t give up. When things aren’t working, it’s clearly time to revise.

Tuesday afternoon, she approved the revisions and declared the new Black Moment to be just kinda gray. We drove off to the Salvation Army store to find sheets to paint for our backdrop. We enjoyed a frutiful creative meeting over lunch at the Greek restaurant.

Wednesday, rehearsals continued and we painted the backdrops. We got green paint on the floors and walls. I thought it might be fun to do dinner theatre, so I called Wonny and Papa and asked if they wanted potato pancakes or fries with their take-out church fish fry. I took orders and had a few laughs with Mom over how the play was going.

Wonny told me she wanted snacks during the play, too.

“What???” I told her, staring into the phone. “This thing’s only three freaking minutes long! How many snacks you think you’ll have time to eat?”

Wonny wanted snacks. Ok, The Princess and the Dinosaur? I put dinosaur fruit snacks on my grocery list. Before bed, The Kiddo told me she wanted to add a dance number after the curtain call. To Brown Eyed Girl, by Van Morrison.

Sure, whatever.

Thursday, The Kiddo didn’t want to rehearse. She wanted to play with her fairy princess set. I told her Dino was unsure of her lines and needed another rehearsal.

We held a dress rehearsal, during which the cats wreaked havoc. Baxter played with the string I’d rigged to give Dino a more artful entrance. Simon tossed around the plastic baguette we used as a prop.

“BAXTER YOU GET OUT OF HERE!!!!” The Kiddo screamed.

“Just ignore them,” I told her. “They’ll probably be in the middle of things tomorrow anyway.”

Baxter gave me a dirty look. But we all knew it was true.

After lunch, I drove to Karl’s Market to buy The Kiddo’s favorite ranger cookies for after-play refreshments and macerated a pint of frozen raspberries from last year’s garden for sundaes.

Now, the big day looms before us. Props are tucked away where cats can’t get at them. The castle and forest backdrops are waiting to be hung from the entertainment center with masking tape. The costumes hang in the closet, ready. We know our lines and if we forget, who cares? I’m hoping for the best, but things have gotten kind of crazy. (okay, totally)

But no matter what, no matter if the backdrops fall and the damned cats tear everything to shreds, I have to say it’s been an awesome project. We overcame challenges. We had fun. We created. And we did it together and that’s all that really matters.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sisterhood of the Pen


WB Linda Wastila tapped me, and a great honor it is. She's a talented writer who makes it seem effortless, but I know she works her butt off to make it happen. Her insightful reading keeps me on my toes.

In the spirit of sisterhood, I pass the tap on. For friendship, encouragement, great advice, and commiseration, I'm lucky to count these fine writers as friends:

Linda B
Jane B

Most of you don’t blog, but you deserve the kudos anyway. You’re great friends, generous with your knowledge and companionship. It's a joy to share my journey with you.

Friday, March 20, 2009



I’m going to share a secret about myself. I’m a little shy around people I don’t know. So the idea of getting out there and marketing my work face-to-face scares the crap out of me. I imagine myself at an empty book signing, fidgeting and running off to pee every ten minutes. Even worse, making chit chat at a conference! I’m not a networker. Schmoozing isn’t my thing. I’m more likely to put my foot in it than be brilliant.

Funny thing is, I haven’t always been so painfully shy. Back in the day, working in retail and hairdressing, I had no problems talking to people I didn’t know, sometimes for a couple of hours at a crack. But there was a difference. In those situations, I was performing some function, so I didn’t feel so self-conscious. I had a job to do. Chitchat was part of it.

Recently, I’ve been contemplating my membership in WRWA. (Wisconsin Regional Writers Association) I joined a few months ago for the express purpose of networking with other Wisconsin writers. I haven’t done much with my membership yet. I joined the online forum, but it’s new and is visited only sporadically. I eavesdrop on the daily conversation threads. I considered going to the spring conference, but it’s an unrealistic 7 hour drive from home. So I set my sights on the fall conference instead.

Fall. How many months away is that? And coincidentally, fall is when my annual membership expires. Needless to say, I’m not making the most of my membership.

Yesterday, the WRWA president sent out an email, asking for someone to serve as fall conference registrar. Right away, it seemed like a good idea. But--another little secret--I sometimes bite off more than I can chew, so I thought about it overnight and talked it over with my husband. After reflection, registrar didn’t seem like the right fit for a writer with a little kid and two writing groups to keep up with. It’s unrealistic to expect I can serve such an important role when I’ve never been to even one WRWA conference.

But, as I saw the email in my inbox, I couldn’t let it slide. I emailed Robin back before I could chicken out. I told him I wasn’t able to serve as registrar, but I’d like to help in some other way. He seemed pleased at my offer of help. He forwarded my message to other officers, who are currently figuring out where I might fit.

So I wait to hear what opportunities lay ahead. And I worry about feeling shy and awkward. But I’m a together chick with a lot of heart and an unwavering love of writing. I don’t know what’s ahead, but I’m excited to find out. I’m sure I’ll be glad I sent that email.

Friday, March 13, 2009

All Around Us


Good news: the Best of Boston Literary Market Chapbook came out yesterday and my drabble, “Twenty Years Later” is in there. Also included is the work of writing friend, Linda Simoni-Wastila. I’ve seen the proofs, but not the finished product. I submitted my order immediately. I can’t wait to see how it feels in my hands.

Linda and I exchanged excited emails. A comment she made got me thinking. She said something to the effect that the further she gets into it, the smaller and more intimate the writing world feels. And she’s right. Two years ago, the writing world seemed like a massive fortress I just couldn’t breach. I had no contacts. I had no publishing credits. Two years ago, I was an outsider. I didn’t like that, so I committed to changing my circumstance. Today, I’m far from the inner circle, but I’m blessed to find myself in the company of friends.

In many ways, the writing world is with us everywhere we go. An example: the other night, I went to my bimonthly Stitch and Bitch group. I’m the only writer in the group. That night, I had knitting on my mind. But friend Debbie shared a story that got my writerly wheels turning. She was recounting a story about an acquaintance of ours, a man whose mental health we often debated. And I reacted to it with a glowing rainbow of emotions. Horror, pity, fear, disgust. Most interesting: at the heart of the story was love. What writer could leave such treasure untouched? I started drafting first thing the next morning.

My point, and there is one: the writing world surrounds us in many ways. But only when we commit to immersion. Connecting with other writers, seeking the seeds of stories, carving out time to create. It’s not easy. There are sacrifices. Sometimes big ones. But the experience of immersion is worth it.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Monologue in Cyberspace


I Googled myself today. I know, it’s kinda weird, but I find it interesting to see how cyberspace reports me. I found out I’m a writer and chick with a lot of published recipes. Already knew that. But today, I discovered something new. I’m also a reviewed writer. I was so tickled, I had to share.

Here’s what Molly Tolsky had to say about “In Limbo” in her report on Word Riot magazine:

"In Limbo by Greta Igl is a plainspoken, realistic story in a domestic setting. Nora has been a waitress at Jimmy's Corner CafĂ© for 17 years. One day, she waits on a nicely dressed couple, and though they are being perfectly friendly to her, she can't help but get frustrated with these kinds of people—the kind that are much [better] off than her. When the couple notices the for-sale sign in front of the diner, the woman asks Nora where she'll go once the place is gone. While she doesn't say it, Nora knows she'll probably go to a place that's just like this one and keep doing the same thing over and over again.

The pace of this story is very slow and steady, which immediately wraps you up into the atmosphere of this “piece of crap diner,” where people move slowly and nothing ever happens. The only problem is that nothing ever happens in the story, either, so as a reader, I was less than engaged. There are some nice gestures here and there, such as,“Nora picks a fleck of dried egg yolk from one of the chrome jelly stackers,” but for the most part, all we get is Nora's internal monologue about her frustrations with going nowhere in life. This created too much internal, not enough external."

Cool, hey? Now, I have no idea who Molly Tolsky is. My guess is she’s a writer like me, struggling to get her footing. But isn’t it interesting to think that, during the time she read “In Limbo” and wrote her school report on it, our lives were somehow intersecting. I put an idea out there; she built on it to create her own interpretation. That fact intrigues me so much that I’m not even bugged that she was “less than engaged” by my story.

I like that. Less than engaged. Molly doesn’t know it, but I’ve had fun unpacking that enigmatic statement. Did she mean bored shitless? Or perhaps mildly entertained? She wrote about my story; I’m returning the favor and writing about her report. Perhaps one day she'll Google herself and trip across this post. Then she can write about me writing about her writing about me. Freaky.

It just goes to show: all this writing we do is merely a monologue into cyberspace. We write and never know who might be reading. Our words can take on their own life. Perhaps they'll germinate, root, and bloom into something else. I'm humbled by the beautiful divinity in never knowing where my words might land.