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Susan Ito trying to do it all: reading writing mothering spousing daughtering working living

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Freedom of Freewriting

I love my freewriting group. I've been meeting with them for a couple of years now, and unlike the majority of writing groups, we don't bring polished pages to hand around and discuss. We come with laptops poised to create new documents, or we bring notebooks or legal pads with blank pages. After a short time of catching up with each other, one of us will throw out a couple of suggestive prompts: "Become the other," and "Create a conflict," were the ones from last night. Then we look at the clock. We calculate an hour and the we begin.

An hour later, somebody calls out softly, "It's time." We put down our pens and hit "save" on the laptops. And one of us will begin to read.

I am always astounded, always, at what happens in that span of time when we are all quietly tapping away or scribbling. Last night I scribbled longhand again for the first time in about a year. I found myself writing with much less hesitation, the pen flying across the paper, and it did feel free. I went places I never expected; and startling revelations happened. I found a new character that I never knew was hiding behind another one.

I was moved and awed listening to the others in the group. A fantastic, surprising story that took place in an elevator. A haunting, dreamlike scene set in a dark night in Brazil. A synopsis of a sci-fi novel with a fantastic bio-computer-brain partly made of electric fish. A rich, evocative scene from a memoir set in China; two men holding hands as they visit an antique market. When everyone was finished I sat back in amazement. We did all this an an HOUR? But it happens like that more often than not; when the clock is ticking down, and everyone is writing together, the words just end up singing.

Sometimes, it's the one hour in two weeks that I actually get any writing done. Now, the trick is making it happen when I don't have that group energy. When errands and daily tasks are calling out to me, I have to force myself to imagine that I am
always part of a writing group - a worldwide group of invisible writers, all writing at the same time, all trying to do the impossible, all just sitting down and doing it.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Debi Echlin Celebration

Just received the following from Debi's co-workers at a Great Good Place for Books:

Let's Celebrate Debi on Sunday, December 11th at 2:00 pm!

Throughout her life Debi was many things--a fabulous friend, a loving little sister, a fantastic bookseller, and a brilliant business woman--but anyone who knew her well , knew Debi LOVED to have fun!
Whether she was falling off a cliff in Costa Rica, scuba diving in Florida, sellingher favorite book to a cherished customer or conducting a high powered business meeting, Debi adored being in the spotlight.

GGP, her friends, and the Montclair Village Association invite you to come celebrate the life of Debi Echlin on Sunday, December 11th!

Kathi Kamen Goldmark and friends will be performing, the MVA will be closing LaSalle Avenue at 2:00 pm, and then let's do Debi proud!
We want to thank you for all of your support this past week. Debi was one-of-a-kind and we miss her terribly.

Celebrate Debi Echlin
Sunday December 11th
2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

A Great Good Place for Books
6120 La Salle Ave.
Montclair Village, Oakland

Call GGP at (510) 339-8210 for more information or email us at book@ggpbooks.com

If you can't make it to the celebration, you can contribute to the following charities in Debi's memory:
Books by the Bay
P.O. Box 29169
San Francisco, CA 94129


Oakland Public Library--Second Start
1801 Adeline Street, 2nd Floor
Oakland, CA 94607

Attention: Joyce Mende Wong

If you would like to help with food, beverages or a donation to help defray the costs of the party please contact Elene Lee at elenelee2003@hotmail.com.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Nerds Having Fun

When I was at Blue Mountain, we nerdy writers would spend our evening hours playing games like Scrabble and Dictionary. I was in HEAVEN. I love those word games. Today at my Rice Papers gathering (Asian American women writers) we pulled out a game of Balderdash (a version of Dictionary) and just laughed our faces off. It was really too fun for words.

I'm now toying with the idea of holding a monthly (?) Game Night for Nerds. Scrabble, Dictionary, Boggle, and other wordy diversions.

Quick? What do you think the word SWOW means?

Post your guesses. Best one gets a prize from me. Real answer comes in a day or two.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Remembering Debi

Last night I went into A Great Good Place for Books, Debi's bookstore. There is a beautiful photo of her in the window display, along with a tall red lit candle and flowers. As I stood there talking with Kathleen, who will now be running the store, three people walked in after reading the sign posted on the front window. All in shock. It's still completely incomprehensible.

Tonight (in the pouring rain) the store is hosting a number of great authors for a booksigning and neighborhood holiday party, and Kathleen said it will also serve as an impromptu memorial and celebration of Debi. Her family is coming in this weekend for a private service.

They are asking that people make donations in Debi's name to Bookies by the Bay, a literacy support campaign that Debi started. Last year she hosted a dinner and reading and raised a ton of money for literacy campaigns in local libraries. If anyone out there would like to contribute, please send donations to: Books by the Bay; PO Box 29169, San Francisco, CA 94129. With a memo of "Debi Echlin Memorial." It will make a difference in peoples' lives, as Debi truly did.