In Celebration of B. B. W.s

It was birthday/anniversary/Christmas/Hanukkah/Tooth Fairy visit a couple of weeks ago when illustrator Or Gotham sent me the final proofs of a project he worked on for me over the summer. Sparked by a conversation with my friend and fellow storyteller David Novak, who sometimes teaches Story through Origami (I mostly teach simple origami figures with a story… and I have chosen my upper and lower cases intentionally in this sentence), I came up with an origami/writing lesson about The Indispensability of Conflict.

It’s a lesson I took a long time to embrace — even when I was in a graduate program for creative writing. I did not like conflict. I wanted to create Idylls. Soft focus. Pastels. I wanted everybody to get along. I wanted to like everybody I wrote about. I wanted you, gentle reader, to like them, too. Three novels in three years, and (small wonder) all but one came back with Xeroxed rejection slips. The one that came back with real editorial comments from a real Publisher’s Row editor was the one novel that finally had some conflict. It never got justified right margins, either. Which is just as well.

Anyway, thanks to ideas sparked by David Novak and graphic talent executed by Or Gotham, I now have a new brochure that probably doesn’t work so well as a brochure, but it sure is a lot of fun to teach and demonstrate. See gallery below:

So FINALLY we come to the satisfying conclusion where Granny, Red, and the woodcutter sit down to enjoy afternoon tea and launch into Happily Ever After.

Finally, we come to the satisfying conclusion where Granny, Red, and the woodcutter sit down to enjoy afternoon tea and launch into Happily Ever After.

So even though he is the bad guy, without him, we wouldn’t have a Story. We’d have a Report, and a lousy one at that. Which is why this whole little confection is dedicated to:

The B. B. W.

The B. B. W.

I’m excited to test drive this lesson next week at Chestnutwold School’s Writers’ Day in Ardmore, and then whenever I have the opportunity to trot it out while I’m in China. I’ll have some of these squares with me in Jonesborough this weekend, so if you’re there and feel like indulging me, and if it’s between my emceeing obligations (mornings) and ghost storytelling (evenings), I would LOVE to teach it to you.

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If you wait til conditions are favorable, you’ll wait forever.

Long time no blog.

I’ve been waiting until I had something to report.'s not getting any worse.

Well…it’s not getting any worse.

In the middle of gearing up for a busier summer than I’ve ever had… in the middle of wrapping my head around creating new promo, a new CD, new workshop material for my upcoming trip to China, new stories for new venues, in the middle of soliciting anecdotes from fellow storytellers about their Gigs from Hell… in the middle of creating a whole new genre of storytelling with my friend Kuniko (Origami Storytelling Kamishibai Theater)…

A very old, very tall, very fat, very heavy oak tree fell on our house and split it in two. Good news! Nobody home. Nobody hurt. I was giddy for two weeks pondering that gift. I had just left for a gig, and at the last minute Kuniko asked if she could come with me — otherwise, she would probably still have been at the dining room table, epicenter of where the ceiling and roof ended up. Jack was about ten minutes away, having picked up some friends at the train station downtown. Disasters happen so fast. It was all said and done within that 20 minute window. Jack brought our new guests home to two days of hard labor. They’re metal workers. Their house and studio in New South Wales burned to the ground a couple of years ago. I can’t think of anybody I’d rather wade into rubble with than a couple of Australian artists who knew exactly what we were going through (actually, they went through much, much worse) and who were clear evidence that everything would eventually get sorted out and be okay.

I posted some dramatic (but not hyperbolic) photos on Facebook, packed to get myself ready to drive to North Carolina for a week of working with a bunch of storytellers, and then to Virginia for two weeks of working with middle schoolers, and finally back home, where, even though my brain knew the house was still splintered, there was this membrane I had to pierce, a reflexive “oh shit what happened here?” to swallow, a deep breath, and a pulling up of the big girl panties as I wrapped my head — yet again — around the notion that this splintered house was home and home would be splintered for awhile, after which it would be loud and dusty and, the front half at least, unlivable for several months, after which it would be (please) as good as or better than ever. (A prize to any reader who wants to diagram that sentence and send me their results… A bonus prize if diagrammed it correctly!)

Three months later and we still haven’t heard the first power tool or sneezed out the first drywall dust. Jack has, with a system of tarps and plastic sluiceways that Rube Goldberg would have been proud to call his own, diverted rain so that it no longer floods the dining room and kitchen. Just a little water collects on the tile floor of the living room, where it evaporates before causing further damage. Our garage is full of furniture and all the art that made it — sweetly, most of the art made it out in repairable condition. We are making progress. There’s an architect involved now. Contractors are coming out to see what the job entails and then going back to the office to figure out how much they want to fix it.

We are making progress, dammit! It’s just nothing you can see.

I keep thinking I need to blog, but I don’t have any news to report on the Big Event that hovers over most of my waking and all my sleeping moments. I keep thinking, work’s going to get started pretty soon. I can post photos of the progress.

I keep waiting until I have progress to show.

I keep not writing.

I love it when people respond to my blog, but you know what, that’s not what’s important about doing this. The important thing is to be writing and to not be too precious about content or style. This is my sketch book, and I don’t flatter myself that anyone in the world really reads that closely if they read at all. I just need to show up to this white screen, the one place in the world where I do have some power over imposing order on the chaos of a blank page.

All right, Muse. I’ll try to do better. Honest.

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