Natali Petricic

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CUTTING AND CRINGING AND CUTTING

I have been cutting a lot from the stories in my collection. I feel the need to trim the stories to make them tighter. In my mid-project review notes, advisor Rob Roberge encouraged me to cut 10-12 pages from a forty-page story. He said, “Trying to cut 20-25% is a great exercise in editing.” I’ve been experimenting with this challenge. The result is that the writing is getting tighter. However, the original parts aren’t a waste.

THE BIG PICTURE

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Since the moment I heard this Chinese proverb, I have loved it. Over the years I’ve recalled this saying when feeling overwhelmed by a large task.

Space And Time

We haven’t had workshop since mid-March. This time is to be spent finishing and rewriting our manuscripts. At our last meeting, I was given notes on how to make a story better. Over the past couple of weeks I had completed most of my rewrites. However, a couple of small but important matters were still bothering me about the story. They’re the type of rewrites that require deep thought: a character’s reaction to conflict, a story title.

Trust

Sunday I got to the PEN offices over an hour ahead of time. Anticipating traffic and road closures due to the marathon, I thought I would need more time. I grabbed my notebook and walked down to the Coffee Bean. The extra chunk of time allowed me to sit with a story.

Early Morning Writing

Driving to work each day, I pass by the Alcove in Los Feliz. The Alcove is a charming indoor/outdoor restaurant/café. A few months ago I learned they opened at 6:00 AM. Ever since, I’ve wanted to get up an hour early so I can go there before work. Every time I plan to do this, however, something gets in my way. Mainly I get in my own way. I am not a morning person.

Writers Helping Writers

This is not a new notion. Writers have been offering advice to other writers forever. Books such as Letters to a Young Poet by Rilke document this phenomenon.

Remembrance

It’s easy to get wrapped up in life. But then death happens within your circle of family and friends and the every-day-living routine is broken. Death calls for a pause.

Everything I Need to Know I (Re)Learned in Kindergarten

Last week I went to my son’s midyear parent-teacher conference. I was prepared to take notes and discuss his work. What I didn’t anticipate was a mini-writing workshop–– a refreshing twist to the usual discussion. To teach writing to the children, my son’s school utilizes a method Lucy Calkins developed. She is the Founding Director of the Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University’s Teachers College.