If you’re anything like me, you have a life that keeps getting in the way of your writing. I have a job, two kids, other hobbies, and a house and property to look after. I try to balance it all out, juggle all the balls, but sometimes you’re thrown a curve that can keep you pre-occupied for months. Or maybe you’re even thrown three curve balls, at the same time, plus all the other stuff that comes up like graduations and birthdays. There are at least two reasons to keep a writing practice going even when it seems like you’ll never have more than half an hour to write at a time. [Read more…]
The world is a sensual place and our job as writers is to grab those senses and give our readers enough of a taste to spark their own imaginations. How do we do that? First, by being good observers. All artists must observe the world around them in order to translate it into their art. But there is also a deep inner world, a resource full of memories, not to mention the internet; to help us imagine our world without leaving the house.
There’s also the place you write in. And here on this fine May day, there’s no better place for me then on my screened-in porch, or on the attached deck. The breeze is blowing through carrying the perfume of the lilacs at the base of the step. I can see their purple blossoms bobbing in the breeze against a backdrop of multi-shades of green. May is our reward for suffering through the pains of winter: the silence of white, the quiet absence of life now broken by this overabundance, this bursting forth. The crows are cawing, the sweet tweet of the chicadees, the incessant questioning of the mourning doves: whoo, whoo, whoo; and the twittery chatter of the rest of the bunch. When the Grosbeak shows up, then we’ll really have song! The hummingbird hovers by my window wondering when the feeders are coming. [Read more…]
When you’re a first-time novelist, there’s no pressure: No one is waiting for your book. In fact, if you never write it the world will never notice. So there’s lots of time for daydreaming and learning and following a whim. But when you have a deadline, the stakes are raised, the adrenaline starts pumping—gotta get this done.
And when you have several deadlines it becomes an exercise of waves of writing and editing. Here I was happily working on my second novel while tentatively pushing my first novel out into the world. It’s met with good reactions, but not great reactions. (i.e. No one has offered to publish it yet!) So I thought I’d find out why. (See earlier blog on substantive edit: http://ascribewriters.com/breaking-up-is-hard-to-do/#more-416 [Read more…]
When you’re between relationships, it can be hard when you start seeing someone new. You have such strong memories of the other person you were with. Perhaps a feeling of comfort because you KNEW them, really knew them. Whereas the new person is all exciting and shiny, a big mystery you have to discover. But it might not all be pretty, in fact, it probably isn’t.
I left those days long ago. Next month, my husband and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary and we’re not breaking up. What I am struggling with is starting a new novel and “ending it” with the old novel. I can’t commit to the new one because the old one isn’t published. So I drift between two stories: writing pitches, queries, synopsis on the old novel, and working up characters, plot and voice on the new one.
And each time I say I’m done with the old novel, nothing else I can work on, something else comes up. And face it, I’m struggling with the new novel. I was innocent and naïve when I started the first novel, happily going along not knowing what I was in for. I started the first novel right before I met my husband, so the breaking up metaphor is more like a divorce.
“What I write is smarter than I am because I can re-write it.” Susan Sontag
We’re not always trying to be smarter, be we are trying to be better. For some the words just flow and little editing is needed. These are the best storytellers! But for many of us writers, we need to edit, especially beginning writers, at least I did. I keep hoping it gets easier in time. I keep reading more about how to write and all the techniques and things to remember get stuck in my head and I hope one day they just become part of me. We’ll see as I start on my second novel. [Read more…]
The story of our lives doesn’t come to us in a lightning bolt of realization, but unfolds slowly before us, inch-by-inch, mile-by-mile, day by day. We are creating our futures today but we can only see so far on the road ahead. Sometimes we have great clarity and can see for miles. Other times, we are in a fog and can barely see past the next signpost. Or the unexpected happens, a racoon darting out in the road. We can swerve and miss it, we can hit it, or we can swerve and hit an oncoming car. This moment may, or may not, change our lives. Times of crisis, when there is a seismic shift in the landscape of our lives, is when it is most difficult to see the road ahead, when the path is most obscured. Like driving at night in a snow-storm in Grey County, you’re going inch-by-inch. [Read more…]
An old roommate of mine used to say, “Timing is everything.” She repeated it often enough that I took it on as a lens through which I viewed the world. Is timing everything? And by this I believe she meant: Opportunity, where timing meets preparation. It’s not just the timing of the event, but are you ready for it to occur? Are you ready for that job, that lover, that apartment or house when the situation presents itself?
Once we settle into middle age and major life choices slow down a bit, pacing becomes key, especially for novel writers. What scares novel writers the most? THE MIDDLE! The fear of getting bogged down in a humdrum of events with no meaning or urgency, just words to fill space. [Read more…]
They say there are two types of writers: those who outline and those that don’t. But aside from outlines, writing a novel can produce an enormous amount of material that needs to be organized. What kind of writer are you? Floating along happily lost in the creative process, your words flowing out in a continuous stream of creativity? Or are you looking at the novel in front of you wondering how to bring it all together? [Read more…]