Deadlines. Lately it seems I’m always working towards tight deadlines. They’ve never really been my forte. I think the issue is that I’m often terrible at gauging how long things will take and usually estimate low. This leaves me stressed and scrambling at the last minute. Maybe I just secretly enjoy the stress. [Read more…]
By Tracey Richardson
This summer has been hard on my nerves. And I don’t think I’m alone.
Global tragedies have abounded, starting with the shooting deaths of 49 people at a gay club in Orlando in June. In early July, five Dallas police officers were assassinated by a gunman who wanted to avenge a couple of high profile police shootings of black men in the United States. A week after that, it was the vehicular rampage in Nice, France, that killed almost 100 people. On the immediate heels of that tragedy came a bloody coup d’etat attempt in Turkey. [Read more…]
Last week, I jumped into my “big girl” pants and bravely marched into New York City like I owned the place (even though I was really just a scaredy-pants writer) and attended my first Thrillerfest Conference. What an amazing week! This was easily the BEST writing conference I’ve ever attended. The writing workshops and panels filled with talented famous authors were incredible, as was my added bonus of attending a whole day workshop at FBI Headquarters.
During the week, the International Thriller Writers hosted a special event on Thursday afternoon called Pitchfest. Imagine between 300 to 400 writers who anxiously want an agent to represent them for their yet-to-be published novel, all standing in somewhat of a meandering line in the hallway outside of the five ballrooms on the third floor of the Grand Hyatt Hotel. It’s a huge crowd and it seriously makes your tummy queasy, just thinking about elbowing these people out of the way to talk to an agent, who will probably hate your idea anyway and say: “No. I’m not interested in your novel.”
All I could think about was trying not to cry, when I got rejected. [Read more…]
I decided to hire an editor for my story, The White Witch. This is my book I’ve been obsessed with writing and rewriting for many years. I’ve had friends read earlier drafts giving me wonderful feedback and comments. I’ve done many, many edits. I felt I had arrived at a destination where the story was done but not complete; kind of like finishing a dinner but wanting to stick around for dessert and coffee. And I wanted a professional.
After all, I have devoted thousands of hours to this book. It deserved the best.
I did my research. How to hire an editor? I first had to decide what kind of editing I wanted. Did I want a broad view such as a manuscript evaluation to provide comments on story structure, character development, pacing, consistent POV, dialogue and description? Or a line by line substantive edit to help fix my grammar and sentence structure? Sometimes there’s a combination of the two or a third option of a final copy edit.
I decided upon a manuscript evaluation rationalizing that if there were major story structure flaws or characters to fix, I might end up re-writing several scenes so no point in nitpicking my verb tenses (yet).
Writers spend a lot of time talking about how much they love to write. And so they should! Writing is a tremendously gratifying, passionate pursuit that feeds our souls.
But writing is also hard. And lonely. It’s sometimes emotional and often angst ridden. But let’s not dwell on the more challenging aspects of our calling. [Read more…]
And What Happens When You Find Yourself Without Time to Write.
Beware! Your Dream Self may have Plans of Her Own.
This is based on a true story (more or less).
While sleeping Friday night…
I’m enjoying a fantastic ride along a vivid dreamscape. My dream self, with my dream sisters, impulsively decide to charter an enormous cargo boat to cross the Atlantic Ocean to Europe. Excitement runs high and they dance along the decks, giggling and high fiving each other as the boat cruises through the water.
The Captain, a wire thin man with a hunched shoulder, occasionally removes his eyeball to nibble on the backside, like a nervous habit whenever he’s stressed. After, he slips eyeball back into the socket with a sucking sound, chewed end towards his skull so no one can notice. There’s a First Mate, but he’s sly and mute fellow, never quite seen clearly, like a shadow. The only other person on board is The Engineer, who drives the boat like he’s drunk, often getting it stuck in shallows and taking the curves at high speed so he could bank the boat on its keel (I know, we’re technically in the ocean, but dreams tend bend reality). With all the twists and turns, he ends up getting them lost.
They come upon an unknown land. On the cliff banks, there’s a semi-deserted town, half in ruins. Children hide in doorways and cats lick their paws on cinderblocks. They discover a back laneway leading to two-story building that sells scraps of junk. The owner has a short beard, a kind voice and invites them to wander through his yard of wonders. As they trudge deeper into fray, it extends on and on like an unwinding skein of yarn.
This is when my dream self slips away from the others, on the excuse of looking for a bathroom. She enters a steel constructed building and in its depth, she discovers a windowless room. Inside, there’s a tub holding a sleeping baby. Like in the historical pictures of Inuit children, the child is bundled in layers of fur and circle the face giving the baby an owl like appearance. There’s a tiny toilet – which my dream self uses – slightly disturbing to me, but no, I didn’t pee in the bed. And where a counter and sink might be, instead is a desk with a flat screen computer.
You know this question. Why do we do things? Why do we climb mountains? Travel? Have children? Eat poorly? Why? Why? Why? Each one has a different answer, so each question has the right to be asked. So let’s ask, why do we write?
Writing began simply as a means of communication. Talking is obviously the superior form of communicating, but what if that isn’t possible? Writing was an early substitute.
Writing gave the “speaker” the ability to be heard over great distances, and to be heard verbatim by two or twenty or two thousand people or even more, without having to repeat ones self. How cool is that? [Read more…]
Openings of short stories are actually my favourite parts to write. That’s when I am most inspired to capture a potentially great idea and create the story I envision. But this writer cannot resist spending way too much time honing the first few paragraphs, thereby losing focus and enthusiasm to complete what I’ve started.
Thus, a stack of ‘beginnings’ has been growing considerably over several years, but endings? Not so much. Recently a short story writing contest inspired me to sift through the files and choose a story to finish and submit. [Read more…]