Thursday, December 09, 2010


Clearly I need to clear more time in my schedule for writing. So, I think I'm going to try this method I heard about and write 10 minutes each day, every day. Starting with just 10, and not letting it go beyond that until it's a daily habit. They say, what 45 days to form a habit? So, I should see some results by February. And, ten minutes every day compared to maybe a few hours a month--the 10 would be more productive in the long-run.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Book or baby?

Every writer I know struggles to make writing a priority in life. I have this same struggle, recently complicated by my hubby and I wanting to have a second child. In theory, writing a book and having a baby sound like wonderful adventures, on which I could of course focus a lot of time and energy. In reality, they both are starting to freak me out!

Baby? How would this work? How would we juggle two children? Where would they sleep? (Though I've always told my hubby that a baby can sleep in a drawer, I didn't really intend to see that come true.) How on earth would we pay for daycare, diapers, food, for two children? Then what??

Book? How would this happen? How would I make writing enough of a priority to actually finish not only a first draft, but then go edit it and rework it till it's what I want to share? Who would want to read it? Then what??

The biggest struggle right now is trying to find the time to work toward these goals (though I'm not doing both at the same moment, I assure you!). After work, playing with our son, fixing dinner, trying to keep the house from falling in on itself, and all the minutiae of everyday life--who has time to write? Who has energy to procreate?? I barely have the energy to brush my teeth.

So, book or baby, or both or neither? Eek!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ego drain or ego boost?

At first I was kind of bummed out that my short story didn't get picked as a finalist for the WD _Your Story_ competition. My husband was even kind enough to have some strong words for the editors who chose the final 5 to be voted on by readers.
But then I realized--I wasn't just bummed out--I was actually surprised! Why does that matter? Because it showed me that I beleive in my work, and that I think it's interesting and should be enjoyed. Silly as that sounds, it was a lightbulb moment for me as a writer.
I am still hopeful for a new writer's contest I entered for Glimmer Train online. Their decision date is Oct. 31. Scary? Yes. But also invigorating. I can't help but smile when I check on my submission and see that it is still "in process", which means not yet rejected.
And you know what? I believe I have a chance at winning.
Hope springs eternal!
As Beckett said, "No matter. Try again, fail again, fail better."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mind bending plotting

So we just saw _Inception_ and while I can already tell that I will quickly tire of my husband's constant references to the "subcons", the plot was really interesting. (He's sitting on the couch twitching nervously, eyes wide...maybe he needs a drink to unwind?? This is the same man who couldn't handle the wall clock I had in law school where the numbers were backwards and it ticked counter-clockwise...)
Without spoiling anything for those of you who haven't yet seen this film (interesting cast, too), it was a pleasant reminder that unique movies can still be made, and intriguing ideas brought forth through popular films.
As a writer, I was impressed by the layering and interweaving of the various plots and subplots, and the quick yet effective character development. Plus, they didn't spoonfeed us with clear explanations of what was happening, or where we were going. I found it encouraging. If this can be made for the average moviegoer to digest, I shouldn't have to worry too much about my readers catching on to what I'm throwing down in my story. Right?
Not that I'm comparing my writing with anything directed by Christopher Nolan--he's pretty talented. I remember after watching _Memento_ at the theater, I went into the ladies' room afterwards, discussing the movie with my friend Denise who walked in behind me. I had even turned back to glance at her as we chatted. But when I waited for her to finish up, I couldn't find her in any of the stalls, and when I went back outside, she was already out there, swearing she hadn't gone in at all! My brain was so loopy from the movie that I apparently hallucinated. Now that's effective writing!

Monday, September 06, 2010

The most wonderful time of the year

It's back-to-school time, and I am prancing around singing what would otherwise be a Chritmas song for several reasons. First, my husband (a teacher) must go back to reality and go to work again! Sorry honey, but it feels good that we both have to get up and get real clothes on and go to work! No more lounging under the covers and then perusing the morning paper over a freshly brewed cup of joe while still in your robe. Too bad.
Second, I love the anticipation, excitement, and new-beginning feel in the air. I know some of the energy is palpable fear (of freshman, like my anxious nephew, for example) but still, it's energy and thus it energizes me!
Third, I like the crispness and buckle-down feel of fall. Time to get serious--which I can now apply to my writing life.
I may even buy new notebooks, pens, and highlighters. Why? Why not!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

At last!

Ahhhh! I've finally broken through the stuck-middle of my long writing project, a novel. Reading other books and paying attention to how sometimes the author just jumps to the next interesting part, without slogging through all the minutae, reminded me that I just needed to move forward and not worry so much about getting it "right" the first time. Allowing for much bad prose, trite dialogue, and plot holes made it a lot easier to get the words down on paper and move my story forward.
The story never really leaves my mind, and I know many things I want to get to, but I felt mired in a dull place, unsure of my next move. Finally today I was able to throw caution (and self-criticism) to the wind and just write.


Thankfully my writer's group meets soon, so they can give me another kick in the behind to keep motivated and get the first draft finished. It's possible--I can taste it!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Through mommy-colored glasses

I realized today, after getting fed up with myself and all my failures, that what I needed was to look at myself as my mother would look at me. Where I see all my foibles, negative qualities and mistakes, she would see my positive traits and potential. Where I see dark circles under my eyes, and love handles and wrinkled clothes, she would concernedly consider the causes of these visual signals--was I getting enough sleep? Eating right? Taking time for myself? And she would urge me to rest, eat my veggies, and delegate more.

We women are so judgmental of ourselves--why do we do this? Why do we take small frustrations or imperfections as personal failures? Yet as mothers, we are (usually) so forgiving, loving, positive, and encouraging of our children. What a contrast!

Perhaps I need to take this same treat-yourself-like-your-mom-would approach for my writer-self. If I stop judging my lack of discipline, and see the reasons behind it, maybe I could take better care and make writing a priority. And if I could focus instead on my potential and less on my mistakes, I would certainly be more productive!

Thanks, Mom, for seeing the best in me, and loving me even though you know the worst, too.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Can you hear me now?

I learned an unexpected lesson about voice from, of all things, an email spam virus. Said virus somehow attacked my email account and sent out a fake email (pretending to be from me) to all of my contacts, urging them to check out some website with dubious content.

So, I got several friends who told me in person that I'd had a viral email sent out from my account. What was interesting was how most people instantly knew the message wasn't from me because it "didn't sound like you". I have a struggle with my inner writer every time I write an email, fearing they are boring, lifeless, and generic-sounding. (Similar to my fears about my fiction writing.) Apparently not. Even those folks who I only have contact with infrequently saw that this wasn't me writing--heard a different voice. Nice!

We take the tiny boosts in confidence as we find them, eh?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I just finished the postscript of Stephen King's _On Writing_ and felt the hand of God. I've had this book for over a year, and should have finished it long ago, but for some reason, hadn't. The postscript was about how writing helped King get past the awful pain and suffering of his recovery from the hit and run accident that nearly killed him in 1999.
I've felt desolate and worried ever since my Grandma entered the ER for her first heart scare a month ago--and have been unexpectedly less capable of handling the emotional pain and fear that has accompanied me watching her go downhill, then uphill a bit, then back down, through a pacemaker surgery, to a physical rehab center (King mentions that PT stands for Pain and Torture--couldn't agree more!) and now back to the ER and hospital with pneumonia.
I am sometimes able to forget about her plight, but when the phone rings with an update or I think of her I feel enormous guilt for being happy and not worried for a while.
King writes of the redemptive power of getting back to writing--and it struck me as just how I have been feeling.
Something about all of this displaced stress (after all, Grandma is the one suffering, not me!) has made me itch to get writing and I find myself newly enchanted with the craft itself as well as the act of writing and continuing my book in progress. In his postscript King calls it, "getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay?" Brought tears to my eyes when I read that. Not exactly what you want when sitting alone in the Borders' cafe, but it moved me. Partly because I had been feeling guilty about the creative bursts spilling out during a time when I should be focused on someone else. I felt selfish. And yet King prods me onward: "a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you're brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic...drink and be filled up." Ahhhh. Beautiful words. And I got to read them just at the time when I needed them most.
So amazing this creative power and urge to write it down. I feel I'm being given the green light to wallow in my imagination and share whatever springs forth.
Deep down I know Grandma would approve--she just completed her fourth nonfiction book at age 87. I just pray that she's around for me to share my story with her.

Friday, March 26, 2010

book covers

I took these photos on our honeymoon in Wyoming--and thought they would make good book-jacket covers.

Which is your favorite, and what kind of story do you think it would suggest?

twilight or dawn?

Is it sad that I am (the last person reading) the Twilight book? I know, _Farenheit 451_ to _Twilight_?? Yikes! Don't roll over, Mr. Bradbury! I just needed something light to read in order to fall asleep. Really...
I admit--it's entertaining. And, while reading the first several chapters, I had a vision of my own words, my own story, actually in print. That was the first time I have ever been able to actually picture one of my stories in a published form. (Perhaps it was much less humbling to compare my own writing to this particular book, as compared to 451...) It came in a flash, and I saw my words on the page for a brief, glorious moment.
There hasn't been much time for writing lately, especially with my Grandma in the hospital for heart problems. This amazing, 87 year old powerhouse has just finished writing her 4th book! She has self-published them, and they are amazing. The latest is a fascinating geneological history of her Green(e) side of the family, mostly from the women's perspectives. She does a wonderful job of painting the colorful picture of what these people's lives were like. (Mostly, they were horribly tough and they had to toil for every necessity that I, soft and lazy, take for granted!)
Grandma is a great reminder that it never is too late to write.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Books, books, books!! I can't get enough of them. I love them. I love to read them, to listen to them, to try to write them. They're my vice, my thing I can't seem to quite get under control. At the bookstore, I can browse and browse for hours, lost in the very covers of the books, even before picking them up to see what they're about. One of my husband's theater friends wrote and produced a play about fonts. Fascinating! No, seriously! The fonts were the characters. So cool! I think about fonts and in what font I would want a book I wrote (if ever I finished it) to be published. Exploring books and how they're put together is something of an obsession for me.

I rarely can walk out of a book store or library without a book in hand. This is to the great dismay of my husband, who is sick of the piles of books all over our small house. "Have you read this one?" he'll ask me, pointing at a novel on the shelf. "Well, no, not yet--but I will!" Then he'll go on to the next one. "How about this one?" I grit my teeth and try to explain that I do intend to read them all someday--but he doesn't understand. And I do read--really, I do. There just isn't enough time in the day for leisurely reading. These days I read a lot of Dr. Seuss and Pat the Bunny, to appease my one year old. And I marvel at his love of books, too. He has a giant shelf of them, already. I'm training him well.

My husband was very thoughtful in that he got me a subscription to, which is like Netflix but for audiobooks on CD. So far I've listened to 4 or 5, on my commute to and from work. I just finished _Farenheit 451_. What? you say, you haven't read THAT book by now?? Heretic! I know, but now that I got the extreme honor of listening to it--read by the author himself, no less, I feel like a better person. It's beautiful, this book. Poetry! Deeply disturbing poetry, which has become even more relevant today because so many of his imaginings have come true. Amazing. Such delicious words! I implore you to listen to this book. Or read it. Re-read it as the case may be. It will change your perspective.

I even love books about writing books. It's manaical. I can't explain it. It scares people. I worked at libraries all through college. Perhaps this made my vice worse? I don't know. I just know that I have to be near books. They're like my air.

Monday, January 11, 2010

buried treasure

Finally I had some creative jolts in this new year, and had a bit of quiet to utilize them. I've resolved to finish (one draft of) this fiction piece I've started YEARS ago, at least to have one draft completed from start to finish, this year. You would think years would make it die out, but this Lilly woman is in my head, telling me what she's going through, and so it has never totally fizzled out.

I started it with the idea of a short story, and then had my idea for who the antagonist would be, and then that changed 2 times. (I know it sounds crazy that you don't know the "who done it" of these stories from the get-go, but believe me, the characters have their own ideas about plot!) Then more characters popped in to the mix, and with the help of a community college novel writing class, an on-line fiction class, and the ever-encouraging words of my writers' group (bless them!), it's really getting going. (If one can say "getting going" over a 3 year period?) Thus, my resolution to finish the story. Then, I can edit it.

It felt like a God-nod that I got the Writers Digest issue in the mail with a cover popping with articles about inspiration and persistance for aspiring writers in 2010. I even read most of that issue instead of just filing it "for later" with all the other issues I never made time for in '09.

Anyway, as I was working on new scenes and actually living up to my resolution (well, at least not hurting it), I came across my old files of various chapters and parts from all these years of fiddling with the story. I was quite surprised and pleased to find that I had written some very good bits (sentences, merely) in parts of these old ramblings, which illuminated ideas long forgotten about the story. How cool is it to come across a "new" plot twist you'd already thought of but forgotten? Never mind the worry about early onset alzheimer' least I wrote it down.

Which goes to show why it's important to keep writing, and get it down on paper, even if it's awful and you hate it and you can't beleive you'd ever dare to call yourself a writer. And thankfully, we live in the age of word-processing cut and paste, making it so much easier to sort out the gems from the seaweed. Because who knows what gems you've deposited deep under the sand without a map?