Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Emotions: Useful, Distracting, or Necessary?

I am sure most of you writer-types out there are emotional. You have to be, to get the myriad emotions of myriad characters to sound remotely believable. I'm wondering if your emotions ever get in the way of your writing?

I'm put in mind of an often quoted theatre saying: "Emotions? I'm an actress - I have ALL OF THEM!"

I had a really crappy day yesterday, but I had time and inspiration to write. This is the first time these three things have happened at the same time. Usually when I write, I'm calm and pretty cheerful. I'm almost always pretty cheerful (calm, not so much), so this was different for me.

I noticed my emotional state before I started, actually tweeted about it, wondering how it would affect my output. I ws a little concerned, thinking that I was so wrapped up in my head that I couldn't get into my MC's shoes.

I was so wrong. The words flowed faster than I could type them...I actually ended up with a few scandalous and hilarious typos by the end of it. I wrote, not releasing the anger as much as using it. I didn't write about what was making me unhappy (my MC's life is nothing like mine) but I wrote about unhappiness, worry, anger, sadness, stress - all of it just came tumbling out far easier than I'd expected. It worked, that was where the story was going. I still wonder, however, how I would have fared had I been expected to write a happy scene of forgiveness and joy.

So I'm wondering, fellow writer-types: do you find your emotions to hamper you as you try to get lost in your character's voice? Or do you thrive in whatever mood you happen to be in when your fingers hit the keyboard?

Do you change what you were writing in accordance with your mood?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Uh oh! (Hahahahaha Part 2)

So I decided to redo the "Who Do I Write Like" analyzer to check my kidlit series, just to see if I write like Stephen King when I'm writing for 4-6 year olds... and...

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I'm really not sure that result is any more hopeful for a children's book than writing like Stephen King!

Friday, July 23, 2010

How do I...?

I've come to the realization that I don't know enough about writing and publishing. I want to learn more, but I want to learn efficiently.

Every week, I will be asking you (yes, you personally) a question related to your journey as a writer, your advice on how to become a better writer, or possibly random non-writing "How do I..." questions.

Basically, I am looking to pick your brain in order to make my job easier. Sound fair? How about if I promise to share everything I learn, so it'll make your job easier too? Ok, let's go!


How do I find a critique group for my WIP? Would you suggest a large online forum or a small informal gathering?

**Caveat: I live far, far away from any cultural center, and as such am looking for/to create an online crit group.**

Thanks in advance!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Writing as Responsibility

I was thinking yesterday in the shower (don't judge me, I do my best thinking in the shower) how similar the process of writing is to the process of pregnancy and childbirth.

Writers don't just write stories, they conceive them in love, build and shape them in hiding for them for a long time, then when they're ready to stand alone, we share them with the world.

Having gone through the miracle of childbirth three times and birthing a complete novel once (I'm currently gestating my second). I believe there is a sense of responsilibity that comes with the territory.

If you're contracted or published, then the responsibilities are obvious: work with an editor, meet your deadlines, keep up your blog, do signings, market your book properly, be a professional, etc.

If you are like me, you keep having a nearly peripheral dream where you see your name on bookshelves, a dream that disappears if you look at it too hard. However, I still have a responsilibity to my characters, to myself, to my future (gulp!) readers. More important than all of those, I have a very young family, and a very supportive husband. I don't exactly have a responsibility to be successful, but I do have to write the best book I can to acknowledge their sacrifice of time and attention that goes hand-in-hand with large-scale writing projects. If I don't work hard, if I give up, if it's all for nothing, I will have let them down much more than my imaginary characters and imaginary readers.

I had a great night of writing last night, but struggled most of last week. This too is like pregnancy - some days the baby is kicking and you're so excited to see what you're creating, and others you're so tired, sick, and worn out that you're not sure you can make it for one more day.

Like pregnancy, this feeling (at least for me) gets stronger the closer you get to the end of the process.

Just remember, it's worth it.
Remember that not everyone has felt the blessing of an amazing night of writing, nothing can compare to it, except a great ultrasound.
Just remember, writing what you want is a priviledge, writing it diligently the best way you know how is a responsibility.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Back up, deep breath, slow down and...

...remember why you're doing this.

After a hard evening of writing and a sleepless night this is what I've come up with.

I'm writing because I love it. I'm writing stories for my 3 kids. I'm writing novels for my characters (yes, they are real people to me, deal with it.) I'm writing because when it's good feels better than taking a hot bath on a cold evening while sipping excellent wine or watching a movie curled up with my husband or even opening my battered copy of "Pride and Prejudice" and entering a world of beauty and grace for the 20000th time.

Sera and Asher's story came to me practically whole, I've only made a few adjustments along the way. 25000 words in, and I can still see their path, I just haven't figured out how to egt them over the hurdles.

I have to decide where to go from here. It's up to me and me alone how the story of writing the story will go. It's up to me to hang onto the joy despite the frustration. It's up to me to make their story as beautiful on the page as it is in my mind. No one can write this for me.

I realize now that it's up to me to decide it's worth writing.
I realize now that it's up to me to decide if I'm worthy of writing it.

So tonight, when the Thing 1 and Thing 2 are in bed and Thing 3 is sleeping in my husband's arms (she's only 3 months old, after all) I will write. I will write what I can, to the best of my ability, and leave my insecurity behind.

Deep breath, slow down, remember why I'm doing this, dive in.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Uh oh!

I think I've written myself into a hole! My novel was coming along so nicely, everthing was flowing, the ideas were meshing into a complete picture, then BAM! I realized that I was leading my MC Sera into a trap - and I have no idea how to get her out!

Authors, has this ever happened to you? And if so, did you back up and start down a brand new path or just keep plugging away until the perfect resolution showed itself?

I can't imagine giving up on where this story has been heading all along and trying to contrive a new direction for it...but I'm stuck!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Best Laid Plans...

I am writing furiously these days, and really enjoying it too. I'm trying to think about my story rather than how my story will look compacted in a query letter; about my characters rather than my lack of an agent. They may come, I may be published. If not, this is still a darn cool story.

Yesterday I wrote about the hierarchy in Heaven and Hell. I wrote about what demons are and how angels and fallen angels communicate with humans. I wrote som epretty good stuff, all of it easy and tight and Real.

Today I'm struggling to get the words out on what should be an easier scene. It's written in my head; I can see it, but I just can't seem to spit out the words. I think it's time to pick up my favorite pen with the squishy thing at the end, put on some Jann Arden, and write in my notebook. I still find it, not easier, but better to write by hand. It's more organic somehow; I feel more connected to the process when it's in my hands and not just on my fingertips.

Monday, July 12, 2010

One of a Million

There's a difference between being one in a million and one of a million. Today, I'm feeling like the latter.

After reading a blog post about feeling like a fraud as a writer (and the fear that everyone else will recognize your lack of talent) and then another about writing buddies and their importance in the process, I feel like I totally missed the boat here. I haven't even taken a creative writing course since my first university degree, for Heaven's sake! Who am I to think that I will write a "readable" book?

Ok, maybe I'm just suffering from the self-doubt that is apparently just part and parcel of being an author. I was actually up last night, (not just because of 3 month old Thing #3) wondering when exactly do I get to call myself an author, and not just a writer? Is it when I have an agent, a contract, a book in print? Is it when I have a finished product, a totally revised manuscript ready for queries?

I'm sure it cannot be now, as I create, destroy, and recreate daily in order to make something Real out of my imagination.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

On Writing

I'm writing every night now, which I have decided is good for my neuroses as well as my intellect. I'm writing a paranormal-romance-escatological-epic story that will probably have a sequel or two. I'm totally in love with the characters, and find writing so much easier this time around.

I wonder why that is, whether it's that the story is so much tighter, that the plot is exciting to me, that it's not so damned self-involved. I'm hoping that it marks a new stage in my evolution as an author - that I'm actually enjoying every aspect of this process, while still totally intimidated by it.

I'm also writing a series of children's books, based loosely around my own children and spurred on greatly by their imaginations. So far, I have written one and sketched out another. I wonder, though, if it's more difficult to get childrens' book published, especially if they aren't illustrated...and no one wants to see me try to illustrate the darned things.

I think I might have found what this blog is for - to chronicle the hardships and joys as I try yet again to reinvent myself as an author. I want this as badly as I wanted to be a teacher, nearly as much as I wanted children.

God willing, I will be successful at all three for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hot hot heat

I'm not normally one to comment digitally on the weather, the sports I watch (Go Spain!!) or the minutae of my little life, but HOLY SPAMOLI it's hot out. Like Middle East hot. I, with my young-uns, am holed up in my comparatively cool basement hoping to avoid heat stroke.

I have noticed a few things about the heat.

#1. Children's moods spiral downward as the thermometer spirals upward.

#2. It is difficult to be elegant when covered with multiple layers of sweat.

#3. It is possible for a co-sleeping mother of a 2 month old to get less sleep than in cooler weather. I know, the mind boggles.

#4. Popsicles/juiceicles/ice cubes/freezing cold drinks cease to provide relief once the mercury rises past 29 degrees C.

Off I go to melt a bit more. Perhaps I'll melt off a pound or two...wishful thinking!

Friday, July 2, 2010


So I'm not very happy with the layout of this blog...and I'm finding it more difficult than I had expected to fill it.

I guess I'm trying to figure out the persona that I want to send out into cyberspace to live, potentially forever.

I've started a new novel, without finishing the rewrite of my last. Slacker. I know. But this new story is so much bigger, so much BETTER. I know what I'm doing a little bit more this time around. It's less about finishing A novel than telling THIS story.

So there's the reason that this blog is already failing to be a part of my life, a place to put my thoughts. That, and my kids' entertainment/socialization/training to be humans is taking up most of my time.

My main character, Sera, is living the life I would have loved, but I'm figuring out that the life I would have loved would have been much more difficult than I had thought. It's funny, I can't even live vicariously in a perfected manner. I'm such a stressball...

Well, back to real life for me. Uploading pictures so distant relatives can watch my growing brood; folding laundry so my children aren't so rumpled all the time; making supper so they can grow to become stronger than me. At least I get to go to the Church this evening to try to find some reality in this life.