Sunday, October 31, 2010

National Novel Writing Month starts tomorrow

National Novel Writing Month starts tomorrow. I wish all of you who are taking the plunge the best of luck with it. I'm a little sad I can't do it this year, although I do have the comfort of knowing I did do my big writing push this past summer.

Still, I am writing and that matters to me. A friend asked me the other day how the "10 minute a day" novel was coming. Ten minutes works out to be a paragraph or two. I save it for the last thing I work on in my day. It gives me something to look forward to. I'm currently on page 5 with 1,128 words. Not much, I know, but it is 1,128 words I wouldn't have written otherwise. It helps satisfy my creative longing and a story is taking shape. These are all good things.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Art is RIsky

I finished reading The Sound of Paper: Inspiration and Practical Guidance for Starting the Creative Process today. It was the only book I read this week - a sure sign of how busy and stressed I've been.



I will leave you with this one last bit of advice from Julia Cameron.

Often, when I advise a writer to write a whole book rather than a proposal, I am greeted with "But, Julia! I don't want to do all that work for nothing." But we never do all that work for nothing. When we write, we become better writers. When we paint, we become better painters. Dancing improves our dancing, acting our acting. . .  When we ask for a guarantee of success, we are asking to make risk-free art, and art, by definition, is risky. . . It is the practice of our art form, and not the marketable product we produce, that warrants us the name artist.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The 10 minute novel

I think that is how my latest work is going to be written - 10 minutes at a time. I am swamped with projects - good projects, projects I need to be doing, but I want to write, so I have made a promise to myself to write 10 minutes a day at least six days a week. I wonder how long this will take me? At least I can say I'm working on a story. That in itself brings me some joy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Do You Pray Before You Write?

I continued reading The Sound of Paper: Inspiration and Practical Guidance for Starting the Creative Process today. One thing Cameron speaks about is connecting with God before writing. I know in my own writing, I often pray to the Holy Spirit to help me, especially when my ideas are running dry. The prayer always helps. I also want to write whatever it is God may want me to write. The prayer helps make sure that I do that.



Cameron puts it this way:
Creative droughts do not end through willfulness. They end through the act of surrender. They end through the prayer "Show me what you would have me do." Our creative condition is grounded and subject to our spiritual condition. We may daily strive to "work" but we will get further if we daily try to "serve." It is not that God's will and ours are at opposite ends of the table but, rather, that we can set ourselves near God or far from God, at the right hand or at a remove. God is the Great Creator. The Great Creator takes delight in us and our creations. . . . We have been "made," and we in turn are intended to "make things." How much better we do this when we seek our creator's help.

Also, I'm not sure if this statement is true or not, but Cameron writes that "Beethoven, near suicide from the lack of reception for his work, vowed to live and write music for God alone to appreciate." Even when no one else reads or appreciates my work, God does. That means a great deal.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A start . . .

Well, it isn't much, but I wrote 261 words on my new story tonight. It's a start. I have a feeling writing this one will be a long painful process. I wonder where the road will take me.

The Sound of Paper

I started reading The Sound of Paper: Inspiration and Practical Guidance for Starting the Creative Process by Julia Cameron today. I had read her book  The Artist's Way a long time ago and found her practical and spiritual take on the creative process inspiring. 



"The Sound of Paper" is also offering many inspiring tidbits. 



"It is the making of art when we feel that we have no art in us that makes an artistic career. It is the pages logged when the well feels dry, the painting painted when the palette is parched, the monologue learned 'for no damn reason' that keeps the gears turning. Ditto for the fine-arts photographer who loads a camera and takes to the streets even though the 'real' work is in the carefully lit studio, as calculated as a NASA shot.


Goethe told us 'Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action (boldness) has magic, grace and power in it."

Which reminds me that I really need to start writing again, even if it is crap. I have about 20 minutes left tonight. I think I'll see what I can do. I'm scared, but I need to get back to it. 
 







Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sometimes even great writers get it wrong

I used my sick time this weekend to read Promise Me by Richard Paul Evans. I have been a fan of his for years and was very eager to read his latest Christmas offering. It did provide a great deal of enjoyment, until its "surprise" twist which just went horribly wrong. This book had a definite "ick" factor.

I'm still a big fan. Everyone can have an off day, or an off book, especially when someone has put out as much quality work as Evans.


One quote I cherished in this book was about sunflowers, which I love.

"Sunflowers look to the sun. . . They mean hope."

I never thought of them that way. Now I will!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Update

Sick. Tired. Worn Out. Lots of other work to do.

Writing is on the back-burner at the moment. It will get done if and when it is supposed to.

Monday, October 18, 2010

In the midst of waiting

The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers by Betsy Lerner today. She has this to say about the waiting process:

"When a writer gives his editor the pages of his manuscript, he is, in essence, handing over his heart on a plate. And until he gets a response, his entire sense of himself is in limbo. It's like waiting for the results of a biopsy."

Having waited for the results of cancer tests (which fortunately came back negative), I don't think this falls in the same category. My life doesn't hang in the balance, but still, every day I wonder if this will be the day I get to hear "yes" or "no" from the publisher considering my novella for publication. I'm supposed to hear by the end of November so there is still plenty of time, but I do wonder. I can rule out someone having read it and loved it. I would have heard about that. It is possible the story hasn't even been looked at yet, or that it has been totally forgotten about. It's possible it was looked at and is a "maybe" and they are weighing the options. Maybe it was read and they hated it and just haven't sent out the rejection letter. The point is I don't know. And so I wait and expect the worse and hope for the best. And know that my life will go on either way.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Writing as a child

I'm currently reading The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers. There is a new edition out, updated for the modern publishing world. I'm reading the 2000 edition which was available at the library.

These two quotes (among others) hit me:

"When I meet a new writer, at some point I usually ask if he or she wrote as a child. I have found that the impulse to write, to record one's private feelings, often appears at a very early age; with few exceptions, most authors started writing in childhood."

"People are motivated to write for a variety of reasons, but it's the child writer who has figured out, early on, that writing is about saving your soul."

I was a child writer. I wrote my first play about the dolls who lived in my dollhouse when I was eight or nine (if not younger). I wrote bad poetry, much of it about nature. I started writing my autobiography when I was nine! As laughable as it is to me now, I actually thought I had lived enough by the age of nine to record my life story. I don't think I got very far. I started my first novel (I intended it to be a children's story on par with "Alice in Wonderland") when I was in 6th grade. I never finished it.

While no longer a child, my writing continued as a teenager. I was on my high school's literary magazine. I wrote more bad poetry, now mostly about love and broken hearts. I got my first rejection letter when I actually dared to submit one of those poems to a magazine. (I still have the letter) I wrote essays. I attempted another novel I didn't finish. I wrote research papers (I actually enjoyed them). I started my journal which I have kept since I was fifteen.

Yes, writing is part of who I am. I can't imagine not writing in some form, although for many years my only writing was in my journal. Does it save my soul? No. God does that. But, it does help me make sense of things and keep me sane. It is my release, my expression, my reaching out to the world.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Writing for Art's Sake

I finished reading A Writer's Guide to Fiction (Writer's Compass) today. My purpose in reading some books about writing is to learn more about the craft of writing. I've been writing most of my life, but I've never taken a class dedicated to it. Part of me would love to get an MFA in Creative Writing. I even looked at some on-line programs. Most had some residency requirements, however, and I'm not getting away for 2 - 3 weeks at a time anytime soon. Nor do I have the money to pay for it. So, I'm doing the next best thing - utilizing my library and my ability to read to learn. I took many notes from this book and while it is all a bit overwhelming (like anything else, I'm realizing how much I don't know), I do feel it will help me with my next project.

I did come across this statement in the book:

"Writing is its own reward. Creating fiction feeds the soul, stirs the imagination, and delights the inner child. Writing fiction is more than craft; it's art. Art does not have to be sold or even shared in order to be of value."

Intellectually, I agree wholeheartedly with that statement. I am both artist and writer. Both art and writing do have inherent value. However, on an emotional level, I have always felt sad when I have no one to share my art or writing with. The one exception to that being my own private journals. I don't care so much about being paid for my work (although that certainly would help a great deal), but I do want to share it. I want it to be appreciated, to have someone enjoy it, or have it make somebody think. I want to contribute to the world at large. Otherwise, I feel selfish and that the time and energy invested in these projects is worthless.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Amazing Productivity!

One of the blogs that I follow regularly is the "Guide to Literary Agents" blog offered by Writer's Digest.

You have to check out today's post: How I Got My Agent - Lynn Rush

Lynn finished her first novel in May of 2008. Since then she has written 14 more! That is 14 novels in 2 1/2 years! Anyway you slice it, that is amazing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Create some magic with your words

This is the opening of A Writer's Guide to Fiction (Writer's Compass). What a way to think about what writers do!

The moment you lay down your first words of fiction, you become a magician like David Copperfield. Through the alchemy of craft and story, you create an illusion where the reader suspends disbelief, just as Copperfield makes his audiences believe he's made a Boeing 747 airplane disappear.

Modern neuroscientists have discovered what ancient shamans have known all along: Stories have power. Power to heal, to destroy, and to change history. In fact, fiction may have a longer-lasting effect than magic. Thought releases brain chemicals and neural electricity. Stories can "get under the skin" and integrate into the interior landscape of the self - and perhaps of the soul.

We writers receive no greater compliment than to have our readers lament the ending of a story. Imagine how you would feel knowing that your characters - their lives, dilemmas, and triumphs - live on in the memory of your readers side by side with memories of actual people and situations.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Doing Lots of Prep Work

I've never done this much prep work before actually starting writing before. I've spent hours with my notebook (outside - enjoying the beautiful weather we have been having) trying to truly develop my characters and understand them even before I start writing about them. I've found as I develop these characters, they are telling me their stories and suggesting plot lines as I go. That is the exciting part of this. The frustrating part is that I really, really, really want to start writing and I'm still not quite there yet.

One resource that has been helping me is A Writer's Guide to Fiction (Writer's Compass) by Elizabeth Lyon. She offers good suggestions for developing characters including psychological profiles and personality types etc. This story will have several more characters than my previous two, so I'm working extra hard to make them each unique individuals and to understand why they are the way they are. I'm sure there will be some tweaking once I finally start hammering out the story, but I feel good knowing that the general framework will be there.

Hopefully, I'll be able to start the actual writing soon.

Getting ready for NaNoWriMo? Read a novel about it to get you in the mood!

It is that time of year again. National Novel Writing Month is right around the corner. Are you getting ready to write 50,000 words (or as many as you can humanly accomplish in the course of one month?) Why not gear up for it by reading Through the Open Window, a novel about NaNoWriMo?

Lucy Lyons is a woman trying to escape her past. Content to work as a librarian and live alone with her dog, all she wants is a simple life with no complications. When she decides to take the plunge and begins to write a novel during National Novel Writing Month, she gets much more than she bargained for. Her writing will not only force her to face her own secrets, but will also put her in the path of a handsome artist who shares her love of the written word. "Through the Open Window" is an engaging novel about the secrets we keep and the hope for second chances.

"First-time novelist Anne Faye creates a delightful world with real and endearing characters." - Ellen Gable Hrkach

"If you're looking for a great read that will uplift, edify and inspire you, look no further than Through the Open Window by Anne Faye." - Lisa Hendey

Available in both paperback and Kindle editions.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Boston Book Fest

Unfortunately, I can't go to this, but it sure does sound like a great time for anyone who loves books.

Check out the Boston Book Fest happening on October 16th

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Congratulations to Michelle Buckman

Congratulations to Michelle Buckman, fellow Catholic Writer's Guild Member, who was #1 on Amazon's Women's Fiction list today with her novel Rachel's Contrition
!

Rachel Winter had nothing, won it all, and then lost everything

After the death of her daughter, grief-spawned delusions cause Rachel to lose her husband, her home, and custody of her son.

Help arrives from two unlikely sources: a young teen, Lilly, battling her own demons, and a tattered holy card depicting Saint Therese of Lisieux.

As Rachel grows closer to Lilly and comes to know Saint Therese, unbidden memories from her edgy past reveal fearful mysteries of seduction, madness, and murder . . . and a truth that will haunt her forever.

Published by Sophia Institute Press

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Working on a new story

I've been fleshing out my ideas for my new story. This is a more ambitious project than any I have tried before. I really want to hit 80,000 words and have it be good enough to hopefully obtain an agent. This story will have more characters and more plots. I'm trying to figure out exactly what those plots will be. I have a general idea for the main plot. I'm working in my idea notebook trying to create character sketches for each of the characters. I also want to do a general outline. The whole thing is scaring me a bit. I'm someone who tends to work better letting the story and the characters unfold as I write. I tend to get to know them as they reveal themselves. They do unexpected things that push the story along. I truly don't know what these characters are supposed to be doing yet and I feel a bit trapped as a result. I want to start writing about them, but I don't feel like I can. I need some more inspiration to figure out just what is going on with them.

I know all this doesn't make much sense. Welcome to the scary place that is this writer's mind. :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

What will you do with your 1440 minutes?

I came across an ad today that said "You have 1440 minutes a day. Make sure that you spend 15 of them on yourself." That is a good point. It sure sounds like we have a great deal of time on our hands. Of course, some of that does get used up doing things like sleeping, working, etc. So, let's break it down. Presuming you have an "average" life, we'll deduct the following amounts from that total:

Sleep - 480 minutes (This is 8 hours. I'm sure many of you don't get that much.)
Work and commute - 600 minutes (10 hours)
Personal Care - 60 minutes (1 hour)
Eating - 90 minutes (1 1/2 hours)

Even with those deductions, one is left with 210 minutes. That is 3 1/2 hours. If you want to be a writer, spend at least 10 minutes of that writing (More is better, but that will help build the habit of making writing part of daily life). No one can say that they don't have 10 free minutes in their day. We make time for what matters in our lives. No more excuses. You can do it!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Where do you like to write?

I'm still making my way through Writing Brave and Free: Encouraging Words for People Who Want to Start Writing. One of the topics is choosing a place to write.

You can choose a writing place and writing tools that encourage spontaneity and that engage your body as well as your mind.

Your writing room needs to be a place where you want to be, and it needs to give you privacy. It needs to be a place where you are physically comfortable, and a place where you can let your spontaneity bloom without interrupting or being interrupted by other people.

If you devoted one day's writing exercise to describing where you write now, what would you say? What if you used a second day's exercise to write about what would improve it, the features you would like your ideal writing room to have?


Where do I write? Thanks to the marvel of the laptop (I can't imagine going back to a desktop ever), my writing space varies, but generally I am either in my kitchen or my living room. While it is nice not to be interrupted, as a mom, that isn't always a reality. I can transition pretty quickly between writing and a non-writing activity. I don't need quiet, either. Sometimes, the house is quiet and I do relish it. Other times, I listen to whatever music I might be in the mood for.

Right now, I'm in the living room, the football game is in the background and I have my headphones on listening to "If I Had You" by Adam Lambert over and over. I think more important for me than exterior quiet is interior quiet. I have written in a grocery store cafe, in a pitch-black hotel room working by only the light of my laptop, in a museum, and in a park. Despite the environment, I am able to access that place inside myself where the words and thoughts live. It is the same reason I am able to pray in the middle of a public place. I have the ability to tune out the world. Perhaps it is one of the gifts of being an introvert. I'm not sure. Whatever it is, I am thankful for it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

What makes someone a writer

I know this is a recurring theme on my blog, but these quotes (and the reminder and encouragement they offer) are just too good to pass up.

What makes someone a writer isn’t good ideas, and it isn’t publication—it’s the stuff in between. It’s the act of writing: the daily, unglamorous, terrifying, magical process of creating a world out of words. If you do this, then you already are a writer. You may not feel brave enough to admit it to anyone until you’ve sold your first book, but you’ll know. -  Jacqueline West