Monday, January 29, 2007


Today's Mood: Composed. Today's Music: Tori Amos. Today's Writing: Revised/Edited The Mary Monologue. (Over the weekend I printed out cover letter and Black Dragon manuscript to send out to another publisher today.) Today's Quote:
One out of every four people in this country is mentally unbalanced. Think of
your three closest friends and if they seem okay then you're the one. -Abigail
Van Buren

I love to read good books--books that make me forget who and where I am. Books that make me a bad parent. Books like Twilight and New Moon by Stephenie Meyer. I finished reading these books and feel both inspired to work on my own writing and sure that I'll never write a book nearly as absorbing. These books are Young Adult--that's most of what I read since I'm a middle and high school librarian--and though they deal with vampires, they are more suspense/romance than horror. The energy that runs through them is what I find so amazing. Plus I love the relationships that are examined within the book.

Last night I picked up Anne Lamont's book called Plan B: further thoughts on faith. Looks interesting, but I need to finish Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. So many books and so little time to read! Librarians are constantly frustrated. (how's that for a slogan?)

Anyone else read anything good lately?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Difficulty Banning the Editor

Today's Mood: Punky. Today's Music: Robert Pollard: From a Compound Eye. Today's Writing: 1st paragraph of I Feel For You (3 versions today--probably about 10 total.) Today's Quote:
Estimated amount of glucose used by an adult human brain each day, expressed in
M&Ms: 250 -Harper's Index

Okay, another question for the masses of writers out there who are reading this blog. Do you think it is necessary to write in the "just keep your hand moving and don't stop to edit" in order to be creative? Is it possible to be creative and be the type of writer that rewrites the first paragraph a freaking ten times before I get it in the right style and voice in order to be able to go on?

I'm starting to get a complex about this after reading all these writing books that say that is the way to rule out your inner editor... and so forth. I want to do that--truely I do. But every time I sit down and write, (especially beginnings) it takes me awhile to get the voice--the words--right. So I write and change and rewrite and change until I get it to fit what's ever in my head--the voice or mood or character's personality or whatever it is.

Do any of you write like this? Do any of you write in the just keep your hand moving method? Have you tried the other way? Notice any difference in the quality of your writing? Maybe I am just way too control oriented. I'll have to try loosening up. I don't feel too tight. I feel like I could just spew words--but when I start working on an actual piece of writing, I just can't help but revise as I go. Whoa is me.

Maybe I need more M & Ms. I'm definitely not up to 250 yet.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Today's Mood: Up-beat. Today's Music: Ray LaMontagne--Till the Sun Turns Black. (Great smoky voice!) Today's Writing: Started I Feel For You. Today's Quote:
Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied,
writing columns for newspapers.-Jimmy Breslin
How much of an outline do you do before you start the actual writing? Or if you write, say, poetry, do you jot all your ideas down first? Or do you just start in with the writing? Maybe with shorter pieces it is not as important to outline--but even the essays I write, I have to have some idea of where they are going--else how am I going to know if I get there?

I'm struggling with this right now because I want to start writing--but I know from past experience, that it is helpful to have an outline to refer back to when I get stuck and don't know what to do next. Besides, I have several different themes, subplots that need to be woven through the whole thing. I have a bad tendency to get going on one idea and forget about working in the other threads--then I have to try to go back and that's a bit like weaving a tapestry. Much easier to weave all the threads in from the beginning rather than go back later and have to loosen everything up enough to weave the new threads in.

I wonder if it's possible (read helpful) to write some each day--and also do some plotting (outlining) each day? I think this would move the whole process along. Besides, I don't always know before I start writing exactly how the characters are going to come out--express themselves.

Anyway, just curious to hear your thoughts on outlining/plotting. I know some people think it stifles creativity and some people swear by it. How about you?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Writing Books--Inspiration or Distraction?

Today's Mood: Inspired (I hope). Today's Music: U2 at the moment (I haven't settled yet) Today's Writing: Endless possibilities (I've got 8 hours to write today) Today's Quote:
And your main obsessions have power; they are what you will come back to in your
writing over and over again. .... They probably take over your life whether you
want them to or not, so you ought to get them to work for you. - Natalie

I'm reading Natalie Goldberg's book Writing Down the Bones. It makes me laugh in spots--she has a section on obsessions and talks about writing as an obsession for some people. She talks about writers who always think they should be writing no matter what else they might be doing--ha! I can relate to that. And writers who drink or eat too much chocolate (me) are doing it not because they are writers, but because they are writers who are not writing. And obsession twisted into something else.

On the whole, I enjoy reading books about writing. I ordered Heather Seller's latest writing book--Chapter after Chapter. But I found it interesting that when I talked to another writer about Sellers other book Page by Page, she didn't like it--and at first I felt the same way. Because Heather's writing style isn't mine. I'm not going to start writing by hand. I'm not going to draw little circles when I get stuck (I eat chocolate instead--or take a shower if I can). But in the end, I found if I take the stuff that does work and add it to my mix, it works.
When I was new at writing, it freaked me out. I felt like I had to do it (writing that is) a certain way. What I have learned from reading and attending writing conferences and small writing groups--and most of all just by writing--is that there are as many different ways to write as there are writers. I've started to do the teacher inservice rule (works for church sermons too)--if I get one good idea from it, then it's worth it. Granted, if I buy the book, I'm hoping for more than one idea. (I'm a librarian--go to your library and rent it free, then at least it doesn't cost you cold hard cash if it sucks.)

So, having said all that, any of you have a great writing book to recommend? Heather Sellers book Page by Page is inspiring to new writers (In my opinion) I love Anne Lamont's Bird by Bird. So far I'm enjoying Writing Down the Bones (I find it makes me inspired to write every day) And I have to admit I have a librarian's obsession with owning books, so I also have Story Structure Architect (kind of freaks me out because I'm still not sure about the whole plot thing--I just want to tell the story), Novelist's Essential Guide to Creating Plot and Novelist's Essential Guide to Creating Scenes, Immediate Fiction (haven't read it yet), Definitive Book of Body Language, Sometime the Magic Works (Terry Brooks), Character Naming, Character Traits (still waiting for that one to show up in the mail), Talk the Talk (another I'm waiting for), and of course, The Writer's Market.

I agree with Seller's on one thing for sure: writing means sitting down and writing--not reading about writing. I made the rule that I can only read about writing outside my writing time. (Incidentally, I've had to do the same thing with character profiling. I was starting to spend more time drawing and profiling my characters than actually writing!)

Happy writing!

Monday, January 15, 2007


Today's Mood: Calm. Today's Music: Ava Maria (just got back from a Catholic Funeral) Today's Writing: Weelllll..... see below. Today's Quote:
I'm a little afraid to start writing in case I screw it up. -Sarah McElrath
Am I stalling? I'm not sure. I mean, one could say that all this character developement is a necessary part of the story. After all, it helps to know a person's past in order to know how he/she will react to events in the future. But I suppose there comes a point when endlessly drawing pictures of my characters becomes a form of stalling--a way to put off the actual writing. And why would I want to do that? I love these characters. I'm excited about this story. I even have several scenes already in my head. But that, in and of itself, is the problem. I'm afraid to screw it up. I love these characters too much to mess with them. It's good in my head--what if when I write it down, it isn't as good? I know, I know--I need to get over it. I need to write knowing that it won't be good enough, but that's okay because that is what revision is for. I DO know. Yet today I drew instead of writing. However, today's drawing (queen bitch) was the last of the main characters. Tomorrow I have no excuse. Although I was thinking maybe I should outline....

Monday, January 8, 2007

Writing Group

Today's Mood: Happy. Today's Music: Alison Moyet. Today's Writing: The Mary Monologues. Today's Quote:
What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you
wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours. -J. D. Salinger
(The Catcher in the Rye)

I have writing group tonight and I can't wait! I love to go and hear what everyone has written. Each time I go to writing group, I learn something new--and often it is from other peoples' writing and not my own. Today I have something new to bring. After working on my second novel for so long, it's exciting to have something totally different to bring--and not just one chapter of a much longer piece!

For those of you who are in a small group, do you find yourself looking at your piece of writing and thinking about what individual members of your group might say? I think I'm finally starting to internalize certain comments from my writing group members--very helpful comments by the way!

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Submitting Articles

Today's Mood: industrious. Today's Music: Dixie Chicks--Taking the Long Way. Today's Writing: 2 query/cover letters and research (which involved both cutting things out of magazines and meeting a strange man for coffee) Today's Quote:

Keep writing. Keep doing it and doing it. Even in the moments when it's so
hurtful to think about writing. -Heather Armstrong


Submitting articles to magazines is a frustrating thing. First off, I'm never exactly sure which one would be the best one to submit to. Then there is the issue of writing a cover letter. Top that off with trying to figure out exactly who to address it to, and the whole experience is complete frustration. This week I made myself submit one of my essays even though I'm not holding out much hope on it actually being published. I can't quite decide if I am simply a masochist or just a determined writer. Maybe they are one and the same.

I also wrote up another cover letter for my first manuscript. I didn't print off the manuscript yet--I'm still trying to decide if I should send it out again even though I still have 4 queries out there. Of course, they've been out there since July so it's not like I'm rushing things here. I'll probably just send it out. What the heck. You can't win if you don't play, right?

The researching for my next novel is definitely more fun then submitting. I was having fun cutting eyes and noses and hairstyles out of magazines to "create" my characters. In the last novel I kept forgetting what eye color each character had, so this time I decided to come up with a picture (more or less) of each character. On the top of a sheet of paper I put his/her name and then go through magazines and cut out a picture of eyes the color of that character--nose, hairstyle, clothing....and glue those body parts on the sheet of paper. I write down the height, weight, interesting habits, physical characteristics, and any other unique things about that character. In the end I hope it helps to have that to refer back to as I write the book--if nothing else it's fun and I got a great picture of Orlando Bloom.

Anyone writing out there? Anything interesting going on? Done any submitting? Character profiling......? Hello?