Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Favorite Part

Today's Mood: Focused. Today's Music: Rob Thomas-Fallin' to pieces. Today's Writing: IFFY. Today's Quote:
Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled "This could change your
life." -Helen Exley

At the end of last week I had an eighth grade student come in and interview me--as a writer. One of the questions he asked me was "What is your favorite part of writing?" I wasnt' exactly sure how to answer this without resorting to inappropriate metaphors like "the high I get when the story is pushing forward" or "the europhoria of finding the right word, of focusing my mind so tight that I am no longer even aware of myself--kind of like what happens with really good sex."

But of course, I couldn't say any of that to an eighth grade boy, so I settled for something like "When I am immersed in writing, I love the way it feels like I am using more of my mind than at any other time."

So what it YOUR favorite part of writing? And go ahead, make the metaphor as racy as you want.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Today's Mood: Reflective. Today's Music: Matchbox Twenty-Exile on Mainstreet. Today's Writing: IFFY. Today's Quote: (I'll get one in here tomorrow.)

I've got a question. Is a personal essay true? All true? Exactly true? One person's true but not another's? I've been having a discussion with my husband about a piece I wrote. It is what I call a personal essay. It is my view of life, and of course, since my husband is a part of my life, he shows up in my writing every once and a while. He is not always exactly comfortable with this. In fact, he's not comfortable with it at all. He won't read it because he is sure he won't like it. I might not have him saying things exactly as he remembers saying them. (which is really a whole issue in itself!)

For example, in my essay Perspective, I have my husband saying "There has to be lots of writing books that deal with perspective." He tells me that he actually said, "I've seen lots of books that deal with perspective."

Now, I personally don't remember the exact wording. I personally don't think it really matters either since this is not a hugely important part of the story. The point is that he suggested I check out some books on perspective. I did. Done.

But it brings about the question of truth and where does my right to tell my story infringe on his right to privacy. I could give him a different name. Create a whole new husband in fact--that could be fun. But really, it kind of defeats the purpose of being a personal essay if I can't write about my life as I see it.

Anyway, I'm curious about your opinions on the matter. Have any of you had issues/problems with people in your life not wanting you to write about them--at all?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How long?

Today's Mood: Calm. Today's Music: Pink Floyd-Wish you were here. Today's Writing: IFFY. Today's Quote:
Writing and reading is to me synonymous with existing. -Gertrude Stein

How long does it take to get a book published? Check out Nathan Bransford's blog post for an enlightening article about this very subject.
I read another great post about rejection, but can't find it at the moment. I'll add the link in a comment when I find it. It was a blog post by an editor about a site where authors wrote about the rejection letters they received and how they felt about it.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

New links

Today's Mood: Upbeat. Today's Music: Exile on Mainstreet--Matchbox 20. Today's Writing: Jane's Rant. Today's Quote:
Never show your writing to anybody who doesn't love you enough to tell you when it stinks. -The Writer's Little Helper.

I'm in the mood for something exciting. I don't know what, just something. The sun shine gets my creative juices flowing, and I'm so ready for spring! I've got an art project calling out to me, and IFFY is going well; Jane is even speaking up enough to rant--which gives me an even better look at her personality. My child is no longer ill (of the yucky stomach variety) and the other one hasn't come down with it yet (knock on wood) so I am getting enough sleep. And that definitely releases more optimism in my brain. So, life is good.

I want you all to notice the additional links I've added. Post Secret is a great online community art project. People create a postcard and write a secret that has never been told to anyone on the card and then mail it to this site. I love the way the picture and words work together to communicate. And some of them are hilarious, some sad.

The Magnet poetry is a huge time waster--but a great one! My friend says she can sit and waste hours playing solitary on the computer. I could waste hours creating poems this way. Lots of fun.

Stephanie mentioned 101 Reasons to stop writing with its demotivators at Khardomah. Funny stuff. The interview with Lynn Viehl (author of Paperback Writer--also a link over there on the side) is sarcastic and enlightening at the same time.

What is happening with you all? Any exciting writing going on?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Rejection lessons

Today's Mood: Pensive (light blue) Today's Music: Sarah MacLachlan. Today's writing: IFFY. Today's Quote:
Books choose their authors; the act of creation is not entirely a rational and conscious one. -Salman Rushdie

All writers have to deal with rejection. The more I have read and learned about writing, the more I have learned that to be a writer means you will have to deal with rejection. What I am still struggling to figure out, is how to deal with it.

The first rejection I got after sending out Black Dragon was like a stone thrown directly at my head. My manuscript wasn't any good. In fact, it was pure shit. Why, I wasn't any good either. Not a good writer. Not an interesting enough person to write anything interesting. The loop in my head was entirely personal and negative. I didn't write for a week.

But after several more rejections (which goes to show you there is something to the exposure to violence/rejection leading to a certain numbness theory), I developed a tougher skin. The editor/agent didn't like my work, but he/she was only one opinion. My work could be tighter, more polished, but it wasn't total shit. Still a negative loop, but not quite so personal. I didn't write for a day.

After many more rejections (and this is including the "good" (now there is an oxymoron for you!) rejections), the loop in my head sounds more like: My manuscript hasn't reached the right person yet. Where should I send it next? I struggled to get up with my alarm this morning, but it might have been due to staying up too late reading last night.

But I can't stop the disappointment. I mean, I knew that worrying about 2 publishers both wanting the piece at once was a dim almost impossible thing. Yet my mind went there. And seeing in black and white that one of them doesn't want it, still fills my stomach with a heavy disappointment. It was only through talking with my wonderful writing friends that I can manage to avoid the "maybe I'm just not that good a writer," loop.

So should we manage to crush that voice that whispers the "maybes"? Should we just drop the dream of getting published and say, oh well, it doesn't matter if I ever get published?

I don't think so. If I didn't care whether I was published or not, I probably wouldn't spend the time or money trying to get published. So, I have to care, but not make publishing the cornerstone of my writing. I need to write because I love to write. I need to dream about publishing in order to get the guts to keep submitting.

And I really, really need to listen. To my heart. To my writing friends when they tell me my writing is working. To the publisher/agent when she/he says it is good, just not what they are looking for. And most of all, I need to keep writing.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Khardoma Rflections

I wrote more at Khardoma than I have at any other PW outing. I've already made revisions to The Flowing Well, put a short piece about my dogs in my computer, and revised a couple of other pieces.

Lee asked about place affecting our writing. I think from the standpoint of everyone else working so hard, I had to write too. But where I am doesn't change what I write or how I write. I may be inspired by an experience in a new location, but that's not the same.

What I need and get from the writing community at our gatherings is feedback, a chance to help and be helped, to understand I'm not the only one struggling to keep at it. I learn new ways to say things.

Sarah talked about seeing things differently. I hope by seeing wildflowers, geese, ducklings, etc. that I can help others appreciate the same things. When I revisit a bait shop or fish a creek as I remember it, I keep the everchanging unchangeable. Houses, paving and strip malls cover most of the places I explored as a kid and the people who taught me are gone. By writing about them they live on and help me deal with the real loss of place and childhood. It's more than fitting the forget-me-nots grew along my favorite creek.

Vincent Van Gogh and Georgia O'Keefe both painted flowers, but their visions and interpretations were very different.

Both Trish's and Sue's pieces, along with many others, touched me. I have a 19-year-old son in college and my grandpa had horses. There's so much passion in the writing we heard.

Thanks to everyone in my group for their kind and helpful comments and to everyone who shared their vulnerability with us. I think that's where we might be the most different with non-artists. We're not afraid to expose ourselves, to show our deepest emotions, fears, or sorrows.

I came home with a new invigoration to write.