Friday, August 29, 2008

Listening to the muse

Today's Mood: Busy. Today's Music: Um, basically nothing. The sound of vacuum cleaning until I sucked up a doll sweater and smoke started coming out along with a burning rubber smell. I turned it off. Today's Writing: nothing until this blog. Today's Quote: I got nothing.
It's changing time again (not like any part of life isn't full of change) Gone are the late nights (or they should be anyway) since my alarm is going off in that early gray light before morning. Gone are the Mike's Hard Lemonade because I'm so tired that if I have alcohol I'll fall asleep. Gone are the "what are we going to do today" discussions/possibilities. BUT the scheduled writing time is back, the kids are separated, spending time with friends their own age, and therefore when they are together, they fight less. (Supposedly. Hopefully.)

Anyway, I blame the changing lifestyle on why I haven't written much this week. I'm thinking about Black Dragon most of the time. Back ground thinking, you know. The kind that scrolls through the back of your brain like those announcements that scroll along on the bottom of the TV screen. Every now and then it flashes and I focus on it for a little while, maybe even write something down. But most of the week I've been busy focusing on why in the hell are they tearing about the building to figure out the cable system NOW when the building has been EMPTY all summer!? Or how am I supposed to meet everyone's needs when I am only getting 6 new projectors and I need 9?

I titled this post Listening to the muse because I do need to focus on what is scrolling through my mind--and I need a place and time for that listening. Which I'll get next week at the daunting hour of 6:30 a.m. every school day. But I also wanted to think about what happens when I get a lot of opinions--usually different opinions--about what I am writing. I've had a number of people read Black Dragon and each of them have opinions on what I should change. Now, believe me when I tell you they all mean well. They all approach it with a "I wonder what would happen if....." They are all aware that I am the author and so I decide if I want to change it or not.

The problem is me. I am looking for the "RIGHT" way to tell the story. And because I'm not always sure what that is (read "I'm almost never sure what that is") I often go along with making the changes. Especially if the reader is confident of what should be changed.

Don't get me wrong, this has often made the story stronger. It's just that, after awhile and a lot of different opinions, I need to stop and take time to listen to what the story is telling ME. I get to where I almost don't want to share it for awhile. Does anyone else feel that way? Is it just me not wanting to work hard and change things?

I don't know, I guess I just wonder if there is certain times when you should seek the opinions of others, and certain times that you shouldn't. Not that there are hard and fast rules or anything--or even if there were rules, all rules are made to be broken. Sometimes I feel like I have to work on two different things at once--one that I don't mind sharing and getting feedback, and the other that I want to keep to myself for now.

Anyway, hope you all have a great holiday weekend. Enjoy the hot weather (now that school is starting. Figures.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

First sentence funk

Today's Mood: Good. Today's Music: Sarah McLachlan--Afterglow Live. Today's Writing: working on revising Black Dragon. Today's Quote:
Which brings us back to perhaps the two most BASIC PRINCIPLES OF WRITING:

1. Execution Is Everything.
If you can figure out how to do anything well, you can do anything.

2. Never Say Never.
If you can figure out how to do anything well, you can do anything.
Editorial Anonymous
How much does that first sentence matter? It should capture the reader's attention, pull him/her in and make him/her want to read more, and set the tone/mood of the story. No small feat. In fact, it's putting me in a funk. I have started BD fifty different ways, and I can't say that any of them start with "a sentence you remember forever." But then again, I can't say I remember any first sentences other than "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." And "In the beginning..." So hey, maybe as long as I get a STRONG first sentence, I can quit worry about the best ever category.

Obviously in the rough draft stage all I need is a sentence that pulls me in, but it's different when revising. Now I have to try to think like a reader. Of course, every reader is different which is why some people in my small group like one thing and others liked something different. My head is starting to spin and I haven't even had a drink! Yet. I bet I might like my writing better if I did drink.

How much do you think the first sentence matters? Do you have any favorite first sentences?

Friday, August 15, 2008


Today's Mood: Focused. Today's Music: None yet--but I'll put the music library on shuffle while I write. Today's Writing: Going to work on revising Black Dragon as soon as the kids are off to daycare. Plus I have a few essays I want to send out. Today's Quote:
"My world--my rules." -Robyn Ford reminded me of this. Don't know if she got if from somewhere or made it up, but it is a great reminder for a fiction writer.

The camping trip was not one that will go down in the record books--either as good or bad. We spent several hours on Sunday in a doctors office in Traverse City due to swimmer's ear, but other than that, it was a fairly uneventful trip. Oh, except I lost the keys to the camper the day before we left so we almost didn't go. However, I eventually found them in the cupboard with the potatoes. All I can figure is that I scooped them up with the bag of potatoes and dumped them both in the camper cupboard. Sigh. That's what happens when I get crazy trying to do fifty things at once. And really, I have to blame that on the book Breaking Dawn. It kept me up until 4 a.m. and then I still had to finish it on Tuesday when I was supposed to be packing.

Since I've been back, the dilemma has been what do I work on? Should I try to gather up the story threads to IFFY and continue pounding out that rough draft? Or, since that story has migrated so far away from me, should I let it go for now (I do have enough written that I won't LOSE it entirely) and work on getting Black Dragon revised so that I can get it out there again?

I had a long conversation with T. McDonald and she told me about this non-fiction class she had taken. The instructor encouraged the people to work on the piece that was "most marketable." Which, in my case, would be Black Dragon because that is the closest to being "finished." Which is defined as the closest to being able to be sent out to agents and editors.

And so. Today I will pull BD out, dust it off, and get revising. What I need to remember is that it is my fictional world. I can make it whatever I want. That may sound like a no-brainer to you, but I am so bound by reality. I need to make a big sign with "My world-my rules" and set it up on my desk so I remember it always. Reality is what you make it, after all. So I need to shake off the real world. Shake it off, girl, shake it off!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Today's Mood: STRESSED! Today's Music: soundtrack to Juno--yup, I am a vampire! Today's Writing: None--that might be why I'm stressed. Today's Quote:
"People want all the answers before they actually do the writing. But it's in the process of writing that you discover where you're going to go with a memoir."
-Natalie Goldberg
Just thought I'd send a quick note telling you all to write hard while I'm away camping. Not writing. In a small, one room pop-up with my family. All week. With no alone time to write. I brought a journal and sketch pad and hope that saves me. Of course, it will probably be wonderful and fun and adventurous and .... I need more sleep before I can believe all that. Packing really does stress me out.

Anyway tell me what you've been up to while I'm gone!