Saturday, November 29, 2008

Partially Addicted

Today's Mood: Relaxed (as much as I can be with a head cold) Today's Music: Marisa is singing upstairs, but that's it. Today's Writing: this and emails (although I did stay up writing til midnight last night) Today's Quote:
In Steven King's book "On Writing" (one of the selections of the shortlived YesAnd book club of years back), he says you should never use an adverb. If you stumble across one, rewrite the sentence. -Greg Wymer
What is your opinion of adverbs? A necessary evil? Descriptive writing? Death to all ly words? As you may--or may not--know, I've been deep in revision of Black Dragon. Working one on one with another writer has been very educational. I slave over a section until I can't tighten it any more, and then I get it back from my wonderful writing mentor and--lo and behold!--her comments make it sooooo much tighter and better. The last section she gave back with the words, "This section was tight." I looked it over the next morning and found that she lied. It had blue ink all over it, and, as usual, her suggestions made it much better.

Since the first step to conquering an addiction is admitting that one has a problem, I'm here to tell you, I have a problem. I am addicted to ly words. My characters smile slightly, shrug half-heartedly, and wish desperately. Sometime I just can't figure out how to say the same thing without using an adverb. I mean, sometimes I can change the verb and have it mean the same thing--but not always. There are times where I just can't find a verb that means quite the same thing.

However, I've been going through the three step revision program, and now I'm proud to say it's been three days since I've used an ly modifier. My characters give lopsided smiles, shrug one-shoulder, and pray.

Hopefully I don't fall off the band-wagon. : )

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One way or another

Today's Mood: Scattered. Today's Music: Matchbox 20--Mad Season. Today's Writing: Revising chapter 50, 51 of BD. Today's Quote:
I blame it on the snow. Here I am, hoping for a snow day, and what do I get? Extra early writing time! We lost power last night, but no problem, my travel alarm clock was right in the bedside drawer. I set the alarm and went back to sleep. Until my daughter called for me. The house was too quiet. Not much I could do about that--other than sing. She decided quiet was preferable. My alarm rang at 5:40 and five minutes later, the power came back on. Later, I was mixing up my cappuccino while I waited for my car to de-ice itself. I happened to glance at the battery-operated clock in the kitchen. 5:30. Hmm. That wasn't right. I went and checked my cell phone. 5:30 a.m. Holy cows! I got up at 4:45! Well, that's one way to get some extra writing time.

It was good. Really good. I had the extra time needed to dig in and get some good writing done. But there is no way in hell I'm getting up that early tomorrow! In fact, I'm hoping for a snow day.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Today's Mood: Relaxed- Well, as much as I ever am. Today's Music: Love is Blindness by U2 (at the moment) Today's Writing: Revising Chapter 44 of BD. Today's Quote:

Passion is the quickest to develop, and the quickest to fade. Intimacy develops more slowly, and commitment more gradually still. Robert Sternberg

Yesterday was my husband's birthday, as well as the second Monday of the month--which is when my writing group meets. I attended the meeting. Now, before you all think I'm a horribly callous wife, let it be known that my husband didn't mind since he prefers not to make a big deal of getting another year older. (I keep reminding him that the alternative is grim.) I bring this up simply to illustrate the fact that I believe writing groups are a commitment.

It was an interesting meeting. All of us showed up, and we even had a new (prospective) member at the meeting. She wanted to get a feel for us, and we wanted to do likewise. She seemed to fit in right away with her fun sense of humor, and good listening and conversation skills. She expressed the desire to make writing more a part of her life than it has been so far. Then one of the other members talked about how she hasn't written much lately and how she hoped to come away from group inspired. All good. To me, writing groups should meet both of those needs--helping me to focus on my writing, and inspiring me with good writing and good feedback.

Therefore it was interesting to me that neither of those women wanted to read the piece they had brought to share. "This is just something old. It's really too personal," the one explained. "The piece I brought was written to read aloud to a large group. It doesn't work well as a written piece," said the other.

Now, I have to admit that I am not the most tactful person in the world (shock!). So in my usual style I challenged them. "Come on! You just told us you wanted to make writing a focus in your life, and you wanted to be inspired, and now I hear slackers and whiners." Okay yeah, not tactful in the slightest. Hopefully I didn't scare this wonderful new woman away from the group.

The good news is that I bullied them into reading their writing. Well, it was good for me. It was inspiring for me. Whether it was good for them--I'm not sure, and I'm sorry that I was so harsh. But the writing shared was well-written, luminous, full of images and language and ideas that made me think.

And the evening has stayed with me. On the way home last night, during the night, on the drive to work this morning. Was I right to call them out? If you are a part of a writing group, do you owe that group something? What? If you are new, and checking out a group, do you owe them the chance to hear your writing as well as the chance to check out theirs? What are you committing to when you join a group? Just showing up? Showing up with something to share?

Life happens. I know that. There are times when it is impossible to come--illness, family, deadlines, work. I have missed a few times due to kids conferences, concerts, illnesses. Once in a while it might be impossible to bring a piece of writing. ... Okay, so I can't think of examples for this one, but I'm sure there are some. The point is, stuff happens. (and lots of times that stuff is shit--but that's another post) But if you have showed up, and even brought something you must have at least considered sharing, then isn't it just your gremlins causing you to not share? Your fear that it won't be "good" enough?

Maybe the answers to my questions depend on what type of writer you are: recreational, professional, obsessive, or maybe even just grimly determined like me. Do you belong to a writing group? If so, what part does it play in your life? Are there any expectations within your group? Or is all this just me being obsessive?