Friday, February 26, 2010
I'm late to the blog posting today, sorry! I get to spend the whole afternoon writing today, so this will be brief. I'd love to play a "get to know you" game. Anybody up for it? Answer any or all of the following questions in the comments section.
Who is your writing (or artistic) role model? Who inspires you?
What genre(s) do you write?
What's your favorite thing about writing?
OK, I'll go first!
Writing role model: I love Shannon Hale. I love the way she writes strong, thinking, brave heroines, and weaves this gorgeous prose around them. She creates vivid, fairy-tale worlds where there is immediate danger and also magic everywhere. She is also a mom and someone who seems to care about the world. I've seen her speak and she was down-to-earth, kind and FUNNY. Also, as she was signing books, she pulled up a chair for me next to her so I could nurse my fussy baby boy. How much classier can you get?
Genre: I write mostly YA. So far, I have stayed within the world of fantasy. But I have at least two ideas for contemporary novels as well. My books do not have wizards or dragons or fairies (though I love those books too!) but they do have mystical elements. They seem like novels set in some faraway time and place, but there is always some magic involved. I asked an agent how he would describe my work last year and he said, "You could call it 'literary fantasy'" Hello? I LOVED that. So, that's what I'm going with: literary fantasy.
Favorite thing about writing: BEING TRANSPORTED. No question, that's my favorite part of the whole process. It's like a free ticket to Narnia, anytime I want it. (What I always dreamed of as a child!) Though I guess I go to different worlds--worlds that *I* create. It's phenomenal. I get to invent luscious, exciting, heart-racing situations and throw my characters (and myself!) into them. It's so much fun, I love it. It reminds me of when the trolley would come by on Mister Rogers Neighborhood. I would get so excited! The trolley could go to The Land of Make Believe, where there was a castle and talking kitties and tree-houses and magic.
Oh! I think I hear the trolley bell calling for me! I'm off to my own little land of make-believe. See you on the flip side. : )
Can't wait to hear your answers.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Please don't laugh, but, this is where I feel like I am with my writing: Just-about-to-bloom.
I have been writing and learning and working with a critique group for a few years. I have gone to quite a few writing conferences and workshops. I finally feel like I am getting a handle on it. And exciting things are starting to happen.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not published, I don't have an agent. But I have that sense of immense possibility on the horizon. I feel like my dreams are just around the corner. I was listening to "Bridge Over Troubled Water" not long ago and I almost cried during these lines:
Sail on Silver Girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way.
Isn't that beautiful!? Can't you just hear Art Garfunkel's sweet voice singing it?
So, of course I had to put that on the bulletin board in my writing space:
ALL YOUR DREAMS ARE ON THEIR WAY.
I love thinking about it that way. I'll just keep working away and doing my best. Meanwhile, my dreams are on a boat, sailing closer ever day.
I hope yours are too.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
I just had to make a change. I hope you like the new look. I felt too limited by all that pink. I will be posting first thing tomorrow morning but I wanted to say: IT'S STILL ME! I just gave the blog a bit of a makeover.
Hope your Sunday was perfect.
Friday, February 19, 2010
I am horrible at decisions. I hate to admit it, but it's true.
This is what makes PLOT so hard for me. Once I get to know my characters, I am aware of the MILLIONS of possible paths they could take. I am acutely aware of the paths not taken, and they distract me. Not only that, once I settle on the basic plot arc, there are a hundred different ways I could express that same story line. Should I have flashbacks? Should I use the first person or the third? Should I add poetry at the beginning of each chapter?
Being the magic overlord of my characters is not always an easy wizard hat to bear, my friends. ("Heavy hangs the head that wears the.... wizard hat," as the saying goes. I believe it's Shakespeare. But don't quote me.)
It is a conundrum.
And it never ends. You never stop having to make decisions. When you're revising, it's: Should I cut this paragraph? Am I gilding the lily here? Do I use the word "looked" too many times? (Yes, always, always. I can't help it!)
And then there are all the decisions about the publishing process. Who should I submit to? Should I try to get an agent? Which one? At what point do I follow up?
It's enough to make the magic story overlord tear her hair out!
But... I'm calm now.
So, how do I get better at decisiveness? I'll be honest, it's a skill I could stand to hone in my personal life too.
Is this an issue for anybody else?
Is there a book?
Is there a mind trick?
Did I just get the short straw in the decision-making gene department?
Should I cultivate ruthlessness?
Maybe consider training as a spy?
(Now those people have to make quick decisions...)
Any help is much appreciated.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
It's also one of those days when I don't feel able to make sense of death. The loss--though not mine--feels raw and unjust. So, I am just sitting with that today. With both truths.
Even though I just changed a poopy diaper and broke up a fight over a stuffed mouse, I'm glad I'm here, with these two round-cheeked, brilliant, imperfect children. And I'm aware that not everyone is having a day like mine, ordinary and easy. Some people are holding on by a thread today, trying to wrap their hearts around a new reality.
So, I'm sending blessings out to all of you, no matter what kind of day you're having.
Monday, February 15, 2010
The following list is not comprehensive, but it's a start.
Teach you about something you've never heard of.
Let you know how things might go (the first day of kindergarten, a break-up, sex with a vampire...)
Make you feel alive.
Make you restless.
Awaken your curiosity.
Heal an old wound.
Take you on an adventure.
Inspire you to write, build, act, dance, or paint.
Light a fire inside you.
Show you who you want to be.
Show you who you don't want to be.
Connect people with one another.
Shine a light on painful subjects.
Remind you of who you are.
Make you swoon.
Make you sob.
Make you believe in miracles.
Make you despair.
Make you laugh.
Spark a change in your life.
Bring back the past.
Imagine the future.
Illuminate the moment.
Wake you up.
Keep you company.
Help you escape.
Open your mind.
Lessen your burden.
Fill you with hope.
Reveal the world's cruelty.
Flip your worldview.
Spur you to action.
Expand your idea of what's true.
Make you think the author is speaking just to you.
Nudge a dream awake.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Can I call you my readers? That sounds a bit presumptuous. Almost like something a published writer would say... But I just can't get myself to say "Followers." And here's why: I am an experienced blog reader. I have read and followed kid-lit blogs for quite some time, but the blog writers likely had no idea. I had their blogs bookmarked, I checked in on them regularly. I read their posts and admired them from afar, always thankful that someone was bothering to write about writing. But I was either too shy or too busy to join in the conversation most of the time.
I think the technical term is "lurking". But I don't like that one either. I'm well aware that there may be many people reading this who don't care to comment and who don't choose to "Follow" per the Blogger system. (OK fine, it's probably just my mother-in-law and my critique group buddies, but still! You're out there, I know it!)
So I just want to say THANK YOU. My little foray into blogging has been a BLAST so far. I find it just downright delightful to think about writing and creativity and to share my thoughts with you. When you share your thoughts in return, it's awesome. But not necessary. (Though seeing those neat little rows of followers just tickles me pink! Thanks to those of you jumped on board. You made my day every time!)
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I find that I cannot sit down and write when there are other things to tend to around the house (children, meals, etc.) I need to get to my writing space or a library so I can focus. But then, when the writing time begins, I find that I need a little transition time. In an ideal world, I need to move my body first, either walking or dancing (sometimes at the same time, more on that another day.) But even if I only have a short time to write, I need to do something that signals to my brain: NOW IS YOUR WRITING TIME. Don't waste it.
Sometimes I listen to music. Sometimes I write in a writing journal. I can just blurt out what I'm thinking and get the wheels greased. It seems to clean out my mental closet and also warm up my writing muscles. When I was finishing up the last draft of my manuscript I lit a candle on my desk as a reminder too "keep the fire under me" to finish it. That was really useful.
But now I think I'm ready to develop a way to expedite the process. I want to try to make that jump from Daily-Grind Mama into Super-Imaginative Writer Mama more swiftly. So, I'm on the case! Searching for a ritual or a new tradition for getting myself into writing mode. I'll probably experiment with different things this week.
Any ideas? What do you do? Do you have a regular way of transitioning into your writing time? If you have some tried-and-true techniques--or even some crazy ideas--to suggest I will try them all and report back in. Thanks!
Monday, February 8, 2010
Well, you knew it was coming. I wasn't going to be able to resist talking about THEATRE. There have been so many parallels in my creative efforts in both acting and writing, it's fascinating. Even after almost five years of learning, I still feel like a newbie in writing. But the world of theatre is much more familiar and comfortable to me. Many of the things I learned in drama school are completely relevant to writing. So... I am climbing up onto the dusty stage right now, clearing my throat, and gripping the lapel of my smoking jacket... Ahem.