Reading Other Writers on the Path

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I’ve read books that explain grammar and editing. While they offer necessary advice, those are not the ones I want to talk about here. I enjoy reading about writers discussing the journey, the weird, quirky, baffling journey that I’m on as a writer.

I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you, the ones I’ll pick up off the shelf and dip into, reading where the book opens. In no particular order:

Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg

If you haven’t read this, run and pick up a copy. I remember the first time I began reading it. I was on the subway, squished between people on the long gray bench as the car rattled and swayed. I read a few of her essays and was filled with the sudden strong desire to write and had to close the book. I had to go to work and, sadly, there was no time. But really, how could I not like a book with chapters titled “Fighting Tofu” and “Do Not Marry the Fly?”

For Writers Only, by Sophy Burnham

I adore this book. Her comments are interspersed with quotes from many authors and they give me such a feeling of we’re all in this together and it’s all fine. Some quotes she gathered:

“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” —Agatha Christie

“Walking on water wasn’t built in a day.” —Jack Kerouac

“I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work. —Pearl Buck

The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear, by Ralph Keyes

We like to think we’re normal. But it’s easy to wonder, in the solitude of our chosen career, whether we really are. The simplest things attack our brains and Ralph Keyes goes a long way to bringing them out into the spotlight and helping them fade away.

One chapter starts off with this:

A friend of mine named Lorraine left an insurance company to become a writer. After a few days, Lorraine called to get some pointers about her new career. “You’ve been writing for a few years, right?” she began.

“Right,” I answered.

“Well, I have a very important question to ask you.”

“Yes?”

“Do you get dressed in the morning or what?”

 

I read these words and a weight shifted off my shoulders. I was not alone in pondering this difficult question. In fact, opening his book at random to see what would be good to share made me realize it’s time to reread this one. See ya next week!

 

*Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Looking for Magic and Writing Your Way

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How do you see the world? Your street? Your neighbors? Do you observe strangers’ body language and clothing and imagine they’re on their way to rob a bank? Are they en route to perform surgery? Or will they melt into the ground as soon as they turn the corner?

How does it all look when you gaze at something? What does it feel like? Where does your mind take you?

I was eight years old and squeezed into the corner of a tiny elevator with my family. Our eyes were on the elevator door, waiting for it to open. Suddenly, the solid wall I was pressed against disappeared, and I fell through. The only thing that flashed into my head was Alice.

Title Reveal!

The title of my urban fantasy novel is:

Magical Ties (Book One of the Emily Goddard Chronicles)

There’s no cover yet but that’s coming!

So, What’s It About?

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Sorry, I can’t tell you.

While I’m writing a story, I can’t tell people what it’s about. It’s not that I don’t want to tell. I really, really do. The characters and their adventures are churning inside me like a pressure cooker and I’d love to discuss it. But I can’t. Because I once told the plot of a story while I was still writing it, and something terrible happened. I no longer needed or wanted to finish it—it had its audience. I literally lost that story.

I’ll be happy to discuss the genre, how many pages I have so far, and where I like to write, anything and everything—except the plot.

Actually, now that I think of it, I keep the plot a secret from myself as well. It’s why I don’t write outlines. I tried that once and ended up with another story I no longer needed to write. The sense of urgency was gone. I knew everything that was going to happen so there was no need to write it out. Now, I write outlines after the scenes are written as a way to keep track of my characters. But the future scenes are left blank.

Welcome to the mind of one writer. I once met a writer who loved outlines and others who had no trouble discussing their plot. I’m only able to talk about the processes that work for me but I don’t say they’ll work for everyone. So here’s my piece of advice: If your process works, don’t mess with it. Talk about it, don’t talk about it, outline, don’t outline. But no matter what you answer, remember to smile nicely when you do.

 

* Image courtesy of Boykung at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Multiple Genres? Write Them All

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I always saw myself as a novelist. Short stories were just too short. And I had no interest in any other form.

So I was caught completely off guard when I wrote a folk song last year. I’ve always said I couldn’t rhyme. Not to mention I have no knowledge of writing music or the business of song writing, for that matter. So sometimes I hum my song and sing the words when no one’s around and then go my way. (Be grateful you can’t hear me sing.)

At around the same time, I watched some blues performances on TV and began writing what I call jazz poetry in free verse. And the imagery rolled out, completely opposite to who I am, with hazy smoke staining the walls and a shot glass on the table.

A short story was required for an anthology and I lopped off straggling plot developments from an unfinished novel idea and made it fit.

And then there’s my urban fantasy novel that’s in the production stage, with the sequel beginning to trickle into my head.

It’s all good. It’s all different. It doesn’t matter if you choose to write three books in different genres or three different types of writing or more. The most amazing thing about writing is that we get to do it all if we want.

Will all of it be publishable? Any of it? Who knows? How will we know unless we try?

 

* Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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