Night Owl, Night Writer

  • June 24, 2018
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night forest photo

“I could sit in the middle of Sunset Boulevard and write with my typewriter on my knees; temperamental I am not.”

–Louis L’Amour

 

I once spent a day trying to write a story. I sat on my couch with a pen and pad and faced nothing but blankness. This is it, I thought. I can no longer write. I was terrified. The gift that fueled me, helped me, defined me was gone.

Then, night fell and the words flowed. I realized that I was a creative writer at night and a better editor by day. The relief and gratitude I felt was immense, and I planned my writing time accordingly.

That was a while back. I no longer need the night to write. Taking inspiration from Mr. L’Amour, I’ve written on buses and trains and standing on line at the supermarket. But still, when the skies darken and the area becomes quiet and fragrant with the scent of grass or still and blanketed in snow, everything and anything becomes possible. The words might be pared down or even deleted the next day, but during that time of moon and stars, the words travel down mystical roads weaving their own magic.

Are you a night writer or a day writer?

 

 

*Photo by Pezibear (Pixabay)

Writing on the Road and There’s No Pen

  • April 29, 2018
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What do you do when you’re driving and a great line of dialogue pops into your head?

I try not to think of my stories during those times but sometimes it’s a natural progression of thought (do we ever really stop thinking about those people?).

I had the line, the perfect sentence. But I was driving and there was no place to pull over. I called a friend.

And It’s Done!

  • March 19, 2018
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I finally finished my short story for the anthology Elements: Tales From The Substratum, and it’s now being reviewed by my editors. And what does one do in the meantime?

 

Spring is Coming–Writers, Are You Ready?

  • March 05, 2018
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In preparation, I’m reposting a couple of blog entries to get us all in the mood.

Spring Cleaning for Writers

 

A Writer Battles the Paper Monster

*Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

Writing and Training

  • February 12, 2018
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olympics photo

 

It’s Olympics week. You’re watching from the couch and agreeing or disagreeing with the commentators before heading back to work.

You sit down at your desk. Pencil, pen, or laptop? It doesn’t matter. You flex your fingers and prose effortlessly flows onto the page. You knock out a few chapters in uninterrupted silence.

Okay, you can stop laughing. Obviously that’s a fantasy. But how many times do people see the final product and think how easy it is?

How easy is it to do a triple salchow on the ice with millions of eyes on you?

I admire the athletes for their determination and practice. It’s the practice and training that help them rise above the pack. I’m sure there are plenty of days when they’d like to stay home and watch TV with slices of cake. And if they wanted to, they could. But they don’t. They have their eye on a different goal and they work hard to make it happen.

Do you? Are you working on improving your writing every chance you get? It’s easy to get published these days as an indie author. More than once I’ve browsed through a story that had such potential but failed. Sometimes it failed for ridiculously simple reasons—bad spelling, punctuation, or grammar. Those were mechanical errors that should have been fixed, either by the author or by someone they paid. That’s nuts-and-bolts errors, the technical factors that the judges count when the ice skaters touch the ice with their hand when they lose their balance.

Then there’s the artistry of writing. The voice that calls out to readers and pulls them in. It’s a story that’s compelling, with strong characters who make you feel involved and invested in what happens.

I hate to tell you this but while there are many wonderful and glorious times when the words do flow and I’m lost in creation, there are many more times of slogging through the mud.

I’ve trained. I’ve sweated over wording and learned from teachers who kindly explained why using diamonds and stars in the same sentence to describe water wouldn’t work. And I’m still learning. Still training. If I want to be the best writer I can be, this is what it takes. Anything less is fooling myself, like thinking I can do a double axel on the ice while watching TV.

So let’s get to it. Practice starts tomorrow. Don’t be late.

Gone Writing

  • February 05, 2018
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Walking down the twisted paths inside my head. See ya next week.

Up in the Adirondacks

  • November 06, 2017
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I spent a long weekend in the Central Adirondacks with a group of friends. It was exactly what I needed, the catching up, the laughter, and especially, those mountains surrounding me.

Day two began with a power outage that lasted most of the morning, and we fortified ourselves with cold cereal and muffins. By the afternoon, everyone was out, either hiking on trails, puttering along the lakes in a motor boat, or hanging out in their own cabins. I sat at the table in my cabin and began writing. The mountain facing me radiated absolute quiet but not silence. Peace steeped my bones, and my pen worked diligently across the page.

There wasn’t time to do a lot of writing, but that moment of solitude and clarity was the spark. At least it worked better than me trying to light the fireplace. For the record, what you’re seeing in the photo below is the newspaper burning. Alas, the logs were too damp to catch on. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

There isn’t much more to say except yes, it was hard to leave.

But here’s someone who was glad to see me when I returned home. And thankfully, the writing spark is still going strong.

Fiction and Foreign Languages

  • October 16, 2017
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You know what happens. You’re reading a story and a character who doesn’t know your language says something in it. And you cringe, because the word is correct but the nuance is wrong.

Flowers and World Building

  • August 21, 2017
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Years ago, my parents drove through a neighborhood on Long Island where lush, green lawns adorned the front of every house. Each lawn had one or two azalea bushes in bright fuchsia.

As we drove past manicured lawn after manicured lawn with that splash of fuchsia dotting a spot, I began to think of the Stepford Wives. My parents shook their heads at me and said they probably all used the same lawn service. A friend went one further and said the plants were probably best for the area given the weather conditions.

But my mind’s eye never forgot those almost-identical patches of land, one after the other. And my novel used that as a perfect spot for vampires to live, hidden inside that sameness.

I drove to Long Island a few days ago to see if that still existed.

“No,” said my friend. “Azaleas bloom in the spring.”

Oh.

So I drove around neighborhoods and discovered that the flower of choice right now seemed to be black-eyed Susans. I called my friend from the car. “Why?”

“It’s drought tolerant.”

“I don’t think we’re in a drought.”

“We’re not, but drought-tolerant plants need less water so it’s better for the water bill. They last from summer to early fall,” she added.

Ah.

I’ll be making more trips as the season turns to fall. World building can be a tricky business.

 

 

When Your Writing Goes Wrong

  • July 31, 2017
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You’re writing a story. You write a few pages, maybe a chapter or two (if it’s a novel), and then you reread it. Something is wrong. Maybe it’s the tone (too dark, too frivolous, too dry) or maybe the characters aren’t behaving the way you want them to. What do you do?

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