Friday, March 19, 2010

I come to praise...

It is once again time for me to praise my critique group. They never fail to encourage me. One of our group told me a couple of weeks ago that I had no idea what a gift I have. Is that wonderful? Even my mother doesn't praise me like that!

And I enjoy praising their work, too. What an honor it is to encourage other writers, young or old (or in our case, middle-aged, mostly). To see someone's work improve and their confidence grow is a wonderful gift. How many of us miss that in our lives simply because we're afraid to share OUR stuff? Opening up to one another, reading those sometimes dreadful drafts, brings us so much freedom--freedom that shows in our ongoing work, and the ability to reach out to others.

This has been a year of many opportunities for me to praise and encourage others in the arts. And that has made it one of my most productive years--I think because the simple act of praising the creativity of others seems to open up my own creativity even more. May you be blessed with praise--both to receive and to give.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A season of productivity

For some reason, late winter in my family seems to lead to a flurry of production. My niece is even making her own laundry soap, I have planted a myriad of seeds and created little greenhouses of two-gallon plastic zip bags to protect the fragile growth, new closet doors are in, rugs have been cleaned, and...and my book's main character is nurturing her own productive fantasies, about which I must write with joie de vivre and lucidity.

For inspiration, I re-read a couple of Rett MacPherson's books, an Anne Perry (my favorite, her first book about her Mr. Monk), and am looking longingly at my Donna Andrews collection. But somewhere inspiration ceases and procrastination takes over, so I won't go there this week. I think and talk about my fiction all the time, to my writer friends mostly. I am constantly writing scenes in my head while I wait to pick up my daughter at junior high Bible study, then scribbling them in the little notebook I carry in the car. Then I come home and they become the bones of my next chapter or segment. What a crazy life I live! How fun is this?

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Slowest Writer on Earth?

I really must own that title. Who writes more slowly than I? As a copywriter, and later as a journalist, I churned out copy like a meat grinder. Chewed up all those ideas, and g-r-r-r-r out they came onto the plate, fully formed, coherent (mostly) stuff by the ream. But in fiction, I have spent too much time fretting about the fact that I don't know what I'm doing. I've never written a book! My specialty is generally 800 words or less. 1,200 words per article when a certain magazine asked, and I found that number daunting at first.

Now, I'm working on tens of thousands of words, for pete's sake, and have to worry about arc, characterization, dialog, subplots, and a number of other things I don't even have names for. Things have to make sense when I first put them down, and also a hundred pages or more later on. This is frightening! When I first started the story, it was just a paragraph that popped into my mind with a "what if" attached. Then a few scenes began to bug me, so I put them all down on the page and over the years cut out half of the copy and moved around most of the rest. I can't even remember when I started "The Fictional Writer." I think it was sometime before my daughter was born and she's 12 now! It was in very different form then, too, of course.

But the bottom line is that I think I've learned enough now (I sure HOPE so!) that I have a better idea where I'm going. I mostly need to flesh out the bones I've uncovered. (See previous post re. Stephen King.) And the second novel, begun recently, is moving much more easily. Writing the two in tandem is proving helpful because they are interrelated and sort of feed off of one another.