Tuesday, August 19, 2008

playing pretend for real results

I used to love finding time alone to write. Now I'm finding that--especially while writing a first draft--it's easier to motivate myself in the company of friends.

At first this seemed strange. What was the matter with me? Why wouldn't I just get going on my own the way I used to do? But now I think those are the wrong questions to be asking. Why not accept that I've changed, and put some things in place to adjust to this new way of doing things? I mean, it's easier to get interested in taking a walk when it's with a friend. (Fortunately my husband has started taking the bus to work so I often walk him down to the bus stop in the morning or meet him in the late afternoon. It's fun--but it wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable without him.) And cooking is also more fun in company with others. Lots of things in life are just better with a friend.

So anyway, I put out the word amongst my writing friends, inviting them to set up meetings for writing together. So far only one person has been committed to meeting twice a week without fail. Others have more draconian schedules with demanding jobs, etc. But even once a month here or twice a month there might make us all more productive. And somehow when someone else is sitting across the table with a notebook or a Notebook, the question of motivation disappears.

I've also decided to play pretend. Why not let my imagination help me? On the days when no one is scheduled to join me, I will pretend. I'll set up my day "as if," and then when the time arrives to write, if a real person doesn't show up, an imaginary friend can sit across from me and scribble away.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

golden dragonfly

golden dragonfly--
what is it you know? I stop
to remember now

I saw a golden dragonfly this morning. It flew past my eyes and then paused for a full minute on a leaf in front of my face. Its wings were clear except for a pattern of purest gold. Its body shimmered against the green leaf and it had a jeweled head. Wow.

I've seen blue-green dragonflies before--many of them. But this golden one seemed to have flown straight from the realms of mythical alchemy into my yard.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Every week for critique

It's Saturday, which means I met with my writing buddies, Rebecca and Lisa. We're all working on fiction, and we find that meeting together every week for critique helps keep us motivated.
But aren't our stories enough in themselves to keep us motivated?
Speaking for myself, yes and no.
Yes, I'll wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for a scene, and in the uncritical glow of the darkness, that idea feels whole, immediate, and possible.
No, because in the light of day I begin to struggle with myself and think maybe the idea is no good; maybe it belongs only to the realm of fleeting delusions.
But knowing Rebecca and Lisa will be waiting for pages helps me write the scene anyway--and the next one and the one after. If I were to bring only a few paragraphs, my buddies would lift their eyebrows in stern compassion. "What's up with you?" they would ask.
And I would do the same for them.

doubt and fear, the twins--
frequent companions
for the creative writer

Now that's poetry. :) Five, seven, five.

Thank you, Rebecca and Lisa. Without you, I would write with the speed of a slug who hasn't yet found the strawberry patch.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Welcome, and new books announcement

Welcome to my blog! For a year or two, friends have been urging me to blog. But I was sooo busy--mostly with writing books. And writing takes such a lot of time--it really does. Especially if, like me, you're a perfectionist. What exactly does it mean to be a perfectionist about writing? Is it simply a foolish neurotic obsession with getting every word "right"--which is an impossible goal? Or is it more of a mental torture device for creating impossible goals?

I've set a challenge for myself with this blog: to appreciate the perfection of imperfection by writing without being careful of each word I set down. This might very well mean that I don't often blog. It could also mean I end up posting some delightfully flawed poetry. Or it could mean that I ramble on without cohesion and then have an identity crisis. It's an experiment.

My two new books on writing are now available. I know many fans have been patiently waiting for new fiction from me--and that's also on the way. But I just had to write Seize the Story and Wild Ink.

Now that they're done, I'm so happy and proud. Grateful, too--especially to my publisher, Cottonwood Press. There's nothing like working with friendly perfectionists! (Especially my editor.) I might even go so far as to say that when it comes to getting things done--and done well--friendly perfectionism is a hard-to-beat combination.

Enough preamble. About the books:
Seize the Story: A handbook for teens who like to write is for teens who love creative writing and want to know more about bringing forth your own characters, plots, dialogue, and settings. The book also talks about using bad times to write good stories and what to do when feeling blocked. (Can adults use this book? Absolutely.) It includes interviews and writing excerpts from other authors, too.

Wild Ink: How to Write Fiction For Young Adults is for people interested in writing YA novels. It's all about finding your inspiration and sticking with it until you reach The End of your book. It also demystifies the process of submitting your manuscript and getting published. Included: interviews with editors, agents, and other authors.

The official publication date for these books is September 1st, but they are actually available now!!

Other than that, here's a haiku:
across horizons
colors come and go, rise, fall
and travel quite far.