On my bookshelf

I’ve finished my Tana French detective series and didn’t want to go to bed without another book in hand. (Nevermind there are three on my bedside table).

bookshelf.pngI began browsing my bookshelf, which is semi-organized: books I’ve read and loved. Books I want to read. School books. Writing books. and, of course, Poe books

I also have something mixed in that would seem, at first glance, not to belong. Books on psychology, the law, philosophy. I assume many writer’s bookshelves are this way.

A writer needs a wide variety of knowledge.

I know we have google at our disposal; however, I find reading books about, for example, the Psychology of Marketing allows me to get an in depth look that a wikipage or a few short articles are not going to give me. This allows me to create a more realistic character or more thorough background to make the story more believable.

For West End, I needed to understand two things, the idea of an absent or unloving mother, and the different forms depression can take. Anxiety runs throughout my work from Of Strays and Exes to Life of Clouds – which features children affected in different ways by the disappearance of their father.

I’ve heard handymen say they are the jack of all trades. I think writers are akin to that. We need to learn many things in order to live many lives.

 

 

 

 

Not writing scares me….

ghostly.pngWrite what scares you…..

This is a poetry prompt given to me in one of my graduate level classes.

I don’t think it has to be just for poetry.

Experts tell us we should do something that scares us every day. I don’t know. I’ve done quite a lot of things that scare me – crossing the highest bridge in North America, swimming with sharks, – but those are kinds of scary that gives you a rush. Still valid to write about.

But in that assignment and poem, I wrote about a missing girl. Because those are the types of things that do scare me – when children go missing.

I wrote:

Have you seen her pass this way?

Shoe found, white.

Blood on the laces….

 

Write about what scares you….

 

Feel free to share!

 

What Do the Flowers Mean?

lily

Sometimes a flower is just a flower, but sometimes the flower is a tell tale sign, a foreshadowing of what is to come. That’s for the writer to decide.

However, I think the writer must stay consistent. If you’re using flowers in the story and use a lily to insinuate death or disaster, then you can’t just throw a carnation in later without thinking what that might mean.

Good stories have that layering that critical readers can spot and will enjoy. However, I think, too much can kill a story. As I said, if you’re using flowers as symbols stick with that. If you add flowers, the alignment of the stars, the colors of the curtains, and grandma’s foretelling – that might be too much. It’s like hitting the reader over the head with the symbolism and it’ll detract from the storytelling.

Defeat Creative Block

wolf.pngGive it physicality.

Give it a personality.

Describe it. Face it. Challenge it. And beat it down.

The Watcher at the Gate by Gail Godwin talks about creative block. One of the assignments I give my class is to draw a picture of what stops them from writing. Some of them draw a picture of an old english professor and some draw pictures of wild beasts. They report, that after giving their block a presence, they are better able to handle it.

 

Photo Credit

Read

We’ve heard that we should read aloud to ourselves. And we absolutely know this works. We are able to hear our mistakes, rewrite and hear it a different way to see if it sounds better.

Man Writing WEB

But how many of us actually do it?

Back in the day (as my students say), copy-editors and writers read the work aloud with one another or within a group to catch mistakes before publications. Some critique groups do this as well.

When I read aloud, it sounds the way I think I want it to sound. It helps me to have someone else read it to me while I’m reading it on the screen.

This is what I suggest. Microsoft word has a setting that will read the text to you. I’ve found this incredibly helpful.

There are a number of programs if you don’t have microsoft or can’t stand the monotone.

Some writers record themselves reading the story, then listen to it while they reread in order to catch mistakes.

Let’s be honest – we all make mistakes. And to be more honest – it doesn’t look good in publication. Unfortunately, I’ve sent things out with mistakes. Fortunately, I’ve had some great editors (and publishers) who called my attention to these errors.

 

Protect the Process…

processDan Brown believes strongly in protecting the process.

By process, he means, the writing schedule and habits that create the difference between a writer who produces and the writer who does not.

This has become personally important to me; and lately it has come to my attention that there’s more to protecting the process than just showing up.

It’s about protecting yourself from the negative forces that affect the writing.

We are often disturbed and distracted by people and events around us. I’m not talking about the road raging driver or ineffective salesperson- we should never allow such an insignificant person or event to affect us at all.

I believe we have to prioritize who and what is important – they come first in our lives either before, after, or within our process. The rest of the world must fall away.

I don’t make appointments during my writing time. That has become a habit for the last some years. However, I have allowed other things to interrupt my life, things I thought were vital. This is mostly due to what is expected of me as a social, agreeable person. Lately, though, I’ve realized do have a choice.

I don’t care if I come across as a little anti-social or less agreeable. I’m protecting myself from people and events who will affect my time, writing, and state of mind.

I used to see a writer regularly arguing with others on social media. I asked him why he didn’t just ignore these people. He said it didn’t bother him, they needed to be taught a lesson.

Recently, he deleted many of his social media accounts and limiting his time on others, telling his followers that all the interactions were causing him distress and he hadn’t been able to write.

I’m not only talking about social media, but the regular, sometimes expected, social interactions we have. If they are draining, why do we take part in them? Expectations? Do we get anything out of it?

If not, then rethink it.

 

A Writer’s Space

2018_09_30+Scientific+writing2Do you feel the need to have a certain, special place to write? Maybe you have little items you feel inspire you sitting around your desk, computer, in the same room, maybe there is a stone of carnelian or citrine to spark creativity, or even big dark shades to hide you from the world.

My writing space is usually the dining room table, two windows, a bird feeder on one so my cat, usually sitting beside me can be entertained. But I also write on the couch in the living room with a lap desk, and sometimes in my bed.

Dan Brown (author of the Da Vinci code and many others) believes writing space isn’t important. It’s the ritual and the commitment, not the space. He relates a story in which he was visiting his parents and he wrote in the laundry room, lap top on the ironing board while sitting on milk crates with the washer running – because he needed an undisturbed space.

I’d say that space would disturb me – and talk about holes in a story. My apologies, Mr. 0 v7CyD5RM41-JF6Kk.jpgBrown. However, if he gets up at 4 a.m. to write (as he states), who is doing laundry at that time? And, if the laundry was put in later, then obviously someone came in to disturb you. And, by that time, he couldn’t move to another room?  Okay, sorry, sorry. Back to the point.

We do need a space to write. Ideally, we want to have certain creature comforts around us; for me, it’s a cup of tea. However, I have written on concrete benches, lying across the hotel bed, in a tiny corner that had a table and chair, in coffee shops with noise, and alone in my house at 4 a.m.

The point is our desire for the ideal space should not limit our writing time or commitment (and I think this was Mr. Brown’s point as well). If we limit our writing to the ideal, we’ll have an excuse to not write when any little thing is out of place.

Brown states he writes 365 days a year. That’s what this blog is about, right? 365. It’s about commitment. It is my challenge and my commitment to write 365. I’m doing okay, regardless of the space I’m writing in.