Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Mark asks the question if we tell others we are writers. When someone asks us what we do for a living, do we tell them we write?
I don't. I'm not embarrassed and I'm not too concerned about what people think. The simple fact of the matter is I don't like to share it. Writing means a great deal to me. It is a personal means of expression and I don't take it lightly. Also it is one of the few things I have in my life that is mine and mine alone.
I have found over the years that I have gone from a self-involved twentysomething singleton to a thirtysomething stay at home mom. For those of you who are stay at home caregivers, you understand how so much of what you once were must be abandoned for what you are now. I'm not saying it is bad, but it is a progression. Most of my waking hours are devoted to taking care of my family and home. That includes the mental part of anticipating the needs of my family.
I'm not staying people with jobs have it easier, but when I worked full time, I had eight hours a day where someone else made the decisions about my kids. Someone else worried about getting the house clean. And I shared cooking duties with my dh. Also, I was more apt to share my writing with my co-workers. In fact, I wrote a book that I passed along to them strictly for theirs and my enjoyment. I talked about my writing more.
What's the difference? I think my writing is the one selfish thing I do. I don't go on weekends away with the gals, I don't shop beyond Target, I don't do bunco and I don't even watch t.v. for myself. Writing is the one thing I do where I am only trying to please myself. Does any of this make sense?
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Writers know they need to develop a working relationship with their internal editor. If they don't, they tend to either be stuck in a writer's block the size of Montana or they write garbage unworthy of the paper it is printed on.
Internal editing is an instinct which is there but needs to be trained. Everything we know about writing, all those classes and books, get stored in the part of our brain where the editor resides, at least it should. When we write, there should be a little guy sitting on our shoulder offering tips and opinions but it shouldn't be crippling.
I work pretty well with my internal editor. Its timing is a little off. This morning while I was putting laundry in the dryer it pointed out my story had a weak portion. People who read vampire novels don't want to hear about the paneling in the house. When I got the wash going, I went back to my WIP and read the portion in question. Yep, it slowed the story down. While it served a purpose, giving some backstory and set up, the same thing could be accomplished further into the story. What was important was dragging my readers into an action-packed tale of love and passion, not a treatise on interior design. So mouse in hand, I deleted and sure enough, the story picked back up again.
How do you get your internal editor to be a helper rather than a hindrance? You are a writer because you enjoy it. You write because something inside compels you to express yourself through words. You write because there is a story inside that needs to be given life. You have control. The internal editor works for you. Trust what it says, but it isn't always right. Too often it is just spitting out dictates from rules others have said. Make it play by your rules.
On the flip side, when the internal editor is telling you something, don't ignore it. The editor holds the knowledge which could improve your craft. You may not like what it has to say, but you need to trust it as well. Even if you don't agree with what the internal editor says, it is worth looking for another option. Between the writer and the internal editor, there is a middle ground.
I'm cleaning my fridge right now and it tends to make me thoughtful. Some of the things I have found in there would frighten the most vicious of beasts. I was going to blog about my 3 year old but the number of expletives was excessive even for me.
Monday, March 27, 2006
First, I must say, I'm having a hard time focusing. My coffee maker died yesterday and I haven't had a chance to replace it. I feel as if I have an open wound on my body, a deep, gaping chasm in my psyche which can only be filled by Mr. Coffee or one of his companions. Which leads me to meat of my post:
I have to leave my house today and go shopping. I hate leaving my house. I'm becoming a hermit. I've always had these tendencies anyway. I was an only child and I enjoyed my solitude. But I find as I get older and more focused on writing and other things, the less I want to leave my haven. No, I'm not agoraphobic, I don't being out, I just resent the time it takes me from my home. I force myself to do extra stuff because I do fear I will become too comfortable in my solitude.
Is it the writer in me which is more at ease with the world in my head rather than the one at large? Perhaps I like my home because it is the one place I have the most control. I have a whole wide world at my fingertips when I sit down at my computer. It's usually more interesting than the one outside. I crave my alone time. Of course, it also may be because it is the one thing I cannot have.
If you are beholden to care for another be it child, parent or pet, you know that feeling of having your time dictated to some extent by another. The more dependents you have, the more you crave your own time.
Whether it is a case of me wanting to be a recluse or being childish and craving my solitude like a kids craving candy, I'm not sure.
I do know that the grass is always greener. When I worked full-time, I'd watch the stay at home moms with their kids going to Target or wherever and I was green with envy. Now when I go to Target and see the moms stopping by on their lunch hour, I'm green with envy. Perhaps all I'm feeling is the very human trait of never being satisfied. I suppose if we were easily pleased, we would have nothing to work for.
Writers, Kelly has an interesting post on POV & deep POV.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Chrys* talks about reading something you really enjoy and wanting to try it yourself with miserable results. I couldn't write chick lit if it would save my life. I do enjoy reading it from time to time, but I can't emulate it.
But what about the opposite? Can you write something you don't feel passionately about? I love historical romance and I love writing it. But paranormal comes easier for me. I have a knack as it were. I started a contemporary paranormal and I'm having no problems writing it. It's like auto-pilot for me. I like paranormal romance, I enjoy reading it. But it doesn't hold the same place in my heart as historical does.
How often have you heard the advice you must write what you love? But do you? Has anyone else had this experience? Does our passion and heart get in the way sometimes when we are writing?
And the same goes for other things. I bake a mean lemon meringue pie...so I've been told. I can't stand lemon meringue pie so I have to rely on the opinions of others. I hate eggs over easy but I am almost flawless at cooking them. Same goes for canning. DH loves my pickles and jalapenos. I would rather be stretched on a rack then try them.
Do you have talents or abilities which don't impress you much?
Friday, March 24, 2006
This has been a rough week around my house. My hubby has been in trial all week (he's a lawyer, not a defendant). The stress level has been pretty high. He is a sole practitioner so not only does he have the trial to worry about but when he gets home he has his other clients to worry about. His work schedule has disrupted life at home and things have been a little strained.
But enough about him. What's important is how this affects me.
The kids sense when things are crazy and like the velociraptors they are, they go for the juggler on all sides. They have been driving me crazy. Hubby is either snappish or euphoric, depending on how court went. And I'm just riding the wave.
Now here's the crazy part. I've been writing like a madwoman. I put out 6 solid pages yesterday, 3 the day before. Tuesday had me out of the house and doing other stuff but Monday I wrote 1500 words. I guess this happened to be how I dealt with the stress. Some stress cripples me, other sets me free.
Anyway, the trial is over, hubby won. His client was so happy he handed him $100 and told him to go out to dinner. So we took the kids out to dinner at a steakhouse. Not particularly relaxing but the kids got a kick out of it. I hope I can keep the momentum and keep writing. He doesn't have another trial until May.
GH & RITA
Today is the day! I've been watching my email and Melynda Beth Skinner's Unofficial List of 2006 Golden HeartÂ® and RITAÂ® Award Finalists for names of people I know. Good luck to all of you.
For those of you who don't know, this is like the Academy Awards for romance writers. RITA's are for published, Golden Heart is for unpublished.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
I firmly believe in saying what I want when I want. I don't care for censorship and the like. But I also believe if one is going to write something which is going to be seen wide and far on the Internet, one should be prepared for the reprisals.
I censor myself. I try not to swear too much in my posts. I don't bash on too many people except for my kids. I've written blog posts and paused before I hit "publish post," what if my MIL read this? Hubby has been known to peruse my blog now and then, what if he read this? Or my mother finally figured out the Internet and found my blog? Then I end up deleting it. There are repercussions for what we say and I have been burned before.
I'm not saying my opinions aren't valid or the problem isn't worth talking about, but sometimes I have to think if it is worth it. Sometimes it is. If you annoy someone in the process, oh well. Things need to be said. The only thing is that you need to be prepared for what comes of it.
Anyway, there is a point here. I was researching an agent today when a blog popped up during my search. This person went off on a rant about this agent, calling this agent names and encouraging the readers to try and make this agency's life hell. The blogger even posted the rejection letter that set her off.
So she doesn't like this person. Okay, fine. But to make such a production over it shocked me. I wonder if this blogger realizes how damaging such a rant could be in the future? Perhaps an agent is looking at her work and happens to check out her blog. Are they really going to be that interested in representing her after reading her diatribe?
The Internet is a very little place where news travels at the speed of a "send" button. We've seen it happen time and time again.
Have you seen people post things on their blog that surprised you or you found distasteful? Has it influenced you to quit reading their blog? Or if it was an author, did it discourage you from buying their books? No need for names, just curious.
I was going to talk about my daughter's uncanny ability for playing "Punch-Buggy" but I thought this topic was more relevant.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Yesterday when I opened my WIP, I accidentally opened another. It was one I started awhile ago and I'd done 22 pages. I re-read it and had to hold myself back from working on it. Great action, good characters but no plot. I remember why I stopped working on it, but I can't help but be haunted. Is it a sign I should be working on it? Probably, but I have four WIP's that are all plotted out with developed characters, stories I know I can finish. But I can't help but think about it. Do you have a WIP that haunts you?
I have plenty of story idea I haven't worked on for one reason or another. For some reason, this one keeps coming back to me. Perhaps one day the wall will crumble and a story will spill out. I guess I need to keep myself open to it.
Went to the gym today and wrote 1500 words yesterday. I'm just getting started on the writing thing now, so I hope I can get a respectable amount in tonight.
Monday, March 20, 2006
That's what my friend Melissa called me. Why? Because she asked me how I was doing on my writing goals and if I had been writing them down in my calendar as I said I would at the beginning of the year. And I had to tell her no.
Ughh....my goal setting has fallen by the wayside. If it weren't for BIAW's I'd have no goals. Why do I let my goals go? I don't think it is anything deep-seated, just scattered and I haven't pressed myself to do anything about it. I have the tools, I have the know-how, just not the motivation.
Today would be a good day to write. My kids are at school and my folks just picked up my little one for a shopping trip. But I can feel my attention slide. Some of it comes from the fact that I'm tired. Not that I haven't been getting any sleep, but the exhaustion that comes from too many days of the same routine, too many days trapped in a house with a bunch of kids, too many days of putting my writing on hold while I do something else.
I surrender, I need to schedule my writing like I do my housecleaning. Is there a Flylady for writing? A mentor could send out a gazillion emails reminding a writer what they need to be doing. "Did you do your morning routine?" "Did you shine your last chapter?" "Five minute POV check."
The same could be said for working out. I haven't been doing that either and I wonder why I'm not losing weight. I fully believe exercise is beneficial for the mind and soul as well as the body. And it isn't the actually the workout that bothers me. It's the prep and the time it takes out of my day. It really isn't that bad, but I've made such a mental block of it, I tend to give up.
So what's the answer? Perhaps I should sit down every morning with my first cup of coffee and decide what I want to accomplish for the day. I should write it down in my pretty, pastel date book and follow it. Maybe I should by a pack of gold star stickers and stick them on my forehead when I've complete a goal. Well, maybe not because then I would look like a big doofus. But perhaps some small reward: 10 mins. of game time on the Gamecube or something like that.
Do you live by a schedule? Do you write it down? Does it help?
Friday, March 17, 2006
We've decided to go on a family vacation this summer. We are thinking Hawaii but dh is drawn to the idea of Bermuda. I've been to Bermuda and can't imagine spending a week there, but it is an option. I'm also looking at some of the all-inclusives down in the Caribbean.
I have learned a few things.
We really shouldn't have had that third kid.
Most vacation packages for families are designed for 2 parents and 2 kids. You pay for that fifth wheel, let me tell you.
Going in the summertime is really, really expensive. When the kids were younger, dh and I would go on vacations by ourselves. We would go in September to Hawaii and get the benefit of Fall prices. I'm thinking of maybe jerking the kids out of school for a week. I don't think they would suffer much but dh is pretty old fashioned on such ideas. He might not go for it.
I would like to stay someplace that has planned activities for the kids. All dh wants to do is lay on the beach. I said that was fine, but one of us was going to have to watch the kids at all times. While I will be happy to take my turn, he is going to have to share the burden. He did suggest we leave the youngest behind. I didn't think that was fair. We took her sister to Hawaii when she was younger, so I don't think it would be right not to take her. We've also thought about bringing a relative to help chase the kids. An added expense but probably not too much.
If anyone has any great ideas, please post them. I'm a sponge at this point.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
When my son was in 1st-2nd-3rd grade (he was in the same class for 3 years) their teacher would reward them for good behavior with a read in. On that day, they could dress in their pajamas, bring sleeping bags and blankets, they have special snacks and they spent the bulk of the school day reading. Doesn't that sound delightful? I remember my son loving those days, bringing one of his books and packing up his sleeping bag to spend the day lounging around and reading.
I want a read in day.
Wouldn't it be great to camp out in the middle of the room with a blanket and your favorite drink, being told that all you have to do is sit and read.
Reading has always been a joy for me, but over the years I haven't been able to read as much or as often as I would like. Mostly I don't have the time in between taking care of my kids and writing. But also, I find my attention is too easily distracted or I'm too lazy. Sometimes it is easier to sit down and watch t.v. than pick up a book. I have friends that will sit down with a book and let the world go by, not worrying about a thing, but I can't do that. As much as I like to immerse myself, I'm too aware of what has to be done to surrender to a good book. Vacation is when I do most of my reading. Dh and I pack a suitcase full of books, find a beach and start reading.
Do you find you read more or less these days? Are you able to block out the world when you have a good book? What are some of your strategies to getting more reading done?
BTW, sorry, yesterday's post was a mess of typos. I hate that. I was suffering from a severe lack of Diet Coke when I typed it. Hopefully I did better this time around.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Kelly asked on her blog what made us decide to be writers. I think for many, it was a question we could rattle off the answer to. Love of books, compulsion, etc. But I'm curious, are you writing what you thought you would write? I write romance. I've never had any urge to write anything else. Never have I wanted to write a masterpiece which would move mountains or win me a Nobel Prize.
When I was in college, I took heat because I wanted to write romance novels. The more lurid, the better. I'll say it, it was the 80's, I wanted to write "bodice rippers." You would think my the reactions I got from my fellow students that I wanted to go out and club baby seals. But it is the only form of fiction I've ever had a desire to write. I'm educated, fairly bright, not particularly profound, I'm a woman who has found her limitations.
Not that I have anything against literary fiction or other genres. I read plenty of other things. I adore Steinbeck. Heck, I like to read Thomas Hardy. But interest in writing has always been limited.
So what about you? Did you dream of creating a novel so profound it would change the world? Did you want to be the next Dashiell Hammett or Harper Lee? Are you happy with what you write?
I posted at Ainsley Park about keeping the faith as a historical writer when all your told is that the market is too tight.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Most people think I live in Southern California so I can party with Lindsay Lohan or sit and exchange child-rearing tips with Britney Spears over lattes. But no, the real reason is the weather. I like the lack of seasons, I like the warmth and the sunshine. I don't crave a white Christmas.
It snowed yesterday. HELLO?????
We were out at a museum up near my house. When we got out, it was pouring rain. Dh comments that is hail. Looking down at my jacket, I realized it wasn't hail but snow. It melts as soon as it hits the ground, but it is so cold here. The highs yesterday didn't get above 40 degrees F. Gimme a break. My kids don't even own a cold weather jacket. This morning I woke up to my entire yard frozen over. This is bad news because a bunch of my trees are blooming. My citrus trees are going to take it pretty hard. I guess it is an excuse to drink hot buttered rums. Like I need an excuse....
On the writing front....
I'm still working on my voice workshop. I love doing workshops and articles because they keep me in the game even if my own writing is at a halt. I tend to pick topics that I'm working on for myself or have given me trouble. Doing a workshop helps me get through my own problems. My last topic was about how to find the strengths one's writing and apply it to developing a voice. I really think all writers have a voice, but sometimes it needs to be cultivated. If a writer can find their strengths, they can find their voice that much faster.
I felt like giving up on my historical again for no particular reason, so I worked on something completely different. After punching out a few pages of a new project, I turned back to my historical and felt renewed vigor for it. It really is a good story and the characters are strong. It seems to flow pretty well. Where I get stuck is when the hero or heroine are in a narrative section. I'd rather do dialogue but sometimes continuity requires explanation.
Friday, March 10, 2006
You can always tell when my kids are on my nerves because I tend to blog more about them and parenting than I would like. I truly like to keep my blog posts evenly mixed with writing and parenting, but sometimes one topic wins out over another. Right now its those @#%^%^&**&% kids of mine. Yeah, I know there really isn't an expletive that long, but they deserve their own special curse word right now.
Anyway, I've heard parents of teenagers talk about how the kids ravage their house after a trip to the grocery store. I'm finding that mine are doing the same thing and they are a ways from the teen years. I filled up my pantry yesterday and a bunch of the stuff is gone. The apples have been looted. The Pop Tarts are gone. The sourdough bagette disappeared the day I got it. My dh managed to get one sandwich out of the lunch meat I bought. They are barbarians, I tell you. I keep my pantry locked with a chain lock but they have figured out how to unhook it with a broom handle. So today while I was fixing the toilet upstairs that they broke, they were downstairs sneaking into the pantry. Of course they don't clean up after themselves until I explode.
I've tried having a "snack time" when they get home from school and have a decent snack for them, but they will still look for more food. I don't get it. My son can't keep weight on him. His sister is pretty active so I can understand her and the pre-schooler likes the challenge of breaking into the pantry. She likes sugar.
Anyway, my dread is what happens in another five years when these kids hit their teens. I'll live my life at the grocery store.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
I ran into a mom I knew from my kids' school during the waning days of summer. We chatted a bit in the grocery aisle about summer and she told me she was sorry to see it go. She was going to miss her kids. I think my face petrified like a fossil. It was the only way not to scream: "ARE YOU NUTS??????" When I go to school, I watch the other moms, eager to get their kids home because that is what their lives revolve around. I can't imagine it. These are women with law degrees, ph.d's, brains up the whazoo...but they cashed it all in to be full time mothers. They seem to tackle the chores of motherhood with the ferocity and focus of supernatural beings. And I wonder how they do it.
Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and, well, usually enjoy being a mother. But it isn't my entire world. My life revolves around my kids simply because it does, not from my desire to make them the center of my universe. My interests go way beyond children. Perhaps it was the way I was raised or maybe the quirk in my personality, but I couldn't imagine making my kids the only thing in my life.
Many of these women didn't start having kids until they were in their 40's and they seemed to have stopped with two. But when you talk to them, all they can talk about is their kids, the school, the sports, the dance classes, playdates, etc. It is as if they never had a previous life. I never hear them yelling at their kids. I can't imagine them telling their kids to "stop it because I said so." They explain things. I don't have the patience.
In some ways I envy them the joy they take in motherhood. To be able to immerse themselves in their children's lives so completely and seem content to do so is beyond my comprehension. I'm always longing for something more. Writers understand that craving for time to write, time to focus, etc. But even if I didn't write, I'd have something else that occupied my mind.
I do wonder, however, what happens when their kids hit high school and the last thing they want is their moms breathing down their necks. I wonder what happens then?
Monday, March 06, 2006
Do you recognize your voice when you are writing? If you do, what kinds of things do you do to cultivate it?
I'm running a workshop at Romance Central's forums on finding and developing the writing voice. Some people have a distinctive voice right out of the box. They write and it is immediately recognizable. Some writers take years to develop their own voice and the road can be rocky.
First, there are "da rules." Writers know all about these rules that tell us what we can and can't write, what will and won't work. But too often we takes these rules as gospel rather than guidelines. We get so concerned that we are not fitting into the mold required, we dilute our voices. Then there are the cp's. A good cp will recognize your voice and critique your work without changing it. I've had cp's who have literally re-written sentences in their voice because that is what they prefer. A good cp may not like your voice, but they will respect it as yours and help you polish your work.
If you haven't recognized your voice, how do you do it? It isn't that easy. But read through your work and look at word choices. Keep a rhythm in your head when your read. Look at themes you follow in your writing. I think the biggest eye opener for me was when I ran into some writing I did about 18 years ago. The word choices were the same, the structure of the sentences followed the same cadence as I have today. It lacked in other areas, but the voice was definitely mine.
For me, the biggest pitfall with voice is my choice of projects. Its like clothes shopping. I am always drawn to outfits that look horrible on me. I know they will, but I go ahead and try them on anyway then gag when I look in the mirror. Writing is similar. I have some harebrained idea for a novel, get about 10 or more pages into it then gag in the mirror. It isn't the writing, but the voice is all wrong. Matching the wrong voice to the wrong project takes all the spark out of it. I think we've all read a book by a favorite author that lacked that spark we liked so much. I think there has been a rash of authors jumping from the books which fit their voices into stories that are more marketable.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
This is my six year old, the princess of the family. And this is what she looks like on the weekend. This morning she helped her dad in the yard. He bought her a special set of tools just for the job.
And here she is on third, ready to score. She plays Little League, Farm division. But she does it with a pink batting helmet, cleats with pink stripes, pink batting gloves and a pink set of sleeves. Some of her team mates only wish they could throw like a girl. By the way, her hair is dyed red to match her uniform.
My bet is she will grow up to host her own show on HGTV while dating handsome Major League Baseball players.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Earlier today I had typed out a diatribe about my kids and how they were driving me insane. After reading it, I realized it was too whiny even for me. So I went to the gym. Amazing how exercise can clear the mind. Then I went to Target. There is nothing like a sweet trip to Target to soothe the savage beast. While I was there, I picked up some Herhey's Kisses filled with Peanut Butter. I'm a sucker for these little guys. So I have a question for you. How do you feel about Hershey's Kisses? Are you a purist and will only eat the milk chocolate in their bright silver foil or are you an adventurous type? Kisses website can give you a rundown on their products although I noticed they are missing at least one. I got the Hugs with Strawberry at Valentine's Day. They were okay but not my favorite. My favorite I think is the Kisses with Almonds. But these peanut butter ones are pretty tasty.