Tag Archives: process

One true thing

Much of the time writing is NOT fun.  In fact, at a recent writing retreat with my critique group, Viva Scriva, Liz R. and I were discussing the things we like to do more than writing (at least when we’re in the slog phase).  Much debate there was over cleaning toilets (me: prefer over writing; her: less than writing) and laundry (both: prefer), etc.

When I’m deep in a draft (or more typically in revision), my fingers are typing away while I’m thinking things like move that clause to the front, pick a better verb, and describe more viscerally.  I plunk away for a page or two then I check twitter or each a piece of dried coconut (me: prefer eating to writing).  Then I get back to it.  Hours later I’ve laid down a couple thousand words or revised a few chapters.

But sometimes, I find the flow of it.  I become my characters and they take me places I don’t expect.  I inhabit my scene as fully as I inhabit these pajamas and this desk chair.  When this happens, I ride the wave through and often find, much to my amazement, that I have written ONE TRUE THING.  Maybe just a sentence or an exchange of dialogue or a description that captures something’s essence exactly, the ONE TRUE THING is enough to keep me going day after day, page after page.

May it happen for you.

I don’t know anything about writing. Or do I?

I’ve been pretty silent on the blog and on twitter lately.  I like to think I can tweet helpful nuggets for writers as well as the occasional spattering of encouragement, but I’ve been coming up empty.  I find myself staring at the screen thinking, “I don’t know anything about writing.”

This is kind of dumb because I’ve been writing full time now for a couple of years.  I’ve got four books out and the Angel Punk novel is under contract.  I should know a thing or two, right?

Nicole Marie Schreiber recently posted on how to reconnect with your WIP after a long absence from it.  She spoke about nurturing the love affair with your book.  It strikes me that I’m anticipating the break-up with my WIP and that’s why I feel so clueless about writing.

Things I know about myself: I’m all-or-nothing. I don’t know how to hold back.  I’m a believer, and I fall in love hard–very hard.  Last July, when I signed on to write the novel for Angel Punk, I committed, immersing myself in the project and the team.  When I’m writing, each character is real.  Everything that happens to them, happens to me.  Mara bleeds, and I hurt.  Lovers kiss and I swoon.  I have lived and breathed Angel Punk.  It has been my world.

And we’re going to break up…

I’m doing one more set of revisions before I send the manuscript to my editor.  I’ll have a little bit of time on my hands then I’ll do another set of revisions and…  we’ll be done.  I’ll have to say good-bye.

In a recent interview (her first in 35 years), Anne Tyler said:

“When I finish a book, I send the book to New York to be read by my agent. I picture them on a train, and my heart is broken. I mean, I’m thinking of how they’re sort of limited people or shy people, and they’re just so brave to be going up there on their own. It’s really anthropomorphic. But then, after they get accepted, so to speak, and they’re a book on their own, I’m like a mother cat with kittens. I never think about them again. They’re gone.”

Knowing what I know about myself, I doubt I’d make a very good mother cat.  I like to gnaw on things.  I don’t like to let go.  So while I may know a thing or two about writing, I suck at breaking up.


We can still be friends, right?


Hands in the dirt; head in the clouds.

The secret twin of my life as a writer is my life as a mini-farmer.  I’m not mini.  My farm is.  I tend a 40 x 40 vegetable garden (fenced to keep out the deer and elk) as well as the potatoes, artichokes, rhubarb, herbs, and asparagus (which have sprawled outside the fence because the herbivores don’t eat them.

It’s all manual labor for me out there: tilling, weeding, planting, harvesting.  And it’s work that leaves my back aching but my belly full and – here’s the writing connection – my writer’s mind loose, free, and open.

As creatives, we must make times for our minds to wander, to get lost, to be unproductive.  When I’m stuck, I’m usually trying too hard.  There’s nothing like a little pulling weeds to get me on track again.  That, and chickens.  They are delightful and so are the omelets!