Tag Archives: quotes

when you realize your story is awful…

13 Jan

Oi. This latest round of edits is killing me. And possibly killing the book as well. Funny how scenes and sentence that looked so good to me one week can look like hell the next. Only, funny… yeah, that’s not really the right word.

I’m telling myself all the right things: with any project I’m working on, my thoughts are bound to be fickle and fleeting; the important thing is to keep to the writing and the editing whether I’m on a high or a low. Think the book sucks? Fine, but keep working on it. Think it’s a sure-fire New York Times Bestseller? Fine, but get back to work.

Still, I find it a bit disheartening to read through what I thought was very good and instead come to the conclusion that it’s all kinds of messed up.

I’m not the first person to feel this way. I don’t know a lot about the world, but I do know, without a doubt, that the greats and the failures alike have all had conflicting thoughts over their work during its creation. I also like to imagine that the greats are the ones who kept working on it even when their current state told them that the piece was crap – no – especially when their current state told them that the piece was crap.

So I’m getting back to work on mine. Maybe it will fail like my other four novels. Or maybe it will grow into something great. Either way, this is no place to stop.

I’ll let you know if my opinion of it changes.

God, I sure hope it does.

I’ll leave you with a response from one of the greats…

Neil Gaiman Answers Well

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confession & quote

19 Jun

In retrospect, I may have been a bit dramatic in my vlog yesterday. Here’s one of my favorite writing quotes to make up for it:

There is no royal path to good writing, and such paths as do exist do not lead through neat critical gardens, but through the jungles of self, of the world, and of craft. – Jessamyn West

a few thoughts on the muse

29 May

“Every time I hear writers talk about ‘the muse,’ I just want to bitch-slap them. It’s a job. Do your job.” -Nora Roberts

She has a point. And I get it. It’s easy for writers, who tend to be imaginative, and whimsical, and, well… whiny, to dwell too much on fantastic mythical creatures who could come along at any moment and finish all of their work for them.

It’s a job. Do your job.

But I’ve felt that other thing too. Those moments when the ideas and words are flowing so brightly and easily, and you feel like you can hardly take credit for any of it. It’s being given to you somehow, made without your even trying. You’re shocked, surprised, running for a pen, and feeling a little bit like your mind has been invaded. And you wouldn’t mind if it were invaded again.

There’s something poetic about it which, of course, attracts the writer’s mind. A muse. Wouldn’t that be lovely.

I think Nora’s point is that thoughts of a muse could be unhealthy for a writer. Cause you to leave work undone simply because you weren’t feeling inspired enough. It’s a good topic to address.

But Elizabeth Gilbert argues that the opposite is true as well in her wildly popular TED Talk, “Your Elusive Creative Genius”. She discusses artists of all kinds, their often self-destructive lives, and the pressures creators face at the hands of their critics. Our common thinking has a way of pushing artists to the brink (in case you didn’t notice), and she suggests a new way of thinking, one in which artists are free to succeed or fail, both of which are inevitable if you lead a creative life, then move on to the next project.

I like the idea of a muse. A friend in your head whose both a little manic and a little depressive and who you get to put up with if you want to harness your creative side. But here’s the trick: when she’s off getting into trouble, and she will, you better buckle down and get your writing done anyway. Because it is, after all, your job. Do your job

I have more to say, but I’ll leave it for another post. In parting, here is Elizabeth’s TED talk. I hope you’ll find the 20 minutes to watch it. It’s not one to miss.

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six-year-old wisdom

20 Mar

Today my six-year-old gave my four-year-old a piece of advice:

“Don’t be whiny. It wastes all our fun time together.”

I plan on using this advice on my husband just as soon as I can. I’ll also give him permission to use it right back at me when he needs to.

The four-year-old gets it from us.

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no. say it, writers

4 Mar

Sorry. The answer is no. I can’t right now.

This is my go-to response for most of the questions I’ve been getting lately.

“Wanna join the new group we’ve started?”

No.

“Would you like to get together for-“

No.

“I heard about this class being offered-“

No.

If you have gotten or if you get this response from me, please don’t feel bad. I’m rejecting everyone’s invitations equally. I am an equal opportunity rejecter.

You see, I’ve got plans, and I’m sticking to them. I’m sending my story out to a few people for feedback on the 15th. In an effort to not send anyone total crap, I’m working like mad to get The Warrior as good as I can get it before then. In May I’ll start sending it out to agents.

None of this is very far away, yet my to-do list grows no matter how many things I cross off.

So my answer to most questions has become ‘no’. I know my work doesn’t look like work to most people, but it’s work to me, and none of it will get done without me, well, working on it.

We writers need to take J.K. Rowling’s advice:

“Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have “essential” and “long overdue” meetings on those days.  The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it.  Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance.  I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.”

So, I’m sorry, but the answer is no.

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conversations with dad

28 Sep

I’m having conversations with my Dad in my head. I think that’s a good sign he needs to call me when he has a few minutes so we can talk. What are we talking about? Writing.

You see, it’s my Dad’s fault that I’m like this. When I was little, he would sit on a chair by my bed and read me Hemingway before I fell asleep. Some nights, he’d bring in a pad of paper and a pen so we could write poetry together. When I wrote a story in 2nd grade about a magical orca, he read it with enthusiasm and went on about it like it had a Calldecott medal stamped on the front.

These days, he calls me up and we talk about what we’re writing or what we should be writing, what we’re reading and what we want to read, the highs, the lows, the brilliant bits, the challenges, our hopes and frustrations. It’s nice, because not many people you meet realize what it is to sit down and write. They think it sounds more like a hobby than actual work. They don’t get how torturous it is, and few people understand me when I say that sticking with my novel has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

But my Dad get’s it. So does our pal Hemingway…

I know, you non-writers think we’re being melodramatic. If that’s you, then I challenge you to NaNoWriMo this November. Finish that and we can talk about it again.

Anyway, that’s it, I guess. I need to get back to bleeding, and my Dad will be calling soon.

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on words

21 Sep

There’s a quote by Thomas Mann that says, “A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it  is for other people.” It might sound strange to some, surely the writer must have more skill for writing than the average person, but it’s true. Writing is harder for writers. Other people think of what they want to convey and write it out as it comes to them, satisfied with the results. Writers… writers toil with it. Because, like Nathaniel Hawthorne said, “Easy reading is damn hard writing,” and writers have this insatiable hang-up for words.

I came across this quote today:

A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well, they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.

URSULA LE GUIN

Now, did you know you can get an account with Dictionary.com and star all of your favorite words? It’s true. Here are some of my favorites: evoke, alfresco, elicit, keen, lest, rend, ebb. Then there’s the word of the day and all kinds of interesting articles and tid-bits on words. Did you know that ‘dreamt’ is the only word in the English language that ends in ‘-mt’?

It’s great if you’re into that kind of thing. And if words are your chosen medium, then you will be.

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