Monday, September 28, 2009

Taking Time

There's a huge part of me that is URGENTLY working to get my draft done. Hurry, hurry, hurry....My mind and fingers race. My undergraduate work was in journalism, so I don't think I've ever gotten DEADLINE out of my system.

However, this isn't always the best way to get through revisions. I'm learning that some things take time.

Recently, I decided to add a new development in my draft. I worked it in, and then I realized I didn't know how I was going to resolve it. I thought about it and thought about it. I went on to work on other things, but I kept this particular development dancing around the back of my mind. Suddenly, it came to me. I figured out the perfect way to work out the situation.

I remember the excellent movie, Stranger than Fiction. The novelist wrestles with her ending, but she cannot sit down to write it until she can get it right. Finally, it hits her one morning, a sudden inspiration and the perfect ending for her novel.

It's okay to think, to ponder, and to dream. Let situations arrange and rearrange themselves into possibilities. Sooner or later, the words hit the page.

I still prefer sooner.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bigger Than Life

There's a big story on Orcas this week about a teen, Colton Harris-Moore, who is believed to be responsible for a huge crime spree here and in other parts of Washington. What amazes me is details. He managed to get past all sorts of surveillance and people looking for him. He has broken into many businesses and even stole an airplane and a boat.

I am by no means praising him for his deeds. Stealing from others isn't right, and I do feel sorry for those who have lost their possessions.

What fascinates me is the motivation and his skills, which could be put to much better use in lawful activities. As a writer, I think of creating characters that are bigger than life. I can think of many examples, especially in middle grade and young adult novels, where the characters have these traits. This real teen seems bigger than life as well. Interesting.

My happy ending: Colton is found and arrested. Then, he uses his skills and ingenuity to do something good for society.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I think it's helpful from time to time to meet with other writers and get feedback. This weekend I met up with other writers and excellent instructors at the Orcas Island Writers Festival for some workshops.

First, Deb Lund covered picture book writing and provided perfect feedback for everyone who submitted work. I was surprised to find out my manuscript wasn't as horrible as I originally thought. I find picture book writing exceptionally challenging and am in awe of anyone who can write an compelling story in 32 pages. Deb certainly can! What was even more amazing is to see how well she could keep an audience of three to five-year-olds transfixed with her books. Great stuff!

For the rest of the weekend I joined Diane Lefer, a playwright, and other writers. We did improv and moving about on stage. We worked through ideas and concepts. We tried out new directions. It's an amazing process and very insightful. I think will and always have been in awe of the theater. It always finds a way back into my own work.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ship Peak

Bella dog and I went up the steep switchback trail to Ship Peak at Turtleback Mountain today. As I climbed out into the sun, I could smell warm blackberries. A scent I associate with early autumn on Orcas.

From the peak, we could see out past the island to other islands beyond. The water aquamarine and shimmering from a surface breeze and a little snow on top of the Olympics sat as a backdrop. What a setting!

I pulled out my notebook (the Luddite kind) and wrote down some plot points for my wip. A climb and a view provided excellent perspective for my story.

Time alone to think.

Sometimes I forget how important this is in the writing process. I'm too caught up in hurrying along.

Now to get the inspiration down on my non-Luddite notebook (my Mac) and make sure it all makes sense.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fitting In

This past week I realized I need a new part to my wip novel. Call it a sub-plot or complication...whatever. I think it's pretty cool, but where do I put it?

The structure of the novel is done, and I am revising--filling in the colors and expanding on the starts. Adding an other part to the story wasn't planned. So now I am at work weaving it into what I already have. I finally found the page and section where to start, but I have more parts to expand upon. I love this part of revision, but it also makes me hesitate. What if I mess everything up? Thank goodness for the delete button.

If only the rest of my life worked that way.

My desk is clean, and there's chocolate cookies in the oven. Outside, a balmy fall stormy day.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Julie and Julia & Me

I saw the film, Julie and Julia this past weekend and cried all the way through it. Funny really.

Why would I cry through a film that is most certainly not a tragedy?

Yes, I do like to cook though most of the raw ducks and things (the poor lobsters!) didn't appeal to my vegetarian sensibilities.

Both women sought significance in their lives. Both women sought publication and ran into adversity. They faced doubts, frustrations, and setbacks. The struggle to get acknowledged. This long journey of writing and experimenting and (in their case) cooking will pay off. They doubted this at many points in their journey.

I'm not sure writers talk enough about the despair. Those moments when we wonder what the *#&% we're doing when we sit down and create a world and characters hoping that someday an editor will care.