Friday, October 30, 2009

Off Again

I'm leaving for another weekend trip tonight. Unfortunately, western Nebraska got hit with a massive blizzard over the past two days and there is quite a bit of snow on the ground. According to one news story, snow was falling at the rate of an inch an hour. Yikes.

I'm hoping the roads will be decent enough to get me there and after that, I shouldn't have any worries as the sun is slated to come out! But I've got my snow boots packed and my gloves. Looks like we'll be taking my daughter trick o' treating in the snow!

I've got a few good books to listen to on CD - one is a contemporary thriller, the other is a history of the Founding Fathers. Can't wait to get started on them.

And, thank the Lord, I actually got some writing done last night in the midst of packing!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Divine Intervention

Thanks for all the suggestions on yesterday's post. Lots of great ideas in there.

I just ran across a perfect article for staying in touch with your novel and finding time to write while you're freakishly busy. It's called Guerilla Writing and you can find it at Writer Unboxed, a wonderful resource for genre fiction writers that you definitely need to check out.

Here's just a snippet...

"How do I prepare? Part of my mind is always dipping into my fictional universes—mulling over characters, considering plot direction. You get the idea. It doesn’t matter so much what my mind is doing story-wise, so long as it is spending as much time in that creative space as possible. I keep a little black notebook in my back pocket at all times—don’t tell my wife, she might get the wrong idea. Every inspiration that comes across my mind is precious—these ethereal light bulbs might not end up being good fodder for a story or novel, but at the end of the day, they’re still creative output. Jotting these thoughts down not only helps me to remember them, but it’s another way of flexing that creative muscle and having something tangible to show for it. Words on paper—cocktail napkins, notebooks, receipts—go a long way to maintaining motivation. "

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Traveling and Writing

I've been traveling quite a bit on the weekends lately. I drive 5 1/2 hours home to see my family and this will be the third weekend this month that I'm making the trip. My daughter had fall break all this week and she's been spending it with her dad. So while I really don't mind the drive too much (although this time I'm bringing books on CD to listen to!), I do mind how it leaves me unfocused on my writing.

It's not the driving that causes this - it's everything else. I usually spread myself pretty thin while I'm at home in an attempt to see everyone - my mom and her husband, my dad and his girlfriend, my grandmother, and my brother and his family. And when you only have two days to do all that (technically a day and a half because of that driving!), then I feel pretty frazzled by the time I get home, unpack, and prepare for the work week.

Here's my question. How do published authors on book tours keep writing and stay focused enough to write? I know when I went to a Stephanie Bond workshop, she said that she would write on the plane with her AlphaSmart, and undoubtedly in her hotel room. I'm sure other authors do the same.

But I can't write and drive at the same time - just doesn't work. And when I'm at home, I'm visiting my family, not writing.

I just wish that when I get back from my trips that I could focus on my novel and just seamlessly flow into it. So far, that hasn't been working.

Any tips?

Monday, October 26, 2009

My Small Rebellion

I caved.

I got text messaging on my phone.

I am really not sure why, other than it might be handy for the times that someone should text me instead of call. When those moments would be, or who would happen to need to get a hold of me in such moments, is unknown at this time.


Already, I have rebelled against the "norm" of text messaging.

How, you might ask?

Why, simple.

I spell out every word.

Take that, technology!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Loving What You Do

As a writer, is there anything better than watching your characters interact with witty, snappy dialogue, or reveal their innermost thoughts and feelings and fears, or watch them fall in love, wrestle with their futures, or react to an unexpected situation?

I love writing it all - even when it's hard, even when the words refuse to come, even when I swear that everything I'm writing is complete crap. If I didn't love it so much, I certainly wouldn't have kept doing it for more than 20 years.

In your writing, what do you love the most? Creating characters? New worlds? Writing description? Dialogue?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Be Nice to You

I'm tired of beating myself up for not writing or for not staying in touch with my story, which results in more procrastination and more guilt. It's an endless cycle that accomplishes nothing.


It's time for writers to stop adding to the already teeming pot of emotions that our craft demands. Instead, we need to adopt a different tactic.

If you don't meet your word count or skip your writing session or whatever, change the message you tell yourself. Instead of saying, "You are worthless! You can't even sit down and write. You're not a writer. What is WRONG with you? Why can't you do such a simple task? Now quit messing around and GET TO WORK", I suggest you say this: "Ok. You messed up. It happens. You're a human being. The key is to try and not do it again. So forgive yourself and try harder next time."

I'd much rather hear the latter than the former, wouldn't you?

I think I'll get more results if I am kind to myself as opposed to being a tyrant. This doesn't mean I let myself off the hook. I hold myself accountable, but in
a far more understanding manner.

Do you do this to yourself? Beat yourself up when you don't do what you're supposed to do with your writing? Do you think changing tactics might help?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ode to Fall

I am in love with fall.

I drive by trees bursting with color, marveling at the vibrant golds, reds, yellows, and browns, and remember what my nephew said long ago: "God is a pretty good illustrator."

That He is.

Yesterday, despite not feeling 100% in the health department, my daughter and I ventured outside to take a walk. It was, in a word, gorgeous. Leaves were piled on the grass and my daughter and I both walked through them, listening to them scuffle and crunch beneath our feet. She ran down near the stream and gathered tons of beautiful leaves and we stuffed them in our pockets, knowing they'd look perfect with our acorns and pumpkins at home.

Squirrels gathered nuts and bunnies looked at us curiously from behind tree trunks before scampering away, and the ducks glided by on the pond. We raced a leaf boat down the stream, marveling as it avoided the rocks in its path every single time.

As I walked, I thought, Every single person should do this. Go outside, take a walk, look at how beautiful a single leaf is with its fading reds and golds, listen to the sound of leaves scuttling across the sidewalk, smell the crisp scent of autumn.

And that's what I ask each of you to do. Take the time to explore nature, to marvel in the changing season, and soak in the colors and sounds and smells of this beautiful world.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Art of Handwriting

Handwriting appears to be a dying form. National commentary has sometimes focused on why we continue to teach handwriting in schools to our children since we are in the "digital" age and using a computer is a far easier way to get things done. Umberto Eco, the world-famous novelist, even wrote an article lamenting the lost art of handwriting.

This saddens me, and not because I am a history lover who treasures old things, but because I feel we will lose a fundamental part of who we are as human beings if we leave handwriting by the wayside.

Our handwriting says a lot about us. There are handwriting experts out there that can decipher the type of person you are, your health issues, your past experiences, hidden talents, etc, just from how you write. That's an awful lot of information! But when you stop and think about it, our handwriting is as individual as we are. We move the pen or pencil across the paper in a certain way, making unique loops and swirls that showcase our originality.

While I love my computer keyboard for allowing me to write much faster than I can with just pen and paper (plus editing is a breeze without that pesky white-out!), I also cling to my old-fashioned paper and pen. I even went so far as to buy a quill feather pen, ink, and parchment paper to experience how those of yesteryear wrote letters and novels and stories. It's something I think everyone should do at least once so that you may truly appreciate the art of handwriting.

And that's just it - it is art. Calligraphy is essentially the art of handwriting, but I'd like to argue that even ordinary, everyday handwriting is art. When I sit down to write in my journal and let my pen flow over the paper, I marvel at how I create words with all these different angles and curves and swoops. It's actually quite amazing.

When is the last time you looked at your handwriting? Played with it? Wrote your name over and over, making it look fancy or goofy or serious or fun? Maybe sometime in the near future, grab a nice pen, one that flows well when writing (I'm a big fan of the gel pens) and just start writing. Don't become a slave to technology. While the computer keyboard and the Blackberry and the cell phone have improved our lives, they've also robbed us of part of our personality, the personality that comes through in our handwriting. And don't even get me started on how these devices have butchered the English language and our inability to write complete sentences. (Fine examples include: C u ltr or U c me? GAH!!!).

Thankfully, my daughter's school still teaches handwriting, and my daughter has even won prizes from her teacher for her excellent handwriting ability. That makes me extremely proud. I want her to know how to write. And you can be sure that I'm going to put off buying that cell phone for her for as long as I can get away with it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Writing Weather

It's been chilly and overcast here in eastern Nebraska. It's the perfect weather for staying inside, cozying up under a blanket, and reading a book or watching a movie. But it's also perfect writing weather.

For some reason, my desire to write becomes much stronger during the autumn and winter months - especially when we have dreary, cold days. Snow during the winter is even better!

What is your perfect writing day weather?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Even My Dog Wasn't This Sick

Had a great weekend in the midst of all the snow. We had around 5 inches or more in the western part of the state and it wasn't too much fun. Fortunately, I spent most of the time cozied up on the couch under a blanket at my grandma's house. She had ankle surgery last week and needs someone to be there for her (though she is incredible at getting around on her scooter and doing things for herself). I stayed with her most of Saturday, all day Sunday, and part of Monday. All we did Sunday was sit on the couch, visit, watch Andy Griffith shows and an old movie (The Robe with Richard Burton). I haven't relaxed like that in a long time.

Unfortunately, all that relaxing didn't do much to help me ward off this cold. I think last week was just a harbinger of things to come. Things felt pretty tight in my chest, but after I took an expectorant, I really felt the affects (or is it effects? I'm too tired to go look it up...). Let's just say the six-hour drive home was NOT a fun affair. This morning I woke up feeling absolutely wretched. After I got some meds, I slept for over six hours.

That expression "sick as a dog" would seem to apply here except that my dog was NEVER this sick!

My cat has kept me good company today, though. I'm just grateful that she's not mad at me for leaving her behind while I went on vacation.

Unfortunately, most of everything we took on the trip just got dumped in the living room last night as I didn't have the energy to put things away. Today, those bags are still there. Oh well. I'll get to them when I get to them.

The funny thing through all this? I've had an itch to write. Unfortunately, I can barely stay awake long enough to do so!

And not being able to work out is driving me batty, too. Hopefully this cold will clear up in a few days and I'll be back to my normal self - whatever "normal" is.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Headed for the Hills

Daughter and I are going home this weekend. And wouldn't you know it - it's snowing in western Nebraska.


I am SO not ready for snow!

I've been a bit MIA in the blogging world, but work has been busy and that whole getting sick thing kinda derailed me for a bit. But oh, how I desperately need this getaway. Home centers me and helps me to refocus on the things that really matter in life.

See you when I get back!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Home Sick

I thought I might be victorious against the crud going around, but it's not to be. I've been fighting something off for the past week and today it finally struck the felling blow. So here I am, at home, feeling wretchedly tired, with a sore throat, and a headache. I've already slept for four hours this morning and still feel tired.

Ah well. At least it happened when I got all my sick leave back from work, right? Gotta look on the positive side!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Autumn Beauty

My daughter and I headed over to the duck pond this afternoon and I took some photos of some absolutely gorgeous autumn colors. We also rescued some fish that had become stranded in a shallow pool of water. My daughter, a huge animal lover, was very proud of us for helping the poor little things. We relied on our ingenuity to get the little guys back into the pond which included picking them up with our bare hands, but hey, it was an adventure, as my daughter reminded me.

Writing is going well so far - got some good words done last night and tonight. It helps when it's chilly outside, I've got my classical music going, and my sugar cookie-scented candle (though it does make me hunger for the real thing!).

Enjoy the photos and the rest of your weekend!

New Digs

I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance!