Monday, August 30, 2010

Accountability: Do You Need It?

Photo found via my good friend, Diane
I was very pleased over the weekend to write around 4,000 words on my novel. In fact, I had to force myself to quit at 11:30 last evening so I could go to bed and not be a zombie at work today.

I've been having trouble motivating myself, so I decided to ask a few of my writing friends if they wouldn't mind doing a little bit of a challenge over the weekend. Mine was fairly simple: finish chapter six. Well, I did that and continued on, loving that I was actually writing again instead of just talking about it. Too often I go in fits and starts with my writing, and if I could just get my writing brain on an even keel, why, I'd be a happy gal (I suspect if I ever find the secret formula to this, I will be rich).

I'm also happy to report that I will be part of a three-person, face-to-face critique group starting in September, and that will give me additional accountability.

Maybe I'm just one of those people who needs the accountability from other people in order to get myself to work.

What about you? Do you need to be held accountable to other people or just yourself where your writing is concerned?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ode to the Walk

The walking path to Chatsworth in England from my Oct. 08 trip
Noted novelist Barbara Samuel has a great post up at the awesome Writer Unboxed blog (which, if you aren't reading, get thee over there), about the relationship between writing and walking. She just recently returned from a trip to England where she spent the entire month walking around villages and the beautiful countryside, soaking up the sights and sounds and smells of everything around her.

I love to walk. I live next to a duck and geese pond (two of them, actually) and there is a beautiful walking trail sheltered by towering trees and full of scurrying bunnies and squirrels, talkative birds, and the occasional bright red cardinal. (And one cannot forget the simply adorable dogs who greet me from behind their fenced yards).

My favorite time of the day to walk is just when the sun is beginning to make its descent into dusk. Everything is thrown into sharp relief and nature knows it is time to settle in for the night. The ducks curl their feet underneath them and hide their babies beneath their wings while the geese gather in large groups and stop their frantic search for food. The cicadas, however, began their nightly chanting and in some spots, it is so loud as to be overwhelming. But to me, that is the sound of summer.

There have been many times I've struggled with a plot problem and after a walk, the solution comes to me. Other times, I don't think about my novel at all and just enjoy my surroundings, which, when you think about it, also helps me as a writer to connect more fully with my senses. Who doesn't love the sound of baked leaves crunching underfoot, or the sight of a squirrel darting away from an approaching dog, or the smell of lilacs wafting through the air, sweeter than any store-bought perfume?   

Walks can bring us closer to nature, which in turn, can bring us closer to our Creator. And for me, the Creator (God) has given me the gift of writing - which is a creation unto itself - and the walk, the nature, and the writing all intersects in a great circle of creativity, working together to help me be the best writer I can be.

Do you take walks? Where are some of your favorite spots?

Monday, August 23, 2010

August Edition: What Are You Reading?

It's just too darn hot to even think straight, so today's post will require little from you, my dear readers.

So here's the question for today:

What are you reading?

Me: Enigma, by Robert Harris. A WWII thriller about Bletchley Park and the race to crack the Enigma codes. Good stuff.

Up next: a few Agatha Christie mysteries featuring Miss Marple!

Your turn!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Few Snapshots and News

Yesterday at work, I noticed something rather cool. I work on the 15th floor of an office building and a praying mantis had managed to make his way up to my window ledge. He didn't seem to mind me snapping his picture, although in the one above, he does look as though he's a bit annoyed with me.

Not so with my cat, however. She looks like she owns the world in this photo. She's only half-right. She pretty much owns us.

I don't have much to report right now except that I'm planning to switch gears on the novel-writing front and work on my fourth novel right now while leaving the fifth (the WW2 thriller) to simmer for awhile. The fourth novel, also set during WW2, is much easier to write (not all the twists and turns of the thriller) and I need that right now.

School started yesterday for my daughter. She is a big 5th grader now. She looked quite mature walking up the sidewalk to her school and no, I didn't cry, but I did cry the night before. Amazing how fast they grow.

With the coming of school, I'm looking at settling back into a semi-routine now. I think I function best in a routine, though it was rather nice not to have to deal with the whole getting ready for school thing for a few months.

What's the news on your end?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Your Happy Place

Where do you go to recharge?

I have a few places. One, the lake by my house. I love to take a walk along the path near the lake and watch the ducks and geese, listen to the birds, smell the flowers and grass and trees. It puts me back in touch with God and centers me.

Two, my house. I light candles, turn on some Benny Goodman or Frank Sinatra, settle on the couch with some dark chocolate and a good book or a magazine, and forget about the world.

You?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Do You Dream?

Ever since I can remember, I've had extremely vivid dreams. They are so vivid, in fact, that there are times I can't remember if something was a dream or actual reality. That's a bit scary.

Lately I've been dreaming of being back in college. I usually have missed the entire semester, and have only a few days or sometimes, even one hour before class to finish an assignment or study for a big test. I also have dreams where I know perfectly well that I have two degrees, but since I have nothing better to do, I decide to go back to college and get another degree.

I think these recent dreams - and they've been nearly every night lately - have something to do with my writing. I feel an urgency to get my novel published, and I think that is coming through in my dreams. I'd dearly love to talk to a dream psychologist about them and figure it out.

The only problem? I wake up from these vivid dreams feeling exhausted - and that's not good.

But I find the process endlessly fascinating. People I haven't thought about in years will sometimes pop into my dreams. Other times, small things I did during the day will appear in them.

Do you dream?

Monday, August 09, 2010

Autumn, Where Art Thou?

Oh my goodness.

We are under an excessive heat warning - with heat index temperatures supposed to reach 120 degrees.

120 degrees.

I am in misery!

Autumn, where are you? Please hurry! I may melt!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Highs and Lows

Within 24 hours, I experienced the highs and lows of trying to get published.

I sent a query to an agent and within 10 minutes, she responded, requesting a partial. After I sent her the partial, she responded again and said she'd received my manuscript and would get back to me ASAP.

Last night, I took a look at this manuscript again and edited it a bit more just in case she asked for a full. Even though I've edited this thing to within an inch of its life, there's always room for improvement, right?

I had hope in my heart as I went to sleep, coupled with the sharp edge of reality that this could end in another rejection.

When I checked my email this morning, there was an email from said agent.

When I clicked on it and saw the words, "I regret...", my heart fell.

But it wasn't nearly as bad a crash as I thought it would be.

Why?

Because as the agent said in her very nice rejection letter, this is a highly subjective business. What one person likes another person will love. And that's what I want - someone who loves my work, is so behind it that she/he will do whatever it takes to sell it.

My cousin responded to my Facebook post about all of this and said something very revealing:
In my business we actually focus on how many no's we can get because with each one we get closer to a yes! This attitude just turns every no into a stepping stone towards success!!
I'd say that's a pretty darn good attitude to have.

Onward.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Thought for the Day

"The mere habit of writing, of constantly keeping at it, of never giving up, ultimately teaches you how to write." --Gabriel Fielding

Are you keeping at it?

It's Time

I've had this blog for over 10 years. But I'm finding that I go to it less and less. Maybe it's the death of blogging that broug...