Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Look! A great review by YA Book Queen. This fun blog is run by Lea, who is 18. Girl Power! She ran the review today and is running a contest in the next few days. And speaking of contests, my Good Friend Melanie J is running a giveaway of MRRO - you can jump over to her hilarious blog and throw your hat in there, too.
Meanwhile, I get to experience shame at the hands of eight-year-olds today. I'm teaching a dance for a musical program at school. I know. This is enormous irony. But away I go, to dance and sing my little guts out.
Over and out.
Monday, February 8, 2010
- Sunshine. It's out there, people, and I like it.
- Caramel Syrup. Recipe on demand.
- Good books. Try "The Chosen One" by Carol Lynch Williams. It's gripping.
- Nearly-toothless six-year-old boys. Honestly, how does he eat?
- Relaxing Sundays with yummy food in the company of good friends.
- Yoga on wii Fit.
- Homemade bread - made by someone else (thanks, Kim!)
- Drainage. Dripping. Melting noises. Mmmm.
- Blue-painted toenails.
- Knowing by morning what's for dinner.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Here's some fun:
Today I found out that Bright Blue Miracle is a finalist for a Whitney Award. This is a cool awards program for writers who also happen to be LDS (that's Mormons, you know, and we're really nice people). The award is named for Elder Orson F. Whitney, who said, "We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own." Which is awesome, but maybe not totally fitting for BBM. Because, clearly, it's prose. Other than that tiny detail, right. Totally Miltonesque and Shakespearean. Totally.
Also, I was interviewed on Novel Journey today. I'm not sure if they didn't like MRRO, or just didn't have a chance to read it, but there's not a review (but I sound kinda cute, dont' you think?). Check it out if you have a minute.
Also we're going on a family date tonight to the local High School basketball game. Think Kid 1 will be sitting anywhere near us? Yeah, we don't count on it, but it will be fun. And she may surprise us, you know. Her friends think I'm cool, remember?
Have a loverly weekend, all!
Thursday, February 4, 2010
I'm learning things about how I write. More specifically, how I write successfully.*
I'm convinced that Writers with Character come up with a brilliant title, dazzling characters, a wicked hook, and a stunning plot. They outline. They plan. They write fifteen hundred to two thousand words every day and make a book.
I get the rest of it, the revising, the critiquing, the editing, the re-revising, the totally re-writing. I know that part. But the planning, the plotting, the outlining, is like some gorgeous pear at the top of the tree -- no matter how much I reach for it, I can't touch it, and then I'm sore and cranky.
But, being the kind of girl I am (a little slow), I keep trying for it. I reach for that outline. I write so many words every day. I struggle. I hate my words. I sigh at my futile reaching. But what do you know: there's another pear, equally gorgeous, waiting for me right at eye level. I just need to change my focus and grab it.
I may not be a Woman of Character (surprise!) and I'm going to have to be okay with that. I may never have a successful writing experience coming from an outline. I may never even write a plot-heavy book. But there are other pears on the tree, see?
Let's switch metaphors here:
My writing style is different from what I think it should be. I'm not that Writer of Character I imagine. I'm more like a toddler playing with pretty beads, picking one up and looking at all sides of it, holding it up to the light, tasting it, maybe shoving it up my nose (or maybe not), and deciding I love it. So I put that bead in the Keepers pile. Then I pick up another bead, one that makes me smile, or maybe even one that reminds me of something sad that I don't really want to forget. So I'll stare at that bead for a while, polishing it on my shirt, and put it into the Keepers pile, too. Before too long, I have a great big pile of shiny beads, some big glass ones, some cheesy plastic ones, some groovy silver ones. I love my pile.
But what good is a pile of beads?
So I have to string them. And then probably dump them back onto the table. And restring them and dump them a few more times. Then I'll see that I need a few more beads. And some spacers. And I'll take a little break here and there. And do you know what happens then? I can put an end clasp on it, and it will be complete. A whole necklace.
Will it make me a fortune? No. Will everyone want a necklace just like that? Certainly not. Will I be able to love it anyway? I will. Because I chose each bead. I polished each one and took time to love every inch of the string.
And so it is when I write successfully. I allow myself to write the scene I'm feeling. To dive in to the middle of a relationship and then let the details, the process, the lead-in follow. To discover each shiny, light-filled bead and to put it in a pile. To go back and write another scene, choose another bead, until I fill my pile with scenes I love: some big ones, some shiny ones, some cheesy ones, some gorgeous, light-filled ones.
And when it's time to string them together, I remind myself that this isn't the end -- I'm not finished if I don't want to be. There can be more stringing and un-stringing and re-stringing until I'm pleased with the whole effect.
But what if my favorite bead doesn't fit? Do I have to throw it away? Course not. I can put it on the desk and look at it every day. Maybe it will inspire a whole new necklace.
And isn't that the whole idea? The Inspiration part? So here's my point. (You knew I had one, didn't you?) Ask everyone about their style. Pry. Discover all the pears on the tree. Try reaching for some. Find the one that's in your reach.
Then go forward. Plot, if you're a plotter. Eavesdrop, if you're a dialoger. Analyze, if your a character-er. Pick up those pretty beads if you're a beader. Outline, for heaven's sake, if you're an outliner. And good for you. Do it. Write it. Paint it. Create it. Sing it. Whatever you're doing, do it. Add to the pile.
When the pile grows, that can only be a good thing.
*With adverbs, apparently.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
I saw some. Yesterday, as I was picking up Kid 4 from his buddy's house, I stepped out of the Mighty MiniVan, right into one of my favorite things: Squishy, squelchy mud.
Oh, mud. I love you. I love your fudge-brownie color. I love your smell -- that mix of dirt, mulch, water and hope. Hope that Spring will, in fact, ever return.
There is not a tiny spot of mud visible anywhere at my house, because it's all several feet deep in crusty snow. But if I'm nowhere around here? You can bet on finding me at Kid 4's buddy's house, on my knees, nose to the ground, happily inhaling mud.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
When you go to writer's conferences, there is a great deal of excitement and anxiety. And here's why: Every person attending the conference thinks*, "This is it. This is my break. I'm going to meet the agent and both editors in attendance, and they are all going to fall at the feet of my manuscript. There will be tears and begging and promises of Best Friendship Forever. We may near the word "auction" thrown around. I am here at this conference, and I Have Arrived."
Except, really? Not.
There's some research somewhere that would tell you the percentage of conference attendees who win a contract on the manuscript they bring to the conference, but honestly, we all know I'm too lazy to do that research. So I'll just tell you this: It's not a very big number.
A ton of the attendees at any given conference are bringing a first draft. Do I really need to say more about that?
Of the ones carrying a polished manuscript, many, many of them are first manuscripts. As in, this is my first novel.
WARNING: Here's where this hypothetical-ish blog post turns into a hypocritical blog post.
People don't usually get first manuscripts published. (Just stay with me, please.) Since with the act of writing, we become better writers everyday, it naturally follows that a third novel will be greater than a first, and the fifth will be vastly more wonderful. Paraphrasing several authors' takes on this, a writer needs to write four unpublishable novels before he's ready to have that golden #5 purchased.
At this point, you may be thinking that I got very lucky.
You would be correct.
I wrote a first book that was submitted, agent-free, to a publisher, chosen out of the slush pile, shined up, given a fabulous cover, and published. Then I wrote a second one that was also published (and will be in stores, like, any minute). So, if we're doing the math correctly, here's the thing. I owe the universe something like eight unpublishable manuscripts.
And I'd like you to know that I'm hard at work filling that IOU.
The things I'm writing at right now are bland. Un-spark-ish. Contrived. And it's seriously discouraging. BUT. I know that the exercise is good for me. I'm flexing the writing muscle, even if it goes nowhere. Someday I'll regain my cleverness. I'm certain. And the only way to do that is to keep working on it. Keep flexing that muscle. Keep the words coming, and not worry too much that they're boring or stupid or heartless.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I know, I KNOW that I am not the only one discouraged by the spewing of un-brilliant words. We can't all be on our game all the time. And I want you all to get it -- it's not ON all the time, and that's so totally okay.
Just keep writing. Just keep writing. Scratching. Scribbling. Plotting, dialoging, twisting, charactering. Writing, writing, writing.
The Universe will thank you.
*We really do think it, even if only in a tiny portion of our subconscious. Why? Because we've loved and nurtured and sweat over and lost sleep about this manuscript. It's precious. Like a favorite child. Not that we'd ever have a favorite child. Natch.