Monday, March 30, 2015

WRITING QUOTE - March 30, 2015

"Remember, it is no sign of weakness or defeat that your manuscript ends up in need of major surgery. This is a common occurrence in all writing, and among the best writers."

- William Strunk Jr. -

I like quotes that remind me that I'm not going to have it all figured out on the first try. Mistakes are commonplace and, what I've found for myself, needed if I truly want to grow. 

I learn from every person I come in contact with, whether I'm fully aware of it in the moment or not. I am given examples of how I want to be and how I don't want to be. 

Every book I read I'm shown how I want to write and how I don't want to write. 

As with anything, there is more to know than what I know at the time and always will be. My life improves, along with my experiences, when I'm aware that I'm not perfect and making mistakes can actually be beneficial if I'm willing to learn from them.

Friday, March 27, 2015

WRITING QUOTE - March 27, 2015

"We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is
only picking grapes or sorting the laundry."

- E. B. White - 

A light breeze accompanies the warm sun today, and for a while I lounged in a child's rocking chair (it's surprisingly comfortable) on our front porch. 

After a while I had to find shade under the bush, which isn't really a bush yet, since its leaves didn't arrive with this early spring. The bush is just branches, which makes snake-width shade that intertwines over the pavement.

At first I thought the spidery-limbed shade wouldn't be enough to protect me from the sun's heat, but it deemed worthy with help from the breeze.

I wrote in my journal, not feeling the writing bug today, but recognized that I was writing about not being able to write, which seemed kind of funny.

I believe it to be important to have something we do that brings joy, and now that I'm more willing these last fifteen almost sixteen years of living life differently, anything can be a joy if I choose to make it so.

My attitude has a direct impact on my perception of the day. If I change my attitude to include joy, compassion, humor, and light, then my day will encompass joy, compassion, humor, and light. 

Though today, to do that, I needed to lay down and rest. I stayed up late last night watching a movie with my husband and was lacking sleep.

Now it's like the world started over with me, because it truly isn't the same, but nothing changed, not really, just my attitude, which alters my perception. 

Now I'm writing, which brings me joy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

WRITING QUOTE - March 24, 2015

"Easy reading is damn hard writing."

- Nathaniel Hawthorne - 

I've been writing all morning, working on my book and a short story. My goal is easy reading in the sense that the story stands on its own without the jolting reminder someone wrote it, which requires quite a bit of work.

Monday, March 23, 2015

WRITING QUOTE - March 23, 2015

"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."

- H. P. Lovecraft - 

When I experience fear I have a deep instinctual need to fix whatever I perceive to be broken or to blame someone else; the latter always seems a much better option, because than I don't have to take responsibility for any of it, just in case it all goes south.

Fear for me is a lack of facts, or more like me not looking at the facts of a situation. Once I'm able to separate the facts from my feelings, I can begin to settle into what is real than what is manifesting in my mind. Then I can take action, even if the action I need to take is nothing other than praying, taking a walk, calling a friend, taking a nap, eating food, reading a book, or playing music.

Of course, there are times where I have specific action to take in relation to my problem, but it never seems to be in the way I think. Once the facts of the situation are known, my responsibility is limited to only what I can do, not what someone else needs to do. It truly does not bode well for me or others if I do for them, what they can do for themselves.

Now, fear of the unknown, which ultimately permeates the above mentioned fear, is more terrifying, because I falter in doubt when trying something new. My mind tells me it won't work or it won't turn out well or no one will like it or someone will make fun of me for it or whatever, because my brain can come up with all kinds of what-if-scenarios when its marinating in fear of the unknown.

What do I do? I stay with the facts the best I can, pray, talk with a friend, and keep trudging. Because truly, what do I have to lose?

Friday, March 20, 2015

*WRITING QUOTE - March 20, 2105

"Life sometimes gets in the way of writing."

- Jean M. Auel - 

Life can get in the way of so many things, especially when there's children involved. I can make all the plans I want, but I know my plans may have to be altered to accommodate the need of a child. 

What I need to be mindful of are my priorities. 

If I know my priorities, which include not only family obligations but priorities for myself too, then I know what needs to be done first and so on and so on. 

Writing is an important priority for me, so it is top on my list, which means it is best for me to get it done in the morning, because the likelihood of getting to it later in the day is nil, considering the other obligations, like taking care of children, making dinner, cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, etc.

Along with writing, at least for myself before I am available to my family, I need to have time in the day where I fit in self-care, like yoga, meditation, prayer, reading, knitting, playing banjo, taking the dog for a walk, touching base with friends. 

A lot of these I couldn't fit in everyday when I had an outside-of-the-home-job, but since I am a homemaker or housewife or stay-at-home mom, whichever label works best, I have more time to fit some, if not all, of these into my day.

And what's amazing about keeping these priorities is that I'm actually more available to my family and the other obligations I have in life, which doesn't seem like it should be that way, but it is.

But even with the best of plans, life still can get in the way. Better to go with the flow, show up where I can, trust that it will all work out, and do my best, whatever I'm doing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WRITING QUOTE - March 18, 2015

"I write for the same reason I breathe - because if I didn't, I would die."

- Isaac Asimov - 

I don't believe I would die physically per se, but I would die spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. 

I've tried to stop writing before, more from the standpoint of believing that what I wrote wasn't worth anything and definitely wasn't work that should be brought to the light of day. 

It didn't work so well, not writing. 

Not writing for me is like slicing my body in half and stuffing one half in a closet and barricading the door, regardless of how much the other half screams in pain.

I'm not willing to do that anymore. Writing is essential to me and who I am, whether anyone likes the writing I create or not. 

Of course, this doesn't mean I don't try and learn and hone my skill, but I'm less willing to hide because of what I think others are thinking of me. 

Plus, I'm having fun!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

WRITING QUOTE - March 17, 2015

"Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive."

- Elbert Hubbard - 

I had a moment earlier, when I was attempting to finish a project, that I stumbled into the too-serious mind set. My serenity of the day crashed to the floor, as if it were an etched-crystal vase shattering splinters of glass everywhere. 

I stopped working and left the house, chose to meet a friend for lunch instead. Of course, within seconds of meeting my friend on the street corner, because the restaurant we had chosen was unexpectedly closed, I felt better, less serious, and open to the possibility of "no big deal."

Before long, I completely forgot I had even dropped my serenity, for it filled me again through laughter, talking, and drinking tea. And food. 

So, I find it funny to read this quote now, after having been too serious earlier. There's so much more to behold than the seriousness of what I think needs to be done and when and how and so on. 

And imagine, once home, after lunch and restoration, I finished the errands without glitch or splinter, and then I moved on to writing where I finished revising another chapter.

Monday, March 16, 2015

WRITING QUOTE - March 16, 2015

"As a little girl, I didn't like stories about little girls. I liked stories about dragons and beasts and princes and princesses and fear and terror and the Four Musketeers and almost anything other than nice little girls making moral decisions about whether to tell the teacher about what the other little girl did or did not do."

- A. S. Byatt -

One of my favorite books from grade school was The View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts. This young boy sits in the cherry tree in his front yard and witnesses a murder. Of course, no one believes him and he tries to prove what happened and so on and so on. Loved it!

And then it wasn't before long I was infatuated with Stephen King and other such authors that like to scare the pants right off of you. Pet Cemetery was one such book. I remember staying the night at my aunts, sleeping in the living room in my sleeping bag, reading this book, while my aunt's black cat kept circling me. Before long I had to hide in the sleeping bag, desperately afraid her black cat was the black cat in the book. Scary!

Even now I primarily read stories that raise the hair on the back of my neck. Even when I write a story death and murder, or just plain strange-happenings, show up and take the characters on a completely different ride than I was intending.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

WRITING QUOTE - March 11, 2015

"I think it's the people who have no doubt that every word they put down is gold that probably don't write very well."

- Dean Koontz - 

I read this, this morning, and laughed. It reminded me of a Buddhism class I took in college several years ago. The professor was prepping us for our big mid-term final, and he said, "If you believe you're not enlightened, than you most likely are, and if you believe you are enlightened, you most likely aren't." 

I went to that final with the utmost certainty that I must have been enlightened, because I didn't feel like it at all. Needless to say, I failed my final. Not studying will do that. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

WRITING QUOTE - March 9, 2015

"You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page."

- Jodie Picoult -

I believe all writers have doubt to a certain extent, some worse than others. Some will be so immobilized by their doubt they will not finish a piece or let anyone read a piece they do finish. Others will push through their doubt, a day at a time, to give it their best shot, whether the ending is of their liking--the ending being the result of their hard work--was it published or not? And, truly, the most important question of all, or the most desired outcome, did anyone read it?

I used to be the immobilized-writer and then I changed to the push-through-it-writer, though I'm not sure it's gotten easier to deal with the committee in my head that tells me I need to give up. I think I've just decided not to let them decide my life for me. And staying out of the outcome of my writing is extremely helpful. It truly is none of my business, since I'm not there yet to add any input--all undecided outcomes happen to live in the future.

Where I am at is with my writing. The day in and day out process of sitting and writing, whether the committee is in agreement with my intentions for the day or not. The committee is not too loud today, dulled maybe, but they whisper, and I have to remind myself they know nothing more of my future than I do. Why listen to them? 

Hence, the quote. Writing is not a magical transcription of the story in my mind, not in the sense of transcribing the pure essence of the story in one draft. Writing is a showing up, sitting down, and working process. 

Writing is reading books, not watching television and surfing Facebook because there's nothing better to do. Writing is taking pen in hand and putting ink to paper, regardless if it is magical on the first draft or not. Writing is sifting through all kinds of writing blogs, websites, and books to find the ones that actually are inspiring to keep me writing, because I do need to relate to other writers, commiserate if you will. Writing is a singular journey of going within, battling the dragons and wizards inside that block the stories path to freedom, ultimately, to the page.

And writing is more than even all that. Each individual writer has their own tale, their own way of getting where they need to be.

Writing begins with a blank page, but it definitely can't end with one. There is no editing a blank page, and we all know what writing entails--revise, revise, revise.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

WRITING QUOTE - March 5, 2015

"In the best fiction, the language itself can become almost invisible."

- Robert Morgan - 

The authors I find memorable, the one's I want to read again and again, accomplish this, in my opinion. When reading their books I become lost in the story instead of the language describing the story. 

Then there are other works of fiction where I am constantly reminded I am reading: the language is disjointed at times, jolting me out of the book to the point of my realizing I am only holding the book and not the actual character in the book living the story, or at least not the extremely involved observer watching it all happen.

My goal is to accomplish invisibility in my own writing, and, at times, I believe I do. Sometimes I will read a couple of chapters before the one I'm working on, to get a sense of the story again, to remember each characters voice and who they are, and I will "come to" later, having gotten pulled into the story, oblivious of the language describing it.

This invisibility could also be associated with living a "good" life, when we are able to see past the details of what we're doing, even our whacked-machinations of doing life (thinking we have some kind of power in all host of manners), to the transition of feeling life--its beauty and grace, and with it the gratitude of having a life worth living.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

WRITING QUOTE - March 4, 2015

"I paint very messy. I throw paint around. So when I let myself do the same sort of thing with my writing, and I would just write and write and write and revise, that's when I found my rhythm in writing." 

- Erin Morgenstern - 

I used to have a lot of ideas on how I should write and what it should look like and so on. Then, one day, I was reading an article about an author I enjoy, Diana Gabaldon, and she said something to the affect of "writing needed to be fun." 

What a novel idea, having fun. Who would have thought. 

Bang! I stopped and realized I wasn't having any fun writing and hadn't been for quite some time. Why? Because I was too caught up in doing it right or trying to arrive somewhere where I thought others wanted me to be. 

All I needed to do was have fun with my writing. Write from where I was, with my own ability as it was, without demand for it to be anything other than it was until it changed on its own. 

Kind of like what Morgenstern found for herself, when she just let it be she found her writing, or as she put it, "my rhythm in writing."

Now, I write, toss the critic aside, until later when she's needed, and just write and have fun doing it. Imagine.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

WRITING QUOTE - March 3, 2015

"It comes back to all of the things we've been talking about. It's quality. It's telling a story in the most compelling way possible. It's being mindful of the fact that you are telling this story for someone to consume--so are you telling a story that somebody wants to consume? It's being willing to offer that promise: Give me your ten hours and I will deliver an experience that warrants your time and energy."

- Jennifer Joel, literary agent - 

I was flipping through the newest issue of Poets & Writers this afternoon and landed on an article, Agents & Editors: Jennifer Joel's Advice for Smart Authors, and got stuck. Stuck in a good way, of course. The quote above was one of the one's that resonated with me. 

I am currently in the revision process of my book, They Whisper, and I get antsy to be done. I have to remind myself to stay with the words, the chapter's purpose, the characters, the scene, and remember I am the conduit for the story to be told through. 

The information of the story that any reader needs has to be given a voice. The information won't magically appear because I know it to be true; hence, the need for a conduit.

For me, writing is very much so a love story; I have to be fully invested to the point of driving myself crazy. Today was one of those days of craziness or, at least, the onset of craziness, because I couldn't put in my writing time without squirming in my seat. 

But I did it. 

And that seems to be what Joel is getting at: quality requires time, effort, and honesty. I can put in all the effort and time I want, but if I'm not honest about the story itself, is it enticing enough to read, than I will miss my mark every time.