Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Great Link

Lots of work going on this week. *exhausted*

Popping in to pass this along - a really interesting blog entry: 5 Things Television Teaches Writers

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Book I'm Reading...

"House in Riverton" by Kate Morton

I always tell my Creative Writing students how closely reading and writing are connected. How it's vital for writers to read GOOD material - both to study the craft, and to recognize what good writing looks like.

Anyway, just thought I'd pass along this title, one I'm reading now. I'm about 30 pages in, and I really like it. It's from an Australian author, and the synopsis sounds intriguing (from Borders.com):

"...set in England between the two World Wars - the story of an aristocratic family, a mysterious death, and a vanishing way of life is told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all and kept secrets for more than 50 years."

And, I'm happy to report that the writing quality - the descriptions, the sentence structure, the suspenseful vibe - is very high. I only wish I had time to sit down and read it in a couple of afternoons! For now, I'll have to settle for a few pages at night, before bed...

I'd love to know what YOU're reading now, what's currently inspiring you, as both a reader and a writer. Drop me a book title in the comments, if you want...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It's OKAY to be alone!

As writers, we lead a solitary existence - at the least, during those hours we're composing and creating. But, at the most, during other, non-writing hours, too. I think writing gives us a gift that most people don't have: the gift of being COMFORTABLE, being alone.

Married or single, I think it's crucial that everyone is comfortable being alone. For a few minutes, a few hours - yes, even a full day or two. Not that we should hide away from the world, or push friendships away. No, those are crucial, too.

But we should never get to the point that being alone makes us nervous, or afraid. Especially, as writers. Because writing is alone-ness personified. Our thoughts, our fingers tapping on a keyboard, our words showing up on the page. By ourselves, alone.

My friend, Becky, shared this video, and I LOVE IT. It's poetry in motion, and says so much more eloquently what I've just tried to say here. Being alone can be a beautiful thing. And empowering. I think you, as a writer, will love this too. How to Be Alone

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Nothing Like Youth to Inspire...

Yesterday, after I'd spent an hour both trying to inspire and trying to bore (lol, all the necessary policies/syllabi) my Creative Writing students, one of them came up to me after class. He wore a huge smile and said, "I'm SO excited about this class!! I write poetry, and I'm part of a writing group online, and I write a blog...I can't wait to write in this class!" Then he rolled up his sleeve 2 inches and showed me the tattoo on his arm, this cool little writing quill he'd just gotten, as part of his writing group. Now, that's dedication! lol

I dare you to find me students in 1301 or 1302 classes who have half his passion for writing. THIS is why I love teaching Creative Writing! I've had an exhausting summer, full of disappointment and false starts (agents), and I'm drained. But seeing this student - and the others, who actually paid attention when I talked! - recharged my battery a little bit.

And maybe I can carry that energy through this grueling semester, somehow (more re-writes ahead of me, btw - that's a good thing, but I'm tiiiiired! lol).

Here's hoping that each one of you has someone in his/her life who's INSPIRING, who still has a gleam in the eye about writing, a go-get-'em energy about the art and craft of creativity.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Checking in...

I wanted to explain the shameful lack of posts, of late. I can sum it up in one word: SCHOOL.

Last week was filled with mandatory faculty meetings that left me a bit brain-dead. Not to mention the tedium involved with trying to prepare for online classes.

So, my creative side got squashed. Hopefully, though, with a new batch of Creative Writing students coming in (classes start this week), I'll have something valuable, or at least interesting, to blog about!

In the meantime, I wish all of you rich and productive writing days ahead!! :-)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Is It Your Passion?

Yesterday, I spent hours and hours sitting in long, tedious faculty meetings, and then standing in a 2-hour line to get my updated ID and parking sticker. (Fun!)

Well, while I was standing there with a group of other (English) teachers, we made general teacher chit-chat: new policies we didn't like, questions about tomorrow's meeting, expectations for the semester, changes in the new textbooks, etc. I participated with as much fervor as I could muster (ehh...which wasn't much).

Then, it happened. One of the teachers who knows how much I like to write asked me the question: "Did you get to do some writing this summer?" Little did she know that she'd opened the floodgates.

I swear, my face changed. Finally, something interesting to talk about! Something close to my heart. Something I'm passionate about. I told her all about my recent agent "bites" and their feedback, about the new book I'd started, about the book I'd revised twice. Thankfully, the other teachers didn't seem to mind my ramblings - in fact, they seemed quite fascinated and ended up asking lots of follow-up questions. The minutes rushed by, instead of dragged, for the first time all day...

And on the way to my car afterward, it occurred to me - teaching has its place, its value in my life. But writing? It feels like so much more. Maybe because it's "all mine." Or because it's so personal, so emotional to me - those characters, my own creations. Whatever the reason, it was obvious to anyone in that little circle of teachers what I love the most. Writing.

And if at all possible, I'm going to KEEP writing, squeezing moments out of a busy semester the best I can. It's not easy, having an all-consuming, full-time job and making room to write. But there's no reason I should put my passion on hold while my "real" job takes over. I do believe it's possible to have BOTH in my life. And I'm sure as heck going to try!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Just Something Funny...

With school starting up in 2 days and 100,000 tasks to fulfill in the next 2 weeks, I'm pretty well spent. Plus, I'm waiting to hear back from a couple of agents who've shown interest in my book (*gasp!*). I'll let you know as soon as I hear something...

Anyway, today, I offer a funny video that has nothing to do with writing. I just got a giggle out of it and thought I'd share...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Non-Writing Link...

Just FYI - I'm adding a link to the left perma-menu. It's the only blog that isn't about writing. It's about the Cotswolds! And since my series of novels is set there, I wanted to add it for selfish reasons (that's how I like to catch up with my favorite blogs - I come to my own blog and see the updates on that left menu and just click away - easy peasy!).

Here's the link, for those interested in being transported momentarily to the blissful, beautiful, serene Cotswolds. Ahhh...

Maybe those gorgeous pictures will even inspire some poetry!

Monday, August 9, 2010

I Needed This Today...

After a summer of querying agents, resulting in some nice strong "bites" and lots of unexpected feedback, I don't have that coveted contract in my hands as yet, and I'm starting to lose some steam. Sure, there are still irons in the fire, still agents who are reading my work (man, this waiting is tough!). But along with the interest has also come rejection. It's just the nature of the business, but that doesn't mean it doesn't sting.

Submitting work to agents/publishers is NOT for sissies, lol. If you don't have a tough skin when you start submitting, you'll either gain it quickly, or will quit altogether. There's really no middle ground.

I found this great article today at Backspace.com - it's a little crude in spots, so if you're easily offended by profanity (there's not much, but it's there), then you might not wanna click.

I liked the rawness of the article - the clear acknowledgment that writers are human - that we've got feelings and egos and doubts. And that we're not alone - we're all going through the hills and valleys. And mostly, that the valleys - the rejections - are PART OF THE PROCESS. I just needed to hear that today...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Inspired Reminders!

Since I've spent the last couple of entries stepping back, looking at writing in general and appreciating its role in my life, I thought this was perfect timing. Yesterday, I found this wonderful entry on Nathan Bransford's blog: 10 Commandments for a Happy Writer. Each one is SO spot-on. They put the writing life in good perspective with "real life."

They're great reminders for any writer, to prioritize, to have patience and tenacity, and to couple realism with dreams. Love it! In fact, I'm tempted to print these out and paste them to my monitor so I'll never forget their importance. They spoke to me in a powerful way.

#1 probably hit me the most. And #3, and okay, #9 and #10, lol...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pat Yourself on the Back

This past summer, I've had my head down, working HARD on a new book, on trying to find an agent, and on re-writes. I get so busy that sometimes, I forget why I'm doing all this. I forget to step back and SEE what I've accomplished. To look at the bigger picture.

So, here it is:

A novel. Three total, actually (a series). 1,000+ pages. Wow. Pretty cool.

I just think it's important that sometimes, we writers step away from our writing and take time to LOOK at it, from the outside. To see our own accomplishments - whether published or not. To realize that we were brave enough to spend time putting our thoughts, our convictions, on paper for others to see.

That, in itself, is worth a big ole pat on the back, I'd say. Because how many people have you come across, who said something like, "I've always wanted to write." But, they never did. So, if you're one of those who DID, I think you deserve a round of applause.

So today, list your accomplishments. See them in black-and-white. Even if it's just one article, or two poems, or the first half of a novel. Because even if you've attempted it, you're miles ahead of so many people who say to themselves, "Someday..."