Saturday, August 27, 2011

Following My Own Advice!

So, I often tell my Creative Writers that one way to tackle "writer's block" is this: simply open the document/novel you've been working on (whether it's from yesterday or a month ago) and READ. That's all. No pressure to add a single word to it. Just read the most recent piece/chapter/scene you've written.

And what inevitably happens most of the time is that you WILL WRITE. By reading what you've written, you're placing yourself back into that world, amongst those characters. And your brain starts to churn with ideas -- so that, by the time you reach the end of that segment, you're ready to write, to add to it. Without even realizing it.

That's exactly what happened to me this morning! I've neglected my writing the past two weeks, because of mandatory faculty meetings, hours of prep work, and classes starting. So, with one precious day off, I told myself that I'd simply GLANCE at my writing, at what I wrote two weeks ago. That's all. No pressure to continue or to write a single word.

And before I knew it, I'd added five new pages! Very cool.

Best of all, it reminds me of how much I LOVE to write. I really do. When I was finished with those pages, I felt a kind of satisfaction that not even a successful teaching session could provide. There's something so wonderful, so personal about writing. It's like placing a little bit of yourself onto that page. There's nothing else like it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lenny Kravitz!

So, I was watching an interview with Lenny Kravitz yesterday, on the Tavis Smiley show. I always perk up when I hear an artist/musician/writer talk about the PROCESS of creativity. Where it comes from, how they channel it, etc. It fascinates me...

I'm paraphrasing here, but in talking about writing songs, Lenny said something like, "The music comes to me. I don't chase after it, or seek it out. It finds me."

James Taylor has said mostly the same thing - that a song will come to him out of "nowhere" and he just transcribes it.

I actually love that the creative process is SO mysterious. That we'll have a thought, a brainstorm, an idea, and will rush to the computer and write it down -- and that we really have no idea where it came from. Or why it came NOW, as opposed to any other time.

Lenny also said that he "dreams music." That he will literally wake up and a song will be there, waiting for him. Heh, I wish my novel ideas would visit me in dreams. They rarely do. Sure would make the process easier....

So, what's your process like? What does the act of creativity feel like to you? Is it mysterious, surreal? Or does it feel more concrete, with mostly hard work and elbow grease?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Great Quote!

Couldn't agree more -- it's partly why I read if I ever have "down" time as a writer:

"A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge."
-George R.R. Martin

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Make a Complex Salad

"People aren't either wicked or noble. They're like chef's salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict." — Lemony Snicket (The Grim Grotto)

Such a true statement of fictional characters, too. Characters, like real people, should be complex. They should have flaws and contradictions and temptations. They shouldn't always be in a good mood or have perfect answers for every situation. They need to be confused sometimes. Torn. Scared. Overwhelmed.

In fact, the more real we can make our characters seem -- the more real-life traits we can give them -- the more invested readers will be in them. If we create layered characters, it will be more difficult for the readers to let them go when they turn that last page. For me, as a reader, that's the true test of a GOOD book - one I'm sad to leave when it's over (because of the characters).

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The End

It's official. As of this Monday, my summer is over. The End. Back to work. Back to meetings and students and grading, grading, grading.

<---Darcy's not too thrilled about it, either, lol.

Don't get me wrong, I'm insanely grateful to have had a summer off, and equally grateful to have a good job. But I look back on the past three months and can't figure out where on earth the time went...

I did write 100 pages of the new novel, which is good. It's progress. But, my goal was an entire novel. (Thank you, in part, new Corgi puppy, for distracting me - cutest thing EVER, but a real handful...more time-consuming than I'd first realized).

In any case, summer's over, and it's time to get back to life, back to reality. However reluctantly....

Friday, August 12, 2011

Voices Silenced

I always think it's particularly sad when an author dies (or painter, or musician, etc). Because that person's work goes with them. When these creative people pass away, the world will never receive another word, another brushstroke, another note. Their voice, their talent, is silenced.

Thus, it's particularly wonderful when a deceased artist's lost work is...found!!


I just read about the real-life tragedy of Debbie Macomber (mega-best-selling women's fiction author).

Link here

My thoughts and prayers go out to her family during this horrible time. I can't even imagine her heartache right now...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Traveling Through Books

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are. ~Mason Cooley

So true. I've been sort of "stuck" at home this summer (good reason - raising an adorable Corgi puppy - click for larger size):

But staying home all this time has given me a bit of cabin fever. Especially when lots of my friends are taking grand vacations, to Alaska, to the northern states with cooler temps than the 110 the South is experiencing right now. *fans self*

Anyway, reading novels this summer has helped me travel in my mind! Mainly to Nantucket, where Elin Hilderbrand's books are based. It's been a lovely, soothing mental vacation that I look forward to taking, every time I crack open a book.

Don't you love how books take you places?? I do!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Never. Give. Up.

Excellent reminder for those of us waiting on agent/publisher responses - click here

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Beauty of Nonsense

‎"I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living." ~Dr. Seuss

Crucial ingredients in the life of a writer: nonsense (not taking ourselves too seriously, having FUN with language) mixed with a few dashes of imagination and fantasy...