Saturday, February 27, 2010

Murder I wrote?

If you walked past me on the street, I guarantee you wouldn't give me a second look. I'm the girl in the background. The girl you introduce yourself to two or three times because you forget we have met before (honestly, this happens ALL the time...and it's devastating each time it happens).

But, author me is different. Author me kills people with a stroke of my mighty keyboard. Author me writes words I would never say out loud. Author me might rob banks, go on the lam, or be a street-wise private eye with a barrel full of bullets, booze and trouble. Author me might even take home magazines from the doctor's office that definitely aren't meant to be taken home. Author me is just a little crazy. And I am hardly alone.

Graycie Harmon said, "
Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum."

Love, love, love that quote. It's like a come as you aren't party in my head every time I sit down to write. Anything is possible. Yes, yes, I know that's cliche. But it's also the absolute truth. To an author with a story to tell, ANYTHING is possible.

So, let us raise our glasses to good clean girls who scrub floors and change diapers by day, and run mental insane asylums by night... Take joy in the writing process where, say it with me everyone, anything is possible.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Nothin' to it but to do it?

This is going to be a quick post, but I found this story during my internet wanderings today and thought we all might enjoy it.

Sinclair Lewis was invited to talk to some students about the writer's craft. He stood at the head of

the class and asked, "How many of you here are really serious about be writers?" A sea of hands shot up. Lewis then asked, "Well, why aren't you all home writing?" And with that, he walked out of the room.

Friggin' genius.

I think Ronnie Coleman actually coined the phrase, though, as a child of the 80's, I remember it better from 1979's classic "The Muppet Movie", "There ain't nothin' to it but to do it." We can take classes, listen to lectures, meet authors, ready, study, prepare, etc. But even with the greatest of intentions and the best preparations, nothing ever gets done unless rubber meets road...or in our case pen meets paper. So get writing! Like the muppets say, ain't nothin' to it but to do it. And when has a muppet ever steered you wrong?

And if everything else I have shared with you up to this point is not motivation enough to get you writing, let me share one last thought with you- If I can do it, anyone can. Really.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Stuck In The Middle...

The middle sucks.
The middle seat in an airplane.

Middle child syndrome.

The middle ages.

Those weird middle names parents give their kids to honor dear departed Aunt Gertrude.
Middle America (just kidding folks).

Getting to the middle of writing my story was the absolute worst part of this whole novel-writing experience. The beginning was fun and exhilarating, with boundless possibilities. It was almost too easy to write. But toward the middle, the idea train stopped pulling into station like it used to. And there I was, figuratively stuck in Death Valley, mid-day, in mid-July, the next idea train nowhere in sight, buzzards circling the decaying carcass of my story. I think I spent more time staring at a blinking cursor and perfecting flower doodles than actually writing anything productive for weeks, maybe months when I got to the middle.

My friends at rightreading.com say it best. "
It's at the middle where you start to fear that you've painted yourself into a corner, that your work isn't good enough, that you will never finish." No freaking kidding. Been there. Done that. Corner definitely painted.

I remember sending an email to a friend when I had reached the middle of my story. It said something to the effect of, "Poor (main character's name). He's just stuck in the middle of a story that is going nowhere. Will he get the girl? I don't know. Will he win the day? No clue. Might he die in a fiery car crash? It's getting more and more possible." Thankfully that friend was there to stop me from murdering my innocent main character in cold blood. I'm not gonna lie, it got close a time or two.

Rightreading.com goes on to say "
You've got to suck it up and work through this middle patch." Alright, rightreading, you asked me to suck it up, so suck I shall! It helped a little bit to write after the black-hole of the middle. When I started writing pieces of the end, the excitement came back. It brought focus and direction back to the unending middle section.

So good luck to all of you out there stuck in the middle. Though offing your main character in some massive space alien battle would feel really good when your are stuck, you too can get through this!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Eat Your Veggies!

Animal Farm
Catcher in the Rye
Grapes of Wrath
Brave New World
Catch 22
Tess of the D'Ubervilles
Lord of the Flies

What do all of these books have in common?
Classics? Yes.
Famous authors? Of course.
All books I had to read in high school but didn't really enjoy? Most definitely.

All of these books, as my English teachers have told me, are scathing indictments of human nature. They are deep and meaningful and shed a harsh light on the human psyche blah, blah, blah.

Don't get me wrong. These books MUST be read. To me, they are the broccoli, peas and carrots of the literary world. If we are to have a good, solid base in literature or writing, these must be consumed, whether you like it or not (Sorry, I was just channeling my mom there for a minute)

I let books like these stop me from writing for a long time. I really thought good literature had to be about suffering and pain and provide shocking commentary about the social condition. And since I am about as deep as a thimble, there was no way that I was going to be able to produce such deep, meaningful and lasting work as the aforementioned authors had.

But then I had a realization. There are other thimbles out there just like me who may want to read what I want to write. Maybe what I can write would constitute the after dinner mint at the literature buffet. Maybe what I write would be the extra splenda left over in the packet after the rest had been dumped into the after dinner coffee. But I had hope that what I had to say was good enough to at least try to get out there.

So thimbles unite! I'm writing what makes me happy. Even if it is just for me.