Second Book Stall-out

June 4, 2008 at 9:19 am | Posted in Bria, editing, Fast Draft, inspiration, writing | 3 Comments

Every once in awhile we all have an “ah-ha” moment. I’m always jealous of writers who seem to get at least one big thing from every book, every speaker, ever workshop. Often, I feel my head nodding in agreement without the actual big moment coming. Lots of little, ‘yup. I got that’s’ but not a lot of epiphanies.

So, here I am, stalled out on the second book, and looking for an epiphany. A big AH-HA to get me moving again, when ironically enough, a discussion starts on the diva board last evening about first book fear.

I didn’t have that. I had no idea about all the ‘rules’ I was supposed to be following until the story was on the page. It was poorly written, but had great a great story and characters I connected with.

It took 5 weeks to write.

It took almost a year to re-write and edit.

Book two is obviously a completely different story (literally and figuratively) – I couldn’t grasp a strong desire to start book two.

Until last weeks blog.

Looking at the first pages of the first draft of my first manuscript truly opened my eyes. It was horrible. It didn’t flow, had errors all over the place, the world rules were in consistent, my sentence structure was blah, etc.

Book one, my beloved book one, was horrible.

Suddenly my metaphorical eyes opened. I could write horrible.

You see, all this time I thought I needed to write book two to the standard I had attempted to edit book one to. That is not going to happen because that took ten months.

We all repeat it again and again, but it’s apparently my turn to mis-quote the words of La Nora. “I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank one.”

And so, Fast Draft is alive and well again. I’m FDing book two as we speak. It has its own challenges.

I’m doing less writing straight through because of chapters moved from the end of book one to the middle of book two. I’m having to go ‘back in time’ in a way to when my characters were younger, less evolved than where those moved chapters left them. I’m fighting against shifting directions because I like some of those moved chapters so much.

But still, I’m writing. I’m getting my 20 pages a day down and moving toward an extremely bad fast draft.

Just like book one.

Hearing the truth – Writing is Re-Writing – and knowing the truth are two different things, but it’s an ah-ha moment I won’t forget when it’s time to write book four. Or book five. Or. . .you get the point.
So, set aside your doubts, insecurities, annoyances and Go Write.
-bria

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List of Lists for Writers

May 21, 2008 at 9:08 am | Posted in Bria, inspiration, motivation, writing | 5 Comments

I love lists. I love lists ALMOST as much as spreadsheets. And so, since lists are amazing, here is a List of Lists for Writers.

If you aren’t a member of stumbleupon.com, get in there. It lets you choose what themed pages you jump through and allows you to find things you never would have seen if you were just randomly searching.

Get ready to start bookmarking these!

19 Posts Writers Shouldn’t Ignore: Sharon at ‘Get Paid to Write’ put together a list of sites to help you promote your writing and yourself.

Techniques for Creative Thinking: Collectively, there are several hundred techniques published in books by Michael Michalko, Andy Van Gundy, James Higgins, Dilip Mukerjea and others. Techniques are like tools in a workshop, with different tools for different parts of the creative process. For example, there are techniques for defining a problem, exploring attributes of a problem, generating alternatives, visual explorations, metaphors, analogies, and evaluating and implementing ideas. HERE is a small selection of techniques.

The Top 5 FREE Software Programs Every Writer Should Have 52.novels.com put together this great list. I’ll admit, not the techno person I wish I was, but THIS sure helped me find what I need.

150 Resources to Help You Write Better – This is from OEDb (Online Education Database) I managed to kill an amount of time which shall not be admitted here with this website. I also sucked in a large number of the FlanTastics. It’s worth checking out.

Top Read Writing Information Article Listing: From ‘Writing Information’ – 100 must read articles for writers. Their tagline is “Articles To Hone Your Writing Skills To Perfection!” And they’re right!

List of Proofreaders Marks – Confused by what some of those little squiggles mean? Clear it all up HERE with the visual, the example and the explanation.

Top 10 Grammar Myths: One of my favorite sources, Grammar Girl, did a great Top 10 list. Check it out HERE.

Commonly Overused Words – When I was in fourth grade I had a teacher who took away the words ‘good’ and ‘nice’ from our vocabulary. We couldn’t write them. We couldn’t say them. We couldn’t think them (I’m pretty sure she knew when we broke this rule too.) So, I’m thinking of taking away a new word a week. This list should help – challenge your vocabulary with the list and its suggested replacement words HERE.

The Writinghood has a list of websites dedicated to words HERE: For the Love of Words: Seven Wonderful Websites Where Words Matter

Need resources for proper grammatical usage, citation formats, or paper writing. Check out Internet Public Library’s HERE.

Inkalicious does a “Writer’s Cheat Sheet” with lots of great boiled down summaries HERE.

Every tried journaling and not been able to get into it? Here’s Litemind’s 13 Tools to Making Journaling Work for You.

Every day a new reason to write/edit/live the dream. Start on Day One HERE and see where your at on Day 100.

50+ Open Courseware Writing Classes from the World’s Leading Universities —- Free learning! Enough said.

In the spirit of the list of lists, here is a post called DON’T (a list) at one of my favorite blogs, Ask Daphne. Before you write that query letter, check it out HERE.

Hope you found the list-list helpful. Do you have a favorite? Post it in our comments section! And then, Go Write
-bria 

 

Overcoming Writer’s Block

May 8, 2008 at 10:04 am | Posted in inspiration, Meg, writer's block, writing | 8 Comments

Writer’s block for a writer is like a broken leg for a marathoner. You can’t do the thing that brings you stress relief, releases endorphins (anyone who’s written that perfect scene knows the ‘writer’s high’) or fulfills a life long dream.

Yet a runner can go to a doctor who can put the leg in a cast, and after an indeterminate amount of time, the leg will heal. Maybe some rehab is necessary, but most likely the runner will be back on her feet in no time. Back to training and reaching that goal. For a writer, there is no literary doctor. No prescribed healing tasks that will set it right. Nothing to guarantee a complete restore to health. So what does one do? What did I do?

First, I tried to push through it, but then remembered my personal promise to not force myself to do anything in life that wasn’t fun. Then I took a vacation, otherwise known as giving up. And I enjoyed it. For a while. I read, I watched way too much TV and I walked around aimlessly without that one thing that I did for MYSELF and for personal enjoyment. And I realized I missed it. I MISSED WRITING.

So the cast is off and I’m ready to start my rehab. I surfed the web, looking for sites to overcome writer’s block and I came across this great one: http://grammar.about.com/od/yourwriting/a/wblockquotes.htm

Writers on Writing: Overcoming Writer’s Block from Richard Nordquist http://grammar.about.com/mbiopage.htm. On the site, he captures numerous points in a writer’s career where writer’s block may interfere with the process and uses quotes from successful authors to help jumpstart over the hurdles. These are the ones that caught my eye, but I recommend you refer to the site for full details:

GETTING STARTED:
§ “The easiest thing to do on earth is not write.”
(William Goldman)
§ “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials. It’s a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write.”
(Paul Rudnick)

The easiest thing to do is not write- very true. There are all the things that Paul Rudnick itemized that you can do to not write. BUT, and this is a big but, if you are a writer, if composing sentences and scenes is in your blood, after a while, the hardest thing to do is not write. It shows in your attitude and behaviors. It hurts.

CAPTURING IDEAS:
§ “I carry a notebook with me everywhere. But that’s only the first step. Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.”
(Sue Grafton)

I started doing this. Jotting down ideas, moments, descriptions of setting and people. This helped me realize that I was back in my writer’s head- seeing the world as a resource and it excited me.

COPING WITH THE BADNESS:
§ “We can’t be as good as we’d want to, so the question then becomes, how do we cope with our own badness?”
(Nick Hornby)
§ “You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
(Octavia Butler)
§ “People have writer’s block not because they can’t write, but because they despair of writing eloquently.”
(Anna Quindlen)
§ “I think writer’s block is simply the dread that you are going to write something horrible. But as a writer, I believe that if you sit down at the keys long enough, sooner or later something will come out.”
(Roy Blount, Jr.)
§ “Lower your standards and keep writing.”
(William Stafford)

WOW- this section is what made me see the light. What hit me over the head and said, “You idiot! You let your inner fears stop you from doing something you loved!” I did stop writing, even this blog, because I felt my writing was horrible. I had let people read my last novel without it being polished and the feedback was nonexistent. I should’ve held myself back until I knew it was ready and showed it to someone who would give me feedback on what was right and what still needed work.

ESTABLISING A ROUTINE”
§ I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.”
(William Faulkner)
§ “I have to get into a sort of zone. It has something to do with an inability to concentrate, which is the absolute bottom line of writing.”
(Stephen Fry)
§ “Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”
(Barbara Kingsolver)

With all life demands, I do find it hard to establish a daily routine when it comes to my writing. The idea of putting six pages together each day won’t work for me. Instead, I hope to carve out one day a week that I can concentrate on my latest work. Progress won’t be easy, but I can use other unstructured time to think, jot down notes and observe the world to further develop characters and scenes. That way, even though I only have a set number of hours each week to write, I am working on my story every day.

WRITING:
§ “My block was due to two overlapping factors: laziness and lack of discipline. If you really want to write, then shut yourself in a room, close the door, and WRITE. If you don’t want to write, do something else. It’s as simple as that.”
(Mary Garden
§ “If you want to write, write it. That’s the first rule.”
(Robert Parker)
§ “The writer’s duty is to keep on writing.”
(William Styron)
§ “Read a lot. Write a lot. Have fun.”
(Daniel Pinkwater)

It sounds so easy, go write, but when you’ve fallen into one of the above traps, it’s not just about putting words on the page. It’s finding your inner confidence to battle the critical demons or carving out the time to join coherent sentences into paragraphs. Or maybe it’s figuring out the conflict that will tear your hero and heroine apart or even developing your characters. No matter what the cause of your writer’s block, I empathize with you and feel your pain. I promise the cast will come off eventually and when you are ready, you will be able to run again. And maybe even fly!

-Meg

Inspiration to Write

May 7, 2008 at 11:54 am | Posted in Bria, inspiration, writing | 4 Comments
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Inspiration is a funny thing.

 

It comes at weird times in different ways and surprising avenues. Sometimes just hearing or thinking about things outside your normal scope of interest can spur a inspired moment.

 

Here are some things that have inspired me in the last week:

 

Marissa Doyle’s first book, Bewitching Season, came out – it’s a fun read with character’s you’ll fall in love with. Don’t believe me? Go check out her character being interviewed at NineteenTeen for a chance to win a copy.

 

 

 

 

Marley Gibson’s first two books came out this week and seeing her joy – as well as getting to share it – at her book launch party was so inspiring!

 

My CP while looking at Markbearer came back this week to tell me how much she enjoyed reading it. My CP is asking for book two!

 

My characters have been driving me crazy. They want their stories told now! And hearing the questions people are asking about the next book, does this happen, is that person good or bad, will these two end up together. . . Is definitely inspiring!

 

StumbleUpon is a new toy for me. Sanroe was kind enough to kick off the Purple Heart’s summary page and now I’m addicted to clicking the next button to see what’s out there. I’ve found title generators, fun writing prompts, industry information, and other author’s sharing their stories – all these make me want to set pen to paper.

 

Other writers – I was lucky enough to hear Diana Groe (Emily Bryan) speak last night. She was witty, intelligent and informative. I’ve gone to hunt down another one of her books already. She told a great story about Staying Published – it really pushed me to keep moving forward.

 

Classes and Classmates – I’m taking Margie Lawson’s online class on Deep EDITing and highly recommend it. But one of the most inspiring moments so far was when Margie quoted classmate Nancy Haddock’s next book as an example. WOW! To get your book quoted in a class as a strong example of great craft – not to mention being in the class when it happened.  Plus, I was even more excited knowing that Nancy was blogging for us this month too!

 

Spring (or summer or fall or winter) – While fall will always be my favorite season, any time the weather changes seems to be a kick in the butt for me – Each season a earthy-makeover for the landscape around us.

 

So, find something this week that makes you look at your writing with new eyes, excited and inspired and then, Go Write
bria

Finding Inspiration in Friendship

May 5, 2008 at 7:19 am | Posted in friendship, inspiration, Jessica, writing | 3 Comments

I had a college student’s weekend in that my weekend started on Thursday night. Sadly, I no longer have the mental and physical stamina of a college student so while I had a nice, long, busy weekend, this Monday morning feels as though it has come all too soon.

I’ll characterize my weekend by saying I spent it supporting the arts – such a fun string of days, it’s no wonder the time flew!

– Thursday night I attended an author talk, where three superstar authors spoke to a sold-out crowd about writing and life
– Friday night I attended a book launch party for a debut author and dear friend
– Saturday night I attended an opera recital
– And yesterday, I hope you all stopped by the blog to help us welcome another dear friend, Nancy Haddock, as our guest and to celebrate the release of her debut book, LA VIDA VAMPIRE

And while all of these people from my weekend are solo artists, I am reminded that it often does take a village to make our projects come to fruition. Whether in the support of a critique partner, a commiserating peer, or a loyal, caring loved one there to help pick up the pieces when they fall or help us keep up the good work when things go well, we are not as alone as it often feels. Seeing the care and support during each of these artists’ events, makes me grateful not only for being able to support them in the way(s) I can, but also for the people who provide such medicine for me.

So while I’m toiling away on seemingly endless writing conundrums, I will think back to this weekend and remember the strength and creativity and forward momentum that true friendship can inspire. And when I hit the proverbial wall, I hope to draw on that strength, creativity, and positive momentum, and keep writing!

-Jessica

Conference Afterglow

April 14, 2008 at 7:18 am | Posted in career, inspiration, Jessica, writing | 5 Comments
Tags:

It was a super busy, tiring, exhilarating, motivating, inspiring and all-around awesome weekend, as are most conferences I get the chance to attend. Meeting new and old friends. Learning new things. Stocking up on new books. Making new connections. Conceiving new ideas and approaches for my writing life. As I think through and process all the elements from the weekend, there are just a couple of things I thought I could mention in today’s blog post.

There are certain elements about conferences that are out of an attendee’s control. Venue issues. Technical glitches. Travel atrocities. Inappropriate colleagues. [Fill in your personal conference peeves here.] But what I have learned over the years is that whether you have a personally good conference outcome or a bad one, the end result is up to you. The whole experience is truly what you decide to make of it.

There have been times when just one workshop has made the whole expense worth my price of admission. I love those A-HA! moments of clarity or inspiration or new line of thought. This parting of the clouds is magic to me, and there were two things that came to me over the past four days that made me want to reorganize the way I thought about my writing.

The first came when a NYT best-selling author was talking to me about the workshop she was set to deliver and she said, ‘[This topic] is what I needed to learn to sell my first book.’ So many times I feel as though I have everything left to learn and I am not sure I can distill the many craft pieces down to any one thing, or at least a small, prioritized list of things that I really need to learn before I sell. But this woman and the time and advice she shared with me make me want to fill in those gaping holes. In struggling with the amorphous blob that is my writing life I mentally chastised myself for not setting up a much better strategy. I am excited to change that and figure out the top three things I need to learn to improve my writing, if not sell.

One other thought that took on new and stronger meaning for me over the weekend can be summed up in two words: Who cares? Please don’t misunderstand my meaning here . . . I think about those two words in the context of the book(s) I am working on and I think to myself, ‘Who is going to care about these characters and what is going on between them, for them, or to them?’ In my mind, the stories I have been trying to tell just are not as compelling as I would like them to be. Granted, I am still learning so much about the process, and, to add to my to-do list from the previous paragraph, upping the care quotient is another aspect of my storytelling that I want to enhance.

So . . . a whole weekend spent and only two parting shots to report?! I’d say that was a pretty successful weekend!

We would love to hear about any conference revelations you may have had – in recent or from previous years – that have helped you overcome any blocks in your writing path. It’s all about the ‘Keep Writing!’

-Jessica

What I learned from a Hottie Band

February 6, 2008 at 12:40 pm | Posted in Bria, career, creativity, inspiration, music, writing, young adult | 6 Comments

Not long ago I heard a bunch of bands play out at a club and got a valuable lesson in writing (not to mention hotties.)

The first band came on – a bunch guys in their teens. Not bad. The sounded like a garage band and I think the sound guy was doing them a disservice in the still empty bar by having them amped so high the singers words were indistinguishable. But I enjoyed the show.

The second band came on, guys in their late 30’s/early 40’s. It was obvious they were all good at what they did. The made the band before them sound even more unfocused – the were a lot of fun and their set flew by.

The third –First Ave – band came on next. These guys had it going on the moment they started their individual sound checks. I turned to my friend and said, we’re going to like these guys, I know it.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote my vows to my craft, and one of the things I swore was that “I will behave professionally when representing my writing and myself and I will work at it as though I am already being paid.”  These guys did that.

The got on the stage and worked it like they were already rock stars (but not in an obnoxious way.) Individually they sounded great, coming together as a band, the sounded well  – I don’t know the music term for it, but if I was reading a novel, I would say “Their writing was tight.”

The worked the stage at every angle: Good music, professional (ok, rock star, but that’s what they’re striving to be) and hard work.

Hard work? How in the world could you know they were putting in hard work, Bria?

No one, no matter what their craft, gets their sound (words/paragraphs/chapters to us) that tight without a lot of focus, practice and dedication. I just wish I could bottle their charisma too!

I challenge you to check them out HERE and find your own new form of inspiration. What makes you think about your writing in a new way, who really challenges you?

Go Look inside and then Go Write,
-bria

Make life great in 2008!

January 4, 2008 at 9:37 am | Posted in goals, inspiration, life, Meg | 3 Comments

New Year’s Eve has always been my favorite holiday. I love that moment at midnight when past, present and future collide for one split second. You can feel the hopeful prayers resonate that ‘this is the year!’ For what? It doesn’t matter…what matters is the clean slate to reach for whatever goal or dream you have. To start over fresh and be the person you want to be…

In my last blog, I briefly mentioned my annual December trip through the calendar and how I lament the troubling times and relive the thrilling ones. In addition, I spend some time figuring out what went wrong- what areas of my life are draining me, what can I improve on, why am I not reaching my goals, etc. These days can lead me into a case of the blahs, but they are a necessary part of the process. That way, I can emerge on January 1 with a clear sense of how I want to live my next 365 days.

For example, in 2007, I chose the word ‘simplify’ as my theme. I decluttered my house (most of it- I think clutter reproduces while you’re sleeping) and held a yard sale. I got rid of anything in my life that drained me. Same with people- only surrounded myself with those who encouraged or inspired (yes you, Heartlettes!). In 2006, I decided to ‘follow my dreams.’ I attended my first writer’s conference and shared my writing with others. A successful year.

So it’s day four of 2008 and what is my theme for the year? I have the idea down pat, but it’s the succinct wording that eludes me. What I do have are three inspiring messages that will guide me at every turn:

On my fridge is a magnet that reads:
Risk- more than others think is safe,
Care- more than others think is wise
Dream- more than others think is practical,
Expect- more than others think is possible.

–Cadet Maxim (not sure if that’s the writer or the magnet maker LOL)

On my neck are charms from an Irish proverb:
Dance as if no one is watching,
Sing as if no one is listening,
And Live each day as if it were your last.

In my heart is a song by Martina McBride:
Anyway
You can spend your whole life buildin’
Somethin’ from nothin’
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway
You can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway
God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good
When I pray it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyway
This world’s gone crazy and it’s hard to believe
That tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway
You can love someone with all your heart
For all the right reasons
And in a moment they can choose to walk away
Love ’em anyway
You can pour your soul out singin’
A song you believe in
That tomorrow they’ll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway
Yeah sing it anyway
I sing
I dream
I love anyway

Those words will remind me to not worry so much about what other people are thinking. To reach for my dreams without regard for the chance of success. To take chances, work harder and never give up, even if I never make it. Because in the end, I’d rather say that I tried, than admit I didn’t.

So perhaps my short phrase for 2008 is: “Life’s too short.”

How will you live your life in 2008?

-Meg

Our readers, your comments…

December 28, 2007 at 10:37 am | Posted in inspiration, Meg, motivation | 1 Comment

LOL-I started this entry about this being the last blog of the year and was going to sum up 2007 with a special list of favorite entries and comments by our readers. Then I gazed over my shoulder at the calendar and realized Jessica has the last blog of the year. Silly me. How could I miss New Year’s Eve? My favorite night of the year? I’m an idiot.

However, since I’ve started my annual week of reflection when I think back on the months of the year and remember all the good and process all the bad, I am going to continue on this route (especially since the only other blog in my head is a new year one). Initially, I was going to pick and choose my favorite blog entries of the year, but the task overwhelmed me. My fellow Purple Hearts are amazing and I found myself struggling to choose what NOT to include. So if Jessica will forgive me for jumping the gun, here is a summary of my favorite comments from our readers. (and please note, I will probably miss some great ones since I may not have time to review the whole site, so please don’t be offended if you wrote something inspiring and I missed it!). See if you can find yours…

Great blog. It made me think. One thing I’ve learned is to not worry so much about what other people think, because whether I like it or not, I am not the center of everyone else’s universe. (A hard concept to absorb-lol).

I admit to being afraid. I don’t know why. The same reason I was afraid of my principle in school or my doctor (still, that guy just scares me.) Position of authority. I think we’ve all learned to be scared of anyone who has the right to tell us yes or no. I always appreciate, however, having those people step forward and say, “Hey we aren’t that intimidating” and then I believe it for a few weeks. ) Thanks for dropping by. Since the Knight Agency is my eventually target agency I read all I can about your agents and Bria runs a great blog here so you can’t beat that combination.

Elaine, I so agree with your views on random acts of kindness. I was at the receiving end of one this week. It just doesn’t get much better, and all it takes is a moment of your time.
I am thoroughly enjoying your posts. Wishing you Miles of Smiles )

What I will say about the new book – there’s definitely a vampire cat in it! LOL!

Electric guitars and heavy metal music.
The Tudors (OMG, am I thankful for The Tudors!)
The Man
The Boy
That I brought extra food for lunching today, cause I’m starving already.

I’m thankful for my Man Fan.
I’d lose my mind without him…

You are so much like me, or i’m like you, well anyway, if we knew each other we’d make a good team, hehe, keep up the good work

such horrible luck. quite a string of bad signs. i always try to search for some hidden meaning when I start to see a lot of signs like that. but its always a great sign to keep your head up and keep going in a positive direction. good luck with everything.

I had the delightful opportunity to meet one of my heroines, Elizabeth Berg. I hung around after a book signing, waiting until the last person in line had their autograph and left. I approached Ms. Berg and, with a gulp, told her I was also an author. And she listened, attentively, to my novice anticipation of this new world I’d recently entered and was navigating with some trepidation. When I spoke of how difficult it can be to get started as a writer-searching for an agent, a publisher, a kind word for your work-she said something that has kept me going. “Write first for yourself. If you do, your writing will be true, and the rest will fall into place.” I live by those words. And, when I get discouraged because the agent hasn’t called back, or the publisher said ‘no thanks’, or a kind word isn’t forthcoming, I pull up a manuscript and repeat the mantra: “Write first for yourself.”

It also beats chocolate. Well, most of the time. Writing, that is.

Pop a Mountain Dew or two and relax. I’d suggest locking your editing equipment and your internal editor(s) in the truck of your car or a trusted friend’s. Then, with a Dew and some munchies within reach, read your YA. No critiquing allowed. No obsessing about what needs to be fixed. Just enjoy your accomplishment. Then reclaim your editing stuff and internal editor(s) and put them to work.

Carrots don’t do it for me. I have to keep pushing myself. Chocolate always helps, but that’s a separate issue ;)

Eh, I say live in your own little world. Like Morgan said there ain’t a lot a people in this world to whom we owe accountability. My hubby says I have imaginary friends with all my characters and I say, yes I do. Three cheers for imagination.

Oops. I forgot to leave a comment when I dropped by to read this last week. Crazy week, what can I say?

I have no problem reading sex scenes…I’ve even written a few. There’s an element of ‘thrill’ when two people get to get together. LOL, I almost said cheap…

There was some great advice there! I loved the post; its content, its style. It encouraged me to start writing right away!

Your childhood stories (particularly the one about Animaltown) made me smile and wow at your imagination. I enjoyed reading about your first novel, as I hope for that time to come to me as well (I’m more of a short story writer).

And, I know exactly what you mean about writing being in the forefront. You begin seeing characters and plots everywhere! I love it : ). Anyway, thank you very much for this post! It was truly motivational!And to the other Heartlettes: I’ve been checking out this blog for a few days now and find it fantastic. Keep up the good work, I’ll be hanging around here!

Yayyyyy I can comment. I think my friends and family would all tie me to the computer if I didn’t write. I’m so much calmer when I do. LOL.

LOL- taken out of context with no idea who or what these comments are connected to is rather amusing. So I thank you, devoted readers, for all your time and comments. What started out in May at about nineteen hits has blossomed into almost 1000 hits per month. We couldn’t have done it without you (all our check-ins don’t count!). Here’s to the end of a great year and see you in the next!

-Meg

Quote Me

December 24, 2007 at 9:08 am | Posted in inspiration, Jessica, motivation, writing | 2 Comments
Tags:

Well, here we are in the last full week of December and I can hardly believe that another year is nearly over. The last half of 2007 was as productive a writing time for me as I’ve ever had, so it’s with that intention that I offer up this post with the hope to carry the writing momentum into an even more productive 2008.

This post was also in part prompted by an interview I recently read where one writer asked another writer about the best writing advice she’d ever received. To which the responder answered that she didn’t find any writing advice all that helpful. To paraphrase, she said that for every person who told her to just sit down and write (BICHOK!), she equally heard that if the muse fought you every step of the way, it was OK to give it a break. The inconsistencies didn’t make much sense to her . . .

And I see her point, but I’d like to offer this — in any advice we receive, whether it’s a critique, constructive feedback, requested or unsolicited opinion . . . take what works for you and discard the rest. Earlier in the year, Marley Gibson visited us and punctuated her post with two very straightforward words: Writers write.

If you’ve spent any time with us at the Purple Hearts over the past year, you’ll know that I am a fan of quotations, and during the times when I’ve felt like I’ve been spinning my writing wheels I’ve looked to different pieces of advice to help me find some traction while I’ve struggled with what felt like such a futile and frustrating exercise.

So I thought I’d end the year by offering up the top five pieces of advice that I’d either heard or read and then applied to help move me past my stagnant writing spots.

5. Never let success go to your head or failure go to your heart.

I found this saying on a Mary Engelbreit magnet so I bought it and have placed it on my refrigerator as a reminder to keep a level head on this wild publishing ride. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find the person who is first credited with this saying, but I still think it’s a good one to keep in mind. And I find it particularly applicable when facing the subjective reactions that color our writing and reading world. It’s nothing personal . . . at least most of the time.

4. Be ready when the lightning strikes.

The first RWA-National conference I attended was in New York in 2003. I went to a luncheon where Jenny Crusie was the speaker, and I left that luncheon feeling so jazzed and able to conquer anything I set my mind to. During that conference and in the years since, I have often heard Jenny say, ‘be ready when the lightning strikes’. It’s a horrible feeling to be presented with an opportunity yet not be poised to seize it. Jenny’s advice encourages us to persist . . . create our own luck . . . and be ready when the stars align and and that lucky day finally dawns.

3. Never hope more than you write.

I read this piece of advice years ago in Rita Mae Brown’s craft book, Starting from Scratch, and it resonated so strongly with me that it’s stayed in my consciousness ever since. It’s such an important piece of advice to me that I’ve blogged about this earlier in the year (and apologize for repeating it here). I think it hits me so hard because it’s so much easier to hope than it is to write. And I don’t want to be one of those people who actively talks about writing but does nothing about it.

2. Worry about writing your break-in book, not your break-out book.

My friend, Jess Andersen, is responsible for pulling me into this crazy, strange, rewarding, and wonderful writing world, and she has not only been a great friend, but a great mentor and teacher . . . not to mention a great writer. She manages my angst and unrealistic expectations with grace and care, and always with a well-tempered response. So when I whine to her that I feel like I write low-concept books she not only helps me think of ways to make them higher concept, she also helps wrestle my learning curve expectations into a more manageable knot. While there are some great publishing stories about breaking out (sometimes on a writer’s first published work!) for me I know I need to focus on just breaking in. And when I think about the slow build for my writing career, I admit that it’s a much more realistic and comfortable place for me to be. Thanks, Jess!

Which dovetails into the most helpful piece of advice I’ve read this year:

1. Applaud every small victory, because every time you do, you create an environment in which a larger victory can grow.

When preparing my GH entry, I turned to Kathy Carmichael’s web site to help me with my synopsis. I still struggle with synopsis writing, but her advice saved me when trying to write the darn thing. In nosing around her web site, I found a resource that she highly recommended reading:

The Comic Toolbox by John Vorhaus.

I dug into this book about a week ago and it’s changing the way I think about putting a story together. The advice I mentioned as my #1 for the year comes from Chapter Two of this book, entitled The Will to Risk. It’s a great book, and not just for writers looking to write comedy.

So there are the top five things that have helped push me when I’ve been feeling stuck. What are yours? Do you have any themes that will help propel your writing through 2008? Please share!
Thanks for spending a part of your year with us at the Purple Hearts! We have some fun things and some great guests lined up for 2008, and I hope you’ll visit us often!

Have a great holiday – a Merry Christmas if it applies to you – and I hope that you can carve some time to write in this mad dash to the end of the year.

Cheers!

-Jessica

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