Monday, July 13, 2009


When all else fails, I return to my old routines. When it comes to writing, I have to get going on the keyboard. That old exercise of doing morning pages has always come to my rescue.

Here's what I do. I have a Nokia phone with a countdown timer on it. When I first wake in the morning, before I do anything else, before the night's dreams have evaporated, I set the timer for ten minutes and begin writing. I have years of notebooks of hand-written pages. These days, I'm doing it directly on the computer. Either way, ten minutes, no editor, no going back, just stream writing. Sometimes I just write complaints about stuff in my life. But I like to write about writing. This is a time to write about ideas, formats, what I think about my current writing projects, brainstorm. It helps me to start the day thinking about my novel or a flash I'm working on or to flesh out an idea that presented itself when I didn't have a notebook handy.

After the timer goes off, I read something inspirational. One of my favorites is to have a book of Mary Oliver's poetry next to my bed. I think her work is gorgeous. Her poetry fills me with wonder and gratitude. It makes me feel included in the flow of life.

Wherever I go from there with my day, I will take thoughts of writing with me, whispering on my shoulder.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Getting Unstuck

I just realized that I haven’t posted anything on this blog in a couple of months! I don’t know why, but lately, the idea of writing anything longer than an inane facebook blurb makes me curl into a ball or fire up WoW.

I just got a new laptop. My first Macbook. It’s the most wonderful thing in my house, well, besides The Princess. I’m kicking myself for not getting one sooner. Why have I been screwing around with Dells all this time? Oh, don’t get me wrong. I still love my little Dell running Linux, even if it is Ubuntu. Everyone should have a computer that fits in her purse. But this Macbook is the bomb.

For one thing, it’s running UNIX in the background (FreeBSD). So, I can open a shell and do whatever I want from the command line. I got so excited that I volunteered to create a whole web page. I love coding with a shell window and don’t understand how anyone can use tools like Dreamweaver.

Anyway, this has nothing to do with writing, or, as this article implies, not writing.

I have a couple of flash ideas in my head, and they’ve been bubbling to the top and taking on different sounds. I got about fifty pages into my 2nd YA novel and thought that the time of wasted time was over. I started rolling on it. Then I screeched to a halt. When I went back to page one and read over what I’d written, I couldn’t keep my attention on it. So, if I can’t even stay interested, how can I expect ANY readers to?

Not only that, but I made the mistake of visiting one of those agent sites, and the agent host was grumbling about how sick he was of books about misfit teens who have paranormal experiences. Other agents chimed in and said, “Us too! Boy are we sick of those!” Er, sorry, but I happen to be writing a teen book about a misfit who has a paranormal experience. Shit. Then they say things like, “It’s okay as long as it’s fresh.” They don’t want things that are off the beaten path, but they don’t want anything that’s been done before. It can’t be “another Twilight,” (I happen to agree that we don’t need another of those) but it can’t be something that’s so different that it’s not a sure thing. Pretty narrow road. Esta, my children’s librarian friend, says that she knows what teen girls want, and they want misfit-teen-having-paranormal-experience novels. I used to think I had a fresh idea, and now I’m not sure. Shit shit shit.

My other novel idea, the one I’ve written a lot of notes on but haven’t started to really organize yet, is the one about five lesbian friends who all find themselves single at the same time for the first time in their friendship. The format of the novel is to bring them together and then give each one a separate thread. The women range from mid-thirties to mid-fifties. Then I read this post from a woman on one of the writer’s forums I frequent, someone renowned for her passive-aggressive critiques, say that she has read that no one wants to read stories about middle-aged women. Er, sorry again, assholes. I’m at that late-middle age stage, and I find it quite interesting to WRITE about middle-aged women. I also like to read about women my age. What am I supposed to do, spend my older years reading fucking chick-lit? Well, I kind of like chick-lit, but, guilty pleasures aside, what the fuck am I supposed to write.

So, the point of this article, which has taken an extraordinarily long time to get to, is this. There are times when it’s an absolute fucking mistake to seek out the opinions of others. When ideas are curling, ride the foam, baby! Stay OUT of agent blogs. They may be helpful in some ways, but contributing to the creative process is NOT one of them. Take them off of RSS feeds and pretend they don’t exist. And spend minimal time in writer’s forums. Do whatever it takes to bolster creativity.

In the spirit of doing things that make me feel creative, I designated this weekend as Truman Capote weekend. I love his writing. I rented Breakfast at Tiffany’s and am reading the story as well. I’m also reading other Capote stories. I rented Infamous, which I like even better in some way that Capote. With both Infamous and Capote, there’s the added bonus of having Harper Lee present.

And, look! It’s worked. I’ve written this.