Saturday, December 27, 2008


Generally, I'm not much of a New Year's resolution kind of person. I hate it when I don't live up to my own expectations. But, where writing is concerned, I feel a bit different. Writing can be, I believe, a goal-oriented activity. And goals and resolutions compliment one another.

I have spent the last year writing and submitting flash fiction, spending time in multiple writer's communities and feeding myself an internal dialogue of self-doubt. While flash fiction is fun to write, and the social aspect of a writer's community has introduced me to many interesting people, none of these activities have done much to further me as a novelist. The main thing lacking this year has been the production of much writing. Mostly, I've felt stuck and frustrated. I've spent time and money trying to get to the writer in me. For reasons that elude me, I've settled into a nameless fear.

Now, I've always been a big one for naming one's fears. A thing without a name has control because we can’t cast parameters on something nameless. Finding definition can cause even the most intense fears to dissolve like a snow flake on the tongue. Where this fear is concerned, my efforts to find a name have fallen short. It's time for me to hang it up and get on with things. So, here is what I resolve for the coming year as a writer, in or outside of the presence of fear.

1. I resolve to think of myself as a writer. I will become the enemy of the inner voice that tells me I am not. I will not ridicule myself for taking myself as a writer too seriously. I will not tell myself that I am making a fool of myself every time I share my writing.

2. My second novel shall be my point of focus this year. I will devote two hours a day, at least three times a week, to working on this novel. I resolve to complete a first draft by the end of 2009. I also have another novel in my head, my first non-YA novel. I will allow it to form and present itself and will stop ignoring the characters who are trying so hard to get my attention.

3. I will focus my writing community activity to one group. I have belonged to a small, intimate online writer’s group for several years now. The group used to be such a source of support for me. We've gone through so many changes, which is natural for groups. Being made up of people, the dynamic of a group is a fragile thing. Several of the more active members have fallen by the wayside, and I allowed that to lessen my own commitment to the group. In 2009, I will put my online writer’s group in the center. The group is hosted by MSN, which is discontinuing the service boards, so we’re in the process of moving the group. When we move to the new site next month, I want to consider that a fresh start. I hope everyone else will view it as the same. I also hope we can add new members who will bring their writing and their critiquing energies into the group as well. For myself, I will post my novel for critique, and I will critique whatever the rest of you post. I need other writers to read my work. I want WSE to become, once again, a place where I can depend on at least a half a dozen people to provide me with honest thoughtful critiques. Even though the number of critiques I receive from careful readers isn't strictly under my control, I will do what I can to foster an atmosphere where that can take place.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Nathan Bransford's 1st Paragraph Contest

Nathan Bransford, a literary agent at Curtis Brown, is holding his 2nd annual 1st paragraph contest, hosted on his blog.

The prizes are either a query or partial critique. Whooeee... I think this is an interesting forum for a contest. All of the posts are public, so we can see the competition, and the comments are also public. The deadline is this Thursday, finalists are to be announced on Friday, and then participants will vote on which finalist will be the grand prize winner.