Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hello? Anyone there?

Hello?  (Crickets chirping in the background.)

Okay, my witty writing is ready to shine like a beacon in the night.  Too much?  Well maybe, I'll settle for having more followers than I can count on one hand.

I remember watching the movie Julie and Julia.  The main character, Julie, starts blogging about her adventures in cooking her way through Julia Childs famous cookbook.  The scene that tugged at my heartstrings had Julie sitting in front of her computer screen waiting anxiously for someone to read her blog.

Likewise, I'm there.  With any new endeavour, patience is a hard pill to swallow.  Just add a little wine in honor of Julia.

Interested in the original blog I reference?


Nobody here but us servantless American cooks...


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ten Minutes

When is there time to sit down and write?  Honestly!  I block out time for my writing every week but it isn't enough.  I'm forced to ask myself if the ten minutes I have before cooking dinner is worth it.  But then there's the twenty minutes I find while waiting for the dryer to go off.  Fifteen minutes magically appear when the kids are outside.  Oh, and my husband called and said that he was running late.  That means an extra thirty minutes before I have to cook dinner.  (And, if I can rationalize that a breakfast dinner is just as healthy as a normal dinner...I gain another ten minutes!) 

When those precious minutes present themselves, don't dismiss them as unworthy.  They roll together and add up to time that is productive and valuable.  Even if it is means spending ten minutes reworking a character name.  Twila Martini is a much better name than Peggy Burns...

I finished my blog early!  Another five minutes gained. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Are You Happy Now?

Imagine a teenager stuffing his hands in jean pockets, head-down and mumbling a begrudging thank you.  That's how I feel.  My critique group has been prodding me to submit a query - short of literally using an electric cattle prod.  They have been encouraging and patient.

Well, I did it.  I sent it off after obsessively rechecking my spelling, reviewing grammar and rereading guidelines fifteen times.  Thanks to my fellow blogger C. for her article, "A Day in The Life of a Querier."  (write-brained.com)  She enlighted me with humor and helped me realize that a query will never be PERFECT.  You hit the send button and know you have committed a faux pas at some point in the query.  It takes nerves of steel and a realization that a publisher will not be knocking on my front door.  (Although, it is a pretty door...I have a direct view from my computer.  There have been occasional day-dreams of an agent showing up with a toothpaste-ad smile and a list of publishing houses awaiting my manuscript.  Sigh.)

Back to reality!

Putting aside my anxiety, I  realize that I possess something I didn't twenty minutes ago.  Hope.  

Monday, August 16, 2010

One of Those Days

There's a lingering smell in the air.  It's the pungent electrical fire odor from a motor that has seen its final days.  Unfortunately for me, my dryer (an essential component of my daily routine) has decided that life wasn't worth living anymore.  I would like to believe that the sprinkler head in the front yard is weeping over my dryer's death and not just leaking water for no apparent reason. 

Now, I wait for number three.  It always happens.  Either the dog will get sick, the kids will break something or I will discover that the ink stain on my new pants is permanent.

Such a whiner!

As a writer, I realize that even in the challenges of life, there is a lesson to be learned.  I wouldn't be able to describe the awful burnt plastic smell of my late dryer without having experienced it firsthand.  We are often encouraged to throw curveballs at our characters to see how they will react.  It's the wealth of personal experiences that makes writing come to life.

I'm not sure that my next writing will have a dryer funeral but there might be a lingering burnt plastic smell. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Critique Groups

Everyone needs a good group of friends to support them in the highs and lows of life.  No news there.  I think it's the same with writing. 

Some friends will listen to you rattle off your latest idea with a smile.  More to support something you love than to truly appreciate the art of creating a story.  And, I'm blessed that they do smile instead of yawn. 

Then there is your critique group.  They GET it.  They are your editors, cheerleaders, critics, and motivators.  And what makes a successful group is the blending of personalities.

There is S - a polished professional, who has done everything in the correct order.  Her polished website is as bright as her smile.  There's J - an example of how to network and become involved in the writing community.  Her work with children keeps her in touch with her audience.  K - the most right-brained writer I know.  She challenges me to think.  There will be no sloppy writing because she will catch the smallest detail.  C - the girlfriend everyone wants to have.  Heading straight for success with an incredible humility.  J - creates the most beautiful scenes.  She cares about others writing as much as her own.

So are you jealous?  A critique group is, above all, honest and delivers suggestions with gentleness.  It is one of the best ways to improve your skills as a writer.  And in the process, make some wonderful friends.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

DANGER - Blogging may be bad for you!

I have just realized the danger of blogging.  It compels you to write a quick witty entry and can easily become a distraction.  I laid awake thinking of some wonderful and not-so-wonderful entries.  (Why don't children drink out of garden hoses anymore?  In my mind, imagine the whiny voice from a SNL skit.  It was a better topic at 11:30 last night.  Honestly.)

But,  there is a redeeming quality!  I am forced to write in another manner other than my usual solitude of a lengthy manuscript that is unseen by another set of eyes for months. (Even years - see my homage to Emily in my first post.)

The first rule of writing: butt-in-chair.  There is nothing to edit, query, critique without this discipline.  We all know it but life gets in the way.  There is an orthodontist appointment, my mother needs to be picked up at the airport, or the cat gets its head stuck in the garbage disposal.  (The last one is a true story that I read.)

So, I will look at this blog as a nudge to quit living like Emily.  Its time to put something out there.  Now, about that querying thing....

Monday, August 9, 2010

Beautiful Words

Here it is!
I found it on a shelf with an ugly AS-IS stamped on the spine.  When
opened, it cracks and falls open to poems that have blue check marks added to my favorites.

I am NOT a Blogger!

Here it goes.  Media is rushing past me and its time for me to hop onboard.  I feel like I'm on the back of a Harley blasting down the road at 60 mph.  Hair flying wildly.  White knuckles.  Eyes closed.

My blogging is similiar to the start of my writing.  I ventured into creating my own stories with the realistic 'note-to-self' that I wasn't a REAL author.  I was just a mother hoping to jot down an amusing story for her children to read and pass down over the years to come.  But things changed when I realized that I loved it.  Those late nights when I was seeking quiet and solitude became the highlight of my day.  The only sore spot was that I couldn't let anyone know that I was writing.  What would they think?  So, I minimized the computer screen everytime someone (dog included) walked past me.  My poor husband was convinced that I had joined an online chat room and was relieved when I confessed that I had been writing children's novels.

If I look far enough back to the age of big hair and shoulder pads, I realize that I have always loved writing.  It was in a bargain bin at the local mall that I found a book by Emily Dickinson.  I loved the mental pictures she painted with her words.  I wanted to do that, but I was no writer.  Sigh.

Later, I was surprised to learn that Miss Dickinson had stashed her stories in an old trunk.  With age usually comes a little wisdom.  I didn't want my stories to end up hidden away.  I wanted someone to read them.  Blessed with a group of encouraging friends, I've been pushed out into the world.  Ready or not.

I even queried an agent with a quote.  "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul."  Rather dramatic but heart felt at the time.

With a stack of novels for children, I continue forward.  Unlike Emily, they won't be left in the memory of my computer but rather, a child's mind.

Welcome to the New Emily.