Friday, December 31, 2010


My last post of November 5th was a while ago and I've not been in the blogosphere at all. Well... I've been working on a new writing and blogging project that I'll blog about in January. But right now I'm pretty psyched that I ten minutes ago I wrote the last line of novel #2. A complete, start-to-finish rough draft. Kinda unexpectedly ahead of schedule. Writing at least two hours the first thing every day worked.

Happy New Year to everyone.

A toast to 2010.

Open arms to 2011.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thank You Writers!

Here's a short post in celebration of everyone doing Nanowrimo. What a resource. What a great way to work. I caught some of the Nanowrimo fever this week, but in a different direction. Instead of officially joining, I started and finished a project (hence almost no blogging) that's already off to a reader. I'm waiting to hear if he thinks it's worth pursing.

Here's to everyone doing Nanowrimo. Keep on keeping on! Every one of you is an inspiration. We're catching the waves of writing even on the outside.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Easing In

Last week, overwhelmed. This week, balanced. The difference? The feeling of easing into things.

Tuesday was fantastic - 5 hours marketing Our Spirit and 7 hours writing a WIP. But Monday felt just as good, taking care of smaller things for both projects. Odd, but the days felt similar. I'm wondering if both days were good because I was enjoying them.

Is it that simple? If we feel that we're going with the flow, then we are.

I wanted to post another surfing photo of someone mastering the waves, in the groove, one with the water, celebrating the flow... but it didn't seem right. One, I've never surf-surfed, just body-surfed on Cape Cod and Nantucket. Two, the surfing photos ooze with physical mastery. All I was doing was relaxing into the flow. Hence, the sofa and the waves. So, what's the flow today? Acceptance? Relaxation? Happiness doing what we do?

Maybe I'm just on the sofa, but it's all good.

How about you, where are you at?

(photo from surfingposters)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Back from the East Coast again (for this brief moment I'm feeling fantastically bicoastal), I'm excited for my projects, but suddenly it feels that there are too many. Trying to go with the flow has brought me to a waterfall of work. One novel should be off to query-land any day now. Two WIP's are chugging along just fine. But I've started a third and of course I'm keeping notes on a few more.

Life is too short to complain. I celebrate abundance. But I'm wondering when I'll be getting back in the groove, kinda going with the flow, knowing that I'm doing enough and doing the right things instead of feeling overwhelmed.

Is it faith? Listening to our guts and having faith that we're doing enough? That we're focusing on the right projects? Is it to stop thinking and just do it, just write, and see where it goes?

How about you? How do you know when you're doing the right things?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

On Demand

Thanks to a cheap last minute ticket, I'm flying back to New England for the weekend. I'm excited to attend a wedding and to see my nieces again. (I have two other fantastic nieces, older, who weren't in last week's photo, and two more cool nephews.) This weekend I'm especially excited to resume reading one of my WIP's to my youngest nephew. Which means I have to bust out another chapter.

Deadlines work for me. (Um, writing deadlines work... the shooting schedule for the next Our Spirit film keeps sliding around.) But I'll have to scramble to finish another chapter by the weekend. My writing goal has been a chapter a week on a different WIP and I'm committed to making that deadline, so it's two chapters this week. I'm a little stressed. But it's good stress.

Is that possible? Good stress? I try to stay peaceful. But I like a writing challenge. Maybe I got used to this during a decade of producing a magazine for a big nonprofit where there was no choice but to write on demand. I think writing is the only place in my life where I don't mind stress. It's not stress. It's fun.

How about you – is there such a thing as good stress?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shared Work

Back from a month on the East Coast, I'm realizing that the best part of vacation, writing-wise, was not that I kept my goal of writing a chapter a week of my WIP. I am happy about that, but I'm thrilled about some of the most important writers and readers in my life, my niece and nephew, ages six and eight.

My niece narrated a dynamite story about an alligator while I transcribed. Over a few days she adjusted words, deleted sentences, thought about it, and edited more. My nephew corrected the dialogue attributed to him. He also asked that I read him one of my WIP's before bed. I was nervous because the in-process novel wasn't polished. But he was the best audience. He kept asking for more and had questions about the characters and the plot and he offered new ideas.

The process of reading my WIP aloud was fantastic. I got an immediate sense of what to cut and how to clarify and where I needed more. I made the extemporaneous changes verbally and they've been easy to remember, because now when I edit I go more slowly, even read aloud, all the time thinking of my discriminating nephew. Remembering his voice has become my best editor.

What I learned on my summer vacation... that we all have stories in us, that our writing is meant to be shared, and that the best editor is our audience.

Do you read your work aloud? Who are your editors?

(PS - Thank you, Heather Kelly, writing partner extraordinaire who blogged about our vaca reunion in Cambridge. Funny going to a post and finding one's own face there. A huge cheer for partners!)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Location, Location, Location

I've been traveling old stomping grounds on the east coast from Boston to Philadelphia. I've lived in these places. While in Boston, I wrote a novel set in Indiana. Since January I've been living in the Pacific northwest and my WIP has been set in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As soon as I arrived in Cambridge in August, I changed the location to New Haven. Huh... apparently I only write about a place when I'm not there.
Many authors specialize in recording where they live. Others travel or leave a place in order to write about it. I think Melville wrote Moby Dick while landlocked in the hills of western Massachusetts.

This vacation, I've been realizing that I'm freer when I write from memory or imagination. I think I feel tied down to what I see when I write about what's right in front of me. Is this a true for others?

What's your relationship to location?

(PS - a huge thank you to the awards I've received from L'Aussie and, before his summer break, Samuel Park. And I'm posting this while crossing the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan. Wireless and the view are cool.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Good Week

Have a good week, everyone. I'm taking an end-of summer break. No blogging... just friends and the next chapter of my WIP.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Rapids...

Without structure, going with the flow would lead me to the rapids. Simply put, what I like best is to write. If I didn't have, you know, things like food to find and people to see, and if friends weren't urging me to take breaks, I'm not sure I'd do much else.

That's okay, right? But to support writing, other things are important (in addition to breaks and the gym): the blogosphere, industry research, email, Facebook, the business aspects of Our Spirit, the non-profit I founded. Everything is easier since I left my 9-5 job two years ago. But still, I find it a challenge to do the things that aren't writing. I like the thrill of writing. Am I a thrill junkie?

Last Friday I handed off 80 pages of my current WIP to a reader, hoping that I wouldn't write until I got feedback and that I'd do second priority things over the weekend... but Saturday all I did was write the next chapter.

Any thoughts on how to get things done that aren't writing?

(photo from

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fun for Writing

The past week was not the one I expected. It started as a work week with Tuesday and Wednesday at WriteOnCon. But then we had a guest and he had a major itinerary for us. I assumed I'd write in the morning and meet them in the afternoon. Nope. I hung out with them 100%.

Everything comes around... I've commented on several blogs that taking a break is the best thing I do for my writing. Bleary-eyed on the main WIP, I go to the other one, or take notes on a third. When I return, I have better eyes for the project, less attachment to what needs to be cut, more clarity on what needs to happen next.

I plan my breaks. But this time I went with the flow and took nearly a week-long unplanned break.

The payoff was immediate. On the North Cascade Highway, it became clear how to approach the middle section of my main WIP. During a sunset sail, I knew I was permanently shelving a novel I'd been planning for several years. In the snow-filled crags of Artist Point between Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan I understood the setting for my current second priority novel. On a boat back from Victoria, we saw three pods of orcas and the main characters and the first and the last lines of new novel popped up. In the shower I changed the main characters.

Now I'm writing again. And it's clear that my week of fun was as helpful as a week of traditional at-my-laptop writing.

How does fun help your writing?

Monday, August 9, 2010

You Guys Rock

You surfers of the blogosphere are amazing. Thank you for the help last week with my query. You sent me so much great advice, so many great resources, and pointed me in all the right directions. This isn't about my query. It's about this amazing community filled with people we only sorta know but who give advice, inspiration and momentum.
How cool is it to have readers from Alaska, to Michigan, Massachusetts and Great Britain. Readers who are published authors, peers and high school students. How cool that we get to help one another. That we get to read so much exciting work. I feel that we're all getting first or second MFA's by blogging. We're learning techniques, building community, online conferencing, workshopping, writing and reading. It's almost as good as school.

Many thanks to whatever spurred us to take those first blogging steps. (My crit partner Heather Kelly, amazing writer and den mother of kid lit and YA writers, worked on me for six months to get me to blog; and here's a shout-out to insightful and encouraging Jonathan Arntston and Paul Greci.) See you at WriteOnCon (around the guests who are arriving tomorrow...).

It's a brand new world and we're richer for it. Our readers will be richer for it. This is a happy dance for our corner of the blogosphere.

It's all working for me. What about our community works for you?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Oh, the Query

I'm not having fun writing the query. Feedback from crit partners, writing groups, high school students and everyone who has read the YA manuscript has been great. But the damn query... the voice of the novel isn't there. The query is too dry, formal, businessy... So this week I'm getting back in the head of the main character.

Zeph is a high school cross-country runner who, in the words of his coach, needs to learn to keep his eyes on the prize. For me, the writer, the prize right now is a killer query. So I'm trying to channel Zeph. I'm rereading the manuscript. Listening to my "Zeph" iTunes playlist. Instead of running (because now I'd see Pacific Northwest mountians rather than small-town Indiana) I'm swimming in order to feel a similar focus and exhaustion. (And swimming clears my head.)

Before Kinda Going with the Flow, I would have churned out draft after draft of the query. Well, I am doing that. The difference is that at the moment I'm not forcing what simply isn't working. It's time for a break, to commune with main character Zeph. And in a few days it'll be back to churning.

Any ideas on how to find that query magic?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How We Go

A quick post before driving to the ferry. I LOVE these Washington state ferries. So smooth, so fast. Mountains behind us, islands beside us. I'm sure it'll be a great few days on Orcas Island... but all I want to do is write.
I try to work at least eight hours a day. Three to five is the fun stuff – writing and editing novel #2 and maybe working on scripts. The rest is industry research, correspondence... the stuff I have to do. The thing is, the fun stuff is really fun. I don't need a break from writing. I know these next few days will be beautiful. Hiking and all that feeds the soul... But so does writing and that's all I want to do right now.

So, how not to be a jerk and to appreciate everything and everyone and yet also write? Swiss cheese will be helpful (working within the holes of time around us), but still...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Carried Away

Kinda going with the flow means embracing the writing journey and seeing where it takes me. This is the opposite of what I used to. I used to force things. Finish that first damn novel (currently known as novel 0, may it rest in peace...) Produce that damn film even though I don't believe in it anymore... Start that damn book I've been outlining forever... This blog is leaving that in the past. So far so good on this going with the flow thing, this relaxing into my writing.

But last week I got carried away by the flow.

Writing-wise, it was a great week. My goal is a chapter a week on novel #2. Midweek I worried that I wouldn't make it, but I hit a wave and rode it out the rest of the week. I finished the chapter and love it. It's got an unexpected double-whammy finish. (Unexpected by me... in my outline it ended more simply.) And it's nothing compared to how the next chapter will end. So what's the problem?

I wrote and wrote and ignored other things on my weekly to-do list. Now I've been doing email triage and generally scrambling to catch up. And it's Wednesday, shouldn't I be further along on the next chapter?

What's the balance between riding the wave of inspiration and getting other things done? But I think last week was worth it. I love the new chapter and a wave just might be building for the rest of this week. If only a wave could help me get to the other stuff, too. How to do it all?

(photo from Australia's planetsurf)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Is It Acting?

There's very little autobiographical about my official YA novel #2. It's about a kid who gets in a lot of trouble. Exponentially more trouble that I've ever have. What's strange is that at the moment it's so easy to write. I've known kids like this. That helps. More than helps – without them I wouldn't be able to wrap my head around the story. But sometimes the thought pops up. Who am I to write this? But... we don't have to be the people we write about. We just have to write well.

Is it like acting? We don't ask actors to have the experiences of the people they're portraying. They just have to do the job. To see the humanity in their character, to understand motivation and to deliver authentic performances. That's good acting. It's also good writing.

So I'm feeling that the pressure is off. Well, the who are you pressure might be off. But the pressure to do it well is still there. That's appropriate if it keeps us honest, committed and effective.

So here's to another day of work. Of feeling free to write whatever we're called to write, even if it's channeling someone or something completely different from who we are. Is the life of a writer great or what?

Friday, July 9, 2010

In With the Best

Thank you, Heather Kelly, for interviewing me on your fantastic Edited to Within an Inch of My Life blog! I'll be stopping by throughout the day to answer questions.

Heather is my crit partner extraordinaire. Though I've moved coasts, we still Skype weekly. My writing is so much better for her. Again, 10,000 thanks to Heather!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Just Power

I've been meditating for years. In high school I took a meditation class on the second floor of the school church in the interim between fall and winter sports. Years later my first job after college was teaching English in Japan and every Saturday I sat for a couple hours at the moss garden of a zen temple. But I never understood when peaceful people said when sitting just sit. When eating an orange, just eat the orange. When opening the door, just open the door. Wasn't it good always to be thinking? So I was a thinker.

Last week... so many years later... I think I finally kinda got it. When writing just write.

Yes, I do believe in preparation and forethought. Novel #2 that I'm currently working on began years ago as a character sketch and a 20 page synopsis. I'm glad I put the thought into it then. But I didn't do anything about that novel until now and it's very strange that it's suddenly so easy to write. I think this might be because I've gotten out of the way of the story. I'm not over-thinking. I'm just writing.

Is that the power of just?

For me, focusing on just one thing doesn't mean that I'm working on just one thing. Just one thing at a time. When taking a morning walk, just take a morning walk, which is different from what I would usually do - refuse to end the walk until I'd figured out how to get a character to the next plot point. When walking just walk. When writing just write.

The quieter my mind, the easier it is to write.

And the easier it will be to answer questions for Heather Kelly's Friday blog where I'll be interviewed about my writing and Our Spirit, the nonprofit I started to help gay/lesbian youth.

Thank you, Heather! As everyone knows, she's awesome, a blogger extraordinaire. She's also the best crit partner, and I know the world will be a better place when her novel is published. I just know it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Making Space

Space has arrived. The 14th and last guest left yesterday. For a while I've been writing in the smallish chunks of time, making Swiss cheese work (see June 8th). But now there's SPACE.

The key is how best to use it. How not to fill the new space with distractions. And how not to burn out.
I'm going back to my weekly lists. But they're much longer, divided into Our Spirit; Romeo, Romeo; novel #2; and novel #3. (The work for the last two is simple, just two hours daily on #2 and one on #3.) The list fills a full page, too long for here, but it's very satisfying to cross things out. Last week looked pretty good by Saturday night, lots of strike-throughs.

There's other stuff on the Weekly List - the gym, meditation... The trick is not to put too much stuff there. And most importantly, not to fill this new space with so much stuff that I need to struggle for more space again.

No question this week, just three cheers for making, protecting and appreciating space.

(art by Mark Kostabi)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


We've moved apartments and I've been organizing my study and wondering whether I'll blog about tossing out old writing projects or how to cultivate the discipline of blogging. I've gotten rid of a lot, and it's fantastic and freeing. And I certainly could stand a heavy dose of blog discipline.

But I can't stop thinking about writing as a journey.

Right now I'm in both the not-ecstatically-fun business phase (industry research, preparing queries etc) for Romeo, Romeo and the loving-it honeymoon phase of a new novel. But I've been surprised that I've also been writing an hour a day on an old project that I didn't toss out. My priority is to complete a first draft of novel #2. But novel #3 wants attention. Just a little. Just an hour. It's not what I'm supposed to be doing, but it's fun and has its own voice and I choose to think that it's not a distracting side trip, but part of the journey.

How does novel #3 help #2? I'm not exactly sure. It's just what I'm doing and feels right and if it feeds the engine... then I guess it's okay.

I have faith in the journey... but, still... how do we know things aren't distractions?

(photo by Pacific Northwest photographer Lee Mann)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Benefits of Swiss Cheese

Years ago a friend who was a counselor for college students gave me a piece of advice. Don't look for three hour blocks of time. Instead Swiss cheese it. Meaning, look for little holes of time. Twenty minutes here. Fifteen there. Maybe ten. Wow, an hour. And you'll quickly find that you're moving at a good pace on your project.
This past month I've hardly been on line. We had 12 guests visiting for a big celebration, found a new apartment, and I launched the website for Our Spirit, a nonprofit I started for LGBTQ youth. A huge priority was to to keep working on my new novel. Swiss Cheese wisdom worked. Without time to sit as long as I like, I took 20 or 30 minute breaks and managed to write a chapter and a half. Because it's a new novel, I was worried that it wasn't as deep in me and it'd be more difficult to get into the flow of it. Not the case. Even writing a little every day kept the work in the front of my mind.

Swiss cheese works for me. What works for you? How do you keep your projects going when there's little time?

Graphic from Thank you Carol Ellin for your Swiss cheese wisdom!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Where Now?

Thank you for all the encouragement about saying yes to the surprise of a new project. It's especially helpful to remember that committing to a novel is not all or nothing. This new novel might make it all the way to a full draft and then a second draft and then multiple drafts. Or it could slide away as another, better idea rises to the surface. It's all part of the process, it all helps our writing, and it's all good.

This past week I've been marveling that the narrator in this new project and his voice are so different from what I usually write. This is new territory, new language. Oddly, it's easy. This novel and this voice are just pouring forth. For now.

My question - what do you do when writing about someone or something far outside your experience? Do you research? Watch movies? Hang out in parts of town where the characters would but you wouldn't? Journal as the characters? Trust that whatever compelled you to enter this different place will carry you through? All of the above?

At the moment, I trust that I'm where I'm supposed to be. But writing a novel is a long journey. I'm wondering what I can do now to prepare.

Oh, and here's a shout out for tomorrow's game on W.I.B.I.J. Prizes! Thank you to Tina, Heather & Jon for keeping us nimble through the blogosphere!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I guess going with the flow means not being in control. For me, part of what that means is trying to say yes more often than no. So I said yes to attending two conferences last week, first in Seattle then on the other side of the Cascade Mountains. A part of me was frustrated that I wouldn't be writing (or blogging or doing the crit I was/am excited about), but a better part of me thought I'd just let the week happen. Maybe I'd see something beautiful and bliss out and this week's writing would be more grounded.

Maybe... but the flow is leading me somewhere new. My first priority is the same - getting Romeo, Romeo, ready for the agent quest. But the next book? I've temporarily shelved it even though I had been enjoying the character sketches and had a killer first paragraph (and an okay few pages). For some reason I decided to reread a 10-page novel prospectus I'd written two years ago. And then I started writing that novel during spare moments at the conferences. And soon there was an entire chapter one, part of chapter two, a chapter-by-chapter outline and a narrator with an unexpected and compelling voice. Coming home, I boxed what I'd thought would be my next project in order to make room for this novel. Huh? I thought I had a plan.

I am choosing to think this is going with the flow and is the right thing to do. But how do we know? How do we know when it's right to shift from perseverance to something new?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Is It Time?

Thank you to my fantastic crit partner who today blogged about our working together. Heather is amazing and keeps me focused on what's important and our weekly Skype meeting brings the right sort of rhythm to this writer's life. And thank you for waking me from my cocoon.

So... I've been enjoying the safety of just editing. Just the pages and feedback from readers and tweaking and rewriting and adding and deleting. Just working on that one task of making the novel as good as it can be. For me, it's easier to keep my head down and surround myself with words rather than look up into the blogosphere and research agents and do all the things that bring the writing career to the next level.

I love editing, but when to stop?

Last week we went to the tulip fields of Washington state's Skagit Valley. At first I thought the fields and fields of tulips were for the tourists. Very cool, but what an extravagance. Uh, no. All those fields were working farms and this east coaster learned how tulips are harvested. First the bulbs must bloom, then the flowers are cut, but the leaves and stalks and all the green remains so the nutrients can travel back down into the bulbs. A few months later the bulbs are then dug up and shipped across the world. We saw some of the cutting. It's done by hand and not all blooms are ready at the same time; there will be another pass through.

Which made me think of editing. Helping our words bloom, knowing when to cut them and how long to leave them alone. When go to go back with fresh eyes and, yes, when to ship them out.

I think I'm getting ready to ship out Romeo, Romeo, my YA novel of three high school guys. It began as a screenplay several years ago and morphed into a novel. I've been editing a complete first draft for a year and a half. Not that the time itself matters, but now it feels right.

How do we know when we're ready for the next step?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Almost every day from the kitchen window I see bald eagles soaring above the bay. What a difference, the air filled with gulls and crows and then this large, creature soars above them all. It seems to float. An occasional wing flap when changing direction or gaining speed, but mostly coasting, so elegant, so relaxed, so effortless...

But I'm so wrong. Those stunning bald eagles soar so elegantly because of their strength. Because of their powerful muscles and ligaments and the whole of their complex physical structures working together.

Why do those eagles make me think of writing?

Because sometimes I simply want to be able to soar. For it all to be effortless. To write and edit and blog and research the industry and do all those things that would be good for my writing. One simple flap of my wings and I'd be doing it all.

But that's not how it works. Maybe some of us are born eagles, quickly ready to soar, but many of us might be more like sparrows, lots of busy wing-flapping, branch to branch, rarely in a straight line or an elegant arch. But some sparrows migrate as much as 2,600 miles... Not to shabby. We'll get there.

But still, I look at those eagles for inspiration.

What inspires you?

Goals for the week of 3/9/10 - stunningly similar to last week's goals... lots of flapping and flapping and bouncing from branch to branch...

YA novel
  • New draft incorporating reader feedback
  • Finish all web content
  • Tech plan for launch
Strengthening the center
  • Meditate every morning
  • Two walks in nature

Monday, March 1, 2010

A stream is more direct than mist

Science was never my thing. I very much respect well-rounded people who can write beautifully about things scientific... but that's not me. So, I don't feel bad that I didn't get this very simple rule of fluid dynamics until now. Mist puts lots of water in lots of directions, but a stream flows further and faster. No disrespect to the Olympic Peninsula rain forest that thrives on constant mist, but, for where I am, I need to write in a stream, which means that I'm putting my energy & writing in one direction.

So I'm streamlining my focus: my YA novel (+ launching the website for the nonprofit I've founded to make films for LGBTQ youth). The middle grade novel is still there waiting it's turn, as is YA novel number two. But this week at least, I'm going to see how things go with four hours of YA work + four hours of website launch work. With a swim or workout between them.

This reminds me a little bit of a way past writing partner who came up with all sorts of elaborate rules to make him write (including moving abroad), but nothing really helped. He just needed to write. Anyway, I'm going to try this 4 + 4 approach for a little bit.

Any suggestions for streamlining & keeping at it?

My iPhone went nuts this week, so no photos from a walk. Here's an older one from the porch of our temporary condo. The tree is now blooming.

Monday Meeting: Goals for the week of 3/1/10:

YA novel
  • New draft incorporating reader feedback
  • Finish all web content
  • Tech plan for launch
Strengthening the center
  • Meditate every morning
  • Two walks in nature

Monday, February 22, 2010

When the flow is slow

Okay, what happens when this "going with the flow" thing is slow? As in, I didn't get done nearly as much as I'd hoped this week. I could justify it away - we just moved, I finally joined a pool and swam a few times, my partner is a minister (no worries, it's a very liberal church) so there have been tons of get-togethers... all good, all making life rich, but not helping me meet my weekly goals. I did get stuff done - just not enough.

I like going with the flow, but I also like getting things done. This week: how to find the balance? How to make it a productive flow? I'm going back to my practice of tracking my hours: writing is blue, filmmaking red, mind/body stuff purple, general appointments pink... Will the intention to get more done be enough?

Here's a photo from one of this week's walks. Actually a photo of me taking a photo of Mt Baker.

Monday Meeting: Goals for the week of 2/21/10:

YA novel
  • Contact readers w/questions from comments
Middle grade novel
  • Revise Chapter Three and send to writing partner
YA novel #2
  • Add synopsis to computer
  • Complete the final steps to launch
Strengthening the center
  • Meditate at beginning of day just before starting to write
  • Two walks in nature

Monday, February 15, 2010

Personal Gold

So we spent Saturday one hour away in Vancouver visiting friends in town for the Olympics. I'd assumed that today's post would be about the athletes & trying to be the best. Motivation, achievement, practice... Um, not at all.

The best part of Saturday was not the Olympic hubbub. It was seeing old friends. And the best part of seeing old friends was sitting in a hotel overlooking a park and having coffee and tea and talking and feeling comfortable and feeling a shared history and knowing that we were a group of four people hoping the best for one another.

What does that have to do with writing? I felt nourished, centered and focused. But then we drove away to this new place where we share history with no one.

I'm joining a writers group here and will be attending the northwest SCBWI conference this spring. I Skype weekly with my main crit partner & have met fantastic new readers through the blogosphere. That's doing the right thing. That feels good...

But I do want to remember the simple power of relationships. Those people who may not write but do believe in us. They're vital. My nieces get adamant about YA books I should read. My younger nephew and niece both suggest topics and characters. Friends listen. My partner gives me space. It's all part of the mix that helps me fill notebooks and gets me to my laptop. I'm grateful for everyone.

Some writers may be called to be isolated artists. No judgment. Very cool if that's what works. But people are for me.

And you?

Photo from one of this week's walks. Beneath where we're staying. Don't know what the red thing is. Bumps in the distance are the Canadian Cascades (I think).

Monday Meeting: Goals for the week of 2/15/10:

YA novel
  • Incorporate feedback from 3 new readers
  • Make timeline for conference submissions
Middle grade novel
  • Revise 2nd chapter and send to writing partner
  • Make timeline for conference submissions
YA novel #2
  • Add synopsis to computer
Strengthening the center
  • Meditate at beginning of day just before starting to write (I need to pay more attention to this...)
  • Two walks in nature

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Power of Place

So I was feeling stupid for including the list of "Flow-encouraging Places" here. This is a writing blog, not Facebook. Who cares where I've been? So I was feeling embarrassed and amateurish until the end of the week when I noticed that I had clicked on at least some of the links everyday. And that they gave me a little peace.

I've spent significant amounts of time in all those "Flow-encouraging Places" (except for Village Books in Bellingham, Washington - that's a new find) and when I've been in those places I've been able to turn down the volume of my mind and get better at just being. And when my mind is quieter my writing is better. I've spent too much time forcing projects along because I'd somehow decided they were something I should do. Luckily I've had friends around to tip me off that my eyes light up when I talk about that other project I've put on hold. "Just follow your energy" someone in a writing group once said.

Even better, my main crit partner gave me a bamboo plant to remind me of a book that she can tell I'm the most excited about but keep thinking I should do later.

All this is to say that I'm glad I put "Flow-encouraging Places" on the blog because now I go to some of those pictures and chill out and then start writing. So far so good.

What do others do to get settled before writing? If "getting settled" isn't a priority, then what gets you going?

Here's a photo from last week's walk in nature

Monday Meeting: Goals for the week of 2/8/10:

YA novel
  • Send 1st 50 pages to 2 new readers
Middle grade novel
  • Revise 1st chapter and send to writing partner
  • Trim the bamboo plant
Strengthening the center
  • Meditate at beginning of day just before starting to write
  • Two walks in nature
(PS - don't know why the date says Sunday, I'm posting at 12:28 AM Tues 2/9)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Where I write

True, I'm brand new to the Pacific so I don't really know what this new life will be. But I love where I'm writing. Even when it's gray, somewhere over the islands is a fleck of light. And the sky, the bay and silhouetted hills are always a water-color painting. Looking up rejuvenates.

The desktop - a door stained dark - is my father's from when he payed bills in the basement of the house I grew up. Each box in back is dedicated to one project - a book or a film. Photos are mostly downstairs. Not sure if this is how it will be, but for now I'm enjoying the simplicity.

Yeah, so maybe the boxes and (I think) lack of clutter might make me look organized... But, in truth, if I didn't have boxes to close things in, refuse would take over. My fourth grade teacher once turned my desk upside down, insisting that the stuff on the floor was no messier than it had been in my desk. Decades later, I still struggle with organization. Boxes. I love boxes where I can hide my stuff. Maybe that's why I love the long line of boxcars pulled by every few hours.

So, it's Monday (didn't post until Tues), and I love Monday meetings. Worry - is it counter to going with the flow if I state goals for the week?

It's okay, right? Even while flowing one should work to avoid the rocks... Head for smoother water? So I'm hoping modest goals can keep me going in the right direction. (But what if I'm actually supposed to be standing still? A question for later...)

Goals for the week of 2/1/1o:

YA novel
  • Finish transcribing handwritten edits to computer for complete new draft
  • Review 1st 50 pages
  • Send revised 1st 50 to writing partner
Middle grade novel
  • Reread 1st chapter
Strengthening the center
  • Meditate daily
  • At least one walk in nature
Oh yeah, the strengthening the center thing... I've learned that my writing suffers when I forget to do that stuff.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Here Goes

Another newbie starts a blog - that's what's happening here. A writing partner/mentor/cheerleader has been urging me to jump into these waters and finally, finally I'm doing so. Timing is right - I just switched coasts and our weekly meetings will now only be electronic. I'll miss the face-to-face and the particular smell of the African cafe where we'd most recently been meeting. But this is exciting. Time to splash around in the fantastic community of YA and middle grade writers that I've been hearing so much about.

So now I see the Pacific from my desk rather than bike through the city to watch the Atlantic. My biggest hope for this new life is that I become more adept at going with the flow. For several years I belonged to a filmmakers group in NYC. We called it Making It Happen because that's what we were doing. It worked... But for me now, instead of forcing life, I want to honor it and honor change and see where I'm headed.

So I've put that first novel to bed, although it keeps reappearing, moaning that I make something happen of it, that I change the focus, the narrator, the time, the setting, anything, something, if I make the right change it will work... Or I can allow it to be a great first experience. I've already written number two. Me and number one are through. (Ode to Joe Jackson)

And the flow continues.