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 www.tripadvisor.com)

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?