The Writing Life

Keeping a Journal

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015 | The Writing Life | 1 Comment

Lately I have started keeping a journal, more than one actually, and I am having a lot of fun. I find that keeping a notebook in my purse makes me even more likely to jot down notes to myself throughout the day. A day job does not stop my characters from giving me ideas…thank God!

I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron many years ago when I was creatively blocked, and Morning Pages (writing three pages of stream of consciousness every morning) and journaling are a big part of that work. I find that by doing both, I am clearing my mind of old business and new confusions, while making room for more beauty to grow, both in my life and in my art. And it is a joy. If you’re a blocked artist, or just looking for the next novel idea, I highly recommend it.

Writing and What It Teaches

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015 | Gratitude, The Writing Life | No Comments

I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about the role of writing in my life lately, because I’ve been under deadline. I don’t spend a lot of time ruminating when I am under the gun of the daily word count. Actually, I should be writing my next novella right now, but I wanted to stop for a moment and reflect on why I spend so many of my waking hours at this task, and why I love it so much.

 

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I find that opening a blank page on my computer and asking my characters to tell me their story holds up a candle and a mirror to my own inner thoughts. I learn more about the things I value, like love and friendship and family, and I remember why those things are so important to me.

I remember why I like happy endings, and why joy is such a blessing and yet so hard to capture on the page.

I remember why I am in love with love, and how deep a part of me that love will always be. My love affair with love is something I came to accept about myself long ago, which is why I am still writing at all.

I remember the joy of discovery and how it happens on every page, in every scene. Characters I thought I knew surprise me, and I surprise myself. There is joy in that, too.

So as I swim down the river of yet another adventure, I want to thank the gods of inspiration and the gods of caffeine, all I have read and all I will read, all the things that go into the alchemy that is creation, and the ability to sit at the computer, day in and day out, and do it again.

 

Quote of the Week

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 | Quote of the Week, The Writing Life | No Comments

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“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night.

You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

E.L. Doctorow

Balance and Listening for the Muse

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 | The Writing Life | 4 Comments

 

Moon Over the Ridge

 

I know that a lot of you out there are writers, too, so you know what I’m talking about when I say that balance is an elusive thing. As much as I adore my work, listening for new heroes and heroines, writing the stories I’m given, and making them exciting and truthful for my readers takes a lot of focus. Between the joy of writing and the day job, often little time is left for silence, and even though silence is where the stories come from in the first place.

Of course, I’ve been known to get a visit from the Muse even at the day job. I’ve learned to keep a notebook in my purse, with pen attached, just in case a bit of story comes to me, or a character reveals a plot point that, until that moment, had been a mystery to me.

Sometimes the Muse will show up when I’m in the shower, or washing dishes. I try to keep a pad and pen near the sink and the bathtub, though obviously this makes for problems of its own…waterlogged notepads and running ink. But still, if I make the effort to get the new idea down, the Muse will usually repeat herself later, even if I drop the newly minted idea in the tub.

Often, I’ll get an idea while driving to work. I have a forty-five minute commute, which as I drive through the beauty of the NC mountains, is soothing and relaxing. Being soothed can lead to an open mind, which can lead to completely new story ideas. Always a blessing.

Of course, no matter how many new and shiny ideas show up for the future, I have to finish the novel I am working on now. So there is another point of balance: Keeping the new ideas recorded and almost ready to go while finishing and polishing up the ones that I have already committed to. This point of balance is no burden, but I do try my best to keep the lines of communication open with the Muse of New Ideas, even as I work with the Muse of Fleshed Out Novels. These Muses are really one and the same, so she is gentle with me. Please keep those stories coming…

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Reflections on the End of Summer

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014 | Reflections, The Writing Life | No Comments

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As summer draws to its close, so does my latest draft, and I find myself reflecting on all the fun I’ve had, both drinking in the heat and sun and drinking in the joy of putting a new book down on paper. It amazes me how quickly time goes by now, quicker every day it seems, but as fast as the river travels, I try to remind myself of the beauty all around me and of the joy I find in it. Mindfulness is sometimes elusive, but when I reach out for it, I find it there, waiting for me, as if I never left.

So here’s to productivity and the whirling of the world, and here’s to the still silence in the center of it.

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