And Suddenly, It’s Fall

Where I live, it rarely rains from April to October and the summer temperatures hover around 102° F, so about mid-July we start longing for the arrival of Fall. Just when it seems summer will never let go, we wake up to a change in the air. Even if the days still heat up, we sense Fall’s presence.

oct_sceneThis past week, I woke to hardwood floors chilly enough to break out the fuzzy socks. Yay! Maybe it’s because I was born in October that I feel the energy of a beginning more than an ending.  And a boost is surely what I need now. I just finished the critique training workshop though WFWA and soon will be sorted into an online critique group. Egads! What was I thinking?

I participated in the workshop because I’m anxious to work exclusively with other women’s fiction writers. But how can I be a member of a critique group with nothing to submit? I have no choice, now, but to wake that Muse and get back to work.  Shut the doors, put in the earbuds, and start up the Bach cello suites.

So yes, I welcome the energy of Fall. Of course, it also shines a spotlight on the many other jobs I need to tackle. Maybe I’ll get a few chapters written and then switch to the mad house cleaning I used to do in November. Any long-time readers remember my NAHOCLEMO (National House Cleaning Month) challenge?

For me, these cool days present another challenge. I’ve finally decided to get serious about losing the pounds I’ve added during these last five years of sitting, sitting, sitting as I worked on this serious writing business. It’s hard to eat salad when your body’s chilled and begging for hot chocolate and cream soups and hearty casseroles. And I can’t even think about the temptations of the upcoming holidays.

Okay, as long as I keep my fingers on the keyboard, I can’t eat. Well, I could, but …

Linda

Image courtesy of Karpati Gabor / Morguefile.com

AWAKE, but not writing

Well, I missed a blogging day, but for once, when I had nothing worth saying I didn’t say anything. I also didn’t get much house cleaning done. I did some laundry, repotted a few plants, worked on the sprinkler system in the yard, and organized some craft supplies. I also started reading a NY Times best-selling novel, but the subpar writing and editing makes me question whether I should continue.

What I’d hoped would happen during my writing break hasn’t. Not really. What did occur to me, at one point while my hands were covered in soil, is once again I’ve fallen into the trap of worrying about what others will think of the story in my next novel. Is that why I’m stalled?

I said at the beginning that I wanted to write this novel without any outside input, so I wouldn’t submit chapters to any critique group until they were all written, but it seems I’m critiquing it myself. I’m censoring before I’ve even written it. If only I could write without knowing what I’m writing. *sigh*

Speaking of writing, as I usually am, there’s some good writing on the new NBC series Awake. I’ve blogged before about some of my favorite well-written shows like Treme and Mad Men. This new one promises to be another. The premise of reality vs. dream intrigues me; in fact, I touched on it in a short story I wrote last summer.

Police detective Michael Britten, played by Jason Isaacs, has returned to work after an auto accident with his wife and teen-aged son. The problem is each day he wakes up in one of two “realities”. In one, his son died in the crash, Britten is in department-ordered therapy with a male psychiatrist, and he has a rookie partner at work. In the other, his wife has died, he has a female therapist, and his long-time partner at work.

A further confusion happens when clues from a case in one reality helps him solve his case in the other. Each therapist tells him he’s confusing dream and reality because he hasn’t coped with his loss. Britten doesn’t want their help because he doesn’t want to lose either of his “realities”.

I’m anxious to see how this plays out. When the end credits rolled on the first episode, I said, “Wow!” My husband said, “It was okay.” That’s typical for us. 🙂 Then again, he’s not a writer. If you’re not watching the show, but think it sounds interesting, you can watch full episodes online here: http://www.nbc.com/awake/


Awake promo photo ©NBC

Eventually, it always comes back to writing

So, yeah. I’ve been writing. As soon as I finished the first draft of one story, I started another. Now, scenes from my next novel are playing in my head. It’s a bit distracting, but I’m not going to drop everything and open that novel file yet. These little previews are just the Muse letting me know she’s working on it.

So, yeah. I’ve been writing. As soon as I finished the first draft of one story, I started another. Now, scenes from my next novel are playing in my head. It’s a bit distracting, but I’m not going to drop everything and open that novel file yet. These little previews are just the Muse letting me know she’s working on it.

Still, it’s hard to be patient with the story collection project, when I have a novel waiting. I have a couple more stories to write, and then, as I get feedback on the lot, it will be editing time. Recently, I received valuable feedback from someone I’ve never worked with before. She wrote seventeen comments on a story of less than seven hundred words! I had to laugh because that’s the way I critique. I think we might work well together. 😉

In other news: Has the weather this season been unusual where you live? We’ve been dry most of our rainy season, but finally got a good drench a couple of nights ago and then again last night. It’s been so warm and sunny, my peach and nectarine trees were set to bloom, and now the rain has brought a chill back to the air. Has anyone checked the earth’s tilt lately? I know my equilibrium’s off.

You all probably know that Adele won six Grammies Sunday night. Well deserved, in my opinion. I saw a link to an analysis of why her song “Someone Like You” is such a tearjerker. Though the song doesn’t quite make me cry, I do get chills at moments when I listen to it, so this analysis sounded reasonable to me. Now, if only I can figure out how to apply that “appoggiaturaa” thing to writing highly emotional scenes.

And there you go, I’ve brought the subject back around to writing again, so I think I’ll go do that. You go do something you love to do too.

Whence cometh thy critique?

In the last few days, I started three different blog posts and finished nary a one. Obviously, I’m out of touch with my brain right now. I spent two afternoons working in the garden, so it could be an allergy effect. In any case, I have nothing particularly witty or profound to say at the moment. (But I do sometimes, don’t I?)

In the last few days, I started three different blog posts and finished nary a one. Obviously, I’m out of touch with my brain right now. I spent two afternoons working in the garden, so it could be an allergy effect. In any case, I have nothing particularly witty or profound to say at the moment. (But I do sometimes, don’t I?)

I am working on both a novel and some short stories. Oooh, I just thought of how Demetri Martin writes with both hands at the same time. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could type on two keyboards simultaneously—one for the short story and the other for the novel chapter? I could be as prolific as Joyce Carol Oates. Not as good a writer, of course, but equally prolific. (Forgive me, I’m writing this with a headache.)

ANYWAY, I’ve been wondering how I’ll get critique on my works-in-progress. I no longer have access to a live critique group, and I’ve never been able to work up enthusiasm for joining online groups where I know no one—or more importantly—know nothing about anyone’s writing skills.

That led me to wondering how you all get feedback on your work. Do you seek it from one, a few, or many? Do you prefer live groups or virtual? Have those preferences changed over time? If you’re in a group, how does yours work? Specifically: How often do you meet? Do you read aloud? Do you receive the work ahead of time and critique at home, so you only discuss it at the meeting? How many members do you think is optimum? Do you critique all lengths of work?

What say ye?

Image © Drawing Hands by M. C. Escher, 1948

Writing feedback, how much is enough?

Well, I guess this means I’m blogging again—more or less. I spent my time off thinking, and reading, and traveling. Now, I’ve returned to writing. Though, obviously, I didn’t write a real blog post for today. I just have questions for you.

Well, I guess this means I’m blogging again—more or less. I spent my time off thinking, and reading, and traveling. Now, I’ve returned to writing. Though, obviously, I didn’t write a real blog post for today. I just have questions for you.

Once upon a time, I wrote a novel. At the time, I belonged to a critique group with about fifteen members. After several months, I left that group for one of four because the smaller group could work through a book quicker. A few months later, I also joined a group of seven or eight, but that didn’t last. Now, with my foursome on hiatus, I’m not sure how I’ll get the needed feedback on the stories I’m writing.

Maybe some of you are supremely confident in writing solo, but except for what you read on this blog, I can’t imagine ever submitting, or publishing, something without it being critiqued, edited, beta-read, then edited again. That’s why I’m curious how you all go about getting feedback on your writing.

  • Where do you find your help?
  • Are your critiquers all fellow writers? (I presume you incorporate non-writers at beta-read stage.)
  • How many people do you involve for the initial feedback?
  • Do those answers depend on the length of the work?

Please share your method with me.