Critique, Doubt, Group, Life, Writing

Virtual reality and other facts of life

It’s a soup day, a collection of thoughts, but only one about writing.

For most of my life, so far, I lived in Indiana where winters are cold. Really cold. Now I live in California and I’ve been here long enough to acclimate, so the mercury doesn’t have  to drop too low to make me shiver. It rained Monday morning and then the temperature plummeted. Tuesday morning was cold. Really cold. Our car doors were almost frozen shut and we had to scrape the windows. And look at the photo I took near my front door! Frost-limned roses are just wrong, people.

frostrose

Speaking of cold things. I had to stop the snowfall on my blog. It kept freezing my browser (Firefox 3.5.5) and I figured it might do the same to someone else.  My Christmas tree banner is safe, though.

An excellent thing also happened on Tuesday morning. I’m a huge fan of the TV series LOST, and I received an email from Amazon informing me of a Gold Box deal I couldn’t resist. I bought seasons 1-5 on Blu-Ray for only $109! I called my husband and told him what “he” just bought me for Christmas. 😀 I shall be suffering from LOST overdose very soon.

What I’m suffering from right now is lack of reality … in my writing life, that is. Having family here for the holidays will distract me, but then what? I need a place where I can regularly interact with other writers in a this is me and this is my writing, warts and typos and all kind of way. I’m not sure such a flesh and blood group is available to me, but I’m mulling over the idea of a private virtual one. Isn’t that ironic?

Write on!

Critique, Fiction, Group, Musings, Publish, Time, Writing

When the time is right

cleaningYou never know what you’ll find when you clean house. I have now made it most of the way around my “workroom.” This is where I write, do genealogy research, make jewelry, draw, and do whatever else requires a big table or a computer. Every inch of this room is occupied. Also in this room are two deep closets crammed with … well, a lot of stuff. I’ve now cleaned and organized those two closets.

I found a dozen errant beads that had rolled off my workbench and under the doors. I found the pack of mechanical pencils that I knew I’d bought but never opened. And I found a bag of a ten or so new bottles of craft paint that had been “lost” inside the bag of felt pieces. But the best find was in a box in the office supply closet. I found old computer disks.

disksOn two of the disks, I found some of my old writing files, and I’m working up the nerve to open them. Others are files from the first two online critique groups I belonged to in 2000. As soon as I saw the writers’ names, I remembered the plots of the books they were working on at the time. I did some research and found out that, of the three writers I worked most closely with in those groups, two of them have been published and the third mentors other published writers.

So, of course, I asked myself where I might be now, if I hadn’t let life get the better of me. Just as quickly, I let that go. I reminded myself that I believe all things happen for a reason. I’m where I’m supposed to be right now.

I was a different person then. I hadn’t read some of the books I needed to read. I hadn’t met some of the people I needed to know. I hadn’t experienced some of the things I needed to to enable me to write what I can write now. So I’ll let go my envy and I’ll practice patience. My time will come.

Characters, Editing, Fiction, Group, Novel, Revision, Writing

Your character did WHAT?!

D'oh!
D'oh!

Not so long ago, I confessed that I’d rushed and ended my novel before it was finished. Then I went back to work and filled in the missing pieces. And yet … I later commented that I had a nagging feeling that something I’d written did not ring true for one of my characters. Finally—two weeks after I’d submitted the revision to my once-a-month critique group—I realized where I’d gone off-track.

Yesterday, the group met and, of course, they called me on it. They were very nice. No one said, “What were you thinking?” Then we brainstormed a solution. Renee’s a fighter, she wouldn’t do this. What if she did that? What if this happened? And then Jalal would do this. Oh, and then …

I loved it. And—most importantly—I did not panic. I did not see this scrapping of this long scene as a tragedy or the rewriting as a huge undertaking. That I had written this nicely crafted, but wholly inappropriate scene was not evidence that I’m a bad writer.

So, as soon as I could, I sat down and started the revision. It’s going well. The new scene will sustain the tension between Jalal and Renee. It will stay true to Renee’s character. It will make sense.

Now, please tell me you’ve all had this “what was I thinking” experience in your writing, so I won’t feel alone.

Critique, Fiction, Group, Novel, Publish, Writing

How blogging changed my life!

Yes, that is a dramatic post title, but it’s true. Blogging has changed my life. We’ve all heard the stereotype of the writer as loner, hermit even, and it’s true that the actual writing is a lone process, but certainly not all writers are loners. I am.

I had read blogs (mostly political), and even checked out WordPress.com a couple times, but never signed up. What did I have to blog about? Then, last June, I decided to try expanding a short story into a trilogy of stories. By July, I had decided to shoot for a novel. I needed a support group.

By coincidence (?) I discovered a critique group starting up in my town. Their first meeting was scheduled for the very next evening! But I didn’t have the nerve to go. I finally made it to their fourth meeting.

I started my first novel in the fall of 1999. A year later, I had written the first draft twice—once as a horror novel and then again without the horror elements. I never showed it to anyone. Real life intervened and I wrote only short stories for the next seven and a half years. I didn’t show those to anyone either. But this time, I wanted to publish and I’m smart enough to know that if I wanted to attain that goal, I needed feedback on my writing.

So, I had to put on my brave face and not only talk to real live strangers, but show them my writing too! I was so freaked by the first that the second was almost easy. Almost. Then I met two lovely writers named Kasie West and Candice Kennington, both bloggers, and they inspired me to take the plunge.

And I’m happy I did. This year I’ve met so many wonderful people through my blog. You’ve made me think, and laugh, and blush, and you’ve made me feel like an interesting person. But don’t worry, I’m keeping this quote firmly in mind:

Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar. – Edward R. Murrow

But best of all, blogging has helped me believe in myself as a writer. Although I’m still learning, I now have confidence that, through words, I can effectively communicate thoughts and feelings—actual or fictional. And this confidence has carried over into my real world too. So, blogging has not only changed my life … it’s changed me!

Group, Writing

SHE WRITES

“SHE WRITES is a new social network where women writers working in every genre–in every part of the world and of all ages and backgrounds–can come together in a space of mutual support.”

Sorry, male readers, this one excludes you … but if you know any women writers, please pass the news on to them. I’ve just joined this site and fellow women writers are joining like crazy. It launched 29 June and, at this writing, already has over 900 members! Clearly we women have a need for this community.

There are groups about marketing and promotion, literary groups by genre, groups by location, a group for writers who blog. You can share writing news, events, videos, and more to come.

You don’t have to be a published writer to join—but if you are, you can sell your book in the bookstore. You just have to love writing and want to learn more about the craft … and share what you know with others.

So … ladies, check it out SHE WRITES. And if you join, add me as a friend.