Monthly Archives: January 2011

Two Weeks In

It’s been two weeks since I’ve committed myself to daily writing. And I actually have written every day. Writing time has ranged from five minutes to an hour and a half. I’m not so focused on how much time I’m spending just yet. For now, it’s just important that I get used to committing at least some time to writing on a daily basis. If it really only takes twenty-eight days to create a new habit, then I’m half way there. That’s promising. Once that first twenty-eight days is over, I’ll focus more on the amount of time.

Also, I finished off the Merry Gentry series this week, at least until the next book is released. I believe that’s scheduled some time this year. So, it’s on to Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. That book is a thousand and one pages. I’ve checked it out twice and the librarian has stared at me uncomprehendingly both times. Yes, yes, it’s a lot of reading. And while I can appreciate the book, I can’t see myself writing something that length. Nevertheless, I read it because it’s good. I read it because Brandon Sanderson is a master world builder and strong in craft. I read it to see how it’s done. I guess I could have told her all that, but I didn’t see the point.

Jack of All Trades or Master of One

“Third person isn’t my thing. I like first person narration.” Laurell K. Hamilton

Since I’ve been enamored with all things Laurell K. Hamilton lately, I decided to watch some videos of her on youtube. In one, she gave the statement above. It kind of implied that she sticks with what she likes best and that got me to thinking. Most of the writing teachers I’ve encountered, books I’ve read, even other writers I talk with all recommend the same thing. That is, work hard, learn every aspect of craft. But here’s a highly successful, talented author who doesn’t bother with what doesn’t ring her bell. Now I’m sure LKH could crank out excellent work in third person if she wanted, but the point is she doesn’t want to.

Some writers are just better at certain things than others. One of my friends writes the best descriptions that involve all the senses. They aren’t flowery, but they are thorough in way that just feels forced when I try to write that way. My writing is much stronger in pacing and clarity than hers. I know that its important to push yourself and to keep as many tricks of the trade at your disposal as possible. But I’m  starting to see that finding your voice is also about playing to your strong suits as well. Maybe mastering the tools you are most proficient at is a better strategy than taking on ones that don’t feel as natural for the sake knowing it all. Note to self: Be less serious, have more fun.

Discipline isn’t a dirty word

Here’s the realization: I’ve never truly developed the writing habit. 

Though  I’ve been writing  for nearly my entire  life, it was something I did when the mood hit me or when I had a deadline. When I took my first creative writing course in college, my professor, bless his heart, was adamant about writing every day. I think this is the case with most writing teachers. We read Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg. He wanted us to listen to Mozart, to write in the same place every day at the same time, and to increase the length of the sessions over time.  And I tried hard to accommodate him during that semester, but the process never stuck, especially the Mozart.

Of course, I saw the wisdom in developing a practice back then, as I do now. There’s no way I’m going to write a novel or build a writing career without one. I’d hoped NaNoWriMo would help me build that practice. Now I’m thinking not having that practice already established may have been what ultimately killed my NaNoWriMo in the first place.

I have a tendency to rush things, to get way ahead of myself, and then get surprised when I find myself overwhelmed. It’s a surefire setup for failure.  I envy people who figured out what they wanted to do early in life, and started honing those skills while still very young.  And I envy people who can see the finish line and honor the journey it takes to get there. I see where I want to be and try everything but the straight, and seemingly lengthy, path to it.  The time has come for me to embrace  the ever slow, yet productive baby step.

So, my first toddler step is to just sit my ass down and write (gasp) EVERY day. Excuses are already running through my mind. I can feel a big ball of rebellion turning in my stomach. But the sooner I stop slacking off and letting myself off the hook, the sooner I can reach my goals. Discipline doesn’t have to be a dirty word. It isn’t.

The Merry Gentry Series

So, my bestie and I were roaming around our local library looking for new reads. I’d found a couple of things in the stacks that looked fairly promising. As I walked over to the lounge section to sit with my gal pal, I noticed a book called Divine Misdemeanors. I read the synopsis, then passed the book  to my friend. We like fairies. We like detectives. Sounds like a go. There were two copies, and we each checked out one. We are our own little book club after all.

Got the book home and read chapter one. Looked up the series, realized I had book eight of eight,  and promptly put it down. Put book one on hold, and boy was I glad I did.  A Kiss of Shadows was quite the cracky experience, highly addictive.

If you’re put off by sex or violence, then this is not the series for you. There is more than a fair share of both. I didn’t even realize that it was categorized as erotica until I had already lovingly dubbed the series “fairy porn.”  Of course there is much more to it than that, but you’ve just got to love a girl with a harem. Sigh.

Laurell K. Hamilton does a good job of totally immersing the reader into a new culture. It’s fast paced and thoroughly detailed at the same time. It’s lovely and imaginative. You add politics, prejudice, and novelty to the sex and violence , and well, it’s just hard to put down. I’ve read the first three books in a about a week and a half. Picked up book four, A Stroke of Midnight, today. I’m sure I’ll be done before the weekend is out.

Writing in the New Year

We have reached the resolution season, and while I don’t usually make resolutions per se, I do tend to use this time of year to take stock of where I am in my life. Am I doing the things that make me happy? Am I living in a way that supports my dreams? What can I do differently to make shifts in my life? Then I use the answers to recommit to living my life on purpose.

Last year I made a vision board of what I want to accomplish in my thirties. Looking at it every day keeps me focused. So, writing is always at the forefront of my mind. In the last year, I’ve read a ton of books on craft. I’ve got notebooks full of notes. And I’ve continued to read, read, read all the fiction I could get my hands on. Some of it I loved, and some of it, not so much. Nevertheless, it all came from the commitment to learn what I wasn’t learning in graduate school.

This year’s commitment is to apply what I’ve learned. My new mantra is “Write, write, write.” My New Year’s Eve was exactly what I needed it to be. Instead of going to Peach Drop or to a party, watching tv, or meditating, I sat down and wrote. No countdown. No fireworks. Just the stroke of keys at stroke of midnight. Oh yeah, and a glass of champagne. Happy New Year!

And since the post a week 2011 challenge serves my new commitment so well, I’ll be doing that too.