Archive for the “the writing process” Category

There are so many things that are scary about being a writer. I pride myself on having a tough skin when it comes to criticism about my work, but it’s still hard when people peek into your proverbial stroller and say “gee, that baby’s ugly.”

Writers agree that even a hundred positive comments have a hard time blotting out the one negative one.

So, most of the time, it’s like this:


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Oh Calvin! I miss you. After all, we think so much alike.

I think I’ll go hang out in the sandbox for a while and wait for inspiration.



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I just read a post on Brandon Sanderson’s blog about magic systems.

The Cost of Magic, plus Superman

If you are, or ever plan to write a story that has magical elements, you simply must read this post. Not optional.

A little something to chew on: when you watch Superman fight a bad guy, it’s cool, but it’s not very tense, is it? So why is the Superman story interesting or compelling? Read the blog post.

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Writers have many decisions to make about perspective. Shall I tell the story from first person point of view? Shall I use a narrator? Which set of eyes should I use to tell my story? Which viewpoint will tell it best? Or will more than one viewpoint shine a better light on my character?

And there’s a completely different question about perspective that must be answered: do I tell the story as if it’s happening now? Or as if the character is looking back on the events with the perspective of hindsight?

As a writer, I have to answer all these questions, and I have to do it in a way that’s fresh. I have to ask myself, like Orson Scott Card says, “How ELSE could it happen?” I must learn to not pick the quick, obvious answer, but look deeper.

I must learn to really look. See more clearly. With less tired eyes.

Look at the picture again. Change your viewpoint, your perspective. Imagine yourself high above the couple, looking down. Now they are lying on the concrete at the bottom of a flight of stairs.

How ELSE could it happen?

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I admit it. I’ve got fears upon fears.

One that bothers me more than most is that in my busyness, I’ll miss my calling. I’ll miss what I was really meant to do.

Joseph Campbell–what a brain. You wrote about the Hero’s Journey for years, and then went on one of your own.

Now then. It’s time for me to go find out what’s waiting for me.

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I’ve worked on revisions for ever–for so long I hardly remember what it’s like to create something fresh. This week, though, I forced myself to put the revisions aside and work on a new project.

At first, all I felt was drained.

At first I feared I’d given everything to that old project–that it had cost me a price I hadn’t planned on paying. That there would be no more where that came from. The thought made me shiver and shake.

But thankfully the water started flowing again. No more than a trickle through rusty pipes, but hopefully with time, the stream will grow strong.

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What if the writing’s on the wall…a portent of doom…but you can’t read it?

Some say a death knell is tolling for publishing as we’ve known it–that the writing is on the wall, whether we can read it or not.

Part of me panics at that thought. Books made of paper have been a treasured part of my life since I was a baby sitting on my mother’s lap. I’ve dreamed of writing a book of my own, and then holding that book–feeling the pages, smelling the ink and glue. Writing my name on the title page with a flourish for a reader, who will take it home and love it.

I’ve wanted the feeling of validation that comes with traditional publishing–that a professional, someone with profit on their mind, has read my stuff and deems it worth a financial risk. And next year that particular part of my dream will come true, when my scribbles will be typeset and pressed into paper.

But does the writing on the wall say that this path, the one I’ve only put one foot on, is about to end?

Last week I finished reading my first novel on an e-reader (my phone) and immediately wrote to the author to tell her how much I enjoyed it. She responded to say “it’s a fun time to be a writer.” That got me thinking.

I see writing on the wall, but I don’t know what it says. I do know one thing it’s telling me…that things will change. I don’t believe anyone can say exactly what that change will be. Just that it will be.

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Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth.  ~Ludwig Börne

Maybe that’s true, but it still makes me sad. After all, living in a dream world is pretty nice.

I remember when I first began writing, I harbored the illusion that I’d be a “natural,” that I’d write brilliantly without even trying. It was hard to show my writing to anyone at first because, well, I knew what would happen. My illusion would be shattered, and I’d have to face the truth. I could be a good writer, but it was going to take work.

Until I actually let someone read my stuff, the illusion could continue. I could pretend I was an undiscovered genius, and as a writer, pretending comes quite naturally to me.

But that’s long over now. Now the work.

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I’ve tried to keep from being jealous when I hear about others having great success with their writing. I suppose it’s a human trait (how many times have I heard people say “She’s so beautiful–I hate her”) but it makes no logical sense. So I try to suppress it.

I try to be genuinely happy for people when they do well, and most of the time I do okay. I especially love to hear about people having success after a long period of failure. Gives me hope!

Today I heard this quote: “Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” (Maybe by Carrie Fisher, but maybe she was quoting someone else.)

The Man in Black:  All right. Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right… and who is dead.

Resentment and jealousy will only poison my well.

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