Tuesday, November 14, 2006

November Daze

I wrote 60,000 words, the first draft of a novel, in October, three weeks to be exact. I wanted to write a complete rough draft in October so I'd know that I could do a minimum of 50,000 words for the NaNoWriMo 2006 event. But this month has been a bear! So many things to do, so little time to do them.

And now, I'm too tired to write anything in this blog tonight.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Rainy days and daisy ways

The title means absolutely nothing. It just sounded good to this writer this morning. I woke up to rain. Actually, I could hear it under the tires of the vehicles passing our house. And when I looked at the bold red numerals on the alarm clock, 7:27 a.m., I was so sure it was much earlier. The sky was so gray. I thought I'd sleep awhile longer since it's such a gloomy morning. But the book on the night table caught my eye. No, I should be reading.

Reading is an important activity for a writer. I've read that countless times. Reading isn't important just to know what the competition is doing, but how the competition is writing. Reading is a study of each writer's process and progress, a continual growth thing. Getting better with each story one writes; figuring out how to write from the beginning to the middle to the end.

I'm just about at mid-point of this particular novel that I'm writing. If I can write one chapter a day, in 30 days I'll have a rough draft finished. It sounds ambitious. But it's something I can do. It's realistic for me. And now it's time for me to get to it. I have a full schedule today. I don't have time for procrastination this morning. Procrastination...a common ailment--or is it just a state of mind--for writers. :D

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sunny side of the street

Today was a beautiful day in our fair state. The sun shone, the sky was blue, a stark contrast to the autumn leaves of red, yellow and orange. It reminded me of a photograph I took about seven years ago. Seven...that is a symbol of completeness. Interesting thought. Here I am seven years after leaving my full time newspaper editor's position. Seven years of learning, stretching and growing. Seven years of finishing some things I started--like raising children. Seven years of learning my craft of writing...a long haul for DH who thinks I'm never going to get my work published. Of course, he still thinks there is "just" one novel, even when he comes into my office and sees the shelves lined with folders, the piles of notebooks and papers, all works in progress for one project or another.

Am I complete? Hm. Another interesting question. I had an enlightenment yesterday, an epiphany, as I was working on my novel. Some truths made themselves known to me and I have to admit, I was taken by surprise. I don't know why I didn't see these things before. I mean, they were right there in front of me all the time! But I didn't see them, I guess, until the proper time. Interesting.

So, I am ready to begin writing chapters 13, 14, and 15 of a 33-chapter novel. I decided the number of chapters this morning. How many chapters, I asked myself, will it take to tell this story: beginning (introducing problems), middle (defining problems), and end (resolving problems). Well, how many lines are there on this piece of paper at the back of my notebook? 33. Well, that means chapters 1-11 for the beginning, chapters 12-22 for the middle and chapters 23-33 for the end. I began to make plotting notes to myself so I can keep control of my story as the rough draft is written from beginning, through the middle, to the end. It sounds simple, but again, until the time is right, it just doesn't make sense or fall into place. Could I have learned it faster, sooner, in my younger years? Or was I on my way when I decided to take that first newspaper job? Did I hamper my own growth as a writer by working that 24/7/365 job?

I guess that's a moot point and doesn't really matter since I can't go back and change a thing. But I can begin from here because I know more about my craft. I may have more to learn, but I will take what I know at this moment and move forward.

My mom and I sat on the patio all afternoon with our crochet hooks. We talked and giggled and laughed out loud, enjoying the sunshine, the blue skies, the companionship, the tea, the crocheting. I can't remember when I last did that. But I know we make time for the people and things that mean something to us. Mom. Dad. Sonny. My children. My grandchildren. My marriage. My faith. My writing. All are meaningful to me, but are not always in the same order.

I am only now at my midlife mark. I have another half of a life to live and learn and love and write.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I posted to one of my favorite writing groups today. What is your inspiration, given that Steinbeck--or was it Hemingway?--said that a writer can't be married to his/her inspiration?The writer's mate is the one who keeps the writer's feet on the ground. The passion of a writer's life keeps them writing, creating.

I've been thinking about that some, of late. Does a soulmate have to be the person you love and to whom you are married? Or can you have soulmates who share common interests with you? I don't know.

Does my mate keep my feet on the ground? Oh, yes. Is he my soulmate? As far as my children are concerned, yes. As far as my writing is concerned? Oh, no. He isn't interested in my writing at all. His interests end where the incoming checks are concerned, and he's not seen a lot of that.

My passion? Now, that's something I won't divulge. I have one. And when I think of that passion, my creative juices start flowing and I write well.

What is "passion"? Mr. Webster, if you please?

PASSION: n. 1. orig., a) suffering or agony, as of a martyr b) an account of this. 2 a) any of the Gospel narratives of Jesus' Passion and and of accompanying events. b) an artistic work, as an oratorio or a play, based on these narratives 3. a) any one of the emotions, as hate, grief, love, fear, joy, etc. b) [pl] all such emotions collectively; 4. extreme, compelling emotion; intense emotional drive or excitement; specif., a.) great anger, rage; fury b.) enthusiasm or fondness [a passion for music] c) strong love or affection d) sexual drive or desire; lust 5. the object of any strong desire or fondness 6 [Obs] the condition of being acted upon, esp. by outside influences...

SYN: passion usually implies a strong emotion that has an overpowering or compelling effect.

Is a writer's passion something with guilt attached because the writer's passion is being spent somewhere beyond the people (s)he loves? Can a mate be jealous of the writer's passion? Is that why so many famous writers marry and divorce? Is that why those of us who are writers who set aside our writing for the people we love are less famous? Because we prioritize differently, family first?

What is regret? Not realizing our full potential, our dreams, because we spent a lifetime living for those we love instead of living our lives for ourselves. Is that selfishness? I didn't postulate that there is no room for compassion. Or perhaps my problem is that I've only just been able to break the apron strings that held my children to me and I no longer feel guilty about writing or spending time with the passions of my mind that urge on my desires to write and write and write. And the final question: am I making any sense?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Jump start

It was one of those moments when I had to make a decision. It seems like lately (the last six months at least) I've been a big disappointment to folks. Commitment became failure because I couldn't honor the promises (commitments) I had made. One of the lessons I learned as a child was that when you make a promise, you keep it, no matter what you have to do. You never break your promises, your word.

Well, when circumstances say, "You don't have the money to do that," "You don't have the transportation to get there," "You have another priority that weighs heavier on you," well, you just...disappoint people.

So I was at another of those junctures. My friend needed to travel to Maine to do some research for her book. She couldn't go alone. I said, OK, we could go. Then reality hit. I wasn't going to have the money to go. I told her, I can't do it. I won't have the money. Then we talked. She really wanted to go. I knew I was letting her down bigtime. "OK. How much money do you think I'll need? I'll try to come up with it." Even as I was saying the words, I knew it was going to be some kind of challenge to make it all work.

Could I afford the trip? No. Was DH upset about me going on this trip? Yes. Did we talk it over and work it out, DH and I? Yes. Can I afford the trip? No. But I made a promise. My friend is always there for me. Can I do less for her? We WILL be making a trip to Maine before winter. We have to. SHE has to be there.

Maybe being away from my desk, my home, my family, for a week will be beneficial for my creativity. I received a rejection from a magazine I am trying to crack. It's not an easy one to get into. But they pay well, $1,800 for 1,000 words. There was an editor's handwritten message for me. Now, editors don't usually write handwritten messages unless the author has made some sort of impression. So, my goal while I'm gone is to 1.) Write a 1,000 word story to submit when I return and 2.) Write 5,000 words each day on this novel I'm toting around. Can I do it?

Well, we shall see, won't we?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Sometimes I'm like a kid in a candy store. There are so many things to do, to try, to go, to write. And I get slowed down because I stop to dawdle awhile and when I look at the clock I know I need to get moving. But exploring the world around me is...sigh...what I do, perhaps too much.

My friend, Linda Della Donna, still grieves for her late husband. I worried about her for awhile. Anyone who has done e-mail for awhile knows that without the cues of eye contact, facial expression, body language, voice inflections, any of us will misinterpret anything that is said. I needn't have worried about Linda. She was going through the steps of the grieving process...an individualized journey, no two the same because no two humans are the same.

Linda has a blog, Mourning Joy, that she writes for widows. It reflects a writing talent that warms the heart, joins us at the heart. She is focused. She has found her niche. She knows her topic. She has a target audience.

I asked her if I can link to her blog. She hasn't answered yet. My request got me to thinking...What is it that I should be focusing on? Where is my niche? What is my topic? Who is my target audience? I'm a writer. What should I be writing?

I am working on yet another project...a local business idea that I might want to start. I plan to spend the afternoon working on one of my novels, WG. (Titles are not copyrightable so I won't mention the entire title for this one that has turned into a trilogy.) If I work diligently, I think I can have all three written by Jan. 1, 2007. But if I stay true to form or get real lucky, I might have them finished by June 2007.

I've made a decision. I'm overcoming my email addiction. If I don't use my time writing e-mail I might actually reach my writing goals. So, I'm going to go work on those questions and find my answers. How about you? I'm going to write what I need to write. How about you? I'm going to get focused, find my niche, my topic, my audience. I'm going to write, write, write...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

James A. Michener

Tuesday night I sat down in the living room. On the bookshelf immediately behind me was James A. Michener's Writer's Handbook. I've had that book for a LONG time. I took it down and inside the cover was one of my favorite writing tablets...college ruled, no margins. I can't even FIND that kind of writing paper any more. It was there, though, ready for note-taking.

So today I began to work on my novel again, with Michener's advice still fresh in my mind. There's something new to learn every time you read something. It seems to take a new spin each time, like when you read the Bible. Whatever state of mind you're in, you notice something new that you didn't see before.

Michener died nine years ago in October at age 90. But his work is the kind of work that will live for generations, I think.

I'm feeling...I can't define how I'm feeling. I applied for a job 10 days or so ago. The ad is no longer in the newspaper, and I haven't received any telephone calls asking me to come in for an interview. I'm thinking that I don't have to worry about getting any calls. I'm thinking I'm probably supposed to be doing something else. Like writing.

But friends on a writers' list are talking about traditional vs. POD publishing. Both are discouraging to me today. I mean, how likely is it that I'm going to send in the first manuscript and the editor is gonna say, "Eurika! We gotta sign this marvelous talent!" Well, I guess it COULD happen, but is it likely? Does that sound like I don't believe in my writing abilities? No. It's me trying to be realistic.

Well, if I can't dance, I guess I'd better just keep writing. My current WIP is 30,000 words.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Take responsibility

Mom said to me, "You can't have the same expectations for everyone else that you have for yourself." Good advice.

Mom said to me, "Everyone isn't as capable as you are, so don't try to measure them by your abilities." Makes sense.

Mom said to me, "You never know who is watching you to see what's OK for you to do so they will do the same things." Wow. That piled on a goodly amount of responsibility to my young shoulders. Being the type of person I am (does birth order have anything to do with it?) I took those words VERY seriously. Yep. I'm the first born and feel like I'm responsible for everyone.

Mom said to me, "You can't carry the whole world on your shoulders." Um, that sounded like a contradiction to all of the above to a firstborn child who was growing up in a challenging world during the 50s and 60s.

Then when I grew up and had some years on me I asked some questions.

Mom said to me, "Why do you ask so many questions? Can't you just accept that some things are?

There has always been a driving need to know things, I guess. I stopped asking so many questions. I became more introverted, more observant, collecting data from Experience, which Mom said was the best teacher. Rather than ask questions, I dug and dug, and watched and listened and read and learned the answers.

Mom said to me, "When you do it yourself you remember it longer."

Mom also said to me, "If you want it done right, do it yourself because nobody else is going to do it the way you want it done."

As adults, Mom and I have talked numerous times about some of the Mom-isms I remember and how I interpreted them, often not in the ways that she meant them.

"I didn't know that's how you took that! That wasn't what I meant! You never know how a child will interpret something that you say."

But I must be a responsible individual because these days my mother says to me, "I don't know what I'd do without you."

My mother says to me, "You are the best daughter anyone could ask for."

My mother says to me, "I love you very much."

But maybe I take TOO much responsibility, jumping into the frey when someone I care about is in over their heads. I've been interpreting that as 'teamwork.' What about my own responsibilities? Do I shirk them to one side while I take care of someone else's business? But do they do the same for me? Are my priorities correct? Can you be TOO responsible?

Perhaps it's time for me to focus on my own responsibilities--like writing and my house--and let everyone else around me do the same. Where does one draw the line? Oh, this isn't art class? Artists don't draw straight lines? There are curves in art and curves in life? How does one get and stay focused? How does this apply to writing? Conflict. Observation. Emotion. Focus...

Friday, July 28, 2006


Mom said, "I don't know why you haven't been widely published by now."
"Well," I answered, "they tell me you have to submit to sell."
So, yesterday I mailed a short story to a nationally circulated woman's magazine. The writer guidelines say four months for reply. Of course, my hope is that they will open it, read it and say, "Hey, this is great. Can we send you a contract for the sale of this piece? And we'll send you a check straight a way!"
When I returned from the post office I reached into my pile for another project. Something longer. A novel of about 24,000 words. About 1/3 done. Seems like a good idea. Well, I need to work on some short pieces, too, to get more manuscripts circulating out there. I nearly asked DH how many hours a day he thinks I should be writing. Then I stopped and thought, "What?"
I do have a tendency to spend way too much time with my computer, hidden away in my office. But I love writing. I can hardly think of anything else sometimes. Is writing obsessive?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

short stories?

Why is it that every short story I write sounds like it really should be a long story?

I've been writing flash fiction. Someone told me (Dej) that I had a good flash fiction piece awhile back. I looked for some flash fiction markets and guess what? I found them. They are out there. $20 or $60 or $100, seems like a good start to me. I'm working my way to having 50 manuscripts circulating at all times so I can watch for the checks to start rolling in and keep coming.

So, what are you writing today?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


UUUGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!! Let me get it out of my system for a minute.

My first impulse is to just forgetaboutit. My second is to sit and bawl my eyes out. But my ultimate is to be realistic. Why do I want to forget it or sit and cry? Especially when I know that the sun is still going to rise again tomorrow. There are always going to be problems. And one way or another things will all work out, and everything will come out with the wash.


Ah, the writer's life. If there weren't crises and problems and crazy people and all those idiots out in the world that don't have brain one, what would a writer have to pen about? So, I won't complain. Not today. Well, I'll try not to complain much.

What am I writing? My Sunday article is finished. Just waiting for approval. When I talked to Mary Ann today she said, "I want to tell you, before we get started. There is a 76-year-old woman who comes to see me. She's the sweetest thing. She said you saved her life with the articles that you wrote about depression. She didn't realize she had a problem until she read my articles. She has said a number of times, Cathy Brownfield saved my life. So what you're doing is working. It's helping people."

I was stunned speechless. It chokes me up to think about it. I hate to sound cliche but it truly did humble me. Something I did helped someone else. I've been pretty hard on myself of late. And it all proves that "just one person" can do something that will make a difference somewhere along the line.

So, I guess I'll keep writing...and building my platform. Do you know about platforming? Did I write about that in an earlier entry or was that somewhere else. I talk about writing rather a lot with writing friends.

Platforming is getting your name out there, however you can--articles, essays, public speaking, community service...Get people interested in you and they'll read what you write and when you publish a book they will buy it. "Build it and they will come."

So what on earth have I been waiting for? Well, I've been waiting for all the crises and problems to go away. That's not going to happen. I've been waiting for perfect moments to write. There are no perfect moments. There is only THIS moment. And if you are a writer and you are reading this thinking, "She's talking about ME!", well, what are you doing there sitting reading this? Get busy writing! I'll make it easier for ya. Let's BOTH get busy writing.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Life path fraught with obstacles--or challenges

Man plans, and God laughs.
My mom insists that God has a sense of humor. I surely hope so. It seems like there's ALWAYS something to deal with. I hope I'm passing the test!

Writing...OK. I have to generate faster income with my fiction. So, I sat down to read Kathryn Lay's book, "The Organized Writer is a Selling Writer." She said she has no less than 50 manuscripts circulating at any time. So, I gathered a slew of writer guidelines from magazines that publish fiction. I printed out (from the Works Spreadsheet) a calendar for each of the months July through December. I noted my regular writing work for FRC on Mondays. I decided which market I wanted to write for first and noted the deadline for the piece...and got to work on the submission. I didn't work on anything else until that one was finished.

I have noted various markets, my self-imposed deadline, and when I finish a piece I give it a red note on the date it is finished.

I was cruising along nicely when Life entered the picture. My parents needed me. My children needed me. OK. My pattern was broken, and all needs were legitimate. And I feel like I'm always going to write, but my family is always going to take priority. Does that mean I can't write for a living?!

I sat on the swing on the patio the other day. And it occurred to me that it might be time to finish the novel I've ignored for the better part of seven years. Seems like I know the conclusion of the story now. But first, short fiction that will bring me some income to pay for the trip I'm taking to Maine in the autumn of the year.

There's no time like the present.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Hatching a plan

I get very frustrated some days. I want to write my novels. But I need to generate income. This morning I remembered a writing plan my friend, the late Bea Sheftel, came up with. Unfortunately her 'plan' is in my deceased PC. But the essence of the plan is still in my brain. Or is it just my own thinking that's motivating me this morning?

I know my writing 'voice.' So I'm looking for markets that use 'my voice/style.' And I'm thinking, "How much money do I need to bring in each month?" This monthly market pays $100-$400 for fiction. And this one pays $1,200 or more for each romance short story or mystery short story. That's not a shabby start. IF I can crack the markets.

So what am I waiting for? I'm not exactly waiting. I think it's mind set. Is my mind set for success or failure? Is it called writer's block? Sounds an awfully lot like Stephen King's character, Mike, in Bag of Bones. Have you read that one? When I sit down with pen and paper do I think, "I can do this," or do I think, "This is stupid and nobody is gonna want to read it?" Self-fulfilling prophecy. I think there's something to it.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A LOT of work

It's nearly midnight. I have had my behind in my chair at my desk in front of my computer for more than half of the day today...I mean more than half of a 24-hour period. At one point I stopped to think about how I was at the computer, then in the chair beside the window with paper and pencil to work out writing issues, back at the computer, over to the loveseat with paper and pencil again, to work out more writing issues. I even went so far as to put a note on the door, "Do not interrupt creative process except in case of an emergency." I shut the door and closed myself in this room.

Why am I doing this to myself? It's called a deadline. I have to have my revisions done by tomorrow for my friend and editor so the story can be submitted by Friday.

How many times did I think, "I can walk away from this for the day. It's past 5 p.m." Or, "Molly is never going to know if I don't work on this." Only Molly would know because I would never make the deadline. And then she would think I am not serious about writing.

So, I kept my nose to the grindstone all day. Now the house is still. The dogs have been out. Everyone else in the house has gone to bed and shut off their lights. And here I am, still at the computer, almost finished with those revisions. And grateful to have someone to make me be accountable. Yes!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Thinking it through

I've had some difficulty thinking stories through before I write them. It always seems to work better when I apply seat to chair, fingers to keyboard or pen to paper and write. Write it all the way through. Then go back and make sense of what I've written.

So, I wrote this 12,000-word story thinking it'd be a simple thing to do. Take me a few days, no longer than a week. I mean, it's not like I haven't written stories before AND SOLD THEM. But here I am, three months later, still wrestling with this story like Jacob wrestling with God from dusk to dawn.

Molly asked, "How can we help?"

"I can't think of a thing," I wrote back, "unless you want to read this story for me and see if it makes sense to someone besides me."

"Send it to me!" she answered. So, I did.

The part about her initial comments to me that got my attention was: "profound tale of faith."

Whoa! Hold on! Back up! Someone else was seeing just exactly what I was writing! How exciting! And when she said, "Hold the gratitude. Before we're done with it you may want to punch me in the nose!" well, I was on Cloud Nine, almost. :) I am SO excited to have a knowledgeable writing friend who will give me some guidance, be my sounding board, help me toward my goals. Punch her in the nose? Oh, no. Uh-uh. Not when I'm getting a learning experience of a lifetime. I have alligator skin in the criticism respects.

This morning I've studied my Bible a bit.

"The Lord God took man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.

"The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

Faith is grace. And everyone needs both.

Cause and effect...I took my cup of tea, notebook and pen to sit beside the window. It overlooks our backyard and the old, oak tree there. I listed causes and effects for this world, this humanity that I'm a part of. It is a fitting tool of procrastination for the day. Or is it procrastination? Now I will sit down with Sam's story and determine the causes and effects of his story so that it will be depicted accurately and clearly.

Virginia Woolf, in A Room of One's Own, said that women should write as women, free from the worries of the day. I have the room of my own. Just moved to a new one twice the size of the one I've been in for the past five years. It's comfortable here, and now that the children are grown, I am less interrupted when I write these days.

But still, I need to think through the stories to get them in perspective, filled with the right emotions and dialogues and settings and motivations. My biggest fear is that when I've done editing it, I'll have purified it too much. God bless Molly!

(c)2006 Cathy Brownfield

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Believe it or not...

OK. I started writing this 12,000-word short story. The specs say to send it, especially if you think they'll never buy it because ya might be surprised.

So, I sat down to write a 12,000-word story. I've written and sold 8,000-word stories. What's 4,000 more words? I picked two names out of the air just to give me a starting point, and I began to write. When the pace slowed, I threw another elephant in the room. And I added some more characters here and there. All of those characters had to have names so I decided to surf to one of those websites that has baby names and their meanings.

Did I say I snatched names out of the air?! I checked the meanings of the names for the characters that I had. And the meanings of their names all fit with the characters! I kid you not! Mind you, I checked the meanings AFTER I had the first draft nearly finished!

This story has gripped me. I have written others that I didn't finish. I walked away from them. But I can't walk away from this one. It won't let me go! Research. I need to research.

Avian flu. Check. Uh-huh.
Pandemic. Check. OK.
Dreams. Check. I didn't know that!

So I wrote some more. But there was something missing. Research. I need to do MORE research.

Black Death. Check. I knew that stuff, but it's good to refresh.
Physical and spiritual death. Check. I knew that, but I'm puzzled about some of it.

Dreams...are they in the wrong sequence? Yes. But moving them around...UGH!! What a challenge! Am I leaning too heavily on dreams? Should they be blended into series of dreams rather than separate dreams?

More research. I need more research! Meanings of terms that I've got to understand to make this story work.

A closer look at the theme of my story.

Research. We're born, we die. When we die we go to Paradise or Tartarus until Judgment Day when we are directed either to Heaven (if we're good), Hell (if we're not.) The sermon was at church. But it sounded an awful lot like mythology to me. More research.

The Bible...Old Testament, to study about the main character's namesake. The Annals of the World to help me comprehend the times the namesake lived in.

Why can't I just write a good story?

My mother suggests that God is trying to direct it. He intends me to write it.

Update coming soon to a blog near you. (Well, it'll have to be this one.)

Friday, June 23, 2006

I've been sorted

OK. Let's see if I can get this to work. I always knew I was a goody-two-shoes.

i'm in gryffindor!
be sorted @ nimbo.net

Can't walk away from this one

I can't walk away from this one. I can't put away my tools (or are they toys?) and let the folder get lost among all the others. I started this one to be a 12,000-word submission to a particular market that advises that writers should send to them the stories they've written that they don't really think fit any market. (Paraphrased.) I thought I could write 12,000 words in no time and submit it and make a minimum of $700.

Oh, I wrote the 12,000 words in no time. But I saw some things in the story and thought, "This is much bigger than I thought!" I've been working with it, reshaping it, moving things around to get them in the proper order, with a self-imposed deadline of today to finish it and submit it before 5 p.m. Yet here I am, still not prepared to submit it today. Maybe by Monday.

"I can't believe this!" I grumbled to DH. "I've never written a story that drove me just about crazy the way this one is doing!" Of course, DH thinks I'm never going to make big-time publishing. But when I do, he's going to say, "I knew you could do it." That's just DH.

So, I'm writing longhand in my new office and still have Internet/computer in my old office. At least I don't have to run up and down stairs, although that would probably be healthier for me since running up and down stairs is considered a great cardiovascular workout. Maybe I'm getting more accomplished because I can't at a moment jump on the Internet and use it for a distraction. It's easier for me to say, "No, I can't do that right now because I have to walk across the hall and to the other room.

I have committed to a weekend writing marathon. By Monday I will have this story completed and I will submit it. And I will pick up one of those other folders and I will stay with it until the story is complete, fini, and submitted. And I will do that with each one of my folders, piling them one on top of another until I have them finished and can stand them up on their spines to fill an entire bookshelf or an entire file box. Then I will pull out my idea file and write new stories to add to the old.

A friend told me I'll be the next Nora Roberts, only lately I think he believes that I'm only playing with my writing and won't achieve such lofty goals. We'll see, I guess.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Room of Her Own

I got a post from a friend. It was about a foundation. About how they give away grants of up to $50,000 over a two year period to help a woman writer to write her genius unhampered by financial restraints. Well, that certainly spoke to me. I've printed out the application. I'm working on the essays and setting aside a dollar or two between now and the deadline so I can make the $35 entry fee.

The experience of reading, researching and writing these essays is a lesson in studying my craft, determining what I have to say, how to establish my voice, which words I need to say and which do I need to omit to lead my readers to do their own thinking, their own philosophy, their own interpretation. Are these the qualities that will establish my writing and give it longevity? After all, my ultimate writing goal is to write long-lived stories, not the here/read today and forgotten tomorrow when some other piece of fluff comes along to take its place.

I've read again the book, and taken notes on the points that struck me as I was re-reading it. Points that I will incorporate into my essays that will reflect: genius needs freedom; without money there is no freedom; and, money must come as a windfall or legacy. Essentially, that life is comprised of making decisions, taking action, living with the consequences of those actions that lead to other decisions and actions that lead to consequences. We make choices what is priority in our lives and we have to live with that until we can effect the changes that allow us to reach for our individual gold rings.

I am excited today...about writing. I'm excited by the book I have just read. I'm excited by the anonymous card from a Secret Friend who also writes. I'm excited by the anticipation of writing from the heart, writing my thoughts, being myself and grasping onto my freedom so hard fought for and hard won. But am I free? Is anyone? I am free to write what I think, what I feel, what I believe. I am free to write what I want to write. To pursue those goals, those challenges, that I want to achieve. To overcome the big fish in our little pond who would prevent me achieving my destiny if it was dependent on them, but is not.

So many thoughts...so many feelings...so many beliefs...so many characters...so many tales to tell, and only one lifetime in which to do all of these things!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Always new beginnings

OK. It's months later since my last post to this blog. My fear of blogging is that I'll use everything I feel so deeply in blogging and have nothing left for creative writing...that I can sell...and make money. Oh, that I could be another Nora Roberts. Oh, I don't want to write a lot of steamy, sexy scenes, but I do want to publish stories that will have meaning to readers, that will be long-lived! But I keep getting stalled.

The children are all grown up now. It's not like I don't have time now. Well, but there are SO many things demanding my attention...aging parents with health issues, a husband who requires a little attention here and there, grandchildren...There's the publicist gig that helps me to pay my bills, the historical gig that makes me a little cash on occasion. There are the crochet projects, the books to read, the studying I need to do, the research that is important to my stories, writing my stories...I don't think one lifetime is long enough to accomplish all of the things I want to accomplish!

But I am focusing on one story at a time. Every time I get an idea for another story, I jot down the specs and file it away, hoping that I'll find a place and time when I can work on that story's development. Well, hope springs eternal.

What I'm finding is that when I focus on one project at a time, I make more progress. It's like that in anything I do. Deadlines help productivity/production. I don't need someone else to set my deadlines for me. I set them for my self as much as I can. The afghan had to be finished by Wednesday because my friend was going to deliver it for me on Thursday to save me shipping costs to California. The bookmarks have to be made by Friday night for the Saturday ladies breakfast at Karen's. I was trying to finish the short story and submit it so I would be able to pay for Word software. I wanted to have it submitted and hopefully sold before May 31 when the two-month trail ended. (The trial assured me I could still access my files after the trial. I hope I understood that right.)

There seems to be a certain path for writers, set at our individual paces. We all pass the same way in our growth to successful writing. We just don't get there at the same time or reach the plateaus that become steps in our foundation. I am encouraged by that. And the further along I go on my individual writing path, the more intent I am on achieving my goals, of getting more focused, of getting from here (point A) to there (point B).

Monday, January 02, 2006

Begin at the beginning

Writing a book is like living. You need to start at the beginning, write through the middle, til you get to the end.

Oh, I thought I had it all figured out. Maybe it's a process every writer goes through. Every writer just doesn't take as long to do it as I'm taking! I wrote scenes as they came to me. I wrote a lot of words that way. But then it came time to weave the loose ends together and tighten up the writing and the story line. Frustration set in. Maybe it was the interruptions from my family life that made the work harder. I just know I finally had to put away that manuscript and go to work on something else.

I'm doing this one differently. I started at the beginning. Strong beginning with a very good hook. Draw the reader in and don't let go of him/her. Six thousand words later I finished chapter one. I made some notes to myself...three generations of women in one family. This is their story. And how will I set it up? Somewhat like Andrew M. Greeley did in St. Valentine's Night. I haven't read a lot of Greeley's work, but I did enjoy St. Valentine's Night. It proved that you can--sometimes you must--go back home. If troubles started there, ya have to go back to resolve them because they're always gonna be there until you finally face them down.

Begin at the beginning. Make each chapter be everything I want and need it to be as I write it. When I finish the last sentence in the last chapter, I want the manuscript to be finished and only have a read-through to do to make sure the formatting is correct, there are no typos and it's ready to submit to a publisher...or to print myself. POD is sounding pretty enticing at this time. I'll be gathering information as I write so I can make an intelligent decision about publication when the novel is completed.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Real Writing Challenge

I didn't finish my novel for the novel challenge. I didn't even participate in the actual challenge much. I read the subject lines of posts that others made and that helped me to remain motivated to keep writing. There are more than 60,000 words in the manuscript now. But I've set it aside for awhile because it's been driving me crazy!

I didn't want to put it aside. I slavishly worked at it thinking that I had to finish it before I moved on to something else. And that project would have to be finished before I started on something else. And on, and on, and on...

While I'm not working on that novel, I've started something new. It's a Christmas story. It's about family and working through problems and challenges together. It's about individual independence and familial interdependence. We should handle our own problems, but we should be supported by family and friends who love us and will share their wisdoms with us when we really need them most.

Chapter One has nearly 6,000 words, all written yesterday, New Year's Eve Day, Dec. 31, 2005.

Instead of writing scenes as they come to me, I've started at the beginning. I will write this one from beginning to end, thoroughly writing and revising each chapter before I move on to the next one. Perhaps I'll have better luck this time 'round.