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