Wednesday, December 29, 2010


A local businessman once told me, "The person who fails is the one who gives up too soon."

A friend says, "You need to finish something you already have started before you start something new! I don't know why you're wasting time doing another NaNo novel."

Sometimes I say to myself, "Am I NEVER going to publish a novel?"

I have even said, "It's time to build a bonfire in the backyard and just burn everything I've ever written."

The work of a writer is just like the work of anyone else. It takes time and lots of practice to improve it. So that's what I've been doing. And each time I write a novel for NaNo, I accomplish a better quality novel, hone my skills and, now, I am ready to finish something. It's time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I read, just today, that writers and artists are most creative at night. Is THAT what I've been doing wrong? Unfortunately, if I sleep during the day, well, I don't sleep during the day. I won't say that I can't. Once in a while I succumb to the persuasion of a siesta. But the normal pattern of my life has been as an early morning person. I love to be up at sunrise, even before sunrise, to listen to the world wake up: birds singing as the last fingers of night pull away the darkness, the breeze picking up to tickle the leaves of the oak and maple trees in my yard, and talking to God as I drink my first cup of tea.

Should my family members be described as distractions? I drop everything for them. Isn't that what a good mother/grandmother does?

But what about my writing? Would I be more productive if I slept dayside and lived and worked through the night when the world is still except for the semis that speed down off of Canton Hill and race past my house through town on their way to the hazardous waste incinerator in East Liverpool and other destinations unknown to me or too numerous to mention?

I am working on Ramblings. At this point I see it as a series of generations of women in one family. Dr. Swarts said I had too many sub-plots for one story so it required too much work on the reader's part to keep up with everything. And that helped me. I know better what to do...well, on the one hand. I'm looking for a good book on rewriting/revision. And I think I will send what I have revised to Dr. Swartz for some input. Or not. I have to get past the discouragement (dis-COURAGE-ment. Where is my COURAGE???)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Writing time

I'm not sure how to get organized enough to do the writing I need to be doing. Someone advised me to go to a hotel (ALONE) and relax for a while. I'm considering that suggestion. My best relaxation is playing with words, writing. But with a house filled with people, pets and housework to be done, I am having trouble playing with words. Every time I get to a good place and have the motivation, and I'm working away, an interruption arises and I lose my thoughts.

My son-in-law built a two-story shed on their property. It's the perfect size for my office. Library upstairs, writing space downstairs. Run electricity to it and I can have heat and Internet within 300 feet of the router...Yeah. I like the sound of that! But...would my equipment be safe from theft outside of my house? Maybe it's NOT a good idea. Well, I could carry the laptop from house to office to house. The objective is to get my office OUT of the house, AWAY from interruptions and become more PRODUCTIVE.

Seems to me the first thing I need to do is designate my writing time at the same time every day and allow NO interruptions during that writing time. How else am I going to write that body of work that will earn the Nobel for Literature?

(c) 2010 Cathy Thomas Brownfield

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Write what you like to read

Ah! There is the "problem." My reading preferences are as diverse as I am! I tend to write diversely.

I can consume a suspense novel in a day. I like a good Stephen King or Dean Koontz terror suspense which takes longer than a day. (SK's The Stand, unabridged, took a year. I read a while, set it aside for long periods before reading a little more and setting it aside again. I think I struggled through reading it because he struggled through writing it. He talks about it in his book On Writing.) I enjoy literary fiction: The Dollmaker by Harriette Arnow, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marchez, Possessions A.S. Byatt, and African-American literature like Mama Day by Gloria Naylor. (I am English/Irish/Welsh/German descent. That doesn't really matter because it's not about my ethnic roots. It's about writing a good story!)

While diversity gives me the best of all worlds, mastering one genre likely will get one published sooner. (I don't know that for sure since I haven't published book length yet.)

I'm leaning toward suspense romance with an SK-like twist. He begins a common, everyday life story and at the most unexpected moment slips in the twist that takes us on that horrifying, that other-worldly, ride we have come to expect from him.

He said (SK, I mean) he reads all the time. All kinds of things. I recently read Arthur Clarke's space odysseys: 2001, 2010, 2061 and 3001. I couldn't help noticing Clarke's influence on other writers whose work I SK and JD Robb's In Death series. (A highly instructive surprise.)

If I should complete my current novel in progress, revise it, submit it and sell it, I expect to read a critic somewhere who says, "It could be taken from the day's news headlines." Indeed, the seed for this story began with a news headline and is taking on a life of its own, to address issues like "woman's place in a man's world," with concepts like Tammany Hall. (What, you ask, is Tammany Hall? When I asked things like "what does that mean" my mother always sent me to look it up "so you'll remember it longer." Hehehehehe!)

Should my novel be contemporary, futuristic or historic? I've started writing it as contemporary. And now a thought occurs to me. Someone wrote to an online writer list, "I find myself writing the same story over and over again."

Ah! I can write the contemporary version. Then the futuristic. Then the historical, or any order I want, each to address the point: "woman's place in a man's world."

And you can disagree with what I write, if you wish, because "good" literature gets you to think. And THAT is the goal for my writing because it will give my works longevity for that very reason: It makes you think.

(c) 2010 Cathy Thomas Brownfield
All rights reserved -- Contact author for permission for use

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What works?

Is it because I went back to college and completed a bachelor's degree in English with the Writing Minor? Or would I have reached this point anyway? What am I talking about, huh?

I am writing one manuscript after another in rough draft.

I am staying focused as I write one story after another, but the temptation is great to set aside the current work and begin another.

I am reading the Inheritance Trilogy by Christopher Paolini...which actually has been upgraded to a four-part series. I hope it gets wrapped up in the fourth book, but if it doesn't, I will continue to read it because my grandson, Aaron, is reading it. We're reading it together, sorta. :)

I am reading the space odysseys by Arthur Clarke, 1.) because I wanted to read something by Sir Arthur Clarke. 2.) My great-great-grandmother's maiden name was spelled "C-L-A-R-K-E" and she was from England, disowned by her family because she didn't marry the right man, according to one family legend. "They" are all gone now, but "they" used to tell me there were well-known writers in the family but never gave me any names. I am a writer.

The odysseys aren't a series, Clarke advises in the afterwards I've read. But I'm reading them as if they were, one right after another. I am ready to begin 3001: The Final Odyssey.

I have a story I started long ago. I won't mention the title. That can't be copyrighted and I am vain enough to think I shouldn't reveal it at this time. It is a fantasy story. I put it away because I wasn't sure where I was going to go with it. But in reading the two above selections I have stumbled upon an idea for it. But I have to finish what I'm working on first or I will bounce around forever and never get anything finished.

My favorite place at the "department" store is pencils, pens and paper. I found bound journals size 8-1/2 x 11 inches or so. Occasionally I pick up another one. I have several and picked up the one, the cover of which is designed with hummingbirds. I was keeping notes from various projects in it. I decided to write a novel in it, longhand. The first draft is nearly done. I carry it with me everywhere I go. All of the pages are together, in order, and I have no choice but to write from beginning to end. I suppose any notebook should do, but currently I like these journals. I am meeting goals. I am writing daily. It is working for me.

Now, to make the leap to revisions and publication.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New starts

My muse is giving me trouble. And I'm not happy about it. I am supposed to be spending this year writing fiction. But I feel like I am all over the map most days. There are so many tasks on my daily to-do list. I mean, how long can I ignore my housework?

My honors thesis project director advised me to put Ramblings away for a year. But every time I start something new, it seems to be a restart of Ramblings. So, I guess I'll rewrite Ramblings. I am rewriting it longhand, carrying my bound journal with me just about everywhere I go. Every spare minute I can find, I yank it out and write some more. I'm using the same characters, but I'm focusing more on the relationship between the heroine and her husband than I did in Ramblings. Maybe it's NOT the same story.

I have to be writing something. I have to be writing somewhere. And posted on the window at our local McDonald's is a sign that says, "FREE -- WiFi". Well, it's about time! Maybe I can take my netbook and head to McDonald's when I can't write at home. Since I have to be writing. :D

When I really feel dry, though, I go to something I wrote a while--sometimes a LONG while ago--and work on it. That gets me jump started. For now, I have to set aside the novel writing and get to the Family Recovery writing. I'm falling behind.

(c) 2010 Cathy Thomas Brownfield
All rights reserved -- Contact author for reprint permission