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Welcome to labbydog.ca 2.0, A.K.A. Writerly Goodness on http://www.melaniemarttila.ca!

I could have multiple personality disorder.  Maybe it’s just an alter-ego.  I might be a mutt :)  You decide.

By day, I’m a mild-mannered corporate trainer.  By night, I brave the tyranny of the empty, or the not-so-empty, page and become Writerly Goodness.  So this blog will be dedicated to my two passions: learning, and writing.

Why not set up two blogs then, you ask?

Simple, because both learning and writing are part of my life, and neither is truly separable from the other.  They feed one another and converge in wonderfully serendipitous ways, all of which I’ll share with you.

My categories:

  • Alchemy Ink: my thoughts on process and the craft of writing, plus my weekly writing curation (Tipsday) and my weekly inspiration/research curation (Thoughty Thursday).
  • Authorial name dropping: interviews, workshops, conferences, retreats, and other places I’ve gone, the authors I’ve met, and what became of it.
  • My history as a so-called writer: how my creative life began and where it got me.  This won’t be purely confessional, though it will sometimes be agonized.  You have been warned :)
  • Work in progress: this is about the writing of my first novel and what it’s taught me (so far).  I won’t be excerpting from my work, but I will delve into aspects such as character development, world building, outlining, and revision strategies.
  • Select poetry: my published poems.
  • Excerpts of short stories: my published short stories. Not excerpts, as I had planned, but I can’t seem to change the category name now and until I have the time to create a new category and move everything into it, it stays :)
  • Wordsmith Studio Founding Members BadgeThis writer’s life. This is a new category and I am slowly moving my previously uncategorized posts into it. This is just a place to put in all those bits and pieces that don’t fit anywhere else. Most of my Nuala posts will be found here, as well as those posts about gardening, renovations, and other things that are part of this writer’s life, but may not be directly connected to my writing per se.
  • Breaking open the mind: my day job and the things I’m learning as a result of, or in spite of it.

So feel free to like, comment, share, follow my RSS feed, or subscribe by email.  I’m moderating, so it’s all good.

Other places you can get hold of me:

Recent Posts

The Next Chapter: August 2014 update


This has been a weird month, writing-wise.

I started out well enough, continued working on Gerod and the Lions, and started revising one of my longer short stories for submission.

Then I went to When Worlds Collide.

It was a great conference, but the pace was killer. They really need to work in proper breaks for lunch and dinner. It’s bad enough that they have eight sessions running at all times, but if you want to eat, you have to grab and go.

Yes, Surrey had more concurrent sessions than WWC, but there were a number that I didn’t regret missing. They kind of organized sessions into streams so that sessions on similar topics wouldn’t conflict with each other.

Maybe it was that I was a little more eclectic in my choices of what to attend at WWC. Maybe it was the extra day where I hiked approximately twelve kilometres in the mountains and canyons of Alberta. Maybe it was the time change and the red-eye flight back to Ontario with only a day off to recover before I returned to work.

I don’t know. Whatever it was, I was exhausted upon my return.

I finished the work on my story and got it submitted. As I mentioned previously, it’s a longer short story, nearly 10,000 words and the magazine to which I’ve submitted it is one of the big markets. I still don’t want to talk about it too much right now because I could come off as cocky. I could just end up jinxing the whole business. Regardless of the outcome, I’ll let you know once it’s transpired.

I just couldn’t get back into GatL, though.

On Collapse

Then I received an email from SARK. She was giving a free conference call on the topic of creative collapse.

It was interesting.

One of her points is that all creative people collapse, whether they admit to it or not, and many of us will need to collapse every once in a while.

Now collapse isn’t a negative thing. It’s more of a phase where we’re not actively writing new words, but maybe working through ideas, researching, editing, and the like. So I’ve been in this place, off and on, for a while now. It’s part of a creative cycle and it seems to me, a natural part.

We have to recognize our need to collapse, give ourselves permission to do so, and remain creatively open throughout our collapse period so that we can return to our work renewed and ready to give ‘er :D

So aside from blogging, I’ve given myself permission not to write. It’s felt strange. I still have that urge to write, that need, and if I can’t or don’t work on my fiction, I feel very odd. Outside my own skin. Alien.

But I think it’s been a good thing for me, what with everything that’s been going on in my life otherwise.

So tomorrow will be a planning day. I’m going to relax and think about my re-entry into daily writing practice. Perhaps I’ll sign up for a workshop or two that I want to attend in the fall, and think about whether I can tackle NaNoWriMo this year without having time off from work.

I’m going to figure out how I can fit back into my skin and reconcile the two sides of my life.

What I’ve been doing

I’ve been researching a new story idea. I had a dream back in the spring and it stuck around, started making a fuss, so I figured I should pay attention.

I’ve also been letting Katie Weiland’s Character Arcs posts help me sort out a few things that I want to do with Initiate of Stone and Apprentice of Wind.

And, with Phil, I’ve been working my way through Bleach. I’ll get around to talking more about that when I get to my Mel’s Movie Madness and Series Discoveries posts in September.

SFCanada

I can’t tell you how happy I am that I joined SF Canada in the spring. The discussions that happen on the listserv are awesome. The experiences shared are heartening. I’m learning so much just being attentive.

Recently the topic came up of making the leap to full-time writer, something that’s been on my mind a lot recently. Serendipity at work ;)

I’m going to preface this next bit by explaining to my followers in other parts of the world that being a full-time writer, and a full-time genre writer at that, in Canada, is tricky. Our market is a lot smaller (our population is a lot smaller), and even if we aim for an agent or publisher in the States, we throw our hats into the ring with millions of other writers who are vying for the same kind of success.

It can be daunting.

I know a number of authors who manage to make it work, but each path to independence and story is unique.

Some writers have made the leap after having had another career. Some have supportive spouses who have enabled them to devote time to their craft. Some have “taken turns” with their spouses, alternately supporting each other through career transitions. Some have damned the torpedoes and just gone for it. For this last group, the going hasn’t always been easy, but they’ve managed.

As you know, I’m not in a place where I can do that yet.

In conjunction with this discussion was another strand about paying your dues, fine-tuning your craft, your 10,000 hours or your million words, and about newer writers who feel that they can dispense with revision and editing, and that volume alone is the key to success. Quantity vs. quality was a theme that came up a lot.

So did the idea that just because you can, doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

There was discussion about the dreaded “trunk” novel, the novel a writer uses to learn and practice on and speculation as to whether these novels should ever see the light of day.

The whole has been very informative, and, I must say, inspirational. It’s made me want to get back into my work and start mucking around in the words again.

We’ll see where all this takes me.

August's writing progress

The stats

My total output for the month has been 11,600 words.

A scant 57 words went into the short story, but were then more than edited out again.

1,113 went into GatL.

And, as ever, the bulk of my words went into this blog. 10,430 to be exact.

I’m still waiting for beta reports. I haven’t finished the mapping of Figments yet, let alone moved on to AoW. Despite the limited progress this month, I’m still on track to finish GatL by the end of the year. So everything is on the cusp of its next evolution. I’m full of optimism.

As I watch my writerly friends publish their second novels, I get a twinge of envy, but I’m trying to convert that into motivation, because, in the end, my writing career is up to me.

It’s time to get back to work.

Farewell until next month, my friends. Wonderful words to you all. Break a pencil*!

*I’ve mentioned in the past that this is the superstitious writer’s “good luck,” but more recently, I’ve realized it might be a, shall we say, Canadian, way of saying Chuck Wendig’s “Art harder, motherfucker!” Yup. Break those keyboards, make those pens bleed ink, crush those pencil leads. I want y’all to art that hard. If you will, I will, too. Deal? :)

The Next Chapter

  1. WWC Day 1: Anthology Jam Leave a reply
  2. Caturday Quickies: Recent developments 2 Replies
  3. Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Aug 17-23, 2014 Leave a reply
  4. Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 17-23, 2014 8 Replies
  5. Further thoughts on uncertainty 4 Replies
  6. WWC Day 1: On dialogue, building accents, and dialect 5 Replies
  7. Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Aug 10-16, 2014 6 Replies
  8. Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Aug 10-16, 2014 4 Replies
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