Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 18-24, 2017

The informal writerly goodness was plentiful this week 🙂

Jane Friedman: when you’re successful, lots of people ask for your help. You have to decide who deserves it. Then Claire McKinney visits Jane’s blog to explain the difference between a press release and a pitch (and why you need both). Later in the week, Jane tackles permissions and fair use.

K.M. Weiland helps you make the most of the five stages of the writing process. Later in the week, Kate returns to offer four reasons you should outline your setting. Helping Writers Become Authors

Vaughn Roycroft is heartened by Wonder Woman—making the case for sincere storytelling. Writer Unboxed

Dave King: two coins in the hundred. Writer Unboxed

Dank blank shares four ways to beat frustration in your writing career. Writer Unboxed

Heather Webb says failure is a four letter word (in writing). It’s also a necessary part of the journey. Writer Unboxed

Chuck Wendig offers his signature advice on writing scenes: Aaaannd, scene! Later in the week, Laura Lam visits Terribleminds: I am on so many government watchlists.

Leanne Sowul offers four rules for eliminating distractions and cultivating deep work. DIY MFA

Brenda Joyce Patterson joins the DIYMFA team: opening doors through poetry and short fiction.

Gabriela Pereira interviews Lisa Preziosi about writing a modern day fairy tale for DIY MFA radio.

Janice Hardy shares her brainstorming process in her birth of a book series. Fiction University

Jennie Nash drops by the coaches corner on Writers Helping Writers: how to boost your self-editing superpowers.

Angela Ackerman shares ten ways to show character emotion. Writers Helping Writers

Jami Gold muses on the writer’s heroic journey.

Cait Reynolds takes over Kristen Lamb’s blog and offers you some advice on research for historical fiction. Plus, she’s hilarious!

Jenny Hansen shares five things the family road trip taught her about editing. Writers in the Storm

Oren Ashkenazi lists six ways rapid communication changes a fantasy setting. Mythcreants

Brian Dillon analyzes Virginia Woolf’s wonderful, beautiful, almost failed sentence. Literary Hub

Andrew O’Hagen wonders if social media will kill the novel. The Guardian

The second Game of Thrones trailer has been released!

 

I hope you’ve found something to feed your muse in this lot, or at least something to tame your inner editor 😉

 

Be well until Thursday!

tipsday2016

The next chapter: February 2017 update

And here we are at the beginning of a new month.

It’s been a month of big decisions and rearranging goals and priorities.

First, the good news.

After discussing the issue at length with Phil and Mom and some of my writer friends, I’ve made the decision to go to WorldCon 75 in Helsinki, Finland … and I’ve registered for the Writing Excuses cruise that immediately precedes it!

You can’t see me right now, but I’m so excited and nervous (it will be my first time to Europe) I’m vibrating on a higher level. I might be worn out before August even gets here.

Though travel arrangements are still in flux, and we haven’t even gotten to leave requests at work (which is always a concern), I’ve made the leap. I’m confident the net will appear.

I’ve also joined the DIYMFA team as a semi-regular genre columnist. My genre? Fantasy and science fiction, of course 🙂 This is another squee-worthy achievement and I hope I can live up to the DIYMFA brand.

Finally, I’m on the program committee of the Canadian Authors Association.

Add that to my newsletter-er gig with the Sudbury Writers’ Guild, and ye olde day job, and my schedule is getting pretty full.

Writing-wise, I’ve finished drafting Wavedancer and am now moving on to the mapping.

This is a bit of a change for me. In the past, I’ve left the mapping for my first revision pass, but I want to keep the novel fresh in my mind as I map this time. What’s happened in the past is that the first revision pass has ended up being primarily about the mapping because I’m reading to refamiliarlize myself with the story. Not much actual revision happens.

By mapping it out before I let the draft rest, I hope to be able to dive into more substantial structural issues with the first true revision. We’ll see how this tweak to my process works out. So far, I’m liking it, because I’m making notes for the revision and cutting extraneous stuff as I go. It’s so much easier when the story is still fresh in my mind.

I had hoped to make a mentoring connection to work on Reality Bomb, but this has not come to pass. There are some significant issues with the story and the science that mean research and rethinking. So I’m going to let that project simmer for a while longer while I conduct the requisite research and return to it later in the year with more objectivity.

I missed the first anthology call I’d identified for the year. I’d have had to write a new story for it and while an idea did eventually pop into my head, it was too late to execute. I’ve now identified several contests, magazines, and anthology calls that I’d like to try for, and I’ll see if I can’t organize myself to meet some of them at least.

Here’s how the numbers worked out:

Drafting Wavedancer – goal 14,000 words – actual 13,191 words

Blogging – goal 5,600 words – actual 4360 words

While I had planned to write a piece of short fiction, it didn’t work out because reasons.

Total writing goal for February: 19,600 words

Actual words written: 17,551

februaryprogress

Wavedancer worked out pretty much as I expected it would. The total draft is just over 100K words. I was able to wrap it up earlier than I thought, though, thanks to a number of days in January and February in which I wrote more than my daily goal of 500 words.

I don’t mind not having blogged so much. While I want to continue to curate and create useful content, I don’t want it to become a chore or to take over my creative time.

For the foreseeable, I’m going to be researching for RB, mapping Wavedancer, and working, yet again, on a brand new opening chapter for Initiate of Stone in preparation for another revision pass on that novel.

This time, I’m writing the first chapter out by hand and except for the major events, I’m going to abandon all past versions. We’ll see if this works. I’ve been too bound to what I’ve written and it doesn’t work. My unsuccessful queries and various first page/first 50 page critiques have all led me to this conclusion.

Actually, the conclusion was always there. I was just ignoring it. Delusional Mellie is delusional.

So there may not be a lot of actual words counted for the first part of March because it’s too labour and time intensive to capture hand-written work.

I’m also going to revise a piece of short fiction for a contest. It’s another problematic piece that may require a return to the drawing board.

Long story short, all this experimentation and process tweakage has meant a substantial reorganization of my writing goals for the year. I’ve shuffled and we’ll see how things go.

In other aspects of this writer’s life, the sun is finally coming out. Literally. It’s been a dull and gloomy winter up here in northern Ontario and, as a result, a lot of us are experiencing more-than-usual levels of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). I’m feeling better than I have in a long time and I thank Sol.

I’ve also been experiencing persistent health issues due to being a woman of a certain age. I think that, too, is working itself out. Finally. I still have a referral to a specialist this month and I’m going to keep it. I still want to explore my options in the hope of maintaining my recovered health.

Phil’s doing well, and is still planning to tackle further renovations this year. Exactly when these might happen is up for discussion, but, as he often reminds me, he’s not getting any younger.

It looks like problems with the pay system at work are not going to be resolved in time for me to consider a self-funded leave in the spring. So I’ll defer it, and puppy plans, until the fall (again).

But I have a lot of good stuff to look forward to in the meantime: Story Masters in May with Donald Maass, James Scott Bell, and Christopher Vogler, a possible workshop with Gail Anderson-Dargatz or CanWrite! in June, and Writing Excuses and WorldCon in August.

And, of course, lots of writing in between.

Next week, I’ll be resuming WorldCon 2016 reportage. This should continue on the weekends until sometime in April and then I’ll have a bit of a break until my next workshop, conference, or convention. I might fill it up with some series discoveries or movie madness posts.

Until next I blog, be kind, be strong, and be well.

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: March 2016 update

In my 2015 year-end update, I said that 2016 would be the year of revision. To this point, I’d only ever revised the one novel, Initiate of Stone. I revised IoS eight times and I recently got a few ideas on how to improve it further as a result of my first run through of Apprentice of Wind.

In the first few days of March, I finished that first review of AoW. I’m going to return to it again, but this time, as I mentioned last month, I’m going to apply what I hope to be improvements to IoS and then move on to AoW.

My idea is to reinforce my voice over the two novels, which is quite different to the other novels I’ve drafted so far. Most of those are in a modern setting. Urban fantasy of various stripes. Though I’ve worked with IoS for so long, when it came to reviewing AoW, because I’d drafted the five other novels in between, I found I’d lost touch with the voice of the series and its characters.

We’ll see how that turns out, later in the year (I hope).

YTDProgress

Year Goals and Totals page

The current draft of AoW stands at 119,590 words. So 120K, which is reasonable for an epic fantasy.

I then moved onto Figments, my YA urban fantasy. It’s considerably shorter, nineteen chapters, and 53,536 words. I know I’ll have to punch that up a bit, but I have a number of ideas to make that happen.

Both of these novels were drafted, let to sit, printed out, read through, mapped, let to sit again, read through again, and then reviewed. I just changed some of the major things, POV, character deletion, consistency over the novels (in the case of AoW), and notes for future revision.

I don’t think I’ll need as many drafts of either AoW or Figments as I needed with IoS to finish them to my satisfaction.

I’m trying something different with Marushka, which I moved on to in the last few days of March.

My revision plan so far has been to review a chapter a day, which was challenging for AoW and Figments, because a number of the chapters of both were several thousand words long. I often found myself up until midnight on a weekday trying to get my work finished before I went to bed.

Marushka was the first novel I drafted using Scrivener and it really changed the way I drafted. The chapters are comparatively tiny (1000 to 1500 words so far) but there are a lot more of them (54).

I didn’t print Marushka out. I didn’t read it through or map it. As I review each chapter, I’m reading it through for the first time and mapping it as I go.

We’ll see if this is more or less productive than printing the draft out, and reading and mapping it out prior to my first run through.

I’m approaching this year of revision as an opportunity to experiment. My process is in continual evolution and, as I learn, from both success and failure, I’m seeing improvement in my process and in my writing overall.

I’m not looking for short cuts as much as efficiencies. I’m not doing any less work, I’m just doing it differently.

Again, we’ll see how it goes.

So here’s how the month breaks down.

MarchProgress

MarchProgress1

Want your own Writing and Revision Tracker? Visit http://jamieraintree.com/writing-revision-tracker

  • AoW – 7,334 words revised
  • Figments – 53,536 words revised
  • Marushka – 4,737 words revised
  • Blog – 8,436 words written.

I achieved 141% of my writing goal and 177% of my revision goal.

At this rate, I’ll finish the first run through on Marushka part way through May and move onto Reality Bomb and finally, Gerod and the Lions. Once I’ve got everything reviewed once, I’m going to take a break (which I tend to need in the summer months) and work on my outline for Mistress of Waves, the third book in my Ascension series and NaNo 2016 project 🙂

Then I’ll get back to deeper revisions until November arrives. I may not be able to conquer more than IoS/AoW. Maybe I make it as far as Figments.

Querying continues. I’ve not devoted much time to short fiction recently, though.

As far as conferences and conventions, I’m hitting Ad Astra (April 29-May 1), The Canadian Writers’ Summit (June 15-19, though I’ll only be attending June 17-19), and WorldCon, AKA MidAmericon II (August 17-21). I have paid my fees and reserved accommodation, but it’s all pending leave approval.

I’m holding my breath until I know it’s approved. Once it is, I’ll be able to book my flight to Kansas City.

My employer asks us to apply for leave every six months. We apply in March for the first half of the fiscal year, April to September, and in September for October through March. Approval is subject to seniority and operational demands (peak seasons).

I should know whether this first round of leave requests has been approved by the end of April.

My plans for fall and winter will have to wait on the approval of the second round of leave in October.

I’ll save those potential plans for a later update.

For the remainder of this month, I’ll be offering some Series discoveries posts (fall season, part two, mid-season follies, and anime) and at least one book review (Jane Ann McLachlan’s second Kia novel, The Salarian Desert Game).

As of Ad Astra, the convention reportage will resume.

So there’s lots of Writerly Goodness to look forward to, and of course, Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday curations will continue through the week.

In the meantime, break a bunch of pencils, you wonderful, creative people.

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: March 2015 update

Last month, I wrote about how I was reprioritizing my life because I’d made the realization that pouring all my creative energy into the day-job was not making me happy. It wasn’t getting me any closer to my goals as a writer, either.

I started March out, work-wise, by applying for my self-funded leave and putting in my vacation requests for the first two quarters of the 2015-16 fiscal (to the end of September). I started expressing my opinion (which, of course, did me no favours, professionally) and reframing my experience with the perspective my wee revelation had provided me.

A series of serendipitous learning opportunities came my way, many of them concerned with following one’s dreams, or finding one’s calling. Funny how these things happen when we really need them to.

As I write this post, I’m listening to Michael Hyatt’s podcast on the Disciplined Pursuit of Less. This month’s newsletter from Katie Weiland included a piece on her “spring cleaning” of her subscriptions and social media. She was doing this to reclaim writing time from potentially wasteful or distracting electronic practices.

Having said all that, I was burned out by the time March rolled around. Last fall, when I had originally intended to take my self-funded leave but decided to defer it, I said that I was a little toasty around the edges, but that I’d probably be able to hold out until the spring.

That was before this acting consultancy.

Truthfully, I was burnt before the end of January. Part-way through February, I stopped revising Initiate of Stone and then I stopped drafting Marushka.

With IoS, I had to shift back into drafting mode to rewrite a chapter that was completely altered by my decision to remove a character from the novel. I was blocked, essentially, as I tried to write around the hole I’d decided to make in my plot. I didn’t stop writing per se, but I was having trouble finding my way out of the maze.

I made several abortive attempts to redraft the chapter in Word (which I didn’t count), but ultimately found that drafting by hand (which I also do not count) was much more effective. Once I had the chapter mapped and pieces of it written out, I was able to regain my momentum and complete the new chapter in Word.

Shifting gears with IoS meant that I didn’t have the drafting mojo going for Marushka. By looking at my spreadsheets, I can see clearly that when I stopped revising IoS, about a week later, I stopped drafting Marushka. Once I got back on track with IoS (the word counts recorded in red), again, about a week later, I was able to pick up with the drafting of Marushka again.

So, clearly, while it is possible for me to work on multiple projects at once, I definitely have to be working on them in different phases (drafting vs. revising). I’ve also realized that with the exception of the blog and some short stories, that the limit of my focus with regard to multiple novel-length projects is two.

Interestingly enough, I’m getting close to the end of drafting Marushka. I’ll be short of my 75k goal for the draft, but I’m okay with that. So far what seems to be my evolving pattern is to draft short, rewrite long, and revise/edit to goal length. Will let you know if this new piece of my process puzzle proves to be effective in the long run.

After my staggered, two-week disruptions in IoS and Marushka respectively, I got back on track for the rest of the month.

Judging for the Friends of the Merril contest continues. Originally, when I was notified that my story made the long-list, I was also advised that judging would be complete by March 31st. On March 31st, a post was released on the site indicating that deliberations continued.

I have a 25% chance of placing. The delay is a little nerve-wracking, but I’m trying to remain positive. It means I have some tough competition, but that we’re all in the same quality boat.

I also spiffed up three short stories, including the one I submitted to the FotM contest, and sent them off for consideration in the Sudbury Writers’ Guild anthology.

I’d wanted to revise my longer short story for submission to a magazine, but didn’t have the energy or focus to spare.

I did, however, submit my short story “The Broken Places,” which was published in Bastion last year, for consideration in the Imaginarium anthology. It’s a year’s best anthology put out by ChiZine Publications. It’s a long shot, but I can’t win if I don’t play 😉 So sayeth the lottery gods.

Now, at the beginning of April, and with a long weekend to enjoy, I’ve decided that I’m taking a breather. I’m still burnt, and trying to work all day and then come home and write all night is making things worse.

I have a writing sample to prepare for my workshop with Julie Czerneda and Ad Astra next weekend. So . . . I’m being evil and burning through Avatar on Netflix 🙂

This past week, I walked home from work. Once. I’m still sore. Mellie is out of shape. So I’m going to get back on track with regard to that. My goal is to walk home from work three evenings a week. It’s about five kilometres and takes about an hour. I have a number of books on Audible ready for the purpose.

There are a couple of anthologies that I’d like to write stories for in April, but I’m not sure if I’m going to manage them. My main goal is to complete this round of revision on IoS and my draft of Marushka. Anything else is gravy. Not saying that I’m purposefully disregarding these anthologies; I like gravy, but I’m also aware of my limitations, now more than ever.

Once that’s done, I’m going to shift gears again with IoS and get into query mode and I’ll then be completing my draft of Gerod and the Lions.

Those are my goals for the intermediate future.

Now to take a look at my progress for the month:

March Writing Progress

IoS Revisions (remember these are half counts, except for the new chapter in red, which were all new words): 11,901 words. Compare this with 11,851 in February, and 7,789 in January. I’m at the 50% mark of the novel.

Bloggage: 7,200 words. This has held more or less steady with 6,676 words in February and 8,432 words in January. I’m at 23% of my annual goal, which is more or less where I expected to be for March (one quarter through the year).

Drafting Marushka: 4,520 words in March; 3,859 in February; and my blow-me-away 9,462 in January. I’m at 44% of my drafting goal. I might make 60% by the time the story is finished.

Short stories: 90 words in March; 1,206 in February; and 34 in January. I’m at 27% of my goal for the year which is good.

Totals: 23,711 for March; 23,592 for February; 25,717 for January.

March Summary

So there we are.

Progress is, as ever, being made.

Now, season 3 of Avatar is calling, and Bitten this evening.

Have a lovely Easter, everyone.

See you on Tipdsay!

The Next Chapter

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Feb 1-7, 2015

Most common writing mistakes, number 38: Irrelevant endings. K.M. Weiland. Helping Writers Become Authors.

Katie helps you create a more compelling backstory in three minutes 🙂

Roz Morris posts about what to do when feedback leads you astray.

Then Roz visited Jane Friedman’s blog to offer tips on how to recognize when backstory is sabotaging your novel.

Chuck Wendig shares the emotional milestones of writing a novel. Don’t think I ever left the sphincter-clenching panic stage 😛

How and why Marie Bilodeau made the leap to full time writer.

How Kameron Hurley hacked her writing process with 10,000 word-a-day marathons. I don’t think I could do this, but I find process to be endlessly fascinating.

Kameron, again, on how we can build a more pragmatic SF&F dialogue.

Why J.J. Marsh doesn’t want your free book.

Open Minds Quarterly answers the question, what makes a writing contest legitimate?

How Harper Lee’s long-lost sequel was found. The Atlantic.

15 thought-provoking SF films that are worth your time. Taste of cinema.

George R.R. Martin explains why The Winds of War isn’t on HarperCollins’ 2015 list (yet). The Daily Dot.

And here is the season 5 trailer for Game of Thrones:

 

I’m putting this in Tipsday because. My favourite song from the Fifth Element soundtrack. I had no idea it could be sung without electronic assistance O.O

 

See you on Thoughty Thursday!

Tipsday

WWC 2014, Days 2 and 3: All the Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson

Photo by Nazrilof

If you want to find out moar about Brandon Sanderson, please visit his eponymous web site.

I attended several of Brandon’s sessions at When Words Collide, but I didn’t take notes in any of them. I just soaked up the writerly goodness 🙂

On the Saturday, I attended “An hour with Brandon Sanderson,” in which Brandon shared his path to publication, as well as the highlights of his involvement in finishing Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series. Much of the information is summarized in the About Brandon page of the above linked site.

I love finding out how authors started out, how they made it work, and how they manage to make a living writing, which is a rare privilege (IMHO).

On Sunday, I attended Brandon’s two hour “The Writing Process” session, followed by a panel discussion he sat on about “How to build a consistent and original magic system.”

Both were fabulous.

I’ve read many posts recently about attending author sessions at conferences and conventions. The warning is that some authors don’t know what their processes are, or if they do, they speak to how they write only, without giving context or alternatives. Some are speaking as a form of self-promotion, or to get you to buy and read their books and don’t necessarily offer anything of value in terms of what the individual writer can take away and apply to their own work and process.

There’s nothing wrong with promotion, but it’s best not to dress such sessions up as workshops.

I’m happy to say that Brandon was nothing like that. He achieved his Master’s degree in English from Brigham Young University and subsequently took over teaching their SF&F creative writing class, which used to be taught by David Farland (from whom Brandon himself learned in his undergraduate years).

You can find links to Brandon’s courses and videos on his web site (linked above), but you can also find them by Googling Write About Dragons. Here’s a link to his 2012 and 2013 lectures on their site, and another to their YouTube channel.

Another great way to get your hands on Brandon Sanderson’s writing advice is to listen to the Writing Excuses podcast, which he co-hosts with Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. I started listening in the spring.

Needless to say, Brandon did a mah-veh-lous job of his workshop. The two hours flew by. He’d either enter into a topic by describing his process and expand out to discuss alternative methods, or, he’d cast his net wide, and describe the various approaches to an aspect of the writing life, and then describe his personal preferences.

I appreciated this, because, ultimately, every writer develops her or his own process, and there is no one correct way to write a novel. It’s a message that can’t be sent often enough.

As the saying goes, anyone who tries to tell you differently is selling something.

Finally, in the magic system panel, I was just fascinated about how the authors approached their individual magic systems and how they all applied the rule that all magic comes with a cost. There was even some speculation about writing a magic system without a cost, but, it was argued, that would be science and technology.


 

Next weekend, I have a few posts that have to take precedence: my month end (and NaNo) update, a post about my intrinsic motivations for writing, and a Caturday quickie on a blog award I received this month.

So My When Words Collide Wrap Post won’t arrive until the second weekend of December. In the meantime, Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday posts will continue and, just to whet your appetite, I’ll have posts coming up about teaching team building, the Humber Writers workshop I attended, a pupdate on poor Nuala, and the state of the driveway and yard now the construction season has ceded to snow.

I’ll even have a couple of book reviews coming up for my friend Jane Ann McLachlan. So, yes, December’s going to be a busy month on the blog.

Fare thee well until Tipsday and my book review of Jane’s The (occasional) Diamond Thief.

The Writing Process Blog Hop

Yes, it’s actually happening!

I had a bit of a false start back in April when Gemma Hawdon originally tagged me, and now that Claudette Young, A.K.A. Claudsy has tagged me for a second time, I actually found a couple of fellow bloggers who hadn’t already done it 🙂

First, I must thank my nominators:

Gemma Hawdon and familyGemma Hawdon lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two children. She writes articles, short stories and web content for clients. She’s just completed the first book in a two-part children’s fantasy series and writes a blog http://topoftheslushpile.com/ about – funnily enough – trying to get to the top of the slush pile. She loves hot coffee, long walks and sneaking off to the movies when everyone else is at work.

Public Contact Details:
Twitter: @gemmaleehawdon
Facebook: facebook.com/topoftheslushpile
Email: gemmaleehawdon@gmail.com


 

Claudette J. Young began writing seriously in 2008 and continues to write in multiple Claudette J. Younggenres. She strives to learn something new each day—a new poetry form, new writing technique, new foreign word, or whatever strikes her fancy. Her primary genres are poetry, science fiction/fantasy, flash fiction, children’s literature, women’s fiction, along with creative non-fiction, essay, and memoir. She tries to cover all of her bases by writing for audiences that range from young children to senior citizens.

Claudette has been published in numerous online publications for poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, as well as print magazines and two international poetry anthologies. She continues to hone her craft by working on multiple projects, including book-length ones. Her regular work can be viewed on her collaborative website and blogs at: http://2voices1song.com/ as well as www.claudettejyoung.com/


 

Now for the hard part

I have to answer four questions all about—you guessed it—my WIPs and process. I’ll apologize to my followers, for whom some of this will be a repeat of my Next Chapter posts, but I hope there will be some new, tasty stuff in the mix for you too.

What am I working on?

Several projects. This year, I decided, inspired in part by Rochelle (one of my nominees – see below) to attempt working on multiple projects at once.

First is my epic fantasy, Initiate of Stone.

An aspirant mage is betrayed by those she trusts most, but when war razes her village, she loses family, friends, and the possibility of initiation. The secrets kept from her may be the keys to stopping the mad god intent on enslaving her world and her quest for power leads to a confrontation with the man who tore her life apart.

Yeah, still needs work.

It’s currently out with betas. I have a couple who are very thorough/detail oriented, and that’s just fine with me, because I’ve been able to use the time to make some major decisions about the novel, remap it, make editing notes, a beat sheet, and reverse engineer the plot. When I hear back from my peeps, I’ll be ready for one more massive rewrite, and then it’s onto querying.

Second is a young adult urban fantasy titled, Figments.

Her father’s murder sends a girl spiralling into depression, and, she fears, delusion. As her figments turn out to be real, she learns that everything else she thought she knew is a lie, opening the door to the terrifying possibility that her father was a modern-day Frankenstein, and she is his apocalyptic monster.

Figments was last year’s NaNoWriMo project and I am currently mapping it out, then I’ll get to the beat sheet, edit notes, and reverse engineering. This one has a few revisions ahead.

My third project is Gerod and the Lions, a middle grade, traditional fantasy.

A boy’s father sells his little sister to the Child Merchants and he sets off, alone, to rescue her. Clever, but small, he fails his first attempt and finds shelter in a circus where he discovers a talent for talking to lions and allies who help him track the Child Merchants to the capital, where a royal encounter and a daring rescue bring the boy face to face with his sister and her new owners.

I’m still drafting this one, but I expect to be finished by the end of this year.

Finally, there’s Apprentice of Wind, the second book in my epic fantasy series.

She’s come into her power through an act of murder and now a rogue sourceress (it’s not a typo), in the company of the half-brother she never knew and the avatar of the goddess, must defend the king’s city and then race to battle the mad god. If she can’t become powerful enough to defeat him, her life and her world will be destroyed.

The draft has been assembled and mapped, but will require substantial rewriting because of the revisions to IoS.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

What’s that saying? There’s nothing new under the sun.

The only thing that distinguishes my work from other fantasy novels being written and published is me. It’s my writing and my voice that will set them apart.

The epic series is pretty standard fare, but I have what I hope is a truly strong heroine who drives the plot and some compelling secondary characters all of whom I torture mercilessly. None of the characters is purely good or evil—except the mad god, he’s just psychotic—so it’s complex and dark and unrelenting. And there’s a lot of vomiting, or so I’ve been told by at least one reader 😉

The YA novel features a gargoyle, but I think in the search for “original” beasties, this ground has already been trod, as has the Frankenstein angle, but not, perhaps, in the way I have approached it.

The MG might be fairly original, a young lion tamer who takes down a child slavery ring? I might have something there.

Why do I write what I do?

The main reason is that fantasy and science fiction were what I started reading: C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, Madeline L’engle, Ursula K. Le Guin. It was also what I started watching: Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.

As I read or watched, I imagined myself as a character in the story. Sometimes I’d even dream about it. These derivative, or fan-based, works were some of my earlier stories. When I grew older, I understood that I wanted to help other people feel what I felt as the consumer of these creative works.

How does my writing process work?

Sweet Jebus.

The thing about my process is that it is . . . a process. It’s what happens between my head and the page. The two words I might choose to characterize my writing process are organic and evolving.

I generally shoot from the hip. I write first and ask questions later, but I’m also addicted to learning. With every writing craft book or blog post I read, or workshop I take, I learn something, and I incorporate bits and pieces of everything into my process. How do I choose which bits and pieces? It feels good or right. It fits.

I’m an unapologetic pantser, but I generally outline after the first draft, and even though I may not have a formal outline to write by, I always know where my story is going. I know the end and major events before I begin. I may even have sketched out scenes and characters before I get to the actual drafting. I do a lot of preliminary work in my head (read, incubating).

According to some coaches, that’s a form of outlining. *bats eyelashes endearingly*

I’ve tried alpha readers (who read an early draft), beta readers (who read later drafts), professional editors, reviews of the first X pages, first act (some of this done with Jenny – see nominees, below) . . . I generally give everything a try once and decide by the results I get whether I’ll do it the same way next time or not.

In this moment, here’s how my process works:

Ideas:

Ideas emerge from dreams. I, like many writers, dream in story. It may be a bit surreal, but they’re full-colour movies, sometimes even in three acts. This used to happen a lot when I was a kid, but now, I might get one or two story dreams a year. Still, that’s a fair backlog of ideas.

Ideas emerge from journaling. I started keeping a journal in university when knowledge from different disciplines kept colliding in my skull. Now, I find that my curation is taking the place of journaling. I share the articles and posts that make me think or feel and that becomes a kind of record. I also use Evernote.

Ideas emerge from reading. I’m a “clip-rat.” If I read something physical that makes me think, I clip it, or make a copy and save it in my idea file.

Ideas emerge from exercises or prompts. This is not as frequent as I’m not keen on exercises and prompts, but on a few occasions, it’s worked. Gerod and the Lions resulted from a Natalie Goldberg prompt.

Drafting:

I used to draft long hand because that was the tool I had most easily available to me. The idea that became Initiate of Stone filled two large spiral-bound notebooks.

Then, I started to type.

That gave way to word processing when I got my first computer. Those were the DOS days of black screens and orange text.

Now, I rely mostly on Word, and though I have purchased Scrivener, I’ve found that the process of importing and formatting is a bit cumbersome. I’d rather be writing. But I have enrolled in a course, so that may change.

Revisions:

After drafting, I let things sit for a while and move onto other projects, or work on short stories, or do something completely unrelated like home renovation or gardening.

I print out my draft as economically as possible and read it through.

I “map” my novels out. It’s an outline of sorts and I can easily rearrange, cut, and rewrite based on my map. Mapping is done long hand and then transcribed into a computer document.

Beat sheets and edit notes are generally long hand as well. I usually relocate to the living room or some other place than my office to make these notes.

Once I have all my structural work and edit notes completed, I’ll launch into editing the draft, copying each chapter into a new document and rewriting/editing it fully before moving on to the next.

This process repeats until I’m satisfied.

Alpha or beta readers, or editors might come in around the third or fourth version.

And that’s pretty much how it’s gone to this point.

My process is continually subject to change.

And finally, my nominoms (da-doo-da-do-doo – yes, I’m a Muppet at heart).

Jenny Madore (writing as JL Madore)

JL MadoreJL Madore didn’t find writing so much as it found her. Waking each morning with a vivid cast of characters tangled in chaos in her head, it seemed essential to capture them on the page. With Blaze Ignites and Ursa Unearthed published and receiving rave reviews, she’s turning her attention to Watcher Untethered, an unpublished paranormal/erotic romance manuscript which just won 4th place in the Toronto Romance Writers – The Catherine. Aside from spinning tales of elves, weres, demons and fallen angels, she’s also Vice President of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region, a 300 member writing organization just outside of Toronto. www.jlmadore.ca


 

Rochelle Sharpe (writing as R.L. Sharpe)

I’m many things: A reader; a writer; a mother of 2; a wife of 1; Christian; Australian.Rochelle Sharpe

I’ve been telling stories since I could talk and started writing them down when I was 8. It will take an awful lot to stop me – like death. Some say I’m a dreamer, and I have my head in the clouds, but I say that’s better than having two feet planted firmly on the ground.

I define myself as a storyteller. Writing is my life. Through writing I get to record all the worlds I have been blessed with discovering, worlds I would love to share with you fully one day, as soon as I can convince a publisher my worlds are worth sharing 🙂

I spend most of my time in fantastical worlds with fantastical people, both I have created and those created by others, and there is no other way I’d rather spend my time.

I work hard on making my dreams come true. And I believe in myself, because if I don’t, who else will?

http://rlsharpe.wordpress.com/

Writing Process Blog Hop

Writing to prompt: Amanda Socci called me a Brainiac!

So, first things first:

Amanda is participating, with Nina Amir, in the NaNoWriMo alternative, Write Non-Fiction in November, or WNFIN 🙂

Here’s the lovely pic:

Write Non-Fiction in November

Write Non-Fiction in November

As part of the lead up and promotion, Amanda has gone plum prompt crazy!  She’s even giving us prompt-interviews!  I think it’s a fabulous idea (that’s why she’s the Creative Idea Gal).  For those of you who may not have perused my pages, it’ll give us a chance to get better acquainted. Plus some of the answers won’t be found on my pages, so bonus info!

Here’s what Amanda posted on Wednesday.

Here are my answers 🙂

(1) Does the title of your blog, Writerly Goodness, have a special significance?

Writerly Goodness is my creative alter ego.  In my day job, I work in the corporate learning and development world, which is related to, but distinct from, the creative work I do in the evenings and on weekends.  I need to compartmentalize and separate my two working worlds and so, like a pseudo-super hero, I “change costumes” and transform into Writerly Goodness, which is also what I hope to produce 😉  I address this in a post: Do you dress for success?

I’m also an introvert.  Big time.  It’s another part of my daily transformation.  I have to put on the extrovert for my work, especially when I deliver training, and just need to hole up when I get home.  Fortunately, the interwebz give me the virtual distance to engage all my online friends and family without distress.  I haven’t written a lot about introversion yet, but I’ve just finished Susan Cain’s Quiet, and will begin to share some of the insights I’ve gained in the reading.

I joke in my welcome message that I might have a multiple personality disorder, which is more appropriately called a dissociative identity disorder, but while that is not true, I am host to other mental illnesses, most notably depression.  I actually talk about mental illness quite a bit, what experiences have contributed to my condition, how mental illness intersects with creativity, and what I’ve learned in the process of managing my depression.

Finally, Writerly Goodness has a decidedly canine aspect to her: loyal, patient, dedicated.  I can tell her to “fetch, girl!” and she will inevitably return with the words I need 🙂  So maybe WG is the embodiment of my muse?  Oooh!  Hadn’t thought of that before.  Thanks, Amanda!

(2) You write frequently about Caturday Quickies. What does that mean? What is Caturday?

Caturday emerged from a web site called I can has cheezburger?  It’s one of the original sites where LOLcats can be found (cute pictures and animated gifs of cats, or kittehs, as they’re called, with humorous captions).  The site’s mascot is a gorgeous Russian Blue with a hopeful look on his (or her) fuzzy face and with the caption that eventually became the name of the site.

Instead of Saturday, the day became Caturday.

I used to visit “I can has” every day for my feline fix, and eventually their sister-site, I has a hotdog (which gave rise to Sundog instead of Sunday in the same way) for my puppeh pick-me-up.  Eventually, I couldn’t keep up with the number of new posts in a day and realized it was more of an addiction than an entertainment.  Now, I see enough of the shared memes on social media to keep me happy.

I’m an animal lover and I used to own serve two cats. Right now, I have my dog, Nuala, but more on her in a bit.

(3) Are you inspired by your training coordinator job? Do you write about your job?

My day job intersects interestingly with my creative work.  As a writer, I always think stories should educate as well as entertain, and the things that I learn as a trainer contribute to my stories.

Also, my writing translates into instructional design.  I’m a fan of story-based instructional design (surprise, surprise) and I’ve been able to help write a course that won me and my team a Silver Award of Excellence in 2012.

More recently, my grammar Nazi nature has been able to come out and play as I’ve taught five sessions of Business Writing Made Easy to participants in two different business lines.  The second last one was a training-for-trainers version of the course, where I was introducing colleagues to the training material so they, in turn, could deliver it to other staff members.

As a training coordinator, I’m constantly writing reports, training plans, proposals, and briefing notes.  It’s completely different work than writing a story, poetry, or a novel, and my background in rhetoric (BA, Laurentian University 1995, cum laude) has come into play.

I have a category devoted to my learning and development (L&D) side: the Learning Mutt.  As you’ve been so kind as to ask me about that, I’ll write to that point more directly later on.

(4) Why do you call yourself a writing geek? Why do you call yourself a keener?

I’m a writing geek for many reasons, only a few of which I’ll mention here (don’t want to bore y’all).

I love words.  In my university years, I took several courses on the history of the language, old English, middle English, Shakespeare, and 18th Century literature (the days of the first dictionaries).  I love etymology.  I love the evolution of the language—English is such a mutt language, we’ve stolen from or been contributed to by nearly every language at one time or another.

I love the physicality of language, where the sounds are produced.  It’s different for each stage/evolution of English: back in the throat, up in the nose, forward in the mouth, up front through the teeth.

I love accents and dialects.  I love pidgin languages.

You can smell the smoke when I start thinking about words 🙂

I adore the writing process, mine and others.  Nothing makes me more #furiouslyhappy than to read the posts of other writers who share their workspaces, work habits, revision strategies, etc.  I’ve been glued to Elissa Field’s blog while she’s been writing about her revisions.  Endlessly fascinating.

I also love learning about writing.  I’m constantly doing it, even though I have an MA in English literature and creative writing.  I read craft books (and everything else I can get my hands on—I’m a book addict) and I read like a writer, looking for clues, analyzing structure, teasing out the reasoning behind creative choices.

I’ve got a subscription to Writer’s Digest Tutorials and have recently started taking courses, from Dan Blank’s Platform Building course, to a selection of Wana International webinars.

I follow Grammar Girl.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

(5) How does being an experiential learner affect your writing?

This is going to be a short one: I learn by doing.

I write, therefore I am.

The only way to improve is to write, and to write every day.

(6) You mentioned that learning and writing go hand in hand. Can you describe how you tie both into one on your blog?

I think I addressed this in my answer to question 3, above, but here’s a little more about it:

When I was back in university, I was amazed at how everything I was learning, from astronomy and biology, through philosophy and psychology, to English, music, and art, intersected in bizarre and wonderful ways.

I find this to be true with my work, as well.

Besides, if I’m going to spend most of my waking hours doing something that is not writing, it better feed my muse in some way.  I just stay open to the possibilities.  Mental popcorn.  Wheee!

(7) You list several cultural references on your blog (Ukrainian Christmas, Algonkian conference, etc.). What inspires you to write about those cultures?

I think the reference to Ukranian Christmas was probably about a friend of mine, who celebrates it, or in my discussion about how I developed my religions/spirituality for my fantasy novel.

The Algonkian Conference is actually a pitch conference that has nothing to do with the Algonquin people.  Though I may have referred to the Ojibwe and Cree nations in my discussion of how I invented some of my languages for my work in progress.

In general, I’m very open to religion and spirituality.  I was raised Christian (Lutheran, specifically) but now identify as agnostic with pagan leanings.  I don’t blog about it too much, though, because I think that both religion and spirituality are very personal things, and while I admire the devout of faith, I don’t think that anyone has the right to tell anyone else what to believe.  That is between the individual and the God of their understanding.

I think I’ll shut up now, before I offend anyone :0

(8) What is the learning mutt side of your brain? How does that impact your learning or writing?

The learning mutt is my day job personality, but it’s more than that.  It’s the part of me that watches the Discovery Channel, follows Bad Astronomer Phil Plait, and was enthralled by Commander Hadfield’s social media campaign from space.  It’s the part of me that reads.  It’s the part of me that takes courses and webinars.  It’s the part of me that wants more, more, MOAR knowledge, regardless of what it might be.

I’m a pop culture junkie, a trivia queen (maybe princess), and creative connections pop out at me from everywhere (mental popcorn mention above).

I don’t have an eidetic memory, or speed-read, or anything, but my brain just wants to fill itself with everything out there, so it is very much like a mutt: a little bit of everything goes into it.

I hope most of it stays there too, another reason I try to keep learning 😉

(9) Does your pup-child Nuala inspire your work? Have you considered writing a non-fiction book about dogs?

All of my dependant quadrupeds, feline or canine, have held special places in my heart.  My husband and I are childless-by-choice, and in a way our pets fill the place of children in our lives.

I also believe that dogs, in particular, are here to teach us how to love unconditionally.

I haven’t thought about writing a non-fiction book about dogs yet.  I don’t think I have enough experiences to fill up a book right now.

I do have an idea for a middle grade book that features a dog as its protagonist, though.  It’s kind of like a Desmond the Dog Detective meets Watership Down, with maybe just a dash of Animal Farm.

Yup, that’s the kind of thing I think up 😛

(10) Your curriculum vitae is impressive! It is also a non-traditional addition to a blog. Has posting your c.v. helped you get noticed, get writing work, be featured on other blogs?

Thank you, but actually, it hasn’t resulted in any of that good stuff.  Nobody’s even “liked” it yet.

When I started my blog, I didn’t have any books that I could promote, so I thought the CV would speak for my experience as a writer.  It was key to my application for professional membership to the Canadian Authors Association.  Maybe when I start querying, agents will start looking me up?  One can only hope 😀

I’ve since added a page to feature the two anthologies including my poetry of which the publisher still has copies to sell, but that hasn’t really resulted in much action either.  At least the publisher hasn’t let me know that he’s run out of copies, or that my page has, in any way, influenced the poetry-reading public 😉

This must be tempered with the fact that a poetry best-seller in Canada means 500 copies sold.  NeoVerse accomplished that goal, if nothing else.

Thanks for giving me this opportunity, Amanda!  This was fun!

What do the rest of you think?  Did you enjoy finding out more about me, or did it leave you cold?  Regardless, I’d love to hear from you.

And please do visit/participate in WNFIN if you are so moved.  That’s Write Non-Fiction in November with Amanda Socci and Nina Amir, just in case you forgot 😉  It’s been a while (long post, whew!).

Tomorrow: Review of Dead Air, and sommat about my trip last weekend.

Do you dress for success?

If you’ve been reading Writerly Goodness for any length of time, then you’ll know that I’m fascinated by process, my own and others’.  I love to find out how other creative people do what they do, their sets of rules and their arcane rituals.  On Facebook, I often share the tips and tricks I find on my blogly ramblings, and secretly, I take a certain perverse pleasure in how many of those rules I break, and how many guidelines I defy.

Writerly Goodness aspires to the transgressive, but only rarely does she manage the faithful leap such actions require.

In May of 2011, I attended the Canadian Authors Association’s CanWrite! Conference.  Workshop host Barbara Kyle offered many writing tips, but the one that stays in my mind is this: dress for success.

Why?  I suppose it’s because I don’t, but more on that in a bit.

Barbara stated that when she got up in the morning, she was always careful to dress appropriately, as if for work: business casual.  She said that this practice honoured her work and her as its creator.  Dressing for work meant that she was serious about her writing, that she wasn’t taking anything for granted, and that she wasn’t going to waste anyone’s time, not hers, not her readers’, and certainly not her agent’s, editor’s, or publisher’s.

I agree that one should dress appropriately for one’s work, but to me, that depends entirely on what your work and life is like.  Let me ‘splain …

Writing is Barbara’s second career, after a successful first career as an actress.  She stopped acting to become an author and made the decision to write full time.  The temptation for someone in that position would be to become part of the pyjama patrol, roll out of bed, and stumble to the computer.  Barbara worked hard at her first career and knew the value of discipline, however; she knew that the slovenly writer’s life was not for her.

I don’t have that luxury.  I have to work and I have to dress appropriately for work.  When I get home of an evening, it’s actually part of my ritual to dress down for my writing.  Phil and I call this transforming into ‘comfort woman’ 🙂

I need to shed one professional self to become another, and my professional writer wants to be comfortable.

Right now, I’m in my shortie penguin pj’s, and damn, do I feel good!  You might have the urge to equate me to Michael Douglas’s character in Wonder Boys who wore the same bedraggled housecoat to write in every day … and discovered he was hideously blocked!  That would be a mistake.

I have a reason to dress as I do when I write.  That in no way means that I am any less diligent or devoted to my craft.  It simply means that my definition of appropriate dress is different.  So I’m comfortable saying that I still dress for success.

Process is different for every writer.  That’s why I find it so fascinating.

What about you?  How do you dress for success?  What does that mean for you?

My Process

Educational Resource:  "Writing process"

Educational Resource: “Writing process” (Photo credit: Ken Whytock)

First, some thoughts about process from other writers:

The thing about process, is that it is, a process.  It changes over time and is as individual as the artist.  For what it’s worth though, this is what I’ve learned about mine …

daydream believer

When I was a kid, I dreamed, and those dreams became the bases of stories.  I didn’t keep a dream journal until much later in my life, but that’s how it started.  In my waking life, I was influenced by the things and people I liked: Siobhan Riddell’s wonderful artwork, Star Wars, G-Force, C.S. Lewis, and Lloyd Alexander.

first thoughts/morning pages/whatever you want to call it

When I was in university, I started to keep a journal, and I have ever since.  I recorded not just my dreams, but also the wonderful insights I gained in my classes.  An interesting thing my roommate taught me about my dream life: I talked in my sleep.  Sometimes I even got up, opened my eyes, and seemed to interact as though I was awake.  I’ve since learned that I am also subject to night terrors and sleep walking.  I once opened all the windows in my apartment in the middle of January and didn’t remember a thing about it …  That’s settled down now that I’m older, but so has my dream life.  I still dream in story, but now the stories my mind tells are all adult ones, about work or other stresses.

clip-rat

When I worked in libraries, I became a clip-rat.  It’s kind of like being a pack rat, but with article clippings.  I’d see something interesting in the New Yorker, or the Saturday Night Post and photocopy it.  I have some articles on economics that I have a story idea about, and a series that the Toronto Star did back in the 90’s about welfare and homelessness that’s fed into another.  When I travel, the daily newspapers left at my room door still yield clippings for the idea file.

my very own science guy

Discussions feed my creativity too.  My husband, Phil, is Mr. Science.  Professionally, he is a network administrator, but in a past career, he was a medical lab technologist.  His hobbies include cosmology, astronomy, and geology.  We have amazing conversations and I have several ideas that have had their genesis from his interesting insights.

forms/genres

Poetry comes alive in the moment: what I see, how I feel.

Short stories come from life events, or arise out of the need to explain them.

So that’s how the process starts, where the ideas come from.

Then they incubate.  It could be minutes, days, months, or years.  It depends on the idea, its purpose, and the genre it decides to be embodied in.

Poetry has the shortest incubation and usually writes itself.  If I revise, that may not happen for a considerably longer period of time.

Short stories are usually written in one sitting, and are usually revised two or three times before submission.  Every returns story is revised again before the next submission.

I’m still discovering what my process is with regard to writing a novel and I suspect it will change significantly before I have it pinned down.  I’ll cover this in a bit more detail in my work in progress category.

ming-ti is everything

(say ming-ti over and over again, very fast … thanks to the Battle Chant grrls for that one!)

I work a day job, and so must write in the evenings and on the weekends.  One of my biggest challenges right now is how to balance my job with my personal and creative lives.

Tools are important.  I have a particular preoccupation with …

ways and means

Though I journal, I don’t have a practice with respect to this aspect of writing.  I’ve tried writing daily, but didn’t find it productive for me.  Now I write in my journal when I have something I want to record.  Sometimes it’s just blather, but I do make a point of writing.  I may not write for a few days, a week, or longer, but then I’ll write several days in a row, or even several times in one day.

I prefer spiral or perfect bound journals that can lay flat, with hard covers in case I’m writing in a place where I there’s no table or other surface to write on.  I have a purple pen to write with.

Poems are sometimes drafted in pen, but most of my fiction writing is conducted on my computer.  I have a desktop and a lap top so I can write in different places in the house, outside, or while traveling.  I have heard that it can be useful to change surroundings occasionally and have done this frequently myself for the following reasons:

  • My day job requires me to travel and I have to write (I can’t do without), so I take my lap top and write wherever I happen to be.
  • When we were renovating my office, and then the bedroom, it wasn’t really possible for me write in my accustomed surroundings.  The lap top became very useful, allowing me to write in the living room, the back yard, or at my Mom’s.
  • Sometimes I just need a change.

be the target

I set goals: a number of pages, or words, a short story revised, or poetry submission prepared.  I try to stick to them, but don’t beat myself up if I can’t meet them.

I write every day.  The rare time that I am too ill, or exhausted, to write, I miss it terribly, so I try at least to do something writing-related: journaling, administrative tasks, research, going over timelines or character sketches, even email counts.  Social media and blogging count too.

alt.creativity

I try to do something else creative that’s not writing.

There was a time that I thought I’d be a visual artist.  I still sketch occasionally: characters, maps, and the like.

I used to sing in the church choir and school choirs when I was a kid.  Later, I joined the Bel Canto Chorus for a season and surprised myself with a successful audition for Theatre Cambrian’s production of Hair in 2000.  Though I haven’t sung publically in years, I still sing, even if it’s just in the car.

I take photos, and some of them have merit beyond the simple recording of events.

I try to get out to the odd concert, or other event, just for fun.

body/mind

I stay minimally active.  If all I do is walk the dog, or walk home from work, I try to do something every day.  I tried jogging for a few years, but I never liked it.

Sudoku, solitaire, and jigsaw puzzles help me relax and help keep my mind engaged.  I used to play Massively Multi-player On-line Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) like Champions, World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, and EverQuest, but I don’t have time for those anymore, even as a reward.  They are very time-consuming, though immensely fun.  A lot of my creativity ended up going into the game as opposed to my writing, so I had to make a choice.  In the end, it wasn’t difficult.

I like to listen to music while I write, but don’t always do so.  I find music relaxing.  It inspires me, though I know some writers can’t have any distraction while they write at all.  I’m fairly eclectic in my musical tastes.  Random selection from my I-Pod: Tori Amos, David Bowie, Sarah Brightman, Kate Bush, Great Big Sea (still a groupie), Sarah Slean, The Fixx, Imogen Heap, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Dala, and Loreena McKennitt.  Though I don’t listen to them often, I also have CDs of Berlioz, the Eddas, Beethoven, Japanese flute, and gamelan music.

Did I mention my tastes were eclectic?

a room of one’s own

I don’t close the door to my office, though I can.  Phil knows to leave me alone while I’m working, but steals in now and then for a kiss.  Even the dog stays away when I’m at my computer.

Plants are a must, as are shelves filled with reference works and fiction yet to be read.  My office is also full of items of personal interest, gifts from friends, masks, and my altar.  With respect to this last, all I’ll state here is that writing has become my spiritual practice as well as my vocation.

don’t feed the muse

I read all the time.  I’m not as fast as I used to be because I don’t have so much time to devote to it, but I still read, and fairly widely.  I try to read something contemporary, perhaps in my chosen genre, then a classic, or another work of fiction outside sf.  Then I read a work of non-fiction, alternating between something for research related, overtly or not, to what I’m writing, and something on the writer’s craft.  My current favourites: Sheri S. Tepper, Guy Gavriel Kay, Diana Gabaldon, Charles de Lint, Ursula K. LeGuin, Heather Sellers, and Donald Maass.

I’m a CBC junkie, particularly “Writers and Company,” “DNTO,” and “Spark.”  I get ideas, inspiration, and insight from them too.

I like shows that have a plot line that carries over seasons: Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5.  I also indulge in Castle and Grey’s Anatomy.  I try to think critically about the plot lines and story.  I watch repeats of the shows I like so I can get deeper into their structure.

the bottom line

Ultimately, everything I do has a purpose, or I can relate it somehow to my creativity.  Everything feeds into process in the end.

Donald Maass writes in The Breakout Novelist: Craft and Strategies for Career Fiction Writers, that most writers, even those who teach creative writing, have no idea what their process is, and I would agree with that.  What I’ve shared here is what I’ve learned in my lifetime of writing to date.  My process is a part of my life and lifestyle.  It changes as I change and it’s difficult to articulate what is process and process alone, distinct from the rest of my life.

Perhaps the point is that there is no distinction.  A writer’s life is her process.  What do you think?