Tag Archives: creative writing instruction

Procrastination Potpourri


The good news: I’ve been slacking on my blog because I’ve cranked up the work on my manuscript.

The bad news: I’ve been slacking on my blog.  Which means neglect of your blogs as well as mine.  Please hang in there with me!  I value so much what I take away from your blogs and comments, so I wouldn’t dare stay away for long; I’m just not the most consistent right now.

To make up for the Monkey imitating a Sloth again, I’ve got a wee smorgasbord of miscellany today.  First off, I am super pleased to say I’ve been productive in slashing word count and getting closer to revamping that ending that I just haven’t been thrilled with for a while.  I have also finished writing the secondary story that interweaves with my main plot, which is much briefer in scale, but had yet to transfer from me noggin to the written word.  That was such a treat to work on for a change in voice, characters, and situation.

But enough about that.  I don’t know how I manage to get on all these freaking email lists, but one lil’ nugget delivered to my Inbox recently was promoting a new book titled Getting Published.  While that highly obscure title hardly clarifies what the text might be about, I thought perhaps I’d pass it on to the blogosphere in the rare event it ends up being somewhat relevant to writing and getting that writing published…ya think?  Actually, now that I think about it, I’m lying…1) I do remember how I got on this mailing list, having emailed an enquiry to the Writers Workshop once over a year ago, and 2) despite that evasive title, I might have some glimmering of an idea as to what the book’s about, as quoth the author:

At the moment, there’s nothing on the market that tells a budding writer what they need to know about the industry. How to select agents, how to engage with agents, what a book deal looks like, what the financial issues are, what the (multitudinous) publishing issues are.

Because agents don’t tell you this either – and nor will your publisher – plenty of ‘professional’ authors are ill-informed about the industry from which they hope to eke a living. I’ve tried my level best to make this the most comprehensive and truthful book of its kind, and I very much hope you like it.

A&C Black have generously agreed to place significant chunks of the book online, so you can get a feel for the book before deciding whether to buy it. We’ve put a full listing of those extracts here. The nice people at A&C Black have also managed to secure a 25% off promotion from Amazon, so if you want to buy the book there, please make my day.

Despite my devoting a sizable chunk of this post to it, I honestly have no insider knowledge on this publication and whether it will deliver what it promises or not, but no harm in sharing.

And, oh, but wait!  There is MORE good news!  Utterly lovely blog awards and recognition.  So a *mwah* and *mwah* to Ollin for the recent blog tag and Milo for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Per the responsibilities attached to the game-o-Blog Tag, my responses follow—and I’ll make this a twofer by tagging AND awarding the Versatile Blogger Award to the 6 bloggers listed below:

1. If you could have any superpower, what would you have? Why?

I would be able to hyper-space anywhere, any time, within seconds. Given my volume of travel, I am getting reeeallly sick of airports and commuting to/from them.  I would also love to pop into my parents’ house across the ocean every time I’m thinking of them and wanna give them a hug.

2. Who is your style icon?

classic: Audrey Hepburn
contemporary: Gwyneth Paltrow
[and, okay—if I cared to get dolled up each day—Jennifer Love Hewitt’s character Melinda Gordon on Ghost Whisperer :)]

3. What is your favorite quote?

Toss-up between:

“So long as books are open, minds can never be closed” – Ronald Reagan
“Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

Well, for as satisfying as it was when my non-domestic self finally learned to cook and my husband said I’d gone from “zero to hero” in the kitchen, I’d probably have to go with all the folks who have told me over the years that I’m a good writer.  That gave me the boost I needed to start believing in that for myself and work even harder to become a better writer.

5. What playlist/cd is in your CD player/iPod right now?

This minute, I’m leaving it to the artificial intelligence of my iTunes’ “Indie Rock” Genius Mix.  It kicked off with Joy Division and is presently playing The Smiths’ “Cemetry Gates.”

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?

Oh, without doubt I am a child of the night.  Left to my own devices these days, I’m always awake into the wee hours of the morning writing/revising or curling up with a good book or flick.

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?

As I have confessed in a previous blog award acceptance speech:

“Although I love animals (I am, after all, a monkey), I am not a pet person. At all. But if I had to align myself with either the infamous Dog People or Cat People in a finger-snapping gang face-off of “West Side Story” proportions, I would probably go Cat.”

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?

It dates back to a joke my older brother told me when I was little kid…it had me rolling on the ground for at least a half-hour, howling, and to this day makes me giggle to tears.  I usually resist telling it, as not everyone may find it remotely funny and, moreover, find it disturbing that I do ;).

And now for the tag/awardees:

NickiNicki Elson’s Not-So-Deep Thoughts

EvaWrite in Berlin

CourtneyBurn Your Diary

Cities of the Mind

Agatha – Here Be Dragons (who has already been tagged, but is now awarded)

Milo – In Media Res (who has already been awarded, but is now tagged)

*   *   *   *   *

All right, then.  I’m offline for the rest of today, but am hankering to return to my writing prompts soon, so keep an ear peeled for my next screech.

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What Happens in a Meadow at Dusk?

“[L]ong before the child learns to talk properly—and long before it learns to think philosophically—the world will have become a habit.  A pity, if you ask me.”  – Sophie’s World

I’m currently reading a book that I’ve had sitting on my bookshelf for years.  I literally moved it across an ocean two years ago, and still it had sat mutely, patiently, until I finally plucked it out and cracked it open a few days ago:  Sophie’s World.  I’m only a quarter of the way through it, so will withhold offering a critique, but so far I’m enjoying the questions it raises—it’s essentially taking your own correspondence course in philosophy, without getting graded 🙂    Less than twenty pages in, I was struck by the above quotation…I hadn’t really reflected on how the world becomes a “habit” as we age:

“The world itself becomes a habit in no time at all.  It seems as if in the process of growing up we lose the ability to wonder about the world.  And in doing so, we lose something central—something philosophers try to restore.  For somewhere inside ourselves, something tells us that life is a huge mystery.  This is something we once experienced, long before we learned to think the thought.”

At this point, the “philosopher” instructing our protagonist, Sophie, has been pointing out how infants and young children look about at everything surrounding them with wonder, getting excited about even the little things we adults come to take for granted through familiarity.

I’m not going to wax philosophical on this, but what it did make me think about is how writers seem to be blessed with the ability to behold the world with that same wonder we did as children.  We have to, really, in order to continue creating our own little worlds. 

The writer is someone for whom a bus ride is not merely from Point A to Point B; rather, it’s an exercise in character study as we little voyeurs observe those in such close proximity that it almost seems weirder to pretend that they’re not there (as the masses do on the London Underground…the eye aversion is almost unbearable – and on sidewalks, too!  This Chi-town gal misses eye-contact *sigh*).  Anyways, we watch these people, speculate on where they’re going, where they’re coming from, what their whole backstory might be.  We get ideas in our noggins as to the perfect character to insert into our current tales or on which to base a whole new novel…all thanks to paying some attention to the real people right under our noses.

We notice subtleties, the body language that suggests insecurities or the butterfly that carries so many metaphors aloft the breezes of its wings.  We notice with a painter’s eye that the clouds aren’t just white and that the sofa is illuminated differently when the sun shines in from that late-afternoon angle.  We notice the people who smile to themselves when they think no one’s looking and that a tree can look sad, hopeful, or maternal.  We notice what a gust of fresh air feels like in our lungs, through our hair, and the new story ideas that the sensation can conjure.

We can describe what happens in a meadow at dusk.

We behold the world with wonder, and the beauty is that not only are we richer for it, but we have the calling that compels us to write it down so that others might experience the world through our eyes and look at it as though for the first time through their own.  There is not always beauty in this awareness; in fact, we may reveal the darker sides of humanity and tell gritty, disturbing stories without that happy ending.  But what there will always be is Truth – I’m talking the capital ‘T’ truth so long as we write, to the best of our abilities, what it is we wonder at through our genuine voices.  That is what makes a story authentic and universal, for something has told us that “life is a huge mystery,” and now that we can think the thought, we can write it.


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