Sunday, February 27, 2011

Writers In The Storm

Sunday afternoon and I should be writing, but I've been surfing websites and writer's blogs. Please note that I have added two new links. Writer's Digest and Publisher's Weekly contain valuable info for writers and now we have their websites in one handy place.

I came across a blog today that is filled with useful tips and links for writers. I didn't add it as a link, but here's their address:

How's the battle going, fellow writers? The longer I work on my current novel, the more I realise how far from a finished draft I am. Oh sure, I could dash off a really crappy 300 paged firstdraft and pat myself on the back, but where would that leave me? I'd still have to fill in gaps (and I mean major gaps) to achieve a 450-500 page manuscript. I must accept that I prefer to write a fairly decent firstdraft that actually resembles a novel. I have about 3/4 of the novel written and I'm writing it out of order. Whichever scene inspires me, is the one I'll be working on.

In case you're wondering, the picture I posted isn't my back deck (I wish!) but from an old calendar entitled verandas.

See you all soon,


Friday, February 25, 2011

A Writer's Life

First of all, yes we are writers. When one puts pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and chronicles thoughts from the recesses of our brain we are writers. It may not be your main career and it may never earn you any money, but you have the perfect right to call yourself a writer. I think about writing almost all of the time. The funny thing (not ha-ha funny) is that I actually don't like to write. Or maybe it's not that I don't like to write. I have this weird idea that the first draft I write should be perfect.

Okay, now that you've stopped laughing we can move on. I know where my scene is going and what I want my characters to say and do, but actually sitting down and writing takes a lot of concentration and willpower. I think my main problem is that I get stuck on words. Not just any word, but the right word for the sentence I'm working on. I used to sit there with my Super Thesaurus in hand, flipping through the pages until I found the perfect word. I'm not as rigid now. I'll leave gaps to fill in later or XXXXs to let myself know I've gotten stuck. There seems to be an excessive amount of XXXXs on my manuscript lately.

And of course, there's so much to do before I even begin to write. I have to check my emails and my favourite writers' blogs. I might have to refresh my memory by reading some of the novel or short story I'm working on. Then I have to plan the scene I'm working on. Only then can I begin the process of writing.

I was writing just a few minutes ago and the phone rang--you guessed it, another telemarketer and I'm on the Do-Not-Call list! Now, I'm angry and I've lost track of my thoughts. Time for a break.

Back from my break, but now there's another distraction. I can't write in a messy room. It drives me crazy. No wonder I couldn't write before my break. Fortunately, my desk faces the window and I can block out most of the mess, but just knowing it's there irritates me. The room has been tidied, the papers and books are organised and now I can get back to my writing. An hour later and I've typed about one-and-a-half pages into the computer with several XXXXs throughout. Is this normal? Does Stephen King write this way?

I long for the day when I can sit down in a messy room, ignoring the email messages and phone calls, and let my fingers fly across the keyboard. Until then I guess I'll just keep plugging away at my own snaillike pace.

Back to the drawing board,


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Reading Frenzy

This is the best time of year to curl up with a good book and a hot cup of tea. I'm always looking for new authors to add to my personal library. After the last meeting, Chris and I went to our usual hangout and discussed books we love. Of course, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House topped our list. This is one book that is a must read once a year. I recommended two of Susan Hill's novels, The Woman in Black, (one of my favourite novels) & The Mist in the Mirror. Both have elements of Shirley Jackson's horror and occult.

Chris mentioned that Susanna Kearlsey has a new novel coming out in March. I looked up The Rose Garden online and can't wait to buy it. The plot is about a woman who travels to England to an old house and encounters a haunting. This one sounds a bit different in that the main character can communicate with the ghosts. I admire Susanna's writing and recall the chat she gave a few years ago at a WCDR meeting. She described how she had stayed in a small cottage in Wales (I think) to get the feel for her setting. When the locals learned she was writing a novel, they all came calling to give her facts and tips about the area.

The book I'm reading now is Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger. I borrowed it from the library and the sticker on the spine says 'horror', but it really isn't. It's a psychological thriller, very similar to Hill House. The actual haunting in the novel progresses very slowly and it's more than halfway through the book that the first truly terrifying scene takes place. The scene is long and builds tension gradually until I was holding my breath waiting for what might and did happen. I think I will buy this one for my own book shelves.

My last read was Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, a first novel by Helen Simonson. My sister recommended this one and she and I have very different tastes in novels, but I bought it anyway and loved it. The theme is an unlikely romance between a staunch, retired British major, and a Pakistani widow set in a small village in the English countryside. There are many belly laughs as selfish secondary characters try to break up the lovers.

I usually have several books that I read at the same time. Never two novels, but I adore non-fiction and especially biographies. I received Appetite for Life, the biography of Julia Child for Christmas and her life was quite fascinating.

What will I read when I finish The Little Stranger? A mystery or horror most likely, but I hate finishing a novel I've enjoyed. It's like saying goodbye to dear friends.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Good Reads

I start each morning with a cup of coffee and my guilty pleasure, The National Post.
There are many reasons why I love this newspaper. The writing is first class, the
ideas presented are thought-provoking and the opinions present both sides of the coin.
But beyond all that is a healthy respect for writers, with many articles on the craft,
etc. generally featured in their Weekend Post section,along with excellent book reviews.

Here are two articles that are must-reads and here's how to access them:

Go to: and Click on Today's Archives.
In the Search Box, type in Saturday, February 5, 2011 (for the first article)
When the date appears, type Craig Davidson (the article's author)and the article
should appear: "It's Not About Writing".

For the second article:
Type Tuesday, February 15, 2011 in the Search Box
When the date appears, type Clark Whilton and the article appears: "So, I'm Like: "Whoa That is So Wow'"



Let the Games Begin

*waves* Hi everyone.

What do you do when your writing begins to feel like work?

From the corner of the room, Jack Torrance intones "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

Uh...ok. *inches away* Er, yes. You could spiral into madness, if you wanted to, but I think that would be counterproductive. It tends to kill your writing. *Jack twitches*

*a-hem* Moving on now. When your writing starts to feel like work, go play! Here's a neat resource for word games I found. Pick a game that tickles your fancy and away you go.

In my personal opinion, 500 -1000 words per day (most days, anyway) is what I found to be my realistic goal. But if there's one thing I learned about the craft, it is do what feels right to you. Should you find you can only get the words flowing by standing on your head, I won't judge. If it gets you results, than go with it. There is no such thing as the right way to write so long as you get those words out and on the page.

I admit some of the games sound kind of oddball, but maybe one of these will trigger something for you.