Writers, we need to stop saying this

Usually I limit myself to one writing-related post per month. But something has been irritating the living hell out of me for years, and the more time that passes, the angrier I get. So, lest I morph into some female version of The Incredible Hulk, I’ll expel that rage here, as a semi-productive rant. Because if …

Source: Writers, we need to stop saying this

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The writing pit bull …

Many moons ago, during a work performance appraisal, a former manager of mine referred to me as a “pit bull with a bone.”

Of course, my first reaction was one of disbelief.  And then I wanted to punch her. 🙂  Good thing she explained rather quickly why she made such a reference, because I probably would have been out of a job.

She described me as a person who never gave up.  She went on to say that when I had a project to do, I’d take the assignment and run with it.  And no matter what, I refused to let it go until it was completed.

I thought about her comment and although I was still relatively pissed, I took what she had to say as a compliment.

And then I took what she had to say as fact.  And then the truth.

I don’t like leaving things undone, especially my writing.

It’s been a little over a year, since I’ve looked at my WIP. Except for my critiquing group, I did nothing remotely literary, including reading. And that pained me.  But life became overwhelming and my writing took a back seat.  Dare I mention my previous surroundings (home/office) weren’t conducive to writing or reading?

However, I’m happy to say that that sorry book is closed and for the first time in many months, I’m grabbing on to that bone and not letting go. I’ve been able to REALLY look at my WIP with interest. It’s fantastic to be able focus on a manuscript I started years ago.

I even managedstop-writing to finish a book by one of my favorite authors, Maya Banks. It felt so good to read again!

I’ve said it before; no man (or writer) is not an island. As writers, we need feedback, encouragement and collaboration, which is why I’m so thankful for my critiquing group—three fabulous writers, Leigh Raffaele, Beth-Ann Gutsick Kerber and Kathleen Pacheco. They allowed me to vent when necessary and the time to get over a major hurdle.

I’m also thankful for my critiquing partner, writer Jaye Gavin Allan, for checking in on me every once and awhile to make sure I was still breathing!

Writing is my best friend and I couldn’t go another day without it.  To do what we love doing, requires a place that is conducive to writing and one that nurtures to our creativity.

This pit bull is lucky to have found it again because I refuse to fail.

As an artist, how do you get back/stay on track?

Jane Austen. Edgar Allan Poe. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Maya Angelou. Ernest Hemingway. To me, they were literary rock stars, who played the written word like Eric Clapton plays his guitar, Billy Joel his piano and Phil Collins the drums.

Each of these authors has influenced what I read, and not surprisingly, what and how I write. They’ve moved and inspired me with their stories, passages and verses.  And each time I “jam” to their work, I learn more about a character or uncover a theme that might have escaped me the first time around.

Probably my first and strongest influence in writing is American writer, commentator, activist, and educator—Nikki Giovanni. Over the years, I’ve swayed to the rhythmic verses of “Ego Tripping,” and felt spiritually and humanly empowered as I read, “Those Who Ride the Night Winds,” a collection of her poems dedicated to “the day trippers and midnight cowboys, … who have shattered the constraints of the status quo to live life as a “marvelous, transitory adventure.”

The author of 27 books, a Grammy nominee, and now a professor of English at Virginia Tech, Ms. Giovanni still moves me. And isn’t it the very nature of a writer’s existence? To move others? To enlighten others?

After all these years, I still want to be like Ms Giovanni–embracing my thoughts and my work without the internal editor or virtual someone looking over my shoulder. I will be forever grateful to Ms. Nikki Giovanni for her masterful command of the written word and her fierce grasp on what makes us think.  She rocks.

Nikki_Giovanni_speaking_at_Emory_University_2008

Who’s your literary rock star?

Write like a rock star …

Taking the first step toward normal …

Another year has passed.  Birthday wise that is.

It’s been another year filled with accomplishments and let downs; defeats and triumphs. And while I’ve gone through it all, there’s one thing that I couldn’t get out of my mind. WRITING.

I’ve doodled a sentence here and there.  Concocted two or three new ideas for upcoming stories. Revised a WIP. And even (much to my dismay) received a good tongue lashing from one or two of my characters who I have neglected tremendously.

Another year has passed, yet a constant theme drummed in my head.  I LOVE TO WRITE. I WAS BORN TO WRITE. I’M NOT REALLY HAPPY UNLESS I’M WRITING.

So, my new year starts today–with my birthday. Not on Jan 1.  My resolutions can’t wait until then. My life as a writer is urgent, critical and I have to take steps to secure my future. I have to get back into the swing of things.

Apparently, my characters are making bold statements in reminding me of who they are.  I’ve seen their names on the backs of trucks, street signs and even storefronts.

One thing about life is that we all go through stuff–king-size mounds of stuff that seem too overwhelming to move, or small droplets of stuff that are still annoying as hell to remove. The good thing is that we can learn from each other’s stuff. You know, share best practices for overcoming stuff.

If you’ve experienced a period of inaction or piles of stuff, but are doing better now, how did you get over it? What was your first step toward normal?

No man (or writer) is an island …

Living a writer’s life leaves many of us hovering over our computers and notepads, yet we shouldn’t forget that our solitary “islandlike” existence intertwines with others.

Our literary endeavors may be depend upon our individual prose, style and craft. But our work ultimately relies on the feedback from someone other than our characters. We depend on editors, agents critiquing partners, readers and yes, other writers to offer guidance, help and encouragement.

Therefore, I’m pleased to promote a fellow author’s invitation to name her latest book.

Jordan K. Rose pens novels that will leave you sitting on the edge of your seat, and her next book is sure to do the same. But she’s looking for a few good ideas for a title. And you can help!

Just click on the promotional box above (or to the left) to enter Jordan’s NameThatBook contest and let your creative juices flow. Have a little fun, and receive recognition if your title wins.

The writing community spans countries and continents, yet I find it to be surprisingly small and intimate, where everyone knows someone and where good deeds and well wishes are shared for years to come.

So, send a good wish and a little help to fellow writer, Jordan K. Rose. Enter the contest, and NameThatBook!

No Man Is An Island

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, By John Donne, 1624

Why DO we write?

writerI wanted to share  a wonderful article I ran across yesterday about a newly-released book entitled, “’Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do.”  The book, edited by Meredith Maran, features 20 well-known authors who share what keeps them writing. Just as the rejection letter of well-known authors can serve as a form of encouragement, so will these snippets of motivation.

It was interesting to see what the authors, which include Isabel Allende (Island Beneath the Sea), Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants), Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm), and Terry McMillan (The Interruption of Everything), had to say about the craft of writing and what makes them do it day in and day out.

Some of the authors’ motivations were humorous, others introspective and honest. I particularly enjoyed what Ann Patchett (State of Wonder) wrote, “”I write because I swear to God I don’t know how to do anything else.”

And after reading the article, I was inspired to answer the obvious: Why do I write?

  • I write because I don’t want to do anything else. I get excited about having letters fill a blank computer screen with my thoughts. I have a great day job. But if I could devote all my time to writing, I would.
  • I write because—according to my daughters whether they just lost a boyfriend, a job or a piece of jewelry—“I have a story for everything.”
  • I write because the restlessness in me wants to leave something worth reading when I’m no longer here.

This book is now on my “to be read” list.  In a writer’s world of self-doubt and uncertainty, I don’t think there’s ever too much support, motivation or advice.

Why do you write?

Seek and ye shall find …

After I blogged about the possibility of venturing into self-pubbing, I went in search of a past article that featured a “to-do list,” for all self-published authors.

In the past 12 hours, I’ve destroyed my office in search of the electronic and hard copy of this article, gave my dog good reason to wonder why the hell he chose to live with me, and gave my neighbors proof that “The writer” next door really has a few screws loose.

But it doesn’t matter because I found it!

The article, 8 Things Readers Want from Self-Published Authors, which was posted in the May, 2011 issue of Writer’s Digest, offers a “to do” list for the discerning self-published author, who wants to be taken seriously. I thought this relevant topic was worth sharing and reading again.

The top three to-do’s:

Hire professionals for editing, proofreading, and design.
Put most of your cost toward editing. That means, aside from development or content editing, you must eliminate all proofreading errors and typos if you want to be taken seriously. Evelyn Lafont also recommends using beta readers to put out quality work.
Hire a conversion house for clean e-book formatting. (By the way, TheGreenStudy offered that bit of advice in our discussion about self-publishing. Way to go!)

You may want to take a look at The “Self-Pub Is Crap” Debate, which served as the catalyst for the to-do list.

This time around, I’m making a copy to hang on my wall and I’m storing one in Google docs just before I clean up the mess that is now my office.

Enjoy.