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?

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Inspiration at its best …

Woohoo! I’m ecstatic. I purchased a new camera–a Canon Rebel with a retractable lens.  I had a digital Canon point and shoot, which is great but left little in the way of creativity. Since,  I’m a die hard fan of Canon, I stuck with what I like.  It’s never failed me with great pictures and video.

My old manual 35 mm, which requires film, (film what’s that?!) still takes the most beautiful pictures. But I’m buried deep in the digital age, so I love the quickness and spontaneity that comes with being able to create in seconds.

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A clear blue sky, with little in the way of clouds, serves as a perfect backdrop and inspiration.

With my new toy, I headed to the beautiful Watchung Reservation, one of 36 parks and the largest in the county where I live. Known for its hiking trails and scenic routes, this is a popular place among Jerseyans, particularly in the central part of the state. I’m shooting with a 18-55 mm lens. I can’t wait to get my new 75-300 mm zoom (It’s arriving any day now!).  There are far more powerful telephoto zoom lenses out there. But for my shooting purposes, it suits me.

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Sun bouncing off a brook nestled in the Watchung Reservation

This place always inspires me. Along with my storyboards, I keep my pictures handy for reference. In one of my WIPs, my heroine, after being kidnapped, has to survive in the woods with her son.  Visiting the reservation and then posting the pictures helps put me in my heroine’s shoes.

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The beginning of some of the coolest trails for hiking and horseback riding. People were out walking their dogs, jogging and just enjoying the view from a nearby bench.

 

 

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Testing out my f stops. One last pop of color before everything turns bare and winter arrives.

If you’re ever in New Jersey, The Watchung Reservation view is one of the best in the state, especially in the summer.

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The fall colors are waning, but still look great.

Nurture the seeds of your story

Ideas for stories come to me at the oddest times and from the oddest places, which is why I carry a digital tape recorder.  I hate the sound of my voice, but using the recorder helps me remember a line of dialogue, plot out a key point or work through a scene that makes me want to pull out my hair.

In the middle of the night, I often awake to the sounds of my character’s voices reminding me to take notice of them and their wants, needs or dire circumstances. Such rudeness require that I leave a notebook on my night stand to jot down their issues–even at 3 a.m!

IMG_4364One of the techniques I find helpful is story-boarding my books. (A nice tip I picked up at one of my NJRW conferences.) My office is filled with post it notes. Starting from the first chapter and each scene, I outline the events as they take place in chronological order. I’m a plotter, so this extra step in outlining helps a great deal.

I also love a change in scenery.  Leaving the confines of my office and going to Starbucks or Barnes and Noble gets the creative juices flowing.  But for heavy duty getaway writing, I’m headed for a place filled with nature, water and quiet.

Lake George

A few years ago, I took a 7-hour drive (which is a big deal because I hate driving!)  to the Adirondacks, near Lake George, NY. I rented a cabin for the weekend, complete with a fireplace and kitchenette. With all the essentials a writer needs (or I need): wine, chocolate and gummy bears, I dove into my WIP.

During the early morning, I took walks along the grounds, taking pictures of the sunrise and breathing in the December atmosphere that had—the night before—delivered a dusting of snow.

I felt alive and creative.

If you ever feel the need to break free of your day-to-day writing confines, plan a trip. A short getaway will often do the trick. Not only are you getting away, but you’re setting your muse free to explore things that might otherwise stay silent in your everyday writing space.