1560–70; < French mémoire < Latin memoria
2a. journal, recollections, reminiscences.
Questions to answer:
1. Do you give yourself a goal at the beginning of each week?
Each Sunday night I write out the goals I want to accomplish for the week. I need a guide. A map. My goals help me know the direction to go.
2. How do you try to reach your goal?
It’s easy to let writing time slip away, to let other more ‘important’ things get in the way. So decide how you will accomplish your goals. If I know I have big stuff ahead, I break the ‘stuff’ into smaller, bite-sized pieces. I write how I will do what needs to be done.
3. Is the goal attainable or impossible to reach?
You may want Simon and Schuster to buy your book but you can’t control that. You can, however, make your goal to submit to S&S. See the difference? My dear friend, Rick Walton, taught me this. Never give yourself a goal you can’t control. You can control how much you write, if you write, how you rewrite etc. But you can’t control the publishers. Otherwise I would have far bigger advances.
4. Are you giving yourself enough time to accomplish the goals?
Be fair to yourself as a writer. So here’s the deal with me. I always overbook myself in the goal area. That’s okay for me. I like a lot of goals and I like pushing myself hard. And I don’t mind if I fall short. That said, the important goals are always given priority.
5. Are you treating your writing like a job and not like a hobby?
I’m still not writing like a professional. I am not like Dean Hughes who writes eight plus hours a day no matter what or like Stephen King who writes until he reaches his page number goal. I let my laziness get in the way. And when stress gets heavier in my life, I let the writing be set aside as I try to put out flames. If I were a dentist would I skip drilling teeth? No. We are like Independent Study students. There is no one to direct us but ourselves. And we have to see our work as a job–IF that’s what we want. Is your writing a part-part time job? Part time? Full time? You decide and then give yourself permission to treat it as such.
6. Do you still let the little ‘things’ come between you and your writing?
This is so easy to do. Again, if you were drilling teeth and your kid called you at work because her sister was a bother, would you call back?
The truth is, writing is hard. And many times writers welcome an interruption because . . . writing is hard.
Mette Ivie Harrison is very good at drawing lines in the sand about her work. Check her out on her blog. (http://metteharrison.livejournal.com/) She’ll be at WIFYR (www.wifyr.com) this year, teaching the Full Novel Class.
7. Do you know when the best time of day for you to write? Or where the best place for you to write is?
Sometimes, when you have a big deadline, you have to work all day and late into the night to reach the goals your editor has set for you. But on a normal day when is your best time? When are you most creative? When do you get the most done? When can you tune out the rest of life and really concentrate? Find this time, know it and use it. I don’t write well at night. I’m too tried. And so when I spend time trying to create in the late evenings I find that I write slower, not as many words, not as many good words.
Experiment. Find your best time and let people know this is when you sit down to work.
For me, that’s when people are in bed in the mornings. My mom. My girls. Even the dog. They are all sleeping. That’s when I write.
I’m still working to find a house
And I for sure am NOT getting my dream home (thanks for all your good thoughts and well-wishes yesterday).
I’ve sort of run into this scary place where I don’t know what to do at all. Not at all. I have a lump in my throat always.
Many of you may know I am a believer in God, but lately I have felt truly abandoned. It’s a hard place to be but a place I think most people wind up every once in a while. I must have more to learn than others because I have been in this place a lot lately.
My writing has failed as I have used excuse after excuse to not sit down and write because I’m scared.
And the fear is big enough to have immobilized me.
I’m really, really tired.
But, this week Cheri and I met with our Familius editor. We were called to order a couple of times. Me and Cheri. Geez gives us a camera and a mic and we are two funny people. Or two people who think they are funny.
I have one chapter half written.
I’ll write the rest this morning.
And I will do a Skype visit with a school on the east coast.
Because writing is my job.
And I have people to take care of. To support.
The truth is–I love to write. Even when I really hate it.
This is something I have allowed myself recently. It’s important.
Some days are just too hard to accomplish anything because my fear of the unknown. Will I find a home?
So when I feel the burden, I tell myself, “Just one step. Take just one step.”
When things are harder than normal I allow myself to wait until tomorrow.
So, then, how did the week go for YOU? Tell all.
Did you get everything you planned done?
I hope so.
Tomorrow will be better, right?
I mean, write?
So now we are thinking of:
1. maybe meeting every other week and writing memoirs together.
YOU wouldn’t have to write on a memoir.
YOU could write on your novel.
All this has to happen AFTER the conference (www.wifyr.com). By then I HAVE to be settled or I can’t do it. But let’s pretend I find a place soon, move in, prepare for the conference and etc.
2. I am getting ready (at 10 am–in just a few minutes) to try something I am not sure will work.
But if you would all think good thoughts, pray, chant, whatever you do for others.
I need this concentrated effort because I am getting ready to do something I have never done before.
It has to do with praying, and praying that I can get a home, and it’s sort of selfish.
I can’t explain more–but it has to do with my dream home.
3. JULY WARNING
I know July is a month of parties, hot weather, resting from Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers, traveling and etc. But I think we will be ready for our next marathon when that month rolls around.
Not sure yet if we will take the month, a week, a few days or what. But I am letting you know now.
So mark July.
Cross out the 4 and 24 (if you are in Utah).
Start thinking of your goals. How will you work around family travels? What do you most want to accomplish?
We’ll be writing together. And, I think, reading together.
And to end, here’s an interview all about me by a fellow VCFA graduate, Ginger Johnson, who is very cute, a great writer and a terrific dancer.
I keep writing and then erasing. Writing and then erasing again. I can’t decide what to say–what tone I want to take, what feeling I want to express. This has been a heavy and happy and sad time for me and my family. I am surprised by the spectrum of emotions that I can have in the course of a day (or an hour, or a minute).
I don’t feel like writing very much. i knew I wouldn’t feel like it even before I had the baby but it’s worse than I anticipated. It’s like my writing energy has been zapped away and even when I have time, I can’t make myself sit down and create.
And I still have some small revisions to do.
And just before this baby came and all the other things that have been happening, writing had been my lifeline. It kept me sane and it felt like I had boundless energy to do it. Now . . . I feel empty.
What do you do when you feel empty?
Even when you know writing, pushing through the emptiness, will get you through?
What makes your MC feel empty? What gets them through?
Why is life so hard?
And so good?
And so horrible?
And so funny?
And so confusing?
I think writing a memoir is a good idea. I also think writing our lives is a good idea. I think we should always write our lives. It does come out in our fiction–the questions, the pain, the joys, etc.–but I don’t think that’s enough. We need to write our histories. We need to write down the things that keep us up at night, the things that make us cry, the things make us laugh our faces off. We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to our children and we owe it to all people who need stories. True stories. Real stories. Our stories.
No one sent any of their writing exercises in, so there is no need to share.
I wonder, should we even try these anymore?
I happened upon a very interesting thing as I wrote my speech for the Outstanding Achievement Award that was given to me by LDS Storymakers.
(By the way, this honor blew my mind. I never expected it. There are many, many people who could win this. Many great people who have won–like Rick Walton–last year.)
So, while I was writing what I would say (because you know in advance about this) I figured out why I write for kids.
The truth is, I have a very 12-yr-old voice.
I remember parts of when I was twelve.
And, while I won’t share it here, when I was writing this acceptance speech I knew the MOMENT I became twelve forever.
How the world was upside down because two important people in my life were both so ill. Both in hospitals. One in Orlando. One in Daytona. We lived in Longwood, right in the middle between these two hospitals that were more than 56 miles apart.
My family and I would drive back and forth, after I got out of school, nearly every day to see these loved ones.
I must have been tired.
Because one day my best friend Vickie Finlay said, “You shouldn’t be going every day. This isn’t something a kid should be doing.”
I can’t remember what classroom we were sitting in. But she turned around in her seat to tell me that. “Carol. Only your mom should be doing that.”
Have any of you ever felt like writing a memoir?
I know my dear friend Claudia Mills has. In fact she has an amazing first line that makes you laugh and feel sorrow at the same time. She is a terrific writer.
Anyway, some days, I think, ‘Should I tell my story? Do I make it official? Do I have enough memories? Do I want those memories coming back?’
I’m not sure.
Plus, there is this fact: I know my truth seeps out and into my writing.
Do I need anything more?
Here’s another thing: The Olivers–that line Nanny came from–could hold a grudge forever.
I have tried to not do that because I mostly love people, but there have been a few individuals, a handful, that I have gotten angry with and kept the fury-flame a-burning because that person–who probably never thinks about me–deserves my fury. For example, the woman who has caused me so much grief these past two months.
I should be angry with her!
I have no place to live!
And she’s the kind of person who would walk around Macey’s grocery store in her wedding dress and not buy anything. (I know this for a fact.)
(PS I have decided to stay angry a little longer. I will let this go when I am no longer panicked about where we will go. I will stop my Southern Turnip Curse when all my stuff has been safely placed in my forever home. I will quit telling others what I hope happens to this woman once we move to a good place. I promise!)
these grudges aren’t so great.
One of my family members hasn’t spoken to me–really spoken to me–in more than sixteen years.
And now her children, who meant the world to me–haven’t spoken to me in several years. Not one of them.
I am missing out on their lives.
Yes, this story, bits of it will wind up in books.
I think of how Ann Dee adores her mom.
That’s the way life should be.
I guess what I am saying is, even more important than all the books I have published or all the awards–and I have been very, very proud of these things–is who I am on the inside and my children. In the end, no books will circle my deathbed. Only my children and their families will. The Chosen One will not kiss me goodbye. Carolina Autumn will not hold my hand. Waiting will not tell me to “Go toward the light.”
Only my girls will.
Plus maybe my best friends (I have a few).
This will be my reward.
So I must do better. At all of it.
(Except the couple of grudge holding bits)
Writers Digest Webinar, happening this Thursday (May 16) at 1pm, EST.
1 p.m., EST
Thursday, May 16, 2013
(If that time doesn’t work for you, don’t sweat it. The whole thing will be available to watch and rewatch for a year or so.)
Every novel is driven by character. We fall in love with heroines, cheer for heroes, and loathe our villains. Characters draw us in, and through them we experience our favorite stories. Without a compelling cast, even the most engrossing tale can fall flat. What makes some protagonists iconic, while others go up in smoke? How can we create rich motivations without burdensome back-story, or nuanced supporting characters without stealing focus from our protagonists? How can we populate our novels with an unforgettable ensemble our readers will love? The answer involves giving your characters a great blend of relationships, history and motivations.
And, also, learning a ton of cool stuff by signing up for this webinar.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:
And there’s MORE. What? Yes. There is.
Everyone who attends is invited to submit a query letter for their novel. Every query is guaranteed a written critique by yours truly.
So, an amazing class, Q&A, and personalized query critique, all from the comfort of your living room / boudouir / computer dungeon? Yep. I can promise you this will be the greatest thing you’ve ever done that involved the word “webinar.”