Daily Archives: March 18, 2013

Day One, continued

Last post of the evening.

How did today go? I hope it was a terrific day for all of you.

I did pretty well and hope to arise early tomorrow (before I go to school) and write an hour or two.


Tonight I want to end on two things. First is this short video and little article that will touch your heart. It’s about a marathon runner.

Next is this hint to help you with your writing. Try it tonight and see how it works for you.

Sleep on the problems of your novel. Go to bed a little early. Lie there thinking about your book. Then, go to sleep. Your brain can untie knots with both hands behind its back and you may just wake up with solutions.

See you tomorrow!


Filed under CLW, Writing Marathon


Right now I am waiting for my editor to get back to me on a revision so . . . my goals for this marathon are to

a. go to the novel that I can’t finish but want to finish but never finish but please please please let me figure out how to finish and I want to finish it. But that’s too ambitious. I want to at least write past my problem. I am at a loss for what to do because the novel is a mystery and i am SO BAAAAAD at mysteries. But I really love the characters and I love the premise and I am going to get past this mental block.

If I just do that this week, I will be very very proud of myself and will give myself lots of congratulations. 

b. read over an old novel that needs revising. Get ideas for revising. Start revising. 

c. start a new novel. 

I know I should be more concrete than that but I don’t think I can be. My problems right now are mental rather than anything else. I need to push myself forward on projects that have made me question myself because they are so different from what I usually do so I drop them. 

Like when I dropped Calculus because what? What was going on? Limits? Huh? And up to that point, math had been fun for me. I liked figuring it out, but as soon as it got beyond hard, like I had to push my mind in a way I wasn’t used to, what did I do? I dropped the class. I tend to do that. 

So this week, I will not do that. I will push through. I will resist reading bad news stories or checking in on celebrity lives that have nothing to do with anything. Instead, I will face my writing demons.

That is my main secret biggest goal of all. 

The end.

P.S. I probably could write a novel in one day if someone forced me to do it and there was no internet and my kids were safe with their dad and I was locked in an empty room and there was padding on the walls and there was only carrots to eat and no pillows or blankets or anything comfortable so maybe no padding on the walls and someone was going to pay off my house if I did it and it didn’t have to be good at all, like total crap. Then I could (and would!) totally do it. 

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Day One, continued

Just checking in.

So far I have:




Done Laundry

and Written Again. In fact, that’s what I was doing when I thought, I should stop in over at the blog!

So–I am tying parts of my novel together right now. These are events I wrote by hand when I couldn’t get to my computer. My main character has just pulled into a Las Vegas liqueur store parking lot to meet her mother after 12 long years.

I’ll let you know what happens.

What about you? How are you doing? Does the writing feel good?

I’ll check in one last time tonight.

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Filed under Character, CLW, Writing Marathon

Day One, continued

Hey–Been writing and packing.

My book is looking good. I think I will be through this draft much faster than I thought.

How are YOU doing?

This should make you feel great! It did me!

“I have written a great many stories and I still don’t know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances.”

Who said that? John Steinbeck. (He was one of my first writing teachers. I read everything of his I could get my hands on–and learned so much from him.)

In fact, here’s a letter from him that I quite liked. In fact, I LOVE this letter. It was written in 1963, a few years before Mr. Steinbeck died.

Dear Writer:
      Although it must be a thousand years ago that I sat in a class in story writing at Stanford, I remember the experience very clearly. I was bright-eyes and bushy-brained and prepared to absorb the secret formula for writing good short stories, even great short stories. This illusion was canceled very quickly. The only way to write a good short story, we were told, is to write a good short story. Only after it is written can it be taken apart to see how it was done. It is a most difficult form, as we were told, and the proof lies in how very few great short stories there are in the world.

      The basic rule given us was simple and heartbreaking. A story to be effective had to convey something from the writer to the reader, and the power of its offering was the measure of its excellence. Outside of that, there were no rules. A story could be about anything and could use any means and any technique at all – so long as it was effective. As a subhead to this rule, it seemed to be necessary for the writer to know what he wanted to say, in short, what he was talking about. As an exercise we were to try reducing the meat of our story to one sentence, for only then could we know it well enough to enlarge it to three- or six- or ten-thousand words.

      So there went the magic formula, the secret ingredient. With no more than that, we were set on the desolate, lonely path of the writer. And we must have turned in some abysmally bad stories. If I had expected to be discovered in a full bloom of excellence, the grades given my efforts quickly disillusioned me. And if I felt unjustly criticized, the judgments of editors for many years afterward upheld my teacher’s side, not mine. The low grades on my college stories were echoed in the rejection slips, in the hundreds of rejection slips.

      It seemed unfair. I could read a fine story and could even know how it was done. Why could I not then do it myself? Well, I couldn’t, and maybe it’s because no two stories dare be alike. Over the years I have written a great many stories and I still don’t know how to go about it except to write it and take my chances.

      If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.

      It is not so very hard to judge a story after it is written, but, after many years, to start a story still scares me to death. I will go so far as to say that the writer who not scared is happily unaware of the remote and tantalizing majesty of the medium.

      I remember one last piece of advice given me. It was during the exuberance of the rich and frantic ’20s, and I was going out into that world to try and to be a writer.

      I was told, “It’s going to take a long time, and you haven’t got any money. Maybe it would be better if you could go to Europe.”

      “Why?” I asked.

      “Because in Europe poverty is a misfortune, but in America it is shameful. I wonder whether or not you can stand the shame of being poor.”

      It wasn’t too long afterward that the depression came. Then everyone was poor and it was no shame anymore. And so I will never know whether or not I could have stood it. But surely my teacher was right about one thing. It took a long time – a very long time. And it is still going on, and it has never got easier.

      She told me it wouldn’t.


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