Monthly Archives: February 2016

15 Minute Monday

These past few days have been really good for me.

My agent, Steve Fraser, was here. He gave a terrific talk on Wednesday night to a crowd who sat on the floor and up the stairways and all around the room (INCLUDING sitting in chairs!). He spoke of joy. It was lovely and inspirational.

I’ve been thinking of my writing life. What I want to do with it. How I need to change things or not change them. What is important to me.

And there has been this other stuff.

And the other stuff has gotten into my very heart and stabbed at it with ice picks and as the stabbing has gotten worse, I’ve begun to build this wall around me and how I feel.

Can a writer do that?

Well, yes, they can. I have.

Should they?

I’ve got all these new, weightier things to think about. Personal things.

Most times I don’t want to think about them. Feel them. Hurt from them.


but the deal is, all this stuff, will, in the end, influence my writing.

So I have to be available emotionally. Not just for the good of my life and the people in my life, but otherwise, what good am I as a writer?

We write Truth. That means we have to be willing to feel all things icky and hard and gross and awful and happy and joyous and amazing because our readers need that Truth.

As I have peered sideways at things going on lately, even when I see I don’t like me very much as I gaze on these weightier things, I can see that this has been a good few days.

Sad. Hard.


Yes. Good.


Filed under Agents, CLW, Family, Life

And One More!

from Cheryl!

I have an app on my phone called Timehop. Every day it tells me what I’ve posted on social media on that day in past years. 

Today I got a notification. Six years ago today, I announced that I had finished the first draft of my novel.
And what do I have to show for it? A published book? A contract with an agent? A finished, ready product?
No. None of it. I have nothing to show for it except a few notes that add up to, “I basically need to change everything because it all sucks.”
Every time I look at that novel, I get overwhelmed. First drafts are easy. Polishing is hard.
Will I ever finish it? I don’t know. I hope so.
Do you have any eternal works in process? Do you have any that stumped you for awhile but eventually finished?

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Friends and Writing Workshops

I woke up early this morning worrying about my dear friend Debbie Nance. I think about her a lot lately. She is an amazing woman and I hate she is so sick.

This is the last day of a writing workshop with Steve Fraser. It’s been going so well.

Steve is smart, funny and loves terrific writing.


My dear  friends, Brenda and Cheryl, have been sending me things to post. However, I’ve not done a great job what with school and, well, I haven’t posted in days.

So, here are a few things they’ve had to say:

Do you want to be a writer? Or do you want to be a reader? I’m one of those who wants to be both. Unfortunately, if something has to “go” in my daily schedule, it is too often the reading! I need to buck up my resolve in this regard, so listen to these knowledgeable people:
“The main suggestion from me is READ. It is impossible for a writer to be able to write honestly and eloquently without having at one time or another acquainted himself with such writers as Sir Thomas Browne.” ~ William Styron
“Read as may of the great books as you can before the age of 22.” ~ James Michener (wish I’d seen THAT sooner ! ! !)
“Read, read, read. Read everything —trash, classics, gook and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.” ~ William Faulkner
“If you would be a reader, read; if a writer, write.” Epictetus
Rachel Carson is credited with having said (or, more probably, written) “The discipline of the writer is to learn to be still and listen to what his subject has to tell him.” I’m hoping Boudica, my main character, or at least Veleda, my narrator, will be telling me a good deal in the next several weeks and months, as I work on an historical novel which has been on the back burner for a number of years.
I did hours and hours of research “back in the day” over a stretch of possibly two or three years. I even wrote an (absolutely TERRIBLE) screen play on this story. It was so bad, I’m afraid that’s what has made me let it lie dormant ever since. (I will NEVER write another screen play!)

But now, in 2016, it’s whispering to me again. Urgently enough to persuade me to put other, smaller projects on hold for a change, and deal with the whispers.
Oh, I still have to fix the occasional meal, spend time with my husband, take care of my daughter, try to reach my grandson who may be in Afghanistan or Iraq by now, water my houseplants, do the laundry. 
Meanwhile, there are the whispers. Whispers from Boudica’s severed head, and from her daughter, Veleda, who carries her mother’s story wherever she goes. And now, it seems, they have entrusted it to me. It’s only been almost two-thousand years. I’m listening.
I’m listening.
And what – or who – is whispering, urgently, to you? 
I’m reading a book that’s been on my “to be read” list for a long time. It’s a modern classic by a bestselling author. But so far, it’s somewhat lackluster.

I understand why people like it. It has great worldbuilding and pretty cool magic. But I’m not connecting to the characters. I know which ones I’m supposed to like and which ones I’m supposed to boo. But right now, they could all die in a fiery crash and I’d shrug my shoulders and move on.
What is it that connects us to characters? Similar life circumstances, maybe. Similar reactions or outlooks on life, perhaps. But for me, I need a degree of vulnerability. I need to feel that they are scared sometimes, like me. I need to know there is insecurity. I need to know they’re human.
What is it that makes you connect with a character?

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I just got a text that if I spend ten dollars on yogurt and toppings I will get a free cooler bag.

Would that tempt you?

Today my baby pooped in the tub. I’ve written about my horror and fear of this phenomenon before. However, today  I embraced the poop (not literally). I cleaned it up. And then I cleaned the tub. And the walls. And the floors. And the sink. And the toilet and every single thing I could see in that bathroom. This happened last week when she pooped and the week before and the week before (She really relaxes in the tub). And so now it’s safe to say that though I don’t want her to do it and I certainly discourage it, I have come to appreciate her pooping as a means to get my chores done.

Is this like getting a free cooler bag if I buy yogurt? Not really. But it is nice when doing one thing that maybe you don’t want to do leads to doing something else that you need to do but have been putting off (again, this has nothing to do with the yogurt because I want yogurt and I don’t need a cooler bag nor have I been putting off getting one and this makes me feel like why am I even talking about that text and why do I get texts from Yogurtland? How do I get them to stop without making them feel bad? They won’t feel bad because they don’t care so do I just text back, no thanks for the texts? Or stop texting me? Or UNSUBSCRIBE? I have really big problems).

So writing. What things make you write even if you don’t want to and then you’re so happy because you finally did it?


Blog posts?

Writing groups?

Invitations to write a family history for a reunion?

Guilt trips at church?

Writing partners?

I’ve come to realize that in my middle age and my middle kids and middle-I-feel-too-exhausted, a little poop or pressure or help does me some motivation good.


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