Category Archives: Depression

Three Things Thursday

Three Things to Help Improve Your Writing

Carol: Even if you have been knocked off your feet, and away from your goals by laziness or flu or family worries or bad weather or other work or sadness or whatever, here’s the best bit of advice I can give you:  you can start your goals anew each day. Every day. try again. Again. A baby step at a time. 250 words. 100 words. Even 50.

Just don’t give up. 50 words a day by the end of the year is about 16,000 words–half a mid grade novel. Or a LOT of picture books. Or a quarter of a YA.

You get the picture.

Wait? What? I’m the only one who’s behind?

Erp!

Brenda:

I’ve always been fascinated with names and, as a kid, I wanted to know what my name meant. I looked it up, but all it said was “see Brent.” Brent? A boy’s name? And it meant “a fighter.” Oh, definitely a boy’s name! My only solace: my middle name was Virginia – clearly a girl’s name . . . and it meant “innocent.” So I was an innocent fighter.
When I was older I realized many names had both feminine and masculine versions. Too late — it was too ingrained that my name was not particularly feminine. I never did feel very “girly.”
How do you come up with names for your characters? Make them up? Pour through naming books or websites? Some awesome sites offer names, including international ones, give the meanings, sometimes even pronunciations, and which are “boys” names, which are “girls.” You can even find sites for the most popular names each year which go back many years. You’ll want to christen your characters with names evocative of your time period too, the ethnic background, and/or personality of your characters.
What names have you made up? Looked up? Used? Discarded? Why? And how do they feel about their names, their meanings, and the effects those have on their character?
Cheryl:
Stephen King says there are two readers that every writer needs to have. One is the person that is enthralled by every single thing you put on paper. The other is a person that is brutally honest no matter what. 
Do you have your people? 
If not, there’s no better time to start looking. Writers need readers. We need to trust someone enough to let them read our first drafts. We need deadlines, and we need someone to ask about how our writing is going. 
And if you already have your people, ask if you can be a reader for someone you admire. This is what makes the writing community so amazing, and this is how to become a part of it. There’s no better time to start. 

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Filed under CLW, Depression, Family

On Death and Turning Fifty

by Cheri Pray Earl

I started a new blog when I turned fifty-five in October. Funny how staring sixty right in the naval can inspire you to dismiss that snotty poet who lives in your head. The one who says, “Isn’t it bad enough you can’t write poetry? Now you’re writing a genre novel? On a BLOG?!” My poet is a man, by the way. He also doesn’t approve of that exclamation point I just used.

Yes, I’m writing a genre novel. A murder mystery. Out loud. Scene by scene, chapter by chapter on a blog. Because I love murder mysteries. I read them like I eat candy—right off the shelf. I sit in the car in the library parking lot, reading the first chapter. I watch murder movies and murder television series for hours on end and listen to my mother’s heinous “true stories” of murder and mayhem.  Crime fiction is my barrel of meal, my cruise of oil. My shelf Twinkies because I don’t mind if the books and movies and TV series are not good for me and offend my literary sensibilities with lots of nutty dialog tags and adverbs. My poet says my analogies are goosey. Sometimes I shake my head real hard and knock him around in there.

Do you know why I decided, after all these years, to write a mystery novel? Mortality. Menopause. Because I want to give it a shot before I die. Life is short, as they say, and too short to listen to poets. Poets, by the way, talk about death a lot in their poems. Billy Collins once said that all poems are about death. I asked him what he meant and he explained that everything is about death, isn’t it? Since we will all die. Anne Lamott, on the other hand, says that because we are all going to die there’s no point in writing about it. What is worth writing about is how men and women live in the face of death. American writers should be willing to let a novel end well, she says, rather than in tragedy or worse, unresolved.

I also believe that every writer should have the experience, at least once, of writing what he or she loves to read. If that’s possible. For instance, besides genre murder mysteries I love Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Annie Proulx’s Shipping News. I doubt I’ll ever write the way they do because I don’t think the way they do, even though I try; that’s brain-melting work. A murder mystery, however, is just plain fun. My poet raises an eyebrow over that one—writing should depress you and force that inappropriate psychological disorder into the open and then make you brood a lot. He doesn’t like me using “a lot,” either.

QUALIFYING EXPLANATION: When I say write something fun, I don’t mean that a fun story can’t also be beautiful. It can be and should be. I can write a beautiful murder mystery if I try. Maybe. We shall see.
So today I told my daughter that she should stop trying to revise that serious, literary, depressing short story she wrote in “Introduction to Creative Writing” at Brigham Young University. She had become discouraged because she had no story; what she had was an abstract philosophy and some pretty words on the page. I told her to give herself permission to write something fun. “Write a clown scene instead,” I said. She smiled because she knew what I meant; the scene popped into her head in full color and live action. This. Is. Where. She. Lives. In her hilarious imaginings, anyway. And this is what she loves—quirky humor.

Talking all over each other, we described the scene—clowns wearing fezzes and big red rubber noses practicing their act and having dialogs about how to cram twenty of themselves in a VW Bug and someone’s got to take the lead of this insanity in the center ring of a circus tent before the matinee begins. Then we laughed about that one scene in Uncle Buck where the professional clown comes to the door and Buck answers it and the clown is drunk and dressed in a clown suit but he has a major five o’clock shadow and he drove to the house for a kids’ party in a VW Bug decked out like a mouse. Buck tells him to get in his mouse and leave but the clown says “Who are you, Mother Theresa?” Then Buck punches the clown in the rubber nose and the clown falls backward but bounces back up like that Bozo the Clown punching thingy and his nose is all caved in.

Hahahahahahhahahaha! That’s what we said. “Low hanging fruit” is what my poet says and he walks off to write a poem about death with a superior but brooding look on his face.
There you have it.

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Filed under CLW, Depression, Family, Life, Voice, writing process

Monday Monday before Thanksgiving Means . . .

NaNoWriMo and getting ready to be Thankful. Right?

So how are you doing on the writing?

Keeping up on those words? I’m still sure I can catch up!

And on being thankful?

I took this quiz the other day that had to do with whether one is a positive or negative person. Yup, I’m a neggie.

Who’da thunk it (not including my kids or friends)?

I was almost 100 % negative.

So I thought I’d say one thing I am grateful for this morning. I don’t even have to think to come up with it.

Children’s Writers. There are some of the nicest people I know in the world of writing for children. The five of you who follow the blog. The people I get to teach writing to. Many of the other published writers. The almost published writers. Most everyone I know wants to see others succeed. Wants to be a better writer. Wants to read other people’s work. Read their own work out loud.

Sure, there’s the odd duck that you hate. But I’m pretty good at just cutting out of there and never going back when I meet someone like that.

Now don’t confuse the two. I might be a Negative Nancy, but I want you to publish and publish again and again. I want you to achieve this dream and I’ll help you as much as I can. Then, hopefully, you’ll remember me when I am old and take care of me.  (And old age is upon me right this second! Hint hint.)

Thank you all you Writers who are kind. To me, being kind is one of the most important traits out there.

Now decide what you’re thankful for today. And maybe each day this week. Maybe even for the rest of the month. Or year. And into next year.

Thinking those kinds of things is supposed to make a doomsdayer less doomsdayee.

Maybe I should see?

 

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Filed under CLW, Depression, Family

Kyra Leigh, Queen Bee

NOTE: The girls and I have been moving and are still moving. I didn’t have internet access last week but WILL begin posting again!

From Kyra

I don’t think Mom got the chance to post my blog last week. Maybe she did.

Either way, I’m sure it was horribly written.

Only a couple more days left in this month.
I have to say that I’m pretty disappointed in myself. I was hoping to have an entire draft of this new novel written, and I just haven’t gotten to that point.
I’ve let a lot of things distract me.

Such as:

Boys. Guys that don’t like me, even if I don’t like them then decide to like them then they decide not to like me. Whatever. I hate dating and I’ve realized I’ll be forever alone. Sometimes I don’t give two shits about that fact, other days, like today, I kind of do. Aloney McGony.

Jobs/Lack of money/Being screwed over. I finally started a new job. Hopefully I can handle the stress of it. But anything is better than being as poor as I have been. Thank God for Mom’s food storage. Also my old landlord has been trying to cheat me and my sister out of a small amount of money. I’ve come to realize he must do this with all his tenants. May end up being a small claim’s court issue.

Moving. Myself and moving Mom. It’s taken a big part of my energy. But I’m so happy to see Mom in a house of her own, that it’s totally worth it.

My biggest issue has been insecurities.
I don’t remember when I lost my self confidence, if it happened overnight, or if it was just something that has slowly happened over the years. Either way, it’s really killed my writing. I can’t seem to get out of it.

But I will say this:

I get lovely notes from my lovely agent every few days, and it helps. Even just a little. Sometimes being happy, and writing, and all that other jazz, is just focusing on the good in life. Even if it seems like there isn’t a lot.

I’m just a giant baby bird right now. And soon I think I’ll get out of this slump and go back to being happy and confident and blah blah blah.

Either way, I just have to keep writing. KEEEP GOOOOING!

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Filed under Agents, Depression, Kyra, Life, writing process