Tag Archives: Writing Process

Kyra: On Writing

My blog today isn’t gonna be great, so if you’d like you can just skim over it now.
It’s on something I’ve been thinking about a lot, tho.
Writing. {holy shocker!!!!}
Well, not just writing, but how HARD it is.

I’ve finally started my first YA story {can’t say novel because it’s hardly even there} and I never realized how. freaking. hard. writing is.
How do people like my mother {the best writer in the world} and Ann Dee {the second best writer in the world} put emotion on the page like they do?
My story is supposed to have a lot of emotion {whose isn’t, tho?} and I have no idea how to even do it! I’ve taken the classes and read hundreds of books, and yet I’m still having a hard time!!!

After you figure out the emotion, how do you make something fake seem real?
Courtney Summers, Jandy Nelson, Laurie Halse Anderson…They all write stories about kid’s I’ve known, kids I’ve met.
HOW? How do you people do it? How do you think up a person and make it seem real. Because when I try, it’s an absolute joke!

Then you have to build a place, and write the storyline and believe it.
YOU, the writer, has to believe it or no one will.
When I write, all I see is a bunch of fake stuff coming from my thoughts just written out on a page. IT’S INSANE!

So yes, this is a short post. But I just want to say to all you writers out there…
I never knew how hard it was to write!
I now know it’s even harder to make money writing than, like, working at any other job! No wonder you’re all drama queens! You can’t afford to comfort yourselves with chocolate or sappy romance movies. I think I’m going to fit in with you people . . . . 🙂
Writing is hard! But if we didn’t have writers, I wouldn’t have books. If I didn’t have books, I wouldn’t be who I am today! Neither would a million other people.

Sorry this blog had a ton of I’s and sounded very self-interested…I’m just speaking my mind. 🙂


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Ann Dee: A Mystery

Dear You Guys,

How are you? I’m fine. The other day my husband told me our sink smelled like pee.

What do you mean? Like pee pee?

He said, Yes, like pee pee.

Like human pee?

Yes, human pee.

This was disgusting and made me feel sick and mad at him because he had to be exaggerating and who did he think he was accusing my kitchen of being pee-y?

I went in there. The smell was overwhelming.

Gross, I said.

I know, he said. And I’ve been trying to find what it is for like a half hour.

I took another deep breath. It was disgusting.

I’ll find it, I said.

Good luck, he said.

So I started my search. I picked up the rag. Gross but not pee-y. I tried the disposal. Nothing. I checked under the sink. Nope. On and on I looked, the half an avocado, the sponge, the bananas, the dish soap. Nothing. I scrubbed down the countertop, the sink, the faucet, all of it. The smell was still there.

Finally, I took a step back and looked at the big picture. Something. I was missing something. Pee doesn’t just spontaneously combust onto the scene.

Then I saw it.

I saw it there plain as day

And it broke my heart.

My flowers.

I had received bulbs for Christmas. I was excited for a lot of reasons. I have always dreamed of having plants in my house. Plants that live. I like the idea of fresh flowers. But even more than that, I love the fact that bulbs hold something secret in them, they transform. Bulbs=Potential.

The day after I got them I read the directions, carefully prepared the soil, and planted away. After two weeks they started to grow. I have to admit I was a little shocked. I knew that growing, turning into a flower, all that stuff was the plan, but it was crazy that it was actually happening.

Look at my flowers, guys, I’d say.

Cam and my three year old and one year old would gather around in the kitchen.

Do you see how tall the are?

And they were tall.

Yeah, three year old said.

Mommy did that, I said.

Wow, he said.

The other two were eating mini spooners and ignoring me.

And life went on.

I never thought about those fllowers except for almost all the time. Were they okay? Did they have enough water? What did “keep moist but not wet” mean?

Then one day, one dark cold January day, my flowers bloomed.  It was a Christmas miracle.

And then they smelled like pee.

I am now going to relate this experience to my writing.

Like when I was so excited about this book I’m working on. Only an idea at first, but a big fat bulb of an idea. I could envision in my head how beautiful it was going to be. Thick and long and luscious but complicated. Oh so complicated.

I did all the steps, I prepared, I thought things through, I started writing, carefully writing, and things were looking good.

The novel was growing.


I had actually stuck to some of my new years goals and I was seeing results.

And just when I thought, oh my beautiful flower of a novel, the unexpected happened.

Carol talks about icky middles. Today I am talking about pee middles. The problem with me is, I feel like if I can just push through, just endure the smell, the blooms will get the chance to fully open.

Don’t they smell better once they are fully open?

But maybe they don’t. Maybe I should stop now and throw the flower away. Should I throw the flowers away? How do you know when you should throw flowers away? And do you throw away something beautiful even if it stinks just a little?

Do you ever have a book in your head, people you love, a story you want to tell and you work and you work and you work and you feel like you’re almost there and then all the sudden you start smelling pee? You think, I can’t do this. It’s falling apart and maybe it really is falling apart. Maybe it will always smell like that. You think maybe I should throw this away. Should I throw this away?

I am writing in circles.

What I’m trying to say is writing is hard. There are so many moments of self-doubt. So many complications. So many things to think about.

It’s hard.

Hard but exciting.

Exciting because you are creating. You are turning an idea into something real. You are making potential a reality. That’s what art is, right? Potentialities? Things becoming? Something small, an inkling really, turning into something tangible?  A flower that wasn’t there before? A pee flower that smells up your whole kitchen that wasn’t there before? Who wouldn’t want to be a writer?

I need to not write these blog posts late at night.


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Guest Blogger: Ms. Lisa Hale

Lisa Hale enjoys helping students explore, develop, and deepen their novels for young readers. Lisa earned an MA in English with a creative writing emphasis from BYU, where she now teaches creative writing and composition courses. She wrote the Creative Writing course for Independent Study, covering personal essays, poetry, and fiction, and has published in several children’s magazines, including Spider and Highlights for Children. Her workshop group shares writing prompts and information at mmssociety.blogspot.com.

And also, the girl knows what she’s talking about. When she speaks, everyone listens.

On Sunday I made asparagus soup. It wasn’t my usual 4-ingredient, 5-step recipe. It was more complicated, more gourmet.

The recipe told me to remove and discard the woody bottom portions of the asparagus (standard procedure) and to snap off the tender tips to add to the soup later (also standard procedure), but then it told me to peel each asparagus stalk. I almost didn’t follow this step—the stalks were already as thin as pencils—but I didn’t want the soup, after so much work, to be spoiled by a missed step. I didn’t want crunchy asparagus.

(Incidentally, it takes a long time to peel two pounds of asparagus, but the airy piles of thin, dark green curls are much more poetic than sludgy piles of potato peels.)

I wanted to come up with a metaphor for how cooking is a lot like writing. There is a sequence of events—sweating the onions, carrots, and celery before coating the mixture in spices and adding the vegetable stock, peeled potato, and snips of asparagus stalk. I thought there might be some profound connection between bringing the soup to a boil (to kill bacteria) for a moment before turning it down to simmer slowly (to let the flavors meld). And maybe there could be something said for how, sometimes, you remove half of the soup and puree it to thicken the soup, while retaining the lovely floatiness of the original: bits of carrot, shredded potato, asparagus chunks, mustard seeds all swirling around in your spoon.

I contemplated the possible connections between cooking and writing for a few minutes, and then determined it was beyond my current brainpower/interest/attention span.

But today, while I was walking across campus, I remembered my asparagus soup. Specifically, I remembered the way the grated potato floated in the mixture alongside the thyme and mustard seeds. I remembered the layers of tastes and smells. The different textures. And I thought, a good novel is a lot like good soup. It takes time, quality ingredients, care, order, balance, contrast, and when it’s done just right, it makes you remember it—crave it, even—days, months, years after eating that first bowlful.

That’s the kind of writing (and cooking) I aspire to.


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Ann Dee: Please don’t be offended . . .

“The first draft of anything is sh*t.” —Ernest Hemingway

Don’t be offended.

Are you offended?

And do you think this is true? Does it have to be true?

One day, a few years ago, Louise Plummer saw me in the hall at school.

How’s your book? she asked.

Not good.

Why not?

I can’t get past the first chapter.

Oh shut up. Just go home and write sh*t.

I was offended.

I also didn’t want to do what she told me to do. Do you want to do that? Do you want to write a [I’m going to substitute crappy in here because I feel more comfortable with the word although I don’t know why. Why is crappy less offensive than [insert word here] and why do we substitute asterisks? It’s actually more graphic with the little symbol in there.  One time in group therapy . . . nevermind, that’s for another post (and I’m serious, there is a really good group therapy story.)] crappy draft?

At the time, I thought that was a bad bad bad idea. i mean I’d heard it before. Anne Lamott. Mr. Hemingway. My English teachers. Authors at conferences Etc. etc. BUT that wasn’t the way I worked. I was a revise-at-the-time-er. I wrote carefully. I liked the paragraph, the page, the chapter (or section–let’s not kid ourselves) to be perfect. Or at least feel perfect.

My first two published books were written that way. Slowly, meticulously, not crappily–at least in my mind. Which is what matters in a first draft.

The mind. The author’s mind.

So many things are happening when we create worlds. There are personalities to deal with, conflicts to ignite and then resolve, and a moving mess to push us to the end. That’s in the novel, the place where we’re toiling each and every day. This is all done while dealing with the real world: diapers and dinner and broken down cars and wars and bills and neighbors who wonder why you never mow you lawn and teeth [does anyone know a good dentist in Provo? For the whole family?]. It’s a stressful thing. Really stressful.

For me, I like having control. I like things to feel right. If I’m rushing through, writing a crappy draft, there are so many loose ends, so many things I’ll have to go back and fix and what if someone reads it and oh, this is just a first draft. I like totally rushed through that part. It needs so much revision. I’m so embarrassed. etc. etc.

So it’s a pride thing. Maybe?

There’s also the issue of never ever ever finishing a book. If you feel like it has to be perfect, if you tend to revise as you go (but let’s be honest, even if you do that, if you ever finish the book you’re still going to have to revise it over and over again), you might get stuck in the first thirty pages for all eternity. Or, if you keep such a tight hold of the manuscript, you may lose some of the magic that comes from letting it get away from you. Of letting the characters get in the way and ruin all your perfect sentences.

I don’t know. The only reason I finished the books that I have  was because of deadlines. I was forced to finish. Without deadlines, I am a hopeless thirty pager.

I am trying to relinquish control. Be okay with trashing fifty pages. In some ways it’s easier for me to put a finished novel in a drawer (and they are in there), than to back track and throw away hard earned pages in a WIP.

But I think in the end, I’ll have a better book. Or maybe not.

I don’t know what I’m doing.

Just writing a sh*tty* blog post.

*I really am so embarrassed I wrote that. I wonder how long I’ll leave it. I am such a wimp.

The end.



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