Wednesday, October 12, 2011

An All-of-a-Kind-Life

It's surprisingly easy to explain to people why I'm specifically interested in writing children's lit.  For me, the golden age of reading was 8 to 12.  I used to hide books under my desk at school, sneak them under the table during dinner, and read them with a flashlight at night.  When I finished the All-of-a-Kind-Family series, I cried and begged my mom to write the author and ask her for more books.  Don't get me wrong, I like reading adult stuff, but I've never felt as close to the characters as I did when I was a child.

It's not only me, as soon as I start to tell people about my crazy love of books as a child, they join in with their own stories.  It makes sense when you think about it.  Kids don't have cars, and they rarely get to choose what they eat.  Books give them autonomy.  They take them to other places, even other worlds.

The best part about writing for children is I can openly revisit the books I loved as a child and not feel embarrassed.  No one should feel embarrassed.  They're great books.

Portal to Another World
When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
― C.S. Lewis

Friday, September 30, 2011

Be Bold

 Telling people I'm a writer is one of the hardest parts of being a writer.

So what do you do?  someone will ask.  And then there will be this long awkward pause while I try to force the word writer out of my mouth.

Just tell them you're a lawyer, part of me whispers.  I rarely get any follow-up questions when I tell people I'm a lawyer.

But lately, I've been forcing myself to say writer.  I'm a writer.  Then I force myself to smile as I answer all the follow-up questions.  No I'm not published.  No I don't have an agent, but I'm looking (hopeful pause).   Then they'll ask me about my work and I find I'm no longer forcing the smile.

I'm learning people are usually really nice and genuinely curious.   I'm the one judging myself, not them. I decided to be bold because I've been crushing my dream with my own insecurities long enough.  And besides I'm not going to make any connections if I don't tell anyone.  Speaking of that, does anyone know an agent?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Short Stories and Developing Craft

Honestly, I've never been a big fan of short stories because they're too short.  I want fiction to swallow me whole and take me to a different world where I can can hang out for a while.  But now that I'm working on developing discipline and craft, I've revisited the short story and I'm learning to embrace it.

Working on a short story or a piece of flash fiction is like a super intense workout.  Pumping those writer's muscles, in the space of a couple thousand words.  The short story format is a place to build skills and develop my writer's tool box.  I can work on figurative language, mood, setting, rhythm, and quick stroke character introductions.

If I want to do a really short work out, I'll write a story confined to the world of a single picture (No additional props, just my main character stuck in the frozen world of the photo.)

I'm reading more short stories to help me improve my writing.  Hemingway's  A Clean Well-Lighted Place, and The Snows of Kilimanjaro are some of my favorites.  What are some of your favorites?

The Snows of Ann Arbor

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Great Cat Debate



Do  cats help or inhibit writing?   My cats can sense when I'm sitting down to write.   Jeeves curls up in my lap and Wooster nests in front of my keyboard with her little chin resting on my arm.  I hate to wake them up.  So I stay at my desk just to let them sleep.  That's pretty helpful.  On the other hand, it's not easy to type with a cat resting on your arm.

On her website, Jane Yolen, an award winning children's author, writes that her secret to writing is BIC = butt in chair.  So maybe cats are the key to finishing a manuscript.

Post a comment and weigh in on the debate.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Nanny

I was listening to an NPR podcast about willpower. The take away = we've got a limited supply of willpower so it's better to avoid temptation.  Don't fill your pantry with cookies if you don't want to eat them.

Writing on the computer tests my willpower.  It's hard not to check my e-mail, Facebook, or the news (well maybe just the gossip news).  That's why I hired my nanny.  The nanny is a google chrome extension that blocks sites during specified hours.  If I try to click on facebook between the hours of nine to five, my nanny sends me a message that says, "shouldn't you be working."   And the Nanny's right.  I should be working.

Post a comment with your writing tips for staying disciplined and exercising your will power.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Inspirational Quotes

Inspirational quotes are the best cure for writer's block. I post them electronically as stickies all over my mac dashboard and non-virtually on the bulletin board in my office. Here's one of my favorites.

“People without hope not only don’t write novels, but what is more to the point, they don’t read them. They don’t take long looks at anything, because they lack the courage. The way to despair is to refuse to have any kind of experience, and the novel, of course, is a way to have experience.” -- Flannery O'Connor

Please leave a comment with your favorite motivational quotes.