Tuesday, March 31, 2009

April - a Poem a Day

Robert Lee Brewer at the Writer's Digest blog Poetic Asides in once again having is Poem a Day in April challenge.

For those that are poetically inclined, it's a great way to get those creative bats fluttering. Robert posts a prompt every day, you write a poem and put it in the comments section of his blog, and he picks his favorites.

I tried this last April and it was a complete mixed bag. My chocolate chip cookie poem got picked as a favorite, but some of my efforts were so awful that I ended up deleting them from this blog. Never to be read again!

I won't have the time to do it again this April, (too much else to do!) but I do think I'll check out the prompts and try my hand once or twice along the way. If anything I churn out is slightly palatable, I'll post it here.

If you take the challenge, let me know! And good luck!


Thanks to a member of my writing class, I found a very useful post on Deadline Dames about outlining here.

If you've never tried outlining, I can't recommend it highly enough. The post on Deadline Dames shows a couple of fairly simple, straightforward ways to do it. One uses a fave of mine The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler to get things going.

Whenever my writing bogs down and I feel like I'm trudging through sludge to get something on paper, it's almost always because I have no idea where I'm going or why this scene exists. The answer is - outline! Every scene in the outline has a purpose, and knowing that purpose makes it ten times easier to write the scene.

Things will change as you write. You'll come up with ideas that never occured to you before, or see that things should go together differently. That's fine. The outline is not set in stone. I often reoutline, or jot notes in my old outline to indicate changes. It won't squash your inspiration - it'll foster it.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Busy Week!

Went out a lot this week, date-y things, friend-y things, civic duty things. And then there's all that working out and washing my hair and giving medicine to my ancient cat. I thought about bringing my laptop to jury duty but have a horror of schlepping things around. Plus it gave me an excuse to keep reading YA book WAKE by Lisa McMann, which is excellent, by the way!

All of which means I only have four new pages of writing so far. My class deadline (only two more to go!) to submit up to 15 pages is Saturday at 9am (realistically, that means by the end of the evening on Friday because I sleep in on the weekends, babe). I can submit less, but my teacher, Jill Santopolo (children's author and editor at Balzer & Bray), is fabulous, and I want to maximize my use of her talents by getting as much feedback as possible.

So let's be real: no way am I going to churn out 11 pages by the end of the day today. I might be able to generate 5 or 6 - if today is a good day So I'll have maybe 10 or 11 pages for Jill and the other class members to rip into. Sigh. Then just one more week of feedback before I'm on my own again.

Well, not quite. I have good friends who are talented writers who give me their feedback if I do the same for them. Halleluyah! But it's weird how I have this compulsion to squeeze every last drop of feedback out of Jill before she slips away. I guess it's just a sign of how valuable her comments are!

Busy weeks happen. I'm a bit disappointed I didn't write more, but at least I wrote something!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Think Big, Write it Down

Writing is useful in so many ways. I just read a post on The Art of Nonconformity about writing a Big Life List.

I've done variations of this and found it to be very useful. I wrote a list of writing goals here in this blog at the beginning of the year, and am on my way to achieving them - I hope!

The other day I found a list of life goals I'd written many years ago. I'd put it away in an obscure place and came upon it. And guess what? I'd achieved the majority of the goals I'd written there! And that happened without looking at the list after I'd written it. I think writing it down makes it more concrete, lays it down in your synapses somehow, so that you take in the goal unconsciously and start moving toward it.

It may be time for me to form another list of Big Life goals. Maybe it's time for you as well? Check out the links above to see ways to help yourself. Take your time, be concrete, think beyond adventure goals (climb Mt. Everest), and consider publishing the list somewhere. All these things can help you have a life that's more fulfilling as you go through it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Anyone But Tom Bombadil

Author Neil Gaiman sat down with Stephen Colbert on his show last night to discuss his lovely Newberry Medal-winning novel The Graveyard Book. (Read it now! I loved it.) The interview below reveals the theme of the book and that Neil loves Tolkein but hates Tom Bombadil.

Because I follow Neil on Twitter, I've learned that they cut out 40 second of the interview, where Neil said his favorite Tolkein character was Gandalf, and Colbert said his favorite was Faramir. Enjoy!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Indulging my Inner Archaeologist...

They are opening up the chambers in the Bent Pyramid in Saqqara! Check out the announcement here.

I did make it into the pyramid of Menkaure when I went to Egypt in 2003. You had to crouch and walk, maintaining that crouch, down a steep incline, clinging to the right hand wall, while people coming out climbed up past you on the left. As you descended, it got dark and sticky and hot. The stone above your head bulged downward. You became accutely aware of the tons of stone piled on top of you. Many people turned around and got the hell out of there after a few moments. Those tomb robbers could not have suffered from claustrophobia at all.

Now I have to go back to Egypt. And maybe write something about exploring underground tunnels beneath a bent pyramid, the tons of stone weighing down from above...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Writing with a Cold

I've been under the weather for about three days now. Hopefully today is the big finish and I'll start getting better. But it did make me (blearily) wonder - how do people write to deadline if they get sick?

I had a brief burst of energy last night and did manage to write two pages. Now I'm afraid to go back and see what I wrote. But I do figure it's better to get something down, almost anything, rather than leave the page blank. Rewriting is a certainty as it is, and you might as well give yourself more to rewrite, right?

We'll see if I have enough energy to crank out two more pages tonight. So far, no. Just typing out this blog entry is making me want to go lie down. So I'm going to lie down.

But all you writers out there, who write sick, on deadline or not - hang in there. Keep writing.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Grace of Surprise

Okay, this really has nothing to do with writing, but I found the video clip below and am just in awe. In it, a basketball player Chris Paul dribbles the ball through rival team member Jason Perry's legs at lightning speed. It's so fast you can barely see it.

Never thought you'd see a sports clip on this blog, did you? Thank goodness for slo mo and replays. The pass to his teammate who makes the dunk afterwards is almost as spectacular. I could watch this kind of graceful athleticism for hours. It shows the benefits of hours of practice, natural talent, and determination. Writers take note!

(As a tall chick, I also like seeing really tall people show the world that just because we're tall doesn't mean we're clumsy.)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Impossible Dream

I haven't seen the Oscar winning documentary Man on Wire yet, but I saw a montage from the film that just floored me, and inspired me.

Getting published. Making a living writing. Impossible dreams, right? Well, take a look at the clip below of Philip Petit, the man who walked on a wire strung between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. It's a lesson in how to make your impossible dreams come true.

At one point, Petit says, "I thought, okay, this is impossible. Now let's get to work."