Sunday, November 08, 2009

lovin life

I'm amazed at how much fun I'm having writing fiction.

Longtime readers of this blog (grandma) will recall that I often whine about the difficulties of writing. I've likened it to digging ditches. I've written at least a half dozen posts about how I have to trick myself into writing everyday.

But since I've started this book, I can't wait to get back to it each morning. And when I'm at it, I stay at it. And sometimes I even come back to it in the afternoon, which I almost never did before.

Plus, when I'm not writing, I'm thinking about it. Playing around ideas. Jotting notes down in my journal.

Why did I put this off for so long?

(I've got 19 pages written so far. About a tenth of the way through, I figure.)

Friday, November 06, 2009

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Earlier this week, I downloaded Freedom and I've been using it every day since. It disables your internet connection for however long you specify. Great writing tool. Today I set it for three hours.

One of the toughest tasks of a writer is keeping your butt in the chair -- or at least keeping your eyes on whatever it is you're writing. Whenever I'm writing and I hit a spot where I'm not quite sure what I want to write next, or if I've got a complex thought I can't figure out how to word, I find myself reaching for the mouse to see what's happening online.

Invariably, nothing is happening online -- at least not anything that can't wait for me to finish writing. But still I go looking for it.

The temptation to do so is so strong that I've had to go to extremes to avoid it. In times past when I've had particularly difficult passages to write, I've escaped to small towns where there's no Internets to speak of, or to a Motel 6 off I-435.

But now, with Freedom, I can deprive myself in the comfort of my own home.

Monday, November 02, 2009

art of fiction

A couple weeks ago, I grabbed John Gardner's The Art of Fiction off of Allie's shelf and started reading. It turned out to be just the thing I needed to get me started writing fiction.

I've wanted to write fiction for years. But whenever I try to start, my mind locks up. I become overwhelmed by the immensity of the task ahead of me. Fiction offers so much freedom that it's stifling.

Nonfiction, on the other hand, has always seemed easier to break down into manageable steps. You just collect your info, lay it out in front of you and write your way through it.

Gardner describes novel writing roughly the same way. A novel is just a collection of polished scenes that connect and build on one another.

I found this helpful. I sat down the next day and I wrote a very short scene. Not much happened in it. But it was a scene.

The next day I wrote another. This morning I finished up one more. I've got the next two scenes roughly planned.

That said, I'm not sure I would recommend Gardner's book. He's kind of arrogant, and he goes off on a lot of unnecessary rants about his contemporaries.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


I've going to bring this blog back to life one more time.

Partly because someone posted a comment last week asking my to write more here. Partly because my grandma isn't on Facebook. But mostly because I have an idea of what to write about: writing.

For the next several months (or weeks or days or years, however long I can keep it up), I'm going to post about my experiences as I write a novel, teach college composition to freshmen, work my way through a graduate writing program, etc. -- whatever I'm going through that I feel like sharing and writing about.

I'm also going to take the opportunity to look back over my career. I'm going to dust off some of my earliest stories, scan and post them so I can pick them apart to find stuff I did wrong or stuff I accidentally did right. I'm gonna post the proposals that didn't sell, and the one that did--including the early drafts, just to look at how it came together. I might even post some winning proposals my friends have written, if they'll let me. And I'll tell some of the stories about how I got into writing -- the first paying jobs, how I got an agent and published a book, and so on.


Bunch of reasons. Some good. Some vain. Doesn't really matter. If you want to follow along, by all means, make yourself at home. If you don't, don't.

(Oh yeah, I think I might even wrap up the 80s series with a couple quick posts about my Deadhead days.)

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