Wednesday, December 27, 2006

WODE Writing challenge

Write Off the Deep End is having a writing challenge in the month of January. While inspired by NaNoWriMo, it's different in several ways. We set our own individual goals; daily, weekly, and/or for the month. It can be a new project, an existing project, research, setting up a writing space, or organizing the rest of our lives so that writing is a priority. Like NaNo, we have a yahoogroup to help support each other, and keep a database charting our individual progress. Most of the participants are from my local writer's group but I have extended the invitation to other writers I've met in the Quest for more knowledge, support and insight into this creative process. The more people involved, the greater chance for success. So many of us are competitive creatures. Simply knowing other people are reaching their goals can spur us on to complete our own.

If I come on here over the next month, babbling about how my characters are refusing to co-operate or that the weather is interfering with their action in the forest or asking what kind of insect eats its young or any other odd comment or question, you'll know that I'm in the midst of a writing challenge. I will also be in the midst of house renovations and in dire need of a vacation midway through the month but that's the kind of chaos that gets my creativity hopping.

If you know what kind of disease chestnuts can rebound from, please save me the research time and let me know. I'm going to send a horde of insects into the grove to finish them off while they're in their weakened condition so I suppose knowing the appropriate insects would help too. Hey, I don't have time to research, I'm plotting my goals, plot and arcs so I at least have some clue which direction I'm headed in January. Want to join me?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Classic movies

I've been on a bit of a classic movie kick. The dialogue alone is worth the price of admission (where did that expression originate?) It's sharp, witty and fast-paced. There are some interesting reminders that times have changed but it amazes me how tough and in control the women were of their hearts, minds, and destinies - not to mention their men. Cary Grant, William Powell, Bogie all more than held their own.

Smoking and drinking to excess were the norm, not frowned upon as they are in today's society. Lots of name-calling and face-slapping. Very little swearing or graphic violence. There were dark themes, and farsical schemes. A little bit of something for everyone.

Especially writers. Because the most important element to every classic movie I've watched over the last month has been a good story told well. Without nudity, profanity or special effects to rely on, the writers used words. Descriptive words, intelligent words, word twists and riddles, banter and repartee to move the plot and characters along in a way that invested and entertained the audience.

I have a few presents to finish making, all the wrapping to do and a little bit of baking left. I'm going to watch Suspicion, Vertigo, maybe even To Catch a Thief in my last minute rush of activity.

It's all in the name of research.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Writing through the holidays

It's the time of year when we're stretched in every possible direction. Family, work, friends, acquaintances, characters - yes, even our characters are part of the melee that demands our time right now. But most of us will likely give more time to the post man or paper boy than we will to the characters who bring our stories to life. There simply aren't enough hours in the day to fit everyone and everything in. I've given up a decent night's sleep in the attempt to get it all done but am still way behind. Nine more shopping days. Ha ha h - oops ho ho ho.

To a certain extent, I resent the time away from my writing. The fictional world is part of my coping mechanism for the rest of my life. Right now, in the crazy season of holiday cheer, shopping, eggnog, baking, decorating, whine, visiting and wrapping, I need that world more than ever. The longer I'm away from it, the harder it is to get back into the story and characters that sustain me. Like an elusive dream in the pre-dawn hour, my fictional world lingers on the edge of my consiousness.

Excuse me while I back away from the blog and capture a few moments of bliss in a world where the only demand is that I give it life.

And keep my sanity.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Why I blog

One of my critique partners asked me why I blog. I told her it helped me marshall my thoughts. She understood the idea of journaling to brainstorm but followed with the question, "Why make it public?"

I've been thinking about that for a month. There's no doubt a blog is a good time sink. Once committed to a blog, it's important to update it on a regular basis. It's great practice for meeting a deadline. If you take too long to post, people will yell at you about it.

A blog is also a great forum to try out an idea and get feedback. It's also an excellent way to build readership. If the goal is to be published, or stay published, than a blog can be a useful tool.

Plus, I like the attention.

According to the flower lore - "You stand up for what you believe in, even if it gets in the way of what other people think. You are proud of yourself and your accomplishments and you enjoy letting people know that."

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The devil is in the details

The other morning, my mind drifted to the crisp Autumn day after the Don't Look Down conversation. It was the same park with the same friend but every image I latched onto was isolated. The bright red leaf of the vine that twined its way through the metal lattice of the park bench. The chartreuse Osage orange that hung on the bare branch like a tennis ball. The smooth round orange stone in the field of pebbles and rocks. And my friend's hands, so much younger looking than his age and occupation would suggest.

It occurred to me that my hero only sees my heroine in details. Her smooth, round ass. Shimmering, pulsing wings. Small perfect breasts. Red eyes that see through his soul. He doesn't see who she is, only that which will bend him to her will. This could have a lot to do with why I still don't picture her clothing. When Alex looks at her, he focuses on what's important to him.

And that's where life and art meld. Photographs take us out of a moment, highlight an image that gives it significance for the rest of time. Scenes do the same thing. If you're showing it, then it's important.

Nea is a fractured character. And the more she disintegrates, the more Alex will see of her. Her true self will emerge from the wreckage of her identity crisis. Because in her case, the devil, or demon if you will, is truly in the details.

Friday, December 01, 2006


I was standing in front of the mirror this morning brushing my hair before I jumped into the shower. It was the perfect pose for admiration, very flattering. And my first thought was, "That is a much better body than you think it is." It's soft and round and generous and I rarely look at myself like that. I'm usually critical of the excess weight, the effects of gravity and scars of life.

I stripped the bathroom last night in preparation for this weekend's paint job. With so little to distract me, my focus naturally gravitated to the mirror. Such a clear unobstructed view made me look at myself differently. Less critically.

As writers we're critical people. We're always trying to improve our projects, our style, our craft. Critique groups were formed for that very purpose. Critique, critical and criticize have the same root. And we sometimes make the mistake of thinking they're all the same thing. We focus so much on what doesn't work that we ignore what does. As a result, we occasionally ruin the good stuff when we're fixing the bad.

My body and I have had our differences over the years. I'm not as good to it as I should be. I focus on the negative, on the ways it has let me down when in reality I'm blessed with this body. It gets me where I need to go, allows me to express myself in the ways I most desire and is reasonably attractive in the process.

My writing is the same. It tells a good story, is reasonably entertaining and allows me to express myself in the ways I most desire.

Today, I'm going to appreciate all that works well; not just in my writing or my body, but my life as well. Be less critical, and let my attitude mirror my life.