It’s All Good

I realized last night, when I took a breath to think about it, that I blogged only once last week. And didn’t realize it until the week was over.

When I named gave this blog its name, Moving Forward on the Writing Path, I may have naively assumed that forward always meant…well, forward. With no detours, no twists, no stalls. I say “naively,” because, realistically, we all know the writing path actually looks a lot like this:

Signs I know life is getting busy?

  • Yep, fewer blogs.
  • More to-do lists on my computer. (Luckily, I use StickyPad, which means the notes are virtual, not physical–they “stick” better, don’t look as sloppy, and are editable! Not to mention that, when I decide it’s time to STOP working, I shut off my computer, and I can’t “hear” the notes nagging at me anymore!)
  • I read and reread lighter books, comfort stories that I can dip in and out of without worrying about the characters or trying to dissect the plots. Latest choices: Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries series and Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family stories.

What’s the busyness about? Taking first steps into a new writing area I’ve wanted to break into for a long time, hoping to add more non-writing work hours to my week, listening to all the stories in my head that want to be told. Yes, all good things. And you will hear more about them here, if/when they all get finalized and definite!

Still, if Jeeves showed up at my front door today, looking for a job, I wouldn’t say no. And I bet more blogs would magically get written, too!

Life and writing is about organization and management. And just when you think you’ve achieved that, change happens. Sorry…Change happens. Yes, with a capital C. Which is better than boredom and stagnation, but…it does put a few little hills and sharp curves into that path.

What do you do when new things come along? How do you weave them into a pattern that lets you settle into a rhythm and keep that forward movement.

A couple of links for you:

Gail Gauthier has started a series on time management for writers at her blog, Original Content. Check the posts out here.

And Debbi Michiko Florence has made this year her Year of Writing. You can find her series of YOW posts here.

And here’s to having it all…including sanity!

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Author Appreciation Week: Terry Pratchett

If you go to the bookstore and ask for directions to the Terry Pratchett books, you’re likely to be sent to at least two, of not more, sections. Some will be in the science-fiction/fantasy world, some will be on the new-book shelves, and some will definitely be in the YA section. Which means that, when you’re shopping for the two or three of his books that your fourteen-year-old son hasn’t read yet, you know to hunt through the whole store.

And that’s why I appreciate Terry Pratchett. Because while I would guess he doesn’t think too much about who he’s writing for, I know that he’s writing for my son.

Okay, and for me. And my husband. All three of us laugh out loud—really loud—at the same passages. And, yes, we all try and do the thick brogue when we imitate Rob Anybody or another of the wee free men. Obviously, I love Pratchett’s comedy and would read his books time and time again if only for the brilliance of his humor.

What I love most about his books, though, is the characters. You could probably, if you tried, describe or summarize any one of them in a few sentences, and you’d hit them on target. What that summary wouldn’t convey, though (and what I’m not sure I’ll be able to), is the subtleties Pratchett weaves into each. Maybe it’s because he’s written so many books, maybe it’s because his characters remain so absolutely true to themselves in all those books. I’m not sure. All I know is that, time and time again, he’ll write a scene, a description, a piece of dialog that just makes me say, “That is so her.” Or him.

My favorite Pratchett books are the ones with the witches. My son likes those, too, but I think his first choices would be the ones with the Watch—Commander Vimes, Sergeant Colon, & Nobby. My all-time favorite character is Granny Weatherwax. I’m not sure why, but it has something to do with the fact that nobody—no matter how magical, or powerful, or strong—can beat her. Why? Simply because she knows they can’t. Granny is funny in her crankiness, in her determination to do & see things one way (her way), in her rivalries with the other witches. At her core, though, is a seriousness, a recognition that the world is hard, that people can and will do others and themselves harm without even trying, and that if nobody else is going to do battle, well, she will. And even if she loses, as long as she tries…she doesn’t lose.

And the amazing thing about Pratchett is that he gets that across at the same exact time as he is writing some of the best sheer entertainment of this and the last century, without missing a beat. Honestly, it’s not that often that I’m laughing till tears come and simultaneously sitting in awe of the sheet beauty of an author’s prose.

Pratchett makes me do that.

And I appreciate it.

A few more posts from other bloggers for you to check out:

And thank you, again, Sara, from Novel Novice for the Author Appreciation avatar!

Reading for Writing

This week I isolated one of my worries about my current WIP–the worry that I don’t (yet!) know how to convey the tension the story needs and deserves. I’m not the most comfortable person with tension. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, books were invented for me (yes, for me) to escape life’s stresses.

And then this character came along and told me in no uncertain terms that she was a strong and powerful girl, that she had to face some very bad things to bring that power out, to see it for herself. She also told that I had to write those things.

Yes, okay. Sure. No problem.

I’ve been plotting and writing and developing my characters, and I’m definitely making progress. In the back of my head, though, has been that worry–what about the tone of the story–it’s feel. This is, I think, partially a matter of voice, and partially a matter of things like sentence length, action and pacing, how long and how intently I as a writer and Caro as a hero dip into her reactions and emotions. The one thing I’m clear on is that–I’m not yet clear on all this. 🙂

So I’m going back to the basics. I don’t know who said this first, and I don’t know what number they used, but I’m thinking of the advice about reading X quantity of books in a genre to really know it. Yes, I know there’s a before in there, too–read X books BEFORE you try and write something. Well, I’m going to cheat. I care too much about this story, want to be writing it too much to wait until I’ve read 100 or 1,000 tough, edgy, painful YA novels. So I’ll be reading and writing at the same time.

I’m going to do a little osmosis–just read and read and read and let the words of the experts seep into my brain. I’m also going to do a little analysis–pick a few favorites and read them a few more times, though, then try to actually see what they’re doing, how they’re creating that tension. How they’re writing the words that hit me in the gut.

And, yes, I know I’m running the danger of losing myself so much in their styles that I start copying those styles on my own pages. It’s happened once or twice before–when I was reading a lot of historical novels, at the start of this project, I had to back off for a while. Also–and this one was a lot more fun–when I was on a binge of reading Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries series, my 12-year-old male protagonist started talking way too much like Mia. So I’ll be watching myself for heading into derivative-land, and pulling out for a bit if I need.

But I’m going to read, and I’m going to write. And I’m going to trust in this combination that hasn’t ever let me down before.