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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Comparisons: A Small Rant

People, people, people.

I am glad you all love Mockingjay. I’m happy you’ve been able to immerse yourselves in it over the past day or two. I’m thrilled that it seems to be proving all you wanted. Full disclosure: I haven’t read it yet, but I will, and when I get there, I’m pretty sure I’ll be seriously impressed as well.

BUT…

Please don’t compare yourself as a writer, as a not-as-good writer, as a writer-who-will-never-write-this-well. I don’t know Suzanne Collins personally, but I am willing to bet this was NOT HER GOAL when she wrote her trilogy. Really.

Okay, not everybody’s doing this. But I’ve read a few posts on Facebook and Twitter, though, and probably you’re half-joking, at least. I hope. Because comparisons stink. They make you feel bad about yourself, with no reason. No, I can’t tell you you’re wrong. In many ways, you’re right. Suzanne Collins has written a wonderful book, one you will not write yourself. I won’t write it, either. I also won’t write The Princess Diaries, My Father’s Dragon, Zen and the Art of Faking It, Donuthead, or Wuthering Heights.

Thank goodness someone already did.

Because these are some of the stories that made me fall in love with books, and keep me there. They’re the reason I write.

I know you guys don’t really mean it. I know you’re in love with Suzanne Collins’ stories and are happy, SO happy, that she’s given them to us. I wince, though, every time I read a post saying one of you will never be this kind of writer. I want to hug you, to tell you it’ll be okay, and then–honestly–to throw a pillow at you (a soft, feathery one, but still…).

YOU’RE WRITING. You’re doing wonderful things, putting together beautiful (okay, and not so beautiful) combinations of words that nobody has created before you. You’re telling your story, the best you can…and that’s HUGE!

Remember that, okay?


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.