All writers, at one time or another, go through a slump. I’m in one of those with my fiction. It’s partly due to the challenge of finding time to write while caring for two young kids. It’s partly that I feel disheartened. It’s partly that I’ve got other irons in the fire, too. But I am still writing. Sometimes it’s only a page a week. But that counts, too. This too shall pass, I tell myself. I will find my passion for writing again. For now, I read, I blog on my other site, I try. Mostly, I try to not flog myself for not having accomplished more with my writing. This last one is my biggest challenge.
Conferencing March 16, 2010
I’ve been to two conferences in the last couple months: The San Diego State University Writer’s Conference, and then my fourth (!) year at the Southern California Writer’s Conference here in San Diego. I guess this makes me a conference junkie.
Going to conferences is great, regardless of where you are as a writer. Contemplating exercising that right brain in this particular creative endeavor? There’s plenty of inspiration for newbies. A draft or partial draft in and unsure what on earth you’ve gotten yourself into? Seminars on every aspect of story creation or editing can be found at most any conference. Curious about the business side? Plenty of information to be found. Have a clean, edited final manuscript? Here’s a great place to connect with agents and editors.
The thing I’ve loved most, however, about going to conferences is the people I meet and the inspiration I take away. I always leave with a few new friends (and potential critique partners) and with a renewed sense of purpose. This year was no different.
I haven’t ventured out of San Diego yet for a conference; any suggestions out there on good ones you’ve been to?
Confession: I hate time travel stories. I get stuck every time on the whole grandfather clause thing; plus the butterfly effect. But two things have snuck in under my radar. The TV show Lost. I loved it from the get go, and then they started the whole time travel storyline, but I was already hooked. And then, this not so little book. I knew it was time travel and hesitated to buy it, but I heard the author speak at the SCWC and he was so charming that I had to give his book a try. SO GLAD I did – I’m loving it so far. A caveat: both of these time travel stories contend that whatever happened, happened, so the outcomes can’t be changed. That’s time travel I can live with.
Leaving a Book Unfinished June 26, 2009
It’s been a good week. It’s amazing what I can accomplish when I cut myself off from the internet. But here’s what I want to talk about: putting books down. Do you do it? Up until now, I haven’t been able to. Once I start a book, I can’t not finish it. It’s a compulsive habit, I know. And more than once I’ve dragged my feet through a novel just in order to finish it. I don’t know why – part of me wonders what I might miss out on, I suppose, and part of me doesn’t want to leave something unfinished, loose threads and all. But I’ve come to the enlightened conclusion that there are far too many great books out there for me to waste my precious time with the ones that just aren’t speaking to me.
So I have a new rule. It’s a 100 page rule – which is still quite generous, I think. If, after 100 pages, I still don’t care about the characters, or the writing grates on me, or (choose your demon), I will put that book down and leave it unfinished.
I’ve tried it once already, and wow, was it liberating!
How about you? What do you do when you don’t like a book? Finish it anyway? Throw it across the room? Use it for kindling? Toilet paper?
Currently Reading: I’ve actually nearly finished GOOD OMENS, which is absolutely not a book I would throw across the room or sacrifice to any vile purpose. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett together, writing about the apocalypse – what more could a girl ask for?
Five Questions You Must Ask Yourself May 2, 2009
Writer’s Digest puts out an online magazine that I get via email. A recent magazine had an article that listed five questions you, as a writer, must answer in order to succeed:
1. Who are your favorite authors and why?
2. What do they do that grabs your attention and keeps you turning pages?
3. What keeps you coming back to your favorite genres?
4. What compels you to write fiction/ memoir/ poetry?
5. How will you make sure that your own work grabs and keeps your readers’ attention every bit as well as your own favorites capture you?
At first glance, it seems easy enough. Any time reading or writing comes up in conversation, I light up and babble away. Storytelling and stories are easily my favorite subjects. But now I’ve found myself really pondering these questions; trying to dig deeper. The article emphasizes that we writers should answer these questions with relish and in great detail. So, writers, have at it.
I Can’t Believe I Didn’t March 6, 2009
I just went to a bookstore and get this: I did not buy a book for myself. That almost never happens. My focus was to buy some baby books for my girlfriend’s shower gift – I’m a writer, so gifts from me tend to be books. They don’t get the ahhing and cooing that tiny little socks and onesies do, but to me – they are the best, most important gift I can give. Anyway, I actually bought only what I went in there to buy! I suppose the fact that: 1. I have a huge backlog of books piled in my room and I’m trying not to buy more books until I read through those stacks and 2. I really had to pee and there was no restroom in sight, might have been why I didn’t spend more time under the extreme temptation of shelves stocked with stories and then eventually succumb to the need to know what a particular cover holds inside, but really, folks, this is a historic (an historic) event. Carol Callicotte browsed through a bookstore without buying herself a book.
Currently Reading: Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I’ve never read a graphic novel before, but my husband insisted I read this one before we see the movie. All I can say is – wow. It’s good.
Biohazard, Coming Through! February 23, 2009
I’ve been on a book buying binge – I can’t seem to walk into a bookstore or browse Amazon without ordering a book or two (or three…). Hence, my pile of now 50+ books that I am determined to read this year. I tend to buy them new – I like to make sure the author gets their deserved percentage. But I have another reason as well – I’m a bit of a germaphobe. Recently, I decided to order a used paperback, just to save some money (it was one I’d already bought, read, and donated to the library, and when I couldn’t find it at the library, I hated to pay full price again). The book arrived this weekend looking… weathered. And my first thought was – did someone read this while they were sitting on the toilet?
Am I the only one with this phobia? Anyone remember the Seinfeld episode where George is in the bookstore and decides to take a book into the bathroom with him? Where has this paperback been, I wonder? Having a bachelor’s degree in microbiology, I know that any microbial life forms that got on there would be dead by now, but still. I just look at that poor little paperback and think…eww.
Best Books I’ve Read This Year – So Far November 21, 2008
I may have a huge stack of books in my to-read pile, but it’s not because I haven’t been reading. Oh, wow, do I love to read – typically a book or two a week. It’s amazing what one can accomplish without cable. I’ve picked three favorites. They are quite different in genre and tone, but all of them kept me up late at night, made me ignore the phone, and had me walking around the house while reading, addicted to the pages and dying to know what would happen next. I’m not going to do a book review on each of them because, well, it’s Friday. But here they are, in no particular order. I highly recommend each of them, and if you do read them, come back and let me know what you think!
I loved this book. An original twist on WWII – narrated from the perspective of Death. The characters are strongly drawn, their relationships and interactions rang true, and the setting was intense and believable. I was immediately swept up by the story. It’s a book I hated to finish.
I don’t read much chick lit, but I will definitely read more from Marian Keyes. She handles the obviously touchy subject of addiction with humor and poignancy, allowing us to see the world through an addict’s eyes. It was a tad long – too many scenes that seemed to cover the same basics, but I still could not put the book down.
LOVED this book. Fat Charlie, Spider, and Mr. Nancy take us on a wild ride through a world where gods walk among us, and may very well be singing on a karyoke stage somewhere nearby. The story works on themes similar to those in AMERICAN GODS, but with a more playful tone. Neil Gaiman has quickly become one of my favorites. He’s absolutely brilliant.