Friday, October 14, 2011

What now?

A wonderful surprise arrived in the mail this week. My friend, Leslie, sent me Ann Patchett's, What now? It is a book that summarizes a graduation speech she gave at her alma mater, Sarah Lawrence. It wonderfully and succinctly describes the feeling we all have as we teeter on a precipice wondering, "What now?"

The other point Ann makes is that to be a writer, you have to do a lot of what she calls staring. As in, sitting in one place, gazing out at nothing. That's how she gets a lot of her ideas. I stare a little. Mostly, I think right before I'm drifting off to sleep. I once tried to recreate this moment of subconscious thought by hopping on top of my bed in the mid-afternoon, closing my eyes and thinking. It worked. Another technique I have is to walk.

And I'm happy to report that just the other day when I was walking, I thought of three terrific plot strands that I knew would work. Only problem - it's for a different WIP...

Monday, October 10, 2011


It's been awhile since I've written, but that doesn't mean I haven't been working. I've actually been working hard - doing a lot of thinking and reading. There seems to be lots of revision necessary for my latest WIP, so I've been trying to decide how to approach it. I'm not usually that attached to a manuscript once I submit it, but this one has parts that I really love, so without specific line-by-line guidance, it's been hard to chop it up.

So, what I've been doing is trying new plot strands to see if I like what's happening with them. Normally, I LOVE the revision process, but this manuscript is a little tougher to clip, so I need to see how I can do it so that it feels right.

Anyone out there feel the same??

Monday, May 9, 2011


It's done. It's finished. It's ready. That is, my manuscript is ready to be read by my agent. I could have gone over it another 20, 30, 40 times. Really. But I also wanted to send it to her by the end of April. So I did. April 28th, to be exact.

And now I'm waiting. 

I don't like to wait. It's especially hard because I usually have a number of other readers before I send it out. But this time, in the interest in time, I just had one: me. I'm very critical, but I'm still me.

This me is wondering every third minute,  "Is it good????  Will she like it????"

I don't know. I don't have any answers. But in the meantime, I will try - very hard - to be patient.

Stay tuned. I hope the news is good...

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I'm done. That is, I do indeed have a first draft.

What does that mean, exactly? You may be thinking, "Well, I thought she had a first draft on March 31."

That first draft was the real First Draft which really should be called the first rough draft. This new draft is the first smooth draft.

This draft means that I've been through the manuscript several times on the computer. It means I've dotted as many i's as I could find and crossed the same number of t's.

It means that I think it's organized and coherent. I think it flows and makes sense.

I am printing it out, right now, as I type this post. My next job is to read through it, make changes and then, do that several more times.

And then? Whoopee - it's off through cyber-space to my agent.

Double Yippee!!

Thursday, March 31, 2011


I---- think---- I'm---- done?

Maybe done. Maybe have a first draft. Here's the last line: So he got the peppermint treat which guarantees sweet dreams.   

I don't know if it will stay like that, but for now, I like it. 

Next step: read through this messy, rough first draft page by page. There is a lot of organizing, foreshadowing, streamlining and expanding to be done. But I'm feeling so happy, contented and thrilled that I have come this far. 

The word count: 47,777. Remember when I wanted to get to 40,000 words? Then 50,000? Then 60,000? The word count is a helpful, measurable goal when I'm starting out. But at some point it doesn't matter because I know I'll get to the end, and I know it will be long enough.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Reading Aloud

I think a writer has to really love what she's working on in order to keep going. That might sound a bit ego-centric, but if you don't like the story - and you're the one creating it - who will?

The moment I know I love what I'm writing is when I start to read it out loud. Sometimes it happens at the very, very start and this euphoria can keep me going for the first 10,000 words. But mostly, it's later, when I look back on it, I'll realize that I like - or maybe even love - what I've done. I'll want to hear the cadence and rhythm of the words that make up my story. I will want to spend some of my precious writing time reading favorite parts out loud, just enjoying what I've created and how it sounds.

The other good thing about reading aloud is that it's a super way to edit. As you read, the parts that don't flow, that seem to "stick" will be very apparent.


I see that my last post was Ugh. Now it's Yay. What a difference a month can make. And why don't I remember this when I'm in the midst of the Ugh?

I spent a lot of time in February trying to edit an area I felt was going off in a direction I didn't like. The only thing those days of editing did for me was to stop the flow of creativity. Because once I gave up on the editing and plunged back into the narrative, I was on my way again.

I know that editing as you write works for some people, but I must remember that it does not work for me. I have to stay in the story and keep going forward (regardless of the junk littering up my manuscript - it will get cut later) to finish the project.

I'm actually in sight of the end. I think I have about 30 more pages. I don't have the end worked out, but I know that when I get there, it will work out.

Stay tuned!

Monday, February 14, 2011


I'm not saying ugh just because it's Monday because I actually like Mondays. It's an UGH day because I'm in what I think is about the last quarter of this book, and I'm having a lot of trouble. I spent way too much time this morning trying to make it work and it really didn't work. So now - after 482 words - (which is not nearly enough if I want to get a first draft done by the end of February...) I'm stopping. Fortunately, it's not raining, so I'm going to get some fresh air and walk down the hill to the post office.

I am hoping that my brain will continue to work while I walk and when I return, I'll have figured out some things about this manuscript.

Stay tuned.

Friday, February 11, 2011



I made a big mistake this morning. I felt like some organization of the manuscript was needed. So I printed out (a first and usually a very exciting time to actually see the story on paper) about 70 pages starting at page 94. Then I spent most of the morning and all the way until 1:30 this afternoon trying to set up one of the secondary characters. The result is that I accomplished it but I don't feel particularly good about it. Even though I advanced the word count (42481) I didn't move the story ahead. And that's really - for me - the measure of a successful day. Because then you have more of a place to start the next time.

I think I'm avoiding some part of the plot. So that's the  place I need to start Monday morning. See you then.


One of the most important things when writing is staying in the story. But sometimes there are distractions. These come in all shapes and sizes. For me it was the holidays, company and some travel. I finally tossed in the towel in mid-December knowing I wanted to make butter cookies more than I wanted to write.

In late January, I jumped back in, finally meeting my New Year's goal of 40,000 words last Friday. The 40,000 words was mostly psychological as I'm no longer worried about the number of words I have to write as I feel pretty confident that the story will take at least another 20,000 words to tell.