Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lots of Links about Writing

I am going to a writing retreat in Vermont called Kindling Words this weekend. An entire weekend of nothing but writing and talking about writing! I am so so so excited. For one thing, the people are fantastic. For another, this retreat comes at the perfect time for me with my work-in-progress. I'm in the produce-as-much-as-possible stage, and I intend to write a stunningly tremendous amount this weekend.

Since I'm about to head off to think, talk, and do writing, I thought I'd share with you some writing-related links that I recently bookmarked. (Note: I don't agree with everything in all of these, but I did find them all interesting.)

Just-Do-It General Advice:

"25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing" by Chuck Wendig

"25 Things Writers Should Start Doing" by Chuck Wendig

"So You Want to Be a Writer... Advice to a 10 Year Old" by Ron Marz

Finding Inspiration:

"What Inspires" by Sara Zarr

"Where Do You Get Your Ideas?" by Neil Gaiman

Avoiding Pitfalls:

"Measuring Success" by Mette Ivie Harrison

"Oh, the Internet" by Kiersten White

Personal Experiences:

"Turning Points" by Gayle Forman

"You Have Mentioned Several Times..." by Sarah Rees Brennan

"Starting a New Book" by Kate Messner

"What's Your Favorite Anecdote About Learning How to Write?" by S.C. Butler

"Writing for Writing's Sake" by Rhonda Stapleton

Techniques of Super-Fast Writers:

"How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day" by Rachel Aaron

"The 10,000 Word Day" by Zoe Winters

"Kicking Out a Fast First Draft" by Anne Greenwood Brown

Sites with Lots of Great Writing-Related Posts:

Nova Ren Suma's distraction no. 99

John Scalzi's Whatever

Chuck Wendig's Terrible Minds

For a list of older links to writing-related posts and articles, please click here and here.

Happy writing!

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

My New Muse

"I want to be your muse!" Annie announces.

Annie is a fictional character without a story. She visits me sometimes while I'm trying to write.

"I think I would be an awesome muse," she says. "Whenever you're stuck, I'd sing to you to comfort you. Or perform interpretive dance." She lifts her leg in the air and waves her arms like a deranged chicken.

I try to think of a delicate way to say "no." "I always pictured my muse as more like Tim Gunn," I say. "You know, 'That sentence doesn't speak to me. I'm concerned. Make it work!'"

She pouts. "But I've always wanted to be a muse!"

"Really?" I hate to crush her hopes and dreams. She might be a disruption but she's otherwise harmless. Plus she brings snacks. I can see a bag of yogurt-covered pretzels stuffed in her pocket.

"Actually, no," she said. She hops onto my desk, crinkling the latest print-out of my work-in-progress. "I wanted to be a hero. But it didn't work out."

Despite knowing better, I ask, "What happened?"

She beams at me, hands me a yogurt-covered pretzel, and says, "Well, if you really must know... I was born to be a hero, seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. There were prophecies about me and everything. Some of them even rhymed. One involved an interpretive dance..." She flaps her arms in the air again.

"What were you supposed to do?" I ask.

"Find the Lost Acorn of Eternal Peace."

"So what went wrong?"

She shrugged. "A squirrel ate it."


"Would I lie to you?" Annie asks. She points to my computer screen. "You know, that sentence doesn't speak to me. I'm concerned..."

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Annie Tells Me About Squirrels

Annie is a fictional character who visits me sometimes. She lives in a deadly forest with killer squirrels. I made the critical error of asking her about the squirrels. You should never ask an imaginary person to tell you about anything, especially if you are trying to concentrate on writing a chapter that has absolutely nothing to do with rodents, homicidal or otherwise.

So far, after half an hour, all I've written is two sentences of my work-in-progress, and all I've learned is that the squirrels make cute, chittering sounds before they drop out of the trees on their victims' heads. She demonstrated this sound for a solid twenty minutes before I finally convinced her to stop.

"That's why I have antlers," Annie says. "Any killer squirrel that drops on me will find itself impaled." Annie has a pair of deer antlers growing out of the top of her head. She wears her hair in pig tails around them. Very stylish.

"So you're telling me your horns--"

"Antlers," she says primly.

"Your antlers are natural selection to protect against killer squirrels?" I know I shouldn't be encouraging her, but I can't help myself.

"Yep," she says. She crunches on a tortilla chip. "Hey, do you have any salsa? These would go great with salsa. Maybe some guacamole. I loooove avocado."

"I don't have any," I say. "What happens to people without antlers?" I self-consciously touch the top of my own head and imagine it has a squirrel-size bullseye on top.

"Oh, the squirrels horde human heads for the winter."

On that note, she hops off my desk and heads off in search of salsa and guacamole. And I am left with a new fear of squirrels. Luckily, I haven't completed my writing quota for the day, so I won't have to go outside and face the vile creatures. I am safe... at least until she returns.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Visit from Annie

Annie is visiting. She's a fictional character, but I haven't written her story yet. This makes her impatient.

She stands behind me and points at the screen. "What's that?"

"Chapter six," I say. I keep typing. I have learned that you can keep the distractions away if you keep your fingers moving over the keyboard. It's the second that you pause that you're tempted to click on the Internet, fetch a snack, clean the linen closet, or talk with an imaginary girl with antlers on her head.

It's slightly more difficult to maintain focus when the imaginary character brings chips.

Crunching in my ear, she squints at the screen. "I don't think that word means what you think it means."

"First drafts are supposed to be rough," I say.

"Then congratulations," she says. "You've succeeded. I've seen white water rapids that run smoother than your prose."

"Thanks," I say. I don't look at her as I type.

"I've seen dirt roads that are smoother."

"Thanks," I say.

"I've seen mountain ranges...

"Got it. Thanks. Can you... Be somewhere else for a while?"

"Nope," she says. She hops up onto my desk. Her antlers scrape the ceiling. Flecks of plaster rain down on my keyboard. "I don't have a 'somewhere else.'"

I pause typing. "Well, where are you from?"

She grins at me, as if aware that she has won. "A forest. A forest of endless night."

"Stupid," I say. "Can't have a forest without sunlight. Chlorophyll."

"Fine." She pouts. "It's a forest where the trees are alive..."

"Trees are alive."

"These talk. And sing. And kill."

"Huh," I say. "Killer trees?"

Annie grins at me. "You don't know the half of it. You think the trees are bad? You should see the squirrels." She holds out a tortilla chip. "Wanna chip?"

I take it. "Tell me about the squirrels..."

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Conversation with a Character

A character sits on a chair. She swings her legs back and forth, scuffing the tips of her sneakers on the floor. They squeak like Styrofoam, and I wince. I hate that sound.

"Are you planning to sit there all day?" I ask her.

"Could be," she says. She sticks a lollipop in her mouth. I have no idea where she got the lollipop. "Are you planning to write my story yet?"

"Could be," I say. "Have you developed a personality?"

"Nope. You?"

"Ouch," I say. "Harsh."

She shrugs and looks around my writing room. "This place is a wreck. You should clean it. And your books are not alphabetized."

I look at her suspiciously. "You want me to write, don't you?"

"I want you to write MY story. Not that." She pokes the lollipop at my computer screen.

"But I don't know your story yet," I say.

"That's because you haven't written it yet."

I can't argue with that logic.

She offers me the lollipop. It has some cat fur stuck to it, but it's green apple flavor. So I take it, stick it in my mouth, and start typing.

When I look back, the character's hair has turned brown, and she has antlers. She says her name is Annie...

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Monday, January 02, 2012

Hello 2012!

Happy New Year!!!

I love when the calendar switches to a fresh year! Reminds me of the Anne Shirley quote about tomorrow being fresh with no mistakes in it.

This clip does not include that quote, but it makes me smile. You're welcome.

Of course, I have already broken one New Year's resolution (sorry, exercise bi
ke!). Coincidentally, I broke the very same resolution last year just as quickly. Maybe breaking it will become a new annual tradition. I do love traditions.

Our New Year's Eve tradition is AWESOME. We go to the supermarket in the morning, buy every kind of appetizer we can think of, and eat nothing but hors d'oeuvres from noon to midnight.

But really, the thing that makes it wonderful is simply being together. I think that's the perfect way to start a new year: with people I love. Also, chips and salsa.

And that's what I wish for all of you in 2012: time with the people you love, health, happiness, and all the hors d'oeuvres you wish to eat!

Best wishes for a wonderful year!