Monday, February 25, 2008


"He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it." ~~Douglas Adams from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Writers are an odd breed. We spend our lives immersed in a dream world, a universe where we call the shots. Real life can seem like a pesky intrusion, and often, as the writing fervor grips us, we may lose track of exactly who is writing whom.

"Dreams are . . . illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you." --Marsha Norman

We become fascinated with the mundane. Curious about the craziest things. Our lives are dominated by two words: What If? As a result, our minds are prone to wander and eyes may glaze as we turn away from what non-writers call Real Life and enter the world we know so well.

"I dream for a living." -- Steven Spielberg

Truly, such a venture sounds heavenly. Which is why so many strangers sigh and comment, "I've always wanted to write."

It is a dream come true. Except even writers must awaken now and again. Truth is, as much fun as it is (yes, it IS like living in our own personal Disneyland), the work involved and the pressure we put on ourselves can make blood vessels burst.

"A writer's problem does not change. He himself changes and the world he lives in changes but his problem remains the same. It is always how to write truly and having found what is true, to project it in such a way that it becomes a part of the experience of the person who reads it." --Ernest Hemingway

The pictures in our head are so vivid and clear. Yet the process of wrangling them into words is as easy as tossing a rope around a bolt of lightning and dragging it down to earth.

Dream-wranglers is what we are. Herding those crazy ideas onto the paper and with patience and persistence, coaxing out the story we know to be there. Easy, right?

"The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid and stable business." --John Steinbeck.

True enough, this is one crazy business. While most non-writers see writing as doing nothing but playing with words all day (and even as I type this, a grin sneaks up my face because it is damn fun), the work can be draining. Add to that the pressure of trying to get published, trying to stay published, pleasing an audience or hoping for a good review, meeting deadlines and tackling promotional duties, and the "fun" gets overwhelmed by the work. Hey, even chocolate-tasters need a break!

"The ability to play is essential to being a creative artist." --Dewitt Jones

Writers need to play. Without that childlike ability, we're doomed to a life of dull prose so dry that our readers will be in serious need of hydration. However, it's not just the ability to play that matters. There's a serious need here to incorporate R&R into our routine. Why?

The first is the "Duh Factor." If you're too burnt out to work, your writing will suffer. The second is less obvious but just as vital. Playing refuels the flame, which in turn inspires us with new ideas and devious plot twists.

Just today, I thought to myself that maybe I should spend the weekend writing, instead of delving into music with dear hubby as we planned. Which is when my muse whispered a contrary opinion. *heh-heh* The playful times inspire me. I feel more refreshed, more energized, and infinitely more ready to jump back into my writing as a result.

"Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn't taste good." --Lucia Capocchione

Ah, yes. We do want life to "taste" like chocolate all the time, right? And especially our writing. Yum-yum. We can be so driven that we feel guilty for those occasional moments when we yearn to break free of the routine. Then again… who knows what ideas might spring up while playing a game with your child or catching the latest flick with a dear chum? What troublesome plot point might be resolved when you give your weary brain a rest and let the muse step forth once more? Do remember to bring your handy purse-sized notebook along to jot down those lightning bolts when they strike!

Play keeps us revitalized and helps us to remember we are truly alive, and awake. How better to make those stories come to life than to remind ourselves now and then to wake up out of our dream world and jump feet first into real life?

"Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake." –Edgar Allen Poe

So, along with our constant desire to keep writing, let's also encourage a slightly different angle:

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." --George Bernard Shaw

"The world is your playground. Why aren't you playing?" --Ellie Katz

And one of my all-time favorites, from a man who demonstrated the fine art of playing throughout his life:

"Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." –Groucho Marx

Let's embrace the dream and reap the benefits of play. Here's wishing us all a playful and productive week!


Monday, February 18, 2008

Believe in Yourself

"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

When I first came upon this quote years ago, the revelation was like a sunbeam piercing through a cloud-covered sky. Having spent my youth in hot pursuit of outside validation, the idea that I was actually "consenting" to feel inferior astonished me. And liberated me. Why would I consent to such a belief? Why should I? Hah!

We Can Be Anything We Want To Be.

"It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not." ~Author Unknown

Writers struggle most with that need for self-validation for many reasons. An artist can step back and take in a painting with one glance. Each book must be read one page at a time. A dancer can feel her limbs sway, a singer can hear her voice, but again, that book must be read One Page At A Time. So we sweat and worry, seek validation and reassurance, truly believing (once again) that outer validation will make the worry go away.

"Am I kidding myself about being a 'creative artist'? Can I possibly be a creative artist when I approach this effort in so methodical and left-brained a fashion?" ~~ Journal of a Novel, June 25, 1997 from Write Away by Elizabeth George

Truth is all artists feel the same pressure, the same worries, the insecurity that resurfaces time and time again. If you worry before you are published, chances are good you will sweat it out even when approaching your twenty-fifth novel. The words may change… Do I still have it? What if this one sucks? What will the critics say? Yet the need for reassurance remains the same.

"We have to learn to be our own best friends because we fall too easily into the trap of being our own worst enemies." ~Roderick Thorp, Rainbow Drive

We must believe in ourselves. While it's true (and obvious) that to become a successful writer one must put in the effort and produce pages regularly, success is not limited to financial or worldly recognition. The greatest outer success means nothing without self-appreciation or a firm recognition of Your Undeniable Worth. Successful people without self-appreciation are usually a mess (many examples spring to mind), as the gossipmongers love to remind us. Take a moment and think of people you've known, whether close up or from afar, who are self-confident, who love themselves and believe in themselves. Could there be a better definition of success?

"It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to." ~W.C. Fields

Last week, we looked at the relationship we have to writing. For better or for worse, right? Let's take a moment now and think of our greatest relationship of all. The glorious and amazing relationship we have with our own lovely, stubborn, crazy-ass selves. *grin* It's time to be our own best friends. Here's an exercise that is guaranteed to surprise you. Next time you look in the mirror, don’t just examine your make-up or check your hair. Don't frown and look away. Gaze deep into your own eyes and say those magical words: I Love You. Say it and mean it. The feelings this will stir up will astonish you. And one thing is certain, you'll realize this is something You haven't heard from You often enough. *smile*

"Don't live down to expectations. Go out there and do something remarkable."
~Wendy Wasserstein

We are freaking amazing. We plot, we write, we edit, we revise, we stick to our goals and we prove that We Can Do It over and over again. Even when time slips away and we don't meet expectations one week, the next week we're back at it. Isn't that something? How delightful this writing life is! Yes, it's a challenge but what a joy… We climb mountains, soar through the sunny skies, trap fiendish villains, thrill to a clandestine lover's kiss, all within the lovely pages of our very own novels. Ah, what a life this is!

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." ~Anaïs Nin, Diary, 1969

"You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them." ~Michael Jordan

"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." ~Edmund Hillary

Are we ready for a new week? Stretched before us like a pristine page just waiting to be covered with profound or playful prose, is yet another week filled with potential and promise. Let's embrace our wildest expectations and push ourselves like never before. We're in our second month of the new year. Just think how much we can accomplish before summer's heat descends upon us. What amazing goals we can reach before the leaves once again drift from the trees.

Woo-hoo! What a year this will be!

Let's make some goals…

I'm making good progress outlining my next two books. The rom-com needs to stew some more so I'm being patient, pouring inspiration into the slow cooker on a regular basis. The paranormal suspense is opening up quicker so I'm letting the energy take me.

How about you?

Let's make this week soar!! Remember, We Are Writers! Now… Go-go-GO!!

Monday, February 11, 2008


"There are only two options regarding commitment. You're either in or out. There's no such thing as a life in-between." –Pat Riley

I've been thinking quite a bit about commitment. Maybe because, like most writers, there are days when I feel I'm surely ready for that padded room! Hah!

Yet the idea of commitment is one that I've danced around, perhaps like many here. On a good day, I'm there. I *get* it. I believe. Then the clouds roll in and the raindrops pour down my cheeks as I wonder if I'm truly cut out to be A Writer.

In or out, woman. There's no in-between.

To me, that's what marks a true writer. A friend once said to me (paraphrasing here), that Real Writers stick to it.

"Success depends on your backbone, not your wishbone." –Author Unknown

I've had my share of doubts. I hit my slump and wondered… Did I have the Right Stuff to make magic happen on the printed page? Did I have the *eye* to clarify my vision? Hell, did I really have a vision to begin with or is this just a fanciful dream? Horrors! Had I become one of those people who sneer, "I could write a book," only to toss my dream aside out of fear or insecurity?


"The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence." --Eddie Robinson

There are a number of people who helped push me past that wall. Some offered support at my request, others unknowingly brought forth a wisdom that radiated like moonbeams, chasing away shadows and illuminating my darkest night. Thanks to the writers I am privileged to know, I reconnected with my will to win—the urge to reach my full potential. *smile*

I also realized (thanks, Misty) that hitting a wall may just be part of the process. Which is exactly why a writer needs to commit. This is as much a relationship as the one I share with my husband. For better or worse, sickness and health, richer or poorer…

"Write only if you cannot live without writing. Write only what you alone can write." --Elie Wiesel

My friend Tessy is an incredible example of one who cannot live without writing. Listening to her tickled the memory of what drove me to the keyboard so long ago. My thirst to create worlds. Ah-hah! Take that you pesky ideas rolling around my brain. Let's toss you onto the page and see where we shall fly.

"So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!" –J. M. Barrie (from Peter Pan)

Commitment is what marks us as writers. Writing requires time, effort, focus and a great deal of faith. We're like explorers crawling into a cave with nothing but the wavering beam of a flashlight to light our way. Without faith, we might turn back. Without persistence, we might give up. Which is exactly why writers need to commit--to writing that sentence, to filling up the page, to finishing the chapter, to wrapping up the book. And of course, that's just the beginning! Re-read and revise. Cut some scenes, flesh out others. Yet… the joy of it. Ah, the tingling rush of pleasure as the eye follows the plot. This is magic of the best sort.

Did you know that scans have shown that our brains respond to imagined circumstances just as if they were real? When we write stories, and others read them, well… We are creating worlds here, my friends. This is True Magic.

Which is why…

"It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end." –Ursula K. LeGuin

Let's recommit to our journey and relish the spectacular joy of writing! Thanks to author Rita St. Claire for providing inspiration for this week's essay.


"It is impossible to discourage the real writers - they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write." ~Sinclair Lewis

And that about sums it up.

This week let's make a conscious decision to commit to our writing. Do you, budding author, take this profession to love and to write?

Let's do it, let's fall in love all over again...

(Happy Valentine's Day!)

Have a great writing week, everyone!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Writing for Life...

Weekly Motivational Essay for Writers (reprint)

"Contrary to what many of you may imagine, a career in letters is not without its drawbacks - chief among them the unpleasant fact that one is frequently called upon to sit down and write." ~~ Charles Kingsley

You mean… there's work involved?


The inspiration I am feeling today is coming from the outside. I can't help it. I'm surrounded (in a cyber kind of way) by all these fabulous, productive, dedicated writers who strive nearly every day to push forward towards their dreams. Many of you have multiple books under your belts. Books that have been nurtured and pruned so patiently my eyes well up with tears of admiration. Amazing.

"I've always just wanted to earn my living by writing. The best thing is to go into my study in the morning and put words together." ~~ Joyce Carol Oates

What I've gained from this awesome association is the realization of how lucky I am, how lucky we are, to not only have the opportunity to explore (and fight for) our collective dream, but to hang out with such astonishing people.

Writers. Can there be a better group?

"Writing is just having a sheet of paper, a pen and not a shadow of an idea of what you are going to say." ~~Francoise Sagan

Part of what we share is the realization that a book does not magically appear because of our wishes or dreams. The magic we sense when we crack the covers of our favorite tomes is not produced by waving a magic wand or casting a spell (darn it!). Instead, we've found that each sentence, each paragraph, each page, each chapter must be typed one word at a time. Plots must formulated, whether ahead of time or as the pages fly by. Characters sketched out, conflict established, sub-plots woven in, minor characters dreamt up, and all those nagging little details to be covered before we even finish our first draft!

"Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." ~~ Rainer Maria Rilke from Letters to a Young Poet

Courage, patience, perseverance, passion and a great sense of humor is all required to keep the energy up and the spirits high as we travel that lonely highway. No one but a fellow writer understands what a tremendous journey this is. Nor how lucky we are when a tire blows out on our fictional vehicle and another traveler pulls over—delaying her own journey—just to offer a spare.

"Write as often as possible, not with the idea at once of getting into print, but as if you were learning an instrument." ~~J B Priestley

Writing takes patience, as I said, not only because each story must be crafted and polished. Our skill level improves the more we string those words together. Back in the 60's, the Beatles took the world by storm. Since their success seemed so sudden, it seemed like they were indeed an overnight success. Yet one listen to the BBC tapes and you'll know. Those boys perfected their craft years before they recorded their first album. In Hamburg, they played for eight hours at a time. Mind-boggling to consider. They could probably perform a hundred songs and perfected dozens of styles. Their first album was cut in One Day. Unbelievable!! They recorded live too, as a group, without endless overdubs or special effects.

Unlike the average Joe, writers get that. We too spend hours perfecting our craft, often studying dozens of authors to grasp different styles. We've accepted that writing is unlike any other quest. There is magic inherent within words, yet skill is required to coax it out. To tease out the eloquence we hear within our hearts.

"Good novels are not written, they are rewritten. Great novels are diamonds mined from layered rewrites." ~~ Piers Paul Read

As tempting as it can be to shout, "I'm done," most writers agree--a novel takes patience to perfect. I chuckle too in realizing how as time goes on, my personal definition of great writing (at least as it pertains to my own clumsy efforts) has changed. In the beginning, it was so dang essential to my self-esteem that I see myself as a Great Writer that to be told my story needed more work would be quite insulting. "How dare they! I'll show them." *grumble-grumble*

Now of course, it seems inevitable that my stories will need a bit of a polish. What I'm always grateful for is the kind soul with a sharp eye who can help me pinpoint where the trouble spots are and even offer some direction. People like… you. All of you. My fellow writers who *get* the blessed combination of exhilaration and angst each writer goes through. I'm grateful to each and every one of you.

Here's to a Super-Productive week! Let's put our best fingers forward *smile* and surpass wildest expectations!

How about you? Any goals to share??

Happy Writing (and Revising) everyone! Remember… We Are WRITERS! Now… Go-go-GO!!