Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Word on Exclamation Points.


It is the most reviled of punctuation marks. It is one I struggle with. Pundits say you should use it as little as possible. Exclamation points are to communicate only the most extreme of emotional responses.

I get that. I really do.

One teacher at first suggested that you only use a written exclamation point where one would be in actual speech. She suggested that I pay attention to my own speech and note the infrequency of exclamations.

Hmm... she didn't know me very well, because I speak in exclamations all the time! I am ALWAYS excited about something. Jazzed! Amped! Distraught! Despairing! Overwhelmed! Extremely passionate! In fact, some people have found my highly enthusiastic personality off-putting and have requested that I learn to tone it down. My true friends however learn to accept my exclamations and note their absence with a concerned 'Are you feeling ok?'

Conclusion? Our characters should be true to their own personality. If you have a hero with a larger than life personality like mine you can get away with more of the pesky punctuation. If, however, you have a wall-flower heroine you should save the exclamation points for climactic moments.


Good News for Scribe Types

One of the agents I plan on submitting my novel to has this to say about the current market.

I hope that I can be one of those authors who is worth competing for.

This sort of news also bodes well for future projects (series novels and new ideas both).

I am learning how to talk about my book in a way that people are starting to say - "That sounds really good - I want to read it." I used to get responses more like this - "Hmmm it sounds like you really enjoy writing."

The book idea didn't change, I am just learning how better to encapsulate it. I am establishing a common narrative that I can use to talk about the book. I still find it weird to 'talk up' my book. It feels too much like I am talking up myself - a thing I was taught never to do. But with this new determination to refine, perfect and shop my work has come the focus on talking about it without embarrassment.

Wait... is that a sign of impending maturity?!?!? Wonders never cease!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2000 a day might be a bit Crazy!

My husband has pointed out that trying for 2000 a day would be a good amount if I was actually a full-time writer, but since I am still looking for a job...

{sigh} I hate that I can't just do what I want already. I am 47 years old. I waited until my kids were grown and now I just want to be irresponsible!!

But the fact of the matter is - you can't live without money, and for the near (or even God-forbid, distant) future I must continue to make money of some kind to keep the debt collectors away.

Balance is the thing that is needed here and 2000 words a day isn't balanced - that is more than you need to accomplish the NaNo goal of 50,000 words in a month.

So what kind of goals are reasonable?
Which targets are motivational and which are distructive?

I don't know - but watch this space while I struggle to find out!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Finding Time and Space to Write

Time management is a big bug-a-boo for me. My days just seem to get away from me. I plan an dedicating a day to writing and find that groceries need to be purchased, or the car needs an oil change, or the library books need to be returned.

When you are working for someone else there is a boss who commands your presence - outside forces that demand compliance. No matter the chores that need completed at home, you must get up, go to work and attempt to accomplish the rest in the eves and on the weekends.

The problem with writing is that the creative juices don't always flow on a daily schedule. Some mornings my writing is brilliant at 9am - others it is execrable.

So - I am trying a new way of insuring I write everyday. It doesn't matter when I start, but I will keep writing until I have completed 2000 words. On good days I jump right out of bed (inspired by my dreams) and have the 2000 words by 11 am. Other days I don't get started with any real writing til 4pm. It doesn't matter as long as I make the word count.

It seems to be working pretty well - except for this Blog. I think I will start a daily '1st thing in the morning' post. It may mean that much of what I write here will lack a sense of coherence as I am not always at my best in the AM but at least it will solidify the habit.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blame the Woman - an Age Old Game Continues

It has long been the habit of male dominated societies to blame women for things that go wrong, but this really takes the cake!

Seriously now?

I apologize Denver for that last snow-storm. I went down to check the mail in my PJs.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dealing with the S-E-X Word

I have just written a book that I know many members of my own family are going to dislike.

There is cussing in this book, which is bad enough. Worse, there is S-E-X. Between people who aren't married! With multiple partners. Even that dreaded M word - masturbation.

I have always found our American attitude towards sex to be mystifying. Today I came across this article that explains the bi-polar relationship with sex and passion in modern America.

So, as authors do we cave to the puritans or the flirt with the hedonists?

This world is nothing if not diverse. There are people in all parts of the world making decisions every day that I may or may not agree with. People are comfortable doing things to their bodies that horrify me, worry me, turn me on and make me curious. Sexual pleasure is taken in forms familiar and unthinkable, frightening and intriguing.

When it comes to my writing, I have decided to allow my characters to dictate their own behavior. This means that sometimes they shock me and other times their prudery annoys me - at least it is as honest on the page as I can make it.

I can look my family in the eye and say "this is the book I intended to write and my characters act true to themselves."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Families - The Ultimate Writing Destroyers!

Yes.. I am guilty.

The GrandBoys look at me with their big brown eyes, trembling lower lips, and please, please, pleases and I cave.

I rationalize that 1500 is not that far shy of the 2500 word daily goal.
I promise that I can get back to the writing after the boys are tucked in for the night.
I make excuses about the fleeting hours of childhood.

In other words, I am guilty of letting my family destroy my writing time.

Luckily for me, this only happens occasionally. My normal situation is that of an empty-nester living in a small apartment that requires little upkeep. My husband and I live simply and this allows plenty of time for writing and composing.

What I struggle with is the requests from family. You know the type:

"Eddie, you don't have a job, could you come stay with the GrandBoys/niece/nephew for a few days?"

My next challenge is learning how to manage these requests and keep writing. I can generally write anywhere as long as I have a relatively comfortable chair, a nice cup of tea and my iPod.

I will just have to find a way to keep schedule when I am not in my own house.

Is that a Grandson I hear calling?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Finding a Comfortable Place to Write

My apartment is compact. I have a desk, but no proper desk chair so writing at my desk can be uncomfortable.

I sometimes write sitting on my chase lounge which can be comfortable... for a while.
I sometimes write sitting at my pub style kitchen table. Comfortable... for a while.
I sometimes write sitting in a rocking chair, or on the piano bench... for a while.

In the end run all of these options choose to be uncomfortable and the flow of my writing is interrupted by protesting muscles and joints.

The most comfortable space for long sessions of writing - my bed.

One day I hope to be able to afford a custom workstation and high-tech ergonomic chair. Until that bright day I have taken to spending all day in bed.

Sounds decadent no?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Can't Be Brain Dead on This Job!

One of the interesting things I am learning about writing as a 'full-time' career is that you can't have brain dead days.

When you work in an office, unless you have a micro-manager, it is generally possible to fake it through a day when the brain isn't quite firing on all cylinders.

This is not the case when you are writing. If you are brain dead the words on the page are DOA.

I suppose that experienced writers probably set aside certain tasks to do on those days that the synapses just aren't firing.

I don't know. I can't really think of what to do. I'm having a brain dead day!