The Worst Writing Advice I Ever Received…and More

I’m over on the Capital City Writers blog today talking about what I’m working on right now, the worst writing advice I ever received, and more. Here’s a taste…

1. What is your favorite part about writing? The most challenging part?

 

It’s hard to say what I enjoy most because I do enjoy all the different parts of the process for different reasons. I love the idea phase when anything is possible, the drafting phase when I am speaking worlds into existence, the revising phase when I am making this lump of words more closely resemble the perfect vision in my head. There are two contexts in which I feel more elementally me than any other: when I am silently and deliberately exploring the natural world and when I am writing.

 

The most challenging part is …

 

Click here to read the rest of the interview.

And tomorrow night I’ll be at Schuler Books & Music in the Eastwood Towne Center leading a free workshop called Empathy over Experience: Writing Convincingly from Someone Else’s Shoes.

The fun starts at 7pm. If you’re a relatively local writer, I hope to see you there!

“So how’s the writing going?”

I don’t know about you (if you’re a writer) but I find that question rather difficult to answer sometimes. The people who ask it mean well, whether they are asking because they really care about the answer or they’re asking because it seems like the mannerly thing to do.

In anticipation of my August 3 workshop on beating writer’s block, I’m over on the Capital City Writers Association blog talking about why my feelings about the “how’s the writing going” question are so very bipolar. Join me there and find out why, sometimes, writers just don’t want to answer that seemingly innocuous and polite inquiry.

Answering Five Questions about Writing

I’m over on the new and improved Capital City Writers Association blog today answering questions about writing and I’d love to have you join me there!

Capture

 

Click here to read more and if you’re in the Lansing area tomorrow evening head on over to the Eastwood Schuler Books & Music off Lake Lansing Road for my workshop on making the most of your first five pages (Wednesday, June 1, 7:00-8:30pm).

 

 

A Whirlwind Weekend at WOTRC

Write on the Red Cedar 2016

During the past week of blog silence I have been preparing for, participating in, and recovering from Write on the Red Cedar. It was a great conference, starting Friday afternoon with a four-hour workshop led by Bob Mayer, a quick bite at the State Room bar, and a fun mixer that evening.

Much of my time Saturday was taken up with manuscript reviews. I had read portions of eight manuscripts during the past week and made revision suggestions, then met with each writer at the conference to discuss what I thought was working and what I would work on next to bring it to the next level. Those meetings seemed to go very well, and the hope the writers who took advantage of that conference extra found it worth their while.

I also gave a workshop talk on taking your writing to the next level as part of CCWA’s Finish the Damn Book track. The room was packed and I managed to get through a lot of material in an hour (though that particular talk should really be at least 90 minutes, I think).

At the end of the day I ran an author/agent panel, had an intimate little dinner at the State Room with other presenters and volunteers, and then a swanky VIP party with wine, fancy hors d’oeuvres, and a six-foot wide gas fireplace flickering. And all throughout I ran to and fro chatting with conference goers, ecstatically greeting those I had invited from far-flung Michigan cities that I hadn’t known were really coming until I’d stuffed conference folders Thursday night and saw their names, and trying  to be helpful in general.

All of the talking, shaking hands, rushing around, and very little sleep for two nights in a row meant that by Sunday morning I was definitely coming down with something. Sunday afternoon I napped on and off for a few hours in front of a roaring fire at home, had dinner, watched Downton Abbey, went to sleep promptly at 10:30, and didn’t get up until 9 AM this morning, feeling a bit better, but not 100% just yet.

And so now it’s another week. The last week of January. I have a few little things left to finish up in the renovation of the Heritage Room at church, an article to write for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and some editing to do. Come February 1, though, it should all be finished and that, my friends, will be my New Year’s Day.

When it feels like the end, that’s only the beginning

Counting down the days until Write on the Red Cedar 2016, which starts this Friday in East Lansing. This will be my third year attending (it’s only three years old) and second year presenting. Earlier this month I was on the WOTRC blog answering some questions about success, failure, the books I’ve read the most, and more. Click here to read it.

Beyond WOTRC, I have articles to work on for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association before the month is up, and I’m still finishing up the renovations in our chapel at church. Just have window treatments and a little touch-up painting to go. When I looked ahead to January back at the end of last year and saw the commitments I had already made, I decided that February 1st was going to be my new year, my fresh start. That’s the month I plan to bring back some good habits I’ve had in the past, namely getting up earlier and using the quiet morning time alone to read, write, pray, and journal.

On the bedtime story front, the boy and I are smack dab in the middle of Watership Down and things are looking bleak. Holly’s team has just come back from Efrafa with many injuries but no does, and Hazel’s been shot after the raid at Nuthanger Farm. As I closed the book Saturday night, Calvin’s voice wavered as he wondered what would happen now. “Don’t worry,” I said. “This is just the beginning of the most exciting part of the story.” It’s a cliché that things are always darkest before the dawn, but that is often how the story goes, isn’t it?

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the US. Race relations have taken a serious hit in the past five years. Or perhaps the wider culture is just now noticing how bad things still are despite the work of Dr. King and countless other people who devoted their lives to seeking justice and equality in this country. The national mood must seem a lot like it did fifty or sixty years ago. Indeed, things look strikingly similar. Racial unrest, a long military conflict overseas from which we cannot seem to extricate ourselves, prominent political figures calling for the profiling and restriction of those with differing beliefs. I find it difficult to be optimistic.

Yet, what can make us rise to the occasion like opposition?

The rabbits of Watership Down will have to use all of their courage and cunning to save their warren. They cannot give way to fear, or they’re through. There’s only one way forward, and it’s down the most treacherous road. There are no guarantees of success. But to not go down the road at all means certain failure.

Don’t those make the best stories? When there is no choice but to walk through the fire?

There is nothing like a hard winter to make the spring all the more glorious.