You don’t even have to know how or in what way, but if you are writing the clearest, truest words you can find and doing the best you can to understand and communicate, this will shine on paper like its own little lighthouse. Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.

Anne Lamott
Bird by Bird

Anne Lamott on lighthouses


Flailing at a blank page

There is something fundamentally wrong with the book writing process. You go from finishing a book, which is at it’s most book-like stage, where you are worrying about commas and word choice, to starting a book, and you’re still thinking of commas and word choice, but you have this big blank page to flail around with and you need to be thinking in a completely different manner than you have been for the last 6 months.

I need a reset button.

The Difference between Procrastinating and Waiting

It’s taken me this long, 10+ years since I started writing again, to mostly be able to tell the difference between procrastinating and waiting.

Procrastinating is when I have something to write, but it feels too hard, or I’m being lazy, or I just can’t get started (because writing is scary, yo!).

Waiting is when things need time to come together in my mind, thought A colliding with thought T; the idea for a scene that’s not quite right yet because I’m looking at it wrong or because it’s default, it’s boring, it needs to be turned on its head or twisted 30 or 125 degrees before it’s right for what I’m working on; or it’s something I’ve got wrong and until I figure out what it is and go back and fix it, I can’t go forward.

The things I do when I’m procrastinating look very, very similar to what I’m doing when I’m waiting, but the internal feeling is very different. If I’m procrastinating there’s an edge of irritation, of impatience, directed at myself, that I’m not writing and I should be writing. It might take a bit for me to notice, acknowledge and act on it, but it’s there.

When I’m waiting, I have to wait. I can’t rush it. I can’t force it. I can coax it, by feeding the garden inside me where my writing comes from, by reading fiction and non-fiction and watching TV (sometimes really great fiction and TV, sometimes really bad fiction and TV), exercising, hanging out with friends. Whatever fills the well.

Sometimes I still get it wrong. Sometimes I’m procrastinating when I think I’m waiting, and vice versa. But slightly more often than not, I’m finally figuring it out.

777 Challenge

I’ve just been tagged by Alison Cherry to do the 777 Challenge. The rules: post seven sentences of your work, start on page seven, seven lines down. The following is from my inspired by the Byzantine Empire meets 1910s suffrage NYC meets bio-based technology science fantasy that may or may not be YA:

My grin felt like it would break my face. “We won!” I shouted at him and his face did crack, his mouth and eyes open wide, his usually unflappable bay mare jigging under him. I allowed myself to believe it was surprised amazement but a cold worm of worry turned over in my stomach. “I told you,” I crowed, “I told you I could win.”

“What have you done?” He shouldered into me and seized Red Nettle’s reins, pulling cruelly at his mouth to halt him, and that more than anything brought home to me the depth of his horror. Magister Peres did not abuse his horses. Ever.

I’m tagging Casey Blair, Tam MacNeil and Shawn Anderson, but only if they want to play.

Random Excerpt from my WIP

Just because. (Or because I’m procrastinating.)

With a Shield, a person could not be augmented without their knowledge and consent; parents told their children stories about the poor unfortunates in Zyxx who didn’t control their own Shields and the wretched victims in the Land of Those that Speak, where they didn’t have Shields at all. Children whispered stories of the wild blending of animal, plant and human there or the cruel augmentations the stronger forced on the weaker.

The idea of not having my Shield was very disturbing.

Also, I’m on Tumblr now at The Fourth Gorgon.

Viable Paradise — Things I Wish I’d Known

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything new here AND it’s almost time for the new VP class so I thought I’d mention a few things I wish I’d known beforehand: 

The topic of the one-on-one sessions are completely up to you. You can take the opportunity to ask for specific feedback on your submission or you can ask anything at all (within the bounds of polite behavior). I wish I’d gone in a little more prepared, but my sessions were still awesome (probably due to the quality of the instructors, not my tongue-tied, shy questions). They are there to help you improve your writing. 

You can ask the staff anything (even if it seems slightly beyond the bounds of polite behavior). If you’re having trouble adjusting, let them know. If you unexpectedly get your period (or whatever the manly equivalent is) they will go out and buy you supplies and it will be no big deal. They are there to help. They are also writers and attendees of previous VPs and know lots of things.

I never used my laptop during the sessions but it was still important to have. I took handwritten notes and two of my classmates recorded the sessions and made them available to the rest of the class. Two years later I still go back and listen to them, but it would have been great to have my own–especially of the group critique sessions, where a certain person with the initials PNH speaks at the speed of light. Just saying. YMMV.

It’s ok to ask the instructors if you can follow up with them after VP is over. I am terrible at this. I’m still kicking myself for not following up with Uncle Jim.

I brought an eye mask and ear plugs and I used them. I could have brought the whole pack of earplugs and shared them with people who didn’t. They were crucial for me to get to sleep.

Everyone is telling you not to go in sleep deprived: DON’T GO IN SLEEP DEPRIVED.

And don’t forget to have fun.

ETA suggestions from the VP community: Get a flu shot! If traveling from overseas get a travel health insurance policy to cover you.