Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Critic & An Ego-Stroker

I am a writer who likes to share my work with a select circle of people. Some of my initial readers are helping me to edit, some to polish and some to just float a test balloon of the likability of my project.

The group with which I share my unfinished work is small, but if I had to choose two people and only two people, I would have a critic and an ego-stroker. You need two separate people for this job, unless they have a Three Faces of Eve thing going on.

My critic tells me what is good, what can be better, what I should just throw out and start again. This person is absolutely necessary in many, many ways. I don't think there are many writers out there who can write so perfectly that the first draft is the final draft. I don't know if those writers even exist. Writing requires tweaking, fine tuning and finessing. Knowing when to take the advice of your critic is an art in itself, but having a critic or two can make all the difference to your writing.

My ego-stroker tells me that they really like everything and that I am a great writer. This person may be flat out lying to me, but I don't really care because they are serving a very specific purpose.

This would be a good time to point out that I have a very vain streak and I have many a moment that I seek validation for the things that I do. A deficiency? Probably, but I have to work with what I have and what I have is a need to be told that I am decent at what I am doing and not just wasting my time.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ideas Aren't The Problem, It's The Timing

I have no shortage of ideas for projects. I have new ideas all of the time. The problem that I have is that I usually have these ideas in very inconvenient places or at very inconvenient times. For example, my best ideas come to me in one of four places:

- the shower
- while driving
- on the way to or at the park with my kids
- those last few moments before I fall asleep

The quick fix would be to have paper and a pen or a recorder on me at all times. I am lucky if I remember all of my kids when I leave the house. I do try to have a notebook or something useful to capture my thoughts, but it usually doesn't work the way I hope.

I also have the short term memory of a fruit fly, so trying to remember until I get to paper doesn't cut it. I remember to look for paper, but I can't recall what it was that I needed to write down. No joke.

I do keep a journal and pen next to my bed. Last time I needed it, my pen died halfway through taking my notes and I didn't have the energy to look for another pen. With three small kids, sleep is like quicksand, once I start down that road, I am done for - not that I would try to get out anyway.

Just one of the many challenges I face in my quest to get words on paper.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


As I am new to the writing game, I am still trying to find which techniques work for me. I am sampling different approaches to structure, character development, etc.

One thing that I haven't yet been able to accomplish is a complete outline before starting the actual writing of a new project.

I know that a complete outline isn't necessary. But, since my biggest problem is knowing where I am going with my story, I think this is a discipline that I need to adopt. Quickly.

Today I sat down and started an outline for a new project. It is an idea that has been bouncing around my head for a few days, so I needed to write it down before it became a victim of my terrible memory. I have done the structuring for the first couple of chapters and I have committed to finishing the outline before I start into the writing.

While the entire story will probably change as I write, I think that at least having a possible place for my characters to go will help my ability to get them there. I have always been pretty good at rolling with the punches, so I can always change their destination as I go. I just want them to get somewhere!

Things To Come

I have been writing on and off (mostly off) for many years. I wrote my first poem, a lovely verse called "Dreams" when I was 10 or 11. For a long time, my version of writing was a series of strange turns that my brain took when an interesting topic peaked my interest, but they always remained private thoughts. It has only been in the last few years that writing has meant putting pen to paper or fingers to keys.

I am finding teachers in many places. My main source of education is reading as much as possible with three small kids running around. I do surprise myself at how many books I have been able to get through and I often kick myself when I think of all of the books I could have read before becoming a mother. All that downtime gone to waste! It sounds strange, but something about motherhood kicked my imagination into high gear. Just as hormones changed my tastes for certain foods, so was my drive to do something with the ideas kicking around in my head.

Other readers have taught me what I like and don't like and what I should and shouldn't do. Other writers have become my teachers as well. As a member of the On Fiction Writing group on Goodreads, I have been able to have others critique my work and review the work as others. I have seen rough drafts take on the rosy sheen of a well-edited story. Voicing my opinion and listening to the opinions of others has been invaluable to me and my writing.

Stay tuned as I bring you along on the many tangents of my imagination. I will write about writing, my pursuit of education from readers and other writers and the many random occurances that make up my life. All topics are fair game!