The Restless Writers are back in business! In lieu of a post, check out this photo diary from our latest meeting.
Monthly Archives: September 2010
I started my women’s contemporary fiction manuscript when my daughter was three-months-old. We celebrated her third birthday this past summer and I’m still doing final edits. The changes are minor, except for two big ones: the title and a main character’s name.
Reading this character’s name makes me want to punch the monitor and I can’t decide if it’s because the character is kind of a jerk, the name is vile or I’m just sick of reading my manuscript. It’s a weird thing to change the character’s name, because it makes me look at him differently. It also feels like I’ve given him a nose job or similar – he’s the same guy underneath, but on a superficial level, he’s changed.
The title of the book is another thing I’m wary of changing. It feels stale to me now. I’ve grown as a writer these past three years (which is why I scrapped the first third of the novel last year) and I feel the current title doesn’t do it justice. But again…am I just suffering from novel fatigue?
I’ve lived with this thing as long as I’ve lived with my kid so I fear I’ve lost some perspective. Luckily for me, I have my fellow Restless Writers to offer some perspective. Ladies?
Along with the rest of the world, I am attempting to get back in the groove with work, life, and my writing. Work and life are judiciously in check; however the writing has been somewhat sporadic, even lethargic. But that’s all about to change.
We, Restless Writers, begin our regular meeting schedule once again next week (Squeee!). This means dates and deadlines—and of course, a little vino. It also means GOAL-SETTING. September is the perfect time to put the goods on the table, so-to-speak. And I’m not talkin’ butter tarts here (although, I’m sure that will happen too); I’m talking about realistic and achievable goals. You know the kind. The SMART ones. With details. And dates.
One of the most important things writers can do is set clear, explicit goals about what they want to accomplish. Most of us have a bunch of vague goals, like the “one day” kind (as in, “one day, I’m going to write a novel), and then there’s the “some day” kind (as in, some day, I’m going to finish my book and find an agent). Make that day, today. Don’t be a chug-meister. Set a clear goal and get ‘er done.
It’s time to spend some quality time with words. Be an active practitioner of your craft. Commit to improving your art. According to Dustin Wax, an author’s relationship with a work in progress is a lot like your relationship with your significant other. You have to work at it every day, and nurture it, and accept its quirks and even failures. And if you lack real commitment, sooner or later, one or the other of you will flake out.
Sure, you gotta start small. Have some fun with it. But don’t expect the unexpected or worse, confuse your goals and expectations (and end up disappointed). Planning and patience are crucial to your success. Some brilliant advice from Write for Your Life, Iain Broome: Aim high. Expect nothing.
My September Writing Goals:
- Attend (schmooze) Surrey International Writers’ Conference, Oct 22-24.
- Polish my LITTLE EARTHLINGS non-fiction proposal, craft query, & send the baby out by Sept 30.
- Send 3-5 queries to agents (per week) for my MG novel: BILLIE BOOTS, til Dec 31.
- Give my YA novel (LIGHTS) some lovin’ — review outline, write 1 chapter per week, beginning Oct 15.
- Select 2 Screenplay Competitions for my family drama: FROM NEBULA TO HERE.
- Ressurect thriller project (or at least determine its future!)
I am WRITER. See me WRITE!
As a restless writer, I don’t like to stick to my home office. I like to move around, and see if there’s some other chair, or view, or ambiance, that will get my literary mojo flowing. The same is true for my restless colleagues, who mine the creative potential of the local hair salon and the edge of suburbia.
I like to experiment with new places to write. They don’t always work out. Early last Saturday morning, for instance, I drove out to my favourite spot at the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Hendrie Valley Nature Sanctuary. The well maintained trails and boardwalk draw nature-seekers, amateur photographers and amblers like me.
I settled onto a sturdy bench perfectly situated beneath some leafy trees, and overlooking lush wetlands. A few ducks paddled about and the crickets were singing. Some chickadees peeped charmingly at me from the branches. It all felt very Thoreau-like.
It was wonderful for the first few minutes. My notebook and pen were at the ready. I breathed in the cool, damp air, closed my eyes and grabbed onto a snippet of dialogue that was rambling around in my head. I opened my eyes…just in time to see a beady-eyed grey squirrel creeping along the handrail.
I leapt from the bench with a lady-like squeal and looked around. I was surrounded. Three chickadees were peering hungrily at me from the trees—not so charming any more. A cardinal, normally the shyest of birds, was perched smack-dab in the middle of the boardwalk. Some rustling just off the trail signaled the arrival of one of those cute terrors: a chipmunk.
Turns out this lovely boardwalk that had seemed so promising as a writing spot is also a feeding ground for spoiled rodents and cheeky birds. These little beasties had grown accustomed to being hand-fed by visitors. Without any birdseed to fling in my defence, I was liable to be swarmed.
That squirrel was pretty damned bold. I thought he was going to scramble up my leg. He advanced. I retreated, all the way back to the parking lot. Back in the safety of my car, I realized that I had lost my good pen. I hoped that squirrel choked on it. A gaggle of Canada geese squawked at me as I drove away, probably reminding me to bring food next time.
Sheesh. Nature and I don’t always get along. Next stop on my places-for-restless-writers tour? My local pub. I think I’ll be safe from the outside in there.
During the day, I am consumed with work and family commitments. But the night—it belongs to me. Sure, mostly because that is when I have the time to think about projects outside of grocery shopping, making lunches, and paying bills.
The night is for garden-puttering. If you happen to follow my tweets on twitter, you will already know that I pull weeds by the light of the moon—all while the hubs works with me, sometimes laying interlock stone and other times playing guitar to a chorus of crickets. You will also know we like to kick a soccer ball around the yard in the dark while stargazing.
Much of my late night activity is the result of being a bona-fide night owl. I am always more inspired (and productive) when the sun goes down. That is my time to write, paint, water the geraniums, and simply “be.” It is my time to postulate my next project and put my dreams on my to-do list. It’s also the best time to see the day in a whole new light. And what a treat it is to wake up the next morning and observe the results of midnight toil-abouts! Now, if only the neighbors would stop leaving garlic on our front porch (for real). We are not vamps, people. We just enjoy the night.
What can I say? Life happens. I happen later…
What keeps you up at night? What is your midnight garden?
P.S. Books (with pretty covers) also keep me up at night. I’m reading some great garden fiction right now:
- GARDEN SPELLS by Sarah Addison Allen
- THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN by Kate Morton
Looking for more garden fiction? Check out these Library-recommended novels that have to do with gardens or growing green things. Fun titles like: SECOND THYME AROUND, CREEPING JENNY, BAD GIRL CREEK, and TULIP FEVER! You know you want to…. click here.