Wednesday, January 5, 2022

First Post of 2022

It's another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! 

The awesome co-hosts for the January 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Olga Godim, Sandra Cox, Sarah Foster, and Chemist Ken!

Here is the question (always optional) for this month. 

January 5 question - What's the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?

I don't want to start the new year with regrets so I thought I'd flip the question.

It now reads : 

What's the one thing about your writing career that fills you with joy and confidence? How were you able to build on it?

One of the things about my writing career that fills me with joy and confidence is that I don't give up. I never ever said, even to myself, this is foolishness - I'm going to quit trying to get published and focus on other things. On Christmas Day I re-watched the latest version of Little Women. At the end of this particular sort of meta-view of the story Jo watches through the window as her book (Little Women) is printed, compiled and bound. I felt my eyes fill up with tears as I have imagined this scene for so many years with my own book in its place. This year it will happen - oh, I'm quite sure I won't be able to look through a window as it is printed etc... but it will happen and I will hold my own novel in my hands. 

How did I build on my stick-to-it-ability? I think for a variety of reasons. One was that writing was my goal and not becoming an author. Sure I wanted desperately to be published but even when it seemed that it was never going to happen I knew I would write. I would write poems, plays, novels, essays, posts and so on. Another way I supported my aim to write was to have it as a built in habit. I don't write everyday like Stephen King but I have a very well established habit of writing. My father, who edited magazines and wrote in his role as head of public relations for the Canadian Armed Forces, told me that any talent I had for writing would be second to my talent for "bum glue".  

Also, supporting my writing is my intention. What do I hope to aim by writing - for even fiction can have a purpose beyond entertainment (though not sneezing at that either!)? In writing The Crooked Knife I intended to bring attention to the vulnerability of youth on reserves in Canada, in particular in Labrador. As well I wanted people to understand something about the rich culture of Labrador. For that which we have empathy for or connection to will make us protective of.

Here I am a few years ago with my delightful grade two class!

Another considerable reason for reaching my writing goals is that I have a community of  writers that buoy me up when I'm floundering, celebrate any successes, and let me know of their own journey on the path. Many of those are people I've met through this group or by posting on my blog. Some of them are friends that I see regularly in person to write. I don't believe in those who say they are lone wolves. A biologist would tell you that a lone wolf is either sick or crazy. We too are pack animals and need other to help rub off  our barnacles, and keep us both humble and well oxygenated with humour.  

friends of Bella's in Labrador...

Now I'll leave you and go back to the editing I'm doing. I thought of something in the middle of the night and think I know where to put it!

I hope you are well and able to enjoy this crazy writing life and I wish you all joy and confidence for the coming year!

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

December Meeting of the IWSG and I'm late...

 I'm late...I'm late...words I'm living by.

And it is my favourite thing - to write a little post for the monthly meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! 

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

December 1 question - In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?

What stresses me the most in my writing? Uh, self-doubt.  I'm never much worried about the writing itself - I like my writing style - but seeing something like a novel all the way through and making sure the structure and story is both coherent and clear gives me a pain in the patootie. Right now I'm working on answering the first questions, comments and suggestions my editor made. I will have this first pass done by Friday but I worked on all the easy stuff first and am now faced with some of the muddles I need to unmuddle.  

What delights me most in my writing? Getting into a zone where everything else disappears and I'm lost in the story of it all. I love the revision process for this. It is where I can unloose the inner editor dog and have at it. Until I'm there it is all much too fragile. Now I can go in hammer and tongs. I know it is solid - it isn't going to go away leaving me with the memory of a dream - our relationship is good and can take a little rough. Then when all the barnacles are scraped off and the story line makes good sense I can polish and tinker with the language - go in and freshen up the metaphors, take out the repetitions - find the gold. All fun to me.

On another note I went to Labrador this past month for a couple of weeks - so lovely there and I was there during the same time as my novel is set. Here is a photo from a former time of me at a pal's cabin. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

The Insecure Writer's Support Group Rides Again!

 Hi all! This will be short as I'm in Labrador and can't sign in on my partner's laptop so am forced to write on my android. Not good.

As to my writing life I am working on another Nell Munro mystery with the working title Red Bay. I'm using the support of NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month) to get a good chunk done. As this one is also set in Labrador it is great to be here looking across the bay to the exquisite Mealy Mountains.

An aside - The Crooked Knife began in the 2015 NaNoWriMo.  Here is the first peek at the cover.

As to this month's question- really!? Titles are easy for me. Naming things is my jam. Just very short poems to me. Blurbs? Not so much. But I have noticed that if you are a pantser writing your blurb midway is a good way to sneak a little plotting in.

Hope all are doing well!

Sorry for very short post...

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

It's another meeting of the IWSG!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!


Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

October 6 question - In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language?

Well - I don't. I don't draw the line. I looked up the meaning - just for fun - because words and idioms are my jam and I got this definition 

"set a limit on what one is willing to do or accept, beyond which one will not go"

So in this case I guess it means setting a limit on what I will write about and what sort of language I will use. I think I don't draw a line not because I want to be free but because I don't need to. I don't write about everything - I can't - I write about those topics I find interesting. Since I write fiction I have my characters use language in the way that they would, once I've gotten to know them. There are things my characters might say that I would not (though I do curse like sailor so...). My characters could conceivably also utter racist, sexist, ageist or homophobic comments that I would not. I have no problem with this. I write for adults and if adults don't like what they are reading they are free to put the book down or burn it in a raging fire if it isn't a library book. Writing mysteries means that I do write about some unsavoury types. As for topics - well, I don't write about situations that I don't want to spend a lot of time exploring - that would be crazy. I'm not interested  in reading about abattoirs so I don't write about them. I don't write thrillers because I don't like reading them (except for the occasional brilliant one). I don't want to write from the point of view of a psychopath because I don't want to spend that much time in that sort of mind-frame.

Perhaps I do draw one sort of line - I do not write books to please the general public - for commercial reasons say. I try to stay true to what I want to see more of - I'm not frightened of controversy. I'm not scared to piss off industrial corporations or governments. I'm not scared to be politically incorrect either - it is such a shifting morphing value that it would drive me crazy to try and please those who are desperate to search out and destroy those who don't comply. I simply don't confuse the finger with the moon it is pointing to. I don't think Mark Twain was a racist for instance. I don't think JK Rowling is anti-trans. 

And I think diving into a book that does not completely reflect my every viewpoint is the reason for reading.

There then.

How are ya all?

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Success - what a strange concept!


It's another meeting of the IWSG!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the September 1 posting of the IWSG are Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie!

September 1 question - How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

Before I decided how I defined success as a writer I had to look it up in the dictionary. I looked it up in the online ones - always a pathetic trip down a stupid lane. Then I hauled out the second volume of the enormous Oxford dictionary we have with its attendant magnifying glass. Too tiny still and overly complicated. At last I went to where I should have gone first - my favourite dictionary The American Heritage Dictionary. It gives me four meanings:

1. The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted.

2. a) The gaining of fame or prosperity. b) The extent of such gain.

3. One that is successful.

4. A result or outcome.

None of these satisfied me in terms of defining success as a writer. I think I'm going to be a renegade here and say that, for me, success is none of these things. When I was a teenager success would have meant having a small volume of poems published. As I got older I wanted to write the Great Canadian Novel. Or I wanted to be an award-winning journalist. Or have a play on Broadway. Year by year those things morphed and changed. I hung on to the idea of it but the heart changed. I thought that being a published writer would satisfy me, but now I know that isn't true. Don't get me wrong - I will be ecstatic next year when I hold a novel with my name on the cover. I still want those outcomes but my notion of success has dissolved. Now I know that being successful as a writer means to me that I have a thought and as I write it and work on that thought it becomes something another will understand upon reading it. Or perhaps not even another - but that I will understand what seemed incoherent and buried - that the act of writing it out will bring the idea to life. 

So that means that sometimes I succeed and sometimes I stumble. If I don't know what success means to me, I certainly know what failure would be - stopping. Giving up. Falling down and staying down. 

Further to that I believe the most dangerous notion of success I could hold would be 2 a. I would then be putting success in the hands of others. Only the market or public opinion would make me. Gah! Again that doesn't mean that I don't hope my book becomes a runaway best seller - it simply means that nice though that might be my armour of joy and contentment comes from satisfying myself.

I'm glad I wasn't a runaway success early on. It could have ruined me.