Wednesday, February 7, 2024

February Blues

Hello all dear Insecure Writers and those who love us. The IWSG meets the first Wednesday of the month so here we are. I'm not really blue despite the title, just a wee bit flat of spirit perhaps but it'll come back. It always has. 

 I don't wish to discuss authoring today, only writing. I've been swapping teaching with a pal on our street. She's a talented oil painter who is working on a novel. At least once a week we get together and paint and talk writing. She's a generous teacher and I think I am too. Obviously we talk about the crossovers in our disciplines. I'm doing an edit on her novel this week and it strikes me that figuring out the mechanics of the plot and structure are a lot like composing a painting. And the diction, the actual word choices, the metaphors, similies, and so on are a lot like the brushstrokes a painter uses. We both seem to have a good handle on composition or plot, we know what we want to say and even when we want to say it, in order to lead the viewer (or reader) to the focal point (crisis) but we both need help loosening up our brushstrokes, being more confident and even daring in that department. I want her to stretch and try to say things freshly, cut out hackneyed phrases for surprising ones, and I think she'd like me to be bolder with my mark-making. I know once she starts she'll get what fun figuring out just the right word or phrase is. And I sometimes get a fleeting moment of grace and joy when I let loose with my brush. And isn't that it? Isn't that the real reason we do this crazy highwire act?

Hope you are all well and using these winter days to go deep into your work with verve and joy!

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

2024

Happy New Year dear Insecure Writers! It is our first meeting of the year of the Insecure Writers Support Group,* and I hope everyone has a nice clean notebook because it is time to set our intentions for the year ahead. No, I did not say the word 'resolutions'. Intentions. I like to think of it as a trip I might want to take in 2024. Where am I now? Where do I want to go?  How will I get there? What will I do when I'm there?  For the purposes of this meeting I will focus on my writerly intentions. Before I know where I want to go, I must ascertain where I am. 

Step 1 - where am I?

Let's see - I have one novel traditionally published. I have a second book finished but for the copy editing in the same series, and one finished in a different series. I have one YA book finished and about three books started but not nearly done. 

Step 2 - where do I want to go?

I want to see my three unpublished novels published.. I want to continue writing as the three finished ones look for a home and would like to have two more ready to send out by year's end, if not sooner. So, to synthesize, I'd like to find a publisher, either on my own or with the help of an agent, who wants to represent most if not all of the books I can churn out. While of course realizing they'd have to accept each one on its own merits.

Step 3 - how will I get there? 

I have the second in the Nell series being read by beta readers. When I get feedback on them I will revise accordingly. My fella is a primo copyeditor and has agreed to do that. I will be sending The Rock Walker out next week to beta readers and will by the end of January have both of those books ready to shop. When I have my query package made I will send to the agents and publishers I'm most interested in working with. While I await word on them I will have fun with my brand new work in progress - a hard-boiled detective story set in 1946 in Halifax!

Step 4 - what will I do when I get there?

When I have some possible deals to make I will carefully insure that the agent or publisher is the right fit for me and my novels by being as straight-forward as possible about what I want. This will never be about money for me, but about enthusiasm and understanding of what my books are about. As well, I will continue to have fun writing which is, in fact, what is deeply important to me. 


*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!


Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Thanks for coming by everyone and hope you are having as much fun as I am navigating in this strange land of writing.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

If we are insecure we are also secure

 Greetings dear fellow insecure writers and those that love us!

It is time for the December meeting of the IWSG - sign up here!

I love December and this particular December I feel a resurgence of my creative energy. This is the new year for me. My birthday is on the solstice and I naturally feel the world turn to the light as it approaches. I was in a slump for awhile but my energy like the light is starting a slow turn to the positive.

I have a message for all aspiring writers that is burning a hole in my metaphoric pocket.  Here it is:

Do not dance with someone who isn't flat-out crazy to dance with you.

And by this I mean do not get into a publishing or agent agreement unless you can easily ascertain that they are full on enthusiastic.

I used to feel that if anyone was willing to dance with me - a tall gawky red-haired flibbertigibbet - that I had to say yes. I got over that after several disastrous  unions but I neglected to take that learning into my artistic life. As writers who often accrue enough rejections to paper our writing studios, we can leap when someone expresses even the mildest of interests. Do not! Take your time to find out why they like your piece (your essay, your poem, your short-story, your novel) or if indeed they do at all. Publishing in this treacherous time is fraught so it seems like we should take any scrap of interest offered. Remember why you write and if you will still want to do so if you are writing solely to get published. Unless you are Margaret Atwood or Stephen King you won't really be making any money anyway so you might as well do it for the love of the craft. 

I'm going to be way old on the solstice and I have at least five more books I want published, but they will not be represented or published by anyone who doesn't think they are as special I do. That might mean they sit in a drawer or I publish them myself (not what I want to do) because I've decided I'm a writer first and an author second.

Merry Holidays to all who celebrate this time of year whatever your belief system.

Hold yourself precious!

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

another insecure writer speaks up

 It is Wednesday and the first of November, do you know where your insecure writers are?

Yes, it is another meeting of the IWSG - sign up here!


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!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Hi everyone! Boy these months sneak up on ya, wha! Here in Nova Scotia it has been softly snowing all day. My regular writing pal, Gwen, doesn't have her snow tires on yet, so we did our tomatoes alone and just checked in after every couple. What? You don't know what a 'tomato' is? Well, it's called the Pomodoro system and it is just a way to track your time. Like a kitchen timer (often a tomato) and we use it to write for 25 minutes, break for 5 and go back at it. Somehow it is incredibly motivating and Gwen and I have been using them for just about as long as I've been part of the IWSG. Here's a program I've linked here - Pomodoro

The question this month was about NaNoWriMo and I'm ignoring it as I've answered it several times already. I'll just say that my one published novel originated in a NaNoWriMo and I'm grateful. Won't be using it this month though as I'm in heavy duty revision of Butter and Snow - my second Nell Munro mystery. It will be ready for my beta readers in two weeks and then back for another swipe before anyone else looks at it.

In October I took part in Inktober for the fourth time. For that challenge you simply have to draw, ink or paint something daily. I like it and I really like the notion of simply showing up for your self in this way. This time I focused on landscapes and used all sorts of mediums and techniques to render the beauty I saw on the trips we took this summer and fall. It was fun and juicy and I love doing it.

I'm on a self-imposed challenge right now to get this revision done - 21 days of two hours a day. Doesn't seem like much but it sure makes a difference when you show up day after day. Like the snow fall today - the words accumulate.

Okay - see you next month!
Keep on keepin on.

Friday, October 6, 2023

Late for the meeting...but still here. IWSG

 Hi dear pals,

I'm late for the meeting but just a couple of days. I'm at Gampo Abbey in Cape Breton. My fella is doing some renovations here - the  abbey is like Howl's Moving Castle - a rambling shape shifting place on a bit of land floating out over the Atlantic, mountains behind, whales and ships moving slowly on the horizon, eagles and ravens playing in the wind. I have spent time here before - once I spent a month in the winter but that was decades ago. Before I go further though, let's do the traditional opening for a meeting of the IWSG - 

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!

I'm not going to answer the question which is no longer posted at any rate, but instead do something that my close pals and I do when we get together for any length of time. I'm going to check-in. Not about my whole life mind but just about my writing one. 

hmmm... I'm okay-ish. I am writing - working on my second Nell Munro novel, Butter & Snow, which is going slow as mud, but that's alright I think. I have a former mystery ms, The Rock Walker, with the woman who helped me with The Crooked Knife, but she is silent so far. I have another novel, Lost and Found, not a mystery, that I have about 60 thousand words written, but I want to change it from 1st person to 3rd. That'll waste a shit-load of time but I believe will save it from being binned. And I have an idea born of being here at the abbey for an 'end of days' type story, working title The Unwinding. So, let's see - that's four books in every stage from ready to pitch to nebulous thoughts.

My main anxiety - the one that keeps me in okay-ish and not just flat out okay - is that my discipline has been, well, absent. I can attribute that to some degree with the amount of traveling we've been doing. This has been the late summer early fall exploration of mountains. We were in Woody Point, Newfoundland, which is within the National Park of Gros Morne, a gorgeous range of mountains. Then we were in the Canadian Rockies, which are the most stupendous mountains in North America, and now we are in the Cape Breton Highlands. It is hard for me to keep my discipline when I'm traveling. I brought my laptop here because my fella is working so I can spend a few hours each day writing. The rest of the time I'm involved with helping out here at the Abbey and spending some good time with my old pal who works here. The truth is though, that I've had this kid ego-state who has just rebelled against me doing any of my disciplines lately. (last five months) No yoga, not much meditation, my drawing is down, all of it. Maybe you've had these fallow periods. I'm trying not to panic and just be gentle with it all, but it has me concerned. 



Well, that's it for today, for this month I suppose. I'll be back, and I look forward to catching up with you all now.