Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Writing Tools

I must confess . . .  I was given two great writing tools simultaneously. A new laptop, complete with Geek Squad assistance, and a black Moleskin notebook. Which do you think I've used? Yep. The notebook. I like the way it fits so well in my handbag. And the little elastic band attached on one side, that snaps into place over the cover--as though it is keeping my secrets from the world until the next time I decide to write.

But I am thrilled to finally have a laptop of my own. I've been borrowing my children's computers for years and they always delete my files, erasing hours and hours of work. The Geek Squad has kindly provided me with sixty (60!) tutorials. Hopefully, I will learn something. Too bad the Geeks can't program my brain as easily as they do a laptop.

Bring it on, tutorials. Bring it on.

Do you like to write with a pen, a keyboard, or both?

What are you learning now?  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Typing Skillz

Usually, I don't use typing and skill in the same sentence. In my case, they're mutually exclusive. Here is one of my favorite writing quotes as it should read.

"To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music the words make." --Truman Capote

Here is the quote as I type it . . .

(I'll apologize now, Mr. Capote. I really do love your work.)

"tO me. tjhen greatest pleasfire of wroiting is not wjat it's about, bnit the inner miusc the words make.{

Yes, that was an actual sample of my so-called skillz. It looks like a Finnish/Elfin mutation. (Right now, I'm watching my fingers. That's why you can read this.)

How are your skillz, or should I say skills?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

When Insomnia Is a Good Thing

In his short story, A Clean Well Lighted Place, Ernest Hemingway wrote:

"Finally, with daylight, he would go to sleep. After all, he said to himself, it is probably insomnia. Many must have it."

And most of us do. At one time or another.

You may not believe me, but Insomnia is my friend. I'm not talking about the kind of sleeplessness that occurs after a long, stressful day when the body is exhausted yet cannot achieve any sort of rest. No, that Insomnia hinders. It is my Friend's evil cousin.

The one that I value is the kind that comes after a few hours of sleep, when fatigue is lulled into complacency for a time and imagination takes over, waking a writer with sudden inspiration. I love having a pen and a stack of note cards waiting on my night stand for just that moment. Then those blue and white stripey squares save my bacon as I jot down new story ideas or bits of dialogue.

There is also the joy of schlepping into my office in a nightgown and slippers because my head is filled with intriguing words and make believe people. It's always casual Friday in those early hours and the world feels peaceful, unencumbered. Daily cares are hours away yet, and I allow myself the luxury of quiet thinking.

Night time can be magic for writers. Is Insomnia like that for you?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Words Like Music

I was in the grocery store the other day, looking through the book section, as is my habit. Having never read anything by Steven King, with the exception of On Writing, I opened one of his recent releases and sped through a few paragraphs. They were skillfully written, but I'm afraid of being afraid so I didn't make the purchase.

Something did stick with me though--his word coaxable. I had never seen it anywhere before, even in the dictionary, and I loved it. Still do. So much so that I'm planning on working it into my next story. Thank you, Mr. King!

The perfect word at the perfect moment is like music. (Yes. I did read the dictionary as a child. Just for fun.)

Do you enjoy words?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Amabilis Insania

You know you have it bad when the only book that interests you is the one you are currently writing.
I think that the Roman poet Horace would have called this state a delightful insanity. How are your new projects going, and what is your amabilis insania?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bird By Bird

Anne Lamott is funny. And wise. And generous. And an excellent writer/teacher. You read her words and daydream that you're old friends, that you could call her up in a low moment and ask for advice.

I had heard of her book for a long time from other writers, but it took me until now to read Bird By Bird. I'm so glad I did. Because I've always wanted to be understood, to feel that I'm not so isolated after all. This book provides that connection.

My problems aren't as unique as I once thought. Turns out, I'm a fairly typical writer. I love knowing that.

Stringing words together isn't the easiest of hobbies. It can make you crazy sometimes. Literally. That's why some people quit after a few disappointments, become depressed, or drink copious amounts of alcohol. Bird By Bird makes sense of all this. It compares the evolution of a story to watching a Polaroid photograph develop, the depth and color emerging slowly--and often surprisingly. It says that the happiest, and least insane, writers are those who enjoy the craft itself—they do it without hope of publication or acclaim. It's a labor of love.

Ms. Lamott points out to her writing students that the odds of the writing life bringing "peace of mind and even joy are not that great. Ruin, hysteria, bad skin, unsightly tics, ugly financial problems, maybe; but probably not peace of mind. I tell them that I think they ought to write anyway."

Why go through the hard times, blogging friends? Is it a labor of love for you?

P.S. If you enjoyed Stephen King's On Writing, you'll be a fan of Bird By Bird.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Sisyphus Syndrome

Sisyphus was/is a writer. I swear it. That story in Greek mythology? About the man doomed for eternity to roll a massive stone up a hill only to see it roll back down again? Just a smokescreen. The actual Sisyphus is just a person with literary aspirations sitting at the computer, hypnotized by the glowing screen and wearing an old pair of slippers. He lives in a house full of broken pencils without a sharpener. His kids steal the only Sharpie just as the last page of his manuscript falls out of the printer, skidding across the desk and landing on the floor among the junk mail.

But Sisyphus won't quit—his twin companions, Obsession and Persistence, won't allow that. So Sis continues polishing an old idea to death, because he loves it and can't let it go. Because it's scary to face a new idea, a white page. Who knows where that will lead?

It takes courage to put the stone down and move forward. Poor Sisyphus. Think of what he'll miss.

Any fresh thoughts out there? How do you begin a new writing project? Where do you find the inspiration?