Quote of the Week, Writing

Quote of the Week

A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.   ~ Richard Bach

Sometimes it seems like the road to writing success gets longer as we walk. That it gets harder as we learn more. It seems hopeless. Who am I kidding? I’ll never get any better seems like a perfect summation, a good epitaph to a writing career that died before birth.

But as the quote above reminds each of us, every writer started out as bad as I am. I’m sure the young J.K. Rowling struggled with plotting. At some point, Stephen King probably abused adverbs. But they kept going and got better. A lot better. Others just as good as they were quit, and now we’ll never know how good they might have become.

Don’t quit because it’s hard, or because you don’t start off writing like Neil Gaiman. Just write. You’ll need to go through the ugly duckling phase to pass through to the other side. Even if you never become a best seller, you’ll get better, and better. You’ll be telling the tales only you could tell. And just maybe you’ll write a story that will influence someone else in some profound way. You might even inspire someone else to pick up the pen and become a writer.

Magic of the Everyday, Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky,
is by no means a waste of time.
—J. Lubbock

My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.—Anais Nin

Yes, this isn’t a single a quote, but two different ones. Still, seeing as how the “Quote of the Week” has been AWOL for a bit, I figured I could use a bit more oomph in this post, and that no one would mind. (If you do mind, well, just read one quote this week and one next week.)

I’m not sure what the weather is like where you are, but here, just now, it’s stunning. The sky is a soft shell blue arc, perfectly cloudless. A soft breeze ruffles the bud-spiked branches of the trees. The temperature requires warm-weather clothes even for me, a confirmed cold-blooded lizard clinging stubbornly to her heater-rock whenever possible. On this gorgeous day, and with more such to come in the forecast, I had to go buy flowers.

Remember that I’m a gardener at heart; I’m really, really happy when there’s dirt ingrained in my skin and lodged under my nails. Turning compost is my dream. (Early in our marriage, hubby asked what I wanted for my autumn birthday. No diamonds or jewels here–I wanted a load of horse manure to keep the compost pile steaming, hot and active all winter long. He shook his head in wonder, but I got my load of sh*t.) And for the entire last year, I’ve had no planters full of herbs and flowers. Today, I rectified that.


Was this a waste of my writing time, then? Well, some may think so, but not me. For like Anais Nin so aptly said, ideas come “in the midst of living.” As I pondered colors and scents, placement, heights and names of herb varieties, my subconscious was grabbing ideas left and right and tucking them away for later use: the giddy joy of all the early gardeners, buying plants in April even though we know it’s too early; my firm conviction that this year the last hard frost is over and the plants will survive a month ‘too soon’ outdoors; the feel (and sound!) of the root balls crumbling or shredding, breaking apart in my hands; the smells of crushed mint, and rosemary, and chives. It’ll come out in some story, some time.

Over the years I’ve spent hours watching animals do everyday things. Right now, I’m writing a YA piece that includes a dragon, and I’m using some of the things I’ve observed cats doing in my dragon’s actions. Did I intend that when I watched cats over the years? Of course not. I was just relaxing, doing something I enjoyed. And as it turns out, it wasn’t a waste of time at all.

Quote of the Week, Writing Workshops

Quote of the Week

If you wait for tomorrow, tomorrow comes. 
If you don’t wait for tomorrow, tomorrow comes.
~Senegalese Proverb

Yeah, this one’s a gimme. I’m trying not to wait for tomorrow, knowing that all the anticipation in the world won’t change the outcome of my Clarion/Clarion West/Odyssey dreams. Those thoughts still drift into the corners, but I’m filling my days with writing, and this week with editing. After all, going to these workshops is supposed to help my writing, and not writing doesn’t support that…so, back to writing I go.

If you’ve applied, good luck! If you’ve been accepted, congratulations! And if you’re not going this year, I hope you’ll keep your chin up, your fingers busy typing, and try again next year.

Personal Life, Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week

Tension is who you think you should be.  Relaxation is who you are.  ~Chinese Proverb

Hmm. I think I should be moved, already. I’m not, and it’s crazy-making!

Despite that, I went for a walk yesterday before the warm temperatures blew away on the increasing winds. Most of the path was either ice-shrouded and treacherous or thick, sucking mud that I dared not stand still in for fear of losing a boot. Despite how it may sound, it was perfect. Few people were about, thanks to the conditions of the trail, and those that were, like me, were looking for quiet and solitude. The sun was still shining, and I stopped by the fallen tree where I like to rest. Its bark is long-since gone, and the wood is smooth and weathered a lovely silver. It spans the trail between hip and chest height, so it’s a perfect bench, or better yet, a horse-seat where my feet dangle above the path and my black-coated back warms from the sun. I sat there a long while, enjoying the promise of spring, the quiet, and the slowing of my pulse as contentment found me once again.

I am still not moved. But I am relaxed, content once more to be merely on the cusp of a (big, honky, hairy, life-changing) move.

By the same token, I am not an experienced or established author. I often wish I were, think I should be doing more, doing better, all the time. It’s easy to forget to enjoy the process of becoming. Progress happens at its own speed. Practice each day, and you will improve. Maybe not as fast as you’d like, but if you’re like me, you want to be the best…as of yesterday.

Relax. Like me, you’re getting better. As practicing writers, it’s who we are, after all. Now go enjoy some writing 🙂   And try not to fall into one of the boxes.

Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week

Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company. 
–Lord Byron

A Month of Letters has begun. So far, I’ve managed to keep up. (Considering that this is day three, that’s not such a big deal.) I didn’t log into the site last week or over the weekend to log in daily, and I’m not sure I will–for me, part of this ‘challenge’ is to unplug a bit, not to add more on my online to-do list. That list is full enough as it is:-)

Writing a Letter

I love sitting down to write a letter. I love pulling out nice stationery, maybe matching it to the recipient if I can in order to bring a smile to his or her face right away, before the reading is even begun. And the forums over at Lettermo (the Month of Letters website) have shown me that I’m far from alone in these likes.

Years ago, letter writing also taught me about character voice, in a round-about way. My family had a long history of writing letters to one another. Whether on vacation or from snowbird overwintering in Florida, my grandma, aunt, parents and various siblings all wrote letters home. Being the youngest, at home the longest, I got to read them all. It influenced how I wrote. My aunt wrote exactly how she spoke, using small jokes, funny words (she was an executive secretary in the day when that really meant something), and everyday events to paint a picture of her day. So did my grandma, my parents, etc. When I wrote my friends, I naturally did the same thing. My friend Amy commented to me, after I returned from one trip, that my letter to her sounded just like I was talking to her, not all stiff like most letters.

That comment resonated in my mind. All these years later it still does. It made me think. Specifically, it made me think about how what we say, and how we say it, reflect our personalities and how others view us. It was early training in writing in a character’s voice. It was also just nice to get letters that sounded like the people sending them to you, hearing them inside your head as you read the words scratched or scrawled or neatly scripted onto the page.

Looking for a writing exercise? Write a letter from your main character to someone. Use his or her voice, the words he/she would use, the tone. Make it a friend and include jokes or funny observations. Discover how he/she views the world, and more of his/her personal backstory.

Just looking for fun? Write a letter to a friend and drop it in the mail. Brighten someone’s day by letting them find something other than junk mail and bills in the mailbox. And enjoy some good company in your solitude.

Personal Life, Quote of the Week, Writing

Quote of the Week

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.
—Robert Louis Stevenson

This week I’ve planted many seeds. I traveled to New Jersey, looking for a place to live, and I think hubby and I may have found our (temporary) home. Cross your fingers, because the community looks nice and tidy, the apartment is clean and neat, and the price is right. And, there should be a unit coming available soon. So, no harvest, but seeds for living planted in what looks like fertile ground.

A pocket park where we ate our carried snacks
A pocket park where we ate our carried snacks

In addition, we took time off for a train ride into NYC. It was gray, and damp. Not cold, but certainly not what most folks would call great sightseeing weather. Nonetheless, I was enchanted. Being Sunday, there were no throngs on the sidewalks, no commuter crush on the trains or subways. We wandered from New York’s Penn Station to Times Square, then found a chocolate shop and sat for a decadent hot cocoa and truffle. Then we took the subway to Central Park.

Need I go into rhapsodies over Central Park for you? One visit and I already love this place! If I could afford it, I’d live there. The energy of the city combined with the peace of a structured park made my bliss complete.

from Belvedere Castle
from Belvedere Castle

I’ll admit I was hesitant to commit to liking NYC. While I’ve been to many cities in my life, and liked most of them (at least in part), NYC has always seemed a separate beast to me–larger than life and seeming too chaotic for me to really like. But I really like. To quote Shrek, “Really really.”

itinerant bubble-blower
itinerant bubble-blower

During this travel and apartment hunting, it was hard to keep to my writing schedule, especially since we stayed with a friend’s mom, who had her own schedule (and issues with her internet access). And still, I planted writing seeds, too. I’d researched some ideas in the airport on the way there, and laid down a basis for a story in the quiet wee hours before our hostess rose in the morning. I prepped my next blog post, and am writing this in the airport on the way home (hello, Atlanta!). I sketched out another idea on the plane using (gasp!) a pen and a paper notebook. Good seeds all.

Another view from Belvedere Castle
Another view from Belvedere Castle

And I’m looking forward to my eventual harvest. According to Write 1 / Sub 1, I’ve got a story due by the end of the week. I plan to meet that goal! Gotta love fast-growing seeds. (Radish, anyone?)

Personal Life, Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week

Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

This is one of those days I must merely ‘endure.’ I feel as if some giant has wrung me out like a dishrag and left me flopped over the edge of the sink, slowly leaking onto the floor. Ugh. There is no creative spark, no ability to think new things.

Still, I edited words already written for a short while, and sent out a submission that was ready to go. I endured, and feel I’ve gained my rest. Now I will sip herbal tea and let life move along without me for a bit.

Tomorrow is another day. With any luck, it’ll be one I can enjoy again.

Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week

Life is like riding a bicycle – in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.

~Albert Einstein

Stories, too, are like riding bicycles. If the story stops too long, if the forward momentum ceases as the protagonist makes witty asides, or the scenery is discussed in loving detail, or anything else unimportant to the story itself makes a roadblock, we fall over. We are no longer riding the story, um, bike, but falling out of the story–off the bike–and saying ‘Ouch!’ After which, we may or may not get back onto the bike. That particular story may not draw me back in after it’s lost my attention. No matter how lovely the details, or fine the prose, if they don’t further the plot in some way–murder those darlings to save the story.