Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Gaining Momentum

As I mentioned earlier, I started working on a book--the last book in the Echoes Series--at the end of June. The rough drafts of my recent books have taken me only two or three weeks to write, but this one isn't done yet.

I'm on page 237, and I can feel the story drawing to a gradual close. It may take another week, but I'm getting there. In the beginning of this book, I felt the story dragging. I didn't go back to liven it up--I don't do that with first drafts. I just made mental notes here and there of passages which need to be changed or eliminated.

Suddenly, somewhere after page 150, the story picked up. It drew me in. The action is moving quickly now. I can't wait to see--exactly--how it ends. I have some strong ideas about the ending, but I haven't yet written the final pages, the closing paragraphs, the last line.

It will be hard for me to go to bed tonight. I want to keep writing. But, then, even a writer needs to sleep.

Monday, July 30, 2007

My Bridges Interview

Was anyone able to watch the interview last night? We don't have cable TV and I don't think we can get Bridges where we live, anyway. I will receive a DVD of the interview soon, and I can't wait to see it.

So, did anyone watch the program last night? How was it?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

"Weird People"

Tonight my husband accompanied me to a local writers' meeting. I asked him to come because the meeting started late and I have difficulty driving at night.

While we waited for the other writers to arrive, my husband said he would recognize them because they would be "weird," just like me. That's not an insult. It's the truth.

A writer develops an entirely new world, creating lives of people who have never been born and throwing obstacles in their way. A writer considers the weight and connotation of every word. A writer observes the outside world, looking for new ideas to use in a story.

And when a writer is "in the zone," inspired and caught up in the writing, no one can easily get his or her attention.

I accept the label of "weird" and wear it proudly because a writer is who I am.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Too Tired to Write

For too many nights I've stayed up until 1:30 or 2, writing after my family has gone to sleep. They seem to settle down later each night. It's now 11:18, and they're wide awake.

But my schedule is catching up with me. I can barely put two thoughts together.

After they quiet down, I hope to write for a little while. It helps me sleep. And as nice as it is to write in a quiet house in the dead of the night, even the most inspired writer must sometimes rest.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Spinning a Tale

For more than three weeks I have worked on Silence, the final book in the Echoes Series. Earlier attempts descended into a maudlin mess. This time I think I've found the formula.

But I still don't know where the story is going. It has twisted several times until I don't recognize it anymore. Just like a reader, I'm anxious to find out how the story ends.

There's Muhammad. I mean, he could. . .or he may just. . .Then there's Joshua. There's never any telling what he may do. I've thrown in a couple wild cards to keep things more interesting. And after I've finished with the rough draft I plan to weave in one or two more minor storylines.

I won't let you know how it ends, when I do finally reach that point. You'll have to learn that on your own.

Monday, July 23, 2007

My TV Interview

Last April I was interviewed for a segment to be shown on Bridges TV. The interview will air on July 29 at 8:00 p.m.

I hope if you have access you will tune in!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Writing Instruments

My 14-year old was in agony this evening because he can't have his own laptop yet. Not only that, we expect him to share the desktop with his brothers. He wanted to know how he could build his writing career without a laptop.

When I was 14, I bought my first typewriter. I'd had a summer job working as a day camp counselor, which brought in $100 for the summer (at $1/hour--minimum wage in those days). I spent $25 on a small typewriter. And I typed on that thing day and night. I wrote poems. I wrote stories. I wrote plays. I even wrote a book. (Though I never thought anything was good enough to be published.) My mother said that after I left home for college, she still imagined hearing the clackety-clack of my typewriter late at night.

I wish my son could also start on a typewriter, but they're not as practical these days. Ribbons must be impossible to find. And I imagine it would be very hard for a computer kid to get used to the earlier technology.

He may be able to upgrade my old laptop, but it's at least ten years old. It still works. I'm not sure if it has enough memory and speed to compete in today's world.

He will get his laptop eventually. In a couple of years he'll get a job and work for it, just as I worked for my typewriter. The computer he buys will be so much more special to him.

For now, he's writing his new story by hand. There are many choices for writers. We simply need to be open to them.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Problem Solved

What I've through in my writing in the last three days confirms my belief in writer's intuition.

I introduced a plot twist withour any idea of how I would resolve it. I wasn't sure I should write it at all, but my intuition told me I should.

Yesterday I began working on a solution, butI still didn't have a clear idea of where to go.

It came to me today at around 2 p.m. while I was washing up for the midday prayer. Suddenly I could see the entire plot clearly in front of me. I can't wait to finish writing it.

Some of my best ideas occur when I'm dousing myself with water. I wonder why.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

At an impasse

It happened to me last night. I thought of an intriguing plot twist. I didn't know how I would resolve it. So I decided to shut off my laptopl and go to sleep. By morning, surely, I would have an answer.

That was almost 24 hours ago. I'm still stuck. I don't want to give up on my twist. I know if I'm persistent enough, I'll find the answer. But I don't have it yet.

That's the trouble with writing by the seat of your pants. Sometimes it can carry you into dark, dead-end alleys with no sign of escape.

This isn't the first time I've had this problem. It's always resolved itself before. I'm sure it will again.

I hope. . .

Is anybody out there? . . .


Monday, July 16, 2007

So many books to read. . .

. . .and so little time.

My copy of A Thousand Splendid Suns arrived on Saturday. I can't wait to read it. But I have other books already in my queue.

On Saturday evening I finished an amazing book about new cures for cancer which do not include chemotherapy. I thought I would pick up A Thousand Splendid Suns then. I had another book which needs to go back to the library soon, though, and I hadn't touched it yet. A few pages wouldn't hurt, I thought.

I'm nearing page 100 of this 500-page book. I want to peek ahead and find the ending, but the author didn't make it that easy for me. I have to keep going.

I have four other library books to read. I got one, though it's a novel, mostly for reference--the author is from, and writes about, a city I'm including in a future book. Another is a collection of short stories. That still leaves two very interesting looking novels.

For now, A Thousand Splendid Suns sits on a table in my bedroom. I want to read it. I can't wait to read it. But what about the other books?

Maybe I should set aside a week just for reading.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Writing as Catharsis

I was talking recently with someone who writes horror. He said he must write horror to help him purge his own fears and visions. The stories he writes are bold and often bloody--too strong for me to read. I never would have guessed the secrets he harbored.

I have a character who is great fun for me to write. She speaks boldly whatever is on her mind, with no apologies. She has been known to march into a room or a house and demand an explanation, usually at the top of her lungs. And sometimes, after an outburst, she does calm down and become quiet--even sweet.

Heather is my alter-ego. I wish I could be like her. I could say what I think without worrying about later repercussions. I could demand that people meet me on my terms. I would hold my head high and never offer an apology.

Writing is very therapeutic. My friend exorcises his own ghosts through his gruesome tales. I create characters who act as I never would dare. All of us writers create worlds where our imaginations run wild.

I write, therefore I am.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Keeping Characters Focused

I'm working on Silence, the last book in the Echoes Series. This book has been the hardest for me to write. There's so much I want to say before I end the series.

The most challenging part of writing this book, though, is the characters. I've been with them for several years, and I know each of them well. I can't expect the same of my readers, though. Each old character needs a light reintroduction--especially the children, who are now young adults.

Twice I've tried putting new characters into Silence. One was brand new. I wrote his storyline. Then I deleted him from the manuscript, placing his information in another file. I will probably write a short story just about him.

Another character was in the earlier books, but he was much younger. I started writing his narrative. Soon I was getting carried away. I was in danger of losing the focus of the story. So I made a separate file and put much of his story there. I can change the names later and make a short story out of those remnants.

As of tonight, I'm on track. I'm also on my guard. It's very easy to get sidetracked.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Growing Creatively

My 14 year old is working on a great short story. As soon as he told me the plot I knew it had potential. Once in a while I hear him reciting a few phrases. He has the right expression also. As soon as his story is finished, I plan to help him find the right magazines to send his manuscript.

My 17 year old writes also. His preferred genre is fantasy. My 12 year old is a budding writer. His poems and stories need development, but he has promise.

And I can't forget about my older three. They're all a little more practical, but if you sit with any of them you'll hear interesting ideas and propositions.

My kids are not prodigies or rocket scientists. Each one, though, is very creative. Creativity is a dynamic word in our household.

Video games and cable TV sap the imagination. Even school can sometimes turn children into robots rather than thinkers.

If you want a creative child, you must start when he or she is small. Add love, encouragement, plenty of books, and lots of unstructured time in the weekly schedule. Then sit back and watch your child bloom.

Monday, July 09, 2007

How Was Your Month?

I'm back. I've had a great month.

We moved to Lexington. Our home is settled and I'm feeling at home in the community.

I completed the Script Frenzy challenge--a 20,000 stage play written during the month of June. It wasn't always easy, and the script is rough, but I did it.

I even did a little reading. Not much fiction. Right now I'm working on a book about one man's search for a scientific cure to cancer. Some of the vocabulary is unfamiliar and difficult, but Racing to a Cure by Neil Ruzic is well worth the read.

This afternoon I finally ordered A Thousand Splendid Suns. I can't wait to read it.

I've also had more time, recently, to browse and post on Shelfari.com. I even started a group on Islamic fiction. You might want to check it out.

Enough about me. How was your June?