Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer Break

We've broken through to triple-digit weather this week, so I'm going to call it: summer is officially here. The girls don't have camp this week, so I'll be back to regular blogging next week. I've been finding time to continue revising my latest story according to my Clarion West write-a-thon goals, but there isn't time for much else. And by "much else" I mean sitting in front of a computer screen.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Clarion West Write-a-thon!

I sure wish a little bird had told me such a thing as the Clarion West Workshop existed when I was devoutly pursuing my English major in college. Now that I've returned to writing and embraced genre I would love to go, but I don't think the hubs, the girls, the dog, the chickens or the guppies would put up with me disappearing for six weeks to bask in writerly whatnot.

No matter, because they each year they host a Write-a-thon for the duration of the workshop. This year I'm going to participate and you can too!

There's a lot to like about this Write-a-thon:

It's longer than National Novel Writing Month, six weeks instead of four, and it's in the summer so it doesn't intersect with any major holidays (Thanksgiving, I'm looking at you).

Participants are tasked with setting their own goals. I wanted to challenge myself by just notching things up one tick. As I've blogged about before. I'm all about setting goals I can accomplish. Here's what I wrote:
I'm looking to step up my productivity by writing more consistently. I am committing to writing 1,000 words a day -everyday- throughout the write-a-thon. Also, since I consider revising writing, it counts - but in the case of revising I would like to revise 2,000 words or 8 pages/day. So, one or the other or some combination of the two every day. I hope over the course of the write-a-thon to finish the two novelettes I have in progress and write at least two new stories.
It's not just a Write-a-thon, it's a Write-a-long. The other participants include many published and established authors! Check out their pages here, and sign up for a chance to rub virtual shoulders with some great writers.

It's for a good cause: nurturing of great new genre writers, so that we'll have more fantastic literature to read in the not-so-distant future! For the fundraising side of it, if you donate on my Clarion West Write-a-thon page, I will write a flash fiction story with your name (or a name of your choosing) as the title character.

So, what are you waiting for? Check out their Write-a-thon page and get yourself signed up for the fun!

You can check out my author page here.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Go There

Sierra Nevada by Albert Bierstadt, circa 1871
“Write what you know will always be excellent advice for those who ought not to write at all. Write what you think, what you imagine, what you suspect!”
~Gore Vidal
I would add, and make it real – the world of the story – in this way, you can circle back to the idea of “writing what you know.”

Let me put it another way. I have a two-word motto taped to my laptop:

Go there.

I love to travel, but at this stage of my life, I don’t get to do it as much as I like and creating stories is a way to visit undiscovered territories without leaving my home, abandoning my children, or losing my job.

Go there.

You can’t tell a story from the outside in. You have to travel to it and tell it from the inside. It is amazing what you can build inside your head, lands infinitely vast or tiny as a snuffbox. It’s a magic bounded only by your imagination and daring. 

When we speak of some aspect of storytelling as magical, it gives the impression of being bestowed. Presto! Upon the writer, who sits and scribbles in an inspired frenzy. Nope. Going there is a skill that must be honed and nurtured through the disciplined practice of writing. Writing every day.

Go there.

Get inside your characters' heads. Inhabit their bodies; break into a sweat when they’re in a tight spot, heave a sigh when they escape, shed a tear. Get to know your characters by seeing the world of the story through their eyes.

Go there.

Here’s more magic. Every one of us is a vast, undiscovered country. We never truly know our loved ones, our parents and children; they constantly delight and surprise us, disappoint us or break our hearts. They are driven by motivations so personal and complex that we can only comprehend them dimly as if through a clouded lens. 

Even my own views and opinions of the world are constantly evolving. There are the things that I will always believe, the compass that I steer by. But the things that were important to me when I was in my teens, my 20s, my 30s, they are different than the things I value and enjoy now. Still, I have the memory of my earlier selves to tap into when I create a new character. 

Go there.

I’ve gotten to the point in my abilities where I can tell when I’m coming at a story from the outside. Often it’s because my progress begins to stutter. Walking becomes difficult, the way unclear. Instead of experiencing the story, I begin to feel like a puppet master moving characters around a lifeless set. All is not lost, I just have to do a little journal work to get inside the character’s head so that together we can climb inside the story. I’ve found that getting inside the story can happen in the first draft, but it can also happen in revision. I don’t think it matters when, but at some point, for a story to come alive, I have to climb inside. 

That’s all I’ve got for today. I’m off to another undiscovered country. I’ll see you on the other side.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Read The Horses at Every Day Fiction

My story, The Horses, has already come up in the Every Day Fiction rotation. It was posted on Sunday the 2nd of June. You can read it here. You can even rate it and/or leave a comment.

This story was generated by a prompt from Cat Rambo. I met her Armadillo Con  where she was my pro at last year's writer's workshop. Since The Horses is (I hope) a story of revelation, I don't want to say what the prompt was. I will say that I have taken both individual instruction and an online class from Cat and they were both worth every penny. Cat is easygoing and insightful, able to both inspire and give direction. Check out her class schedule here.

Every Day Fiction is also a great market. They are not the speediest to reply but worth the wait. I've had pieces rejected there too, and what I like about how they do things is that, whether rejected or accepted, the story is read by a group of editors, each of whom write a few comments These are all collected into a nice little critique. So, if you don't have a lot of other avenues to get critiques for your work, this is an excellent market. Check out their guidelines here.

Today is the last day of school, so everything changes regarding when and where I can write. I'll be talking about how I fit writing into my life over the summer in another post.