Seriously -- Who's Going to Read This?

ALA with MaryHey, Writerly Women!  Back when Mary Weber, my very first mentoring client, was a newbie ( she is now, like, the queen of Christian fantasy and teaches workshops and oh, my gosh I'm so proud. .. Now, where the heck was I going with this?) Anyway, at the American Library Association Convention that year, she asked the question we all ask, "Who is going to read my books?"

I went through a season early in my writing career when even though I had a contract I could NOT go into a bookstore. Really. If I did force myself to enter, I'd walk up  and down the aisles and imagine those thousands of books sticking their tongues out at me and neener-neenering, "We're on the shel-elves and you-'re no-ot!" I had to flee before I evolved into a full blown anxiety attack.  Who was going to read MY stuff when there was so much already out there?

I don't even know, and that's not the point here anyway. The question "Who's going to read what you write?" is about our AUDIENCE -- and that's what I want to explore together this month. Here's why.

I'm 120 pages into my current manuscript. I have been for a while. It's not that I don't have my usual massive outline. It's not that I don't love my main character. It's not that I don't have confidence in my voice. Until I went through a deepening of my spiritual journey this summer, I didn't realize just what the Sam Hill was keeping me stuck at page 120. 

I'd have to write an entire non-fiction book to explain how my study of Mary Magdalene led me to this conclusion (really, don't ask unless you have time for a treatise, and no, it has nothing to do with The Da Vinci Code), but it finally came to me that the reason I stopped writing was this:

I didn't know exactly who I was writing for.

And I mean exactly. I knew "women". I even knew "intelligent women." What I'm talking about is the one specific woman who I want to pick up my novel. The one woman who has to read it or I haven't done my job. I have to know who she is, down to the way she orders her coffee at Starbucks or I can't finish this book.

The thing is, that's exactly what I tell my clients to do. Here's one of my favorites. You're going to LOVE this.

    The tall young man with dark shaggy hair leans his hand over the bookrack, examining the titles with his baby blue eyes. He bites down on his pierced lip, lightly touching the spins with his thin delicate figures. His pale face, with one bluish tinted bruise on his left eye, gazes suddenly at the book on the bookshelf entitled “The Heart of Death.” Thinking it is some kind of Gothic novel, like the black clothes he wears, he picks up the book and cradles it in his arms as he opens the book, turning the fragile pages as he reads the words. A tear emerges from his eye as he begins to read, feeling the ache in his heart from his current circumstances. And he is enthralled. Goth girl

That is how fine a point we have to put on the image of the person we are writing for. That is what drives us. That is what sits us down at the computer and keeps us there. And that's what this month on the Doorways blog is about. I'm opening the door for you -- challenging you -- to share a paragraph describing your ideal reader.

Will you do it?

Will you email it to me?

Or will you type it out in a comment?

Will you let it focus you right into that next paragraph in your work in progress? 

I'll keep opening the doors. You keep walking through them. I'll walk with you.

 

Blessings,

Nancy Rue

 


Transition ... Not to Be Confused with Big ol Leap of Faith

Wanting to quitHey, writerly women. This post could also be called, "Don't Quit Your Day Job ... Yet." 

But don't you have those days when you WANT to? When you're having such a BLAST writing and it's flowing through your mind and fingers like a silk scarf and you're more sure than you've ever been of anything in your life that this is what you're meant to do.

     I'm sure our ANDREA feels that way fight now. She just finished her FIRST DRAFT. Go girl!!!

    And LILY, who just polished off her FINAL DRAFT. Yeah, baby!!

And then the alarm on your phone dings and you have to get ready for your shift at Starbucks or TJ Maxx or Home Depot -- or go to bed because you have to get up tomorrow and be a first responder or an administrative assistant or a lawyer. 

Yeah, the urge to stop transitioning and just give your two weeks notice or your two hours notice or just call in "never" can be pretty overwhelming, In fact, it's easy to mistake it for God saying, "Just do it. Take the leap of faith. I will take care of you."

Heck, you might be able to find a Scripture verse to support that if you look hard enough. What about the whole "lilies of the field thing?" Or God keeping his eye on the sparrow. Those work, right?

I'm not going there, this not being a post on miracles ... but I do know that God gave us two sides to our brains -- the right side for the creative, emotional, word crafting activities that make us fabulous writers, which we are Two sides of brain
--- the left side for analyzing, planning, and keeping us from getting run over by cars. It's difficult to pay attention to said left side when the silk is running through our hands and we're envisioning ourselves spending our days in our characters' worlds.

But if we're going to eat, we kind of have to. 

So how do we know when it's time to quit that day job, or at the very least go part time, especially in this very tight publishing climate? I can speak to this because I did it. Twice. The first time not terribly successfully, though I learned tons, the second successfully enough to launch me into a full-time career. I'm not going to go into a narcissistic telling of my experiences. I'll just share what I know from them, and from what I see going on now. Before you take the leap (even part time):

    * Have a publishing resume.

        That can mean a hefty list of short stories and/or articles, either print or on/line, paid blog gigs, or books that are bringing in income, again, either traditionally published, self-published, print, or e-books. We are talking INCOME PRODUCING publications that promise to continue, now that you'll have more time to devote to them.

    * Have enough money in the bank to cover your expenses for six months.

    Not just the basic bills and food but your writing-related items as well. You're going to use more supplies like journals, drink more coffee at the shop where you write, that kind of thing.

    * Be prepared to cut corners.

    Lattes at home, anyone? Meatless dinners? Last year's shoes from Payless? Friends doing your manis and pedis? 

    * Be willing to take side writing jobs that may not be fascinating for a while.

    I was writing YA when I first went full time, andI  did articles for those high school health class magazines on everything from sweat to circadian rhythms. Did you know that gustatory hypohydrosis means you sweat when you eat spicy food? You never know what info you'll pick up to impress people at cocktail parties. 

    *Be ready to work long -- and we are talking LOOOOONG hours.

    Working for yourself is not a glamor gig where you get to sleep in, write a couple of hours, go out for lunch, take a nap, watch Netflix for inspiration ... There's no sick leave, paid vacays --  and weekends are pretty much like all other days. 

    * Make sure you are already self-disciplined, have a routine and are highly motivated

           Anxiety BPHP Scotia You may have written your supervisor into your novel as your antagonist and given him everything but fangs, (okay, maybe you've given him fangs) but your boss when you go full time free lance is you, so you may have to grow some. Better grow them BEFORE you give notice.

    * Be in the publishing world

        This is the hardest part for our beloved introverts, and most writers, especially fiction authors, ARE introverts. This means you've gone to writer's conferences, made contacts with editors, publishers, agents, others writers, magazine people.  When you write for a publication, be personable in your emails to the staff. Join writers' Facebook groups. If you have an agent, get on the agency's client Facebook group (most of them have same). Writing is going to be your job so you'll want to know the people involved in it. They'll be able to give you the skinny on new opportunities -- especially sites like Linked In

Basically, you need to have it going on before you take that leap. You might be thinking, "Doesn't that kind of do away with the 'faith' part?"  Not really. You're still giving up the security of a paycheck, insurance and other bennies, and there are no guarantees the writing work is always going to be there. Publishing is as fickle as the music industry, Hollywood and guys between the ages of 14 and 30. Okay, maybe 35. Where the faith really comes in is here:

        If you truly believe -- because the writing does flow like the aforementioned silk scarf -- that God has given you a gift and God wants you to use it to enrich lives -- God will use it in some way. If it's meant to be in a full-time writing life, and you're willing to make the slow transition and eventually the final leap, it will happen. If it's to be a part of your total career and you're willing to do the same thing, yes. It will be. 

    I think we're saying it's about the timing. We need to rest in that, right? Write into it. Transition into it. Not rush into it before we're ready and end up living on Top Ramen. That's a sure way to stop believing in the gift and start believing you're a failure.

 So yeah, the big ol leaps are exciting and dramatic and call for champagne. By the case. The transitions, though -- they're the day to day steps that slowly take you there. Just keep that scarf in your hands.

 

If you want to comment, tell us how the writing feels in your hands right now. Give us an image. Silk scarf? GLORIA's famous potato masher stuck in the drawer? A handful of confetti? Me? I just had a breakthrough, so it's like that big paper thing football players run through when they're going out onto the field.  Show us what you're workin' with. Footbball banner

 

Blessings

Nancy   

                   


Investing In Transition ... Like Shannyn (and there's an offer tucked in here)

Shannyn solo head shotHey, Writerly Women. About six years ago, my friend Shannyn Caldwell told me she wanted me to help her write a book. I'd just started my mentorship program (she was my second client), and Shannyn was the co-anchor of the morning show on a Christian station in Detroit where she'd had me on a bunch of times so of course I told her absolutely I would.

Um ... what she sent me was actually a collection of journal entries, and to be fair, she did exactly what you're supposed to do when you write in a journal: ignore punctuation and grammar and sentence structure. The writing was very creative ... especially when it came to spelling, if you take my meaning. But, the story. Oh, my gosh, ladies, the story. The STORY of her healing from losing both of her parents in a tornado, after only recently going through a devastating divorce, was so compelling it had to be told. Shannyn and her husband scraped together the funds and Shannyn, determined to do what she so clearly felt called to do, wrote and rewrote, revised and re-revised until Healing Season was self-published. 

Self-publishing was the logical choice for Shannyn because she had an active speaking ministry and shortly thereafter became the morning co-anchor for the nationally syndicated Family Life Radio. And now, these half dozen years later? Shannyn just reported to me this morning that the Healing Season is becoming a Holistic Wellness Community. Shannyn's book table  Shannnyn is a certified holistic nutritionist, she will be a Traditional Naturopathic Doctor by the new year, and a PhD in the philosophy of Natropathic Meedicine  by age 50 is the final educational goal.

So is it any wonder she was invited onto Holy Spirit Broadcast Network? 

Shannyn on tv

And asked to speak at the Grand Hotel in ... I assume Detroit (I neglected to ask her that part)

 

Why am I telling you Shannyn on stageall this? Because when Shannyn knew she had to make a transition, when the call to write that first book wouldn't leave her alone, she made an investment. If I recall, there were some financial sacrifices involved, as well as some time squeezes. She had two active kids at home. A husband. A full-time job. The fact that Shannyn was and continues to bear a strong resemblance to the Energizer Bunny notwithstanding, that's impressive. It all started with a willingness to invest. 

Let me be clear: this is not a call-out for you to sign up for my mentorship program! YOUR investment doesn't have to be that. There are other ways to mark the fact that your writing, your ministry has significance. It's sort of like buying a good pair of cross trainers to show that you're committed to your fitness program. Or purchasing the best paint brushes you can afford to make the statement that you consider yourself a serious artist. Or knitting your boyfriend a sweater ... okay, maybe not that. You get the idea, though, right?

So let's think ... what investment can you make, however small, to move yourself one step through this transition from wherever you are to Writer? To Author of a Completed Book. To Creator of a Series. To Founder of a Movement. To Quiet Leader of an Important Thing. It might look like one of these:

  •     * a new laptop or tablet
  •    * a decent Word program
  •     * a good on-line course in something specific about writing you're struggling with
  •  * a creative filing system to keep all your stuff in  
  • a Donald Maass book (I recommend Writing 21st Century Fiction or The Emotional Craft of Fiction or, if you've completed a first draft, Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook)
  • a journal for your protagonist
  • a babysitter two hours a week just so you can write (and NOT so you can take a nap or get a pedicure)
  • a package of colored index cards for plot points
  • a fund for take-out on the nights you want to write instead of cook dinner
  • a one-time 90-minute session with me for $35 to include a reading of 10 pages of your work; for non-client blog subscribers only. Make a comment and I'll message you with info. 

I make investments in my writing on a regular basis, so I don't fall into, "I'm investing in my clients' work. I don't have time for my own." That would be cheating not only myself, but those same clients. I can't expect them to do what I'm not doing. My latest investment is this: my work-in-progress takes place in Concord, Massachusetts. I just booked a research trip there for early October -- 5 days wandering that awesome place, taking notes and pictures and pretending I am my characters. That's a lot of time and a chunk of cash I've been saving up since January. How can I not finish the book, then? See how that works? (I'll have a lot more to add to my Pinterest Board when I come back. )

Will you tell us how you're investing? Or how you plan to? It becomes so much more real when you say it out loud. say it out loud to us.

 

Blessings,

Nancy Rue


Transitions: They Don't Just Happen

WorkhouseHey, Writerly Women. I have to say again how impressed I am with AMANDA'S work. Not to mention her courage in putting it out there for us to examine. We should all be so brave, yes? So let's take a look at her transitioning prowess.

The first paragraph is pretty dang perfect as a narrative bridge:

 The workhouse was eerily quiet, completely abandoned except for the three of us. We followed him down the three levels, the iron stairs intact but precariously unstable as we stepped over debris. Everything was shattered, broken beyond hopes of repair, plaster and stone crumbling little by little. Whatever the Mountain did next would surely be the end of this building forever. This place had been my home for almost my entire life, but I wouldn’t miss an inch of it. It would be better off in ruins.

It leads us from where we were before to where the action is going to pick up again. I know where we are and what we're up against.

The next paragraph is NOT a transition and while it also is well-written -- I can totally see it, and as I read I'm cringing because I don't want to step on anything sharp -- if I were Mandy I would break it down into more active pieces with some dialogue. We're not on a bridge here, we're on the other side, ready for action.

So instead of:

    My feet stepped into water as we reached the final level, the unrecognizable room flooded, water and dust mixing into mud. We waded through it, our bare feet stinging as we stepped on broken things that we couldn’t see to avoid beneath the murky water. 

Mandy, you might want to go with something like:

    When we  reached the final level, the room was flooded. Unrecognizable. I stepped right into the water and dust that mixed into mud.

    "Do we go in?" SOMEBODY whispered.

    "I don't think we have a choice," I said.

    As soon as I took the first step, though, I wished we did have one. My bare feet stung as I stepped on broken things I couldn't see to avoid under the murky water.  From the way SOMEBODY yelped, I knew she was experiencing the same thing.

See what I mean, Amanda? Amanda

Now, getting back to the whole narrative bridge thing ... this is a paragraph (or more if they're short) that takes us from the action of one scene to the action of the next. We don’t always want to (nor should we!) account for every move our protagonist makes, but at the same time we don’t want the reader to wonder where the Sam Hill he/she is when suddenly there’s a whole new setting and group of characters.

Here's an example of an effective narrative bridge:

    The next three days were an exercise in trying not to chew someone’s face off. Everything Todd said turned her nerves to barbed wire. The kids clearly sensed her tension and ramped up their own, the bickering between Caroline and Buddy reaching Trump/Clinton proportions. And her mother was, well, her mother. Ellie was actually considering calling Rock Doc for some Valium when the email finally came.

You don't ALWAYS need one. Sometimes it's obvious that you've moved from one thing to the next.  A narrative bridge DOES work well when you’re moving from one scene to another AND (1) some considerable time has passed, (2) the place has changed, and/or (3) something has occurred that needs to be mentioned but doesn’t need an actual scene of its own.

When you do write a narrative bridge, here's what to include:

  • An indication of where we are
  • An indication of how much time has passed
  • An indication of who’s there and what they’re doing
  • A mention of anything that’s happened in the gap that’s not just the usual teeth-brushing, dinner-cooking, treadmill-running kind of thing

It should sound:

  • like the  same voice you use in the rest of the novel
  • which is  the voice of the protagonist even if you’re using the third person
  • and NOT like you the author.

For instance --

    NO: Michael had a hard time waiting for Cheryl to call him. Two weeks passed before she did. “Hello?” he said anxiously into his cell phone.

    YES:   Two weeks passed before Michael heard from Cheryl again. Two long. Tortuous. Weeks. He didn’t pass them sitting with his cell phone in his hand, waiting for the special ring tone he’d set up for her. That would have been really pathetic. It just so happened that when the call came through, his mobile was on his lap. Pure coincidence.

Just remember that you’re telling a story, and you want the telling to be clear and delicious and smooth. One way to check your narrative bridges is to have someone read them who hasn’t read the previous scene and ask your reader to tell you where and when the new scene is happening.

This came to me when I was vacuuming this morning (the only reason I do mindless household tasks is because that's when ideas come to me; it has nothing to do with a penchant for cleanliness) ... where was I? Oh, yeah, I was vacuuming and I realized that when we write, transitions don't just happen. We really have to shape them carefully or nobody knows what's happening. It's the same when we're in life transitions like the ones we talked about Friday, and like the one LILY wrote about in her comment. Lily and me    We can't just wait for the change to happen, because it probably won't and then we end up with what Thoreau called "lives of quiet desperation." We have to shape them too -- and that's what this month of August is about for us as a writerly community.

So will you do any or all of these things?

  • If you want us to look at a narrative bridge, just email it to me and we'll give it a go.
  • If you're in a life transition, tell us about it. HANNAH definitely is. Babies will take you there whether you're ready or not!  Hannah and baby

 * If you need help getting THROUGH said life transition, let us know. 

We won't try to fix anything. I'll just take what you give us and hopefully provide some ideas and inspiration. As always, I'll go first so you know it's safe. Can't wait for Wednesday to share a new step I'm taking. See you then.

 

Blessings, Nancy

  


Transitions: From Here to Where?

Bridge 1Hey, Writerly Women. I'm loving your feedback on AMANDA's excerpt, posted Wednesday, August 1. If you'd like to support Mandy with a comment, go for it. Monday I'll put in my two cents and offer some guidance on transitions in our writing.

 Since the topic of said transitions is our theme for August, I'd like to get some input from you on the whole life changes thing. Here's what I mean.

  •    It's easy to recognize when you're going through a big ol' sea change. Graduating from college or grad school. Getting married. Having a baby. (Like HANNAH, MEGAN and SCOTIA all recently did. I was beginning to think it had something to do with being in my mentoring program!) Changing careers. Moving. Breaking up. Those are definitely transitions, and if you're going through one and you want to share, we'd love to hear.  Bridge 2  

But there are also the more subtle shifts. Going from unquestioning faith to having some doubts. Moving from a smooth relationship with your family of origin to one more fraught with conflict. Finding yourself less satisfied with old hang-out friends, craving deeper relationships. Being increasingly restless, uncomfortable, uneasy or just plain bored with things as they are, without really knowing why.  Care to tell us about that?  

This being a writing community, why am I asking you to basically bare your soul?

Two reasons, actually.

One: When your life changes, the kind of writing you do may change -- and that's worth looking at. Maybe as a teen and twenty-something you were all about writing fantasy, but some recent alterations in your circumstances might have you wanting to write in a more head-on way. Or as a just-turned-40 in the midst of a career you were all about contemporary women's fiction, but now, with grandkids in the picture, the tender whimsy of children's literature is more attractive to you.

Mysti at retreatTwo: That's not just a matter of genre. When stuff happens, you discover new strengths as well as new vulnerabilities. You stumble on emotions you didn't know were lurking in your soul. You recognize a different way of thinking. A fresh team of demons appears on the scene to be battled with. All of that changes your writing because you are changed.

 All that to say, I think that as we're crossing the bridges we can:

    * write deeper

    *  write "realer"

    *  write in ways that can better serve other people who will have to make those same transitions, whether the shifts are interior or exterior

 That's why I'm asking you to look at your bridges, your changes, your transitions and possibly share them with us. We'll use those stories this month to talk about career moves in this writerly life, turning points in our own and our characters' lives, and more and more ways we can shape our writing ministries to serve a world that is always, always in transition.

I'll go first. I'm transitioning in a couple of ways. I'm doing far more mentoring than writing now, and that has been a huge change after 30-some years of back-to-back contracts. I'm shifting back to finding better balance, because if I don't create, I'll shrivel. I'm also accepting some health issues that are temporarily limiting but in the long term are making me more aware and more intentional about the way I take care of this body. Fragility and vulnerability and surrender are new themes I'm going to be writing about, and maybe in some new ways. I like "maybe" ...

Will you share? That might be a shift for you. Please know this is a safe place for it.

 

Blessings,

Nancy Rue   

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Transitions: In Writing, In Life

Madisons camera october 9 037 (2) m and boys sepiaHey, my fellow writerly women. It's been a while, hasn't it? My absence has definitely not been not due to lack of thought of all of you, believe me. I guess the best way to explain it is to say I've been in "transition". Does that resonate with anyone? I'm sure you've had them:

    * from the dreamy idealism of the late teens to the stinging slap of the early twenties that wakes you up to adulthood

  •     * from the lull of a relationship to the sharp state of singleness, or vice versa
  •     * from the rote following of religion to the bright walk of real faith 

I could go on, but you get the idea, right? Me? I've been in transition from energetic, I-got-this health to a state of mindfulness of my physical fragility. I'm on a healing journey and it's worth it and I'm learning tons -- seriously, TONS -- but it's taken time and energy that I would have ordinarily used to be here with you, sharing and developing the writing life. Now that I have a direction, I think I can be present more. Are you up for a re-start?

An idea for us came to me in one of those times when I was lying still with my eyes closed but not sleeping (who DOES that? apparently I do now!). We'll have a monthly theme, one that touches not only our writing, which is what brings us together, but our creativity as a whole and our very lives. We can't really separate those things out from each other anyway, so why not go with it?

For August, that theme is the aforementioned TRANSITIONS. We'll start with those places in our writing when we've left a pretty intense or significant or active or downright hilarious scene and we need to move to the next one -- but we don't know how to get there without accounting for every mundane moment of the protagonist's life in between. AMANDA -- who is probably the youngest among us but certainly not the least talented, as you'll see -- has asked us to look at a bridge scene she's written. Her questions:

    1. How do I not lose my momentum during these scenes?

    2. How long should they be?

So let's do this. If you'd like to support Amanda, read her excerpt below and in a comment (a) tell what you like about the scene and (b) give her feedback of 1 to 5, 5 being the clearest and 1 beinAmandag the foggiest in terms of getting us from one scene to the next without bogging. 

I give you Amanda King, Author of the Future:     

      The workhouse was eerily quiet, completely abandoned except for the three of us. We followed him down the three levels, the iron stairs intact but precariously unstable as we stepped over debris. Everything was shattered, broken beyond hopes of repair, plaster and stone crumbling little by little. Whatever the Mountain did next would surely be the end of this building forever. This place had been my home for almost my entire life, but I wouldn’t miss an inch of it. It would be better off in ruins.

    My feet stepped into water as we reached the final level, the unrecognizable room flooded, water and dust mixing into mud. We waded through it, our bare feet stinging as we stepped on broken things that we couldn’t see to avoid beneath the murky water. The main door had been thrown aside, and dim light shone through. The Knight exited, and we followed him out into the open. We stood in a ravine, the rows of workhouses rising up on either side of us, built into the mountain. The other buildings were in similar disarray, and as the dust was beginning to settle, I could faintly see a group of the other slaves, all silently huddled together as they traveled down the road away from the mountain. They were escaping this place, those who had survived; they were free now. I could have been with them, I realized as I stared after them wistfully. We had been so close to being free, but we had missed our chance. 

Here's our plan:

    * I'll give you a few days to respond to Amanda. Even if you just give her a number I know she'll appreciate that.

    * Meanwhile, I'll do another post this week asking for your input on transitions in our lives, which will provide fuel for future posts

    * Early next week, I'll post my response to Amanda's excerpt and offer some guidelines for writing narrative bridges.

Sully's bridge

If you have a transition excerpt or a how-do-I get-from-here-to-there issue you'd like for us to take a look at, with subsequent feedback from me, please email it to me.  

Before I go, a couple of victories to celebrate:

    MEGAN GONZALEZ has had her third YA novel, Salty Crisps, accepted by Clean Reads, which will be out as early as December 2018. This completes the trilogy of Sketchy Tacos and Bubbly Schnitzel.

   
    LILY and SUSAN have both completed final drafts of their first novels. MARGIE has finished her first draft.   JENNIFER and CAYLENE have completed the first draft of a project they've been working on together since last year's Young Women Writers Retreat. 

    DEB HAYES has launched I Can Do Stuff . Check it out: (there's a funky video of me if you scroll down ...) Just click here. You are going to want to be part of this. 

    GLORIA  now has a writing gig with long time author Bill Myers, which I'll have her tell you about in a comment. She was also a star at the recent Glen Eyrie Writers Conference ...  (word to the wise: never volunteer to participate in a Tim Shoemaker keynote) Gloria and tim

    DARLO GEMEINHARDT has signed a three-book contract for her At the Crossroads Series with Little Lamb Publishers, the first of which is entitled Abra-Cadaver Dog. How fun does that sound? 

If I've missed a milestone you've shared with me, let me know and I'll put it out there so we can all go, "Yay, rah!" If you have one you haven't told me about, what the heck's been stoppin' ya? Let's hear it, girl! 

It is good to be back with you. Thanks for being here to come back TO. Together, let's transition from writers alone to a community of creators. Yes. Let's do that. 

Blessings,

Nancy Rue   

    

 


Breaking Down the Action Scenes

Lord of the rings actionHey, Writerly Women. your response to GLORIA'S piece was exactly the kind of feedback that makes a writer -- hopefully Gloria! -- want to get right back to the computer keyboard with fingers blazing. Your questions were insightful and thoughtful, and all were framed in positive "What I loved about it was ...." That's what a writer's group looks like. Gloria, were you pleased?

Later this week we'll look at a piece written by AMANDA. And of course, if you'd like to put your own work out there with questions you're wrestling with, please email me and we'll make that happen.

For those of you who missed that post -- in which case click here -- the excerpt we looked at was an action scene. Those can be some of the hardest to write. How do you get the thing so vivid the reader can see every move, feel every stab, slap and bite (yikes, we're a sadist lot, aren't we?). If we smear it, it's like watching a movie where the punches look fake and nobody believes anybody got hit hard enough to come out with that bloody nose. 

If your writing doesn't involve actual physical altercations, it still contains action (and if it doesn't, get on it, girl). Tension happens in concrete ways, whether it's a passionate kiss (doesn't get any more active than that) or an argument in a restaurant (which if it doesn't involve wine tossed or a glass dropped or a hasty exit to the restroom, should). It has to be every bit as gripping as a melee in Lord of the Rings, or your reader may just go "meh." Nah, we don't want that.

So how do we get there? Your questions for Gloria showed that you already have a clue to the answer. You asked about specifics. 

When I was teaching and directing theater for high school and college, several times I hired an amazing stage combat choreographer named Richard Lane, founder of the Academy of the Sword and author of the definitive book Swashbuckling. How awesome does that sound, historical and fantasy writers? He came in from San Francisco with his impressive collection of actual swords (the kind that clang and flash and make you certain someone is about to be impaled) for our productions of The Three Musketeers and Romeo and Juliet, and his considerable knowledge of hand to hand combat for The Outsiders.

RLane
O
ne of the things I remember most vividly as I watched him work with student actors (besides being absolutely convinced my Juliet really had stabbed herself -- it was that authentic) was that he kept saying, "This is going to feel like slow motion to you, but it will be real to the audience. Trust me." 

He taught them the slow-mo technique by breaking down every single move. How the attacker's arm came back -- and how the receiver of that attack reacted with a slow flinch (which sounds like an oxymoron, I know.) How the fist seemed to go upward into the rib cage -- and how the victim's entire torso seemed to fold inward. It could take two hours just to block one sword duel -- and several more to perfect it. The precision was painstaking. The results were gasp-worthy.(Do I even need to mention that he was smokin' hot?)

It's the same when we're writing. We want the scene to read at a breathtaking pace so that the reader is white-knuckling the book or Kindle, but as we're creating it, we have to take everything apart.

     * the actions

     * the re-actions

     * the thoughts (though we want to keep those to a minimum; mid-battle is not necessarily the time for deep reflection)

     * the emotions

     * the random details a person notices (ever been in a car accident? do you remember the song that was playing just before the collision or the way a Coke can sailed through the air?)

Let's use Gloria's full-of-potential piece as an example --

                       

The soldier drew his weapon.

 

     Wilford swung his blade and the soldier jumped back easily.  Another swing, and the two swords met.

 

What would happen if we broke it down? My apologies to Gloria for taking some liberties, since I don't know the characters.

 

The soldier unsheathed his sword with the precision of one who had done much battle, and had won most. The silver point was inches from Wilford's chin before he had the wherewithal to swing his own blade. It seemed clumsy in the air compared to the soldier's easy parry. He jumped back so easily Wilford felt color rise in his face. He had to get on top of this, or he would soon be in ribbons. The words of (HIS TRAINER) flashed through his mind as the soldier waited, balanced on his toes. WHATEVER THOSE WORDS MIGHT BE. Wilford heeded and etc. etc. 

 

See the difference? The writing of it felt as if the details would drag the scene, but as I go back and read it, the action moves swiftly. And we're there IN it, rather than watching it from the outside. 

 

So be your own combat choreographer. Or get yourself a consultant. Whenever I have to write a scene that involves physicality, I hit my retired Navy SEAL husband up for advice. We have enacted scenes in the living room, clearing out lamps and furniture first, and then I have gone back and written them immediately. When I had to compose a fire scene for one of my novels, I sought the advice of our local firefighters who took me into the training tower and let me experience an actual conflagration so I could break down the action. Nancy and the FiremenIt was a real sacrifice, considering what that helmet does to your hair!  

 

Whatever it takes, make it real. Give us every detail with rapier sharp precision. You'll be sweating when you're done. So will the reader.

 

If you want to comment today, and I hope you do, tell us what kinds of scenes YOU have the most trouble with. The reflections? The transitions? The point where the protagonist "gets it"? If you're a non-fiction writer, what kinds of sections make you bite your nails at the computer? We'll see if we can't give you some help with that.

 

We're all in this together.

 

Blessings,

Nancy Rue           

     


Circle Around Gloria

IMG_9678Hey, Writerly Women. Your response to the idea of putting excerpts of your work here on the blog and asking for help was awesome.

   "I'd love to do this!"

   "Such a good idea."

   "I'm up for it."

   "When does this start?"

    How about right now?

    GLORIA sent me a snippet, so let's gather around her in what wonderful writer Parker Palmer calls a Circle of Trust. (By the way, his book A Hidden Wholeness is amazing. Love me some Parker Palmer). It works this way:

    * You read Gloria's piece and her questions.

     * In a comment, you tell her what you like about the piece. That always comes first.

  • Then address her question by ASKING questions. "What does the scream sound like?"   "What are the soldier's eyes like?" "How big is the window?" That way, Gloria can figure out what she needs to do by answering those questions. Get the idea?

All right, then. I give you GLORIA:

    He spun around.  There, standing in the doorway, was a soldier in silver uniform.  Screams rose beyond the door.  Wilford’s eyes darted to his own sword, resting on a chair.

 

     On the other side of the room.

 

    “Is something wrong?” The soldier smirked, but he wasn’t listening.  They were under attack.

 

     Get out, he had to get out.

  

     He ran for his sword, ripping it out of its sheath and whirling around.  The soldier had come in and stopped mere feet away, his hand resting idly on the pommel of his sword.  The smirk grew bigger, as though knowing who would win the fight.

 

      The soldier drew his weapon.

 

     Wilford swung his blade and the soldier jumped back easily.  Another swing, and the two swords met.  He heard another scream.

 

     More were coming, he had to get out.

 

     Hacking and swinging, he pushed the soldier back until he was against the wall, the clash of steel ringing in his ears.  He had to finish this, then escape before others came.  Through the window, perhaps.  The swords met once more and he pressed down, his blade inching closer to the exposed neck . . .

      GLORIA'S QUESTION: I'm hoping for input on how to write action/fight scenes, because it isn't sounding very smooth to me. 

She's all yours, ladies. Let's surround her with encouragement and get-her-thinking questions. Kenzie at retreat I personally am licking my chops - but I'll save my comments for our next post.

If you want us to circle YOU and YOUR excerpt, just email me. We are all in this together.

 

Blessings,

Nancy


A Chance for Input on Your Work

Answer to criticHey, Writerly Women. Every now and then here on the blog, we'll offer an opportunity for you to put your work in progress out there and get input from the group -- or just take a step in overcoming that fear of letting anybody see what you're doing, whether you invite comments of not.

Here's how that will work:

  1. You'll email me a 250-word excerpt or description of an idea with a specific question you'd like to have addressed (is this too wordy? is it generic? do you get it? is it cheesy?)-- or a request for no comments.
  2. I'll post it, probably on a Friday, and invite your fellow writers to make comments regarding your question.

We'll all follow the guidelines for helpful, humane input, which I'll post each time. They include saying something positive first, sticking to the writer's invitation and responding in the form of thoughtful suggestions or questions. I'll go into more detail on these later. And I'll go first so you'll see how it works and be assured that this will be a positive experience (i.e. nobody's going to go for your creative jugular)

For now, will you let us know how this sounds and whether you'd like to participate?   

AND one more thing: if you'd like to write a post for our blog, either send me an email or leave a comment. I'll send you the particulars. As always, we're all in this together.

Blessings,

Nancy Rue

   


The Writing Doors We Lock Ourselves

  Gate 2 dangerHey Writerly Women. Monday we talked about those writing doors that are slamming in our faces, making us feel like, "Seriously, what is the point?" I asked you to comment, and I was expecting things like:

*  I've gotten five rejections from agents and I'm ready to give up.

  • * I can't even GIVE my short stories away.
  • * The number of visits to my blog is embarrassing. I'm not even going to query publishers; they'll laugh in my face when they see that.

That wasn't what came up in your comments and emails at all, though. Your answers were actually more concerning. We can find a way to keep sending out those queries and searching for small publishing houses and going to writers conferences. But we can't even begin to knock on those doors if we don't have anything written! 

And why don't we?Because we've locked ourselves out.

* "I've been walking through some messy relationship stuff and haven't been able to focus."

  • "I keep wondering where I fit in this writing world and what I'm actually supposed to write for God."
  •     "I feel the pressure that I have to come up with something amazing or write in a genre that I don't like but others like in order to impress them."
  • "I'm afraid of failing to do well with writing. Though I'm toward the end of the revising journey, the part I'm working on seems to crucial to get right, and I'm afraid I don't have what it takes to seal the deal and make it truly good."
  • "Look for agents or publishers? I might not survive all those rejections."
  •  "Things still aren’t moving the way I’d like for them to move in the chapter that had me stuck. And since I’m trying to write linearly, everything else is stalled. I’ve considered skipping it and moving to the next chapter to see if that would help. I have revisited it several times, and still little success or momentum."

These aren't doors that are being closed to us by someone else. These are doors we've locked, bolted and padlocked ourselves.

And sometimes, these are the hardest to pry open. Time before the door

First of all, here's how you know the chain on that door is of your own making:

    * You sit in front of the computer screen frozen in time.

    * The very thought of trying to write makes you so anxious you want to throw up.

    * Your living space is cleaner than it's ever been because you're using it an excuse not to show up with pen in hand.

    * You're blaming your spouse, your kids, your job, your sciatica for keeping you from typing that first word or that next word or that last word.

What all of that means is this: YOU'RE SCARED SPITLESS!!!!

How do I know this? Been there. Over one hundred times. Every time I started one of my 125 books, I thought: Is this the one I'm not going to be able to do?  Are they finally going to discover that I'm a fraud? 

Every. Time.

I always went ahead and wrote the dang book because after the first several I always had a contract. And by the time I got to the end of the first chapter I thought: OH, yeah. I know how to do this. And then when I got to Chapter Seven (without fail) I thought: This is the worst piece of trash I've ever written. Why did I think I could do this again? 

I DON'T have a contract now, so if I didn't finish my current project nobody would be mad at me or ask me for the advance back. I still keep writing, though, because I know that voice -- both the one I hear and the one YOU hear -- is:

        * NOT REAL

            AND

     * NOT GOD.

That's your frightened false self talking. The one who tries to protect you from disappointment, rejection, shame. She talks so loud you can't hear God.  Inner critic barb

God, of course, never tells us we're losers, imposters, frauds, fakes or ridiculous to think we can use the gifts we've been given. Seriously, where is THAT in the Bible? God says things like: "Darlin', I wouldn't have given you the talent to express yourself in words and images OR the desire to do that if I didn't already know you can do it. And I want you to do it."

So how do you unlock the doors you personally have deadbolted so you can hear God saying, "Come in. We have stuff to do"?

I only know what I do. I've done it quite recently - AGAIN -- and it's extremely effective.

 

    * Banish the False Self. I imagine a gate to the kingdom of God we live in now (not the heavenly kingdom), and I picture a couple of angels guarding it, which they need to because my False Self is out there rattling the bars, begging me to let her in. She says she has something important to tell me. NOT. With that image in mind, I turn my back and move toward God, where the dreams and the plans and the words and the images and the stories are. Way Wards by sazariel

   * Don't put expectations of monetary and critical success on yourself. I never thought I'd write all those books. I never expected to actually be able to make a living at it. I just did it. And did it. And I kept doing it. Now, when the publishers are no longer calling me and I'm not making my whole income from writing, I'm still doing it. Who knows what will happen with my current project? I just know that if don't just do it, nothing will.

   * Make sure you spend plenty of time with God talking about this. Of course you're going to pray for other people and for the world. But it is NOT selfish to devote a significant amount of space journaling and praying and meditating on how God wants you to use this gift. WHETHER you should write is not the question. If you weren't supposed to, you wouldn't be reading this blog. It's in there. HOW is the question. Listen for the answer. It will come in surprising ways.

After today, we aren't going to spend any more time angsting over questions like "Am I good enough?", are we? We're going to get into the meat of HOW and WHAT. We''ll be so focused on that, we won't have a moment to spare locking doors so we can't get in.

So let's leave it with a line from an Eagles song that I love, called "Already Gone": "Often times it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key."

You have the key. Use it now, will you, to encourage each other? In your comment, tell us the next step you're going to take to JUST WRITE. We're all in this together.

 

Blessings,

Nancy Rue             

 


What Do We Do About Closed Writing Doors?

Endless doorways 2Hey, Writerly Women. When I stood at the end of this walkway in St. Thomas, it looked as if the hall of closed doorways was never-ending. And then of course -- because my mind is a crazy town of similes and metaphors -- it also occurred to me that getting stuck anywhere in our writing is exactly like that. 

     * You get so far in the novel and suddenly the idea doors slam shut and you decide it's the worst piece of trash you ever attempt to write.

     * You finish your piece and you edit it and you polish it and you let people read it and they all say it's amazing -- and then the publishing doors all appear to be locked, with no signs on them saying when they'll be opened.

     * You get interest in a piece of your work but the publisher says you first need to improve your social media numbers so you open accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, start a blog, pay to boost, learn to use hashtags -- and still only your mom, your best friend, your boyfriend and that Fan Girl who "likes" everybody visit any of them. As hard as you tried to pry that door open it still shut with your fingers in it.

When you get to that point, if one poor innocent person says, "Well, when God closes a door He opens a window," you want to smack him or her in the face.

I have so been there, my loves. For the first probably 25 to 30 years of my writing career, I didn't get that whole closed door thing. Doors I didn't even know were there flew open.  That was a very different time. When that time changed and the sound of slamming echoed in my head at every turn, I spent half my time wailing and half my time hoping I had never told anybody that when God closes a door, another one opens.

Before I go into what I did about that infinite hallway of sealed entrances, I'd love to hear from you. What doors seem currently blocked to you?  This is an opportunity to vent. Wail. Gnash teeth. Give us an image for what it feels like.

Because one of the major purposes of this blog is to help you realize you are NOT alone. Picture us all gathered at a retreat, passing the popcorn and the Kleenex. I'm right there with you. IMG_9720

 

Blessings,

Nancy

   


Does It Have To Be a Book?

ClubhouseHey, Writerly Women. One in your midst -- MEDOMFO -- reported a writing success this week:

I'm getting a poem published in a charity book that some young writers from The Rebelution's writing group The Young Writer are organising, and God willing, I may even get a short story and article published in the book as well!

This victory isn't going to send Medomfo to college -- at least not financially speaking. But it makes her a published author. It gives her a chance to reach out and nudge somebody (maybe a lot of somebodies) with a thought, an image, an idea, an inspiration. It could be the collection of words, artfully stitched together, that gets somebody out of bed or out of their hamster wheel thoughts. Y'never know, and the point is, she's a writer. She writes and she shares. Someday she'll probably do that in book form. In fact I'm sure she will because I've known her in blog world since she was, like, 10. Today is not that day, and yet still, she writes.

I actually got my start as a published author writing short stories for every magazine that would have me. Granted, there were a lot more print opportunities in the 80's and 90's than there are now. Every ministry had Sunday School take-home papers and magazines for various age groups, and I wrote for the Methodists, the Baptists, the Nazarenes, the non-denoms. I loved doing short stories, but I'd take a non-fiction piece if it came along. There were a couple of secular magazines used in high school health programs that had me submitting on a regular basis. I wrote articles about everything from sweat (which is a big deal when you're a teenager) to sleep (an even bigger deal) to choices about dating (the biggest deal of all). By the time I moved to focusing on books, I had over 200 short pieces in print, some of them more than once (second rights, third rights, etc.) I wasn't any better than any other writer. I just found ways to get my stuff out there because that's what writers do. Again, we write and we share.

These days the short piece pickin's are slimmer when it comes to print media. But the Internet is a veritable smorgasbord of options. Most of them don't pay, but when you're breaking in, that isn't the only reward you're looking for. Several benefits will come your way:

    * Name recognition.   Or should I say "voice recognition"?  If you write killer short stories or articles in that style that is distinctly your own, readers will look to see who the author is. Haven't you done that? "I think I know this writer ...Yeah, it IS Diana Sharples -- Leslie Farthing -- Margie Wood -- Karen Kay." 

* Future assignments.  Readers aren't the only ones who will remember your name. Editors looking for good writers will practically stalk you, and they might even pay you. 

  •    Experience.  I learned so much from working with editors back in my magazine days. How to communicate with them. How to stay in word count (not that any of my subsequent book publishers would agree that I learned about word limits ...) The economy of words. Following guidelines. By the time I got a contract for my first book,  I knew the basic drill and didn't feel like so much of a newbie. 
  • Publishing credits. When you query an agent with a proposal for your first book, it doesn't hurt to show that you're already a published author. You come across as a professional, and most publishing folks prefer to work with someone who knows what she's doing. This eliminates that whole Catch-22 situation -- how do I get published without publishing experience? Get you some. 
  • Confidence. I remember reading my first acceptance letter standing right in front of the mailbox at the end of the road in Dayton, Nevada, in 1981. A youth magazine that doesn't exist anymore offered me $80 for a short story I'd submitted. I had two thoughts. (1) "Now I can have my typewriter fixed." (2) "Now I'm an author." I'd always considered myself a writer. Now I was an author. From that moment on, I knew I could do more. I knew I was headed in the right direction. I knew I was good. It was like a kiss on the top of the head from a Loving Father, saying, "Of course you are."        
    Writers MarketHow do you do this now, in 2018? Actually, much the same way I did. One of the most valuable tools a freelance writer can own is a Writer's Market. This amazing book contains the names and information for all publishers of both books and magazines in the English language who accept free lance submissions. It's organized by categories so you can simply look up the type of magazine you have a piece for (youth, women's, sports, etc.) and study the entries.  Writers market inside
  • I went to the Religious category and immediately found a periodical that's looking for short fiction. (How anybody writes a piece of fiction in 500 words is beyond me, but that's a separate issue). Each entry will tell you everything you need to know about what they're looking for, how to submit, what they pay (or don't pay), etc. I received the new year's WM for Christmas every year back in the day and actually wore them out. 
  • If you read a magazine you really like, check out their guidelines for submission, which most will have somewhere. KAREN, another among us, has done pieces for some of the Stampington publications, which are very high quality. The fact that she's an artist doesn't hurt her any, so if you have photography or artistic skills as well as a writing gift, check out magazines such as Bella Grace, Flow and Somerset Home.

Google is, of course, your friend. I just Googled 'women's magazines accepting free lance submissions' and got 1,210,000 results. There aren't that many magazines, but there are that many articles and lists that tell you how to find them. Who knew? 

I still love to write short stories and do for Focus On the Family's Clubhouse magazine for tweens a couple of times a year. Recently Brio magazine for teen girls resumed print publication and it's just as much fun to write for as ever. COLLEEN and LESLIE have both had success with Focus's mags. If you'd like more information about that, just leave a comment.   Brio  

May I offer one last piece of advice? Avoid the kind of thinking that says, "I'm meant to write deeper, more serious stuff. I don't want to waste my time on smaller things." Okay, I'm just going to come out and say it: Don't be a short piece snob.  You probably can't recite To Kill a Mockingbird from memory, but chances are Emily Dickinson's I dwell in possibility is floating around in your brain somewhere. Many people who love to read, who are searching for wisdom in the written word, don't have time to lose themselves in epic tomes. Let's remember them, and sharpen our skills at the same time. 

If you'd like to make a comment, and we hope you do, will you share with us any opportunities you've found for getting short pieces published? And of course ask any questions you have on this topic. We're all in it together.

 

Blessings,

Nancy Rue 


Am I Called To Write?

Leslie 2Hey, Writerly Women! Mondays are showcase days when we spotlight writers from among us. Today I bring you LESLIE FARTHING, who is working on a novel I consider to be chick lit with a deeper meaning. The book is only in its first draft, and it's already both touching and fall on the floor funny. Leslie is also a consummate blogger, so much so that I have bequeathed my Tween You and Me Blog to her and another delightful client. I think you're going to love what she has to say, and I hope you'll join in the conversation she starts here. Ladies, Meet Leslie.

******   

I love writing. I always have. I love the feel of a fresh pencil in my hand and the sound it makes as it scratches the page. I love the process. Unseen thoughts becoming visible. Tangible. Accessible.

I love that you can erase words until you have conveyed exactly what you meant to say. No stuttering, hemming and hawing or having to backtrack. If you don’t like what or how you said it, you can fix it before you release it to the world.

 Leslie's 3 erasers.

Writers have changed my life. The way I see the world and interact with it. How I see God and interact with Him. They have opened up worlds I would never have known and insight I might never have considered. They have empowered me to imagine a better world and appreciate the life I have.

In Shattered Dreams, Larry Crabb helped me make sense of my life as it lay in pieces on the floor around me. At a time I thought I would never be whole again, he let me know that I was not alone. And I was not the only one.

In The Divine Romance, Gene Edwards changed the way I saw God, and my understanding of how God sees me. It is an allegory of creation. All the way to the Cross. And beyond. If you have ever struggled with the whole “Bride of Christ” concept, read this. Yesterday.

I read The Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado when I hated everything about my life. Especially my job. It gave me hope. And the courage to make a change. It’s what led me to teaching. And now writing.

Frank Peretti changed how I saw the spiritual world through his work, This Present Darkness. He enriched my understanding of spiritual warfare and changed the way I pray.

The list could go on.

And on.

And on.

Leslie's live  love repeat  

 But as much as books (and really it is the writers) have changed my life, I’m still trying to get my head and heart straight in regards to this writing gig and where I fit. It taps into a very vulnerable place in my soul where my dreams, the real ones that I don’t talk about, are nestled safely away from prying eyes.

 And one of the questions that I keep chewing on is this.

Am I called to write?

I mean, I love to write… But is it a calling? Or is it a whim?

It is a desire of my heart. But is it a desire of God’s heart for me?

In a recent Exploration, Nancy had me journal about the thoughts that interfere with my writing.  After much tears and gnashing of teeth, here is where I landed.

  •  I  want to live a life of maximum impact
  •  God has given me an ability to write.
  •  I will never know what kind of impact I can make through writing if I never try.
  • Writers have changed my life. Opened my eyes. Fed my hungry, hurting and weary soul. They have let me know that I am not alone. I am not the only one. My struggles are real. And there is hope at the foot of the cross.

Am I called to set people free? Help others know God? Open the eyes of the blind and set prisoners free? Feed hungry, hurting and weary souls? Let people know that there is hope at the foot of the cross?

Then yes, I am called to write.

Leslie's Eleanor RooseveltIn the comments section, I’d love to know: What questions do you chew on as a writer? What’s tripping you up mentally? And how have you made peace with it?

Love, Love, Love,

The Girl Who Lives in My Head

(Aka Leslie Farthing)

www.lesliefarthing.com

Insta leslie.farthing

Facebook leslie Farthing


My Favorite Oxymoron: Organized Dreams

Gloria at retreatGood morning, Writerly Women. The marvelous braided young woman you see with the contagious grin -- that's GLORIA, budding author and friend of the blog, (as well as maker of hats for the homeless.) Gloria's description of her writing process is that it's like the potato masher which gets caught in the drawer and you have to keep tugging and bouncing and pulling until it finally comes loose. Yeah, I love me some Gloria. (Although I need to correct a former post in which I gave her credit for the "writing is like brownies" image; that was actually MACKENZIE. My apologies to all.)

But what I want to share from her today is her method for capturing the ideas that come willy-nilly -- the ones that aren't caught in the drawer yet because they're still flitting around out there. I'll let her tell you:

I'm always with my phone, so when ideas hit I open my notes app and type them out before they fly away! Sometimes (a lot of the time) I'm in the middle of a conversation when an idea hits, so most of my friends are familiar with me saying 'that was good, I need to write that down' and whipping out my phone. I really have to get it down right away or I'll never end up writing it!

Apparently you don't have to be part of the phone-in-the-face generation for that to work. MARGIE also grabs her cell when an idea flutters by, only her method has a slight twist. 

When I have a great idea but no access to my computer, I record a voice message on my phone. As I talk, the ideas start to flow!'

That gives validity to the propensity all us artists have for talking to ourselves. Although if I record on my phone I forget to go back and listen to it, which is probably because I'm not an audio learner.

But I digress.

DIANA'S butterfly net ...

 is a calendar. I write contemporary YA. So much of my characters' lives are dictated by the school calendar, that I find one from a school in the vicinity of my setting and write down all the breaks, holidays, test days, etc., and those days often inspire events in the novel. In my novel, Running Strong, the protagonist is focused on hearing those three little words, "I love you," at the Homecoming dance. Halloween plays a role in the third book of my mystery series. So I draw up a calendar page and start plugging in plot events as a way of outlining.

The method is as creative as the story-telling. It is, in fact, a vital part of that story-telling, and there are probably as many ways to capture ideas as there are writers doing the capturing. But there are a few things to keep in mind as you try to figure yours out -- if you haven't already -- or tweak what you have going -- because that's a thing that constantly happens. Organizing Dreams may seem like as much an oxymoron as Open Secret, but it isn't if you look at some key ingredients.

    * It needs to be portable -- so, significantly smaller than the metaphorical butterfly net. Phone notesIf it fits in the bag or backpack you haul around with you, you're good to go. At least one of my clients carries neither ... this is a concept I do not understand ... but her phone fits in her jeans pocket, so there you go. Make it as small and simple as said phone, a pad of index cards (they come spiral bound, which is my method of choice), or a slim notebook. Stick a pen in it. I can't tell you how many times I've had a scathingly brilliant idea and couldn't find a dang thing to write with. And I call myself a writer ...

   *  You need a place to transfer those notes when you get back to mission control (that space we talked about in a previous post).  That's why I like index cards, so I can slip them into the folder, binder or bin I have going (depending on the stage of development I'm in -- a topic for an entirely different day) That way when you sit down to write, you don't have to dig for your info. I don't know about you, but I wish I had a dollar for every minute I spend looking for stuff (keys, phone, my head), but I never have to work at locating my musings. I am a slave to my imagination!

   Notecards* If it's creative, you're more likely to use it. There are enough parts of the writing life that are about business. Gathering ideas isn't one of them. So no matter what method you use for reeling in those snippets before they get away, make it fun. Put those  phone notes in your own voice -- written or spoken -- reflecting your excitement. Decorate that pad or notebook. Get yourself some colored gel pens. Doodle. Indulge in exclamation points!!! This is the fun part, and if it isn't, make it so.

Those not indoctrinated into the writing world will think you're playing. You are. We must play if we are to create art of any kind. So break out the chartreuse felt tip or the package of stickers and bring in a crop of awesome thoughts. We'll be reading them someday ...

If you want to comment today -- in addition to responding to the above -- I would love to hear about your recent "smaller" writing successes. Articles. Short stories. Blog posts that elicited comments. A rejection letter that encouraged you to keep looking. We're going to talk about those Monday when blog friend LESLIE Leslie 1
will share a post with us.  I'll go first. I'm not having three or four books a year published like I used to, but last week a short story I recently wrote for Clubhouse Magazine won first place from the Evangelical Press Association for Fiction. I took a moment -- okay, more than a moment -- to say, "God, you rock. Thanks for the reassurance that I'm still doing what You want me to do. " And it's still fun.

Blessings,

Nancy Rue   

 


SHOWCASING YOU

Lily and meI'm loving the idea of  taking some Mondays to spotlight what you're doing, because here's the deal: If you write, you are a writer. If you haven't published, what do you call what you do? As I mentioned last time in a quote from GLORIA, you're not just typing. Really. 

So whatever successes you're having -- whatever personal milestones you've reached -- please tell us in a comment. I'll contact you and get more particulars and then showcase you in our next Monday headlines. You can also just email me. Even small steps are steps forward. 

This week, I want to brag on LILY, who just launched a beautiful blog. Here's the link for you. She invites all artists -- both writers and visual folks -- to share in the process of creating, because none of us is alone in this. 

Although Lily's book isn't finished yet, she is its author. Every time she sits down to do yet another set of revisions (because writing really is about editing ourselves over and over ... and did I mention over?), she becomes more and more a professional. She's fine-tuned her process (remember her parallel to her approach to painting?) She's getting more and more in touch with who she is as a musician, visual artist and writer. Her growth is remarkable. And for that reason, she is already a success. LIly week 4 4(Not to mention that she is crazy-smart. Seriously.) 

Here's what I think we should all do, myself included. Let's each make a list of all the stepping stones we've landed on so far. Share your latest 5 with us. Think of it as a "Tah-Dah" list, rather than a To Do. 

Since I'm right there with you, I'll go first:

    1. Realized I'd started to wither from not writing my own creative stuff.

    2. Created a realistic plan for writing every week.

    3. Have written 100 pages of my novel since January

    4. Added 20 minutes every day to do something on the book, in addition to my Thursday writing days.  (Which are sacred, so if I don't answer a text or an email on a Thursday, that's why. I'm not ignoring you. Okay, maybe I kind of am. )

    5. Started a cash fund for a research trip to Concord, MA, in the fall. 

I haven't published a word -- except for that one short story -- but I am a writer.

So are you.

 

Blessings,

Nancy  P.S. Don't forget to tell us (or me) about your butterfly net.  

 

     


Calling All Butterfly Nets

Hannah's plot cards  Hey, fellow Writerly Women. Thanks so much for your participation in our look at Where Awesome Authors create. (Sounds like a great premise for a magazine but something close has already been done, dang it. ) As LESLIE said in her comment, she's learning to be a writer wherever she is. 

Which leads me to the fact that we're not only writing when we're sitting at our computers. GLORIA said at our retreat that "Writing isn't just typing," and she's absolutely right. When someone asks me how long it takes me to write a book, I have to give them this whole long explanation about the various parts of the writing process -- and usually I'm only halfway through it when their eyes start to glaze over. But YOU know what I'm talking about: the non-writing writing.

Basically the catching of butterflies.

Isn't that what it feels like when the dreams and ideas start fluttering around and you try to grab them but they're elusive? They won't stay in your mind long enough for you to develop them?

What every writer needs is a decent butterfly net.

Those come in various forms. HANNAH and KATE, who are writing a book(s) together, got the hang of the index card method at the retreat. One idea on each card, so you can shuffle them around until they start to look less like the pieces of Humpty Dumpty. That isn't quite working for COLLEEN, who reported that her cards seemed "dorky." Though, mind you, there is nothing even remotely dorky about Colleen, she's had to find a different net, hers being letters to her characters who are quite willing to tell her their backstories. HEIDI has her sticky notes on a bulletin board.

So today, I'm calling for all butterfly nets. Will you leave a comment telling us how you gather up the wispy ideas so they don't escape into the land of I Should Have Written That Down? If you haven't found an effective method, tell us that. Hopefully next week I can shed more light on the capturing and organizing of the tiny treasures that can become beautiful books. 

Have a great weekend. I hope you can squeeze in some writing .. in whatever form that takes.

 

Blessings,

Nancy Rue         


A Space Of Your Own

Office mess"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."  Virginia Woolf

    Hey, fellow writerly women. I don't recommend taking life lessons from Virginia Woolf (the poor thing drowned herself after a life fraught with bipolar disorder, which was untreatable at the time), but I do think she makes a very good point in her book A Room of Her Own. Any of us who have attempted to compose literature sitting at a kitchen table with children taking advantage of the opportunity to empty the snack drawer would agree with her. So will those who've tried to write in a family room with siblings watching Dr. Who at top volume or in the break room at work when fellow employees are hanging over your shoulder wanting to know, "Whatcha doing?" If you haven't screamed it, you have probably at least thought, "WILL YOU PLEASE JUST GIVE ME SOME SPACE!"

I don't have to go into WHY you need at least a corner of your own where you can create uninterrupted.  We all know what it's like to have our thoughts intruded on, not to mention our supplies, our computers, and our bodies (you know, the kid or the significant other who never wants to paw at you unless you're trying to concentrate on something other than them). The real question is HOW? Unless you have amazing support in your life, nobody is just going to "give" you space. Ya gotta take it.

Not everybody gets what you see in this picture: a whole room, with a view, where you can spread out the stuff and leave it there (I purposely used a picture in which everything is in piles so you'll know I really do work here ...)  The point is to find SOMEPLACE and make it your own. Many of you have.

JENNIFER  has found her corner. She says, "My chair moves around the room to either look out the window or sit in front of the fireplace.  I do need to get a side table so I don't have to use another chair ; but it is nice to have a place that belongs to writing. Jennifer's space Just to put this in perspective, Jennifer has three active young sons. I don't see any Tonka trucks or jars of insects in this picture, do you? Good on ya, Jennifer. 

DEBB, too, has found her spot in the bedroom she shares with her husband. She's set up a nice area for herself while she waits for one of HER three boys to get his own place so she can claim his room.  (Your time will come too, Jennifer!)  

      Deb's space

 Sometimes there just isn't space where you live to set up shop permanently, or you'd just rather work elsewhere. As you can see, ANDREA is still protesting the fact that the Barnes and Noble where she could write like a mad dog has closed. It's the couch until she can make other arrangements.  Andrea's space While it's hard to make a public place your own, some people manage quite nicely. LESLIE has made a hobby out of locating that perfect coffee shop that's conducive to getting her character to talk. Leslie's coffee shop spaceI'd like to meet her there; I mean, who can't write with leather chairs and a piano on the premises?

Whatever the possibilities are for you, I suggest some guidelines that seem to work for just about everybody.

  1.  1. Make a list of everything you typically find you need when you’re doing the work. Laptop or tablet? Legal pads? Pink gel pens? Internet? Post-it notes? Peanut M&Ms? Make it exhaustive. Don’t forget to include things that inspire you. That StarWars figurine? Your battered copy of To Kill a Mockingbird?  Leslie always has a hand-lettered bit of inspiration in front of her.
  2. Leslie's space
    2.   If you tend to be more of a mobile writer, you’ll want a way to have all your materials ready when it’s time to head for Starbucks or the front porch. Get yourself some kind of great bag with pockets, put everything from the list above in it, and leave it there until you're ready to take off to work (except your computer if you use it for other things; just have a designated slot for it.)
  3.  Now set up your office. All those things you listed under #1? They go in your space in a way that is (a) pleasing to you and (b) off limits to everyone else. No one gets to move your stuff (including you). It needs to be there when you’re ready to work. While we may think we need to channel Joanna Gaines with our decor, it's what works for you that makes it "right." DIANA likes a lot of stuff around her,  Diana's space while Debb prefers a more streamlined feel.

At some point, we all want something like what Diana has – her own she-shed which, I must add, she built herself. Nothing like setting the bar high, girl! Diana's she shed
But we can’t wait for the roll top desk and the custom book shelves and the ocean view to do the writing. It is, in fact, the growth of the writing that makes the enviable office possible. We must do what we can NOW, not only to provide a place of peace for the work but to give the work validity. If the kids, the husband, the boyfriend, the siblings, the parents, the friends see that you really are serious about this writing thing, they will begin to respect that, albeit grudgingly at first. It’s your brick and mortar way of saying, “I am a professional.”

If you want to comment – and we hope you do – tell us about your most desperate attempt to have “a room of your own.” Me? I started out at a desk in our bedroom while my 18 month old sat in the middle of our queen size bed and played with a can of buttons; I still don’t know how many she swallowed, but she loves buttons to this day.

Blessings,

Nancy


Retreating To Ourselves

Gloria at retreat
The second annual Young Women Writers Retreat at Glen Eyrie (Colorado Springs) was A. Mazing. Twenty aspiring authors between the ages of 18 and 40 gathered for a weekend of writing, learning, crafting, laughing, crying, and sharing with vulnerability. While all the gals you see here went home with the start of a Delicious Plan, I left with my own plate full of new ideas and renewed inspiration. In fact, I almost felt guilty about taking that honorarium check. Almost. I have to support my dreaming habit somehow …

Seriously, I was nudged to –

  •  * Create new ways to help writers whose creative space has to be mobile (the Barnes and Noble, coffee shop, break room at their day job authors (kudos to Esther)
  • * Fine-tune the index card approach to plot development (thanks to Kate B. and Hannah)
  • * Practice ‘faux-ligraphy’ so I can do cool graphics (thank you, Kate P.)
  • * Do more retreats (for which I’m grateful to every woman there)

One of the most specific results was a new look at our blog. It’s barely been born and I’m already doing a makeover! But that’s the creative process, right? Here’s the new deal:

     MONDAYS – (okay, I know today’s Tuesday, but it took me a minute …) We’ll showcase your work, spotlight authors via guest posts and talk about upcoming events.

     WEDNESDAYS – our full post. Tomorrow we’ll focus on Writing Spaces, so if you have a picture of yours you still have today to email that to me.  Click here to email

     FRIDAYS – a call for what I’d love to have from you for the next week’s post

Since this is this week’s Monday (bear with me), let’s talk more about the whole retreat idea. It’s the best. A chance to find your tribe and stay connected. A way to learn writing techniques in an intensive format. Personalized mentoring. Opportunities to experiment and actually do what writers do, which is write. A chance to dream unencumbered. What writer doesn’t need that from time to time? I need that.

Other published authors sponsor retreats; I’m not the only game in town, and if you know of others, absolutely share those in a comment. If you ARE interested in the next Doorways retreat, here’s the info:

          Dates: 4:00 p.m. Friday, October 19- 2:00 p.m. Sunday, October 21, 2018

          Location: Montgomery Bell State Park, Burns, Tennessee (near Nashville). To see this gorgeous place, go to the MB website. It will be particularly stunning in the fall. (And

                                  each room in the lodge has a balcony and view of Acorn Lake. Just sayin’.)

          Cost: $500, which includes the retreat itself, two nights in the lodge and 6 meals 

          To Register: To reserve your room at the lodge for $206.56, call the front desk: (615) 797-3101 and give them our group number, which is 9102.

                                      To register for the retreat, the remaining $293.44, you’ll pay me directly via PayPal (nnrue@att.net), or by check to Nancy Rue, 201 Jenkins Road, Lebanon,

                                      TN  37087. A $50 nonrefundable deposit reserves your spot. You’ll receive a $50 discount by paying your balance by September 19, 2018. We’ll need your full

                                      amount

                                     Screenshot-2018-4-24 Inn at Montgomery Bell - Prices Hotel Reviews (Burns  TN) - TripAdvisor
                                 by October 1, 2018 unless you make prior arrangements with me .

          Preparation for the Retreat:

  • As soon as you register I will send a profile of sorts for you to fill out and I’ll request a 1200-word writing sample. This can be an excerpt from a larger work or a complete piece in itself.  Don’t freak out, break into hives, etc. Your feedback will be gentle, positive and full of praise and suggestions. I do not use a red pen …
  • Based on the responses to those two things, I will assess what the overall needs of the group are and determine the topics of my talks and workshops. This is all about YOU. Mysti at retreat

        What to Expect at the Retreat:

  • In terms of individual work, I will give you personal assignments to work on during the blocks of time when I meet with attendees one on one. Again, that’s based on the writing sample and the answers on the profile form.
  • YOU WILL RECEIVE A WRITTEN CRITIQUE (WITH MARGIN COMMENTS) OF YOUR 1200-WORD EXCERPT    
  • The talks (that’s me doing the talking) will be on Dream Discovery and Life-Living. The workshops (that’s me guiding you through hands-on activities) will cover Story Shaping (the writing itself) and Career Crafting (the writerly life)
  • I’ll provide you with an entire packet of materials that cover even more than we’re able to get to in our sessions.
  • Here’s a tentative schedule, minus the specific topics:

            FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2018

           4:00 – 5:00                  NANCY: Welcome! Introduction to how we’ll work/Introduction to each other

            5:00-6:00                     YOU: Individual Assignment

            6:00-7:00                     US: Dinner

            7:00-8:00                     NANCY: A Dream Discovery Talk

            8:00-9:00                     YOU: Individual Assignment

         SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2018

             8:00-8:30                     Breakfast

             8:45-9:30                     NANCY: A Story-Shaping Workshop

            9:30-11:30                   YOU: Individual Assignments

                                                    NANCY: One-on-ones

            11:30-11:50                 US: sharing and Q&A

            12:00-12:50                 US: Lunch

            1:00-1:45                     NANCY: A Story-Shaping Workshop

            1:45-3:50                     YOU: Individual Assignments

                                                NANCY: One-on-ones – see schedule

            3:50-4:50                     NANCY: A Career-Crafting Workshop

            4:50-6:00                     YOU: Free time to write, ponder, rest your mind or create

                                            There will be some One-on-Ones during this time if necessary

            6:00-7:00                     US: dinner

            7:15-8:30                     US: A Life-Living Talk/Workshop

            8:30 until …                 YOU: Enjoy each other (Nancy will be sleeping!)

        SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2018 Kate P at retreat

          8:00-8:30                     Breakfast

          8:45-9:30                     NANCY: a Life-Living/Career Crafting Talk

          9:30-10:45                   YOU: Individual Assignments

                                                NANCY: One-on-ones – see schedule

          10:45-12:00                 NANCY: Final Story-Shaping Workshop

         12:00-2:00                   US: Box Lunch/ What To Do Next & the Possible Formation of an On-Going Community

That all sounds very business-like and serious and tasky, right?  While it IS thorough and we pack a great deal in, we do it all in a playful, encouraging, creative way. We will laugh (and if you don’t snort, why even laugh at all?) and cry (snorting allowed here too) and write and create crafty stuff and feel safe. We will be women writers together – and hopefully that will continue long after you leave Montgomery Bell behind.

Just writing all this makes me wish it was happening next week ...When it DOES happen, I hope many of you will join us.  In the meantime, I'm glad you're here. If you want to comment, will you tell us what group of writers supports you, nudges you, lets you dream? And if you don't have one ... well, here you are.

Yes.

Retreat room  Blessings, Nancy Rue       


Writing Is LIke a Brownie ...

Office messHello, writerly girlfriends. Our community is expanding. Loved hearing from  ... ANDREA ... MEDOMFO (our youngest member) ...DIANA ... MARGIE ... SARAH ... KAREN KAY ... ERICA ... PAM... and almost a thousand others.  Thanks for sharing your dreams and yourselves. I was inspired myself by the stuff you shared, both here and via email and Facebook.

     Andrea: Writing is a way to make sense of what doesn't.

    Abigail: I am definitely too invested to give up now.

    Esther: I want the characters in my stories to experience truth in raw and bone- jarring ways.

     Another Abigail: I want a balcony where I can read my stories to the

       birds.

     Diana: The problem with many dreams is that the dreaming part is easy.   Getting there can be very hard.

Perfect segue into today's post, Diana. But let me stop for a minute and give our first  DREAM REALIZED! Report. Drum roll please ...

  Diana Sharples self-published a YA novel Because ... Anonymous last week. It appeared among the top 100 best sellers in teen mysteries on Amazon. And the crowd roars! If you have a dream realized -- no matter how small the step may seem -- please let us know so we can celebrate. 

   How did she do it? I'm going to ask her to do a guest post one week soon, but for now, I know for sure she had a process. It isn't MY process. It probably isn't yours. But you can stake your laptop, your flashdrive or your first born child (0kay, maybe not that) on the fact that she employs a unique way of getting from a glimmer of an idea to that Amazon Bestseller. And she uses it every. Time.

The late, great Erma Bombeck agrees. I always loved me some Erma. Her book I Lost It All in the Post Natal Depression got me through some tough days in early motherhood. But I digress.. What she can help us with here is this quote: Erma Bombeck

"It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan."  

If you've tried to just sit down and write a novel or a non-fiction book, or even a short story or article, you probably experienced one of or more of the following:

        * You wrote yourself in a corner, panicked and ran screaming from your keyboard (in essence, anyway)

        * You kept going back and redoing Chapter One until it had experienced so many face lifts it started to look like Joan Rivers (God rest her soul)

        * You ended up with what two of my mentorees (separately!) call a "Franken-novel".

        * You came to me with your somewhat wrinkled dream and said, "Can you help me save this?" For which I'm incredibly grateful, by the way. 

So what is The Process? How do we get the thing under control so we can produce that work we dream of? 

Actually, I can't tell you there's just one. Your path will be unique to you. But that doesn't mean we can't get ideas from each other, so here are three that you've shared with me:

LILY, budding writer, photographer, painter, musician (AND mother of 4 -- AND a college philosophy teacher) is learning to shape her writing process to parallel the steps she takes when creating a painting: Lily's process

GLORIA takes her cue from a character in The West Wing, a 1990's TV series worth watching on NetFlix. Gloria says, "I mull. I'm a mull-er. In the show, Toby, the speech writer, has a red ball that he bounces to the floor to the wall to his hand. Pock-pock, catch. Pock-pock, catch. Other characters walk by and ask, "Aren't you supposed to be writing that speech?" Toby
He glares at them under his bushy eyebrows and growls, "I am." While I mull like Toby I gather breadcrumbs and store them away. Sometimes if an idea grows into a scene I write it through, but the scenes are in no particular order. So much copy-pasting." We'll talk about what Gloria ends up with in a minute. Think brownies ...

MONICA, who is the creator and editor of Vibrant Girls, an online magazine for girls ages 12-15,  has a more particular process:

                                       1. Brainstorming and bouncing ideas off of others. "Perhaps it is because I’m an extrovert…but I rarely come up with a solid starting idea if I’m locked inside my own head."

                                      2. Plan the steps to the finished result. "This is probably one of my favorite parts…and usually I fun it up with lots of sticky notes and charts on my office wall."

                                     3. Actual creation:  dynamic music playing in the background, pacing back and forth, going somewhere like the library (or the park if it is warm!) for a change of scenery, or "anything that will keep my brain active and my senses engaged."

                                    4. Establish a deadline. "So that  I’m working up against a clock until the last minute."

For Monica's finished product, see Vibrant Girl. You'll be impressed. Vibrant Girl

 I would be more than happy to share my whole process with you. Feel free to email me and I'll send that information to you straight away . (I think I've been watching too many British TV shows ...) For now, just take a look at that first picture above. That's what my office looks like when I'm in the middle of a project. It's messy, but it works for me. Again, let me know if you want to know more. Supplies

What I hope you'll take away from all of this is that (a) you need your own personal process that keeps you moving forward and (b) it needs to be something you love. As Julia Cameron, creativity expert and author of The Artist's Way, says, "Enjoy the process. Don't keep grading the results!"

That is the only way to get to what Gloria hopes to end up with: "My writing could be like a brownie! Pretty straight-forward when you look at it, but bite in and there's a rich and satisfying world in there that definitely changes the way you look at store bought cookies." So determine who you're going to bake those book-brownies. Let me know if I can help. And, of course, share them with us.

Next time: We'll talk about your writing SPACE. If you haven't already, please send me a photo of where you work -- even if it's a corner at Panera with your bag o'stuff next to the chair. Just attach it to an email to me

And this week's question? what is the hardest thing about making space to write? What gets between you and that place conducive to imagining and word-crafting? Your answer doesn't have to be long (though, you're writers so ...) A word will do. I'll go first: There's a lot of stuff in here!

Blessings,

Nancy Rue   

 

 

     

 

 


Having Trouble Subscribing?

ALA with Mary Good morning, my writerly women. Mary Christine Weber, graduate of the From Shadow to Shelf Program and now a successful published author, is a pro in all things social media. I, on the other hand, am not. But I think I may finally have a solution to the issues so many of you are having in subscribing to our new blog. I'm still working out the kinks (why DOES it have to be so complicated?!) but the following might be helpful to you:

  • * Anyone using Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer as her browser sees an HTML webpage which offers up subscription option, BUT if you use Google Chrome, you don't get that. (Typepad was quick to inform me that that is a limitation of the Chrome browser and not an error with the feed on the blog. Yeah, well, that doesn't help, right?)
  •  
  • *So, I'm adding the option to subscribe to the blog via email so you'll get notifications of new posts in your inbox. Doing that today.

I'm also adding some other features on my end which should make things easier for everyone. I'm telling you, I need an IT person on retainer.  Things like FeedBlitz and FeedBurner baffle me. Sounds like my cooking skills ...

  • The FOLLOW button is for Typepad subscribers to be able to view my posts in their Typepad Dashboard, but with the changes I'm making, you won't have to subscribe to Typepad if you're not already a subscriber.

I've tried to make this simpler than the feedback the Typepad folks sent me. Seriously, does this make sense to you?  

When you click the "Subscribe" link to view your blog's feed directly in your browser, you may see the code for the feed as a feed is not meant to be viewed in a browser. Instead, you would copy the feed URL and subscribe to the feed in your preferred feed reader, like Bloglovin' or Feedly.

I'm sorry -- the what now? I've said it before and I'll probably say it again: Surely Jane Austen didn't have problems like this! 

Jane Austen
I'll publish our weekly post tomorrow -- and hopefully you'll be able to comment and participate and help us build this community -- in spite of my woefully limited social media skills. Mary Weber used to say to me in emails. "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.." Yeah. Exactly!

 

Blessings,

Nancy Rue

 


Let's Start With the Dream

Nancy in the sea Hello, writerly girlfriends. (Okay, I need to find a better name for us ...) This is our first for-real post, and that feels huge. I'm so glad you're here to shape this community with me.

Speaking of which, some of you are having a hard time subscribing -- as in, you're getting a bunch of gobbly-dee-gook that only a hacker could understand. I've tried a couple of things to change that and will continue to until everyone can comment smoothly and nobody misses word of a new post. If any of you are Typepad savvy, will you shoot me an email? I bet Jane Austen never had issues like this. 

Which leads me to our first topic: The Dream. Ever seen the film Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris? (All fiction writers should). The protagonist, played by Owen Wilson ( because he's the only one who can pull off the lead in a Woody Allen script besides Woody Allen) longs so much for the writerly life the expatriate writers in Paris led in the 1920's, he's actually taken back to that era every night at, well, midnight. If you're a fan of that era, it's hard not to get caught up in it with him. Come on, F. Scott Fitzgerald? Ernest Hemingway? Gertrude Stein? (played by Kathy Bates, because who else could do it, right?)

But by the end of the film we learn, as does the main character, that the dream life of the Lost Generation was more of a nightmare. The same can probably be said of the Saturday Club writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson who had to write everything longhand -- Emerson
the Inklings of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien fame who pounded out their great works on typewriters -- the Bloomsbury crowd -- we're talking Virginia Woolf etc. --  who were brilliant and deeply messed up. We can dream of doing the whole Louisa May Alcott thing, writing through the night in the attic with a quill pen, yet we know the reality of the writing life is far less romantic.

And yet, we dream. We dream because writing is so much of what makes us ... us. We dream because the whole idea of writing powerful stories and profound non-fiction won't leave us alone. We dream because God inserts the gift and the desire right in our gut next to our hearts and livers and gall bladders (how's THAT for romantic?) We dream because we can't not.

So does that mean it's ridiculous to dream? If you ask your father who wants you to do something sensible so you can support yourself, or that CPA in your life who doesn't get it, yes, they'd say it was right up there with wearing stilettos to a basketball game.
But if you ask any person who loves to find just the right image (like "her eyes pearled with tears", which one of my clients recently wrote) -- who jots down notes on cocktail napkins when she hears that perfect phrase in the conversation (like, "I just wanted to chew glass," which another of my clients overheard and put into the mouth of a character) -- who wrings her hands until she knows how her story will end ... that person will tell you dreaming is the only thing that really makes sense.


So today we aren't going to stare the harsh realities in the face. That would be like looking in the mirror at 5:00 a.m., being horrified by what you see, and returning to bed, never to rise again. Today we're going to coax the dreams out and fluff them up and stand back and admire them. Today we're going to tell each other about them, admit that we have a vision of ourselves as authors and artists.  Hannah and me

Let's do that, here in our safe community. I'll go first:

I lived out my writing dream in the 90's and until the Great Recession of 2008. It dwindled until 2016 and withered after that. But God wouldn't leave it -- or me! -- alone and so it's been revived. I dream of writing four novels in what's called the Footnotes Collection. I want to pursue publication in the general market, something I haven't done. I want the collection to be part of my ongoing vision of  encouraging women in the living of spiritually creative lives. And I sure wouldn't mind doing some of that from St. Thomas, V.I. Just sayin'.

Tell us yours. You'll get no LOLs. No eye rolls. No head pats (does anybody actually do that?) You'll get support -- because if you dream crazy, you'll find the rest of us do too. 

CALLING ALL ...

    In many posts I'll call for certain things to use with upcoming topics. In the next two weeks, (by April 11) will you email me a picture of your writing space? It doesn't have to be a state of the art office. It may be a corner of your bedroom or the bag you pack to take to Panera where you writing table is always waiting. Just attach it to an email to me.

Now, literally Dream On.

Blessings,

Nancy Rue 

     


Welcome to DOORWAYS!!!

 

Completed logo

And ALL women serious about the writerly life
 

 

Welcome to the Doorways community, Lady. You've just entered the let's-hang-out-and-dream-our-way-into-the-writing-future portion of the Doorways

Mentorship Program. You don't have to  be enrolled in that program to be part of THIS convivium, but if you're interested, go to From Shadow To Shelf website   for more info). Very newest logo

 

Where you are right now is the place to meet other female writers who have gotten serious not only about being career writers, but living the creative life.


  •   It's a safe house for not only sharing your dreams but learning how to go deep and discover them.

  •   It's a workshop for shaping your stories -- fiction and non-fiction.

Hannah doing research


  •   It's an on-going seminar on crafting a career.

  •   It's a circle of trust for sorting out the life challenges that come with being a creative being.

In this place, you'll have regular opportunities to show excerpts from your work and find out about retreats and intensives.

 

YWW

 

EVERY time you visit, you'll receive the best I can offer from my 36 years as a career author and as a companion on the way -- because I, too, am discovering dreams, shaping stories, continually crafting my career and learning how better to live from my God-made soul.

 

Me at Sentient Bean

 

We hope you'll subscribe so you don't miss a single post. And we want you to reply to the weekly question which is always in red. This is a safe place. No one will critique you, judge you or tell you you're a flake. We're all about encouragement here -- honest, authentic and, well, convivial.

 

Welcome.

 

Now ... just open that door. And let us know you're here. Tell us a little bit about you. Ask whatever is on your mind. And check in next Wednesday for a brand new post. Love to have you.

 

Blessings,

Nancy Rue

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