With a title like this, you are probably going to expect me to write about real life intrusions on writing. Nope. I mean I want to write about the ups and downs the characters face when they are going through your adventure.
I work with teenagers.
Both in fiction and real life. This is not a coincidence.
As a high school employee, I’m surrounded by teenagers 35 hours a week. They permeate my work life, even into the break room. When surrounded by other school employees, mostly we talk about the teenagers. Lunch conversation revolves around the crazy things those students are doing these days or what disciplinary tactic works best with that student. In class it’s even more their world. Lessons have to follow their logic, they guide the pace, their reality is the reality we have to start from.
Allow me to introduce you to Ashley Wilson. She is an absolutely fabulous graphic artist who came through for me in a pinch. When I needed cover art for Daughter of the Queen, she was there. Not only was she quick and professional, she understood my quirky descriptions and produced a picture I will be proud to put on my book.
I highly recommend Ashley Wilson if you are looking for cover art, or even a full cover design, for your next book.
It’s such a cliché to start a blog on January 1st with resolutions. Yeah, should probably resolve to use fewer clichés in my writing. I’ll get to that later. For now, I’m just happy to be back, after more than a year of no blogging. I could give you all manner of excuses about why I let the blog go, but the truth is a few bumps in my life and the habit died. I kept meaning to get back to it (insert cliché about good intentions and Hell). Ultimately it came down to “It was too much like work and I didn’t have the time.”
I am not a parent. I love kids, especially my nieces and nephews, but in small doses. I’ve always believed in the importance of extended family, so I make myself as available as I can to them and take my role as the Weird Aunt seriously. So this year when looking at budgets and the four nieces and two nephews who would be expecting something awesome from me and my husband, we decided the best thing we could do would be to invite them for a sleep over (two at a time to keep the adult to kid ratio reasonable). So far so good. It would be relatively cheep, just some extra groceries. And awesome in that I tend to be much looser about certain rules than my brother and sister-in-law. I can do that – they go home. So we proposed this to the parents and came to an agreement. No bed time and no limits on computer or TV time. And they would come one pair after another.
It’s a new year – according to the calendar. That means it’s time to look at the goals, set new ones, re-evaluate old ones, and decide what I’m going to be working on this year. I do goals, not resolutions. Why? Because I’ve fallen into the resolution trap a few too many times. You know the one where you make a nearly impossible resolution like “I’m going to run a mile every day” when you haven’t run more than three steps without losing your breath. Then on January 2nd it’s so cold the weather guys are warning everyone to stay inside and not even run to the car. Well that’s it, resolution broken already, time to get back to some serious couch potatoing and so much for that resolution.
There is a lot of advice out there for writers. Almost everyone who is a writer has advice for other writers. Me included. One thing that isn’t said often enough is that you have to be careful about what advice you follow. I don’t mean that some advice is bad in general, rather that not all of it will apply to you.
1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
I am not a parent. I don’t want to be a parent. My body has made it perfectly clear it doesn’t want to be a parent either. Yet I love kids. I like having them around. They are so full of interesting inspiration and full on creativity that it’s like magic. For me, that makes being an Aunt almost perfect.
Recently, I found myself with three nieces and a nephew in my house for the afternoon. I’d borrowed them to help with a yard work project that took all of half an hour, but my brother couldn’t pick them up until after dinner. So, for half a day, I became a parent. I know, it’s not much, but it gave me the flavor of all the parent/writers out there.
What do you do when you are working on a story and your characters start going off on a tangent? When they leave the outline behind and insist on going down the rabbit hole that you never even saw?
There are some writers who will tell you to back up to where they started going off script and get them back on. You are the writer after all, and they are just the characters.
There are two schools of thought about writing (in the most general terms). The school that says that you must wait for the muse to come by and give you inspiration. And the school that says you should sit your butt in the chair and write even when the muse is vacationing in Florida. As with anything of this sort, I think the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Getting writing done is a lot about getting in the groove. That sounds a lot like waiting for the muse, except that getting in the groove is something that you can control. You just have to figure out how to find your groove reliably. Because unlike your muse, your groove doesn’t go on vacation.