About Me, My Thoughts, The Writer's Life, Writing Encouragement

Why

It’s a common response to the big “why” question. I hear it all the time. I’ve used it myself once or twice. “I write because I have to.” But unless someone is pressing your fingers to the keyboard, it’s simply untrue. Even for those of you who are facing a looming deadline. You don’t have to meet that deadline. Really, you don’t. Yeah, you’ll ruin your editor’s day, and you could theoretically lose your publishing deal, but no one is forcing you to give up binge-watching “Jennifer Jones” in order to finish chapter sixteen – the one where that thing happens you haven’t yet thought of that…

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General, The Writer's Life, Writing Encouragement

The First Book

Congratulations. You’ve written a novel. Your first. It’s no longer a thing “you’d like to do someday,” it’s a thing you did. The End. You just wrote that, and it made you smile. Family members barely recognize you. Where’s the sullen, contentious, lost, confused, un-showered, frustrated writer-wannabe they’d come to expect every time you crawled out of your writing cave into the real world to briefly consider eating food that doesn’t come out of a plastic bag? She’s gone. That was the exhausted, mud-caked, sweaty Basic Training writer; the “I’m going to finish this thing if it kills me” writer. You’re not her anymore. You’re a Bonafide Author…

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About Me, Meaningless Drivel, My Thoughts, The Writer's Life, Writing Encouragement

I Quit. Again.

There is a tiny flame that burns deep within a writer. A pilot light. In moments – some lingering, some fleeting – that pilot light sparks to life and becomes a furnace of ideas. Great books have been stitched together from such moments. These are not sweet and beautiful moments. There are no butterflies whispering perfect words into your ears. There are no fairies singing songs of your literary brilliance. These are pain-filled moments where orcs threaten you with bodily harm and the flame itself threatens to incinerate your soul. Your fingers fly across the keyboard not in delight, but chasing fire. You fear the unpredictable flame, as well you should, but the end of…

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About Me, Meaningless Drivel, My Thoughts, The Writer's Life, Writing Encouragement

What If?

Usually it goes something like this: What if I’m a terrible writer. Or (gasp) a truly average writer? What if all the kind words people offer about my stories are nothing more than polite lies accompanied by fake smiles because they want to avoid hurting my feelings? What if my dogged pursuit of traditional publishing is a fool’s errand? What if there are exactly zero literary agents interested in the kind of stories I write? What if the only thing I learn from querying is how poorly I handle rejection? What if I self-publish and the book just sits there on the virtual shelf, impervious to my attempts to find…

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Beyond Categorization, My Thoughts, The Publishing Process, The Writer's Life, Writing Encouragement

#amwaiting

When the language gods sat down at their very expensive polished maple conference table to decide which term to use for the art of putting words together to tell stories, “writing” wasn’t their first choice. “Bloodletting” actually had the most up-votes and was likely to get the nod. But then one of the lesser gods – the one everyone mistakenly called Vern – felt compelled to mention how similar “writing” was to “waiting,” which they’d already determined would mean “excruciatingly long pauses where nothing appeared to be happening.” While he was publically showing his support for the already-popular idea of eliminating “writing” from…

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General, The Writer's Life, Writing Encouragement

How to Write a Novel

You’re going to need an idea. It can be a clever plot. Something about uncontrollable magic or unpredictable mayhem or unconventional love. Or maybe your idea is a character. Someone who stands out. Someone who blends in. Someone who lives in a coffee house attic. Someone whose feet never touch the ground. Okay, now the hardest part: You must write a sentence. Any sentence will do (yes, even a sentence fragment) because you’ll probably change it a hundred times anyway. Here, I wrote some for you: The monkey never saw it coming. Halfway between the sky and the sidewalk, she realized she had forgotten how to fly. His favorite…

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About Me, My Favorite Things, My Thoughts, The Writer's Life, Writing Encouragement

The Fault in Our Stares

If Neil Gaiman walked into this coffee shop, I’d be starstruck. I’m not easily starstruck. As I slog through the latter part of middle age, I just don’t have the energy to drum up enthusiasm for the common celebrity. Confession: I haven’t read Entertainment Weekly in years. Last summer I visited the set of the new Zach Braff movie (coming to theaters near you this July – and depending on the edit, starring me in one scene as a blurry background extra) and was non-plussed by the famously tanned faces that wandered in and out of the virtual frame. My favorite part of…

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