Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I don’t believe that Monday is the worst day of the week, but after a Monday like this week’s, I’m willing to reconsider my opinion.

First, my son was on the last two days of summer vacation. While this is a great thing for mommy-son togetherness, this is a bad thing for a writer with two pieces on deadline. During a normal summer day when my son is at home, I can generally get a couple of hours at the desk, but Monday was not normal because my husband was scheduled to work a night shift. Since he was trying to sleep, my son and I tip-toed around the house all afternoon. I thought I’d get to my desk in the evening, about the time my husband left for work. After sleeping for as much of the day as he could, my hubby got up around 3:30 and got ready for work. At 4:00, his job was cancelled. It felt funny to be at my desk when he was sitting downstairs trying to figure out what to do with himself. I decided I would just work at night as I normally do after my husband and child go to bed. At 8:00, I was ready to tuck in my son. That’s when I noticed his pet mouse had died.

I’ll admit that I briefly considered not saying anything. Then I thought about how awful it would be if he found poor Mousey. “Honey, I think Mousey died,” I said, prompting a flood of tears from my eight-year-old.

I checked on my husband, who was watching TV in bed as though it was a typical evening. His sleep-wake clock is now seriously askew. “Mousey died,” I told him, followed by cursing. Clearly I wasn’t going to be working anytime before 10:00 p.m.

I didn’t have the heart to abandon my crying son (who immediately lobbied for a new pet – request denied), so I invited him to come downstairs and watch television for a little while. After an hour of America’s Funniest Home Videos, he was recovered enough to go to his room. I wasn’t done writing until 2:00 a.m.

It remindins of this Stephen King quote: “Life isn’t a support-system for writing. It’s the other way around.”

Friday, August 25, 2006

Nothing But Prompts

This week finds me drowning in back-to-school stuff, and when I read what I'd written for this week's entry, well, I rejected my own work. :) Here are some prompts for the 'ol creative juices:

The day after Chad left, Larissa discovered she’d never really known him. Hidden in the apartment's drop ceiling, she found. . . .

What do you think about the new Las Vegas ordinance than bans feeding the homeless in city parks?

What memories do you have of the start of school?

Janet couldn't take the noise any longer. At midnight, lonely (and off-key) saxaphone music drifted from to her ears, even though her head was buried under a pillow. Jim's jazz band practice was driving her insane. "That's it!" she screamed, throwing off the pillow, grabbing her _________________, and marching out the door. Laster, she had a hard time explaining to the police that....

Happy writing!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Slicing and Dicing

I’ve been swinging into gear for class on September 13, 2006. I’ve got a whole mess of warm-up exercises and prompts to write. (I can hear group members groaning at the idea.) Here’s one to get everyone in the spirit:

Which adverbs/adjectives would you delete and which would you keep?

The aging blonde basketball player stoically wrapped his aching arthritic knees, waiting patiently for some unsuspecting young man to stumble unknowingly upon his empty court. The gray-haired man wasn’t waiting simply for a pick-up game; he needed to quickly hustle some cash before the pawn shop closed. The macho twenty-something know-nothings who hung out on these courts had never heard of Willie Denton, the decaying, broken-down former legend of the NBA’s nascent early days.

If this paragraph doesn’t feel as heavy as a fruitcake to you, then I don’t know what to tell you. Start slicing out the modifiers and see if you can lighten its load.

Books we’ll be reading and discussing during this session:

Stephen King - On Writing
Lynne Truss - Eats, Shoots, and Leaves
Natalie Goldberg - Writing Down the Bones
Anne Lamott - Bird by Bird
William Zinsser - On Writing Well
Strunk and White - The Elements of Style

Happy Writing!

Friday, August 11, 2006

The End of Summer

In about a month, my writing group starts meeting again. We take a break over the summer for two reasons. First, it’s too hot to go out. Second, I’m always running short on time during the months my son is out of school. My writing gets put on hold a lot during June, July, and August, and although sometimes it makes me nuts, it’s for a good cause. Part of the reason I’m a writer is to spend more time with my son. He will only be eight once, and I plan to witness as much of it as I can. Besides, the surplus of Cameron time during summer helps fortify me for the other nine months, when I deal with isolation instead. That’s when I’m (embarrassingly) likely to talk someone’s ear off after a stretch of too much time by myself. One of the downsides of being a writer is the loneliness you can feel as you spend hours alone with just your internet connection.

Stephen King does a great job of describing a writer’s life in On Writing, which I just finished. Ten pages into this book you’ll see why it’s considered a classic. I didn’t know what to expect when I began reading, but I instantly connected with his descriptions of the early years of a writer. I, too, had a stack of rejection slips, all resulting from awful short stories someone at Seventeen had to suffer through. Of course, he went on to become Stephen King and I am still working on things, but one never knows. Part memoir, part writing instruction, On Writing is an easy read that every writer should enjoy.

My favorite quotes from On Writing:
“Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Book is Done!!

I’m happy to announce that I’m done with my book!!! Yippee!! Yahoo!! Now I just have to polish it up (it’s done, but it’s not done), find an agent, and get published.

I’ve been working on plans for the next session of the Northwest Writers writing group and should have more info posted next week. We’ll be back on our regular schedule September 13, 2006. I’m reading Stephen King’s On Writing, which will be the first book we discuss in class. He recommends setting aside your freshly completed book for six weeks before going back to do the final polishing, but I don’t know that I can wait that long. I’d chew my fingernails down to my elbows, I’m afraid.

Happy writing everyone!