Saturday, April 30, 2011

Write Words Weekend

I've got change on the brain this week.  What is it about spring?  I learned a long time ago that I should never make a life decision in March, because I'm so tired of winter I just feel like tossing off old routines like all those layers of wool.

Does it mean anything that I got married twenty-six years ago -- in March?

Fortunately, we made that decision in August, so I think we're in the clear.

So this week, let's write about change. 

Spring Break
Old Friend

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Write Words Weekend

Kurt Vonnegut said - and I'm paraphrasing - that people love stories because they're filled with drama, passion, and extremes of emotion and experience.  And for the most part, life is not.  This, he said, is one reason that people create 'drama' where none exists.  They want their lives to be like stories.

I don't know if I completely agree with him, but there is no question that as writers we're often looking for the 'hook' that turns a simple narrative into a captivating story.

So this week, our Write Words are all about Story for Story's Sake.  If these words don't connect with something out of your real life experiences, then take a stab at some creative writing. 

After more than ten years as a writer of narrative non-fiction, I began writing a fiction novel.  It has taken me more than a year to get through the first draft, but I haven't had this much fun writing in a long time.

Explore a new kind of writing this week.  Really stir up the waters of that memory well, or tap into a different well altogether.  If you normally write personal essays, try Fantasy.  If you're most comfortable with introspective observations, go for something funny.  Accustomed to journalistic reporting?  Try your hand at poetry. 

Just get creative!  Tell us a story! 


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Write Friends

A moment with my dear friend, Annie Valentine:
Professional writer, excellent speaker, and closet wedding planner.

Writing can be a wonderful means of self-expression, an outlet for creativity, and a terrific way to earn a living.  

But it can also be isolating, which isn't always good for the writer or for their material.  Writers should take opportunities to get to know and associate with other writers.  Following blogs, attending conferences, joining writing groups in real-life and online - these are all ways to connect with others who share your interests and passions, and who know the joys and frustrations of the writer's life.

Some of my closest friends are people I've met through writing networks.  Pictured above is Annie Valentine, one of many talented writers I've met over the years.  Annie is a great ally and support, both in my efforts as a writer and in my non-writing life.  She even took over and put together my son's wedding reception!  (Believe me, that was a very, very good thing.  Until then, I was in charge.  I won't share the details, but if the words 'plastic table cloths' strike fear in your heart, you can see how Annie's intervention was timely.)

In a recent post about the importance of editing, I introduced you to Emily and Jenny. These are also people I've met through writing, and who have made a difference in the quality of my work as well as the quality of my life.

Jenny and Emily, panelists at a recent conference.

The list goes on and on. 

The importance of having relationships outside your writing life is also incredibly important, but that's a post for another time.  Today might be a good time to examine how your career, your skills, your productivity, and above all the quality of your life could be improved by having a few friends in the writing business.

If nothing else, you have me!  Whatever your questions, whatever encouragement or suggestions you're looking for to help you keep plugging away at your craft, you can bring to this web site, or to my e-mail.

And if you're in the market for a good wedding planner, have I got a writer for you!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Write Words Weekend - Late!

Goodness!  It's Saturday afternoon! And I've been doing important things like going to Costco and encouraging my daughter-in-law's efforts to overhaul my son's shoe collection.

But that's not why you signed in today.  You're ready for your next round of Write Words!

In the spirit of, well, today, here are your Write Words for this week:

Hot Dogs
Young Love

Monday, April 11, 2011

An Act of Courage

Jenny Proctor and Emily Poole

These two women changed my life.

How often do you get to say that about someone?  How often is it said about you?

Jenny Proctor and Emily Poole are sisters.  They are also fantastic writers.  In fact, Jenny's first book will soon be on shelves.

But as much as I have enjoyed their writing as well as their friendship, they really didn't earn the status of "life changing" until some time ago, when I was working on a collection of essays.

The essays in question were personal, and I was looking for editing help from writers - and people - I trusted.

Emily and Jenny took on the task of working as my editors.  And my writing life was forever changed.

I sent them work that I fully expected to be "rubber stamped" and declared ready for publication.  Instead, I received well-conceived critique, wonderful suggestions, and structural insights I never would have realized on my own.

At times, it was difficult to follow their suggestions.  There were moments when I looked at a page of line edits and wondered if I would ever find the right words, tell the story I wanted to tell, meet the expectations of my editing friends.  At one point, Emily highlighted an entire paragraph and said simply:  'I know you can write better than this.'  Gulp!  She may have known that about me, but I sure didn't!

I actually have a very clear memory of that moment.  I looked at what I had written, considered Emily's stated confidence in my abilities, and then metaphorically cracked my knuckles and went to work proving Emily right!

The more we worked together, the more enjoyable the process became for me.  And when a piece was finally determined to be 'finished,' I knew I had produced something I could be proud to put my name to.

These two women made me a better writer.

I know that it can be intimidating to put your 'brain child' out there for scrutiny and critique.  After all, you've labored over this work, you've loved it and hated it and wrestled it and tamed it. And now you're voluntarily allowing someone to take it apart and voice their opinions on how it could be improved.

Who subjects their 'children' to such tortures?

Good writers do, that's who. 

So, to those who are looking to get past their fears of the editorial process, I'm making an offer:  Send me something you've written - let's say 1,200 words or less - and I'll take you through your first experience with editing and critique free of charge. 

I want you to see for yourselves that this is an exciting way to transform the great ideas you've already put together into your strongest writing - writing you can be more proud of than you thought possible.

Send your work in the body of an e-mail to, and make the subject line "Free First-time Edit."

It's time to be brave.  You want to be published, and you know that this is a crucial step to realizing your dreams.

And who knows?  Maybe one day you'll put my photograph on your blog, and you'll tell your loyal, adoring fans, "See this lady?  She changed my life."

I could totally live with that!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Write Words Weekend

Welcome back! 

I hope you're discovering some great stories using our Write Words prompts!  There's nothing quite like having a story reveal itself to you.  Remember, you can use these prompts to tell your own story, someone else's story, or even create works of fiction.  If you want us to read your stories, be sure to come back here and leave a link to your site.

This week's Write Words are:

Penny Candy
Road Trip

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Write Words Weekend

Welcome back!  I hope you made good use of last week's Write Words.  I know it's always good for me to have to examine my stories in new and different ways.

If you're new to Write Words Weekend, you can find the information here.  But essentially, the idea is to take one, some, or all of the Write Words -- super-brief writing prompts -- and let them stir up whatever memories or creative concoctions they will.

And then, write, write, write!

When you complete a story, be sure to come back here and leave a link to your site, so we can pop over and read what you've created!

Ready for this week's Write Words?

OK.  This week we'll be thinking about...

Tennis shoes
Family car