There’s No Such Thing as a Writing Birthday (and how I celebrated mine)

Sad birthdayThe morning began as most as winter workdays do, which is to say dark, and because of that, what felt far too early to me.

This year, I made a conscious effort to remember my writing birthday – to commemorate it on the actual day, or if nothing else, to at least make note of it.  February 12: in truth, an arbitrarily-chosen day meant to mark the start of my first (incomplete, shelved) novel as approximated through a forensic accounting some emails I sent to a friend around that time.

I’m an Aquarius writer.

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Is There a “Method” to Your Writing? (Writing advice from the acting world)

Acting

Earlier this year, I met a writer who was also an actor, from whom I received some interesting writing advice.

It happened during a session of the writers’ group that I run.  At each meeting, we discuss a specific writing-related question that all attendees are given a chance to answer.

The question du jour inquired which element of writing craft folk felt they needed to learn more about.

When it came my turn to answer, I said character voice.

Specifically, the fact that I wanted to someday write a sequel to my WIP from the first person point of view of a different character, but was unsure how to make the voice distinct from the first person narrator of my WIP.

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Bringing Up the Bodies: On resurrecting dead manuscripts

Every writer who’s been writing for a while has a dead manuscript stuffed away somewhere.

Be it a bottom drawer, bottom shelf, back of a closet, or in digital form in some dark oubliette on one’s hard drive, it’s something of a rite of passage for a writer to discover his/her novel (usually the first one) is an irredeemable mess, and for him/her to give it the axe.

But how many of those whacked novels refuse to go quietly into that good night? How many writers end up haunted by the ghost of what could have been – what still can be now that they’re stronger wordsmiths who have loved, lost, and learned the error of their once novice ways?

And for those who have had this experience, how many actually give into it and take another crack, as it were, at the title?

I’m seriously considering doing just that.

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The Emails I Send to Myself (I can’t be the only writer who does this)

Cat working on computer

I made a point some time ago to inform the IT manager at my workplace that I’m writing a novel.

Partly I did this because I’ve struck up a friendship with her over the years, and the fact eventually became a relevant addendum to her revelation of being an avid reader.

The other reason, though – perhaps the more pressing reason – is due to the nature of some of the emails I send.

Not that they’re offensive, or in any direct violation of the company’s Information Services & Technology user policy.  But they are … strange, not the least of which is because they are emails send to myself at my personal email address.

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Sometimes Magic Just Works: 4 Q&As about my WIP

Ravenswing Dress - The Dark Angel Design Company, Photography - Lunaesque

The Dark Angel Design Company, photography by Lunaesque

Time to talk about my WIP again!

I never used to do this at all, as the thought of giving the dreaded “elevator pitch” makes my stomach churn like too much greasy pizza too close to bedtime.

But like anything bearing the label “dreaded”, said dread is usually lessened over time through devoting regular thought and effort to improving at the task at hand.

In other words, I need to practice pitching and promoting myself more.

Which is why, when tagged by my blog-buddy Eric J. Baker, to answer four questions about my WIP as part of the Writing Process Blog Tour, and I agreed to participate.

The four questions are thus as follows:

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Two Writers Debate: Pantsing vs. Plotting

Eric John Baker (R) and me, clearly hoping to win this thing by sheer force of smugness.

Eric John Baker (R) and me, clearly hoping to win this thing by sheer force of smugness.

Only two approaches to writing exist: Good and Bad. Write good. Debate over!

Hold on a sec. That’s not what this post is about. This post is a point-counterpoint between two WordPress bloggers arguing the merits of two distinct writing methods, pantsing (freeform writing) and plotting (writing from an outline).

Read on as right-brained, right-coast writer Eric John Baker argues in favor of pantsing (at least we hope that’s what happens… he is making it up as he goes, after all), followed by left-brained, left-coast writer Janna G. Noelle making a case for plotting, probably with all kinds of charts and graphs and stuff.

No matter how ugly and violent it gets, they promise to return you home in time for tea and biscuits!

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Always Say Yes: What writers can learn from our actor friends and improv

(L-R): Nyima Funk, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady from the TV show Whose Line is it Anyway?

(L-R): Nyima Funk, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady from the TV show Whose Line is it Anyway?

Out of all the different types of artistic expression, the artists I seem to befriend most often are actors.

I’m not really sure why this is, for I’m sure as hell no actor.  I have no poker face whatsoever, let alone the ability to re-create a given emotion at will, and body movements range from woodenly awkward to determinedly abrupt.

As well, the mechanics and semiotics of acting are largely lost upon me. I can’t really distinguish a “good” performance from a “spectacular” one, and when I watch movies or plays, so long as the story obeys its own internal logic and follows a satisfying story arc, that’s good enough for me.

I’m a writer; I’m far less interested in the performance of a story than I am in the creation of that’s story’s script.

And yet, as different as my actor friends and their art seems to be from me and mine, I’ve come to discover the usefulness one particular actor’s tool can have for writers.

That tool is improvisation.

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Taking Over Me: On writing, obsession, and the search for artistic balance

Singer Amy Lee of the alternative rock/metal band Evanescence, from whose song the title for this week’s post is borrowed.  There’s something about the grammatical weirdness of the song’s name – the fact that, in ending with the subject “me”, it serves to emphasizes it – that really resonates with my experiences in this subject.

Amy Lee of the alt rock/metal band Evanescence, whose song I borrowed for the title of this post.

When a writer becomes utterly fixated on his/her WIP, is that a sign of artistic revelation or that s/he has become a less well-rounded person?

I’ve twice had it happen where writing has taken over my life, the first time being back in 2004 when I was writing my first (incomplete, shelved) novel, and the second in 2005 when I wrote the first volume of my two-volume historical fiction WIP.

In 2005 especially, I fully gave myself over to my writing.

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A Little Fall of Rain: The ebb and flow of my writing ideas

A/N: To my fellow Canadians, wishing you all a very Happy Canada Day!

How does an idea in one’s head go about becoming a fully-fledged plan – whether outlined or not – for an upcoming piece of writing?

This is something I’ve been pondering quite a bit lately as I continue to move forward in my novel-in-progress: this question of how it is that my writing actually comes to fruition.

Especially given that the ideas I come up with tend to rather small, vague, and decidedly non-earth-shattering in their physical and psychological impact upon me.

Case in point – the idea for this very blog post: I should blog about how my writing ideas evolve.

That was it: the brilliant brainwave in all its unexplained, undeveloped glory.

Or the idea I have for the next chapter in my novel-in-progress: I need to show the protagonist and her enemy starting to see eye-to-eye.  Okay – there’s a little more to it than that, but not much.  Heaven forbid the Muse offer me something with which I could hit the ground running.

My ideas are like – to borrow from the liberetto of Les Misérables – a little fall of rain: sufficient to get your attention when it speckles the side of your face, but not substantial enough to convince you that anything more will come of it.

For all you know, maybe you were standing too close to a conversation and just got spat on.

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All You (N)ever Wanted: My favourite (and least favourite) writing advice

Ah – writing advice.

If there’s one thing writers do with as much (if not more!) enthusiasm as actual writing, it’s seeking advice on writing.

The internet positively teems with the stuff.  Plus anyone with even the smallest portion of a novel either on their computer or in their soul is guaranteed to own at least one writing how-to book.

(Personally, I have four, plus a duo tang full of photocopied notes, and numerous downloaded webpages.)

But how much this boundless writing advice is of practical use?  At a recent meetup of the writing group I lead, this was the discussion topic du jour: writing advice – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Everyone was to come prepared to share the best piece(s) of writing advice they’d ever heard/read/received, and the worst piece(s).

I have five pieces of favourite writing advice – the specific tips that have really stuck with me over the years, and helped me straighten out some of my own writing flaws.  And so, I give you…

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