Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Email Diet

Oh, you're really going to love this.
Think emails can help you lose weight?
Nope. In fact, they probably help you gain it.
But what I am talking about here today is how emails help you lose time.
Email diet, bad.

I remember sitting behind my accountant, watching her trying to get into an IRS site to find the answer to some question. I couldn't believe how much time goes by when you are not the one driving the mouse. In the time it took her to find her answer, I could have made a phone call, been redirected four times and boiled water for mac and cheese.

The email ZONE is just like that. A dead zone. You have no idea how much of our valuable writing--and living--time is eaten away at it. For instance, it's slow at work today. Very slow. I opened my email two and a half hours ago, and apart from the stray phone call and a customer, I've been on email all this time!


So, I've gotten away from TV for the most part. Now it's going to be email. In fact, I think I will take the internet off my cp and only use it for writing. And when I do go to email, I'm going to keep a timer with me. If I need to put every one of my loops on digest--or even pull out of them--I will.

Nothing but emails from editors and agents can be important enough to suck away my time like that again.

I so swear.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hitman for Critique Partners

Critique partners got you down?
It's time for the "trust yourself" lecture.

So....trust yourself.

Think of how far you've come, how much you know that you didn't know in the beginning. Think of all the time you put in for other people, to help them with their writing. It's time now to think of you. To remember why you started writing in the first place.

You love to tell stories, right? You have a great story to tell, right? So tell it. It's like in the movie, The Rookie, when he remembers that playing baseball is supposed to be fun. And he was getting paid to have fun. He walked into the locker room after coming so close to giving it all up, and said, "You know what we get to do today, Brookes? We get to play baseball!"

So, you know what you get to do today? You get to play "writer". Forget those women who have nothing better to do than to drag you down, or worse yet, think they are helping you by picking you apart. Remember the important part about dissecting a frog is THE FROG DIES.

Take a break from CP's. Just trust yourself. Trust that you know a thing or two. Step back and look at the story you are trying to tell, at the people you want us all to meet, and tell us about them. Put them on the psychologist's couch and let them rant and rave while you type it up.

You have the power to save someone, to change some one's life, to rescue the damsel, to save the hero from himself. And you can do all of it. Don't let them stop you. Buy some chocolate for pity's sake, the expensive kind. Indulge in everything and let your characters indulge themselves. Take an "I'll show them" attitude and show them. Make it great.
Take your favorite scene and reveal a little more than you had. Take a bad scene and look at it. What are you trying to do here? What minor changes can you do to some one's dialogue or actions to make the story clearer? Through whose eyes you are watching this scene happen? Would a different POV make things more exciting?

And then, when you have had your fun, cause remember, it is fun....then you can say, It's done. If you don't like it, you don't like it. I like it and it's time to move on because I have another great story to tell.

Listen, I'm rewriting my first ms for about the seventh time in two years and I can't stand it anymore. So I am going to attack the story with all the energy of a ranting lunatic and shake it up. Every time I've given the reader what they expected, I'm going to turn it around and give them just the opposite. Their heads will be spinning. I have a life to live and stories to publish and this one story only gets seven more weeks of my life and that is it. Seven weeks.

Have some fun with this wip. Like a flower arrangement that just looks horrible, take all the flowers out and do something different. Use the same flowers--the same story--and wrench it around. No one ever complains about too much action, excitement, or surprises, right? So blow them out of the water.

You are a writer. You are a god in that universe inside your head, now act like one. Create. Shock and Awe, baby. Leave them panting. Exhaust them and walk away laughing.



Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Getting Up From Down Time

As you may have noticed, I was missing in action for the month of May. Lots of excuses; weddings, funerals, holidays, and flowers for all of them. I am a former florist, by the way, and am trying to remain a retired one. Sadly, in a month like May 2008, it was not possible.

So, I've had some "down" time. Welcomed or not, I took an uncomfortably long break from my emails and my ol' pal, Word. I will not examine too closely how many days I never gave a thought to turning on my cp, let alone remembering the wee blue "W".

But now I am back. Time to get up off my...down time. How do I start?

First, I will not waste my time worrying that had a been a real writer I would not have taken such a long break. Until I am given the luxury of 7 undisturbed hours per day, like Hemmingway, I will not brow beat myself for non-production.

Second, I will not make the mistake of waiting for my Muse to revisit. It never answers its mail (or email), never calls just to check on me, to see if I'm ready for company. When I'm published my Muse will not be signing those books, taking credit. It will be all about me, baby, and so must the work be all about me.

So, it's time to start. Luckily for me, I followed Stephen King's advice: I didn't walk away from the computer before knowing what work I would do when I returned to it. I know what my first task is. I know the time allotted for it. I will send off some funny emails to my friends to warm up my writer's vocal chords and begin with the page I have scribbled on a three by five card next the monitor. How "plottish" of me.

What a crock.

Of course that is what I planned to do, but I have to sneak up on my writing so I don't have to "set the mood". It's like a pit bull; I'll avoid eye contact and go about my paper shuffling as if there was never a lull, using all my acting ability to keep the smell of fear from the room.

Next, I will strain my brain for a romantic image that will set my brush to canvas. And I will be ever so grateful when something lands on the paper and smiles. Stephen King, eat your heart out.

Remember, all the planning and good intentions are worthless if you can't walk (or crawl) to the chair, unrepentantly push the clutter from the seat and replace it with your backside.

Here's to pushing the crock off the counter and getting down to business. (Makes you wonder if my office is a complete disaster, doesn't it?) Go ahead, wonder.