Where Dreams Meet the Business of Writing

Posts tagged ‘Planting Carrots’

THE WRITER’S PATH: Tuesday Tales

Tuesday TalesWelcome to Tuesday Tales. Each month this group writes to a picture prompt. For September, we have this lovely scene to contemplate. Here is my take on the peaceful pathway I’d love to run across and follow.

Return to Tuesday Tales for a large variety of other writer’s takes on incorporating this photo into their current writing.

THE WRITER’S PATH

TT_September photo promptThe path beckons. It calls out to us, singing the siren song of a writer’s life. We follow. We travel the path, sometimes venturing off the trail, often times changing to another.

The paths differ. As with our life path, we change our writing path as we travel.

Some authors travel pathways traversed by the multitudes, one trampled smooth by many footsteps. Some venture onto less common trails – beating back brush, searching for footholds on steep or rocky terrains.

The important thing is not which path we follow, but that we move forward. Step by step. Mile marker by mile marker.

Some follow the path of journalism: investigative reporting, columns, or book reviews.

Others chose the business minded path of copywriting or editing.

Poetry, song writing, screen writing – more options for the creative muse.

And, there is the unlimited world of books. The path is diverse and branches off into a multitude of options. Many of us travel several of these paths during our life as a writer. Children’s picture books, middle grade and young adult novels – many choose these. Others select adult fiction – again, limitless genres: romance, historical, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, action, spy, western, mystery, zombie, and comedy – the trail splinters off into hundreds of possibilities.

Nonfiction routes also abound: cookbooks, biography, greeting cards, how-to’s.

So many choices, so little time. They only important thing is that we move along our current chosen path. Years ago, Winston Churchill said, “Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”

Enjoy the climb; enjoy the path.

When Real Life Meets Fiction: Tuesday Tales – building

Tuesday Tales

Today’s post is written to a weekly prompt from Tuesday Tales, ‘building’. Previous posts have taken place in 1934 Iowa, in Calico Connections. However, since I’m in the middle of another fiction for a contest submittal, I don’t want to re-enter my Iowa make believe world yet. Here is my entry for the week in the genre memoir/writing, for possible inclusion in another WIP, Planting Carrots. We’ll see later.

Thanks for stopping by. Return to Tuesday Tales for more wondrous words from a wide range of talented authors.

FRIENDS CAN BACKFIRE

writers pillowThe fat, fluffy pillow is the perfect accent for my writing room. ‘Careful, Or You’ll End Up in My Novel!’

So true. So true. We’re writers and we do as advised – write what you know. Our stories grow, building layer upon layer, drawing on our life’s experiences.

A Facebook post of a some-ecard echoes the sentiments:

“I’m a writer. If I’m staring at you, I’m not being rude. I’m trying to decide if you need to go in a book. If you’re a snot, I may be trying to decide how to kill you.”

We’re writers and we need a diverse assortment of characters at our disposal, be it for short stories, novels, or blog posts.

So, we borrow from real life. The bad hairdo from the barista at the coffee shop. The annoying habits of our coworkers: one is loud, one is OCD, one is in a perpetual bad mood, and one is saccharine sweet. The sloppiness and disarray of our neighbor. The tardiness, or compunctional earliness, of those in our social groups. A boss that chews. Our church member that smacks their wad of gum the entire time their talking to you. The clerk that needs a shave – or a shower.

Our spouses are not exempt. Mine has a habit of frequently answering with “Yeppers.” One of my major characters in a contest entry I’m working on now coincidentally has that same habit. (Shhhh, don’t tell!)

Eavesdropping on conversations is a goldmine for future characters. One day I overheard, “He doesn’t have the personality God gave a gopher.” Priceless! I jotted it down. I will use it someday. I’m not sure where, but I know at some point in the future, one of my characters will need just those words.

We have the disclaimers in place. “This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales are entirely coincidental.” (Disclaimer example is from The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austin, by Syril James)

As the popular song goes … ‘That’s my story … and I’m stickin’ to it!’

I’ll admit it, I’ve borrowed from real life, in the creation of my fictional, and not so fictional pieces. I’m sure that almost all of us have. In my WIP chapter book, The Itty Bits, Beezer and Queenie behave suspiciously like my younger brother and sister, Butch and Susie. After seeing a picture of the pillow quoted in the opening, I emailed it to my sister, along with the opening chapters of The Itty Bits.

She’s now afraid to talk to me.

I needed some girl names for two Girl Scouts in a children’s story. (Trash & Treasure, Guardian Angel Kids ezine). Elizabeth and Michelle came to life on the pages. (Thanks sister, Susan Elizabeth, and niece, Michelle.)

Prissy & Paige, a YA WIP, stars two 14 year old girls. These two BFF’s coincidently seem to have many of the same arguments and dilemmas that my own 14 year old BFF, Connie, and I had. (Connie, by the way, is still talking to me, maybe because she hasn’t seen my manuscript yet.)

One of my NANO (National Novel Writing Month) experiences brought to light one of the potential problems with using recognizable friends in your stories, even if the friends know and are excited about it. One November, Three Bags Full and the town of Bluebonnet Ridge came to life. Unfortunately, on November 30th the story stalled and is yet to be resurrected. The main crew in this small Texan town consisted of:

Paige (me): Proprietor of the fiber store. (Yes, I weave, spin, knit and crochet)

Jayne (Joyce): Works at City Hall and makes awesome chain maille jewelry on the side (Yes, she does, and yes, she does.)

Shelly (Shanine): the paper queen, her store features her beautiful paper creations (no store in real life, the paper creations are true)

Meg (Megan): Owns a ladybug farm nearby (No lady bug farm in real life, but she is a ladybug fanatic and would love to have a ladybug farm)

Faith (Connie Faye): Yes, here’s Connie again, now owning a bakery (In real life, no bakery, but she is an awesome cook, well known by all her friends and coworkers for her delectable goodies)

And then, about 30,000 words into the story (no, I never hit my 50,000 word goal that year), I discovered a major flaw. I’d let my friends all know about this group of ‘fictional’ friends. They knew it was about us, honoring our years of friendship. They were looking forward to reading the manuscript.

But, for the good of the story and the depth of the characters, we all need to have some flaws. All of us. My dilemma; how to portray the characters shortcoming without offending my friends.

Note to self: In the future, do NOT let your friends know that they are the inspiration behind certain characters. While they may provide the major impetus for the character’s development, when your friend reads the story, they may associate every word or action the character makes as a reflection of something you’ve seen in them. Bad idea!

Write your characters. Use the people you know – friend and foe – as your inspiration, just disguise them. Change the names, identifying characteristics, even change their sex if you wish.

We writer’s will have the ultimate revenge. Those we know and love, and those we don’t, will find themselves written into eternity by our words.

OUR WORDS HEAL, OUR WORDS HONOR

Today’s post is written to a weekly prompt from Tuesday Tales, ‘rough’. Previous posts have taken place in 1934 Iowa, in Calico Connections. However, since I’m now in the middle of another fiction for a contest submittal (I only need another 30,000 words in the next two weeks!), I don’t want to re-enter my Iowa make believe world yet. Here is my entry for the week in the memoir genre, for possible inclusion in another WIP, Planting Carrots. We’ll see.

Thanks for stopping by. Return to Tuesday Tales for more wondrous words from a wide range of talented authors.

OUR WORDS HEAL, OUR WORDS HONOR

DSC00201He entered my life late, he left it too soon, this third son of mine. He came into my life the easy way; already potty-trained, already driving. His leaving … not so easy.

People say that losing a child is one of the worst things to happen to a parent. They say it is difficult. They say it is rough. If you haven’t been there, you have no idea. You can’t imagine how this tragedy will affect your life in all aspects. Two friends lost children, years before I lost my stepson, Mark Gloyd. I did not fully understand the depth of their pain. I didn’t know the void left in their life. I could empathize with them.  I could cry with them. I couldn’t fully know the feelings and emotions a child’s death evoked.

December 27, 2005, two days after a joyless Christmas, I entered their world – a world consisting of bereaved parents in various stages of grief, denial, pain and recovery. I did not want to join their club. I held no sway with the nomination process. I had no say in the outcome.

Mark was one month past his 23rd birthday.

My sole consolation was that I was there for him at the end of his losing battle with cancer. I held his hand and stroked his brow. His mother sat on his other side. His father hovered around us all, encompassed in an enveloping grief and sorrow that permeated the room. I was there as he drew his last breath, as I was not when he drew his first.

So what do we do as writers? We write. We write about our life. Our world and experiences are transcribed into words. We write on paper; tablets, napkins, parchment, standard bond. We type on computers; click-clack-click-clack, keystrokes slowly etching our memories onto hard drives and flash drives.

We write. We journey through our souls. We heal. We honor. The memories of our loved ones become engraved in time, their footsteps on this earth memorialized by our words. Because that’s what we writers do. We write.

They watch over our shoulders. Smiling. They know they are loved. They know we remember.

RIP Mark Gloyd, my third son.
November 25, 1981 – December 27, 2004

Planting Carrots: Does Size Matter?

It’s SNEAK-PEEK SUNDAY!

The rules are simple. Six paragraphs and six paragraphs only; of any published work or WIP. No more. No less.

Planting Carrots: A Writers Garden is a WIP. In accordance with Sneak Peek Sunday’s rules, here are six paragraphs of the chapter entitled “Does Size Matter?’

Come back next week for more. Be sure to check out the other wonderful authors participating in Sneak-Peek Sunday.

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p_carrots in basketWe plant the carrots (or words and queries if you prefer); we sow the seeds and hope for an abundant harvest. Despite our best efforts, our diligent attention to our writing garden, the consistent watering, feeding and weeding; not all carrots grow to the same size.

Does size matter? Harvest is harvest and whatever the size of the harvest, it’s all edible.

As writers, when we’re establishing a career, making contacts and getting our name out there, any carrot is a good carrot, even if it’s small, petite and one-bite-sized. We earnestly write away, striving for those first published clips. Those first clips are glorious and exciting – even if given away for free. If a small pittance was sent our way for them, life is even better.

Eventually though, we discover that while even the itty-bitty carrots are edible, it takes a whole slew of tiny carrots to fill the basket.

Three and five cent a word markets get us clips. We’re published, hooray! But to grow a career, we have to keep looking for larger carrots. There is a time and a place for those free and low paying writing gigs. Sometimes there are other non-monetary benefits we receive from these tiny markets. But, when I got a $300 contract for a national magazine feature, it registered how many three cents a word children stories I had to write to equal this one big carrot.

Here’s to carrots, small and large, as they all add up to equal a writing career. I’ll keep sowing my seeds and tending my garden. And if the harvest includes a crop of smaller carrots nestled in amongst the larger ones, I’ll take those too. Overall, size does matter if we want to pay the bills and make a living writing, but that doesn’t mean I’ll throw away tiny opportunities either. Because I’m a writer, that’s what we do – we write.

 

Planting Carrots: Battling the Elements, Part 2

It’s SNEAK-PEEK SUNDAY!

The rules are simple. Six paragraphs and six paragraphs only; of any published work or WIP. No more. No less.

Planting Carrots: A Writers Garden is a WIP. In accordance with Sneak Peek Sunday’s rules, here are the next six paragraphs of the chapter entitled “Battling the Elements.’

Come back next week for more. Be sure to check out the other wonderful authors participating in Sneak-Peek Sunday.

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carrot pic 1Life happened. A friend I haven’t seen in twenty years was able to meet me for lunch. Naturally, this turned into a long lunch as we caught up on the past twenty years. Then, a three week old abandoned kitten was discovered in our car port. Consequently an emergency trip to the pet store ensued; bottles, milk replacement and necessary accouterments to care for a helpless, furry meowing creature. There went the rest of the night with nary a word written.

If these happenstances only occasionally interrupted my writing and plenty of words flowed from my fingertips, I would be content with the paragraphs and pages consistently adding up. Unfortunately, it’s all too common.

I think you know what I mean. I can hear your thoughts echoing from my keyboard. Dinners for the family, kids to run to soccer practice, homework to monitor, day jobs that consume all too much time and energy, older parents to shuttle on errands and to appointments, laundry to wash, gardens to weed and water; life happens to all of us, threatening to interfere with our inner writers.

Skip Press, in How to Write What You Want & Sell What You Write, says, “I’ve never known a ‘big name’ writer who didn’t maintain strict discipline with his or her writing schedule …”

What? Strict discipline with my writing schedule? What is this concept you speak of master?

Much as nature’s unexpected disasters can wreck havoc on our gardens, so too do these unexpected winds and storms of ‘real life’ threaten to destroy our writing time. We must jealously guard our time and set aside pockets of time to write. Otherwise we risk frittering away the day or the week and then it dawns on us that a month has passed and we’ve spent very little time on our Great American Novel, or memoir, or queries or whatever our individual writing goals and dreams are.

Sneak Peek Sunday: Planting Carrots-Battling the Elements Part 1

It’s SNEAK-PEEK SUNDAY!

The rules are simple. Six paragraphs and six paragraphs only; of any published work or WIP. No more. No less.

This is the first Sneak-Peek Sunday I’m participating in.Planting Carrots: A Writers Garden is a WIP. In accordance with Sneak Peek Sunday’s rules, here are the first six paragraphs of the chapter entitled “Battling the Elements.’

Come back next week for the continuation. Be sure to check out the other wonderful authors participating in Sneak-Peek Sunday.

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BATTLING THE ELEMENTS, Part 1carrot pic 1

‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions,’ Grandma Jones signed in her cramped, tight writing in my autograph book. It was 1969. Her words are the only ones I remember from oh, so many moons ago. This little girl was probably fascinated with the inscription, seeing Grandma using the “H-E-double-toothpicks” word.

At the time I had no idea what the phrase meant.

I’ve grown up since. Every so often the phrase comes floating back to the forefront of my consciousness. Yesterday it came bopping back into thought. This time it had to do with my writing life.

My writing life is filled with good intentions and grandiose plans. And then … the elements take their toll. Storms, droughts, floods and natures tormentors conspire against the picturesque and productive gardens we aspire having. Just as in our gardens, there are elements that deflect our best intentions for a productive writing practice.

This month, I was going to send so many queries. I was going to write so many blogs. I was going to add thousands of words to several WIP’s. I was going to socialize and network with other writers. I was going to ….

And then … life happened. I had a day off yesterday, the last day of the month, and as usual on one of my ‘days off’ I was going to write. I was going to catch up. I was giddy; I was going to get so much accomplished.

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