Reminding ourselves of what we already know (or think we do)

I’m a (Catholic) student of the Jewish ethical practice known as Mussar. Our main class text is Ramchal’s (Rabbi Moses Hayyim Luzzatto) The Path of the Upright. In the introduction, Ramchal tells his readers that his purpose is not to teach something new, but to remind us of what we already know. I was reminded of this concept while reading Paul Jarvis’ charming little motivational book for Creatives, The To see the full content, share this page by clicking one of the buttons below Tweet
Read More

How to Write a Book that doesn’t Suck, by Michael Rogan

How to Write a Book That Doesn’t Suck and Will Actually Sell: The Ultimate, No B.S. Guide to Writing a Kick-Ass Non-Fiction Book, is a short, breezy intro to whipping out short, breezy, and highly-focused how-to, niche-market ebooks to sell on Amazon. I might hastily add that this is far from a comprehensive work on writing and publishing authoritative non-fiction, but that’s part of Rogan’s point and purpose: sometimes (nowadays, often) readers are looking for quick-and-dirty (and cheap) information on a very specific subject. They haven’t To see the full content, share this page by clicking one of the buttons
Read More

9 Things I’m doing to prep for NaNoWriMo, Part 3

(Read Part 1 or Part 2) 7. Committing to a schedule/plan to keep healthy & sane Over time, I’ve seen the wisdom of starting my writing day with morning meditation and prayer time, a half hour or so. Along with my coffee, of course, and lots of water–I’ve got half-gallon sized pitcher on my desktop which my Beloved refills for me every morning, no kidding. (And no, you can’t have him.) Besides being good exercise for the soul, this practice clears my head and helps me To see the full content, share this page by clicking one of the buttons below Tweet
Read More

9 Things I’m doing to Prep for NaNoWriMo, Part 2

(Back to Part 1) 4. Cleaning up Desktops and Inboxes Don’t know about you, but it’s amazing how many email lists I manage to get myself on over the months, and how many files accumulate on both my physical & PC desktops. So I’ve sorted through my Inbox. I’ve unsubscribed from the advert lists that distract rather than aid, and promised myself not to check email, during NaNoWriMo, until after my daily quota is logged. I thought about setting an email autoresponder, but I don’t like getting those myself. Once a day email processing seems like the wiser compromise. And I’m letting fam, To see
Read More

9 Things I’m doing to prep for NaNoWriMo, Part 1

As you may have read on my post about Pantsing vs. Plotting, I am a fervent outliner. The literary journey of my epic-in-progress is just too big to navigate by the seat of my pants. For that reason, I embark on my November NaNoWriMo experience with a well-developed outline of the novel already intact. My prep this year has mostly to do with revving up creative juices and clearing the decks before I set sail on the writing adventure that will, I hope, land me on the far shore of November 30 To see the full content, share this page by clicking one of the buttons below Tweet
Read More

Pantsing vs. Plotting: My Road to Damascus

The Terrors of that crappy First Draft I have always hated first-draft writing. A year or so ago I came to understand why. After a quarter of a century in the writing game, I had made a habit of sitting down to the keyboard with insufficient preparation. Specifically, with mega-bundles of notes but an outline that amounted to little more than a handful of key ideas and scenes in my head. Really. The upshot: after a variety of missteps and false starts, it always took me w-a-y too long to To see the full content, share this page by clicking one of the buttons below
Read More

Article: A Christian Looks at the Fiction of Ian McEwan

by Debra Murphy (This article was first published in the winter 2009 issue of Oxford-based Second Spring journal, so it doesn’t include any discussion of McEwan’s most recent work. But  I think it’s still worth the read.) Two things need to be gotten out of the way before anyone attempts to address the fiction of English novelist Ian McEwan in a critical vein: First, he is one of the most acclaimed writers of our time; Second, unless your name happens to be, oh, John Updike, it is almost certain that McEwan is a better writer than you are. In To see the full content,
Read More

Online Catholic Writers Conference, 2010

Join Debra Murphy February 26 through March 5, 2010, for the Catholic Writers Conference Online, organized by the Catholic Writers Guild. Debra will be leading a five-day workshop, “Ten Commandments for Catholic Fiction Writers”, in which she will share some of the insights and resources she’s gleaned from several decades of reading, writing, editing, and publishing Catholic fiction. There will be a number of workshops and pitch sessions—opportunities to To see the full content, share this page by clicking one of the buttons below Tweet
Read More

“Fail Better”: Zadie Smith on writing novels

The Guardian has published an insightful article by Zadie Smith on the art of “failing” to write great novels, and what it takes to write “truthful” fiction. One of the things I like about the piece is that it underscores the (for me, long-wished-for) death of “Theory”–particularly the peculiar lit crit theory that there is no such thing as Authors, only Text. Even the venerable T.S.Eliot, such a favorite of many a conservative Christian writer, contributed to this notion for reasons, as Smith points out, had as much to do with a desire to maintain his own To see the
Read More