Archives for Writing

Walking on Water with Madeleine L’Engle/feed/

it’s been many years since I first came across the work of the late great Madeleine L’Engle, author of the beloved A Wrinkle in Time. Back when I was a member of a much-missed Mythopoeic reading group, we read L’Engle’s Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.  The intersection of faith, spirituality, and literature is one of the subjects closest to my heart—how to incorporate spirituality in your writing, and how not to at any cost. With that in view, I’d like to share a couple of quotes from the early portion of this wonderful book, with the recommendation
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Stephen King and George R.R. Martin discuss writing (and Tolkien, and poker, and family, and kazoos)

—Very fun chat, filmed in New Mexico. The two share, among other things, their childhood “Aha!” moments with books, sci-fi, and horror, and when they knew they wanted to become writers. King, for instance, started submitting stories when he was 12 and sold his first one at 19. “I think creativity is a mystery,” says King. Yes, and perhaps even more mysterious, at least to some of us, is the seemingly innate self-confidence that enables a kid to withstand years and years of rejections without (apparently) suffering crippling self doubt. In the end, I’m with Martin: “How in the bleep do
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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 Good Creative: 18 Ways to Make Better Art. See, while I’ve been at this “creative” business of writing and publishing for decades now, and can truthfully say that there is nothing
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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 the time, patience, or funds to buy and read comprehensive works. They want just-the-facts,
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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 focus. Fact is, I sometimes get my best plot ideas while praying or meditating. Did I
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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, friends, and
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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 with the better part of a completed first draft. A first draft, mind you, that will be
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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 finish a fracking first draft. Of almost anything. Case in point, my Freshman effort as a novelist. That
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“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 contributed to this notion for reasons, as Smith points out, had as much to do with a desire to maintain his own privacy as it did to ensure the purity of literary art. Smith
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