Friday, May 21, 2010


I loved Christine's post yesterday. I felt like I was on the walk with her, hearing the gravel crunch under the stroller. She talked about opening our senses (not just our eyes) to the world around us. Seems kind of basic, but what a great idea. I think as a general rule, people get comfortable in their everyday space and forget to pay attention to what's around them unless something new pops up. If you're a writer, you've got to live an observant life. You can't afford to become deadened to the details that are around you.

When I was in high school, I had a science teacher named Mr. Jurgenson. Since it was a small school, I was fortunate to have Mr. J for general science, Physics, Chemistry, and all my computer science classes. The first day we walked into his class, he had written "OBSRVE" on the blackboard. We snickered quietly to ourselves, wondering if he realized he had spelled the word incorrectly. Of course he had. He told us that the main thing we were going to learn in science was to observe. If we were somewhat observant, we might have noticed that the "E" was missing. If we were a little more observant, we would have noticed that the small "E" to the right at the front of the room. But then Mr. J walked all the way to the back of the room behind our desks. There in the very back on the wall was a small letter "E" by the clock. If we were exceptionally observant, we would have noticed that one little letter at the back of the room.

Most of us did figure it out. We all thought we were pretty smart to find the "E" at the front of the room. But if you're livelihood depends on your ability to absorb and recreate details of the senses, you're going to have to stretch yourself every day to be the person who finds the "E" at the back of the room.

This week challenge yourself, just as Christine said, to open your senses. Share something that was there all along, but that you opened yourself up to experience as thought you never had before.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Today I just don't feel like writing anything. Does anyone else have days like this or is it just me?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Don't Have Time to Be Patient?

The writing gig is basically about three things.

1. Writing no matter what, day in and day out

2. Hard headed determination used for good ("I won't give up," as opposed to, "No one can tell me anything.")

3. Patience

There's a lot of waiting involved in writing. You have to wait for your writing to cure after you've written it before you revise it. (Queries need this too.) Once it's ready, you also have to wait to hear from publishing houses and agents. There won't be a note in the mail after a week. The general waiting period is about four months to almost a year. Queries take less time to wait for than unsolicited submissions, but almost as much time to write (for me anyway). If you're not in it for the long haul, there's not much point in being in it at all.

The patience part is tricky. If you're not careful, it can slide over into procrastination masquerading as patience. Writing procrastination is generally fueled by fear. It's easier not to write or not to submit rather than face possible rejection by your inner editor or the outer editors. The key is to keep on with number one while still doing number two and number three. It doesn't hurt to send your inner editor on vacation to Cancun during first drafts, either. Keep a close eye on her during rewrites, because her negativity can stall a project that has potential but needs work.

I'm still contemplating Randy I's words about scheduling success. There are so many advantages to writing by schedule. It develops discipline. It keeps you from thinking of writing as a hobby. It causes you to become better than you were yesterday. It produces something that will finally be worth publishing.

Conclusion? The formula for writing is easy. It just takes doing. It is not for the faint of heart.

Don't expect polished posts this week. We're getting near the end of the school year and I don't have much free time. I've been thinking about this as I work on my novel, which takes more grit in the writing area than the picture books have for me. I feel a lot more like giving up, so I'm assuming this is when the hard headed determination needs to kick in.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Car Names You'll Never See

Ever wonder who decides what the names of cars should be? I'd like to know. But whoever it is, I'll bet anything that there are a few names they will NEVER use. Relatives rolled in last weekend for a family wedding and we had a few spare minutes so we passed the time making up car names for cars that will never be. (Names of individuals participating have been changed to protect the innocent—er—sort of innocent—participants.)

10. The Ford Fungus—A personal favorite. I can really see this model in a mottled greenish-grey.

9. The Hyundai Hopeless—The advantage to this car is that you don't have to drive it off the lot for it not to work. It's hopeless. Just take it to the mechanic and forget you ever saw it.

8. The Dodge Danger—An SUV with attitude.

7. The Honda Hiccup—Available in pickup model as the Hiccup Pickup, this car drives beautifully but always feels like the spark plugs need to be replaced.

6. The Nissan Nausea—Particularly built for people like me who couldn't stand the "new car smell" that came with our new cars in the late 70's. Keep your eyes on the horizon, eyes on the horizon...

5. The Subaru Smash—There are some things that you'd rather not have become a smash hit. Your car is one of them.

4. The Volkswagen Varmint—Forget the Beetle, Mustang, and Thunderbird. This baby rolls them all into one.

3. The Lincoln Luxury Lemon—It comes with all the worst features you can think of. There always has to be a lemon, and since Lincoln starts with l...

2. The Volvo Victim—We're not sure who the victim was, but it could have been the person with the bill of sale.

1. The Kia Pet—Need I say more? Smear on the seeds and don't park in the garage when it rains.

Runners-Up: The Cadillac Crunch, Toyota Ticket, Suzuki Sabotage, and Porche Push.