Five on Friday

1. This is a question I often pose to myself and I love hearing why others write. 

2. Well, this is encouraging. 

3. What do you get when you pay an editor to review your ms?

4. Will any of these 5 debut novels make it onto your to-be-read list?

5. An interview with one of the best, hardest working writers around. He has much to teach both aspiring and established writers.

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Quotable Tuesday

“It’s vital to establish some rituals–automatic but decisive patterns of behavior–at the beginning of the creative process, when you are most at peril of turning back, chickening out, giving up, or going the wrong way.”

– Twyla Tharp, “The Creative Habit”

It’s summer and I’ve let my writing rituals melt away with the lazy days and heat. But once school starts back up, I will find my way back to those rituals that ground my writing practice. It usually involves yoga, meditation, lighting of a candle, morning pages then into my work. Some days it means taking myself out to the bookstore to write in the cafe with a cup of tea. Sometimes I include reading poetry out loud, getting the music of language in the space around me. Writing at the same time everyday is helpful. It becomes almost Pavlovian. Sitting here, at this time means it is time to write. It’s important to keep the ritual simple, otherwise the time is spent on the preparation rather than the actual writing.

What about you? Do you have any writing rituals? If so, I’d love to hear about them. Please share in the comments.

WriteLikeCrazy

Tayari Jones is hosting a writing challenge for August that I am totally on board with. I don’t know about you, but this summer has been crazy busy. Our oldest daughter graduated high school then, the day after her grad party, completely changed her post high school plans. We’ve also had tons of company staying with us so writing has fallen somewhat into the nooks and crannies of my life. This challenge to write like crazy came at the perfect time. Today was the first day and I met my goal of writing for two hours. The challenge for me is to set a goal that is high enough but not too daunting that I am left feeling dejected for not meeting my extremely high expectations. I think I managed to find a balance this time. I will post my progress in my Writing Process Journal page on this blog at the end of the month but will probably check in here as the month progresses. 

Books Read in July

“The Age of Miracles” a novel by Karen Thompson Walker

We didn’t notice right away. We couldn’t feel it.

 This novel has gotten so much press that I don’t feel I can add much to all the praise except to say that it combines two of my favorite genres; dystopian and coming-of-age. It’s hard to do one or the other without being cliché but she manages to do both while staying wonderfully original. At a time of life when normal is so out of reach for a young teenage girl, Julia must navigate not only adolescence but also the strange new world where the earth’s rotation has inexplicably slowed so the days and nights grow longer and longer with devastating consequences.

What I learned: That a fantastic premise needs to be grounded in specific characters and details.

 

“The Lost Wife” a novel by Alyson Richman

He dressed deliberately for the occasion, his suit pressed and his shoes shined.

 This is not a book I would’ve normally chosen on my own but a friend suggested it and I was totally swept away by the love story of Josef and Lenka set in prewar Prague.  When they realize that a Nazi invasion is imminent, the newly married couple is torn apart, and each is forced to live a life without the other.

What I learned: That the Nazis took away so many so-called freedoms such as radios  before shipping them off to camps.

 

“Tin House Summer Reading” volume 13, Number 4

Julia had been tending a fantasy about the famous photographer who would be lodgin with her at the college’s guesthouse.

So many amazing stories by so many amazing writers such as Amy Hempel, Sherman Alexie and the incomparable Alice Munro. The story ‘Deer” by Nina Buckless still haunts me.

What I learned: That I really really want to be published in this literary journal.

 

“The Catastrophic History of You and Me” a YA novel by Jess Rothenberg

There’s always that one guy who gets a hold on you.

This novel explores first love, first loss and first betrayal from the vantage point of fifteen-year-old Brie who is newly D & G. (Dead & Gone). The rules in this new land of forever are complicated and so is her view of what she left behind.  There’s her family, her best friends and her boyfriend , Jacob who Brie loved deeply. In this new world she encounters the strangely familiar Patrick who becomes her guide to this new world as she straddles what she left behind and what lies ahead.

 What I learned: That no matter what kind of world yo create, the story relies on the characters that inhabit that world.