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Posts Tagged ‘Merry-go-round’

If you dropped by looking for the Merry-Go-Round blog post, which I normally post on the 5th of the month — it won’t be here until the 12th. I’m changing days.

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I meant to post this earlier — no post for the Merry-Go-Round blog this month. Sorry.

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My biggest strength as a writer is that I’ve been able to come to a working arrangement with my Internal Editor — or critic, or censor, or whatever label you want to give to the part of your psyche that tells you what’s wrong with things.

I didn’t used to be this way. I used to regularly cower in a corner, figuratively speaking, while the critical function snapped her whip and dug her stilettos into my insteps. (Do you picture your inner critic? I do. Mine is a dominatrix in red leather, with short blonde hair, red lips and black nail polish, and a whip she knows how to use.) She never really went away when I stood up to her. She’d leave the room, but I could still hear her, telling me how everything I wrote was crap and by the way, I’m crap too and she’s not going to let me forget it.

It’s not a good way to write, and it didn’t take an expert to see that no matter how much it might be her fault, she was basically right. Most of what I was writing might have potential, but it was crap.

So I offered her a deal. I said if she’d let me just get the first draft written, so we had something to work with, then she could take over and we could work together to make something decent. But I wasn’t going to be able to do anything if she didn’t let me write first.

She bought it. Turns out she’s a damn good editor. The first thing we wrote that way was a strange little short story that got published a couple of years later. The first novel was Joey.

Our relationship has been a bit rocky lately; she’s been overstepping her bounds again. But we’ve got the whole Sal-and-Troy series going now, so she’s happy and so am I.

Today’s post was inspired by the “your strengths as a writer” prompt in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out what’s on their nightstand, check out the rest of the tour! Up next: Raven O’Fiernan at Raven’s Scribblings.

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I don’t really have a “to be read.” The whole world is things I haven’t read yet, and I mostly take whatever’s next.

I read far more nonfiction than fiction, and always have. I read far more short stuff than long stuff. I keep the latest issue of Scientific American on my kitchen counter and read articles while I’m waiting for the Foreman Grill to heat, while the microwave is reheating the soup, when I should be slicing tomatoes.After I’m done with that, it will be Sports Illustrated or the local paper.

I usually keep a huge heavy book for bathroom reading. I just finished Diarmaid MacCulloch’s The Reformation and started a biography of Andrew Carnegie that I bought four years ago when youngest started at Carnegie Mellon University; I intend to finish it before he finishes his master’s in December. Seriously. Really, I will.

In more targeted reading, the ghost story has sent me into New England history, particularly history of Rhode Island and Cape Cod, and general news from those areas. I think I’m going to have to make a research trip to Cape Cod later this summer. Such hardships we writers endure…

In fiction, I tend to read whatever’s to hand: short stories whenever I come across a pointer that looks interesting, whatever book or magazine is next to the chair I happen to be sitting in. Last week at my mother’s, I read several romances when I couldn’t sleep. I adore long meaty complex books that never seem to end: Dickens, Tolstoy, George RR Martin. I’m fond of forensic mysteries, cozy mysteries, decipher-the-code mysteries, and ghost mysteries. I’m currently reading a lot of Heather Graham, Donna Andrews, and Preston and Child.

Today’s post was inspired by the “what’s on your to-read list” writing prompt in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out what’s on their nightstand, check out the rest of the tour! Up next: Raven O’Fiernan at Raven’s Scribblings.

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This month’s prompt is “My earliest writing dreams (ie, why I am a writer).” It’s not a topic on which I have much to say.

I never dreamed of being “a writer,” whatever that is. It’s just something I happen to be good at. I turned it to writing for a living as software technical writer the same way I might have turned an aptitude for math into a programming degree or an interest in scuba driving into a career as a marine biologist. It gave me a good and rewarding career and advanced me to other jobs, such as database administrator, that helped pay for my kids’ college education and our retirement fund.

I’ve always had stories in my head. I write them down. I need to write them down. But as a career, or a lifestyle? Not so much. I like having people read what I write, so I try to get some of the stories published so more people can read them. It’s discouraging when I have trouble writing the stories, or when the stories don’t keep springing out of the dark corners of my brain and it’s rewarding when they do, but I can’t call it any kind of dream.

I know most other writers have a lot more emotional investment in their choice, and I hope nobody takes this as a dig at them. I’m only talking about my own motivation.

Today’s post was inspired by the “writing dreams” writing prompt in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out what’s on their nightstand, check out the rest of the tour! Up next: Raven O’Fiernan at Raven’s Scribblings.

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Life balance is one of those things that’s supposed to be a goal for any healthy adult: work, family, creativity, spirituality, social life, community activity, et cetera, et cetera. All you need in order to do it all is a good schedule and the will power to stick to it. The assumption is not only that we can have it all, but that we should try to have it all.

Only now, when I’ve reached the empty nest age, have I started to wonder whether that kind of “balance” is even a reasonable goal. Looking back, there are really only two things I remember as important: my family and my writing. I loved my career and put a lot of effort into it. I got a lot of reward out of it, not just monetarily but emotionally and psychologically. It energized me and inspired me — and now I’d be hard pressed to recall in detail more than a handful of those energizing triumphant moments. I don’t regret the time I put into it, but it seems less and less important.

All the housework and family planning, all the juggling to make sure one of us was home with the kids or to free up time in the schedule for a gymnastics meet or a doctor’s appointment — all hard to remember. It was just noise.

I don’t know where that leaves me now. Time is much less pressing now. I could do more things if I wanted — but I seem to want to do less. I want to put all that effort into the few things that matter. The same things that always mattered. My writing (well, maybe I’ll add my painting in here too 🙂 ) and my family.

Today’s post was inspired by the “balance” writing prompt in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out what’s on their nightstand, check out the rest of the tour! Up next: Raven O’Fiernan at Raven’s Scribblings.

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I have a love-hate relationship with deadlines, and in the broader sense with schedules of any kind. In any project that affects other people (such as the software documentation I used to work on in an earlier life), you have to have a schedule that everybody either sticks to or agrees to changes; otherwise, half the work is undone when the other half is ready to ship. Sometimes that happens even with a good schedule.

I work well with deadlines. If it’s humanly possible, I will get done on time, and I have been known to produce prodigious amounts of work to meet a deadline.

But since I started writing fiction, I hate deadlines and schedules. I hate them because I haven’t figured out a way to make them work for a solo fiction writing career.

I can sit down and come up with a schedule with dates and everything, and it looks good, but it doesn’t mean anything because I don’t have enough information about how to write (things like how long research takes and how many days do I allow for writing a draft?) and because there’s no weight to it. In software documentation, if I didn’t get my part done, I was failing the other members of my writing team, the full development team, and even the entire company if the product was important.

But when I’m writing, I’m writing alone. Nobody knows or cares whether I finish. There are no team members counting on me. The only person I’m failing is myself, and even that’s rather abstract. So a story takes longer than planned — it doesn’t really matter.

Except that it’s finally starting to matter. If I could finish more stories, I’d have more things to try to market, which would give me more chances to break through. A deadline wouldn’t be a panacea, but it might help.

Or maybe I’m just groping for something outside myself to blame because I don’t sit down and make myself work.

Today’s post was inspired by the “deadlines” writing prompt in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out what’s on their nightstand, check out the rest of the tour! Up next: Raven O’Fiernan at Raven’s Scribblings.

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