What do Your Stories Reflect?

The test of a book’s quality is not if it reflects my life, but if it reflects yours. ~E. L. Doctorow I came across this quote this week and fell immediately in love with it. How very true that if readers cannot connect with our story, if they don’t see some of themselves in it, then it will fall flat. I’m having this issue with the book I’m currently reading, because I can’t relate at all to the protagonist or his life (though I’m sure someone might). And even though the author is clever and writes interesting dialogue that has made me laugh out loud on several occasions, I still can’t get into the story. I just don’t care. I think the same sentiment could be used for social media, and blogging in particular. Facts,...

Being Writerly (You’re Doing It)

Dreams of our Future Happy Selves are funny things. I’ve discovered how we can be blinded by the dream, and not recognize it when it’s right in front of us. That’s because it doesn’t usually look like the image held in our minds, where it is we make up what it must be like to have “that life.”   artwork by Michael V Malano   Last year I was in the middle of a writing life grumble (an unhappy place, but not as intense as a full on depression*). I had made progress, but I certainly wasn’t having the glamorous writing life I’d imagined. On a whim, I sat down and made a list of what I did with my time. And what do you know… it consisted of reading, writing, story editing, blogging, attending writing...

Writing Life: Present Beauty

A fellow poet once said to me that he admired another poet friend of ours, because he genuinely lived his life, and looked at life, through the eyes of a poet. Which means, he stayed in the present. Writing (and other art forms) focuses us in on the present moment. As human beings out in the world, though, we are often inside of our heads, fretting about the past or future, rather than where we are right in the moment. I’ve been in the practice lately of trying to catch myself when I am not present, when my thoughts have carried me elsewhere. I stop and look around the room or bus or sidewalk at the other people to see where they are. I note what’s around me. The colours and shadows, the expressions and tones, the way someone moves, or how...

Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the 3:15 Experiment

I’m a bit at the eleventh hour here with this invitation (SINCE IT BEGINS TONIGHT), but truly, you could join the experiment at any time. And I wanted to write this invitation especially to those who don’t necessarily fancy themselves to be poets. Since August 1993, a shifting menagerie of writers has been waking up each night at 3:15 AM for the entire month of August to write. The original idea was: to discover what connections would be made while writing separately, but together, at the same time for a month while under hypnagogic influences. The experiment was so intriguing and inspiring it kept growing and morphing. Many writers have come to look forward to it every year. Many have created their own guidelines and experiments within the format. We...

I Disappeareded

Every once in a while, we must “disappear” for a time. Or at least we should . . . anyone who tries to maintain all the little working parts of their lives when the big unexpecteds show up is going to drive themselves to an early stress grave. Sometimes we face crises (my heart goes out to the families of all those firefighters who died in Arizona), sometimes we change jobs, sometimes we go on extended trips, sometimes we face physical ailments, sometimes we fall in love. Sometimes all five at the same time. Whenever this happens, if you’re like me and have to manage your own work schedule, and tend to take on a lot of different projects, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. To stay healthy and sane, it’s best to assess all commitments...

Hellooooooo! Weekend Workout: We Got Talent

Wow. It’s been over a month since I’ve blogged. I’ve been trying to get back to it, but life kept happening. I won’t go into all the details, but let’s just say the circumnavigation included a computer death, a back injury (unrelated to the computer death), 3 elementary school visits (also unrelated to the back injury), a flashmob, a haircut, completing my latest rewrite on a new novel (yay), a dream about a roller coaster for executives. And this: The back injury happened while falling into a pile of logs trying to retrieve this one for my garden: Okay, the part where I carried this by myself to the car may have exacerbated my back injury a bit. But lookie how cool my garden driftwood log is! And my free beach log only cost me $300...