August 16th, 2007

Books - Writing

Putting Your Best Book Forward: Stephen Barbara, Part II

Yes, I know that I attended the SCBWI Canada East conference back in June, and that it is utterly ridiculous it's taken me two months to type up the second half of my notes from agent Stephen Barbara's talk. However, at least it's done now. And in case you missed it, Part One is here, which discusses the reasons people buy books and the four habits of highly successful writers, among other useful things.

Now on to Part Two:

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The session ended with some Collapse )

And that's all! Thanks to Stephen Barbara for giving permission for me to post his talk on the web. I hope that this has been of some use and help to my fellow authors!
Book Book Book

Thursday Wordcount, and a question about "feeling it"

Well, you all know what gang aft agley. My toddler has a mild sinus infection, and was feverish and clingy this morning, which made me think farming him out was Not The Best Idea after all. So all that really happened on the writing front today was a nice update call from my agent (who is fantastic about keeping in touch, I must say!), some more editing, and ultimately a mere

289 words.

I know what major things have to happen in this chapter. I'm just finding myself uninspired when it comes to drawing the lines in between.

And this leads me to something I've been fretting about for a while, so I may as well come clean (gulp!).

Lately I keep hearing other authors talk about how they get carried away as they're working on a story, how particular scenes and characters get into their heads and won't let go. There's even a discussion on one of the writers' boards I frequent about how best to extract oneself from the emotional undertow after writing some particularly moving or harrowing scene.

I used to feel that way, when I was single and could write pretty much whenever I wanted. I would shut myself in my room, listen to favorite songs on my Walkman, and hammer out page after page, caught up in the urgency of the story. Sometimes I would giggle over what I was writing; sometimes I would get misty-eyed; sometimes I would feel my characters' frustration and be crabby for some time afterward. It didn't always happen, but it happened often enough.

Now it never happens.

I can't write with music on these days. I find it too distracting. There are two periods during the day of about 1.5 hours each when I'm free to write, and even those times tend to be full of interruptions. I used to read most books -- even long ones -- in one or two sittings; but now it takes me fifteen or twenty. When it comes to immersing myself in an invented world and being caught up in the lives of its characters, I can barely do justice to other people's books, let alone the ones I'm writing.

And yet I know I'm not alone in this, and I feel sure that powerful, emotionally resonant stories have been written by authors in much the same situation -- people who for one reason or another just couldn't do the Method Acting thing. Maybe because, like me, they have young children or other needy family members to look after; or maybe because their brains just aren't wired that way, and they find it more natural to cook up a story intellectually than live it vicariously.

I would like to hear about (or even better, from) those people. Please?