Friday, May 26, 2006

Writing Challenge = Sweet Dreams.

More running around yesterday and I had to leave right in the middle of a good writing session. Oi! Hard to keep my mind in the world of NOOR when I'm negotiating traffic, dropping sons off at appointments, filling granola bags at the PCC, pumping gas yadda, yadda, yadda.

At some point once I'm out in the world my "writing mind" vanishes. I find it hard to get back into the creative flow, but I have a few secret ways back.

Once home, if I putter, wipe counters with windex (I'm a windex freak), pick up a little and let my mind wander, sometimes the story comes back to me. Many writers know this trick. Forcing yourself to get right back to the computer and shouting OKAY GET BACK TO WORK usually = brain freeze.

Another secret way in is taken from Shakespeare's Hamlet, "To sleep perchance to dream." I lie down. Breathe deep. Sometimes I just fall asleep for a while and that's okay. I know I can't force it. But other times my mind begins to float. I follow the lazy stream and drift back into the storyworld.

That's what happened yesterday. I shut my eyes and soon enough I saw a scene. Not the one I'd worked on that morning, but a new one. The next step in THE ANCIENTS tale. I relaxed and waited. Ah, the characters in the mountain cottage were talking.

I crept up a little closer to the cottage and listened in. The dialogue was quick, exact, tense, and funny. Everything I needed to move the story forward was there. I threw off the covers, raced up to my office and typed the scene. A new chapter was born at 4:30 yesterday. A bit of a scrawny baby chapter now but she'll fatten up soon I know.

There is a Quaker saying, "Proceed as the way opens." And yes, if I've done a little writing early in the day, the way might open later if I let myself rest and drift back into the stream.

So all you hard working writers out there. Here's your assignment. If your writing time gets interrupted and it's a while before you can get back to your book.
Get cozy
If the story begins to speak again, dreamwalk to your writing desk, have a seat and write.

Until the next blog. Be well.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Dreamtime on the run!
Danger! Don't take your journal out in public! Well, it's hard not to the way I run around, but I left my journal in the waiting room at the Group Health pharmacy yesterday. Oi!!

A few days ago, Tess said in her comment:
Writers have to live in dreamtime in order to create. Why don't people understand when that dreamtime extends to "practical" life? Readers want books? They'll just have to deal. :-)

And yes, dreamtime is needed. We writers are not spaced-out. We're just creating. We only LOOK spaced-out (except, of course, when we do things like abandon our journals).

My journal had personal stuff in it and I was worried someone might peek inside. It also had thoughts on where my revision for THE ANCIENTS is going = some new plot ideas that are still in their early dreamstage -- so I was desperate to get the journal back. I was also an hour late to critique group after taking my son to the Dr. Appt. What to do?

I didn't bust the speed limit to race back to Group Health but acted like a responsible, sane person and drove to critique group where I received some fine pointers on how to improve my new chapter three. After critique I returned to GH. My journal was there (though my coffee cup had been pilfered!). I wanted to dust the pages off for suspicious fingerprints but I didn't have the technology. If someone did read it they'd have a good look into my psyche.

Will I ever take my journal into public again? Yep! I can't help it. Will I leave it somewhere? I hope not.

Keep your pens moving and your hearts open until the next blog :)

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Mark Twain Award:
Since fellow author Kirby Larson said in her comment, "I didn't see your Mark Twain fiasco story -- do tell!" I guess I'd better fess up. By the way you can see more about Kirby and her books on her website
Okay time to confess: I flew to Missouri this month to attend MASL, a wonderful school librarian conference at the Tan-Tar-A resort. The conference was packed and I met hundreds of dedicated school librarians. After teaching two workshops, I attended the Awards Banquet where I gave a short speech (I was told to make it short) and accepted the 2005 Mark Twain Award for WENNY HAS WINGS. I began the speech with a dedication to my father who passed away last year. He was a Mark Twain fanatic and actually greeted me at the door one time wearing a white wig and white suit. "Come in and sit down," he said. "Here's my Mark Twain performance piece!"

After the speech, I went off to sign books and was thrilled to see a long line of people actually waiting to get their books signed -- a heavenly sight to any writer.

True Confession:
After signing about 150 books, my head was swimming. I left the room and mistakenly left the award (bust of Mark Twain) behind. I think he was hiding behind the flowers on the table?

It was about midnight before I realized my mistake. I was already in my jammies so
I threw on my clothes and raced down to the lounge. The security guard let
me in the room to search but Mark was gone. Maybe one of the librarians helping me at the signing saw that I'd left the bust behind and was holding it for me? I hoped so! I was way worried that night. A person doesn't show gratitude for winning an award by abandoning it a few hours later! Oi!

I tried to keep the fact that I'd lost the award fairly mum the next morning.
I confessed it to the conference staff and they got on their walkie-talkies "Janet
Carey has lost the Mark Twain Award."
So much for keeping it mum!

Mark arrived safely and was back in my hands 10 minutes before I left for the airport. A librarian had picked it up and given it to a librarian who gave it to another librarian . . . to give it to me.

I suppose I was a bit of comic relief for the conference. Mark T. is safely on
my piano now and he has a pretty mischievous look on his face. Thought he'd escape the way Huck Finn did? No way!

So that's my writing life story until next time.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dreamwalks: Learning how to Dream
Writing Blues

I wish I had more time to write! It's always a challenge to keep a novel bubbling away in my head while running around doing shopping, bill paying, doctor appointments, polishing workshops for conferences, flying across the country to accept an award -- yadda yadda yadda (more on the award later). While awaiting the launch of my YA fantasy, THE BEAST OF NOOR, I've been working on the second book in the NOOR series. My editor at Atheneum Books recently sent me a LONG editorial letter for THE ANCIENTS and I've been trying to get back to the book.

Part of the waiting time isn't just the hurry and scurry of everyday life, but my own needed process time. I've been writing scores of journal pages trying to figure out how to best attack this revision. Now I have a binder full of notes and I've called my editor, but wait! I still need to think some more!

I know I have to let go of many well-polished chapters to get to the core of the story and shorten the 488 page adventure down to a slimmer, trimmer tale. That's never easy. So I need to redream the dream.

Yesterday I took the plunge and rewrote an entirely new chapter one to THE ANCIENTS. The opening now begins with the dragons. My editor asked for this, and now that it's written, I love it. I took it to my critique group who loved it and tore it apart (thanks ladies) so I'm revising yet again. All will be well.

Every book makes me feel like a beginner again. I've learned to enjoy being a beginner. Beginners get to play. They get to make mistakes. They get to learn.

To all you struggling writers out there. Keep well and keep writing.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

It's actually sunny here today. We celebrated Mother's Day by gathering together for a delicious brunch with fruit salad and waffles!
At brunch I was talking about how I need a certain size trunk for the next book store presentation and my daughter-in-law said "Hey, we have one here like that."

Cool! I scurried outside and there it was! A small handmade trunk once used as a theatre prop.

It's a perfect Falconer's trunk for THE BEAST OF NOOR book party. What will I put inside? The Shriker's fang, magical glisten powder, strange herbs, giant skullen snake skin, shells from the shores of Noor, and more . . .

Great unexpected Mother's Day surprise. After brunch it was time to rescue the poor old truck from the car hospital. She has a new battery now so she actually starts! Amazing.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Learning how to Dream

Open as you have before
Let the traveler through the door
From this opening begin
The only way out is in.

Welcome readers, writers and fellow travelers;
I've come to chat about writing, about stories, and think out loud about the mysterious creative energy we all share.

"Where do you get your ideas?"
That question comes up at every workshop and book signing. And, hey, it's a good one.
You'll likely get a different answer every day.One answer = most writers are unabashedly expert daydreamers. We "wander off" at various times and go into "another world."

Ask anyone who lives with a writer how often the rice is burned and how many people in the family are secretly wearing pink-tinted underwear because their stay-at-home writer was plotting a great novel while doing the wash.

Writing stories is a form of dreaming on paper -- so Dreamwalks seemed like a good blog name.

Dream Come True: After publishing 3 realistic fiction books with Atheneum Books for Young Readers, my first fantasy novel THE BEAST OF NOOR is coming out in July! (See a bit more about all my books on Two more fantasy books will come out after this one. That's a lot of writing and revising work "nose to the grindstone" time, or as I like to think of it, "eyes to the sky" time.

Off to work. Looking forward to reading your comments.