Monday, August 29, 2011

Feeling Vulnerable

Thoughts on letting your manuscript go:

I feel like I’m standing in front of my crit group completely naked. They’re standing there offering suggestions like, “Maybe you could lift here a little,” or “This whole area needs to be tucked, like this,” or “I’m not sure about the coloring.”


And then someone says, “But her eyes are nice.”

Thank you. I’ll focus on that for a few minutes and then get to work on the lifting and tucking—cause you know what—they’re right.

Nothing I can do about the coloring though.

My crit partners are skillful at making me feel good first…and then ‘helping’ me see the ‘problem’ areas. They’re the Best! It’s so great to get fresh eyes on a project. So thanks guys, I don’t know what I’d do without you.

What are your critiquing despairs or triumphs?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Finding Time and Feeling Guilty

Ponyo: Jane's favorite show.

Confession: I let my youngest daughter watch TV. The older kids don’t know, they’re at school. They are only allowed to watch TV on Fridays. But Jane, my youngest, basically gets to watch as much TV as she wants.



Yes. I feel guilty about it. Yes, I do supplement it with bike rides in the backyard (the ones where I watch in the shade from my laptop and she rides around and around the loop). I do occasionally shout out things like, “Nice job Jane,” and, “Be careful around the corner.”

Am I a bad mom?

What do you do to find time to write?

P.S. Don’t tell the other kids about the TV.

Monday, August 22, 2011

World Building With a Bottle of Wine.

I have created a world. It’s an impressive world separated from our own by time, space, distinctive culture, economics, politics, climate, and science (among other things). I cannot, however, figure out a way to convey this world to my readers without it being choppy, confusing, bewildering…you get the idea.

My world fits into a neat little corner of my mind. Why can’t it fit into a neat little corner of your mind too? How do I balance the construction of this world between the fine line of an info dump and a hazy cloud of vagueness?

My mind has been consumed with this problem.

I live behind a vineyard. I came back from vacation to see the rows of grapes had been readied for near-harvest with hundreds of glitter ribbons. The workers tie glittery ribbons every few feet on the tall vines. Apparently the sparkle scares the birds away.

The thing about the vineyard is this: most of the year I see very little change. Sure, some cutting back in the winter, glittery ribbons in the fall, and then the harvest: which is done during the misty darkness with bright lights and the bustle of workers talking and laughing all night long. Occasionally, near harvest time, I will hear the shots of a canon as they try and scare more birds away from the ripening grapes.

So for me, an outsider—an admitted wine neophyte—it doesn’t really seem like that much work. You plant a few vines, wait, and try and keep the birds away. Not that hard right?


Apparently a lot of work goes into vinification (not a made up word). There are all kinds of variables: the quality of grapes, the yearly weather patterns, local flora that can affect the taste of the wine, the fermentation process, and etcetera. Besides the fact that even the glitter ribbons require labor. Someone has to tie those ribbons every few feet in the acres and acres of vines.

I know, right?

So I guess maybe my readers don’t need to know everything about my world. Maybe I just need to show them the glittery ribbons and the harvest. You know, the good stuff. And maybe some of the bad stuff too. The mundane stuff is there, neat in a corner of my mind, the hours testing the fermentation process, the boring meetings about natural sugars with chemists and other vitners, the panic over altering weather patterns. Those things might not be important on the whole, but aspects of them might leak through.

In the end, hopefully, we have a really nice bottle of wine.

How do you build your worlds?