Category Archives: Writing

Ray Bradbury and a short story a week

So my 365 days of story seeds is pretty much a bust.

I gave up on it when things got really busy back during the end of January. Unlike the other 365 day projects I still want to do, I found I wasn’t really getting much out of it.

I had hoped that writing a sentence or two in response to daily prompts would give me story seeds that would spark something bigger. But after three weeks of doing it, it had become a tedious task I kept forgetting to do until the last minute.

Which was a good enough reason to drop it. There are already enough tedious tasks in the world that I have to do, why add more to the tedious task load in my life, right?

But I am still very much enamoured of the idea of story seeds and what they can lead to. And as is often the case with me, one thought leads to another and yet another and now I’m contemplating this:

Ray Bradbury quote

Yes, there are actually people doing this challenge. There is even a Facebook page called “Ray Bradbury’s 52 week short story challenge to aspiring writers”.

And there are tips out there on how to accomplish such a challenge. 12 Secrets to Being a Super-Prolific Short-Story Writer, for instance. And author Jay Lake talks about his story a week experiment here. “Eventually, it just became a habit”, Lake says in the interview.

It’s a crazy idea for me, though. So I’m not going to do it.

At least, probably not.

I just have to get my mind to let go of the idea now.

Putting a habit trigger to work: daily journaling

Have you heard of habit triggers? In addition to helping you get rid of bad habits, you’re supposed to be able to use them to get develop new, positive habits, too.

According to Leo Babauta,

Habits become automatic after we’ve created a bond between the trigger and the habit — the stronger the bond, the more ingrained the habit.

He then goes on to outline some common triggers, which include waking up, eating breakfast, your morning commute, your afternoon commute – really, anything that you do every day can become a habit trigger.

I have wanted to develop a consistent journaling habit for a very long time. The key term there is “consistent”. I have so many notebooks and journals lying around with a page or two filled, a sign of my many attempts to develop a journaling habit.

journal

And why do I keep trying? Because I do feel that compulsion to write things down, as Joan Didion describes in her marvellous essay, “On Keeping a Notebook” (pdf):

The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself. I suppose that it begins or does not begin in the cradle. Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.

It’s just that I don’t feel that compulsion consistently. Hence all those aborted attempts at keeping a regular journal.

So I decided to try using a habit trigger. I have a morning ritual that’s quite indulgent – it includes meditation (good) and surfing around online (not so sure about this one). It’s not the most productive of rituals, but it’s definitely become my morning ritual.

Last week, I decided I’d add journaling into the mix. And to make things easier on myself, I also decided to use my Bullet Journal. I put all of the rest of my life in that journal anyway, so why not, right?

What I’ve been doing is writing in my Bullet Journal every morning. I write about what I’m thinking, ideas I have, what I’d like to get done. Then I do a very very short to-do list for the day. I love the idea of to-do lists but I’m very bad at them. Even though I only have between two to four items on my daily to-do list, often I only accomplish half of the items. Some days, only one.

How has it been working out? It’s only been a week, but it’s already starting to feel like a habit! So this habit trigger thing seems to work.

Once I have this new routine nailed down, I’d like to work on a nightly observation log a la Lynda Barry.  The only problem? I don’t have something I do consistently every night (other than going to bed and all the things associated with that – none of which feels conducive to sitting down and writing).

When I’m on deadline, I usually work until I am too tired to think straight. And when I’m not on deadline, I do a lot of puddling around, but nothing consistently. I was thinking maybe my night time ritual should be reading followed by an observation log. And the habit trigger could be … feeling tired? Hmmm. That doesn’t sound like it will work!

Photo credit

365 Days of Story Seeds

365 story seeds

One of my goals for 2015 is to complete a 365 day project. I have a 365 day reading project that I’ve already posted about (my Short Story a Day project) but I wanted to do a 365 day project that was writing-related.

So, on January 1, I started my 365 Days of Story Seeds project. Every day, I pick two writing prompts from my box of prompts, and paste them into my notebook. I’m not writing a full scene for each prompt; I’ve tried to do that before and it stopped being fun because it wasn’t always easy getting a full scene from a prompt or two.

Instead, I write two or three sentences. Snippets of dialogue, some description. A couple of times I started off with “What if …” and wrote out the idea the prompts inspired instead.

When I’m done, I upload a picture of the prompts to the Tumblr blog I hastily started up for the project: 365 Story Seeds. Other than posting to this Tumblr, I haven’t had time to do much else with it, so right now it’s using the default Tumblr template. (But finding a new template for it is on my Bloggiesta list of to-dos for Monday!)

It’s been fun, and pretty quick and easy, too. I’ve been doing the prompts right before bed, but I try to pick the next day’s prompts right after, on the theory that this gives my subconscious mind 24 hours to do something with them. I don’t think that’s been working well so far, though, because honestly, I’ve been forgetting the prompts almost as soon as I’ve glued them into my notebook!

My favourites so far? It’s hard to pick, because I haven’t really written any particular story seeds that have jumped out at me yet. Probably these are the ones I like best so far:

http://365storyseeds.tumblr.com/post/107187089626/day-4-prompts-human-sacrifice-and-loser

http://365storyseeds.tumblr.com/post/108326642451/day-16-this-is-another-one-that-might-develop

http://365storyseeds.tumblr.com/post/107769051866/day-10-came-up-with-a-story-idea-for-this-one-i

And hopefully by the end of the year I’ll have a notebook filled with story seeds, some of which may spark a longer story!

{TSS} Bookish Bliss: The War of Art

The War of Art quote

Back in December I made a commitment to myself: in the new year, I would sit down every day and write. And when January 1 rolled around, I started doing just that.

I initially set a daily goal of 2,000 words, but within a few days realized that wasn’t reasonable. Some days it was very doable, other days it wasn’t. So I reduced my goal to 1,500 words.

And rolled along merrily … until yesterday. It was kind of a lost day. I took my youngest to dance classes, which ate up the entire afternoon. I’d brought my iPad and keyboard but I found needed the comfort of my regular keyboard and laptop to write. When I got home, I wasn’t feeling well, I was tired – and I had a bunch of blog posts to write for one of my writing clients.

I sat down and I was only able to write about 600 words on my novel.

One of the word tracking spreadsheets I’m using makes the day’s word count light up only if I meet my daily goal. Yesterday’s word count definitely wasn’t even close to getting lit up.

But I still felt good, typing in those three digits into my spreadsheet. Why?

Because despite everything, I had sat down at the keyboard and I had done the work.

When Joy Weese Moll announced The War of Art readalong I knew it was a book I needed to reread. And it was a book I needed to reread now, in January, right when I’m determined to set up new habits and implement the systems I need to make real changes to my life.

For years now, I’ve done a lot of talking about how I want things to change. This is the year I’m committing to actually doing the things necessary for the changes I want to happen. It’s no secret: I spent too many years not doing much writing. I had my rationalizations: I had to work, make enough money to get us through day by day, month by month, year by year. I had kids. I had no time. My God, I didn’t even have time to read, much less time to write. And so on.

Rationalization is Resistance’s spin doctor. It’s Resistance’s way of hiding the Big Stick behind its back. Instead of showing us our fear (which might shame us and impel us to do our work), Resistance presents us with a series of plausible, rational justifications for why we shouldn’t do our work.

What’s particularly insidious about the rationalizations that Resistance presents to us is that a lot of them are true. They’re legitimate. …

What Resistance leaves out, of course, is that all this means diddly.

– Steven Pressfield

Reading through Book One of The War of Art, which is all about Resistance: Defining the Enemy, I was a little startled to see how well I know so many of the characteristics of Resistance. I know this is a reread for me, but I can’t remember, for example, nodding my head quite so vehemently when I first read the passages on “Resistance and Trouble” and “Resistance and Self-Dramatization”.

Because the way Resistance shows up in my life has always been two-fold. First is that initial Resistance to sitting down and starting. As Pressfield says:

It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.

What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.

Over and over, I’ve been able to defeat this first part of Resistance, even if it’s only for a short while. I’ve done it several times for NaNoWriMo, but I’ve also done it for months at a time outside of November. It’s  never lasted (this year, that will change …) and one of the main reasons it’s never lasted has been because of those two other characteristics of Resistance: Trouble and Self-Dramatization

Last year, for example, right after I finished writing a novella in July, I came face to face with some personal issues. And then after that cleared up, I came down with chronic back pain and unexplained nausea. Once that cleared up (the nausea turned out to be a magnesium deficiency, of all things) I was neck deep in work deadlines as my busy season began.

I participated in NaNoWriMo for three weeks but the work pressure was too much for the final week. And for most of last year both my blog and my reading landscape were like deserted wastelands.

And now that I’m writing daily and am really committed to staying on course all this year? That chronic back pain has cropped back up. I haven’t been feeling well. I’m starting to think about some of those personal issues again. My sister just emailed to tell me she thinks my mom needs someone to help her with her apartment and she can’t do it because she’s too busy with work. Meanwhile, January is looking to be even heavier with deadlines than last November was.

In other words, Resistance is back at work, brewing up more Trouble and Self-Dramatization.

It’s good to see this so clearly. I plan to stay on track, and “knowing your enemy” makes this much easier.

By the way, if you’re interested in The War of Art and Steven Pressfield’s other books, make sure to pop over to Joy’s The War of Art #Giveaway. It’s a wonderful giveaway opportunity, as the winner will receive not just The War of Art, but also his other two books on defeating creative blocks, Do the Work and Turning Pro as well as The Authentic Swing, the story behind his writing of his first big novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance.

Have you read The War of Art? Is there an endeavour or activity in your life, creative or otherwise, that’s been calling to you and to which you’ve been feeling Resistance?

{2015 Goals} Writing and creativity goals

It’s shaping up to be a very goal-oriented year for me. I’m pretty sure I’m trying to make up for how unmotivated and unproductive I felt during 2014! The one thing that’s saving me from feeling overwhelmed by all these things I want to accomplish this year is remembering that most of my goals are things I find fun. Not all of them (exercise comes to mind), but most of them. And that really makes a difference!

Articulating my goals has been helpful, too, especially in terms of keeping me accountable. Yesterday was the first day of the new year, and I did everything I said I’d do! (This is huge for me, by the way – discipline and I are not usually the best of friends, except when it comes to work deadlines.)

I’ve already discussed my bookish/reading goals for 2015. Here are my writing and creativity goals for the new year:

1. Write 1,500 words every day.

Since I’m using SMART goals this year (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely), I decided on a specific number of words, instead of just saying “I’m going to write every day”. At first I picked 2,000 words, but today, as I was sitting down to Scrivener and writing, I thought to myself, “I’m not going to make 2,000 words today” so I went to the word count spreadsheet I’m using and changed my daily goal to 1,500.

Mind you, after all that, I ended up writing 2,220 words today. But still, I want this goal to be doable but not stressful, right? Anyway, even at 1,500 words a day, I’d still end up with 547,500 words at the end of the year, which would be nice.

2. Be #CreativeEveryDay

I’ve signed up for the Creative Every Day challenge in previous years – and failed spectacularly (meaning, I’d sign up and then promptly and conveniently “forget” I’d signed up). This year, though, I’m prepared.  I’ve got a stack of books to go to if I need an idea plus a number of inspirational artsy sites bookmarked. And for additional motivation I’m in a Facebook group with a few other book bloggers who are interested in art journaling.

I’ve also set up a Tumblr blog to which I’ll upload a daily photo (I’ll do the same with Instagram, but I’ll be a day behind on there, I think). The Tumblr blog is pretty sparse right now – I haven’t even selected a template! But I figured it was more important to be accountable than it was to have a pretty looking Tumblr, especially since I know myself well enough to know if I made a “pretty little Tumblr” my priority, I wouldn’t have things ready until mid-way through the year!

3. My 365 Day Project

I’ll post more about my 365 day project in a few days, but I’ve decided to do a writing prompt a day. This is my first 365 day project, so I’m a little nervous. But the challenge I’ve set up for myself is small and fun, so hopefully I’ll have some success with it.

4. Daily Brainstorming in My Book of Lists

I haven’t started this yet, but I’ll be adding it to my daily routine once I have everything else on track. The plan is to begin a “Book of Lists” as an idea resource. I decided I wanted to give this a try back in the fall after talking with Suey about the Laini Taylor presentation and writing workshop she attended. Suey got me all excited about starting a book of lists to generate ideas, and then I googled around and found a post Laini Taylor wrote on her Not for Robots site about ideas and brainstorming and got even more excited (she also has a great post on writing a novel here). And I’ve wanted to do this ever since. Just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.

One of my plans is to use my brainstorming time to “fill the well” in my Book of Lists. I have stacks and stacks of nonfiction books about all sorts of strange and interesting things, very few of which I’ve actually read. Despite this, I keep accumulating them (but usually when they’re at a discount, thank goodness).

Photo 2015-01-02, 4 56 29 PM

So now’s my chance to put them to good use. I’m going to start collecting tidbits of interesting information from these books in my Book of Lists.

Another plan is to do “100s lists”, where you just sit down and brainstorm a hundred things. I’m thinking it might work well when plotting a story or developing a character, and also for worldbuilding. I’m not much of an outliner, so any way I can get more information down before I start writing will probably be helpful.

5. A Personal Photo a Day

I’d also like to begin documenting my life in photos, mainly because I have this tendency to live a hermit’s life and having to take an interesting photo every day should help me change that. I have a lovely DSLR camera that I still need to learn to use, but for now I’m quite content to use my iPhone. I’ve never been very good about taking daily photos, but that will, hopefully, change this year. Instagram is definitely a good motivator!

So these are my writing and creativity goals for the new year. What about you? Did you set any creative nonbookish goals for 2015?

{2015 Goals} Complete a 365-Day Project

I’d really like to complete a 365-day project in the new year and so, as usual, I’ve been diving into Google and searching a little obsessively for 365-day project ideas.

I actually scrolled through all the blog posts at the Make Something 365 & Unstuck blog looking for ideas. Noah Scalin is the author of 365: A Daily Creativity Journal, which contains prompts for doing a 365-day project. I don’t have this book, but I do have his other book, Unstuck: 52 Ways to Get (and Keep) Your Creativity Flowing at Home, at Work & in Your Studio (which I haven’t read yet, but it looks good).

365 Creativity Journal

 

The project ideas he features are interesting, but almost all of them are art or photography-related, and I’d like my 365-day project to be writing-related. I’ll probably be signing up for the 2015 Creative Every Day challenge, which is art-related, but my main focus for the year will be on my 365 day project.

I also read through most of the posts at Year of Creative Habits, where artist Crystal Moody posted daily drawings she made during her year of creative habits.

(I did mention I’ve been a little obsessive about this, right?)

I’m almost sure what my project will be – I just need to do the prep work to make sure I’m properly prepared for the long haul and don’t do a major fail (or at least, not immediately, like around January 15 or something!).

I don’t know exactly why I want to do a 365-day project, other than the whole commitment and intention thing I wrote about the other day. And I do like the idea of ending up with a body of work I wouldn’t have otherwise. And I guess, like my 365 days of blogging, I’m kind of testing myself, and my ability to be disciplined and stay committed.

But most of all, I’ve been thinking how much fun it will be!

Have you done a 365-day project in previous years? Are you planning on doing one this year?

Art Journal Art Journey: Collage and Storytelling for Honoring Your Creative Process

art journal art journey nichole rae

I love art journaling, although I don’t have as much time (read: almost never) for it as I’d like. But while I may not bring out the acrylic paints and paintbrushes as often as I should, I do find myself devouring lots and lots of books about art journaling.

My main complaint about many of the art journaling and mixed media books I’ve read over the years is that there’s often a feeling of sameness to them. The color palettes, the basic styles, the overall look – often one book will mesh into another and in my memory they become one long book, the pages virtually indistinguishable from each other.

Not so with Nichole Rae’s Art Journal Art Journey: Collage and Storytelling for Honoring Your Creative Process. I opened this book and was engrossed from page one. Unlike most other books on art journaling or mixed media, Nichole begins by plunging us right into her journaling process, and it’s a great process on its own, whether or not you decide to take what you’ve written and create an art journal out of it.

Her method of art journaling begins with her journaling process, which she does on the computer. She works with a list-style format of journaling which in her case reads beautifully, like poetry. It’s a very original, organic process, and just reading about it gave me lots of ideas for journaling different themes, which is something else she talks about. I always have so many ideas about various projects I want to work on, and I love how Nichole’s journaling process gives you permission to work on many themes at any given time:

“I often start multiple journal documents on my computer to set the writing process in motion. I save them to my desktop and am able to work on them little by little. Over time I will have a collection to use for my projects. Once I begin these journaling documents, my heart feels content to know they are created and will evolve with time. The simple joy of having them started provides comfort, knowing they are there to visit at any time.”

Once you feel you’re ready to print out one of your journal projects, it’s time to get into the creative process of putting all the pieces into a book. Nichole uses old, hardbound books for this process, and one thing I love is how she also incorporates pages from old books into her journals, in a method that’s a little similar to Austin Kleon’s blackout poetry, but with colour and without having to black most things out.

If you’re not a fan of working with altered books her techniques can definitely be applied to any blank sketchbook. I’ve made a few altered books before but have never really enjoyed the process. I don’t like having to glue pages together, or gesso them either, and I often lost the inspiration while I had to wait for the pages to dry. What I like about Nichole’s method is she doesn’t gesso the pages to give herself a blank canvas. Instead, she covers the page with a page from her printed journal and, in some cases, uses part of the page as her background or as part of the focus of the page.

While the discussion about laying out and assembling the pages is interesting, probably my second favourite part of the book, after the section on the journaling process, is the section on the creative mini projects.

“Working on a mini project while you are in the process of collecting and gathering supplies for your main project is a great way to be creative during this process. … I use mini projects to inspire my creativity and to help jumpstart the creative process.”

The mini project that appeals to me the most is the Inspirational Card Deck. There are just SO many possibilities for this one project. Not just from an art perspective, either. From a writer’s point of view, I can see myself creating writing prompts, mini character sketches, setting cards .. the possibilities are so exciting.

In fact, much of the process Nichole describes will help me with several of my writing projects. I’ve always loved combining my words with art, and Art Journal Art Journey gives me a process I can use without having to worry about my quite amateurish drawing skills.

There is an originality and freshness to Art Journal Art Journey that I really enjoyed. I finished reading it feeling very inspired, and the fact that her journaling process is one I can use for my writing was a huge, unexpected and very wonderful bonus.

Dreambook

I have a lot of dreams, which I usually remember for a little while after I wake up – and then they start fading away. Many mornings I wake up pulled from a really good dream, and then spend some time trying to fall back asleep so I can get back into my dream.

Not that this usually works. But it’s worth a try, and on the odd occasion I do manage to find my way back to the dream, it’s so good.

But one thing I’ve never really done consistently is write down my dreams. I’ve had dreams that were just so epic (and I really mean “epic”, not as in “awesome” but an actual epic) I absolutely had to write them down. But those have been far and few in between.

All this changed early last week, when The Art of Neil Gaiman inspired me to start a dreambook.

I’m nearing the end of this book, a biography of Neil by Hayley Campbell. It’s really good, because it’s based not only on interviews with Neil but also on the trunkloads of papers and notebooks he keeps up in the attic of his house. A real treasure trove for fans (although I must admit to finding his handwriting difficult to decipher!).

And in one section of the book, there is a spread from a few of his dream diaries:

neil gaiman dream diariesFrom The Art of Neil Gaiman by Hayley Campbell

A few pages later, Neil had this to say about his dream diaries:

When I was writing Sandman I would occasionally steal imagery from my dreams, almost never got plots, but occasionally images were incredibly useful. And to this day if there’s a dream that’s just sort of affecting emotionally, I’ll write it down. Which was something I learned to do while I was doing Sandman.

… I would write them down partly because you’d never know what was going to be useful in retrospect, or what might be important in retrospect. Which isn’t to say that I ever went back and reread them, but it is to say some of the time the action of writing stuff down moves it from this weird box in your head of stuff that will evaporate … it moves it from being written in melting snow, to being written onto paper. In terms of the boxes of your mind things are in, it’s changed. (emphasis added)

This really called out to me.  … some of the time the action of writing stuff down moves it from this weird box in your head of stuff that will evaporate it. I’ve experienced that fading of a really good dream so many times, and I really liked the idea of moving my dreams out of that weird box in my head where stuff evaporates.

So the next morning, I woke up from a good dream, and thought to myself, no time like now to start, right? So I popped into my office and grabbed a blank notebook, then sat up in bed and jotted down all the bits of the dream I wanted to remember. I don’t have the book in front of me right now, and despite my writing it down, I couldn’t tell you at all what it was about. But it’s there now, on paper, and if I ever get a moment when I get curious about the first dream I wrote down in my dreambook, I’ll be able to go back and read it.

Not to say the whole writing-down-your-dreams-in-the-morning thing has been going smoothly since I started. For the three or four mornings after I jotted down that first dream, I had such mundane dreams. One of them was about going to a BBQ at my sister’s place (and coincidentally, I was going to a BBQ at my sister’s place later that day). I did jot down a dream in which I was merely an observer, although it wasn’t particularly exciting. It was basically an Anne of Green Gables scene, plotted from beginning to end, set in modern times with a totally different but still sufficiently Anne-ish girl.

And then I had a night when insomnia hit me, and there were no dreams the morning after that!

Still, this feels like a good habit to me, so I’ll keep on doing it for the fun of it.

How about you? Do you remember your dreams? Do you write them down in a dream journal or a notebook?

I’m Working On … (A Creative Blog Tour)

on my table rounded

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Adriane Giberson invited me to participate in a blog tour of creators (writers, artists and poets). I was a little hesitant at first. I’ve been busy with work and all the other must-do’s of life, and my creativity has really taken a backseat lately. But I’ve just finished a couple of big deadlines (like indexing an 1100 page AND a 1500 page book back to back – ouch!) and what better way to help myself dive back into more creative work than blogging about it, right?

What am I working on?

The big project on my desk right now is an urban fantasy with the working title “Sweetness and Dank” (the names of two of my main characters – very creative of me, I know). I’ve already written a chunk of this novel by hand in a Moleskine, and started transcribing it (and rewriting as I went) into Scrivener last week.

I’d started a writing challenge recently – 15 minutes of writing a day, which you’d think would be immensely do-able – so this seemed like the perfect thing for me to tackle. Unfortunately, the deadlines got to me, so my plan is to start anew on my writing challenge today. I have high hopes. We shall see.

I also want to start the edits on “Waverley”, which I’d completed for Nanowrimo a couple of years ago. There are massive changes that need to be made, because I kind of wrote two books in one, and need to separate out the story that I’m really trying to tell from the story that belongs in a book of its own. But look what I recently picked up from the library!

Blueprint Your Bestseller

That’s right: Blueprint Your Bestseller, by Stuart Horwitz, which promises to help me “organize and revise any manuscript with the book architecture method”. I don’t know if it will help, but I do have a completed, in-need-of-revision children’s fantasy in “Waverley” and I’ve got really high hopes for this book architecture method, whatever it might turn out to be.

creative lettering

In the artsy department, after working this past year on several doodle quotes, I’ve been really wanting to practice my lettering. I recently had a look at Creative Lettering, by Jenny Doh, and was just so inspired! I’m not going for a calligraphic look – what I want is to develop a whimsical, slightly quirky, not-quite straight lettering style (I’ve already got the not-quite-straight angle covered, by the way) that will work well with my doodle quotes. The artists featured in Creative Lettering (who all, thankfully, seem to have blogs) are incredibly motivational. So motivational, I decided to pick up some unlined Moleskines the other day when I was at the book store getting a Father’s Day cookbook for my husband. My plan is to start practicing my lettering on a daily basis. Another one of those “we shall see” things.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

That’s a tough one to answer. For one thing, when it comes to writing, I tend to write what I like to read, and I’m an eclectic reader, so I’m kind of all over the map when it comes to my writing. But I find that magic does show up in a lot of my writing, even when I’m not writing fantasy. In the past, I’ve clamped down on that (there’s not much place for magic in a murder mystery, right?) but lately I’ve been thinking maybe I should just let the magic show up wherever it wants to.

Why do I write/create what I do?

Ah, an easy question! Because of the ideas I get! I’m not very disciplined about my writing (YET– I’m hoping to change that) but I get ideas all the time and most of them are the germs of stories. I like finding out where each one leads me, although I’m learning that it’s good to let the end point of each one come to me before I sit down to write. I seem to be very good at the whole “two stories in one” thing, and what I need to do is write down one story at a time – mainly, the story that wants to be told in that particular work.

As for the artsy stuff, I’m not very good at it, but it’s very good for my soul, and that’s a good enough reason for me.

How does your writing/creating process work?

I’m just starting to figure this out. Earlier this year, I tried to outline with index cards, and I did get an entire murder mystery down on the cards, but when I sat down to write, I was … bored! So for me, the best way to write is the way E.L. Doctorow described it:

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Except that I need to know where I’m headed, as Neil Gaiman recently said:

“Mostly, the creative process is really, really fast. And when it happens, I have a pretty good idea of what something is. I am much more like somebody driving in the dark. My headlights will illuminate a little bit ahead of me, and I know where I’m going. I’m not just driving randomly. I know if I keep down this road, I will get to New York. But what happens on the way, I will find out.”

You see, when I don’t have a clear idea of how things end, I tend to write two or three stories in one. And then it’s a real mess to pull the real story out, and stash all the bits of the other stories away, for when it’s their turn to be told.

And now, please meet …

I’ve asked two fellow writers to play with me on this blog tour. They’ll both be posting their answers to these very same questions a week from today, on June 23:

Suey J of It’s All About Books. Most of you know Suey – she’s incredibly active in the book blogging community (she cohosts Bloggiesta). She’s also a writer, and the leader of a small, extremely motivating writing group that I’m very proud to be a member of. I’ve had the privilege of reading the YA novel she’s working on right now, and it is so good!

Janel Gradowski. Janel is a writer and an artist, and one of my best writer friends. Janel specializes in foodie fiction, and she’s motivated and inspired me over the past several years with her dedication and commitment to the writing craft, Next month sees the release of her culinary mystery, Pies & Peril.

[TSS] The Week That Got Away From Me

It’s been one of those weeks – you know the kind, where at first glance it doesn’t look like you have too much scheduled, and then you find out first glances can be mighty deceptive.

It started with a trio of deadlines – which weren’t, surprisingly, the problem. I met the deadlines with no problem. Post-deadline, though! Dylan turned ten (I know! Ten! If it wasn’t so trite, I’d say time really does fly), and there were all the activities associated with a little guy turning ten – gifts to buy, the perfect birthday card to get, lunch, dinner, get-together with family. And Mother’s Day on top of everything – another lunch, more shopping.

(I know, it doesn’t sound that rough. And it wasn’t. But I just hadn’t been expecting all the running around and eating out, which cuts huge chunks of time out of the day.)

And it’s already time for another Sunday Salon! I never even got around to replying to comments from last week’s post, so I hope you all won’t mind if  I just pretend that I already did and start fresh with this one. When seen from my Sunday Salon perspective, this week actually doesn’t look as chaotic as it really was:

Eating: Ward didn’t have a performance Friday night, so he made roast chicken. To those not in the know, my husband makes the best roast chicken – juicy, tender and lightly flavoured with rosemary and lemon. To make things easier for today (we’re heading over to my sister’s for Mother’s Day), he roasted a second chicken and we’re bringing cold chicken slices and scallion and ginger oil as our contribution to today’s feast.

Drinking: This week I discovered the pleasure of iced mint tea. It turns out Second Cup, my favourite coffee place (even now, when I’m not drinking coffee) will make iced tea out of any of their regular teas, so I gave the iced mint tea a try. It is SO good!

Reading: I didn’t have much time for reading this week, but I did manage to finish one book: Anne Holt’s Blessed Are Those Who Thirst. I know a lot of people liked this one, but it just didn’t grab me. I must admit, I skim-read through the second half rather than DNF’ing it because I wanted to know who did it. It might, however, just be the translation, and perhaps if I understood enough Norwegian to read it in its original, I would have liked it better.

Writing: Totally out the window this week. Not even a blog post to break up the midweek monotony here. (Yes, I’m hanging my head in shame.)

Making: Zilch. Nada. Nothing. It’s been that kind of a week.

Exercising: I finally downloaded a pedometer app and when I went for my run on Monday this week, I came back and told Ward my time. After doing the necessary km to miles conversion, I announced, “I ran a 14-minute mile.” Ward, polite guy that he is, managed a strangled, “Oh, yes?” but I could tell from the look on his face that most people probably could walk faster than that. I’m chalking it up to my using my meditation songs playlist for running (running meditation, get it?) so I put together a faster playlist and I’m happy to say when I went for my second run of the week, on Friday, I ran an 11-minute mile. Much better, although I’d love to get it to ten minutes.

I seem to have developed a consistent walking habit, which makes up for not running as regularly as I’d like to. Most days I manage a brisk 40 minute walk, with some days (when I’m going to Chinatown, mainly) I clock 80 minutes.

Rice_noodle_rollsSource: By Themightyquill (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

(Those 80 minutes walking to and from Chinatown are a good thing, as I tend to head over to dim sum when I’m in Chinatown and it’s a good way of walking off the calories before and after I ingest them. Sadly, rice flour, the main ingredient of my favourite dim sum dish – shrimp cheong fun or rice noodle rolls with shrimp – is very high in calories.)

Anticipating: A more restful week, during which I plan to (1) clean/clear out my desk (a Herculean effort may be required, I’m afraid), (2) clear out my clothes drawers to make room for hot weather clothing and (3) READ, READ, READ!

What about you? How has your week been?