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22 May 2009

A-Blogging We Will Go

I've made a new commitment during this past week. To read blogs that deal with the art, craft, and industry of the writing world. As obvious as it sounds, it was a big step for me. I'm typically a loner, always have been, and don't usually venture out into the great wide world to commune with others. However, a dear friend of mine (and amazing writer to boot) told me she'd started reading and commenting regularly on several blogs that deal with the writing life. Hmmm, says I. That sounds interesting.

So I started off by visiting her main blog of choice. It's hosted and written by a literary agent so I knew it would be beneficial. Long story short, I was hooked! I started googling "writing blogs" and came up with a plethora of places to explore. Not all of them succeeded in making me a follower, but I am now reading several every day and commenting quite regularly.

That was the scary thing. Commenting. If I comment, people will see what I have to say, they will hear my thoughts. What if I'm "wrong"? What if everyone disagrees with me? What if someone is nasty in their retort to something I have written? Shrugging those "what ifs" aside, I hit that "post comment" button and let 'er rip. And you know what? No one's been nasty (yet), and I've actually had people comment on my comments! It's nothing grand by any means, but it's a start.

One of my regular reads (magicalwords.net) posted about regular blogging and how it gives the writer an online platform. Very interesting indeed. I started blogging about a year ago in order to let people know what I was thinking, get my words "in print" and hope that someone would stumble upon my blog and make a connection. At first, I thought it silly because who am I that anyone would want to read my blog? But then I got to thinking: I have friends. They'll read it even if they are just being polite. If something strikes a chord with them, they'll tell their friends and so on and so forth. Not to mention, when you comment on another blog, people know you exist and may come a-hunting for you (an I'm learning that in the blog world, that is a good thing!)

I have also found that regular blogging keeps me in the routine of writing. It doesn't matter that I don't have a million followers (yet); what matters is those few whose faces I see every time I pull my dashboard up. I know they are interested, even if just remotely, and therefore I feel compelled to post something, anything, because they may be expecting it. There is nothing like the prospect of letting someone down to get you motivated! Regular writing practice, in any form, is good for the writer as well as the soul. It helps keep your fingers moving, your creativity searching, your imagination pumping.

Have you started a blog? I'd love to visit it! Send me a link, tell me about your blogging experiences. Still skeptical? Visit www.bestcollegesonline.com/blog/2009/02/05/top-100-creative-writing-blogs. There's bound to be something there for you to sink your teeth into. Not interested in creative writing blogs? Do what I did and hit google up for whatever they can find. Just search for "dog walkers blogs" and see what happens. (Not really, that was just an example. Unless you're a dog walker of course.)

Have a fabulous weekend and happy blogging!
~Jen

19 May 2009

Visions of Belonging

(for those of you who follow my other blogs, Learning the Art of Slow & The Gypsy Scribe, I apologize for the redundancy and promise a seperate post in the near future...)

A bit of a vision struck me this morning. No sounding trumpets or angels ascending. Just a quite revelation of truth. We are put here on this earth for a reason, a purpose. I don't believe any one's purpose is the same as the next. We may be involved in similar pursuits, similar things, but what we bring to the table is as varied as our personalities. Little quirks, tiny differences are what make us unique. And through these we bring our own touch of wonder to that which we are called to do.

I've spent the morning checking and updating blogs, as well as creating a new one.
And I was at peace. I still am, as I write this post, even though I am at my "day job", sitting in an office, listening not to the birds and the breeze but to the sounds of the goings-on of the internal organs of a computer and software support firm. I am here thanks to a dear friend and the job is filling a need. Is it where I belong? For now, yes, forever, no. But I am able to get glimpses of what is beyond the need.

It is desire that drives us, be it for freedom to pursue our calling or for an afternoon at the beach. We rearrange schedules, make sacrifices, work a little extra here, save an extra dollar there until the day arrives when we can at last sigh and say, "This is it! I've made it."

How far off is that day for me? I shrug. I honestly don't know. But I feel I've made headway, feel I've finally crossed a necessary threshold. The next step towards the silver lining. Until I can at last wake up and say, "I am in control of my destiny" in the way only the self-employed can, I will have these dreams, these moments of wondering when, when, when? Yet I will continue on, plugging away in the moments I have, to make those dreams a reality, and, hopefully, speed up that schedule just a bit.

~ J. Chandler

14 May 2009

Add - Edit - Delete

I pulled out my manuscript yesterday. The big one. The one I finished four months ago that has been sitting on my desk, putting undue stress on the already strained wood. I wanted to wait until after I returned from India before I tackled the editing process. Now that I'm back, the giant, three ring binder glares at me from the bag underneath my work desk. I can feel it boring a hole in my gut, daring me, taunting me.

So I began. And you know, it wasn't so bad. There's a lot I need to alter, a lot that needs to be said. That's the "joy" of writing a trilogy: you discover things at the end of the series that you wish you'd known at the beginning! Not to mention the series will continue after this trilogy so I have to make extra, careful sure that the clues I've inserted in books one - three will hold water come book six (or nine, or eighty-seven). It's actually rather stressful, trying to remember everything you've written while forging a past and a future for your characters. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Contrary to popular belief, most writer's I have met actually prefer the editing process over the actual writing process. Not that we don't love to create; if we didn't, we'd become bankers or shoe salesmen. But once you get those ideas on paper (or on screen as the case may be), you are then free to add and take away. The story is there, hidden amongst all the rabble that was flung out of your crowded mind when you first pulled the story out of hiding. Weeding, trimming, transferring, it's all a part of the creative process. It's just not a glamorous as, say, "I just finished writing a 2,000 page novel!" What you always have to remember is that after that 2,000 page novel is finished, you have to edit that 2,000 page novel. (Whew, and I thought I was verbose!)

This is the final edit, however, and I approach it with conflicting emotions. The first third of this tale is complete. I edit it and then begin the arduous task of waving it under agent's and publisher's noses, hoping the scent is tantalizing to at least one. That's exciting, but it's also scary.

Because I've set myself up to write more, and starting a new story is just as frightening as starting anything new. It's uncharted territory and you never know what may be lurking around every page. That's the adventure, though, of being a writer. You cast off the familiar in favor of the frightening, the unknown, knowing that on the other side, it's just another story, another book under your belt. I have known writers who feared finishing a novel because "what if there were no more stories after that?" To that, dear writer, I say fear not: more stories will come. They always do. All you have to do is show up and let the words flow. It's humbling being a writer, knowing that these stories come to you, ask you to tell their tale. Our choice (which isn't really a choice, is it?) is to either ignore them or start typing. I for one, can't wait to get back to the keyboard, and let the story have it's way.

For now, I must put on my technical hat and wade through the thousands of words and tighten, prune and shape. Editing is, after all, just the other side of the writing coin. It may not be as shiny, but it is no less important.