• Creative Writing,  first draft,  novel writing,  writing fiction

    At the Beginning – Again

    Walking through fog. With the headlamp on. Low. Paraphrasing a quote from E.L. Doctorow. This is what it’s like to write a novel. I keep telling myself that as I move forward, ever so slowly. These first infantile steps, as if I’ve never taken them before. “It’s like driving a car at night: you never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” from E. L. Doctorow, The Art of Fiction No. 94, interviewed by George Plimpton in The Paris Review. But I have. Three times. I have conceived and birthed three whole, healthy novels. (Well, two healthy ones anyway. My first was ill-formed…

  • Blogging,  connecting,  Creative Writing,  Finding time to write

    Now this is “my” blog

    Since the beginning, this blog has been “The Writers Circle”. But as many of you know, The Writers Circle has taken on a life of its own. I thought it high time to claim this space for me as a writer – a novelist. I’m calling it “Digging for Words: One writer’s quest to bring the past alive through imagination”. And though these days my time is consumed with running our workshops and all the business-y nonsense of keeping TWC alive and well, I am still and will continue working on my novel, bit by bit. When I have something to share, like that very fun news about being on…

  • Creative Writing,  critique,  editing,  practical advice,  revision

    The Power of Revision, from TWC Associate Teacher Michelle Cameron

    As many of you know, The Writers Circle is expanding. It’s a thrilling leap of faith for me to take our very personal, very “hyperlocal” community and reach across time and space (OK, it’s only eleven miles…!) to add a new link to the chain. Michelle Cameron, who has posted as a guest here before, will be teaching two free introductory workshops this Sunday, March 27, at Sages Pages in Madison, NJ. Children from 11:00 AM-12:30 PM will join Story Magic, our multidisciplinary approach to creative writing. Adults will enjoy a more staid but equally nurturing workshop from 1:00-2:30 PM. Please come by, bring your kids (or not!), and welcome…

  • Creative Writing

    I Give Up!

    No, this is not an announcement. I am not even thinking about giving up on my novel. In fact, revisions are going rather nicely. Though I’ve been inundated with other obligations over the last two weeks, when I return to my manuscript, I see that my vision is becoming clearer and the suggestions that I fought against back in the fall are resulting in a much better story overall. I am, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, married to the long, slow, sometimes torturous process of completion, even if it – and sometimes it threatens to – kill me. Nonetheless, over the last few weeks, a couple…

  • Creative Writing,  Distraction,  Finding time to write,  Getting Published,  Mentors,  persistance

    Making Space to Write

    As I prepare to attempt The Writers Circle Journal online, I invite all of you, even those I don’t know, to submit 500 words or less on your perfect writing space – real or imagined. Please submit your work to “info AT writerscircleworkshops.com” by pasting your entire manuscript and a brief bio into the body of your email. Submission deadline is April 10, 2011. I’d be grateful for your contribution and hope to “publish” a selection of the best soon. If you have an original digital photo or art, be sure to send it along. In her brilliant essay, “A room of one’s own“, Virginia Woolf offers up this opinion:…

  • Creative Writing,  practical advice,  revision,  tips and tricks,  writing technique

    The Meandering Plot, or how to figure out what’s next

    Plotting is a delicate balance of intention, intuition and flexibility, of knowing what path to follow without losing track of all the other forks in the road. We generally sense our story’s direction – its main thrust and the ultimate objective of our tale. But along the way, we trip and wander. Other events and characters step in with subplots, histories, and desires of their own. And themes appear that deepen our telling, even while they confuse and distract us. In early drafts, meandering is good, at least to a point. If we stick too closely to an outline or plan, we lose opportunities for our subconscious to bring us…

  • Creative Writing,  practical advice,  writing technique

    BORING PRACTICALITIES, or a Few Tips on File Organization for Writers

    Back when I worked in information technology, a co-worker used to like to play a trick on me. He’d sneak into my cubicle when I was out and move one of the countless, neatly stacked project piles. He’d only move it about 10 degrees left or right, then watch from his own cube to see how long it would take me to notice. Invariably, I would walk in and, even before sitting down, unconsciously straighten the pile. I have always been compulsively organized, but I’ve never resented my OCD. In fact, it’s a huge benefit for a writer. How many of us have bemoaned the challenge of keeping track of…

  • connecting,  Creative Writing,  critique,  editing,  Mentors,  revision,  Writers Groups

    Deconstructing the Reconstruction

    Taking criticism is never easy, no matter how expert, apropos, or kind. We can feel our bodies seizing up, our hearts palpitating, our minds starting to whirl with refusals, excuses, explanations, denials. Of course, my original is perfect! They just don’t understand! But if we chose our readers wisely, usually we find they’re right. Maybe the solution isn’t exactly as they suggest, but there’s a kernel of truth in their issues and insights that we would all be wise to examine. I confronted this working on my latest revisions. My good friend Marina had given my manuscript a thorough, thoughtful once-over and we’d spent hours discussing her comments and suggestions.…

  • connecting,  Creative Writing,  Finding time to write

    Don’t Quit Your Day Job

    None of us can deny that day jobs eat up valuable time for writing. We accept but resent them, knowing that bills do pile up and, unless we are fortunate recipients of the largess of a trust fund, inheritance or a well-padded spouse, most of us have little choice but to forfeit some portion of our soul’s calling to fulfill the need for shelter, clothing and food. Many writers, especially those young or idealistic enough to believe we will one day “break out”, take on (intentionally or otherwise) dull jobs that eat our souls, but supposedly keep our minds clear for our literary vocation. I spent years as one of…

  • Creative Writing,  critique,  editing,  revision

    A House A-Crumble

    I had a dream last night that my house was crumbling. The front stairway, made of concrete, was so precarious it broke beneath my feet as I tried to mount. The porch displayed its gray, rotted wood in the cloud-light, and the front door was hanging on its hinges. Into this wreck, I entered optimistically, skipping when the stairs collapsed, my hammer hanging from my work-pants like a decoration. I felt certain that everything around me could be spruced up to perfection. I already had a plan to center the stairs (they were dangling far off to the right) and to tear off the front railings so the porch would…