• 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…

  • connecting,  Creative Writing,  Getting Published,  writing advice

    Guest Blogger Lena Roy: We are writers, hear us roar!

    The web of support that frames my life as a writer was first anchored in a writing workshop taught by Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time. Sitting at the feet of the author of one of the most influential books of my childhood, I gained not only a richer understanding of literary craft, but a spirit of generosity, nurturing and acceptance that has guided my work, my relationships with other writers, and my teaching. Through that web, I recently connected with another writer, Lena Roy, whose ties to Madeleine are not only creative but familial. I’m honored to welcome Lena, Madeleine’s granddaughter, to The Writers Circle. Her debut…

  • 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…

  • 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,  discipline,  Distraction,  Finding time to write,  Great Writers,  reading like a writer

    Reading in the Bathroom

    I foolishly started reading Anna Karenina this spring – twice, and then again this summer. Each time I was dissuaded by the time-swallowing responsibility of editing other people’s work. Beloved writer-friends and clients, you know I adore you. But every once in a while it is a relief just to hide in the bathroom between ream-length tomes and read something that requires neither a big red pen nor an editorial eye. I usually pick up The Atlantic, The New Yorker, browse the photos in National Geographic, or slog through one of that large stack of articles I’ve printed from the Internet. But the other day I stopped myself. No! Read…

  • 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…

  • Creative Writing,  Distraction,  Finding time to write

    Addendum to Whirligig Mind – One Way to Stop the Whirl

    Just after I posted yesterday, I got a message from one of our Circle, Marilyn Zion, who recommended a computer app called “Freedom“. She writes: “Have been using “Freedom” for 2 days and wrote straight through from 8:30-12:00 this morning. Didn’t check email or surf the net for one minute.” Sounds good to me! I’m about to download it and start writing for the rest of the afternoon. Read about Freedom and several other options to stop the Internet whirligig in its tracks at “Stay on Target” from The Economist.