How to write like you look like a real writer

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writing at soccer practice

This was me, yesterday evening. I was stuck on a plot point that just wouldn’t fix itself, so I took my notebook and pen to soccer practice, rather than taking my running gear (nasty head cold, so that made the choice easier). An hour and a half later, I had the full outline for the second half of the book. It’s a short book, let me add. I still use writing advice bestowed upon our sixth grade class by a teacher I remember fondly: KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid. I even like the Stupid part of the saying, which would probably be dropped by teachers now (would it?). I’m not that smart when it comes to plot. That’s where I really need to apply the KISS principle.

These photos crack me up because I’m clearly not writing. Pen does not meet paper. I’ve had a few portraits taken by photographers who want me to “look like a writer,” by which they mean, “look like my idea of a writer, please.” I am then instructed to pose with a pen and paper. I can explain til I’m blue in the face that I write my books on a computer. But people want to see their writers writing. (Nancy Forde, you are the exception to this rule!)

Occasionally, apparently, it happens. I write like I look like a real writer. (Now, if only I can decipher my own scrawl …)

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see, pen not touching page

Kitten update: Turns out Fooey would be happy with a fish. She just wants a pet of her own. I guess the dogs are too communal as far pets go? We had to break it to her that a kitten would not sleep in her bed, or not for long. I still kind of want the kitten, but I’m not telling her. Maybe I have a diagnosable problem: the desire to collect living beings to care for, possibly in volumes greater than I can actually manage.

Manage. Well, even if I can’t manage them all, I can still care for them all, right? Manage and care not being the same thing, when you get right down to it.

I’ve got some news. It’s small and I haven’t signed on the dotted line, but I’m going to tell you anyway, because it’s really kind of out there news for me: I’ve had an offer for the text of a children’s picture book!!! Details to come, assuming it all works out, and dotted lines are signed, etc. I’m so looking forward to saying, “Why, yes, I do also write for children,” when asked, which is regularly. In fact, the notes, above, are on the plot to a children’s novel I’m in the midst of.

The thing I’ve discovered about being productive is that you just have to sit your butt down and write. KISS. One word after another. And if you get stuck, it’s good to have a few projects spread out and on the go in different stages of completion. It’s pleasant if the projects are quite different in nature, too.

I’ve got my ideas basket over here. My opening paragraphs bin over there. My lonesome disconnected short stories haunting the cobwebbed corners of my office. My research files stuffed into the cupboard behind me. The half-written manuscript that hasn’t found the right structure lying in wait. Meanwhile, the completed manuscript that is looking for a home is not mine to worry about, not right now. Do the work. Let it go.

The other thing about being productive is that it’s nice not to be productive sometimes. To leave your desk and computer (or pen and notebook, as it were), and go have lunch with your husband to celebrate an offer on your first ever picture book. Woot! I’m off!

Exaltation v. exultation
Look, we have new neighbours

3 Comments

  1. Did you see that someone in our neighbourhood has 4 free kittens in need of a good home? Maybe you DO need to get a kitten!

    Reply
    • Fooey brought home a photo of one of those kittens. That’s where this all began …

      Reply
  2. HA HA! Carrie! I’m so happy I’m the exception to that rule. I love the caption under your 2nd photo. Very funny. How exciting to also be writing a children’s book! Hooray and no surprise you can pull that off, too! I’m sure you’ve plenty of inspiration from your own imaginative brood. Can’t wait to see it (and perhaps take the author photo for it if you’ll let me! You KNOW how I love to capture you, my photographic muse)!

    Reply

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