Saturday, October 27, 2012

Chicken by Chicken: Today

This week I wrapping series called Chicken by Chicken. This is take on Anne Lamott's BIRD BY BIRD, a helpful writing book. The idea is you take the writing journey one day at a time. You take it one word at time and that the important thing is always the writing and not the publishing. Writing for me is chicken by chicken. That's how I roll.

Write the words. Write the sentences. Write the paragraphs. Write the chapters. Write the books. This is the little mantra that keeps me going.

Here is the state of affairs: If measure myself to others, asking myself why haven't I sold books like x-y-z, I feel like a failure. If I examine my works, my current projects, my finished projects, focusing my eye on what has been done, I feel like I've come up short. If think about all the things I've missed out on, the times agents and editors have really thought about giving me a shot and decided not to,  yep, my stomach starts aching. If I think about all that I've invested into writing with no return, I feel nauseous.

But if I just don't think about those things, and instead write. Now. In this moment. Today. The world opens to me. I forget that so many have found success faster than me. I forget the failures, the missed opportunities, etc. I feel so alive, like I'm stretching toward something far-reaching and rarefied. The words bubble like a fountain of water, just spilling out in an unending way. I go all century plant -- agave. It blooms once in its long life. I feel like that plant that is sure to bloom at the end of its long life. Perhaps, my determination to live in this moment, in these words, in this scene, will give the you the jolt you need to write today, chicken by chicken.

I'm so glad I'm travelling with you all. Here is something to check out if you have a minute. I love this bit of inspiration from Kate DiCamillo. I love her story. I understand what it means to be at the margin of society better than most. When Kate says, "You're a loser." I tear up every time. I hope that you will be kind to yourself this week. What you are doing now is important. Don't warp it with anything negative.

Next month I'm going to write about what rattles me about the written word. I will dig around in Edward Bulwer-Lytton's quote: "the pen is mightier that the sword" and offer advice to help you "set the world on fire."  Meanwhile, everyone, seize the day!

Here is this week's doodle. I call it: "Wolverine Chicken."


Finally I'd like to add a quote for your pocket.

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.
Corrie Ten Boom

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chicken by Chicken: A Horrendous Book

Hi folks, I hope that you have dedicated yourself to the work. This week I'm  continuing my series called Chicken by Chicken. I'm riffing of a fine writing book title by Anne Lamont called BIRD BY BIRD. You must write at least one horrendous book to write one very good book. I know, this is daunting news. Who wants to write  a horrendous book? You must write a book that is full of telling, plot holes, weak characterization, and way too much description or not enough. Your book will be a slog to read. You won't like it. It will discourage you unless you are an eternal optimist. It will be very hard to write this horrendous book. You will sacrifice to do it. When you complete it, you will feel you have climbed a mountain. It will  be a rush and most people around you will not "get" your enthusiasm. You will put the book aside for a few weeks and avoid it like a scared chicken. Then one day you will pick it up again and realize just how bad it is. Ouch.

Once you have written your horrendous book, you will start writing again. No, not a new book. You will begin writing your horrendous book again. You will cut scenes you love, you will see better ways to move your plot forward, you will begin to understand your characters and reshape them into more authentic souls.  You will be focused and  work on your book in a balanced way (if you are lucky.)  And after months of struggling, you will reach the end of the novel  again, and now you will have a mediocre book.  It will be meh, but you will feel that have climbed a big mountain. Only your writing partners and a few close friends will still be encouraging you to go on with this. You may now have some doubt roving around in your heart. You will feel weary. You will put the book aside for a few weeks (avoiding it like a scared chicken) and then finally pull it out again and realize it is OK. It's nothing special, but at least it has a plot, real characters who make some sort of sense. You will repeat this process again and again. You might repeat it 5 times, 10 times or more. 

Finally you will come to a draft that your scared chicken-self will pull out of the drawer and read. This book will need some copy editing. You might have to change a word here or there. But it will not be bad and it will not be meh.  Keep a box of tissues ready. You will feel you have reached the moon, invented time travel, and climbed Mount Everest. You have distinguished yourself in a most special and important way. You haven't attemped to "get published."  You have written a very good book. It is a masterpiece.

Getting published it not the same as writing a good book. But that is for another post.  I hope that you dedicate yourself to writing an awesome and lasting book.  I'm  happy to have had the chance to cheer you on.  I will see you next week with more inspiration.

Here is the next doodle. I call this one "Wonder Twin Chickens."

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chicken by Chicken -- The Work

Hi folks: This week I continuing a series called Chicken by Chicken. This is take on Anne Lamott's BIRD BY BIRD, a helpful writing book. The idea is you take the writing journey one day at a time. You take it one word at time and that the important thing is always the writing and not the publishing. Writing for me is chicken by chicken.  That's how I roll.

Last week I wrote about the next big thing my book PROFIT.  That was a whole lot of chickens. This week, I'm going to muse about who writers are and what the do. I find that writers are generally dreamy folk, are often introverts, many have heard the news that their head is stuck in the clouds. All love to read and find it akin to breathing. Most have several outlets for all that creative energy, including music, art, landscaping, interior design, architecture, science, computers, dance, and more. I think writers face a little bit of disdain at times from folks who don't write because the work of collecting together a bunch of ideas that hopefully sets the imaginations of the world on fire is  a little outside the realm of general experience.

Many writers struggle with the inward doubt they are not trying hard enough to do the work.Writing is like this dragon dancing around inside of you and you are spending your time trying to tame it. You struggle because there are many chicken steps for writers that are frowned upon in the general population. They include staring out the window, not paying attention to current stuff, a predilection of being a little unaware of the time, need for quiet and breathing, talking to yourself in the car, walks to ponder the next step, naps to sleep on that idea, analyzing every story you come in contact with, oh, yeah, there is also so many hours in front of paper and screen, adding, taking away and shifting around words.

Don't be hard on yourself because you've chosen writing as a profession. It's a little different. Enjoy it. Chicken by chicken. I hope this wandering musing will help ground you, will help you create masterworks, will help you embrace who you are and what do.

I love to draw chickens, especially Halloween chickens. Here is this week's doodle: Wonder Woman Chicken.

And finally my quote for the week: Every memorable act in the history of the world is a triumph of enthusiasm. Nothing great was ever achieved without it because it gives any challenge or any occupation, no matter how frightening or difficult, a new meaning. Without enthusiasm you are doomed to a life of mediocrity but with it you can accomplish miracles.- Og Mandino,

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Chicken by Chicken -- The Next Big Thing

Hi folks, My friend Vijaya Bodach tagged me with "The Next Big Thing." I'm going to use this as a springboard for some insider stuff from the world of working writer. I hope that my personal journey will give you some needed encouragement for the days ahead.  My title "Chicken by Chicken" is a play on Anne Lamott's book title, BIRD BY BIRD, a helpful writing book. Chicken by chicken is how I roll as a writer. 

So here is my current project, it's sucking up a huge portion of the hard drive of my brain. Normal stuff for me when I'm polishing a book: family members talk to me and I don't answer until they physically shake me, I see people at the grocery store and don't remember to say hello until five minutes later after they are gone, and I forget to eat until I have a pounding headache.

"The Next Big Thing." 

What is your working title of your book? PROFIT

Where did the idea come from for the book? Off the top of my head, from a blue marble with a story to tell, an eight-year-old boy cursing in the middle of a street, a vision of a ghost trapped in a well, and a deep desire to make some sense out the travesty of war -- the idea for PROFIT sprang out of some weird and wonderful places.

What genre does your book fall under? Space Opera with a dash of cyberpunk thrown in, YA

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  Ah, nothing like casting your own book. Right now, I'd like to see Chloe Moretz as Sarai. I'd like to see Jaden Smith as Terb. For Zilard, maybe Keegan Allen. Cody Simpson might work for Krish. Magine? Clarice Pempengco. My movie will require some voiceover actors too.  Mosi the Rat, I think Jonah Hill.  Risat the Oracle, I think Carrie Fisher. Yes, something like this cast would work.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  In the far-flung future on the lush world of Poeia, fifteen-year-old Sarai Corren cares for shopping and snagging a hot guy; she never thought she'd have to go to the ends of the Milky Way and pay a terrible price to get what she wants.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? My hope is it will be published traditionally.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  About a year, but spread that over four years.

May we see an intro? Here is my first line: "You’re the goddess of avoiding bots." Krish's lips touched Sarai's ear. His raven hair brushed her cheek. "How did you know it was coming?"

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  I think some comparisons could be made to these books: THE STARS ARE OURS by Andre Norton, Orson Scott Card's ENDER'S GAME, William Gibson's NEUROMANCER with a slice of Douglas Adams' HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? I was inspired by (of all things) the story of David, the books of Mark Twain, Robert Heinlein and Madeleine L'Engle, and the sacrifices made by peacemakers.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?  I'm asking big questions about war, literacy and technology. I say: rattle the cages!  I'm letting the idea of identity roar within my pages. You might be challenged and comforted  at the same time by my vision of our galaxy.

This is an informative exercise. You might try it even if you don't want to publish it on a blog. Oh, yes, one of the rules is to tag some authors and ask them to tag five more authors(only if you have time and inclination, of course): Candilynn Fite, Andy Sherrod, Ellen McGintyKathleen Ruth, Katherine Bond. Thanks for dropping by and letting me spend some time chatting about my current project. Come back next week

Here is my doodle:  I call it: "Chick out of Control."

Here is the quote for the week:

I don't know which is more discouraging, literature or chickens.  E. B. White