Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Pen and Paper Storm

I've never considered myself a pen-and-paper writer. I find ink much more intimidating than a blank Word document. It could be because "delete" is much easier than scratching out pen marks. Or it could be a type of rebellion against the years of school and note-taking that led me into adulthood. Somewhere in my mind, lined paper equals preparing for exams and lectures that bear no importance to my daily life.

To fight this fear, I keep buying cute notebooks to throw in my purse so that I'm ready when inspiration strikes. Inspiration is usually outweighed by the gravity of WRITING IN INK and then staring at my own scribbles. This is why I bought a netbook. It's a cute little red HP number. It's not fast, or flashy, but it works. With it and Dropbox, I have my WIP at my disposal just about anywhere.

This perfect system was tested a week ago. My husband and I went to Eastern Europe on vacation without kids. Visions of sitting in a cafe, typing away by the Danube, gave way to the reality of a fun but packed vacation. We had a great time. We saw life from a different perspective. We did not have ANY down-time that didn't involve a train or a plane. And I discovered something about myself: I can't write on a train or a plane.

I dutifully took out my tiny computer, opened my document, and stared. And stared some more. And finally opened Bejeweled Blitz and gave up. The problem with the Word doc is that it's perfect for when I'm ready to WRITE but not for when I need to THINK. Sometimes I don't even realize which stage I'm at until I sit down to try. I finally get why the blinking cursor is so scary. Fortunately, I came with a backup notebook. It's small, and cute, and the only way it could be less scary would be if it was pink. It doesn't say, "Write your novel here!" Instead it says, "Jot down ideas! C'mon! No pressure! You know you want to!"

Which is exactly what I did.

On a train from Prague to Budapest, surrounded by loud Europeans and field after field of sunflowers outside my window, I brainstormed. With a pen, paper, and a cute little notebook. By the time we'd arrived, I'd figured out how my WIP was going to end.

Don't tell my husband, but it may be my favorite part of the trip.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Writerly Wolf Pack (OF DOOM)

I read a blog post a while back by Myra McEntire about how writers tend to run in groups. I may have just seen The Hangover, and somehow reading this turned into a fit of giggles with my writing partner, Cheryl, about how I was a one-woman wolf pack no more. Once we were done throwing quotes at each other, we realized it was true.


I have a wolf (Cheryl) who listens to me complain about every flaw in my plot, and rejoices with me when a scene comes out just right. She also bravely shares her work with me, and allows me to do the same.

I have a wolf (Rain) who not only cheers me on, but makes sure I don't lose focus on why I started writing in the first place and encourages me to read. She's perky and relentless.

I have a wolf (Sophie) who reads my scenes with the eyes of a reader, and lets me know what sounds good and what falls flat. She swoons with me over the hot boys, but tells me if they're talking too much (or too little.)

I have a wolf (Sara) who sends me pretty pictures for inspiration and always tells me the truth. She also bakes me cucpakes when she's in my neighborhood, and trust me when I tell you that you wish she'd bake for you.

And I have a wolf who is sort of like a den mother (Heather), giving me the hard advice I need when I need to hear it, but making sure I don't give in to the temptation to give up. (Also, she added "OF DOOM" to my wolf pack name, so she's completely made of win.)

The most amazing thing about my pack is that, save Cheryl and Sara, I've never "met" them. I was lucky enough to bumble into them through various internet mediums and we bonded over shared interests (reading, writing, Hot Boys With Swords.) As much as I wish we could meet over coffee and brainstorm, there's usually someone around no matter when I shoot off an email or tweet an SOS. Besides, I can drink coffee and bullshit plan from my couch, so it works.

In fact, Twitter has gained my Wolf Pack (OF DOOM) several Secret Members, who are so secret that they don't even KNOW they're in my wolf pack. Please don't tell Julie Kagawa or Rosemary Clement Moore that they are Honorary Ancillary Secret Unaware Members. They might stop talking to me on Twitter if they realized that their tweets of "Oh, hey, that's funny!" or "Ash is mine!" meant so much to me. I think Jamie Harrington suspects, since she IS Totally The Bomb, but she still answers my IMs. *does the Secret Handshake*

If When I finally complete my manuscript, the words on the page might be mine, but they never would have made it there without these women. This post is just to say thank you, since I don't have the luxury of an acknowledgements page. If you're a writer too, I hope you're half as lucky as I am.

Long Live the Wolf Pack (OF DOOM)!