Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Perfect Party

Even though I have debilitating jet lag, I did not go to bed early last night. Instead, I went to a party of 15 women writers from the San Diego area. Now, this doesn't happen very often, but when it does it's just very cool. At Patty Santana's house, a whole gaggle of us came together to eat, talk, and laugh. My friends Amy Wallen, Judy Reeves and Drusilla Campbell were all there, and I met some writers who were new to me, including Sylvia Mendoza and Gerri Brooks. Amy brought spinach salad, and Gail brought lasagne. There was pasta salad, chicken, and rice. Victoria brought a fabulous chocolate cake for dessert. And I don't know who brought the hummus and bread, but it was fab. Best of all was the conversation. We took turns talking about our work. How refreshing to be in a social situation where a whole bunch of women are talking about their writing! I was in heaven! I noticed the descriptions got longer and funnier with each writer. Just being in the company of all those writers of different ages, genres, and backgrounds was empowering. This is the way it's supposed to be. Thank you, Patty!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Back to Intuitive Writing School

We're on vacation, which means that for once all four of us are together for two weeks in a row. Granted there have been some tense moments over weird food and too many hours in the car. But now that we've had some time to relax and settle into the unstructured, slower pace of family travel, we're having a good time.

Meanwhile, as much as I'm enjoying my family and time off from work, at least part of my brain is busy gearing up for a new project. You know what I mean, don't you? Maybe it has something to do with the time of year--that back-to-school, fresh-start kind of feeling that seems to come over me as Labor Day approaches. Now as my family sleeps late in the mornings, I am scribbling away in my notebook. I have ideas about characters, setting, and plot. I write every morning--nothing major, just a few handwritten pages. But it's enough so that throughout the day, as we drive to scenic spots, family visits, restaurants, and museums, my ideas keep developing, growing, and picking up steam. I'm getting excited about getting home and devoting more time to this project and allowing it to take on a life of its own.

You're probably working on something, too, maybe every day in your notebook and computer, or maybe just in your head. I know that some of you are planning to enroll in Intuitive Writing to begin after Labor Day. Personally, I can't wait. We're going to write every day. I'll be talking to you in daily emails, and individually on the phone. We'll do some Intuitive Writing Marathons, just like last year, to power out those pages. Some of us have finished whole books the Intuitive Writing way, and I'm looking forward to experiencing that with you all again.

Some of you have not tried Intuitive Writing yet, and maybe also some of you have yet to try writing fiction. All this trusting-your-intuition business can seem a little scary. It might feel like I'm asking you to skydive, and first you want to make sure it's safe. So while you're still in the plane you think it would be a good idea to open your parachute and make sure it works. You know what, though? The parachute only works after you jump. But the great thing is, if you're willing to make that leap, it works every single time. It's the same with writing. You aren't going to be able to get it all figured out ahead of time. There's no way to test your plot before you write. But I promise that if you start writing, even without a solid idea, the project will show up to meet you.

To join us in Intuitive Writing (either as a new student or as a returning student), just go to my web site and send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

And a Giant Woohoo Was Heard Throughout the Land . . .

I have an inspiring story for you. On May 30, 2007, a new student (friend of Cindy, one of my first Intuitive Writing students) emailed to say she wanted to sign up for my online writing course. I always have a phone conversation with new students to find out where they are with their writing at the moment. In our first phone call, my new student, Beth, told me that she had been stuck in her current novel for a long time. She'd started it in November 2005. She was hoping to get unstuck and finish the draft by September. Or she might just have to give up on this book. Maybe it wasn't going to work out.

Now, it's a huge bummer to be stuck, as I'm sure we can all appreciate. But my feeling is that being stuck is neither serious nor permanent. I told her Beth she was closer to being finished than she thought, weeks away, not months. I remember that at this point, she sounded a bit frustrated by my lack of understanding. Maybe she hadn't explained the situation correctly; I didn't seem to get it. No, I told her, I got it. I sent her the Intuitive Writing course materials. Beth was skeptical but willing, and she started June 1. She pieced together lots of drafts of the novel to make a coherent whole. She wrote some some new parts, smoothed transitions between old ones, and moved parts around. Looking back at her emails, she comments that this process is "SLOW" (in all caps). I'd have to disagree with that description, because 2 1/2 weeks after she started, she reached the end of the draft. She sent it to Cindy to read. Cindy gave Beth some helpful comments. By July 2, Beth had made changes per those suggestions and sent the manuscript to a publisher.

While she was waiting for the publisher, Beth thought it might be helpful to have an agent. She found a good candidate, queried, and submitted. On Thursday, that agent declined to represent the novel. That's really too bad for the agent, because on Friday (yesterday), the publisher bought the novel, and today a contract is on its way to Beth.

Just in case you ever feel stuck, remember it's not serious or permanent.

Friday, August 3, 2007

At Long Last

Oh, my goodness, I can't believe you're even still checking--I've been gone so long! First there was a lot of fatigue and a messy house, due to that shiny new thing I mentioned below. Then my sister was coming (I don't think she'll mind if I blame some of my slowness on her, do you?), so I had to clean some more. And then we all went to my mom's for a few days . . . I'm sure you know how this old song goes, right? Life happens, and there you are a couple of weeks later with no new post! The horror! Now I'm scheming about a new book. I have an idea, and I'm scribbling away in my notebook. See how that works? Ideas are infinite. They just keep flowing.