Sunday, February 24, 2008

Woman Writer Abroad in the World

I actually remember the excitement when JFK was President and the horror when he was asssassinated. So I understand the feelings of young voters who think they've discovered someone new, like Sen. Obama, but I also know how extraordinary it is to have a woman candidate up for the office. I'm sorry that the Clinton campaign didn't speak more to that landmark opportunity. Obama keeps saying how he doesn't want to inject race into his campaign, which of course immediately injects it, so I wish Hillary had talked about how women are still dismissed and denigrated (just look at the way the media has referred to her as opposed to anyone else in the race). She sneezes and it's dissected, Obama can only walk on water. People are human, they want to jump on the bandwagon if they think it might be a winning one, issues be damned. She good, she's smart, she just doesn't have the speaker quality that he has. They made fun of Al Gore because of his lack of charisma and look what happened to us. And he actually won! I just hope that Obama is full of smoke and mirrors because our country can't go down any lower on the scale than it has with the Bushies.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

According to Karen Syed, CEO of Echelon Publishing, promoting your writing could be a fulltime job, and the most important one, if you want to sell books. At the past weeekend conference of the SoCalWritersConference in San Diego, I was bombarded by information and ideas on how to market your book. People were there with business cards, post cards, stand ups, bookmarks - all promoting their book. Some would collar you to tell you about their book and not so subtly suggest that you buy it. I felt like a waif, totally unprepared to do any of that. And I'm a former publicist (and was a very good one too!)

Karen stressed that you have to be shameless if necessary to get your book sold. Nothing illegal or illicit, but everything else in between. Putting my book along with dozens of others on a table that was crammed together was not the way to get sales. Not being a speaker or a group leader also relegated me to an unknown position. Still the weekend, in addition to give me the chance to meet Karen and some other agents, especially Adrienne Rosado of PMA Mgt. That and being surrounded by nothing but people who care about writing and reading - a great opportunity.
Now I have to get back to writing, BUT save time every day for some kind of internet push. Oh God, if only I were twelve years old, so it didn't all seem so overwhelming.

Friday, February 15, 2008

This has been a great week for the writer mode, not so much on the writing mode. I did two interviews, one phoner and one tv interview. I found out how much fun it was sitting and talking about myself, my book, my writing, my approach. my, my, me,me. me. My clients used to complain about having to do interviews. I think they lied, it's really fun! (Of course I haven't had the nerve to watch the tv interview. All those lines and dark circles, ugh.)

But writing is really the job of a writer and it's time to get back to a schedule of doing it. Just as soon as I return from the Southern CA Writiers Conference this weekend in San Diego. Then it's sitting at the computer and trying to push the new book along. I got some ideas at the UCLA workshop about character, but not so much about plot. It's hard having one without the other. More research should also help. Creating new worlds for your characters is exhausting work and the more details about what they saw, smelled, touched, wore, ate, - all these specifics are so important. But it still isn't story, just the grounding of story.

Someone in the UCLA class insisted that when she gets stuck she dreams the next part. Me, I'm lucky if I remember anything when I wake up. But maybe tonight will be the lucky dream.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Wow! After four days of intensive workshopping at UCLA, I both exhausted and jazzed. There's nothing like focusing on nothing but writing, surrounded by nothing but writers, which to jumpstart the creative processes.

First of all, I was lucky, being in a small class which had such diverse voices, but all interesting and engaging. Secondly, our instructor, Noel Alumit, (wrote "Letters to Montgomery Clift" and "Talking to the Moon") is a well-recognized novelist, who is giving and caring about the students. Thirdly, he brought in Sandra Zane, a literary agent from Global Literary Management, who also seems to care about writers, writing, reading, good work - along with all the rest of the business aspects. But she did remind us, as I've heard many times before, first page, even the first page of your work, as well as your query letter, most important words you might ever write. As a publicist, you always knew that an editor would give you ten seconds to engage their interest, make it work. (Now of course with emails, you probably don't get that much time before the delete button is engaged.)

Also, the class reminded me how much exercises can help in getting the creative processes going. Even those which don't seem directly connected to your work. It all feeds in and besides you can always find a way to use it for the work if you are truy open to new possibilities.

Okay, after four days non-stop, I have to go lie down and take a nap.
More later.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

There's nothing like being in class to force the creative energy. If only I could do this everyday on my own. But having a chance to work all day at writing just makes the blood flow quickly and the brain open up to all the possibilities. I'm at UCLA for a four day intensive workshop on "Memorable Characters and Dialog," and after just one day, I'm both exhausted and jazzed.

I'm thrilled at the level of work from my other classmates. You always go into this worrying whether they'll be so far beyond you or so far below. Even though the voices are so different, the work is really good and I think I can learn from their critiques.

Of course tonight I sit here nursing a twisted ankle, having a weak ankle is beginning to be a bore, but a frequent bore. So instead of writing some more, I'm off to apply ice so I'm not a cripple for tomorrow's class.

The saga continues.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Every teacher and mentor has said the same thing: you have to write everyday, even if it's just a paragraph, just sit and write for an hour. Writing is a muscle you have to keep exercising or it grows slack and soft. Sounds easy enough, but so many of us find that harder than getting on a treadmill or lifting weights. You can lead a writer to the computer, but can you make him/her start?

When you're in the middle of a project, when the ideas are swirling, it's so much easier. Even when re-writes seem endless, at least you have the outline of a story to deal with. Then you can point to something and tell your friends, that you need just one more chance, one more crack at making the novel right. Now that my first novel is finished, I have to sit down at and look at an empty screen and try to make my brain light up with the next line, the next word. Some people use prompts to jump start their brain, one workshop I was in mandated a word and decreed that everyone can write at least "six lines" to bring into the next session. Others like Natalie Goldberg (who wrote the wonderful "Writing Down the Bones,") encourages setting up writing partnerships where you meet with a buddy in public and do timed writing exercises. Another writer, Judy Reeves has written several books with all kinds of exercises and prompts do excite that writing muscle. Janet Fitch would suggest reading poetry before you started writing or listening to music. Being part of a writers workshop was very important to me in the development of my novel, FLYING OUT OF BROOKLYN, where I knew I was expected to bring in at least eight pages every week or every other week.

I finally learned that I'm a deadline junkie, I work better when there's a guillotine hanging over my head ready to strike if I don't meet my quota. No matter what the deadline, I wait until I've been backed up against the wall before my creative juices start flowing. This week I'm doing a four-day intensive writers class to juice my brain so I can go back to the new project I've started. I'll let you know how that works out.

Unitl tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Woman Writer Abroad in the World

Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008

First blog ever, so this is a new experience writing a public diary of thoughts.

As a newly published novelist, I wanted to share my experience of the process of getting a book out there for the world to chew up and hopefully not spit out. It may be a cliche but letting go of a creative project is very much like sending your child out by him/herself without Mommy protecting it. You've sweated over it, worked it, molded it, kept it by your side for years and now it's gone, finished, you can't take anything back.

The important thing to remember if you're in this situation is not to go up and down with each and every review or comment that you get about your work. You've given the work out as a gift to the world and you can't be killing yourself over every little nuance or imagined criticism you hear in someone's voice or quote. The cure for all of this is going back to the computer or the pen and paper (people do still write that way I'm told) and get right back on the horse and start writing again. It's getting late and I'm writing too many cliches for a first blog.

More tomorrow.