Saturday, July 31, 2010

What a weird week.

This week has been...odd. Just odd. And I haven't done nearly enough writing. I'm going to take care of that tonight after work. Write, Libbie! Write!

Friday, July 23, 2010


Today my shrink brought up an interesting observation that I've never examined before. I write -- or, really, I use language as a tool, whether it's written or spoken -- as a means of controlling my environment. I have little control over the world at large, as is the case for most humans. But I have complete control over what I create, and what I say. And I learned at a very early age that words have power over people.

Words are not just my craft, but the rudder and keel of my craft. And my hand is always on the tiller. Words do what I want them to do (most of the time) and that is my power over my world.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't you hate it when...?

Sometimes a book takes over and bitch-slaps you and makes you do it the book's way.

Baptism for the Dead has always wanted to be in present tense. I tried to write it in past tense since that tends to be easier to sell, but the book is not giving any ground. When I allow myself a little deviation and go with present for a few paragraphs or a couple of chapters, some mighty delicious prose and a really fascinating plot just come ripping right out of me. When I rein it in and go back to past tense, I feel like I'm beating my head against a wall that has a whole bunch of outy-facey spikes on it.

I am just about to hit 20,000 words. I've been working on this book since May. I should be closer to 60,000 words by now. I think if I keep it in present, my productivity will increase dramatically.

Present tense it is. You got it, boss.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I think by this point we can safely affirm

that my resolution to update every three days has been a failure. Oh well.

I have been sticking to my writing, though. Not only am I making progress on Baptism for the Dead (even trying some experimental stuff I've never done before with writing...and liking it! We'll see whether it stays after revisions, though) but I am writing a poem a day and posting them on Facebook.

I only recently became interested in poetry, due in large part to the influence of my writers' group (from which I am taking a brief hiatus -- hope to be back soon). Most of the participants write poetry and their enthusiasm for it has infected me a bit. I've been reading a lot of it lately, and I've tried my hand at it with moderate success. I believe I've written something like twenty poems by this point.

The thing I like about poetry is that it forces a writer to convey mood or image in as few words as possible. I am all for embellished, drawn-out writing -- I love juicy writing and I'll gladly drool all over it -- Fitzgerald, Nabokov, etc. -- and I've never really gotten into the prose writers who are famous for their concise style (Hemingway, etc.). I mean, just look. I put three em dashes in the preceding sentence, for corn's sake. But I need to learn to write in a short, spare style, too. I think a writer can never have too many gadgets in her toolkit.

Poetry -- reading and writing -- has been an excellent teacher for me. I feel that I am getting better and stronger and faster (read: more confident) with poetry, much like Bicentennial Man. My word choices are becoming more precise and easier to decide upon, I'm paying much greater attention to devices such as internal rhyme, repetition, consonance, and how words will sound when read aloud -- and of course all this carries over into my prose-writing. I am feeling so good about the impact poetry has made on my prose that I would like to suggest that any of you reading this blog who are also writers should make a serious attempt at learning how to a) appreciate and b) write poetry. A good start for me was Steve Kowit's book In the Palm of Your Hand.

Stepping up my game and writing a poem a day has been a wise move for me. I've only been at it for five days, but it's kept me more focused on writing in general (I should say even more focused) and it has made me spend more of my non-writing time musing over words and images. What will make a good poem for today? What am I feeling right now? What imagery is sticking in my head? What do I want to make readers feel? All day, not just when I sit down to hammer out my daily quota of words.

It's not so much discipline as neurosis, really.

Anyway, I might decide eventually to post my daily poems here. That would make me focus a little more on writing some kind of content for the blog. We'll see. In the meantime, if you feel like following me on Facebook, you'll have to do so under my "real" name, Libbie Mistretta (note: not technically my real name, either.) I mostly whine about my writing on Facebook, and/or post silly links, and/or update my wordcount for whatever novel I'm working on.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Well, okey-dokey.

The synopsis for Egypt 2.0 (still no title for that thing!) and the first 20,000ish words are with an editor at NAL. To recap: I am not expecting a sale, but I am flattered that they requested an unfinished novel, and excited to see what they have to say about it.

Waiting is hard!

Back to work on Baptism.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Putting some pep in my step

Things have been wild for me lately, but I am back to pouring every spare ounce of effort into Baptism for the Dead. I'm really excited about this book and want to get it finished, revised, and turned in to my agent as soon as I can.

I've been struggling throughout the first quarter of the book, getting down a meager 1000 words a day (sometimes less!). Considering I usually write a minimum of 2500 a day, sometimes twice that, this has been somewhat discouraging for me. However, yesterday I found my groove and wrote 3600 words. I'm hoping today will be similarly productive. The book has wrapped up its setting and character development (stop cringing -- it's necessary in a novel that relies heavily on atmosphere, and in which the antagonist is the prevailing culture of an entire Idaho town) and is now starting to get into the part where the action really begins.

I'm a bit wary of this book. I have some pretty serious emotional investment in it. It is hard to write in some parts. It's harder to write it and to know that some of the things I have to say might offend people I care about. But I feel compelled to write it anyway, and I feel certain it's a story that needs telling. I don't think I have the power to change an entire culture. But I might have the power to touch a few individual hearts and minds, possibly to offer some comfort to people who are hurting or angry. And I know for a fact that the story I want to tell, although fictional, is true. There are people who go through what my characters will experience. There are people who live these lives. And I want to make others aware. I guess that's a task I can do. I take it seriously, and I hope I do it well.

The adage goes, "Fiction is lying to tell the truth." Ain't that the truth.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I'm here.

I'm still alive. I'm still writing.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Vacation day is here at last!

I am heading out for a three-day weekend on Lopez Island in the San Juans. Ahhhh...really looking forward to it. I'll be there with the people from my weekly writers' group (this is the annual summer retreat, apparently, where nothing much is done other than steak-eating, wine-drinking, and Boggle/Scrabble tournaments. Sounds like just the thing.)

I may or may not have internet access. So if I don't, I'll update after Monday.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Warning: This Blog Post Has Nothing to Do With Writing.

I am making cookies right now. Double-chocolate cookies. Then I am going to eat them. I anticipate deliciousness.

Just thought you'd like to know.