Dear Literary Ladies

Dear Literary Ladies,
You seem like such a prolific bunch, but like the rest of us who live by our pen, you likely feel blocked from time to time. How does this funky, uncomfortable, and sometimes scary feeling play out in your mind?

The dark times that came to me as a writer, those sterile periods when it seemed that not only the inkwell but the wells within had dried, were suffered alone. There doubtless have been and are creative writers who have not encountered this dark experience. The sense of aridity, the mind a desert, that usually follows the completion of a book. That sudden panic when every theme or plot your brain has cradled no longer so much as stirs. Read More→

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How do you develop ideas for plots?

By | On Jan 18, 2015 | Comments (0)

Dear Literary Ladies, 
How does a writer develop plot, and more specifically, how do you develop scraps of ideas into plots?

When I start working on a book, which is usually several years and several books before I start to write it, I am somewhat like a French peasant cook. There are several pots on the back of the stove, and as I go by during the day’s work, I drop a carrot in one, and onion in another . . . When it comes time to prepare the meal, I take the pot which is nearly full and bring it to the front of the stove.

So it is with writing. There are several pots on those back burners. An idea for a scene goes into one, a character into another, a description of a tree in the fog into another. When it comes time to write, I bring forward the pot which has the most in it. The dropping of ideas is sometimes quite conscious; sometimes it happens without my realizing it. I look and something has been added which is just what I need, but I don’t remember when it was added.

When it is time to start work, I look at everything in the pot, sort, arrange, think about character and story line. Most of this part of the work is done consciously, but then there comes a moment of unselfconsciousness, of letting go and serving the work.

— Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, 1980

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Do I Have Enough Wisdom to Be a Good Writer?

By | On Jan 10, 2015 | Comments (2)

Dear Literary Ladies,
Sometimes I feel that I don’t have enough life experience to be a good writer. Everything I write, in hindsight, looks rather shallow and inauthentic. Should I wait until I’ve lived more fully, and gain some wisdom, before I bare my soul to the public in writing, or should I just plow ahead?  Read More→

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Why am I imitating authors I admire?

By | On Jan 03, 2015 | Comments (0)

Dear Literary Ladies,
Perhaps because I haven’t learned to trust my own voice, I sometimes find after I’ve written something, that it’s almost an homage to a writer I admire, and not very well done at that. Judging from my writers’ group, I know I’m not alone in this unconscious copying, but will I ever stop? Read More→

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How can I stick to a writing schedule?

By | On Dec 20, 2014 | Comments (0)

Dear Literary Ladies,
I would dearly love to call myself a professional writer, but I’m so easily distracted. After the kids go to school, it’s off to work, the gym, and endless errands. On weekends, I entertain family or visit with friends. In the midst of all this, I can’t seem to find time to write. How can I fit everything in?

To be a professional writer one must be prepared to give up almost everything except living. Amateur writers are not included in this rule (I loathe loud-talking amateurs of any walk of life.An amateur is an apprentice and should conduct himself as such, keeping his mouth shut and learning his craft). The first lesson to be learned by a writer is to be able to say, “Thanks so much. I’d love to, but I can’t. I’m working.”

—Edna Ferber, A Kind of Magic, 1963

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