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Lost in the supermarket

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What we write about when we have nothing to write about...

This has been a weird week -- I've been getting up early every day, with the intent to get some writing done, but since I didn't get a chance to re-read the Blackbeard novel in one sitting last Sunday (stupid Super Bowl!), I wasn't sure what to work on.

I did get to read and comment on some great short-short stories by Jenn, as well as the opening to Sarah's way cool novel about magical Reservoirs in 1750s London, Elemental Magic. Reading stuff by my fellow writers always inspires me and gets me excited about writing again.

The plan was to do a story, but of my dozen or so stray story ideas, none of them grabbed me, and none of them looked writable in a week.

So I bugged two fellow writers about that three-way collab we've been meaning to do for quite some time now, and that's underway -- Tim sent me four possible openings, I chose one and tweaked it and added a couple paragraphs to the opening scene, and sent it on to Greg. Greg just finished up the first scene and left it at a cool point in the second scene, and now it's on to Tim. Who knows what crazy stuff is going to get thrown into this story...

Instead of writing, I did get a couple more novel ideas this week, most of them inspired by the morning news on NPR and the war situation in Baghdad, as well as some more insight into how to make another possible novel idea work (set it in the future! duh!). So I guess I am working on writing, even if I don't get much actual writing done.

And there have been some great posts about writing going on in various journals, starting with a great one in the always-interesting Word Blog of Barth Anderson:

"here's a pretty well-kept secret: after you've managed a certain facility with the writing rules, it's a mild, controlled psychosis that makes you a writer, not how many words you write per day."

And there's a whole lot more. It's funny, but I realized this at some point last year myself -- that once you learn how to tell a story, you're only about one fourth of the way there. You've got to learn when to bend and break the rules to tell the stories you have inside you. Great stuff!

In a more motivational mode, Neil Gaiman answers a question from one of his (many) fans who asks that age-old Writerly question: when do you just give up? Gaiman's response is wonderful; here's a snippet:

"As for giving up, well, sure, if you want to. Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it's always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins. It has no job security of any kind, and depends mostly on whether or not you can, like Scheherazade, tell the stories each night that'll keep you alive until tomorrow. There are undoubtedly hundreds of easier, less stressful, more straightforward jobs in the world. Personally, I can't think of anything else I'd rather do, but that's me."

Writing fiction is hard work, and it will probably never make you rich, but it is rewarding in its own way. I love Gaiman's response to rejection letters. That's the response you've got to have -- I've got about 800 of 'em in a file in my cabinet, and it's only a rare few that really bothered me.

(Also, the entry from Teresa Neilsen Hayden that Gaiman references about editors making rejections is a great read as well.)

And hey, if you've written a novel and haven't gotten enough writer talk, you can join Tempest's online chat tonight at 8 or 9 Eastern time, where they discuss novel-writing and related issues: "Community is important, I think. And one of the things that helps new writers is the feeling that they are not alone and that someone out there understands them." I may try to show up, if they'll take an as-yet-unpublished novelist (and if I'm not chilling out and watching a flick with Elizabeth, which is probably going to be the case).

Man, that has to be the most content-free entry I've ever made. It's been a sort of content-less week, really. Glad it's FRIDAY! Later.

Now Playing:
"The Essential Clash," The Frickin' Clash!

Now Reading:
Whisper to a Scream, Samuel Key (Charles de Lint)

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