on reading about writing.

dog in fenceI’ve walked past this hole in the fence for five years. This is the first time I actually saw the dog’s head poking through. And this has nothing to do with this post, I just think it’s a funny photo. (He was a very nice dog, I patted his nose when I walked past.)

I have a problem.

I don’t read any of the writing blogs I subscribe to.

Here’s the thing: My RSS reader has 20 different writing-specific blogs. I haven’t read most of them in more than three months. I’m not really sure why.

When I do start reading them, it’s always helpful, thought-provoking or inspirational content. I like the writing blogs I subscribe to. Flipping through the list, however, I just don’t often stop and read. I should, since it does help whatever I’m currently working on.

Theory 1: There aren’t enough photos. Apparently I’m a four-year-old, and like photos in my blog posts. Sometimes even on photo-heavy posts, I scroll through the images and don’t actually read anything. Maybe if I could get the blogs as a bound book …

Theory 2: It makes me feel guilty. If I’m reading about writing, it’s just serving to remind me that I’m avoiding writing. And I’m excellent at avoiding my current WIP. Of course, maybe a third of the things you find on a writing blog are tips for having success as a writer. Tip one? Develop a writing habit, and show up every day. Thanks, blog that I’m using to avoid writing for reminding me of said fact.

Theory 3: Blogs written by writers are usually rather well-written–which, depending on my mood, can either be encouraging or is completely deflating.

I’m undecided which theory is the most likely. Truthfully, it probably depends on the day. So I’m sorry to all the lovely people whose blogs I subscribe to but don’t read often enough. It’s not you, it’s me.

— (Any favorite writing-related blogs I should check out?) —

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this.

Rock On Buddha

I like this site, and can get lost for hours, but nearly everything tagged writing is a favorite. Need a push, some inspiration, or someone to say what you’re thinking? Scroll through. And then keep writing.

I’m about halfway through my second draft of my novel. I figure I have about three more edits to go before it’s ready for the first round of readers. This is a slow process, people. But I’m not tired of these characters yet, so I’ll continue to slog.

“One does not ask if it’s worth it. We are people, there is no doubt, who exist solely insofar as we write, otherwise we don’t exist.”

Also, Buddha says rock on.

365 project: April 4

365 Project

My 365 project for 2013: One sentence a day, with the year-long goal of a story of 365 sentences by Dec. 31.

April 4
Alex nodded, and her mom picked up the phone.

(see previous sentences)

365 project: April 3

365 Project

My 365 project for 2013: One sentence a day, with the year-long goal of a story of 365 sentences by Dec. 31.

April 3
We can go from there.”

(see previous sentences)

365 project: April 2

365 Project

My 365 project for 2013: One sentence a day, with the year-long goal of a story of 365 sentences by Dec. 31.

April 2
“Well, then start with your meeting spot.

(see previous sentences)

365 project: April 1

365 Project

My 365 project for 2013: One sentence a day, with the year-long goal of a story of 365 sentences by Dec. 31.

April 1
“But Sam brought it, so I don’t really know.”

(see previous sentences)

365 project: January-March

365 Project

My 365 project for 2013: One sentence a day, with the year-long goal of a story of 365 sentences by Dec. 31.

I’ve had a request for a roundup to make this easier to follow. Here are the first three months of the year.

January-March
Alex stared out the window at the setting sun, thinking about the day before: She’d thought they were just goofing, but eventually Sam didn’t reemerge from the river.

She hadn’t told anyone, yet.

She wouldn’t know what to tell them, unable to remember exactly where they’d been in the woods that day. Alex knew, as the sun sank behind the mountains, one last shot of sparkling pink blasting out of the horizon, that he, and his body, had disappeared forever.

Shuddering from a sudden chill, she crept into the kitchen for her usual late-night cup of coffee. It had become a necessary ritual to help her stay awake when sleeping was a fearful and dangerous choice. When Alex fell asleep, the dreams started. Nightmares might be more accurate: Lately it seemed the craziness from her night-brain showed up again during her days.

The first time it happened, Alex thought it was coincidence. Or that she’d misremembered the dream about her mother’s car accident after the phone call from the hospital. When it happened again a few months later, this time with a coworker’s traumatic child birth, she started paying attention. Now, years later, she was pretty sure that whatever she dreamt would one day happen. So she tried not to dream.

Except last week—she still remembered that dream vividly. Sam had kissed her, and she’d never seen him again. No explanation, no resolution. He was just … gone. What really scared her was that she couldn’t remember all of their time on the river that day—what if she had caused her dream to come true? What if she’d done whatever it was to Sam that meant he was gone forever? If that were the case, how could she tell anyone he’d disappeared?

Alex just returned to her coffee, purposefully thinking about each warm, bitter sip, driving all other thoughts out of her head. If she tried not to think anything, maybe an answer would come. She stared out the window, into the night, not seeing anything besides her own reflection in the glass. Her third cup of coffee finished, Alex put the mug down and tried not to move.

She was startled awake by the telephone, her face numb from where it was mashed into the hard table, the coffee mug tipped over from her sudden movement.

“Yeah, hello?” Alex wiped something wet off her cheek—drool, coffee, she wasn’t sure.

“Hi Alex, honey, were you sleeping?”

“Yeah, hi mom, I guess so.”

Her mother sighed, the noise cutting across the telephone.

“You need to sleep more, dear, I worry about you.”

“You know I can’t, mom.”

“Are things still happening?”

“I don’t know.” Alex wiped a tear from her eye. She couldn’t put it off any longer. “Mom … there was something. With Sam, in the woods. We were just having a good time, and then the river was suddenly there, and … He’s gone, Mom.” It was such a relief to tell someone, she barely heard her mom’s confusion and panic coming through the phone.

“What do you mean, gone? Gone where? Disappeared, run away, vanished, what? Have you called the police?”

Alex’s silence answered her mom’s question.

“Alex, you have to call the police.”

“And tell them what, mom? That I lost Sam? That I can’t explain what happened? They’ll arrest me.”

“And it’ll only be harder to explain the longer you wait. I’m coming over, we can do it then.”

Alex made coffee: It was her way to self-soothe, like a baby with a pacifier. While it was brewing, she started going over the day in her head. Problem was, she couldn’t separate the terrifying dream about Sam from the horrible reality.

They’d met after lunch that day, planning on relaxing in the woods, a place they’d often went together. Sam had been having a terrible time at work, and although Alex didn’t know details, she knew enough to insist he take some time away. At the edge of the woods, they compared supplies: Alex had brought all the beer she could find in her house, which admittedly wasn’t much, while Sam unearthed a few joints from his pocket. They were set.

There was a favorite spot, where the pair had been going since elementary school, that was near the river but secluded enough that anyone walking by couldn’t see it. When they were young, it had been easy enough to crawl through the thick underbrush to the base of the giant evergreen, but now, as adults, it took some maneuvering. Even though they practically sat on top of each other, long limbs entwined, it was still the go-to spot. Alex knew they’d crawled in and cracked open a couple bottles of beer, toasting to their carefree afternoon. She knew Sam had started to tell her about his worries—the company wasn’t doing well and layoffs were probably coming shortly. She knew she’d tried to console him, that he was smart, and talented and would be able to find another job. She also knew that during their conversation Sam lit up and the two continued to smoke and drink. Then it started to fall apart.

Sam stopped what he was saying and just looked at Alex, his dark eyes resting on her face. It made her uncomfortable—they’d always flirted with each other, but nothing had ever happened.  They’d been friends for so long, Alex wanted to keep it that way. She was afraid of screwing up her relationship with someone so important to her. Was it part of her dream, or did he really lean in and try to kiss her? Did she really push him away and start yelling? Did he really take off, stumbling in the weeds? Or had they just been walking beside the river and he fell in, unsure of his footing, while she started laughing, thinking he was playing? And if they were walking, where, exactly had they been on the river?

A knock at the door made Alex jump.

“Hi honey,” her mom said, letting herself in. She walked over and hugged Alex. “We’re going to figure this out.”

“I’ve been thinking about it, mom, and I just don’t remember.”

Her mom sat down after grabbing a pen and a pad of paper from the countertop. “Start at the beginning.”

So Alex relayed her tale, leaving nothing out. Her mom knew about her substance habits. Who didn’t, in this town? It was no secret that Alex had often been in trouble in high school.

“Did you take anything besides the pot?”

“I don’t think so.” Alex rubbed her head in an effort to try and extract a clearer vision of the day.

(see previous sentences)

365 project: March 18-31

365 Project

My 365 project for 2013: One sentence a day, with the year-long goal of a story of 365 sentences by Dec. 31.

March 18-31
A knock at the door made Alex jump.

“Hi honey,” her mom said, letting herself in. She walked over and hugged Alex. “We’re going to figure this out.”

“I’ve been thinking about it, mom, and I just don’t remember.”

Her mom sat down after grabbing a pen and a pad of paper from the countertop. “Start at the beginning.”

So Alex relayed her tale, leaving nothing out. Her mom knew about her substance habits. Who didn’t, in this town? It was no secret that Alex had often been in trouble in high school.

“Did you take anything besides the pot?”

“I don’t think so.” Alex rubbed her head in an effort to try and extract a clearer vision of the day.

(see previous sentences)

the middle.

pair of applesWe’re only two, so there’s no middle. He programs, I write.

Sometimes, I don’t mind being in the middle.

• In a freezing car, give me the middle seat and squash me in there. It’s warmer.
• At a dinner party, put me in the middle of the table so I can hear all the conversations.
• I’ll run in the middle of the pack—let someone faster push me, but not get discouraged because I’m bringing up the rear.

But at the moment, I’m in the middle of my current WIP, and I kind of want to scream. I hate writing the middle of novels. My characters feel like they’re floundering. They’re doing whatever they’re doing, but all I can think about is what they should’ve done three chapters previous. At the moment, I’m writing scenes that I know are going to be cut, but I’m trying to power through to the end. Write it first, edit it later, no matter how painful, right?   The funny thing is that while I had the middle planned out—loosely, but planned—I have no idea how the end is going to turn out. I can’t wait to write the end.

Anyone else hate this particular middle?

365 project: March 17

365 Project

My 365 project for 2013: One sentence a day, with the year-long goal of a story of 365 sentences by Dec. 31.

March 17
And if they were walking, where, exactly had they been on the river?

(see previous sentences)