Monday, November 30, 2009

A Gift of Spirit and a Kick in the Pants

On Saturday, my friend LaVonne (75 years young) and I decided to drive to the neighboring town of Bayfield to visit the woo-woo store there, Pathways. I figured it was a nice way to spend a morning with a dear friend – it ended up being something so much more.

We were browsing the section with tarot and oracle cards. One set caught my eye: the Ascended Masters Oracle Cards. I was happy to see a “demo” or store copy open so I could see the beautiful illustrations of the deck. I lifted the deck mid-way and the card I saw first said:

Creative WritingArchangel Gabriel: "Make time to write down your thoughts in a journal, or pen an article or book."

I laughed out loud and told LaVonne that spirit must want me to get serious about my book writing (which I haven’t been lately).

The clerk asked what I was laughing about and I told her. She asked if I’d share the storylines of the three books I’ve started. I gave a very brief synopsis and noticed her eyes teared.

The book I’m working on the most is about a Cissy, a 16-year-old in 1960s Mississippi who shoots her father, who’s abused her for the past 10 years. The clerk told me of a relative who has a daughter in Mississippi named Cissy who is 16 years old and tyring to be emancipated from her parents because of her father’s sexual abuse.

I still can’t believe what I heard. I took it as a gift from spirit that I’m on the right track and to keep writing!

That evening, I searched the Internet for information on Archangel Gabriel. Here’s a paragraph I found that hit me like a ton of bricks:

Gabriel loves to coach and help you with writing. He can open doors for publication and will help you in the enjoyment of your writing. He will push you into action. He will reassure you that it is safe to be powerful.

If that wasn’t enough, the web site said the crystal associated with Gabriel is citrine – the crystal I bought at the store earlier that day.

So, today, I feel renewed and energized to continue Cissy’s story. I have the crystal next to my computer and a steaming mug of decaf.

Thank you, spirit, for an early Christmas present! Readers and writers, have you experienced these types of synchronicities in your life? Please share!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reading, Writing and Guilt

After the AROHO writers’ retreat I attended in August, I was gung-ho about signing up for writer’s blogs and subscribing to writing magazines. I bought works by short story writers I hoped to emulate.

I work at a national nonprofit as a marketing/communications specialist three days a week (Tuesday-Thursday). I envisioned Mondays and Fridays as days to devote to reading and writing. Instead, I’ve been in a quagmire of guilt because I haven’t done much of either lately. The stack of books and magazines sits on my nightstand and mocks me. “Look at the money you spent on us!” “Stop being such a cry baby and get to work!”

I’ve always been such a motivated ‘employee.’ Yet, I’ve found it difficult to stay energized about my craft when I’m only accountable to me, myself and I. I suppose self doubt fuels apathy, which then translates to procrastination.

Yikes. What a pity party I’m having today. Writers – how much do you read and how do you make time for it?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's the Plot, Stupid

Oh my, it’s been a while since I last wrote. Life has been busy but in a very good way. I just got back from 10 days in the British Virgin Islands on the lovely island of Tortola, which my husband and I have visited three times. It’s not an island for those craving night life. The slow, plodding way of life lends itself to rum punches, long naps in the sun and plenty of time for reading.

I foolishly brought my laptop thinking I’d either make enormous progress on the novel or start a new one for National Novel Writing Month. Well, I did neither. It was my vacation and writing seemed like work. This realization makes me a little sad but I’m giving myself a break. I NEEDED REST!

I do have something writing-related to report. The resort had a library of bestsellers with suntan lotion grease marks, dog-eared pages and airline ticket stubs as bookmarkers.
While on vacation, I read five paperbacks (almost six). The authors were biggies: Picoult, Baldacci, Higgins Clark, Grisham, Cornwell.

The bestsellers were plot- not character-driven, although the books had extremely well-developed characters (including the long-standing medical examiner Kaye Scarpetta). The authors hit you over the head with the issue or conflict right off the bat and continued to remind you of it. Characterization was secondary and flowed from the storyline.

This may seem like ABCs to veteran writers but for those of us who also drift toward literary fiction, characters can take over our works. We become so closely associated with them that we don’t stop to put ourselves in our readers’ shoes. They might just be asking “Who cares?” unless we give them a reason to read more. That involves putting our characters up against personal or physical challenges.

Have you tried to balance plot and character in your works? I’d love to hear about it.