Archive | February, 2012

USC Women’s Conference

I’m going to this USC Women’s Conference tomorrow.

The emails I got sold it as a chance to discuss “professional development, women’s health, personal wellness and financial strategies.” Honestly, I’m not really sure what to expect.

The basic truth of it is, these types of networking events are key for anyone who works alone, from a home office.

As a freelancer, I have no water cooler, and online social outlets are just not the same as meeting people face to face.

So I’ve filled the wallet with business cards, and I’m off.

I’ll tell you all about it on Friday.

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Stoking the Fires

It’s funny sometimes how life tends to synch up. Some call it fate, others karma, or even divine intervention. I’ve always chalked up to luck.

Whatever it is, it happened to me this morning. I went to yoga for the first time in a long time. It was a new class, and a different teacher than I had ever had, and it was awesome. Aside from being a kick-ass workout, I happened to drop in on the day that the instructor was discussing the third chakra. Apparently this class has been working its way up the energy chakras class by class and the third is about the core. On the more metaphysical side, it’s about the strength that we all need, the burning fire that keeps us motivated and powerful.

The instructor talked throughout the class (without ever doing that annoying yoga voice – the one I use with my kids when I want them to sleep), about how we all have to nurture that inner fire and strength, and that we must build our own core (physically and metaphysically), before we can branch out and help others. It was kind of about being selfish, so that you can then be a source of good in the world.

Anyways, I’m sure I’m getting that all wrong, but the takeaway for me is that it’s okay to say no. Sometimes you have to turn down things you would really love to work on, because if you spread your fire too thing it will die out. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about. A friend send me this link the other day to an article about just that – How to say No.

It’s something I always have trouble with, because there are so many things I want to do and support in this world. Right now, with two small kids, a freelance career and a novel that is chugging along by the tiniest of baby steps, I really just need to focus. My plate is full.

In the meantime, I need to practice saying no. Not to sound too California hippy about it, but I need to stoke the fire that is my third chakra. Right now it’s a tiny little flame, but I think it has the potential to be a bonfire.

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Pillars of Eternity

I’ve been reading this book, “Pillars of the Earth,” for what feels like forever. It’s quite long, and even though the author (Follett) can sometimes digress extensively into the details of church construction, it is a damn good story.
The thing is, I feel like it’s actually three books in one. The story starts off with one set of characters, and adds more and more, jumping perspectives with ease. Then, about 300 pages in, the focus shifts to more minor characters and some of the ones I loved the most are killed off. Then the story changes locations entirely, taking me into a whole other world. (I’m trying not to give anything away, because it really is a fun read.)

At this point (and I still have several hundred pages to go), I don’t even really need to know any of the events that happened in the first half of the book. I seem to be reading a whole other story.

So I wonder, will he bring it back to the opening scene at the end? Or was there some other reason that he decided not to make this into a trilogy? It would seem, from a marketing perspective, that selling the story as a trilogy would have made both Follet and his publishers a lot of money.

Take the Hunger Games for example. Trilogy. Delicious. Totally could have been one long book. I assume that the reason it’s not a trilogy is because the publisher knew I’d fork over the dough for each one, after loving the first installment so much.

As an author, it’s got me thinking. How does one know if they have a trilogy on their hands, or just one really long book? Is it an artistic choice? Or a marketing thing? Anyone out there have any perspective on this one?

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An Almost Perfect Day

When I made my new years resolutions for 2012, one of the things I wrote was that I wanted to start spending my day as a writer. That is to say, I want to treat this like a real job, and not do things during the work day that a boss wouldn’t approve of. That includes spending hours on Facebook, but it also means not doing laundry or working on my baby’s photo album, or spending three hours on the line with the f**king people at Wage Works to try to get our health insurance to work.

Well, the health insurance people win, because we need what they’ve got and they only answer their phones during business hours, but other than that HUGE time suck, I’m getting pretty good at keep my writing days focused on writing.

Today is a great example. I spent the first three hours of my day working on the novel. Sweet sweetness.

Then I finished up some work for a client, revised a proposal for another client, finalized a contract for a big job and now I’m going to spend some time on the final bits of work that still needs to be done on the Northern California book.

A little art, a little paid work, a little lining up of paid work for the future and then some non-fiction writing. That is a pretty nice day of writing. It’s very encouraging.

In truth, my actual perfect day of writing goes like this:

Work on my novel (for which I have been paid a huge advance)

Break for lunch with a friend at a nearby cafe.

Read for an hour or so while sitting in my garden (which is bursting with veggies, even though I hardly ever pick up a shovel)

Work on the novel for a few more hours

Cook dinner for the family and play with the kids until I tuck them into bed.

Read until I fall asleep.


But until I’m a world famous novelist, I’ll settle for the day job of writing, writing, writing.

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For Daniel

It may seem like I haven’t been blogging much the past two weeks, but really I’ve just been cheating on you.

My other blog, The Digging Deep Campaign, has been going through some big changes. We added 6 new writers and I’ve been managing their posts, making myself dizzy with editorial work. As I’ve been getting used to the new schedule, I’m afraid I’ve been neglecting my own blog here. So sorry. I think I’ve got it under control now. If you haven’t checked out the Digging Deep blog in a while, you should stop by. We have new content EVERY DAY now, and it’s all good.

As for my own writing, I’m finishing up the polish on my Northern California book before sending it to the publisher. I’ve integrated the notes I got from my writing group, and am working on the fun intro material (basic history of Northern California, writing a personal preface, that sort of thing). The best part so far was dedicating it. I’ve never dedicated a book before. I’m giving this one to Daniel.

I thought about making the dedication read: “For Daniel, can we go home now?” We’ve been talking about moving back to Northern California since we got to LA, but somehow that didn’t seem right.

I opted instead for: “For Daniel, who loves Northern California almost as much as I do.”

It makes me wonder who I will dedicate my novel to. When I finish it, in like 30 years.

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Is blogging a waste of time?

A friend of mine from grad school commented on my Facebook page the other day that, while she likes me and doesn’t want to offend, she hates the whole idea of blogs, even mine. Here’s how she put it:

I honestly don’t “get” blogs. If I have free time, I would MUCH rather spend it working on a novel rather than anything else. I like YOU–very much — it’s just the whole concept of “blogging” that is problematic to me and has been for years. It seems narcissitic to me and reeks of self-promotion over production. No one needs to know what you’re thinking every day. They just need to read your work. And to do that, you need to be focusing on the WORK not your “writerly image.” 

She goes on, but that’s the gist. And in some ways I agree. No one needs to know what I’m thinking every day. But I also have to take her comment with a grain of salt. See, this is a woman who produces a book about once a year. She is prolific, to say the least.

Unfortunately, not all writers can work on their novel all day every day. I wish I were one of those people, but honestly, if I’ve worked on my novel for four hours in a day I’m pretty happy with that. The rest of the time I’m exercising other writerly muscles, like my freelance work or my blogging (which I really only spend about an hour on every week).

I think blogging can be promotional, but it really only works in that capacity once you’re a big enough celebrity that people want to read what you have to say, at which point, do you really need the promotion? No. For me blogging is more about discipline and expression. The discipline of writing something regularly (for me it’s Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and the expression of myself in my writer community.

I’m pretty sure most of the people who ready my blog are my other writer/artist type friends, so I see this as a way to talk about what I’m working on, how I’m feeling about it, etc. I also like to share little things I discover that make my life easier as a writer. Certainly nobody’s under any obligation to read it, but I enjoy writing it. And I enjoy reading my friend’s blogs and knowing what they’re up to (I’ve listed some of my favorites on my blog roll in the right hand column, btw).

So maybe it is a waste of time, and narcissistic, but I like it.

Excuse me, I need to go spend some time gazing loving into the mirror now.

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