Category: | The Writing Life


I just got back from the AWP writer’s conference, which was held this year in Denver. For three full days I went to panel after panel about publishing, writing, and making a living as a creative professional. At night I went with my friends to the AWP sponsored reception where folks let loose. If you’ve never seen a room full of writers dance their asses off, you’ve missed out on one the worlds most ridiculous and fun occurrences.

As much as I learned about the practical elements of writing (grant writing, cover letters, etc.) what I took away from the experience was how much I love the writing community, and how we as writers have to actively nurture it.

What we do is a solitary endeavor. We sit at our keyboards, typing furiously day after day, hoping to pay the bills while creating art, but with our heads down and our fingers tapping away, it’s easy to forget that there are so many of us out there doing the exact same thing.

What I come away from this conference really cherishing is the community that I am so privileged to be a part of. I am seriously lucky to work on the staff of a literary journal, have a kick ass writing group, and know other fun-loving writers who will not only give occasional feedback, but also celebrate with me when there is cause to.

I may not be any closer to finishing my novel then I was five days ago, but I’m loving being a writer, and somehow that makes the journey all the more fun.

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The San Francisco Writers Conference

If I learned one thing this week at the SFWC, it’s that there are a million things a writer can do besides write.

In two and a half days I sat in on eleven seminars and three key note speeches, and every one at least touched on how to utilize Twitter, Facebook, blogs, websites, LinkedIn, internet radio, you name it. It’s very exciting, and very distracting.

Ultimately the thing that matters the most (and this came up many times over the weekend as well), is that your writing be good. No, not good – excellent. You can tweet your heart out, and gather thousands of followers, but if your novel sucks, all the networking in the world simply won’t matter.

This brings up a swell of anxiety in me that only the Maverick surfers would dare ride, because I did very little writing this weekend. True, I wrote a few posts for my other blog (if you haven’t seen it yet check out, but after going three days without touching my fiction work, I’m surprised how distant it feels. I guess it was a busy three days, but still, I’m having trouble even remembering where I left off.

So I need to exercise a little time management today. I can blog, and tweet and book my face off, but I also need time to turn off all those distractions and sit quietly with Talulah Jones, because really, it’s all about her.

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Where Inspiration Waits

Last week I worked on my outline. By laying out a sequence of cards, and forcing myself to work all the way through to the end, I was able to see where the weakest part of my story was. It was a little disheartening, because the spot I struggled with was the part I’ve always wrestled with and I felt like I’d made no progress at all.

Gritting my teeth I jumped back into my rewrite. The problem in the outline was with the resolution, and I desperately hoped I’d figure it out before I got there (and that when I did figure it out, I wouldn’t have to rewrite the first 200 pages – AGAIN).

Later in the week, I was tucking my daughter into bed. She looked up at me with those perfect blue eyes and said “don’t go, mommy.” So I sat with her while she fell asleep, with thoughts of my story bouncing around and around my in my head. That trouble spot felt like a hangnail. I physically felt uncomfortable. I put my head down on my girl’s bedside and gave up – and that’s when it came to me.

That’s what I love about writing. I never know when or where the answer will come, but it always seems to. I’m starting to trust it, and the more I trust it, the easier it comes. I’m sure there’s some deep philosophical or Buddhist precept here. Perhaps I have an emotionally damaged muse who only wants me when I don’t want her, who knows. I’m going to release it from my literary mind this once and not name it. Just let it be.

I think this is part of learning to be a writer.

Every day feels like an adventure.

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