Monday, December 28, 2009

WHAT WILL THE NEW YEAR BRING

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what the coming year will mean to me as a writer. Every year that adds to my age improves my insight, which only leaves me more and more confused about which direction I should go. The older we get, the more we realize how little time is left to us to accomplish our goals. And so perhaps I should revamp those goals. I've tried to do that this passing year, yet find myself consistently going back to my first love: fiction.

I'm smart enough to know that chances of getting published quickly in fiction are shrinking with the continuing changes in the publishing world. Editors are more reluctant to buy because of the economy. They want those million dollar books, even though they aren't quite sure what they might be. Still, I'm stubborn enough to continue to submit fiction whenever I see someone is buying what I have.

Over the past few years I've come to the conclusion that I may never see all the books published that I've written. That leads me to think perhaps I shouldn't write any more fiction, but rather concentrate on getting published. What I desire is to be in the middle of a book when the end comes, but when I think about that I get upset. My wonderful words cut off before the ideas are completed?

So, perhaps for this year, I must simply charge forward as if I'm twenty something and have tons of years ahead of me. For none of us really knows, do we, how much time we have left.

I lost a dear friend this year, an outstanding, talented writer who was much younger than I am. She left this earth trailing bright stars across the universe. Her short stories will long endure and that's all any of us can ask, as writers. That our words endure.

So to all my writer friends and those readers who enjoy my work, I can only say, be who and what you want to be for as long as you can. May the coming year find you reaching for the stars.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'M REMINDED OF FRIENDS

Even as we hurry through all the last minute tasks preparing for the family celebration that is Christmas, the celebration of the birthday of Jesus Christ, I think of all my friends who are such a blessing to me. Their spirits gather round me to wish me a peaceful holiday and a prosperous New Year. Prosperous, not in possessions but in blessings.

As I've journeyed through life, I've found many friends. In the passing years I've lost some of them, too. But even as I grieve for those losses, I look up and discover a new friend.

May they all feel as blessed as I do in those friendships. May you all find peace and good will and have a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 07, 2009

SETTING A GOAL IS REWARDING

While unofficially participating in writing a book in a month I wrote about 240 pages of a new novel which I've been thinking about for a long while. That's close to 12 chapters and not nearly all of the book, but certainly more than I might have written otherwise.

The success reminded me of when I was younger, struggling to take off pounds after having two babies. I worked and worked, doing well one week, slip sliding the next. Then a bunch of the local women in the neighborhood got together to have a weekly meeting, weigh in and exchange recipes we'd found and set goals for our weight loss. In those days lo-cal recipes were much more difficult to find than now. I do remember some of them were awful, but a few were good. Otherwise it was Jello, salads, tuna and chicken. There also weren't so many sugar free foods. However, the point I'm trying to make is that when we all gathered and vowed to lose our weight, it was so much easier and we met our goals.

I've never had trouble writing every day, but until I set a schedule of what to do each day, I didn't get as much done. And when I attempted to write an entire book in one month, I managed to write over half of mine. I've mentioned before that my schedule includes promotion, writing blogs, taking care of a website, writing a weekly column and a monthly column, writing short stories for anthologies, and writing on my work in progress.

Recently I finished two non-fiction books, taking about a year to do all the research, visit communities in four counties and write the books. One includes 150 recipes, some I found in my mother's collection, others I borrowed from acquaintances who've always lived in the Boston Mountains. Copying and editing the recipes took a while. Then there were stories to write for the book called Arkansas Meals and Memories. Most of those were from my own childhood, but a few had been told to me. Besides all the writing I came up with 137 photos for the Boston Mountain Book and about 12 for the meals and memories book. There were those to scan and write cutlines for as well.

There's only one way to consistently accomplish so much, and that's with discipline. While talking to a couple of writers last week, they said they had good intentions, but then life got in the way. I told them that if they were serious about become writers, then writing would be part of that life. Nothing else would get in the way. Thats, of course, if you don't break a leg or something worse. I'm talking about everyday living. We place our need to write in our life and nothing else gets in the way. Of course, there's writing for a hobby. If that's the case do it when you feel like it.

I remember a few years ago I had back surgery, and on the third day was sent to rehab. Every afternoon we had a few hours off and I could be found in my wheelchair at the table with my Alpha Smart (didn't have a laptop at that time) writing. After I came home I wasn't allowed to sit more than 20 minutes at a time, so I alternated writing for 20 minutes sitting, then stood at the kitchen cabinet and continued to write.

I guess it comes down to how badly one wants to write. I've been doing this for 25 years and it's become a habit to show up in my office right after lunch and write till supper time six days a week. I have a friend who sometimes writes 16 - 18 hours a day. He lives it and breathes it. I have to have time off. I like to read and watch movies, have a few favorite TV shows. I sit in the sun when it shines and walk around in the yard in the spring and summer. I swim every day in the summer. So writing is not by any means my entire life. It is a major portion of it.

Why? Because I enjoy writing so much. If I didn't I'd quit. It's not glamorous nor financially rewarding. It's enjoyable and addictive; the idea that people read what I have to say and get something out of it thrills me.