Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Got Weeds?

It’s springtime. Insert happy dance here. In my part of the world, this means that flowers are popping through dirt and bringing explosions of color back into the world. Unfortunately,

the weeds are busting loose, too. Which reminds me that weeding isn’t just for gardens.

I love beautiful writing. So much that it has kept me reading many a novel that I would have (should have) put down had the writing not been poetic and gorgeous. However, from a writing point of view, lovely prose for the sake of its beauty is like the pretty weed that adds nothing to the garden and may even take from it. Readers should not be admiring the writing alone. They should be engaged in the story. And let’s face it, sometimes sparkly writing detracts from a plot or pulls the reader out of a moment. Sadly, a writer must sometimes cut or dig out the gorgeous sentences with all their poetic symbolism simply because these lines do not serve the story.

So, as I grab my spade and head for the garden where all kinds of weeds, some of them pretty, are growing roots, I’ll be thinking about all the hard core weeding that I’ll do when I come back inside and revisit my work in progress.

When reading, how do you react when you stumble upon beautiful weeds? Do you mind being pulled out of a story for the sake of gorgeous prose?

Writers: Are you able to pinpoint and uproot the weeds in your own work?

* A big thank you to Carol at www.carolriggs.blogspot.com for tagging me with the Lucky 7 Meme Award. I have the best of intentions for playing along—really, I do. Stay tuned.

* The beautiful garden photo is by Chamomile at www.morguefile.com

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Those of you nice enough to follow my blog know that I was missing in action last week. I had the opportunity to attend the Highlights Novel Workshop at the Highlights Foundation in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. I didn't know what to expect, but the week was . . . Amazing!

Amazing and interesting participants with amazing stories guided and mentored by amazing teachers (well-published authors as well as an editor). We met for the first time on Sunday afternoon and spent the following five days getting to know each other and helping each other work through structure problems, plot snags, character issues, pacing situations, etc. with the novels we submitted to the workshop. Each person turned out to be supportive and encouraging of everyone else from the first moment of that very first meeting. Amazing.

The days included one-to-one mentoring for each of our novels, workshops on craft, time to apply what we learned to our novels (helping each other along the way), group critique sessions, group time where we wrestled with each other’s novel problems, and a few hours here and there for quiet writing in our cozy cabins. As an added bonus, we all had a blast together laughing and sharing our lives beyond writing. In summary: A week of writing and revising and talking shop and life with kindred souls. Pure bliss. As I might have mentioned—amazing.

As if all of this didn't make for a spectacular week, the staff of Highlights was amazing, too--friendly and eager to please. The kitchen crew in particular spoiled everyone rotten with delicious meals and snacks. And all of this amazing-ness took place in a rustic, wooded setting complete with trails for hiking and random,

happy dogs ready and willing to join a long trek through the woods. What more could a writer ask for?

The novel that I brought (the one that had me boggled and blinded) now has a focus and is back on track. I have a sense of knowing and confidence about what it is and what it is meant to be, in addition to new insights to apply to the rest of my work. Thank you to everyone involved in the Whole Novel Workshop at the Highlights Foundation.

If you’d like more information about The Highlights Foundation workshops, here’s a link to what is being offered at this point: http://www.highlightsfoundation.org/fw-sched-preview/ If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them, either here or via a personal message (you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, or via my website).

Anyway . . . Enough about me and my week. How was your week?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Recharges and Tune Ups

Do you ever wonder if your creative batteries could use a recharge? Or perhaps your creative engine could use a tune up? I’ve been feeling in need of something. My writing motor is grinding

and I suspect that it could use some fresh oil. I still bubble over with the love for writing and stories, but something is not clicking in one particular novel and this is keeping the whole from working in smooth conjunction. Critique pals and others have read this novel, delivered golden feedback, and pronounced it ready. . . but I’m not convinced (ARG—I reach for my hair to start ripping it out). I know in the deepest depths of my writer’s gut that something about this novel isn’t working well enough yet. But what?

Since grabbing fistfuls of hair is sort of painful and does not solve writing dilemmas, I applied for admission to the Highlights Foundation Whole Novel Workshop, a week-long mentorship program that promises guidance for each participant’s novel, group discussions and feedback, seminars, and lots of quite writing time. Could this be the tune up my writing self and my novel need?

So, I leave this coming weekend for a week of writing and mentoring seclusion. I hope you don’t mind that I will be absent from the blog world, but when I get back, hopefully I’ll have lots of great information to share.

Tell me, do you ever feel the need to recharge your creative batteries? Has a project ever left you baffled (and pulling at your hair) about what it needs?

Have any of you ever attended a Highlights Foundation workshop? Or some other writing retreat?

Happy writing and reading!