Last week’s whiny and meandering post had a lot to do with a writing funk I’ve been in. There’s so much I want to do and so little time, blah blah blah, and I found myself paralyzed. This week, however, I FOUND THE SOLUTION! (Repeat that with manic abandon. Go on, do it, you’ll feel good.)

Ever-Suffering Writer Mama: [on the phone with Homes] I did it! I FOUND THE SOLUTION!

Homes: To what?

ESWM: To my malaaaaaise. I FOUND THE SOLUTION!

Homes: By the tone of your voice, I can only guess the solution was crack.

ESWM: Hahahahaha! No! The solution is…


ESWM: [sighs] The solution is a LIST!

And Homes, bless him, didn’t even snark. He just said: Huh. It’s been awhile since you used a list.

Because he knows me.

Why did neither of us think of this? Whenever I’m bummed or in a funk, all I’ve got to do is write up a list of tasks (writing-, housework-, or exercise-related) and start working on them. As soon as I cross off the first item, it’s like MAGIC. I feel accomplished, productive, and a hundred times more beautiful.

Because I’d been paralyzed and listless (haha! Get it? That was totally an accident) and focusless in writing, I made a list of writing tasks. And because everyone else is doing NaNoWriMo but I don’t even want to try, I’m doing my own version: NaNoWhateverMo. Each of the tasks is fiction-related, some of it drafting, some of it craft-learning, and a lot of it revising. I get to work on two different projects. The tasks are small enough that I can finish them in an hour or less.

NaNoWhateverMo: Thirty Fiction Tasks in Thirty Days

  1. Do GMC (Goal-Motivation-Conflict) for TR
  2. Do plot points for TR
  3. Re-map ATRS with index cards (um, already started this one. It takes WAY longer than an hour. Days.)
  4. Write synopsis of TR
  5. Rewrite opening of ATRS
  6. Maass workbook exercise on character for TR
  7. Freewrite how to make big moments bigger for ATRS
  8. Rewrite a big moment for ATRS
  9. Maass workbook exercise for ATRS
  10.  Rewrite another big moment for ATRS
  11. Write scene for TR
  12. Write scene for TR
  13. 3 pages freewriting on TR
  14. Put new structure for ATRS in Scrivener
  15. Write new scene for ATRS
  16. Brainstorm new ATRS ending ideas
  17. Rewrite a big moment in ATRS
  18. Maass workbook exercise for ATRS
  19. Maass workbook exercise for TR
  20. Write scene for TR
  21. Write scene for TR
  22. Scene/character chart for Jameson
  23. Read how-to chapter on synopses
  24. Write ATRS synopsis
  25. Write new ATRS scene
  26. Write scene for TR
  27. Maass workbook exercise for TR
  28. Write scene for TR
  29. Rewrite a big moment in ATRS
  30. Add Maass exercise stuff to ATRS Scrivener file

I’ll try to post progress on Twitter…but notice social networking is NOT on the list. With limited time, we’ve got to prioritize, and writing wins. Anyone else skittish about NaNoWriMo and wanting to commit to something a little less intense?

Writing Prompt: Found Letter

Recently I started following the YA Muses blog, after I met Katy Longshore at a local get-together. The prompt is this: “At a used book sale, you purchase a leather-bound volume. At home, you thumb through the pages and an old letter tumbles out. What does it say? Write the letter.”

Here’s my response to the prompt.


I knew you would find this letter if I hid it here, among the books you call friends. You can’t look at a book without picking it up, thumbing through it, getting pulled into story.

You call these books “friends” and I imagine your surprise when one of them betrays you with this note.

Because the stories are the problem. A woman obsessed, you cannot stop. You paused briefly to give birth, but before your daughter was even weaned, already the pen, the paper, and the book were there, open before you while she slept at your breast.

No one needs to tell you these years are fleeting. You watch them scream past, measuring them in unsellable manuscripts, pausing to breathe and scream back only if something, or some little person, dares to disrupt your solitude, silence, sanctuary.

The guilt of the time you take for your failings is heavy indeed. No wonder you take photographs, evidence of what time you do spend with her, hoping that those frozen memories will be enough to convince her, when she’s older, that everything you did, you did for her. That it was always about her, never you.

Let me tell you a secret: the dedication at the beginning of your manuscript – published, unpublished – will never be a substitute for you.

Put down the pen, and play with your daughter.