Friday, October 31, 2008

The Importance of Writing Friends

Just now, I got a package from my dear friend Minion. In it was a writer's survival kit: a cheesy romance novel, a bar of dark chocolate, and a mix CD full of songs to inspire writing. Just add a glass of red wine, and instant sanity.

I am going through a huge period of upheaval in my life right now. A relationship that has been absolutely pivotal in my life is changing. I've left a place where I was very happy for a future that's uncertain. Some days, writing is my only escape--and other days all I want to do is huddle in a corner and cry. My writing friends keep me sane--and keep me writing even through troubled times. Here are a few reasons why you need good writing friends.

They keep you grounded. A good writing friend brings you down to earth when you get caught up in your own mind. She reminds you that you rock when you're mired in self doubt. She convinces you that your dreams are possible when you're sure they're not. She keeps you from feeling overwhelmed with your own puniness in the face of your goals. A good friend reminds you that success happens one page and one word at a time.

They keep you inspired. A good writing friend shares her writing mix and her first drafts. She commiserates with you on your worst sentences and shows you work that keeps you going. She suggests readings. She keeps your mind on your writing even when you become uninspired.

They keep you on track. In my writing circle, we have weekly contests. Whoever gets the word count first gets a prize. It really gets my competitive streak--I'm committed to a word count every week, and I'm answerable if I fail. If you're having trouble being productive, a group of committed writing friends who care about your progress can be a godsend.

There's a cliche about writing being a lonely life--and in a way, it is. But a writing community is often essential to success. A group of reliable writing friends may just make the difference between another unproductive year and your first novel.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Long Way on a Notebook and A Dream

Hello. The Odd Angle here. Thank you Minion and Maverick for asking me to contribute.

I'm not in the industry, like Minion or Maverick. Like many a would-be writer, I live a life outside of the publishing world: A day job, if you will, to pay the bills. A home to clean. Family to juggle. Pets to care for. And on top of everything else, a need to create.

Writing is both a love and an obsession. And while I would love to be more in the "scene" or able to dedicate more of my life to it, I recognize that there are things that are closed to me, for lack of a better term. There really isn't much in the way of publishing where I am. No real freelance outlets either. And at my age, I think it might be a little difficult to get to where either Minion or Maverick are in their lives.

But would I want to publish other people's works? Sometimes, I admit I find the idea appealing. Sometimes, though, I don't think I could handle the responsibility over holding other people's fragile dreams -- or egos-- in my hands. And while I would love to be my own boss and write all the time, I don't know if I have the hutzpah to do what Maverick does -- give up the comforts provided by a regular job to forge my dream with my meager successes under my belt.

My interests include both academic and fiction writing, usually not at the same time. And I've been known to work on either type of project with gleeful and occasionally singular abandon when they strike me. I fill notebooks and writing journals with ideas, bites, and scenes. I bring my notebook-of-the-moment everywhere: you never know when and where an idea might strike. It's my tie to writing while I'm at work, on the bus, or waiting in the doctor's office. It's a lifeline to my dreams that I don't think I, as a writer with a day job, could do without. More on that next time, though.

Without the time or connections, though, what keeps me at it? Good question, but to answer it, I need to ask myself two others.

First: why do I write?

Because, I love it. For all of the other problems I have with my own writing, I just can't escape the fact that even if I didn't write it down, I would still be creating. I would still have this urge to tell stories. Humans are, to use an oft quoted phrase, storytelling animals. Its how we've created our societies, explained our boundaries, and imagined our futures. And I love the stories people tell each other almost as much as I love telling stories myself. Language, rich and strange, the construction of it to share hopes and fears, dreams and ideas is a beautiful -- and very human -- thing.

Second: what keeps me going in the face of all my other daily expectations of job and family?

Apart from the above? Faith in my own abilities (this includes the ability to amuse myself, if no one else), hope, and a little story I'll pass on to you.

In college, my mother's good friend was an aspiring writer. He was good, but my mother, ever the realist, would warn him that it was unlikely he'd go anywhere with it. Find a job. Drop this nonsense. But, he had faith in himself, hope, and a lot of dreams. He kept at it.

By the time I got to college, he was a bestselling author with several of his books on the New York Times Bestseller list and one book that has since been turned into a play on Broadway.

He kept at it.

He tried hard.

He believed that he could do it.

And so do I.

Even if I have a little of my mother's realism in my "don't quit my day job" attitude.

And, one day, when I finally publish I'm going to dedicate it to both of them.

-The Odd Angle

Next time: Writing for the Real World: My best friend, My writing journal

Monday, October 27, 2008

Welcome Back to Minion and Maverick!

We've been on hiatus for a long time, but never fear, we couldn't leave our readers forever! Over the next few weeks you'll notice that we are welcoming a new blogger, The Odd Angle, our very own average Jane who talks about her writing, reading, and creative adventures outside of the publishing sector. We know that you'll love her honest wisdom and perspective that reminds us that we are all fighting a creative battle-- no mater where we are stationed.

Over the coming weeks we'll be updating you on our NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) adventures and our novel progress. This year I am taking a break from the chick lit novel I've been working on (I'm 186 pages in and a little bit smug as I've never written this much of any story in my life!) to write a paranormal romance novel about werewolves. Yes, it will probably be just a corny as it sounds.

I'm very much looking forward to telling you all about my adventures in British Publishing (some brilliant highs and some depressive lows). Its been a year or learning, growing, and big changes in this Minion's World. However, more on that a bit later.

For right now, I'd like to remind you that its once again National Novel Writing Month. So, for all you aspiring readers, get out there and get yourselves linked into NANOWRIMO. You can even watch my progress: Its NANOWRIMO's 10th Birthday, so let's all celebrate by getting our novelling groove on.

We'll be updating on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday basis, so stay tuned for more adventures.

Welcome Back!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Here we go again....

So, as you can see I've taken the summer off (and most of the Autumn as well). As we near NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) I'm all about getting this blog up and running again. I'll update you on all my writing and publishing adventures later this week. Until then, I'm just letting you know to watch this space!!