what is a squiggle?

According to fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Hill, a squiggle is a beginning point, a small, wiggly line on a page with the potential to become something more--a brilliantly drawn fifth-grade picture!

A beginning point. A silly phrase from my preschooler, my teenager rolling his eyes, or my kindergartner deleting my entire 3rd chapter...

Friday, August 31, 2012

Longing for some old-fashioned writer's block...

When we were first married, my husband and I lived in a tiny little town on the northern border of Nevada in a small studio apartment.  My husband worked anywhere from 12 to 20 hours a day doing set up for banquets at the local casino, giving me hours and hours to do nothing but write.

I would sit at our table with my word processor (okay, at least it wasn't a typewriter--I'm not that old!) and work on my current project until my lead character managed to get herself into a jam I couldn't get her out of.  Writer's Block.

My word processor was just that--a word processor.  It didn't have any games to distract me from my character's dilemma, no Internet to look up a possible solution.  Just a blinking cursor.

Inevitably, I'd start working on a different writing project.  Usually around chapter nine (I have a lot of unfinished projects from that first year of marriage that all end at chapter nine).  And again, I would write for hours and hours until I ran into another wall.

And then I'd stare at the blinking cursor for hours.

I miss those days.

Now, writer's block is far worse than a brick wall.  It comes in the form of seven demanding children, a house that seems to always need cleaning, and fickle technology that decides to break at the most inopportune times.

My hours of endless writing (or staring) have shrunk to about two hours a day. Around 1 pm, after the cleaning is done and after walking my kindergartner to school. That is, if my three-year old stays with his first movie choice and decides to watch the whole thing.  But most days, I manage a sentence or two before he changes his mind and takes another ten minutes selecting a new movie, or he needs to go potty, or he wants a snack.

Or wants to sit on my lap.

But when I finally get him settled, playing quietly and watching his movie, just when I get rolling on my writing, the garage door bangs open and my teenagers come home.  My overly loquacious teenagers.

They pull the bench up from the table so they can sit beside me as I type, filling me in on every minute of their    
seven or so hours of seminary and school.  After two minutes, I abandon the writing and give them my full attention.

When at last, they turn to their school work, disappearing into the depths of their rooms, the front door swings open and my elementary school children pour through the opening.  Snack, homework, reading with my kindergartner, and sorting through papers occupies my time.

And so goes my two hours of writing.

I love those kids, but sometimes I yearn for some normal writer's block!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Baring the Writer's Soul

Few professions require people to expose themselves the way writers do.  Sometimes, like now, knowing my newest manuscript should have arrived at the publishers for review, I think posing in a skimpy bikini might be easier than allowing someone else to judge my writing.  At least in the bathing suit I would be judged by physical standards, things I can change.  But in my writing...well that's me.  I can't write without infusing part of my soul into the work.

Maybe that's why, as a writer, I find taking criticism to be as easy as eating Brussels sprouts--not only do they taste bad, but they smell bad, too.  When someone likes my writing, that person likes me, because I am part of the writing.  And when they don't like my writing...maybe that's why family members don't make very good critics--they have to live with us after all.

And revisions?  Revising a manuscript is like taking a deep look inward, facing the parts of you that you don't like, and having the courage to cast them aside.  It hurts.

But writers do it.  I do it.


I'm not sure.  Perhaps it has something to do with holding that novel in my hands, my name across the front.  Or reading that one review that says I did something right.  Whatever that something is, it drives me to keep writing, to keep baring my soul...

And, as I move the mouse to click the "publish" button, to keep wishing I had chosen to model bikinis.