Mar 19, 2011

The Claire Stories

I've mentioned on both Facebook and Twitter that I probably won't be posting many Claire short stories for a while.  I've written more, but I have a couple reasons for not posting them.

The first reason?  After I wrote those stories, I revised the first novel one more time.  This last revision made the novel even better, but it changed Claire's world in some fairly significant ways.  Some of the early stories simply couldn't have happened.  I knew this when I was changing the novel and, ultimately, I didn't care.  I want Claire's story to be as strong as it can be and those stories were necessary casualties.

The second reason?  Some of those early stories contain secrets that shouldn't be revealed right now.  They are delicious little morsels for books as yet unwritten.  It's funny because I started writing short stories based around outtakes from the first novel.  I couldn't use the scenes in the novel, so I created stories around them.  Now the opposite is happening.  I'm writing short stories and I'm lifting them into novels.  Outtakes and Intakes:  there's a balance.

I've been asking myself if I have any stories that absolutely must be on the website and yesterday I posted, "Not A Girl." Since Xander doesn't make it into the first novel, I feel better not leaving him in a bad relationship.

One other story keeps bugging me too, asking for inclusion.  Since my previous attempts to revise it haven't been altogether successful, I'm not sure it will have its way.  If it behaves on my next try, there may be one more story.

This is not to say that there will never be more short stories from Claire's world, but we may have to wait for the outtakes from Book 2.

Mar 16, 2011

Elizabeth Gilbert

Last night I went to see the lovely Elizabeth Gilbert at The Egyptian Theater in Boise, Idaho.

The house was sold out - as well it should be.  Gilbert was a wonderful speaker.

Most of the prepared speech centered around Gilbert's marriage to writing, beginning with a vow she made to her craft at a young age.  She describes stages of her writing in terms of relationship.  As a young woman, she and writing lost themselves in passion.  She didn't need money for her craft, only to be with it, to commune with it, to get lost in it.  Then she sold her first article to Esquire and her relationship to writing changed and matured.  She started to have expectations of writing.  She says when Eat, Pray, Love made it big, it was like being married to an accountant for twenty years and waking up next to a rock star.

"I'm not sure this is good for our relationship," she quipped.

The next book brought the relationship to crisis.  Her best-selling memoir provided financial security and success.  She wrote that next book, looked through it, and realized it was not good.  She described how artists all know the feeling of the art not living up to the vision we have of the art---"like a non-identical twin"---and then she added: "This was not like that. This book really sucked."

For the first time in her life, she took time off from writing.  In relationship terms, she said this was the point when she looked across the table at writing, the kids grown, the successes lived, and she asked of writing, "Why are we still doing this?"

The talk culminated in her realization that she'd been trying to write to please all the readers of her very-successful memoir, something she'd never before tried to do.  Writing returned to her when she remembered she'd always just written from her heart.  If she remained loyal to the natural flow of words, she might never have another huge book, but that would be okay, because she'd still be in her relationship with writing.

Gilbert was delightful and warm.  She flattered Boise with her comments on the city, The Egyptian Theater, and The Cabin (sponsor of her appearance).  She took questions after her talk and, although she clearly answers many of the same questions at every appearance, she responded generously and thoughtfully.  One of my favorite replies was to a question about critics who say Eat, Pray, Love is too self-absorbed:  "It always amuses me when someone levels this criticism at a memoir.  It is a memoir."

The line for Gilbert's post-talk book signing?  Seriously long.

Mar 5, 2011

Note cards!

I'm so happy to say that this new book is planned!  I made it to the end of my note cards with a solid plot, wonderful characters, and some believable villains.  Yay!  I have the confidence to know this book works from beginning to end.

Of course, there's always the flip side:

The moment arrives when I realize I'm writing a book and it's a good thing I'm attached to those characters and that plot and those terrific villains--because I'm going to be stuck with them for a long time.

Mar 4, 2011

My Twitter Rules For Authors

1.  Being a friend is more important than being important. If you're on twitter to show how important you are, you're doing it wrong. Talk to people.  Build relationships.  Join communities. Show an interest in the people who follow you. This is called "being a real person."

It's not enough to show up and expect to be adored.  Honestly, if you're perceived as a snob, you are better off staying away.  I refuse to buy books by authors with better-than-thou twitter personas.  Lots of authors are good and I choose to give my money and my time to nice people.  I have a thing for nice people.  And publishers.  And book sellers.  Nice people rock my world.  I want them to succeed.

2.  Don't keep score. RT the things that make your heart sing.  #FF when you are moved to do so.  Be genuine in the things you promote.  When you compliment someone, mean it with your whole heart.

3.  Acting in love is never a mistake. Encourage people.  Inspire people.  Fan the sparks of creativity until they catch fire in others.  If you're asking, "What's in it for me?" you're doing twitter wrong.

4.  Stories matter. The stories we tell say something important about who we are and what we value.  Keep telling your stories even when it seems like no one wants to listen. Believe in the power of your own story.

This is where my advice may seem a little contradictory.  Following back is a good thing to do.  Talking to people is critical.  Being open to new ideas is essential.

BUT: you are not required to continue following anyone who makes you feel even one bit smaller than the amazing person you are.  It's okay to unfollow negative energy.  Sometimes it's mandatory.  If someone makes you feel your story is too insignificant or too small, if someone makes you feel like the writing world would be better off without you in it--unfollow that person immediately.  Cultivate an atmosphere of love in which to write.  Listen to the voices that help you get better.  Get rid of the ones that tear you down.  Period.

5.  Individual voices matter. No voice is so small it has no value.  This goes hand in hand with the last rule, but it's the flip side.  No one deserves to be your stepping stone. If you're pushing someone else under so you can jump across the stream, you're doing twitter wrong.

6.  Diversity matters. Same begets same begets same.  Brilliance bubbles up in the Pond of Different.  Twitter gives you the opportunity to listen to people who are not just like you.  Listen.

7.  Positive energy comes back to you. If you want good for others, they will want good for you.  Want=energy.  Want=prayer.  Want=power.  Be careful what you want.

8.  Happy trumps smart. Write your heart out.  Surround yourself with others who support you.

9.  Enjoy the presence of other writers. Twitter allows us to peek inside the habits and minds of our writing colleagues.  And wow.  Seriously.  Wow.  It's a carnival in there.  There's no neat little rule book to follow.  There's no one set path.  There are bright colors and clowns and dark alleys and balloons and ferries and ferrywomen and goblins and dragons and monsters and one room with boxes of epiphanies and cloaks in various shades of red.  If you can imagine it, a writer is working with it.  Give yourself permission to absorb this amazing energy and find your own wings.  I started #amwriting to get writers talking to each other and the energy there still blows me away.

10.  Life is short. Everything we do, we do right now.  Hug the kids. Write the novel. Eat with friends. Pour the wine. Twirl. Spin. Laugh. Think. Tweet.

Now is all we have.

So, you know what I'm saying:  tweet in the now, but make time for the rest.  Especially the spinning.  Never underestimate the power of a good spin.