More This and That…

My “This” today is a written-versus-spoken mea culpa, and words of encouragement I meant to say in person the first Thursday of this month. There’s a “trying-to-be” startup writing group that is getting together the first Thursday of every month at our local Newberry Family Center. But I didn’t make the last lunch. I wanted to come, and I wanted to offer to the few that might have shown up, encouragement to write, write, write… So, I decided to post my undelivered spoken writing group encouragement thoughts and words here, since I couldn’t make it to that meeting[i].

I’m a firm believer that if you aren’t a “pen to paper genius protégé”which I’m definitely NOT!—you have to make the MISTAKES that make you better: and if you don’t WRITE and REWRITE, you never make those growing mistakes, and consequently, your writing doesn’t improve—and often, doesn’t even get done. You never get that “Great American Novel” out there, or that wonderfully enjoyable cozy series with protagonists you love and hope everyone else will too, or the chronicling of your special hero, or the biography of someone you admire, or your book of poetry, or book of songs, or how to do something you’re good at, or your own memoir… I know, it’s rather trite and obvious words of encouragement—but I don’t think the sentiment can be expressed too often. Write and make those mistakes that move us forward, make us better writers.

To quote from P.D. James’s 5 Bits of Writing Advice (taped up by my computer where I can repeatedly read)  “…Don’t just plan to write—write. It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style….”

My “That” thought in this post is also prompted by “what’s going on in my life right now”—and is also a follow-on thought to making those “mistakes.” First off is to write the darned thing, but then, once you’ve written it, finding editors you trust is crucial. I’ve been so lucky to have great editors along my writing journey[ii]. The Caretakers, my latest book, is now in its third round of edits—sometimes it seems endless. But the release date is finally out there for the first week in July. And here’s the point—a lot of my “how could I do that again,” are misspellings, grammatical no-nos I never seem to remember, leaving out articles, and chronology and character mishaps[iii]—which I attribute to my carelessness and grammatical blind sightedness. BUT, with every book, and with every editing report, I also learn something about my writing that I can improve.

An example from my latest of what I’m talking about—I tend to go on-and-on about what’s going on in my character’s heads and their environment—with not a lot of “action” or dialogue. It’s a tendency that can bring about reader loss of interest. Well, the opening of my latest went on and on—which I wouldn’t have noticed because I liked the character (smile). And there isn’t a lot of thriller/adventure type action throughout the entire book, which didn’t really jump out at me. My editors of course saw these areas for improvement—and in line with my “This” above, pointed out opportunities for me to improve my craft.[iv]

So, here’s the big questions(and my answers) I’m presenting in this post—aimed especially to “in process” authors. Do you want to write? Then doing is the answer, no matter how daunting it might seem. Do you want to be the best author you can be? Then pay attention to areas we can improve for readers to enjoy our work. My thinking is—”writing” is a process, not a done-deal.

Our next local writers “keep at it” lunch is just around the corner… Sure hope nothing happens to keep me away this time, because I need a little, “Have you started the next one yet?” encouragement.

Happy Writing Trails!

[i]New water lines being put in kept me at home.

[ii]Mike Foley, Kitty Kladstrup, and Virginia Moody.

[ii] See Gayle Bartol-Pool’s excellent post last Wednesday

[iv] In the case of The Caretakers, I’ve whittled out three pages from the opening, and I think I’ve “livened up” some scenes.

20 thoughts on “More This and That…”

  1. It’s really good to know that other writers go through basically the same challenges as we do ourselves. But it is even better to know that there are ways to fix those portions that don’t work, but first we have to get some words on paper. Without the actual job of writing being done, we aren’t writers. And once the words are on paper, we can edit. That’s the other half of writing. Great points, Mad. And relaying this to those who want to write or who have a few words written down just might help them to finish that novel or story.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I so agree, Gayle, that sharing and encouraging each other through shared experiences(sometimes agonies!) is a good thing. I don’t think our group will do much on writing techniques, but mainly the pat on the back physically and mentally saying “you can do it, now get writing!”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How perceptive you are and brave to bare your soul! You’ve hit the nail on what a true writer is: one who writes AND one who edits. I experience the first flush of success when the first draft is done, and then love editing and editing and editing until I’m either satisfied or sick of reading the darned thing and happy to throw it to the beta readers and editors. Leaving a week between drafts jelps, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Jill, we’re simpatico when it comes to the editing process! With each edit for me, refinement comes, not just correcting–making sure all the connections are there–events, character development, symbolism…on and one. And yes, coming back after a time, my “seeing” stuff definitely improves!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for visiting, Paul, and yes, P.D. James is often my guiding light on writing. And the point that “writers write” is always there for me–not just think about this or that plot twist or character trait–I have to tell myself, go write it down!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I WAS writing a bunch, then life (or the clean up after a death) happened. Then Africa. And Italy. And Paris.
    Will I write when I get back to the good old US of A?
    Not sure.
    I may be just a reporter after all, more than a novelist.
    But who knows, there’s summer, and Hubby’s turn to travel for 10 days….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jacqueline, and letting me know it’s not just me thinking what I do! And talk about subject to errors–sometimes I just amaze myself(smile). My only excuse, I’m thinking about the story line…


  5. Madeline, I’d love to see the before and after versions of The Caretaker. You probably don’t want to reveal the before (I wouldn’t), but it would be a good teaching tool. Thanks for your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maggie, my last edit was with a proof copy (which I’ll destroy down the road!) And for some reason even after all my seemingly endless electronic edits, “stuff” jumps out in paper that makes me shake my head in wonderment! Thank you so much for visiting–means a lot to me.


  6. Oh Jackie, I’ve been on FB a couple times today, following you around Paris, mentally eating with you all that French food, and your trek to the top of the Eiffel tower! I couldn’t have done that. And I just saw on TV about the heat wave they’re having. My mind’s eye sees this great travel tome with all your traveling adventures–I’d read in a heartbeat! I think it would be a great book–and you have plenty of pictures to go in it. You’re doing research–and the more gelato involved in that research, the better I say!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for this thoughtful post. I have far too long kept completion of my novel in the dreamer stage. Part of this frozen in my mind weakness has been in convincing myself that I’ll be about the actual labor of writing after I take another class or read additional books and articles on writing. I love the P.D. James admonition, “Don’t plan to write–write.” I appreciate how using trusted editors and giving time to editing is a growth process rather than just a source of intimidation. I am encouraged by this post to WRITE! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s music to my ears, Frank, to hear that my post has encouraged you to WRITE! Right now, I sometimes only get a couple paragraphs written a day, but I claim that as victory! It also seems like it’s harder to get back to the keyboard after a longish period of not writing. Just a little each day, I tell myself, so that I’m moving forward. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.


  8. Oh Patricia, you’ve absolutely made my day, made my week–you get the idea! Your kind words have added so much to the excitement of having a new one out–especially after the edits I’ve endured (smile). I really appreciate your stopping by.


  9. I loved your P.D. James quote about just writing. Writers, and especially wannabe writers, get so hung up with perfection on the page. It paralyzes them, or hooks them into an endless loop of writing a page or two and then refining in over and over and never moving on. The response you’ve gotten for your post shows how meaningful your words are.


  10. Yes, Miko, you’re sooo right. I’ve gotten into a “holding pattern” of refining over and over sometimes, think mainly because I’m unsure of where to go next plot wise. Hearing encouraging words, I think, is always a pick me up and helps us move forward–or start a project.


  11. Mad – late to the party again, as I am – I was really heartened reading your ‘confessions’ of not being a perfect writer!! Like Jackie, LIFE had intervened so much in recent years – but I am seeing the writing-light at the end of this long dark tunnel. With all of your encouragement I am writing something each day – even if it’s a few sentences on a scrap of paper. But I know where it will all end up, and now I am in a new editing phase. A major one! So thanks, Mad, for another peek into your writer’s mind. Always inspiring… Thank you.


  12. Better late, than not at all, Rosemary! So glad you’re moving forward on the writing trail, and sometimes, just a little word of encouragement and/or empathy is all that needed. Write on!


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