Archive for the ‘Writing Tips’ Category

My Favorite Rejection Letter

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

I’ve been submitting my writing for publication for exactly fifteen years now. My first ever submission, to a small local journal, wasmidamerican-rvw-2008-2007-2006 mailed on January 10, 2000. On February 1, I submitted a short piece to a local contest. I never heard back from either.

On February 12, 2000, I mailed a submission to another local contest. I received a phone call shortly thereafter that I had won. I still remember playing the message back several times on the old answering machine. You know the kind that beeps and clicks and rewinds the miniature cassette tape, which ceaselessly fascinates the cat?

My 8th submission that year resulted in a Hedgebrook residency. My 14th resulted in being published by the esteemed journal Calyx.

Not bad for a first year. But consider that with three acceptances, I also collected eleven rejections. (more…)

Outliners Vs “Outlawers”

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Writers, I have generally observed, tend to write their first draft from one of two camps. They are either Outliners or Outlawers. Outliners prepare; they are ready; they have journals and graphs, stimulating scents and special writing music and Outlawers… well they don’t. I am a hand on heart confessed Outlawer. There is only one way I can write the first words of a new project, and that is running with my hands in the air screaming towards the amusement park of my imagination. I arrive at my keyboard on day one with a 100 different half-blown cobbled together ideas, scenes and sketchy characters all breaming inside me like a stove full of pressure cookers ready to blow. Then once, I start writing there is no real rhyme or reason to my first draft. My process goes something like this, Okay, first the Rollercoaster, no, no the Carousel, then the Ferris Wheel then I have to tackle those high swings and OMG is that the Haunted House. Usually what dictates the first tentative lines of my latest masterpiece is what shouts the loudest in the vaudevillian theater of my imagination. I can often start right in the middle of a story some odd, unimportant scene that has been haunting me for weeks. It comes to me complete with a gang of derelict characters that have been following me around like a bad smell hollering “me, me, pick me, write me.” (more…)

On Reaching

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Last night, I was talking to my mother, who I hadn’t seen in a while, since before I left for Hedgebrook. She asked me how it was, and towards the end of an unbroken monologue (the figs! the llamas! the beveled glass in the cottage windows!) I told her that it was there I was able to start a daily yoga practice again: every morning, I woke, dozed and read in bed for a little while, then clambered down the stairs and did some postures—nothing fancy or extensive, just enough to remind my body of itself. (more…)

My Life in a Shed: Making the Space to Write

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

I am writing to you in the middle of a rainstorm. The rainstorm is both outside, but also inside my head. I found myself being distracted by the box of maple creams on the table, my cat, and the laundry piled up and still needing folding. So I took a writing retreat about fourteen steps from my front door.

Perhaps, I should explain. Five years ago, I realized I wasn’t writing as much. As mother, wife, and work-from-home writer, I would sit down but never really went into The Zone, you know that place—some call it “flow,” but it’s the place where a writer can lose track of time and body, and instead becomes the words on the page, the poem, whatever project that occupies their thoughts. (more…)

Staying Inspired: How to Host a Public Reading

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

I have a desperate need to have my voice heard…on the page. But sometimes life and paying gigs get in the way. So my voice becomes strangled or mute, as I struggle to make time to write. I get overwhelmed by the scope of my project, even while muttering “bird by bird” in front of the keyboard.

So I’ve had to find solutions to stay inspired. Since I have a hard time being accountable to myself, I’ve taken classes and workshops, joined a writing group, and attended writing conferences (such as the Whidbey Island Writers Conference next month!). I’ve applied for residencies, such as Hedgebrook, and submitted to contests and publications. (more…)