I Have Library Envy

Recently on Twitter someone posted a photo of Neil Gaiman’s Library. Of course, you never know for sure it these things are true, but it seemed legit to me. Check it out: http://blog.shelfari.com/my_weblog/2009/09/neil.html.

This leads me to my one jealousy-those with a large office/library with space, windows and quiet. Oh, I know I have it good where I work at home and I appreciate it immensely. I have a wonderful space to work, a quiet room (somewhat) and a lovely home to work out of. But on those days when I want what others have, this is what I want-I want Neil Gaiman’s library. I want to clear off that chair and sit among the books with a cup of tea…Ahhh, heaven!

Now, some writers don’t need all that to create and I’m one of them. (I want it-don’t need it.) I know Stephen King wrote on a folding table in the hallway for years and some writers work at their kitchen tables. Other sit outside, write in coffee houses and even in the park. It’s whatever keeps you going and gives you the space and time to write. This article describes the writing spaces of many famous people and makes me feel like I’ve got it very good. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/12/realestate/12habi.html?8dpc

For a look of how some writers write, check this out: http://www.whereiwrite.org/bova.php. Although these are all SF writers, notice the diversity of spaces. Some are clean and neat, others are crammed with books, while others are just on a sofa or recliner. It makes you realize that we all write where we can, when we can. Being comfortable is what matters.

Why do I love looking at these so much? I don’t know, but I just love seeing into the world of other writers, where they create, what they see while they’re writing. I don’t want to see what someone’s office looks like, but I love to see a writer’s lair. Go figure.

This site has writers sending in photos of their space. It’s fun to browse and get ideas: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/series/writersrooms.

There are even places to rent out space to write. Crazy, but if you need the space and quiet, it just might work: http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/startingtowrite/tp/urbanspaces.htm. I think if I had a very small home, or needed to get out of the house, this would work. What if you were one of those people who needed the discipline of going to work every day? This would be the ticket (although there is no boss there.)

Where do you write? Let me know, I’m interested. It’s comforting to see where other writers work, isn’t it? It makes me feel like I’m part of a club. Join the club.

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No, You Can’t Read My Novel

Once you tell everyone you’re writing a novel, they will automatically want to read it. Have you noticed that? “Ooh, I’d love to read it. It would be fun…” Fun for whom?

I have always been one of those writers who does not want to share what I’ve written until it is published. Yes, I’m a writer with a thin skin. Don’t get me wrong, I welcomed the criticism of my editors at the newspaper-I learned a lesson each time something was pointed out that could be changed or added. But it’s different when a friend or relative reads your work.

When an editor said, “You need to punch it up right here with some kind of fact or quote. Get the reader involved,” I would jump and take action. They know what they are talking about, they are there to teach and get the info out on the page.

But when a friend says, “You need to add something here, it’s dragging and I’m losing interest,” it cuts me to the core. I get defensive, petty, and whiny. Why? I have no idea. Perhaps it cuts too close to home, perhaps I just don’t care what the editor thinks about me beyond my work but it matters what my friends think of me.

As writers, we are artists. And as artists, we are sensitive. It’s a fact that most artists are tortured souls, right? (Well, let’s just say the famous tortured souls gave us a reputation.) We hate criticism and love to be praised. We love to be told how wonderful our work is-we crave it. We practice our art, whatever it is, because we have no choice-we must write/draw/paint/sculpt/etc.  We are not happy unless we can create.

Most artists don’t want to show you a painting until it’s complete, right? So why should we let someone read our work before it’s been edited and cleaned up? When family or friends ask to read your work-in-progress, just tell them that van Gogh did not show his work when it was half done and you won’t either. (Never mind that he had a screw loose, he was still a brilliant artist.)

On the subject of criticism, you may want to get opinions when you’re close to the end. If you’re writing a YA novel, you may want to ask a few teens to give you their opinions. You may want to ask a fellow writer for some tips. I think it just depends on what your comfortable with. If you’re one of those thick-skinned writers, more power to you. Me? I think I’ll just keep it close until I’m ready. When something is published, I’m more than happy to talk about it and get feedback. I welcome it… but until then…No, You Can’t Read My Novel.

Let It Sit a Bit

This is the first of many posts that will focus on editing and writing. Yes, I know there are plenty of blogs out there about writing and editing. What can I possibly contribute that is different or relevant, you might ask? The answer is quite simple-my point of view. Nobody else has my point of view, nobody else sees the world the way I see it. Therefore, my thoughts and insights will be different, interesting, and inspiring – if all goes as planned.

At the moment, I am editing a novel I wrote during Nanowrimo, which is National Novel Writing Month for those not already involved- nanowrimo.com. I loved writing the novel and I was so proud to make the 50,000 mark at the end of November. I’ve let it sit for a little bit and now it’s time to get back into it. Which leads to my first topic:

Let It Sit a Bit

What I mean by that is do not jump into editing something right after it is written. Always give yourself a bit of a break. Not only is this good for your temperament and attitude but this space from a project gives you a new perspective when you return to it.

Some people may say that they don’t have the time to wait, but there is always time if you just think about it. Even a few minutes can make a difference. Get up, get a drink, walk around, etc. If you have more time, by all means-take it. A day or two is wonderful and everything will be brand new when you return. If you don’t believe me, just try it. You will find mistakes, rewording, restructuring and more when you return. If you’re sending anything out to be published or read by a client, please don’t send it out in haste. You will regret it most of the time. Even if there are no glaring errors, you could have said it better if you had taken the time to wait and read it again, couldn’t you?

So now I’m back to editing and rewriting. When it comes to nanowrimo, that means a lot of editing and rewriting. The idea is to write without any editing for a month. This gives you a lot to work with and it’s all raw material. As I go through this process, and work with clients, I’ll be sharing my experiences, frustrations, and triumphs. Share yours too, I would love to hear about it and share experiences.