Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The In-Between

I recently finished my next novel. That was a triumphant feeling--it always is--to finish a task you've set out to do months, maybe even years ago. And I love the writing of the book too, although some days it feels like teeth could be pulled easier than words will come out. But I have to tell you about the in-between stage that I find myself in now. I think this may be the most fun of all.

This is the stage where nothing is written in stone, where ideas float wildly and effortlessly through the air around me. I wait and watch until puzzle pieces solidify and drop into my upturned hands. Then it's my turn to put all the pieces together. It's magical, this in-between, where anything seems possible and nothing is too outrageous or difficult--yet. This is the space right before the disciplined work begins. This is the place where my imagination becomes like a child and the whole world feels ripe for the picking.

For you writers out there, I'm interested to hear--what's your favorite stage of the writing process?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Wisdom for Writers in My Losing Season

There are many reasons why people write. It's cathartic, for one. You can get off your chest whatever's been eating at you. You can be the hand of justice and dish out rewards and penalties like the gods of ancient Greece. Some people write simply to tell a good story. They have imaginations that cannot stop. There are stories in their heads, relentless, begging to get out. And then others write because they have learned something, and they have something to say. They have wisdom that can only truly be learned the hard way, through painful experience.

Pat Conroy is someone who writes for all of these reasons. He exorcises his demons of a painful childhood through words. He examines himself, his heart, his motives, his view on reality, through words. It is through words that he discovers who he is and what his place is in this world. In his non-fiction book, My Losing Season, he carries the reader back to his Citadel days when he was point guard for the Bulldogs basketball team. His team members suffered under a man they called "coach." His team lost that season, badly. For many, their lives were changed because of it.

Mr. Conroy appears to have written My Losing Season for himself, for his teammates, but also for us, the readers. He wrote the book for us, so that we may learn the hard lessons he learned that season, about losing, about rising up again, about holding on to that which cannot be touched--what is inside us. I have a confession to make: I do not know sports, not a lick. But this book about basketball touched my spirit, the writer in me. Mr. Conroy compares his season as a point guard to his position in this world as a novelist. The book is a valuable tool for anyone, especially writers, who need to prepare themselves for winning--and losing--seasons. Because we all must get up and get back on the court. It is our fate. Thank you, Mr. Conroy.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words

I just had to share this--especially for writers everwhere who dream of the seeing their debut book cover for the first time. Well, it happened for me today.

There I was, minding my own business and perusing my publisher's website to see what was new, when I stumbled across The Spirit of Sweetgrass in the Fiction section! I can't describe what it felt like. It's not something I was expecting for another six months, seeing as the book isn't out until February. But it's something I've always dreamed about--seeing the word "author" next to my name. I'm also thrilled and humbled that Integrity Publishers chose to use one of my paintings on the cover.

I have to say, I am truly enjoying this journey to being published. Each step is often harder than the one before, but it's definitely worth it. Now I know for sure: God is "able to do far more than we ever ask or imagine."

Keep writing!