Today’s Quote

Today’s quote for The Book Doctors started me thinking, so here’s the quote by Niyi Osundare: “One hasn’t become a writer until one has distilled writing into a habit, and that habit has been forced into an obsession. Writing has to be an obsession. It has to be something as organic, physiological and psychological as speaking or sleeping or eating.”

I’m obsessing over world building for a new series, but I think I need to make my process more focused. I’m too chaotic and overwhelmed by it right now. Which I suppose is also part of being obsessed, so maybe I’m not too far off the mark. LOL

Here’s my question for you: What are obsessing over? Is it a “healthy” obsession?

What Do You Do On Overload?

Life has been a bit much recently, I hate to admit it. Don’t get me wrong, I know of many people in worse straights. My best friend just lost her husband, my mother-in-law is in the hospital with heart problems. My issues pale in comparison.

It’s just handling them is difficult and would be incredibly expensive without the generosity of my sister and her family. Let me back up.

December 23rd, I totaled our family car. If nothing else, it was certainly a bummer, but we were blessed in that no one in the entire five-car-pile-up was injured. While we waited three weeks for our over-worked and under-staffed insurance agency to respond, I had to drive my husband’s manual transmission car. Since I have half of an ankle missing, the bone has threatened to break for years and it became increasingly obvious that the stick shift would do the trick if I kept driving it.

It began to look like we’d either have to shell out money for a rental or I’d have to keep going until I couldn’t. Quite possibly breaking a bone while behind the wheel. Hence, the generosity of my sister; she loaned me her automatic. My ankle still hurts five weeks after the accident, but it has improved and has not broken for which I’m more grateful than I can express.

Then the much-aligned stick-shift’s transmission died and the car with it. It will cost more than it’s worth to fix the Honda. We now have no automobile of our own and I’m once again reduced to playing taxi-mom via the borrowed car. This brings me up to today.

Monday morning, I need to somehow find time to take my husband to work, get the pink-eye infected daughter to a clinic or doctor and see a family friend interested in selling me her car. The latter will be a HUGE blessing if it comes to fruition, but I still find myself wondering how I’ll make it all happen AND find time to do what I want, which brings me to today’s question:

What happens to your writing when you’re overwhelmed? Do you still work? Do you somehow click into fifth gear and get more productive, or do you have to set it aside and handle life?

This Is Hysterical

If you have no idea how the publishing industry works – or how it gets screwed up by hopeful writers and sharks, take the time to watch this:

“So You Want to Be A Writer

You might just save yourself from making a horrible faux pas with an agent, editor, or publisher.

On a separate note, if you want to suggest a great Christmas present for yourself, send folks to Irene Goodman’s site. She’s a literary agent who routinely (once a month) auctions her time away for a good cause. She’s raising money to combat her son’s illness by offering writers critiques. This month, there are fifteen critique auctions! Many thanks to Cat Woods for the info.

Addendum: Many thanks to those who let me know the link wasn’t working!

When You Have Nothing To Say

It is better to remain silent, I’m sure. I can’t do that since today would be my second Silent Monday and I don’t want to set a bad precedent.

I really have nothing to say. I’ve participated in NanoWrimo this month in a minimal way in that I’ve written between 150 and 200 words every day. Those of you who have written thousands of words every day, feel free to scoff. I’m dealing with my third or fourth consecutive month of poor health, and I have no more energy for writing than the occasional blog post and 200 daily words will cover.

What about you? If you check in today, please let me know how you’re doing. Not (just) about how your Nano project has gone, or how your agent search is going (though I’m interested). I’m interested in how YOU are.

Crested Butte Writers Conference Day 3: The Dreaded Synopsis – led by Joanne Stampfel-Volpe

Many thanks to Joanne Stampfel-Volpe of the Nancy Coffey Literary agency, who made this mind-numbing topic interesting and fun.

First off, she suggests focusing on making your query and sample writing sparkle. The synopsis tells editors and agents where the story’s going and helps them prioritize their reading list, but out of everything writers send out, the synopsis is likely the last thing read. She said don’t sweat it, because “The synopsis doesn’t draw in anyone.”

Basic rules:

1. Title and author’s name need to be in the header. Genre and word count are nice additions.

2. Two pages max, one page preferred.

3. Single spaced, double spaced between paragraphs.

4. Times Roman 12 pt.

5. Number your pages.

6. Present tense – regardless of story tense.

7. Beginning, middle, end.

Rules of thumb:

All capping characters names is a film industry convention, but is acceptable. Characters must be in the beginning, middle and end to be included in the synopsis.

She had us give the characters and plot for Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, Voldemort, Dumbledore, Quirrel, etc. Then what happens? Harry discovers he has powers, goes to school, makes friends and enemies, learns magic and defeats the bad guy. That laundry list is a synopsis for J.K. Rowling’s first book. Joanne pointed out, we don’t even have to know Harry’s friends’ names, we just need to know he has them.

Do you have two main characters? Try revolving your main characters paragraph by paragraph. Have you had a chapter by chapter synopsis requested? Stick with your synopsis outline and use two sentences to describe each chapter.

I won’t say it’s a piece of cake, but even Hagrid’s fudge was edible. Anyone want to try it in the comments?