Tag Archives: writers

Read This to Assuage the Sting of Rejection

So you’ve received a rejection letter or two, maybe even dozens. Don’t let it get you down because you’re in good company. I researched the top 20 best-selling authors of all time and discovered that quite a few were rejected, in some cases hundreds of times. That’s right: hundreds of rejections. Here are a few examples from the top 20 with the rank beside their name:

Agatha Christie (#2): She started out writing short stories and most of her early works were rejected. All the publishers she submitted her first novel to rejected it. However, she went on to write 85 books, which have sold 4 billion copies, making her one of the world’s best-selling writers, second only to Shakespeare.

J.K. Rowling (#11): Twelve publishers received the first novel in the Harry Potter series and all of them rejected it. Yet, she continued to submit the novel and the series became the best-selling book series in history, selling 450 million copies. The movie version of the books is also the top-selling movie series in history.

Stephen King (#19): Initially, he pinned rejection letters to the wall with a small tack. As the rejections accumulated, the tack became a nail and then a railroad spike. To date he has written about 70 books, selling 350 million copies.

What did these authors have in common? They never gave up.

We may not be able to find motivation among a mounting pile of rejection letters like Stephen King, so I wanted to share an inspirational letter I found among my daughter’s schoolwork. It’s just a few words of encouragement from one of her sweet friends. I thought it was adorable.

Never Give Up

 

Also, while researching this topic, I stumbled upon the following articles you might find encouraging.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/stmartinspress/20-brilliant-authors-whose-work-was-initially-reje-7rut

http://www.literaryrejections.com/best-sellers-initially-rejected/

Source: Wikipedia.com

 

What is the Insecure Writers Support Group?

IWSG badgePurpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time.

The IWSG is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. This month’s co-hosts are:  Krista McLaughlin, Kim Van Sickler, Heather Gardner,  Hart Johnson! Please visit their blogs and thank them for supporting this amazing group.

Are you an insecure writer? Would you like to join the group? Click here for the sign up page.

From the Archives: WORDLE: A Nifty Little Tool for Writers

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog (March 13th), I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around. Next up:

 

Wordle: A Nifty Little Tool for Writers

I stumbled across this program a while back and recently tried to recall the name because I thought it might be a useful tool for writers. Well, I was reading through the comments on Kristen Lamb’s blog (if you haven’t been there you must check it out) and, what do you know, there it was: the name of the program that had eluded me.

So, what the heck is Wordle?

Wordle is a program used to create word art from text. Words that occur more frequently are visually amplified (displayed in a larger font).  While this makes for some pretty cool art (just explore Pinterest and you will find all kinds of creative art using Wordle), there are other benefits too. For example, you can summarize survey results to see the most popular answers or pinpoint the main idea of an online discussion.

I’m sure by now you can guess the benefit for writers. It will magnify the words used most often in your writing. This can help you find words you are overusing, like those pesky little adverbs!

After I came across the post with the reference to Wordle, I jumped on the internet to find it. You can find it here: www.wordle.net. You may need to enable JAVA applets in your browser (the website provides instructions), but it’s fairly easy to use. Just paste the text into the window and press the “go” button.

I pasted my MS into the application and generated the Wordle. I discovered that the main characters in my novel were the most prominently displayed words. The next largest word was “back.” Huh? Do I really overuse that word?

I toggled back to my manuscript and read back through the document. I glanced back and forth between my MS and the Wordle. I was puzzled. Okay, not really, just surprised. I had no idea I used that word so often. I went on a search and destroy mission and discovered that in all but a few instances the word was unnecessary. UNNECESSARY! Wow, what a helpful little tool.

I wondered what the Wordle of the work of a famous author would look like. Well, there was no way I was going to type War and Peace into a document but I did happen to have a digital copy of one of Tolstoy’s short stories. I pasted A Spark Neglected Burns the House into the window and waited for a visual representation. Here is what it looks like.

Tolstoy Wordle

Hey, there’s that word again: “back.” It’s in yellow font next to Gabriel. It’s somewhat prominent in his story. I don’t feel so bad about my overuse, but don’t regret removing it either. I generated a few others for comparison purposes.

The Fiddler by Herman Melville

The Fiddler by Herman Melville

The End of the Party by Graham Greene

The End of the Party by Graham Greene

The main characters were the most prominently displayed words in all three Wordles. You can get a general idea what the story is about by looking at the remaining jumble of words. Okay, well, maybe not, but it looks cool! If anything it would be an artistic way to display your creative work once it’s published. 🙂

From the Archives: Are You in Your Right Brain?

To celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog, I’m publishing select posts throughout the year under the title “From the Archives” for those who may have missed them the first time around.

Here is the original post of Are You In Your Right Brain?

right-brain-left-brain-thinking-225x300I wanted to thank Kristen Lamb for the thought-provoking post How Being Tired Can Make You a Better Writer. I’m a new blogger and just started following her so I haven’t had a chance to read her other posts but based on this one, I’m certain they will be equally brilliant. She has also written two best sellers about social media: We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. Since I’m a newbie I definitely have to check them out!

Now back to Kristen’s post. I especially enjoyed the discussion on the Conscious Mind vs. the Subconscious Mind. It reminded me of a college art class many years ago where we were learning how to draw using the right side of the brain.

As I recall the key was to focus on the negative space, the shapes surrounding the object you were drawing and not the object itself. The moment this shift in focus occurs, you are using your right brain and drawing seems to come naturally.

The right side of the brain processes information intuitively while the left brain processes it logically. People who are left-brain dominant are detail oriented and are generally good with numbers. Right-brain dominant people are good at visualizing and thus are more creative.

Sounds like the Conscious Mind vs. the Subconscious Mind in Kristen’s post doesn’t it? The left brain is the Conscious Mind, the side that wants to analyze everything and focus on the details. The right brain is the Subconscious Mind that doesn’t fret over the details. Who cares? Let’s just have fun, explore, and create.

I think we experience this when we write. Writer’s block feels a lot like our inability to shift from left brain thinking to right brain thinking.

Left Brain: “Wait, hold that thought. There’s a misspelled word.”

Right Brain: “You’re kidding me. Can we just forget about that for now? I’ve got something really good here.”

LB: “We can’t just leave it like that!”

RB: “Oh yes we can. Now move out-of-the-way before I lose this brilliant idea.”

LB: “Hold on. There…fixed it. Oh wait-”

RB: “What now? Will you please stop distracting me? I need to get this idea down before it’s gone!”

LB: “But, but-”

RB: “Not listening. La-la-la.”

LB: “Stop! There’s a dangling participle!”

RB: “Oh for heaven’s sake!”

LB: “Okay, we’re good to go. Now, what was your brilliant idea?”

RB: “I forgot.” {Sigh}

It’s frustrating, right? But when you do make the shift, when right brain (subconscious mind) finally tells left brain (conscious mind) to take a nap, well, that’s when the fun begins. I’m sure you can recall times when the words just flowed and when you finally stopped you couldn’t believe how much time had passed. It didn’t feel like hours, did it? That’s when you were in your right brain. Now if we could just make the switch on command that would be awesome. Imagine the novels we could complete!

I wonder if we could use the technique that I learned in art years ago to train our brain to shift focus?

Okay, I just googled it and here is what I found:

http://www.learn-to-draw-right.com/right-brain-left-brain.html

Follow the directions. If you really want to get the benefit of the exercise, don’t cheat. I did it and can actually recall the moment the two sides of the brain were warring with each other and when the switch occurred. Did you feel it? Let me know!

I also found this on that same web page and thought it was interesting enough to post here (with my edits in parentheses).

“However, by learning to access the right brain, you can learn ways to trick the left brain into leaving you alone quietly to get on with your drawing (writing) with your right brain – the side of the brain that really does know how to draw (write).”

I know I have right brain tendencies because I have always loved drawing, painting, and creating, but I do have a strong analytical side as well. I’m good with numbers. Hell, I made a career out of it. I wonder if I have a dominant side.

I just found a quiz for that:

http://painting.about.com/od/inspiration/a/quiz-rightbrain.htm

The quiz is designed for painters but writers are creative people too so just substitute “writing” for “painting” and answer it from a writer’s perspective. So how did you do? Are you dominant on one side? Let me know.

It turns out that my right brain is “quite dominant.” So this is why I was so miserable in my former career. I haven’t been in my “right” brain for years!

Today’s the Day!

todaays the dayToday’s the day!

“Good lord! What’s happening today?” you may ask.

You don’t know? It’s the Great and Powerful Theme Reveal for those participating in the A to Z Challenge.

final-a-to-z-theme-revealThe A to Z Challenge  is the brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out. The challenge is to publish a post inspired by a letter of the alphabet (in alphabetical order) every day in April except Sundays. Participants can write about any topic. Your posts can be random and unrelated or you can choose a theme to blog about for the entire month.

I’ve chosen a theme. It’ll probably come as no surprise to learn what it is given the title of my blog and the fact that I already divulged it in the post Blogging from A to Z. The theme for my A to Z posts is….

Drum roll, please.

WRITING!

“Well, who are you to give advice on writing? Are you an author? Have you published anything?”

Uh no, and thanks for that reminder, by the way. No, I’m not a published author, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned a thing or two on this sometimes maddening roller-coaster ride to become an author. It reminds me a little of Marlin’s ride on the EAC with Dory and Crush.  Remember this?

Nemo tumblr_me36chqpyy1qeafupo1_500Yeah, that one. So which one am I? Dory? Marlin? Crush? All three, actually.

Yeah, I’ve been blissfully ignorant. Or maybe that’s ignorantly blissful?

Dori NaturalBlueWhere was I? Oh yeah. A year ago, I had just finished my first book and had queried half a dozen agents. I’m going to be a published author!

Heh. Heh. Poor thing. I was so naïve, but I didn’t know what I didn’t know, you know?

crush tumblr_l8vbhdSAc41qaaleqo1_500Six fairly quick rejections were the wake-up call I needed. I thought I had done my homework, reading about a dozen books on the craft of writing, but I realized I had so much more to learn. I didn’t have anyone else read my book, except my husband, and let’s face it, friends and family members don’t make the best critics. That’s right. No beta readers, no critique partners, no editors. I can’t believe I just admitted that, but this is the image that came to mind when I thought of letting someone else critique my book.

nemo sharksYou can stop laughing now. It’s a little embarrassing.

Yeah, I’ve been uncertain.

Of course, the thing I’m most passionate about is probably one of the most difficult things to become successful at. That’s why so many of us end up alcoholics. What are you thinking? Seriously. You want to be a writer? Have you seen the talent out there? Plus, what are the odds? And, what if they don’t like you? {GASP!}

Dory like meAnd I’ve been terrified, clutching my laptop as I go screaming down the vortex of terror.

What if I don’t make it as an author? I can’t go back to the corporate world…the crushing weight of bureaucracy, the endless meetings, the office politics, and the limitations on personal creativity…Let me stop there, before the nightmares return. This is where it’s time to say…

Dory relax

But mostly, I’ve been exhilarated.

I’ve said that writing gives me a euphoric feeling no drug could possibly replicate. It’s true. I love the process of building worlds and creating characters. I love it when a character wakes me up at night and won’t let me sleep until I write his or her scene. I love the feeling I get when I read something I’ve written and stare at it wondering where it could have originated. Has someone taken over my body? I love the many serendipitous moments that have occurred while writing my current WIP. They seem to be signs encouraging me to keep at it. Don’t give up. Never give up. You are meant to be a writer.

So grab shell, dude as we go swirling down the vortex of terror known as the writer’s journey. C’mon, I know you want to. Writers have serious thrill issues, dude.

Quote of the Week: Paul Bowles

“It’s very hard to write about that which is always beautiful and pleasant and good. You don’t get anywhere with it. There’s no friction in it. There’s no trouble. You have to have trouble. Somebody’s got to get in trouble, or no one wants to read it.”
~Paul Bowles

Quote of the Week: Othello Bach

“Before you begin to write a sentence, imagine the scene you want to paint with your words. Imagine that you are the character and feel what the character feels. Smell what the character smells, and hear with that character’s ears. For an instant, before you begin to write, see and feel what you want the reader to see and feel.”
~Othello Bach

Quote of the Week: A Pep Talk for NaNoWriMo Participants

Last night I was regretting my decision to sign up for NaNoWriMo, that’s National Novel Writing Month for those of you who aren’t familiar with the acronym.  It’s an annual event where participants gather online to support each other in writing an entire 50,000 word novel during the month of November. It sounds pretty daunting, doesn’t it? I started to have reservations about my ability to tackle this seemingly insurmountable task. As the doubts started to creep in, I was visited by several writers far wiser than I will ever be.

Me: What was I thinking? How can I possibly write 50,000 words in thirty days? That’s 1,667 words per day, every day!

“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”

Me: [looks around the room for the source of the spoken words] Who said that?

A miniature Stephen King, standing less than ten inches tall, appears from behind my laptop.

 Me: Okay, I’m a little freaked out now.

Stephen King: I seem to have that effect on people. It probably has something to do with the fact that I write horror novels. [Whispers and taps his temple] They don’t think I’m right in the head! Anyway, “the scariest moment is always just before you start.”

I blink several times, but tiny Stephen simply leans against my laptop screen and folds his arms across his chest.

Stephen King: [picks at his fingernails] Yeah, I’m still here.

Me: I must be hallucinating. I’ve gone mad.

Cornelia Funke: [whispers in my right ear] “So what? All writers are lunatics!”

I jump at the sound of Cornelia’s voice and turn to see her sitting on my shoulder. She grins and waves.

Me: Uh, hello there, tiny…author…on my…shoulder.

She’s right you know. “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”

I glance behind me to see E.L. Doctorow sitting on the shelf.

Me: [shakes head] This is not happening. I’m not seeing this.

Franz Kafka: [pokes head out from under the lamp shade] It’s a little Kafkaesque, isn’t it? Ha! I’ve always wanted to use that word.

Me: It’s more than surreal. It’s –it’s. That’s it. I’m going insane.

Franz Kafka: Because you’re not writing. “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.”

Ray Bradbury: [pops up from inside my coffee cup] “You must stay drunk on writing” –not the crap you’ve got in this mug [wipes hands on shirt] —“so reality cannot destroy you.”

Ernest Hemingway: [scales the side of my desk, strains to pull himself over the edge, walks over to Bradbury, and peeks inside the cup] I’ll drink to that ol’ chap! What does she have in there?   

Me: But I have been writing. Well, at least I was until I started planning for NaNoWriMo. So now I must write 50,000 words in one month. That’s almost an entire book!

George Orwell: [stands on his head on a bookshelf across the room] “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

Me: I hadn’t considered demonic possession. I’m likely to suffer nightmares now. Thanks for bringing it up, George. Or shall I call you Eric? And why are you standing on your head, anyway?

George Orwell: “You are noticed more if you stand on your head than if you are right way up.”

Me: O-kay, but how is that going to help me write?

Ernest Hemingway: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” [Sits at my laptop, pulls up the sleeve of his shirt and dramatically mimics slicing his wrist while falling across the keyboard]

Neil Gaiman: [sits on my notepad] Oh, don’t be so dramatic, Ernie.

Ernest Hemingway: Don’t call me Ernie.

Neil Gaiman: Why? Everyone knows you detest your given name.

Ernest Hemingway: Well, that was before Sesame Street. I’d much rather be “associated with the naïve, even foolish hero of Oscar Wilde’s play” than that muppet with a proclivity for rubber duckies.

Stephen King: [sings] Rubber Duckie, you’re the one. You make bath time so much fun.

Ernest Hemingway: Shut it, Stevie.

Stephen King: [giggles]

Me: Have you ever considered that people think of you when they hear the name Ernest?

Ernest Hemingway: [blushes]. Ahem, uh no.

Neil Gaiman: [turns to me] “This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”

Stephen King: Gaiman’s right. “When asked, ‘How do you write?’ I invariably answer, ‘One word at a time,’ and the answer is invariably dismissed. But that is all it is. It sounds too simple to be true, but consider the Great Wall of China if you will: one stone at a time, man. That’s all. One stone at a time. But I’ve read you can see that motherfucker from space without a telescope.”

Me: [laughs] You’re always good for a laugh Mr. King. So how do I start a novel if I don’t have an idea of how it might end?  Don’t I need to begin with the end in mind?

Anne Lamott:  “E.L. Doctorow once said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.”

E.L. Doctorow: I did say that didn’t I? Wise man, I must say, wise man.  

Me: Okay, well I’ve written a story, but it’s crap so it’ll probably never get published.

Ernest Hemingway: Not to worry. “The first draft of anything is shit.”

Me: But it’s still crap after several revisions. I became overly descriptive. When I edited that out, and killed my little darlings, I think I murdered the entire manuscript. My writing voice bled out all over the floor.

Stephen King: [sighs] “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”

Mark Twain: [walks up and slaps Stephen on the back] Stevie boy is right. Just do what I always did. “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

Ernest Hemingway: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

Me: One sentence, huh? Try about five or ten thousand sentences, Mr. Hemingway.

Ernest Hemingway: Well, if you didn’t detest my writing so much, maybe you would have learned something.

Me: Actually, I respect your writing style, I just don’t care for some of your characters all that much.

Mark Twain: [Looks admiringly at Hemingway] “I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English―it is the modern way and the best way. [Directs his attention to me] Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them―then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.”

Me: Humph. Maybe that’s why it took me so damn long to write that first book. But thirty days? It’s unsettling to have that deadline looming out there.

Douglas Adams: [runs across my desk] “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

Me: [head – desk] Why am I doing this again?

Philip Pullman: “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”

Me: [feels rejuvenated] I needed that. Can I give you a hug? 

Ursula K. Le Guin: [looks up from my pocket thesaurus] Look, you’re a writer. “A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it.”

Me: I do have an affinity for words. You could call me a logophile, I suppose.

Ursula K. Le Guin: “Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well, they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning the skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.”

Me: You had me at “writers.” Please go on.

Anton Chekhov: [sits on a curtain rod, points to the window] “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Me: [smiles admiringly] Oh, I love that.

Stephen King: I hate to break up the love fest, but you’ve got work to do. “So okay― there you are in your room with the shade down and the door shut and the plug pulled out of the base of the telephone. You’ve blown up your TV and committed yourself to a thousand words a day—”

Me: Ahem. Actually, I’ve committed myself to one thousand six-hundred and sixty-seven words a day.

Stephen King: Well you’re screwed. Heh heh. Just kidding. Okay, so you’ve committed yourself to one thousand six-hundred sixty-seven words a day “come hell or high water. Now comes the big question: What are you going to write about? And the equally big answer: Anything you damn well want.”

Me: Oh, I’ve got plenty of story ideas.     

John Steinbeck: [leans on my copy of Grapes of Wrath] “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen,” and then an entire book like this one here.

Me: Tell me about it. Ideas invade my dreams and wake me up in the middle of the night.

Saul Bellow: That’s wonderful. “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”

Me: I can’t sleep until I acknowledge the voices in my head or at least write the idea down.

Maya Angelou: [caresses the tiny bird cage on my shelf] Ain’t that the truth. That’s because “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Me: But I have so many ideas, which one should I write about for NaNo?

Meg Cabot: “Write the kind of story you would like to read. People will give you all sorts of advice about writing, but if you are not writing something you like, no one else will like it either.”

Toni Morrison: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Sylvia Plath: “Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

Ray Bradbury: “Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.”

Jack London: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Stephen King: Or an axe. All wait and no write make Jack a dull boy. Heh heh. “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

Friedrich Nietzsche: “All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down.”

Neil Gaiman: Well bloody good for you Friedrich. “Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.”

Alexandre Dumas: “I have always had more dread of a pen, a bottle of ink, and a sheet of paper than of a sword or pistol.”

Me: [shakes head and sighs deeply] You call this helping? You guys are supposed to be giving me a pep talk.

Neil Gaiman: [looks at me apologetically] Sorry. “Just make good art.”

Me: But how will I know if I’ve created good art? 

Kurt Vonnegut: “If you want to really hurt you parents—”

Me: What? No! How did the subject of my parents enter into this conversation?

Kurt Vonnegut: [ignores me] “And you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts.”

Me: Huh?

Kurt Vonnegut: “I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

Me: But how can I make good art if I don’t have any formal training in writing? Critics will crucify me.

Ernest Hemingway: “It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.”

Neil Gaiman: “I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.”

Stephen King: “A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar.”

Me: Okay, I have a plethora of scars and a decent memory. Are there any rules I should follow?

W. Somerset Maugham: I’ve heard “there are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

Me:  Well, you’re a lot of help, William.

W. Somerset Maugham: Just Dubya, please.

Me: Dubya? Really? Do you – oh never mind.

Ernest Hemingway: “There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”

Me: Oh fabulous. So now I need dynamite. Lovely bit of advice there, Ernest.

Ernest Hemingway: [retrieves a bottle from inside his vest and takes a swig] It can drive you to drinking.

Me: Okay, so what should I do if I get writer’s block? I’ve only got thirty, as in 3-0, days, and if I fall behind I’m toast.

Steve Martin: Ah! “Writer’s block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol.”

Ernest Hemingway: I frequently had writer’s block. [raises his bottle in a mock toast and winks]

Stephen King: [glares at Hemingway] I get writer’s block too. It sucks. [grabs the bottle from Hemingway and turns it upside down to pour out the remaining contents, but it’s empty]

Ernest Hemingway: [shrugs his shoulders] I did you a favor ol’ chap. Don’t want to wrestle those demons again, do you?  

Stephen King: [ignores Hemingway and directs his attention to me] Here’s what you need to do. “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”

Me: Okay, so I guess I need some privacy. How did all of you get in here, anyway?

Neil Gaiman: “Stories you read when you’re the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you’ll forget precisely what happened, but if a story touches you it will stay with you, haunting the places in your mind that you rarely ever visit.”

Me: [glances at each of the tiny inhabitants in my room] Ah, of course. It all makes sense now. A writer inserts a little bit of himself into every book he writes. In that way, a writer becomes immortal because his words live on in the hearts and minds of the readers who relish his words for generations to come.

Neil Gaiman: Precisely.

Stephen King: “Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.”

Ernest Hemingway: [pulls another bottle from his vest pocket and passes it to me] Let’s have a drink!

Stephen King: [glares at Hemingway] I wasn’t talking about alcohol, Ernie. It’s a metaphor. I didn’t think I’d have to spell it out for you, Mr. [makes air quotes] “Iceberg Theory.”

Me: [reaches for the bottle] I think I need a drink. A little bravery tonic might help me through this ordeal.  

Kurt Vonnegut: [sighs deeply] “So it goes.”

J.R.R. Tolkien: [intercepts the bottle and looks at me admonishingly] “It’s the job that’s never started that takes longest to finish.” [Smiles] Remember, “all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Me: [sits down to write] Indeed.

Good luck to everyone participating in NaNoWriMo this month! If you want to be my buddy on NaNoWriMo, I’m pretty easy to find. I’m listed as Melissa Janda.

Now, ready, set, WRITE!