Writers, Find Your People!

Logo courtesy of GCLS.

I just got back from a writer’s conference, and boy is my hand cramped! (*rim shot*)

This was the annual GCLS convention, the first in-person in three years, so it was a frenzy of panels, master classes, meet-and-greets, plenary sessions, jigsaw puzzles, awards, and delirious terpsichore. Oh, yeah, I said terpsichore. Because I know my way around a dictionary and a thesaurus. Although there’s also a thing I learned which is called an Emotional Thesaurus. Writing!

My mind is full of memories, ideas, and to-do lists about how to elevate my craft, and we’re about to go to a museum with DINOSAURS … but let me quickly try to encapsulate all this creative energy.

GCLS Panel on “Writing Tools of the Trade,” photo by Karin Kallmaker.

GCLS: A Conference of One’s Own

This conference was Writers, readers, editors, publishers, librarians, and all manner of people who enjoy a good story. The vast majority of these folks write women-loving-women fiction. Now, that’s not my particular jam, but so what? I learned a ton!

There was a phenomenal master class on writing from memory, taught by Sheree L. Greer, worth the price of admission on its own. But I also got intelligent hints about using social media like Tik-Tok for people my age (i.e. over 25). World-building, narrative arcs, characterization: those apply to history writing, too. Tax planning for the self-employed because I might eventually sell more than two books.

Continue reading “Writers, Find Your People!”

Alphabetically Exhausting

Design by CNN.

I didn’t want to write today’s post because there’s no letter involved.

Amateur! hissed the little voice inside me. Best you just abandon your website! Can’t even toss off a self-centered little entry about writing? Don’t you have any self-respect at all? Even the little voice was unpersuasive. Fatigue ran through my body. Guts burned. Hackles raised.

I redoubled my efforts, reminding myself that I’d done it before and could do it again. Just when I felt my creative engine restarting, however, despair loomed again. Keep going, I told myself. Little efforts will make a difference. Mountains of ideas seemed to float just out of reach, though. None seemed to land where I wanted. One tantalized me, just up there…. Possibly in my grasp, but no. Quite out of reach.

Ridiculous, this notion of automatic writing. Suppose I did come up with an idea? Then, how do I sustain it? Unless there’s some sort of core backbone, I don’t know how to move from the beginning to the middle. Voids open up in the plot. Where does it end, and how do I keep from repeating myself? Xerox copies of previous sentences seem to be the best I can muster. Yet, I soldier on. Zombies are banging at the door, but…. wait how did zombies get in here?

See how easy that is?

Continue reading “Alphabetically Exhausting”

Journey’s Pause: Tips on Traveling and Writing (Day 12)

Sunrise at University Heights, Victoria. Photo by kajmeister.

As we head south, I will be taking a pause to schmooze with family near Seattle for the next few days. Saturday we took a nice little lazy ferry through the San Juan Island channels over to Anacortes, at the northern Washington border. We passed the site of the pig war, mentioned the previous day, into the Strait of San Juan de Fuca, with its currents that turn into the Pacific Graveyard, from a blog earlier in the week. This is a day to reminisce about greatest hits of the trip, and maybe share thoughts about traveling itself.

People sometimes ask why we are so lucky to find the amazing things we find and see the things we do. People also often say, Gee, I wish I could write. I thought I would offer a few tips.

Friday Harbour on San Juan Island, WA. Photo by kajmeister

Ain’t It Grand?

There are plenty of travel hacks that I’ve learned, such as wearing layers regardless of your destination or the season, traveling in shoulder season (April-May or September-October), or eating lunch–not dinner–at highly-touted restaurants because it’s the same food at a discount. But if I think about what makes our trips really successful, I would highlight three core parts of our philosophy.

Plan Well, Then Be Flexible

An enjoyable trip is a balance between scheduled stops and spontaneity. Overplanning, which to my mind means shoving more than two planned activities into a travel day, leads to a lot of stress and anxiety. You keep checking your watch and worrying about whether the traffic or the crowds will “prevent” you from seeing the Next Thing. Give yourself plenty of time to breathe in the place you are seeing.

On the other hand, if you go into a famous location and hope to just soak up whatever is interesting by wandering around, then you may end up only seeing what is advertised. And, usually what is advertised is the overpriced, schlocky, “touristy,” least-localized experience you can get. Do some advanced research, and pick a planned tour that you like–Food Tour, Hiking Tour, Bus Tour, Shopping Tour–whatever floats your boat. A starter goal really helps. That will anchor you; then allow time to spontaneously return later to wander around interesting that you spot on your tour.

Continue reading “Journey’s Pause: Tips on Traveling and Writing (Day 12)”
%d bloggers like this: