Making Space for Writing
In which I re-discover the joy of talking with writers about stories
Hello, writers. Has the autumn been treating you well? Are the leaves changing wherever you are, and are you thinking about changes, fresh starts, new looks at at old writing? The fall is always a charged and wonderful time for me; as a lifelong student, it’s my fresh start to the year. And I’m embracing that idea of fresh starts this year; I’m writing to you from a cabin in the woods, my first trip away from my family since the pandemic began, my first time away from my toddler, and my first chance to commune with a few writers who are here with me, all of us working on our new novel projects.
The opportunity to retreat from the world for a few days and work exclusively on writing isn’t available to everyone, but I think you should examine your life, your day, and your commitments, and grab whatever seems possible for you. Let the kids eat pizza, trust your partner to care for them, and lock yourself in your office for a few days; consider a rentshare with a few writer friends; or look seriously into applying for formal residencies. The world is beginning to resume its busy hum, and this could be your time to re-connect with writers and re-connect with the stories you want to tell.
There’s been a lot going on for the podcast; I’ve been talking about Scheduling Time for Nothing, Mixing the Bitter and the Sweet, Remembering the Excitement you felt as a young reader, and how Creativity is Putting Two Things Together. It’s been wonderful hearing from listeners about how these tips are getting them writing, and I hope you’ll weigh in too. A review on Apple Podcasts is always a huge help, so if you like what you’re listening to, please give a shout out or a star.
My other news is that I’ve been happily writing Craft Capsules, short articles on craft, for Poets & Writers Magazine. There are four in total, and I hope you’ll check them out. I wrote about vertigo and narrative disorientation; peering around the edge of a scene; the unappreciated but wonderful form of the long short story; and and the tiny doable things we can do to keep our writing alive, even when it's hard. In that last one, I talk about starting the Writerly Bites podcast as a way for writers to keep the spark going in small ways every day.
My new novel is creeping forward — like a swamp thing with too many limbs and eyeballs in the wrong places. But it’s moving, a sentence, a page, at a time. I scribble and type and it lurches forward. And in the evening, the writers and I convene and compare notes, share our work, support each other. There’s nothing like a writing community, so do what you can to find yours.
Your writing prompt:
• Your character wakes up in an unfamiliar bed. What brought him/her there? How will this shake up the world order? What new character will they encounter as a result of this?