The Color Red: the Brighter Side

When I counted every person who had critiqued the chapter I blogged about last week, I calculated twenty. Never before have I had that large of a critique group, and never before has my writing changed so drastically from start to finish.

Over two months ago, before another pair of eyes had seen that chapter, I’d rewritten it a dozen times. I was not satisfied with the result, but I didn’t know what else to do with it. Then came the residency program (the class I also mentioned last week) and I came home with a stack of critiques. One month later, with a little encouragement, I began working toward a contest for first chapters, and I found myself asking for even more Continue reading “The Color Red: the Brighter Side”

The Color Red

Image courtesy of Suat Eman at
Image courtesy of Suat Eman at

Recently, three authors whom I admire gave me a crash course in the color red. Two told me red symbolizes pain, anguish, and bloodshed. The other author showed me.

He took a sample of my writing and projected it against a wall for the class and me to study. First came the untouched opening of a chapter I had spent a month working on. The class and I read it, nodded, and waited for the edited version. I thought I was ready, but when the edits came on the screen, I saw red. And I don’t mean I was angry–the page was red, Continue reading “The Color Red”

You’re Probably a Writer If…

Can you identify with writers’ perspectives, quirks, or various forms of madness? Go on–see how you compare. No one need know. 

You are probably a writer if:ID-10095691

  • You can provide, offer, suggest, recommend, propose a minimum of five synonyms for any word.
  • Your blood tests prove that for every part blood, there is one part coffee.
  • The two best compliments about your writing are, “I cried so hard” and “I lost sleep.”
  • Instead of talking to someone you want to get to know, you first consult their bookshelf.
  • No matter how upset you are at any time, something inside you says, “How would I describe this feeling? And how could I incorporate it in a story?”
  • Your conversation regarding the book you are reading features words like, “narrative voice,” “dramatic content,” “sentence structure,” and “third person, objective voice.”
  • The last person to use some of your favorite words was Shakespeare.
  • You mentally rewrite bad grammar.
  • Poorly written novels frustrate you to no end…and make you feel really good.
  • You lose your trust in your favorite authors when they violate point of view.
  • You know where the nearest pen is at any given moment.
  • You’ve ever lost your ability to speak, move, or blink when you’ve thought of a new plot idea.
  • The only print left on your backspace key is the B. And even that’s half gone.
  • You act out facial expressions, gestures, and noises when writing.
  • You’ve ever said “I’m a writer” as an excuse or much-needed explanation.
  • Some of your favorite stories and movies haven’t been written yet.
  • Your best friends aren’t real.
  • You have printed manuscripts on your bookshelf. They’re just stacks of paper tied with string, but that IS where they belong, after all.
  • People die in your head. And more often than you’d ever admit.
  • You know more about your characters than you do about your family or friends.
  • At 1:30 am, when you reread what you just wrote, you say, “Wow, did I write that?” At 1:30 pm, you say, “Good grief, I can’t believe I wrote that.”
  • You have such a reputation at word games that you can only play with people who have just met you.
  • You think about your book when reading someone else’s.
  • You’ve splashed soap suds all over the kitchen and couldn’t have been happier. After all, you figured out the perfect resolution to your climax AND kept your protagonist alive.
  • Reading novels is not very high on your list of relaxing things to do.
  • People tell you of their personal nemesis and you can’t help but think about the “bad guy’s” motivation, personal history, self-justifying internal dialogue, and character arc.
  • You talk to your computer screen. Often in more than one voice.
  • When scanning a bookshelf, you read author name, publisher, and title, in that order.
  • When you reread your writing and find misplaced punctuation, you think you’re a fraud.
  • Your fingers spend almost as much time on the keyboard as your forehead.

My Life Hasn’t Been Normal Since

When I was eight, I took up a dull pencil and a steno pad I’d been using for drawings, and I began my first short story. While I don’t remember much about the story’s premise, I do remember being surprised. Never before had I felt the thrill of creating characters, plot, and setting and making words do more than narrate. I’d written reports, journal entries, and poems, but this connection–this excitement–was something I’d never anticipated.

That was when I first said I wanted to be a writer. Somewhere in my young soul I knew I could not do without this sensation. So I began paying more attention to my creative writing assignments. Entered a contest or two. Scribbled sense and nonsense. Took writing courses. Analyzed books. Took more courses. Submitted articles. Penned my first novel. Then my second. On and on the course of events goes until now I write every day. And, yes, that wonderment still sneaks up and surprises me. Continue reading “My Life Hasn’t Been Normal Since”