Monday, August 07, 2006

Guest blogger Allie Pleiter

Captain’s Log, Stardate 08.07.2006

Today, I have chick-lit author Allie Pleiter guest blogging for me! Allie’s post is especially helpful to writers.

Allie is a hilarious writer. Don’t believe me? Check out her free online read at eHarlequin.com for the “prequel” to the Steeple Hill chick-lit I’m giving away today!

Allie's latest romance novel is MY SO-CALLED LOVE LIFE.

A cartoon character is ruining my love life!

Yes, it's true. I'm the voice of Maggy Hoot, the wisecracking owl from the hit animated series Arborville. And as soon as any cute or eligible or even breathing guy realizes what I do for a living, the relationship is over before it's started.

I'm actually Lindy Edwards, a smart, educated woman who would really like to get past the third date with a nice Christian man without having to give a hoot-owl impersonation. Is that too much to ask?


And now, here’s Allie!

As I writer, I very rarely suffer from writer’s block. No wait, don’t hate me yet—it’s not the blessing you think it is.

I used to think my block-free existence was a function of talent. Ha! I’ve decided it’s a function of delusion. You see, I tend to think my writing is brilliant all the time (this is, of course, precisely why God invented editors). My husband can never understand how I often crack myself up while writing. Technically, it’s like tickling yourself—it shouldn’t work. Still, I giggle at the keyboard and sadly attempt to retell jokes in my manuscript to my husband (an action which usually results in blank, worrisome stares). This makes for fun writing: I simply write until I hit brilliance, at which point I stop, reward myself with chocolate, hum around the house relishing in my own fabulousness, and forget to go back to writing. (Any similarities to Dory in Finding Nemo are frightening and humbling and unwelcome.) While not especially productive, a daily application of this strategy will get you about 15 manuscript pages a week, and is a highly effective defense against writer’s block.

Because of my short-happy-burst writing style (born more of small children underfoot than of any real planning), I very rarely hit writers block. Invariably the demands of my household or my short attention span would preclude any appearance a despicably blank page. By the time I got back around to the keyboard, my subconscious had concocted whatever needed to come next.

Until now. My kids were at camp this week and the promise of a quiet household made me cocky. I demanded a high page count of myself this week. And I was determined to get huge chunks of writing done. What have I done??? Now, when I reach my happy, shiny spot of brilliance, I can’t stop. I have to keep going because I’ve got to get more pages in. Suddenly I find myself slogging through pages of drivel because I don’t have a perfect next scene itching to get out of my head like I normally do. Then I have to come back the next day, cut the pages of drivel, and it’s one-step-forward-two-steps-back.

What’s wrong? Actually, nothing. I’ve just ignored my personal writing style—to my own detriment. It’s what I’ve known all along—or actually what Hemingway discovered long before I ever set fingers to keyboard: write until you know what is going to happen next, then stop. Write until you find that little gem or brilliance that is in every passage, chapter, or story segment, then stop. Walk away, live your life, and let your brain do its concocting job all day until you get to find your way to the keyboard again tomorrow. Some days you’re aching to get back to the story, other days you sit down unsure until the next perfect step jumps out of your fingers.

I’ve been doing that all along, and I just tried to override that. I tried to hijack my muse because my kids were in another state. Good idea, but bad results. My muse, my method, won’t change under ideal circumstances anymore than they would change under high pressure.

I write fast, I write clean, but the fact of the matter is I’ll probably never write much faster or cleaner than I do now. I can’t work it out at the keyboard—I have to work it out away from the keyboard, then come back to put it all down in words. I’ll never be able to rent a cabin in the woods to finish my masterpiece in two weeks. Because, for better or worse, I can’t write more than three or four pages at a time.

But you can bet there’s brilliance in those three pages.

At least I think so.

Then again, there’s that pesky editor thing…..

Allie

Camy here: Thanks so much, Allie!

Coming up this week:

I love the Christian Women Online, and they have “In Other Words” every Tuesday, so I’ll be giving my take on their quote of the week. Because I know you’re just dying to know what I think about it.

Zondervan stuff came! I’ll be giving the low-down on my new info for any writers who are out there in blogger-land.

I get to post an interview with debut novelist Jill Elizabeth Nelson on Thursday! But, uh . . . keep your eye on your priceless works of art. She’s got itchy fingers and I know you’ve got millions of dollars worth hidden in your basement.

TMI:

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Camy’s blog! TMI is back!

Diet: I have been doing Denise Austin’s two workout programs almost every day. I Tivo the programs and then skip through the commercials. I even exercised on Saturday.

Do I eat better? Heck, no. I’m not that smart.

I do feel better, though. The first few days I exercised (after being a fat lazy butt at RWA conference), I felt terrible. It was almost as if I had tons of toxins in my system that started coming out when I started sweating.

Now, however, I’m feeling stronger. The yoga stretching has really been helping my back and spine.

My husband, Captain Caffeine (Do you like his new blog nickname? He picked it out himself) said his back has been hurting him, so I said he should do yoga with me.

He scrunched up his face and replied, “Do I have to?”

What can I say, men. If he doesn’t want a solution, he shouldn’t complain.

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