Wednesday, December 14, 2011

To Take A Break Or Not To Take A Break

December is half way over and I haven’t really done a whole lot of writing.  

I haven’t decided that’s a good thing or not.  On one hand, I wrote two novel s in four months.  On the other hand, I have a goal to have either the first novel self published by this time next year or have a publishing date.  At the moment, neither novel is ready for public consumption.   They need a lot of work but at the same time, I kind of need a break.

I did a lot of writing in a short amount of time.  My brain needs a little bit of a rest.  I’m now starting to get to a point where I’m coming up with ideas for the rewrite including changing the direction of the story to raise the stakes a bit and create more compelling tension.  I’m actually really excited about the possibilities for the story and where it could go. 

It’s also the holiday season.  I have a half decorated house, sugar cookie dough in the fridge and brand new Christmas cookie cutters that need to be used.  I’ve decided that taking some time to celebrate the season is a good thing for this month.  After that, I can get back on a steadier track.  In the meantime, any writing I get in is a bonus.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Previewing On My Kindle

One of the reasons I even considered writing a novel is because of my Kindle.  I bought one as a pre-graduation gift to myself earlier this year and I love it.  It has a feature where you can send your documents to the Kindle and use the device to read them.  I sent one of my short stories to the device.  It was such a cool experience for me as a writer to see my work in print on the device.  With self-publishing becoming more popular, it gave me the confidence to write my own novel.

That one novel is actually two and they're now both in draft form on the device.  I love it because I can read it without the temptation to change while I read.  I'm reading my novel for the first time and I'm really loving it so far.  It has a lot of rewriting that needs to happen but I'm really proud of what I've created so far.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Dealing With The Haters

One thing that happens a lot to me is I get the occasional hater.  In the early part of my career (which is where I'm at now), I have been blessed to not get very many of these types of people in my life.  I have had a few and, I'm not going to lie, I considered giving up as a writer.  Instead, I used it to motivate myself.

I had a classmate tear apart a script I wrote.  This person's comments were so bad that I actually turned the comments in to my teacher.  It wasn't that I didn't think my script was perfect (it wasn't).  I felt that in an environment where we were supposed to share "constructive criticism," this student needed to word their comments to me differently.  The teacher agreed.  Later, the student apologized to me and we were able to reconcile   The student also saw me go from a shaky beginner to a polished novice throughout the course of the class.

I have been on the other side of the equation too.  I have read work that I didn't like.  It happened in a class about a year ago.  I was peer editing a piece and it was awful.  As I read it, I remembered about the times that I had haters (particularly the incident described above) and considered that when making my comments.  I was honest with the person but made sure I shared it in such a way that this person could continue to write.  When our group met to share our feedback, I actually realized the writer was doing something different with the narrative structure and it made more sense to me.

I am in a fortunate position these days because I am able to receive and demand constructive feedback.  When I am published (or produced depending on the medium), I am going to encounter people who aren't going to like my work or think I'm not a good writer.  There are going to be people criticizing me who I have never met and likely never will.  I hope that I will be in a place where I can learn from them and grow.  That's why I don't mind criticism.  However, I do feel there are ways to criticize without destroying someone.

I have a lot of respect for Simon Cowell.  The man knows what's good and what isn't.  Some of the people who would audition for American Idol were truly awful.  I don't know if they were really bad and knew it or if they were bad but were constantly told how good they are by people who were afraid to let them down.  Cowell was honest and I liked that.  What I didn't like was when he'd say something like "Never sing again."  That was a little too extreme.  Giving up should be an absolute last resort.  If you are truly passionate about what you do, think about what needs to be improved.

I have had people criticize my work and I've used it as an opportunity to change.  If someone complains about the plot, I will see if I need to tell the story from a different angle.  If someone doesn't like a character, I ask myself why the character is there in the first place and see if I need to justify their presence in the story.  If the dialogue's not working, I take a look at that and see what needs to be changed.

Feedback--good and bad--helps me.  It helps me to know from an outside perspective what's working and what isn't.  If someone tells you to stop writing, ask yourself why.  If that person is the person who sits next to you in a beginning writing class, they probably aren't the best authority because they're learning alongside you.  If it's your publisher, I might take them a little more seriously.  The only one who can stop you from writing is you.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Reflecting On A Major Accomplishment

I wrote a novel in a month?
Yes I did. 

This accomplishment is still sinking in and doesn’t quite seem real but I’m really proud of myself.  My project wasn’t an official National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) project because I had been outlining it for a long time but I decided to use the month to write it.  I finished my first novel in October, took a few days off and then turned around and started the NaNoWriMo project.  It’s a new story but with the same characters as my first novel.  The first novel had a distinct ending but I wasn’t quite done with my characters and their story.  While writing the second novel, I think I figured out a way to weave the stories together.  I’m still not sure about that but I’m glad I was able to write it in order to work out some of my ideas.

How did I do it?  I already try to write an hour a day so I kept up with that goal.  I can get a lot done in an hour and sometimes, I have so much fun writing that I keep going.  I also schedule writing marathons where I’ll write until the early hours of the morning.  One night I stayed up until six o’clock in the morning.  I only do that when I can sleep in the next day because it takes a lot out of me and takes a couple of days to recover but it feels pretty great to get a lot done.

The one thing that keeps me going is that I acknowledge and accept the fact that my first draft is going to be crap and I don’t strive for perfection.  If I were to edit as I write, I’d be working on the same project forever.  If I write something that I’m not sure about, I will leave it in with a note about what makes me concerned about it.  No one is allowed to see my first draft.  The draft is what I use to get the idea out of my head and into the world.  After the rewrite is when I will let people read it for feedback.

What’s next?  Every part of me wants to start the editing process today but I’m really trying to let the story settle a bit.  I have some ideas that include everything from name changes of the characters to shaking up the plot a bit.  I’m also considering taking the two novels and combining them into one story.  I’m trying to let the story rest for two weeks before I get started.  I’m also a little shaky about writing novels.  I’m used to screenplays where the format is fast and quick and you don’t have to describe everything.  I fell in love with the format when I took a short story class and read several novels for my classes in my last term in school.  I’m kind of learning as I go but every class I have taken has taught me about how to write and how to tell a good story. 

I am hoping by this time next year to either have the novel(s) published or have a release date.  I’m not done yet but I have completed one very large step.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Reflections of a Career (that's only just begun)

Last month, I finished writing the draft of my first novel.  It was such an amazing experience.  As I looked at the piles of paper coming out of my printer, I was amazed at how I made that happen.  It's currently sitting in my file cabinet waiting...for me to finish my next novel.

I really felt like my characters had two stories to tell.  So I'm using National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) to write the second half of the novel.  I hate calling it a sequel because it doesn't feel like that even though it technically is.  But I love that I'm making great progress in NaNoWriMo.  I'm almost half way there.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm taking a step back.  I'm a screenwriter but I'm working as a novelist.  Truthfully, I don't think I am taking a step back.  I feel like I'm moving forward.  I just want to write.  If that's a novel, screenplay, stage play or sitcom, it doesn't matter to me.  I'm not at the place where my writing can sustain me financially but everyday I feel like I'm getting closer and closer to that possibility.

So I choose to move forward.  I have been meeting my goals quite well and I hope to keep up with that.  And I look forward to taking out the red pens and editing my hard work very soon so I can start the rewrite process.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Quick Update and A Prompt

Such a busy time for me.  I'm currently working as a stagehand for a play, starting a new very part time temporary job on Monday, and trying to rest and relax when I can as tech work can be quite stressful.

But I haven't given up on my goals.  I am hoping to participate in NaNoWriMo this year and finish the first part of my novel.  It's still a possibility I haven't given up on.  More on that later.

For now, a prompt.

My distress over _____________________ led me to eat an entire tub of chocolate frosting.

(I hope to have my version of this posted soon).

Friday, August 26, 2011


Hi Everyone!

As you can tell, I have fallen behind on my postings and prompts. For the last two weeks I've been working as a temp which has taken up my writing time (but provides a good income and is a great environment). This week I've been dealing with sinus issues so I've been in bed trying to relax and recuperate.

I will be getting back on track very soon. Along with the prompts, I hope to announce soon the launch of the anthology with the current working title of The Charm or the Strikeout. I am still working out the schedule of it but hope to have it launched by October.

Thank you all for your support and for helping me keep the dream alive.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Starstruck Prompt Day Nine: What I Love About Sunday

Sundays are a great day. In one of my stories, they are the center of a ritual within a relationship. In my life, they are quickly becoming a day of leisure, especially as I return (temporarily) to working. Sundays are a day of relaxation as they should be. Today my Sunday will be a day of cooking, preparing for the work week, sipping tea, and watching an old black and white movie. The only thing missing is the rain. However, I live in Oregon. If I wait five minutes, I could get some rain.

What do you love about Sunday? Be vivid in the details of sight, sound, color, tastes, feelings and so on. If you don't love Sunday, why? What makes Sunday so unpleasant? What day do you prefer?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Starstruck Prompt Day Eight: Photographic Jogging

Pictures can provide a great jump start for your writing. I've written entire stories based on pictures. So every once in awhile for the prompts, I will use a photograph to help you generate ideas. Today's picture is from my private collection of photographs. Use this picture to tell any story you wish.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

No Prompt Today

My day job is picking up (I'm a temp) and I've been working on logistics for possible assignments so I will be taking today off from posting a prompt. I'll be back tomorrow with something great.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Starstruck Prompt Day Seven: Escape

Today hasn't really been a good day for me. When I have bad days, I feel like packing up and moving to a tropical island until things come down.

What is your dream escape? A tropical island with lots of umbrella drinks and sunbathing? A hotel suite in a big city with room service and movies? How long do you plan to stay there? Be descriptive and vivid as you talk about your life in paradise.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Starstruck Prompt Day Six: Brain Drain

Sorry for forgetting today's prompt. Lots of writing going on here.

When I was a freshman in high school, we had a student teacher give us an assignment before we wrote. We took a few minutes to write everything that was on our minds at the time. We wrote it as a list. I do this every once in awhile before I write to get everything out of my mind so I can focus.

So for today's prompt, do a brain drain. Write a list of everything on your mind. Do this for about fifteen minutes. Then proceed with your regular writing.

What do you think? Was it helpful? Why or why not?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Creative Writing Space

The wall by my bed holds two dry erase boards. The best things for writing late night thoughts, outlines and quick ideas. I live in a small space where space is at a minimum so I have to get creative. However, it comes in quite useful.

Starstruck Prompt Day Five: Cute

Start writing using this sentence to get started: The cutest thing I ever saw....

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Starstruck Prompt Day Four: Bedtime Part Two

You have your list from yesterday? Good. Write a story with any character or setting you choose and incorporate the items into the story. To make it more challenging, don't write about someone in their bedroom.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Starstruck Prompt Day Three: Bedtime

I'm exhausted at the moment from writing like crazy all day after a late night writing marathon. I forgot to post a prompt this morning (and yesterday's after a system glich) but I'm back.

I'm going to break up today's prompt into two parts. This is a modification of an assignment from my fiction writing class.

Look at your bedside table. Make a list of everything that is on the table. If your table has a drawer, make a separate list of the items in the drawer. If you don't have a drawer, make a list of the items around your table.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Starstruck Prompt Day Two: The Season For Writing

It's a lazy working day here at the Cline house. I'm in my desk (my bed) working on my novel while Elliott's laying on the floor in a twisted position just kind of staring off into space. It's warm but gray and cloudy today. It feels like fall. Most of all, it's a perfect day to write.

Fall is easily my favorite time of year. I love the chill in the air, the leaves on the ground, the excuse to drink tea all day and the sense of newness that surrounds me. Almost every year, I have a new job or am starting a new term after a summer off. Last fall was very intense but as I look back, my mind remembers only the good and I love that.

What is your favorite season? Rather than write a composition of "Why I Love (my favorite season)," write a story that takes place in your favorite season. Describe the colors, sounds, smells, tastes. Be vivid.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Starstruck Prompt Day One

There are several sites out there that provide writing prompts. Ideas can come from so many places. I wanted to try and help my fellow writers with ideas. I will give credit where credit is due whenever the idea is borrowed from someone else. Each day I will post a new prompt with the title of "Starstruck Prompt." I will try to post in the mornings. This is totally informal. Use it when you can. Ignore it if it doesn't work for you. I will try to keep up with the prompts myself but I can't make any promises.

Our First Prompt!

Welcome. My 2012 Ikea Catalog arrived today. I love catalogs. I subscribe to several. They're often free so they're easy to come by. I think with some providers, if you don't buy from them within a certain amount of time, they stop coming, but they're really helpful. I miss Sears Big Books which were discontinued in the early nineties. Those had lots of ideas.

But today's catalogs can be helpful. For today's prompt, pick a page from any catalog. Write for fifteen minutes about the people who live there. Where do they live? What room are they in? What are they doing in the room? These are just starters. Feel free to use whatever you like. Don't forget to keep the picture.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Commercial Break: John From Cincinnati

I totally forgot I checked this out from the library. I saw it in January before Deadwood and am looking forward to watching it again now that I'm pretty well caught up on Deadwoood. David Milch has a great way of creating complex and interesting characters. I'm also interested in seeing how many Deadwood alums show up. The dialogue is just as complex and interesting as in Deadwood. I'll report back later once I do a thorough comparison of the two.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Anthology Preview

I took a course in Dramatic Writing when I was pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree. For one of my assignments, I wrote Garrett and Julia, a story about a woman in her early thirties marrying a much older man who had been married twice before. Wife number two was wreaking havoc on the couple. I wrote a scene for the assignment in the form of a stage play.

In workshop, one of my classmates tore my story apart so badly that it took me two days to recover and still stings when I think about it. I don’t recall what was said exactly because it was something I didn’t want to remember. I took the few pieces of criticism that were constructive and left the rest behind. I did take one of the more scathing criticisms with me. The classmate accused me of “Not caring about my characters.” Telling a writer they don’t care about their characters is a very big accusation to make without the proof to back it up. They may have been underdeveloped but I did care. Character development has always been one of my weaker traits as a writer. Since the assignment was a quick one, I didn’t get a chance to really get to know them, but I did care about them and to be accused of not caring was really painful.

I never finished a single story in my classes. Every piece I have ever written is still a work in progress. And the teachers expected that. Some stories I wrote and put them in the back of my file. Others I kept working on. Garrett and Julia is one that never left my mind. I wanted to make it better but wasn’t sure how. As I thought about the forms I could work with and platforms, I thought back to an episode of Doctor Quinn Medicine Woman where Colleen and her friends read a romance story that was printed every week in a paper that came from Denver. I’ve had requests in the past to write fiction on my blog. And so begins my experiment. And continuing my healing process by proving I care about my characters and I love this story.

I am still working out the details but I am considering six installments. I am not sure of the schedule yet but I’m hoping to do a new installment each week. I will keep you posted and hope to create a story you all will enjoy in a different way of publishing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Coming Soon

I have decided what I am going to do for my first postings. I'm not ready yet but I will give the follow clues to my ideas:


Stay tuned for updates of what I will be posting as I relaunch the site.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Welcome to the new and improved Starstruck Farmgirl!

Now I have to figure out what to do with the space.

What would you like to see? More musings on pop culture or current events? More personal non-fiction? Fiction? Leave a comment to let me know what you'd like to see.