A Pat on the Back for All Writers

One of my favorite restaurants anywhere  – the courtyard at 82 Queen.

So, I wound up my travels last week with a visit Friday morning to my day job corporate headquarters in Boston. I only make it back to the mothership every couple of years, but it’s always fun when I do. I forget sometimes, working from home in New Mexico and interacting with my colleagues virtually, how great the people I work with are. They were excited to see me. They hug me, my big bosses kiss me on the cheek. They complained that I should have let them know I stayed at a nearby hotel the night before, so they could have taken me out to dinner.

I work with wonderful people.

Along with socializing, I had a few agenda items – just some people I wanted to touch base with on projects we’re working on. It’s fun to get to talk in person for a change. One gal is someone I’ve never worked with directly before. She’s a title-level above me, but she’s handling a task on one of my projects. I stopped by her office, but she was on the phone and waved that she’d catch up with me. I ended up in the office of another gal I’ve worked with for many years and we ended up gossiping – about her stepdaughter and my writing. I showed her the cover for Rogue’s Pawn on my phone and she was appropriately oohing and ahhing when the other gal found me. She wanted to see what we were looking at, so I showed her.

She looked at it, asked some questions and gave me an astounded look. She said, “Wait – you write NOVELS? Don’t you work full time like I do?”

It was a funny moment for me and a good reminder. What we do as writers is not an easy thing. Immersed in the community, we forget how many people out there are *not* writing books. Whether we’re sandwiching writing time around our day jobs or structuring our days around family obligations and other distractions, this is not a common thing to do. It’s not easy.

In truth, it can be pretty damn hard sometimes. As we all know.

That’s something to be proud of.

The In-person Interview: Priceless

Dashing off a post today, as I’m in Providence this morning and headed to day job meetings soon.

My weekend in Charleston was just perfect – and I got exactly what I needed. As regular readers might recall, I was feeling very blocked on revisions for Platinum and getting nowhere with phone calls to people. Networking that usually falls into place for me kept going absolutely nowhere. Finally David pointed out that there must be a reason I had to go in person and to trust that.

He’s a prince of a man.

So, I went over the weekend. And it all fell into place, from the first gallery I walked into, to the people that owner connected me to. Time after time, people offered me little jewels, exactly what I needed for this story.

I’d felt like I shouldn’t spend the money and it turned out to be the best money spent ever.

The take-home message? I guess there’s a couple:

1. Despite our very connected virtual world, nothing beats in-person conversation. People will show and give you in person what they never will on the phone.

2. Writing is an art and that means it comes from a place beyond us. Trusting what it’s trying to tell you is paramount.

3. I just love Charleston.

Shipping off my revisions tonight!

Identifying Writer’s Block – and Resolving It

One of the fun things about where we stayed on St. Thomas was watching the cruise ships glide by in the mornings and evenings. Extraordinary how these small sailing cites come and go.

Little shameless plug: you can now sign up for my newsletter!! I know – you all are gasping in giddy surprise. I’ve been told (in no uncertain terms and by readers, amazingly enough) that I *need* to have one. If you want to subscribe (and I totally do not blame you if you don’t), there’s a place to do it in the right-hand column of the home page. One of my readers, the lovely Susan Doerr, even volunteered to compose one for me and it’s really just great. (I suspect she worried about what travesty I’d come up with on my own, given my hatred of all things newslettery.) This is very simple, comes to your email In-Box and we’ll only do it quarterly or so. I’m told I’ll have special treats and giveaways, too. Whee!

Okay: Writer’s Block.

So, those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time might be surprised by today’s topic. I’ll be up front: I have never believed that Writer’s Block is a real thing. In fact, I had to create the label for it just now. I’m a big believer that habit and ritual will get words down. I’ve always thought that Writer’s Block was more about angsting over the process – and maybe a bit of resistance towards just doing the work – than anything real.

And then I hit it.

I didn’t even know what it was.

See, what happened was, last Friday I got my developmental edits on Platinum. They’re not bad – Editor Deb Nemeth is excellent at her job: specific, clear, good insights. I even wrote a post last week about how she pushes me to write difficult scenes. She also asked me to layer in more detail about the setting in Charleston, SC, and my heroine’s daily life owning an art gallery.

Several of my friends joked that I clearly needed to take a tax-deductible research trip to Charleston. I laughed.

Now, I’ve been to Charleston a few times, but not since, um, maybe ten years ago? And I’ve shopped in art galleries there. I have friends who own small businesses that sell to the public, but they’re more coffee shops and bookstores. But hey, I’m the queen of networking, right? So I set to finding someone to talk to.

I hit wall after wall after wall. Nobody answered their phones or responded to the messages I left. The one gallery owner I talked to, from Santa Fe, was very weird to me. The Charleston Chamber of Commerce interactive marketing director advised me on how to look up galleries on their website.

It was all very weird.

I tried to work on the edits and got nowhere. The layering thing bothered me. I kept Googling, placing calls, asking my email loops.

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

So, at lunch on Wednesday, I was whining expressing my frustration to David and he said something was clearly in my way. That I was blocked for some reason. “Normally,” he said, “you just do stuff like it’s no problem. You’re doing something wrong here.”

As soon as he said it, it all made sense. It described precisely how I felt: Blocked. Nothing was flowing as it should. Nothing was going my way on this.

“I think you should just go to Charleston,” he said.

And I laughed, like I’d laughed before. I started to tell him how I didn’t have the time or the money for such an extravagant move. Then it occurred to me that I’d just been told I needed to fly to Providence, RI on June 3, for the day job. That’s at least the correct side of the country. I checked into the plane tickets and I could fly to Charleston on Friday, spend the weekend and be in Providence by Monday morning.

So, that’s what I’m doing.

I’ll tell you what – as soon as I bought that ticket, everything started flowing again. People returned my messages, I started revising happily and easily. Bluebirds perched on my desk and sang sweet songs of joy.

I don’t know why I have to go to Charleston, but it’s clear I do.

I don’t recommend this method for resolving all Writer’s Blocks, but I think the lesson here is to listen to yourself. When you feel blocked at every turn, there’s a message in that. Sometimes the answer is to do that thing you think can’t be done.

It might open all the doors.