Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Forward Motion for Writers site has a members-only area called Zette's Gym. Today I tried out a challenge (about writing a realistic spellcasting scene) to flex my flabby muscles. This is how my posted attempt turned out:

Head... heart... hands.

Betony’s hands trembled as she traced the symbols for each point of focus across her skin. A single misplaced threading could strip her own weave and leave her lifeless-- or worse, mindless.

Thread warp and weft.

Her head ached from the effort of holding her loom’s image in her mind. She fumbled in her apron for the woolen threads she had braided together.


Fear pounding in her throat, she turned the pockets inside out. She fell to her knees, scrabbling in the grass to find the tricolored braid. When had it fallen out? While she held Alphebe through her last convulsions? When she had stumbled in her flight from the sight of the Wards buckling in spite of the chanting of the other Adepts?

Howls of victory rose from the compound behind her. The seals had failed. They would break free of the fortress soon. And no help would be forthcoming if she failed in her Summoning.

Green for life, red to call, white for alliance. Tears blurred her vision as she dug her fingers into the moist soil to coax a slender weed free of its moorings and denude it of all but its bright green stem. She unwound the tangle of discarded roots to pull the longest root free, hastily brushing the soil from the fragile white strand. Her own hair would have to do for red; she raked her fingers through it, yanking free a strand that reflected enough copper to fit her need.

She knotted the elements together at one end and swiftly braided them into a single patterned cord. Winding the cord through her fingers, she Reached into the bones of the earth and called to the ley lines, using the pattern she’d woven in this world to draw the threads of energy she needed into her grasp. Her fingers twitched as she wove the shining strands into a tapestry behind her mind’s eye, not daring to pause until she could knot the ends of warp and weft together.

She released the weave back into the earth and felt a flash of triumph as it was accepted, sinking into the rich soil until she could no longer even picture it in her mind. She had done it! She, a mere acolyte, had completed a Summoning!

Her vision blurred. Not from tears this time. No figure rising before her, either. Just the feel of heat intensifying through the soles of her feet, of energy rising within her until her limbs felt leaden and her breath was wrung from her chest.

Alphebe’s voice teased at her memory, whispering, Never weave yourself into your Working.

Ah, gods, what had she done?

Friday, August 11, 2006


What am I afraid of? I used to be able to sit in my cubicle once I had finished the assigned work and write, or at least outline. Why can't I do it any more? Why have I gotten to the point where I end up prolonging all of my work preparations so that I can say I don't have any time to write?

I don't understand how I could be afraid of my own writing. How do you conquer fear of writing when writing's the thing you're supposed to love most?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Best technique I've found recently: The Ugly Notebook, from Jenna Glatzer's Outwitting Writer's Block. Take a plain notebook you won't feel obligated to protect against useless words, tawdry cliches, and food stains, and use it as your writing warm-up. Write down random thoughts that come to you during the day. Free write. For me, that means using a single word to set off a chain of concepts that, even if they don't have anything to do with my storyline, generate creative energy. I might even find one single word that sparks off an idea I would never have gotten in my normal writing attempts.

Learn to love your ugly notebook.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I was writing to a new friend I met at the RWA national conference when I came up with the following. Made me stop and think:

I wrote 2 chapters, used the first pretty much as-is, but realized yesterday that the second needs to get tossed. I'd been trying to figure out how to rework it in my head (bad habit--better to start writing, right?) and suddenly came up with another set of scenes that not only solves the problem of giving the reader enough action to stay interested but also adds to some of the intrigue I'm layering in. Important lesson learned: sometimes you have to sacrifice what you write. Sometimes it's just not the right scene or chapter, and you cheerfully toss it away (actually rename it and open a brand new file as a replacement) and go with something that will make for a much better storyline.

It's an important life lesson too, isn't it? Sometimes you just have to toss (or tuck) things away, even if you've spent painful time and effort on them, or you won't be able to move on. Hm.

It's easy to let time pass and not realize how big a loss it is until later. It's harder to identify another pathway to get the results you want, and sometimes you're so stuck on the original way to do it that you get blinded. True for writing and for life itself. I can be a little slow with new ideas--I like to think of it as percolating. What it really comes down to is that my creative muscles have atrophied. Time to do a little work, get them warmed up and stretched out. In Outwitting Writer's Block, Jenna Glatzer suggests getting an "ugly notebook" (so you won't fixate on being "careful" with it) and using it to jot down random thoughts that spill from your mind during the day. I like this idea. I think it'll work.