Wednesday 29 December 2010

IT'S TIME TO GROW GILLS (i.e. I've made a decision and want to ask you some stuff)

So, the New Year is coming up and all, so I figure I need a New Year's resolution. (Well, no I don't, the decision didn't come about because I thought I needed a resolution, the resolution element is just a convenient addition to my decision.)

Anyway, I made a decision, and the idea of telling all who are willing to hear seems to be a psychological trick to set the decision in stone - so here I am - setting it into cyberstone.

The decision:
In 2011, I am going to prioritize reading works (which I have not yet read) by authors that inspire me to become a better writer - i.e. Margaret Atwood, Marilynne Robinson, Raymond Carver, Milan Kundera, Rebecca Miller, and my new-found love Anne Lamott. (But do not fear, if you have a debut coming out that you'd like me to read, gimme a shout and I'll TRY MY BEST TO MAKE time for it.)

You see, in 2010, I read A LOT of debuts, and took chances on A LOT of authors I'd never read before. And it was great. Really, some mega surprises can be found in the unknown, so I'm SUPER glad that I did that. (I also read a lot of stuff that really wasn't my cup of tea and kinda think I wasted time - but yer know, live and learn). But I will do it again - when the time is right.

But you see, I've missed my lovelies. And I have a novel coming out next year, which has made me realise, "OMG, my 'career' is being kick-started. I need to keep growing as a writer.' And to do that I need to be inspired. So, I've decided to be a little more selfish with my reading.

I need to swim in literature that makes me grow gills so that I can breathe under water. I need to read the works of authors that, somehow, take me to a place deep deep under the sea, where all exterior noise is drowned out; where the world around me turns into an unfocused swirl of unidentifiable color; a place where my own creativity is sparked; where my mind is free to roam in worlds only I know how to breathe in.

So there you have it. My decision. But if you have read the authors I mention above, and you know of any authors you think I might be inspired by, please holler. This decision doesn't mean I don't want to explore new authors, it just means that I want inspiration and am going to go where I'm guaranteed to find it.

On another, more smaller note, I'm also hoping to find a good work/writing/love-life balance. Something I am yet to perfect. I should get my butt in gear, I dunno, I should write up a daily schedule or something instead of living in my usual fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants mode. I need some structure. Because 2011, is already filling up with 'have tos'. Yep ... I need to find a balance. I need a routine. I also need something that forces me to get out of the house and away from the computer more. Perhaps a part-time job, doing something non-editing/writing related. Hmmm ... that's a thought ...

So this leaves me with a few questions for you:

1. What authors inspire you to become a better writer, and why?
2. Have you found your work/writing/love-life and/or family balance? If yes, how? If no, are you going to try to in the New Year?
3. When you make a decision, do you feel the need to 'set it in stone'? If so, how do you go about that?
4. Do you spend too long at your desk? Do you feel you need a 'reason' to get away from it, or are you good at self-discipline?

Have a wonderful New Year!


  1. I found your post very interesting to read. There are a few authors who inspire me, Many are within Blogsphere and a few not on the site. I balance or try to balance my family equally though getting to Spai to visit my son has been difficult because of the weather and the fact that our local airport has shut down until I can't swim I can't swim across the

    I wish you all the success for 2011

  2. Steven Erikson, for his boundless imagination, Cormac McCarthy, for his unbelievable evocation of setting and mood and his strange and searing prose, Javier Marias for his ability at translating the flow of the interior world, Ryszard Kapuscinski, for his observation and courage and sense of the importance of the right details, Ann Patchett, for her simple perfection... so many, so many.

    Have I found my balance? Um, no. Maybe something approaching balance. But I'm not sure true balance is really possible. That's a rigid sort of thing, and life is so fluid and ever-changing. I try to set aside time for writing while still leaving time for family, work, etc. I do my best at holding to that, and then let the chips fall where they may. It's a struggle, sometimes, but a worthy one.

    Set things in stone? No. Moses would be disappointed in me.

    Too long at the computer? Not writing... sometimes a little too much gallivanting about the internet, maybe? Some of the gallivanting is worthwhile connection with writer friends... some of it isn't. *cough*youtube*cough*

  3. 1. Pretty much all writers inspire me, the great ones because that’s something to aspire to, the not-so-great ones because I think: If they can get published there’s always hope for me because I can write better than that.

    2. Sort of. In the past I was far too self-centred. You can’t do that. Now I fit my writing around my wife’s needs. Once she has been taken care of then I have no problem losing myself in my work.

    3. No. In fact probably the worst thing is to actually tell people what you’re doing. I would find it a terrible burden to keep updating people as to the progress I’m making. Part of me regrets letting the readers on my blog know I’m concentrating on my novel because some of them are already asking how I’m getting on and it’s only been about a week since I put up the damn post.

    4. Yes, no and yes. It all depends on how well I’m doing. When I’m on a roll the time just disappears. I take regular short breaks to stretch my legs, relieve my bladder and give my eyes a rest. I try to keep to a routine but one needs to be flexible and realistic. As long as I don’t waste my time then I’m happy. Writing is important but it’s not everything.

  4. I can relate to wanting to read more works from awe-inspiring writers.

    I decided that when I own a Kindle, which I hope is some time early 2011, I'll download some of the classics which I'm sure will inspire me. I'm particularly interested in reading me some Mark Twain.

    Making a list helps me focus, but alas, all too soon I forget about the list. As to discipline with writing, I wish I'd spend more time on the projects I need to complete.

    Happy New Year when it comes. Here's hoping you meet most, if not all, of your goals in 2011.

  5. Balance constantly remains elusive to me, but like you I'm looking to resolve that problem for 2011. Most recently, Patrick Ness has inspired me; his investment in his characters made me realise that's something I tend to forget when I write.

    When I want something set in stone, I usually tell someone. That way I'm letting down more than just myself if I fail (no pressure on you for telling us though) :)

  6. Congrats on your success! I'm pretty much inspired by anybody who can take hours, days, months to write a novel and then put into it the years it takes to finally get it published. ;)

  7. so many questions! umm...
    1-Atwood's always good. I'm reading The Help right now, and LOVE it... I really liked Kingsolver back in the day, but I've heard her more recent work's rambling...
    2-No. sigh.
    3-Sort of. But I'm always afraid to tell everyone like this. Then they start *asking* about it... :D
    4-Yes. eh, 50-50 on that one...

    So good luck in the new year! It's going to be a big one for you~ xoxo

  8. Ooo! I love questions…

    1. I read so many different types of things that it’s hard to say what exactly inspires me to become a better writer. I read a debut novel this year, Song of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy, and it made me reconsider a genre I’d never really thought about writing. Now, I’ve got two Science Fiction novels written and a third in the outlining process and I love the genre.

    2. I think the best thing that has happened for me when it comes to writing is the down turn in the economy. Because things are slow, I’ve more or less gotten to the point that I’m able to write 8 hours a day during the work week and that leaves my evenings and weekends for the boy.

    3. I’m horrible with decisions. I’m better with goals – goals are malleable. I tend to ignore the decisions or try to turn them into goals. I hardly ever set anything in stone… more like clay.

    4. Like I said in #2, I spend 8 hours a day typing away at this keyboard… I think that if I needed to write at home too, I would begin to feel a little restless.

    ~ I'm having a contest over at my blog (giving away copies of my novel)stop by and check it out! ~
    - Amy

  9. Congrats! I'll be sure to buy a copy when it comes out!

    ~I'm pretty much inspired by anyone that has had a novel published. I read all genres and there are some amazing authors out there and then some that make you think "if they can do this, I can too!"

    ~Decisions. Hmm those are like goals. Best way to achieve them is to make a game plan and stick with it. Say 1000 words a day or an hour of reading every night before bed. Hold yourself accountable. Make it happen.

    ~ Balance is hard, especially with deadlines, networking, family, etc. The best trick I've found is setting a schedule. "Work hours" so to speak and forcing yourself to write during that a job. It really helps your productivity and also frees up more time to spend doing other things. People learn your schedule and adapt!

    ~ Yes. I try to set aside at least an hour a day where I get out and walk, sometimes more. But like any other 'job' you have to put in a certain amount of time and dedication in order to succeed. It comes with the territory.

    Interesting blog! I wish you all the best in 2011!

  10. 1) Many authors have inspired me to become a better writer: JK Rowling, Anne Tyler, Suzanne Collins, Kate DiCamillo, and so on. That's off the top of my head. Sometimes it's character, sometimes it's plot, sometimes it's beautiful writing, sometimes it's message.

    2) My balance goes in and out, depending on what type of work I'm doing. There's never a perfect balance.

    3) I'm not sure about decisions. I'd like to think I stick with a decision, but I'm flexible to change it if it's not working. But no examples are coming to me.

    4) I don't write enough.

    Happy New Year!

  11. I have no good balance honestly- its hard to do. I work day by day, doing the best I can each day and moving forward.

    I have a few authors who are inspiring me at the moment, one of which i think you might find some inspiration in is Diane Setterfield and her book is "The Thirteenth Tale" Here is a quote from her book, there are many i like, "What you get won't be the truth; it will be a story. And nothing is more telling than a story."

  12. 1. Arthur C. Clarke inspires me. I'm a fan and writer of Science Fiction, and since he was a scientist AND a famous author he's one person I look up to. And Isaac Asimov.
    2. It's pretty easy right now, since I'm homeschooled.
    3. I think about it as often as I can to remind myself.
    4. Sometimes, yes. I'm usually busy doing other things, so I don't have to worry about serious overtime . . .

  13. Have a happy new year too Jessica!
    I totally have to find balance too.

  14. I am dismal at separating and prioritizing. I'll be attached to my computer for days at a time and then try to frantically catch up later. I've realized, after many years of trying to change this, that it isn't likely to change. I"m in the mode of attempting some acceptance of the chaos I create for myself.

  15. 1. Jacqueline Carey. Her writing is so creative and beautiful. I've noticed that whenever I am reading one of her books, I'm much more inspired to write, and to push myself to write better.

    2. No, I've not. :( I have been trying to find it (and will keep trying until I do), but I just haven't been able to yet.

    3. I like to try to set my decisions in stone, but I also think that it's good to keep re-evaluating and making modifications as needed as you go along.

    4. Unfortunately, I don't spend as much time writing as I would like to. I sit at a computer all day at my day job, and sometimes (many times, actually) by the time I get home, I can't stand the sight of my computer so I avoid it like the plague. That is something that I'm really determined to work on in the new year, is to work harder at my writing.

    Happy New Year and good luck with your goals!!

  16. Atwood is one of the best for inspiration - she really is a magician with words. I think the choice of who to read also depends on the genre you're wanting to write. The voice and tone and pace and... everything for each genre is unique.

    I try really hard NOT to schedule things at this point in my life. Full time job, full time family and all the other stuff makes it hard to schedule - I just get too frustrated when real life forces me to alter the schedule! :)

  17. Good for you! Hope you find lots of inspiration.

    I'll get back to you on #1 if I think of a killer choice.

    I'm still looking for the work-live-writing balance. Not sure it exists. I just juggle.

    YES! When I make a decision, I feel if I go public with it, it forces me to follow through because SOMEONE is going to ask me about my progress.

  18. Preston & Child are my favorite authors - their books flow so quickly, like a movie, and I want my writing to do the same thing.
    And yes, too much time at my desk. Plan to get out more with my wife. Think she'll appreciate that!

  19. I think that's a great plan, Jessica--I would maybe suggest intentionally alternating a great with a new. I had a year that every other book I read was a classic and I really loved it and KNOW I grew as a reader. This last year I've read a TON of mystery (trying to master writing it) and I think you're right, that we absorb a lot and can be inspired. Have you ever read Wally Lamb? I've only read one (I Know This to Be True--or something very close to that) and it seems like it might fit in your list--I really loved the book. Sort of a 'deep family secrets keeping us all torn apart' type theme. Good stuff.

    As to the balance--I swear by routine. I really do. A DAILY routine is the only way I fit it all in.

  20. Authors: Guy Gavriel Kay, Madeleine L'Engle and so many others. Balance? My daughter's standing on a chair, crying in time out while I type. What balance? Putting it in writing is always a good idea, but not foolproof. Way too long at my desk which is why I'm now going to go get my daughter off the time out chair. ;D

  21. 1. Okay, don't laugh. But Stephanie Meyers really inspired me to start writing. I thought if she could do it, so could I. =)

    2. I haven't found that balance yet, but still searching.

    3. I try to set my decisions in stone, but they keep changing, so they are more like set in jello.

    4. I do spend way too much time at my desk. I need to exercise more. =D

  22. Boy do I spend too much time at my desk :) I'm with you on getting back to reading some authors that inspire me. Lately when I make decisions, I keep them to myself so no one knows when I don't follow through :)

    Have a wonderful new year Jessica.


  23. I saw you mention the gills on FB and I was wondering what you meant. Now I know!

  24. Last year I made the decision to crowbar myself out of my reading comfort zone and discovered so many fantastic authors - out of them all I would say Daphne du Maurier was the biggest thrill - a brilliant writer, and she left a large legacy of work behind her, so much to discover!

  25. Hello!
    I am drawn to authors for all sorts of reasons... I tend to seek out the not-as-well-know writers ... so many gems there.
    yes I spend way too much time at my desk.
    I look forward to your novel coming out - how exciting

  26. I think these are great decisions, honey. I'm always impressed by the way you see your career. I'm less disciplined :-)
    1. I can be inspired by ALL writing. I love many, many genres and my personal reading challenge allowed me to take risks in new authors and find new favourites. I learn best from the brilliant writers, the mentors, but I can learn a lot from the ones I didn't like too.
    2. Ha! Not even close. And I suspect with a new job, and my stepdaughter being back, it won't get any more balanced. I think I thrive on this.
    3. No - because often when I try, I fail. That won't stop me from announcing my goals this year, though. It's like a challenge.
    4. I spend too much time at the work desk, not enough time at the writing desk. That is something I hope to balance this year.

    Happy New Year gorgeous. 2011 is going to rock for you!

  27. 1. What authors inspire you to become a better writer, and why?
    Anne Lamott, Sue Miller, Lisa See, Amy Tan, Elizabeth Berg, Joan Diodon, Naomi Novik...because their writing takes me away, creates a new world, teaches me something wonderful and makes me feel my time was well-spent on their books. I aspire to do the same with my writing.

    2. Have you found your work/writing/love-life and/or family balance? If yes, how?
    Yes, I have, but some of that is due to the fact that I've been at this for freelance life for well over a decade now. When I had children at home, I was more defined in my work vs. family time. Lately, things seem to overlap more. But the important key to maintaining balance is knowing what my goals are, what is really important to me, and then paying attention to that nudge; whether it is to spend more time on family, or create the alone time needed to write/draw.

    3. When you make a decision, do you feel the need to 'set it in stone'? If so, how do you go about that?
    I think it has been good for my life that I am a person who can make decisions quickly and usually without any regrets. I don't secondguess myself. I also adjust my schedule with the demands of the season, family, health, or business environment, or publishing seasons. It's important to be flexible with one's schedule but firm in one's committments.

    4. Do you spend too long at your desk? Do you feel you need a 'reason' to get away from it, or are you good at self-discipline?
    I no longer have this issue. When I start to feel mentally or psychologically "stiff" I take a walk, go for a drive, go shopping, bake something, or go out to eat with my husband. Every other week I take a 4 hour drive in the beautiful countryside. It always rejuvenates me and I get lots of ideas while I drive.


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