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  1. Thoughts on Creativity

    February 4, 2018 by Diane

    Treat your creativity as if it’s your beloved child.

    Nurture it.

    Make time for it.

    Feed it.

    Give it space to grow.

    Let it play.

    And when it’s behaving like a rascal, let the editor whip it into shape.

  2. How to Acclimate Yourself to a New City

    January 21, 2018 by Diane

    Dear Digby,

    I am trying to start over and make a new life in a new city.  Any tips for getting acclimated?

    Lost in Little Rock

    Dear Lost,

    While officially I’ve “gone fishing” to rewrite my novel, I’ve paddled to shore to answer your question, although it took me three weeks to paddle. My apologies. I got stuck in a plot flaw.

    Are you still lost?

    If so, here are my tips.

    1. Get a map.

    Preferably, a map of Little Rock. This will give you directions on where to go and how to get back to where you started. Provided you don’t wander off the map. This I did, driving home from a family gathering. I had driven beyond the boundaries of the map and was so horribly lost, I didn’t know how to find my way back. When I called Dave to guide me home, he said: “I don’t know where you are!” Which made two of us. So stick to the boundaries of the map.

    2.  Go outside.

    Preferably, on foot. The more you walk your neighborhood, the more it will feel like it’s yours. If you see a senior citizen shuffling down his driveway to pick up the newspaper, invite yourself in for a game of dominoes. You’ll be rewarded with candy. That’s the equation I learned when I was a kid living in the mountains. Senior citizens = candy + dominoes + great stories about the good ‘ol days. You’ll learn about the history of Little Rock back when it was orchards. Or whatever it was in Little Rock before civilization encroached. And you’ll make a friend.

    3. Pick up a local newspaper.

    Preferably, in English. Check out the events page. Find something interesting, and attend. Just for fun, I attended a Portuguese dance at the local Moose Lodge. It turned out to be a square dance shindig, and since I didn’t understand the language, I didn’t know if I was being instructed to promenade or allemande or what either of those terms meant anyway, and made a mess of the whole thing. I may have been unnerved by the moose head mounted on the wall.

    4. Ask for recommendations.

    Preferably, not from a tourist. Best pizza joint? Coffee house? Dentist? Haircut? Ask the locals. It worked for me, when I lived in a town in the Sierra Nevadas for three months. By following the recommendation from a bank teller, I got a great haircut at a decent price. Unfortunately, this trick didn’t work when I moved to the city. For the cost of a haircut, I could buy a small farm.

    So, to acclimate yourself to your new home, remember:

    Stick to the map, latch onto a senior citizen, avoid Portuguese dances in Moose Lodges, and steer clear of advice from people who look as lost as you.

    And now, I’m off to navigate that plot flaw.

  3. Rewriting: My non-advice

    August 13, 2017 by Diane

    Remember way back when, before the dinosaurs, I told you I was rewriting my novel? I scattered bread crumbs so you’d know which direction I was heading, secretly hoping you’d join me on the journey.

    I got as far as step 4.

    Then I stopped posting updates.

    The truth is, I got lost. I tried following the expert’s maps, but managed to wind up in a thick, dark forest, bumping from tree to tree, unable to find my way.

    I came to the painful realization: I need to take off the blinders. I need to forge my own path. I need to rewrite my novel the only way I know how: through draft after draft. It’s what I do well, drafting. Hopefully I’ll need fewer drafts to see the story take shape. But with each draft, I’ll get closer to discovering my unique craft as a writer.

    I can’t write about rewriting, because it’s a path that may lead me to places that aren’t on your agenda. It may lead us both astray, at a dead end gazing at each other, saying, “What now?” My map might not be your map. Where I take the scenic route, you might want to zip down the highway. Where I meander like a snail, you might want to soar like an eagle.

    So my advice is to give no advice.

    Instead, I’ll rewrite my novel.

    I thought I’d send you postcards of my  journey as I go, not with the purpose of getting you to join me, but more like, “Hey, this is where I am. What’s the view where you are?”

    But then I wouldn’t be rewriting my novel.

    I could distract myself by posting squirrelly escapades for your amusement.

    But then I wouldn’t be rewriting my novel.

    I could make up questions for Dear Digby since NO ONE is submitting any, and then post my squirrelly answers.

    But then I wouldn’t be rewriting my novel.

    What I’m saying, in a roundabout way, is that I’m going fishing (again). This time, to catch the big one.

    The novel.

    I’ve got a writing buddy to keep me accountable. I’ve got two short stories in the pipeline to submit to journals, to start building a writer’s platform and attract an agent’s attention.

    I don’t know how long I’ll be gone.

    But you’ll know when I’m back.

    Until next time,

    Happy Trails!