It's drafty in here

There were times I thought I’d never get to the last page of this thing. There have been many instances where I found myself thinking, “This is going to be a drawer book.” Mind you, I already have a few of those. I still worry that the novel I wrote in grad school might wind up in there with all of the other things that have somehow not turned out.

The Unwanted 300 DPI

In case you forgot what my previous novel looked like…

But anyway. My point, and I do have one, is that I’ve finally finished the first draft of the sequel to The Unwanted (which you should totally buy, by the way). It’s about 10,000 words shorter than I expected it to be and it’s littered with parenthetical revision notes to myself, most of which say [FIX THIS]. So the work’s not done yet. However, I’m going to enjoy the sense that I’ve actually accomplished something for at least the rest of the afternoon.

And by “enjoy” I probably mean “have a glass of wine.”

What Goes Where, or the Making of Men in Love

Over at the Bold Strokes Books author blog, Jerry Wheeler pulls back the curtain on how editors decide what goes where in a short fiction anthology—in this case, the upcoming Men in Love, which you can preorder from Bold Strokes here. Jerry says he was only marginally unhappy with one transition between two of the stories in the anthology; he doesn’t say which, but do you think you can guess which one?

You are more than your writing

Literary agent Kristin Nelson sends out a monthly newsletter (I think it’s monthly—I should pay better attention!) with news about her agency, her writers, and tidbits about the writing industry in general. It’s really worthwhile and often entertaining; consider signing up for it here at her agency’s website.

Anyway, in her February newsletter, she talked about a talk (ha!) she gave to MFA students at Regis University, and the topic of rejection came up. I know, imagine that! You’d be forgiven for thinking writers are rejection junkies, considering how often we go out of our way to court it. It can be frustrating, for sure.

But here’s the thing Kristin mentions and I agree with: A rejection is often not a commentary on your writing talent.

I won’t repeat all of the reasons she gives, because instead I can just link to last month’s newsletter and let you read it all for yourself.

Writing is personal. You put a lot of yourself into what winds up on the page. (And if you don’t, well, I don’t know what to say to that.) But your reaction to the business of writing shouldn’t be. And yes, I do know how hard that is. I frequently forget to follow my own advice. And let’s face it, it’s not even my advice, it’s Kristin Nelson’s advice.

But it’s still good advice.

When patience is a virtue you have no time for

So, I’m trying to grow my hair out.

Oh, brother, I hear you say. What does this have to do with writing?

Hang on, I’m getting there.

Back in 2014, I finally let my hair get long enough to send it off to a charity that makes wigs for kids who are cancer patients. Granted, there was more than a little bit of gray in my hair at that point, but they dye it all anyway, I think.

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#FridayReads: Willa Cather and an anniversary that almost slipped past me

My ÁntoniaMy Ántonia is the third Willa Cather novel I’ve read, including her other “prairie trilogy” (I’ve also seen it called “Great Plains trilogy”) novels O Pioneers! and Song of the Lark. I’ll confess I didn’t know much about the author herself until very recently (like, this morning). I don’t know why I was so incurious about her background and history, considering how much I’ve enjoyed the novels I’ve read. There’s a bleakness and at the same time an intensity of emotion in them, and I was interested to learn she wasn’t married and her closest relationships during her life were with other women. Continue reading

A thousand? A thousand

Holy cow! This is my 1,000th post on this blog. (In interest of full disclosure, it’s probably the 1,002nd post, because there are two posts I wrote but never published, but we’ll just go with 1,000 because it’s a nice, round number.) Anyway, a thousand days of random mutterings and half-baked ideas over the course of (pauses to check archive)—

Wow. Ten years. And there were six years before that when I kept a blog at various different other places on the Web. If you’re wondering, the most popular post was this one back on March 25, 2008, when blogs were, if not shiny and new, at least not as tarnished and dented as they are now, and mentioning Walmart and linking to CNN apparently got random people’s attention. Now I have CNN blocked in my web browser because the reader comments make me stabby and I don’t blog nearly as often and on fewer random things.

No, really, I’m a lot more focused now.

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Why all writing advice books are bad—and good, too

A while back I finished reading a book on writing, which I picked up when a friend referenced it in a post on Instagram. It’s a book that’s received loads of accolades and is often referred to in the same breath as Stephen King’s On Writing (which I haven’t read yet, but really want to). So, I had high hopes for it.

I won’t say I hated it, because I didn’t. But it left me… disappointed. And I figured out why when I turned to the bio. The writer was a former Marine. (OK, first of all, my dad’s a Marine and you never say you’re a former Marine. Marines don’t retire, they just stand down. But anyway.) And it’s not like Marines are automatically disqualified from giving advice on writing; hell, some of the best advice I’ve been given on that topic (or any topic) has been from my dad.

But.

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What I'm reading when I'm not writing

Here’s a funny thing: You know how last year I said my goal was to read books by not so many white people? I did okay on that goal, but this year, when I’m in Project Read My Own Damn Books mode, I seem to be doing better at making my reading list more equitable than I did in 2015. Out of the seven books I’ve read this year, four are by writers of color. At the moment I’m reading a book by Willa Cather, but the next two upcoming books are by writers of color.

I’m not trying to toot my horn here and say “oh, look how good I’m being.” Because ugh, that’s boring. What’s interesting to me is that maybe a year focusing on prying off my own blinders has helped me keep casting my reading net wider.

(Way to mix metaphors, Ricker. Are you sure you’re a writer?)

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Wait, what happened to Wednesday?

Normally (well, most of the time), on Wednesdays I have a list of stuff I’ve been reading that has caught my interest or made me feel generally a little less stabby, but this week I’ve been under the gun with a deadline (not a fun writing one, sorry; it’s been a freelance editing job, which I love too, but when the client’s waiting, everything else goes on hold).

By the way, since Super Tuesday was this week, it got me thinking: If they scheduled a lot of primaries and caucuses on a Wednesday, could we call it (wait for it) Wonder Wednesday?

Flawless

(via GIPHY)

Yes, of course that bad joke was purely an excuse to include a Lynda Carter gif. Got a problem with that? I didn’t think so.
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