Kelly Flowers

writer


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Fresh Meat, New Novel. We Is Smitten.

I’ve been editing for so long, I forgot what it’s like to sink my teeth into fresh prose, to get that high from creating rather than rehashing and hacking. I am finally into a new book and my appetite has been whet.

giphy

I was gun shy to start a new novel, not because it’s an agonizing, hair-pulling, time-consuming process, which it is. I dreaded it because I didn’t want to commit to a new set of characters for the next few years of my life. Honestly, I hadn’t met a bedfellow I thought I could handle the commitment with. We’re talking about fictional characters, people, but sometimes, you’re just SICK OF TALKING TO THEM.

I’m going to do everything different this time. First, I’m writing an outline (before I start describing settings and layering characters). I’ll make sure I have a working ending so that I can build it from the beginning rather than retrofitting it in later. (and then re-retrofitting it on the second draft) See? I can learn.

Tonight, one of my writer friends said that if she knew how hard writing actually was, she would have taken up painting. She’s on her 7th draft, which made me self-conscious about my own 3 paltry drafts.

But THIS is what it’s all about! It’s the rush of lifting my fingers from the keys after three hours and having to resurface enough to maintain a conversation. Sure, I then realize I’m running late and haven’t brushed my teeth but who cares?! It like a drug to me.

So if you can’t find me for the next year of my life, know I am holing myself up in a dark corner, face creepily lit by my laptop screen and a look of crazed joy on my haggard face. Writing like a ninja.

hiding with laptop

Ahhh, authoring.

 


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New Years – How To Find More Time

After drinking our champagne at dawn, my husband could not stop congratulating himself on his artsy photography skills.


It’s that time of year again! Time to careen into January full of gusto and resolve. So what if we sputter halfway into February. That’s a whole month (and one twelfth of a year) of progress. That has to be worth something!

It seems like just yesterday I was writing last years new years blog, “Resolutions” Don’t Work. I get really excited about this. My readers, all five of them, know that New Years is one of my favorite holidays.

Once, I saw something on HONY (for those of you that are not up on HONY, I’m obsessed with him. It stands for Humans of New York and this photojournalist, Brandon Stanton, walks the streets and takes people’s pictures, telling little bits of their conversation. I’ve followed him for years and its always poignant and powerful and I feel he miraculously reveals a bit of soul in two or three lines of conversation. Readers, all five of you, follow him! You’ll thank me.)

So back to my point… Years ago, there was a post of a woman. She said something like… (Excuse the lack of verbatim. This is how I remember it.)

“I have this theory. We are all given the same amount of time but time is a subjective concept. So if things in our lives are always changing, it feels like we get “more” time.” Continue reading


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How NOT To Write A Novel – To Plan or Not To Plan, That is The Question

tmhnksI began writing a book the way you probably shouldn’t. I sat down and thought, “Hey let’s describe this cool place” and “let’s develop this random character. Yes, this is fun. Look at me! Writing a book!”

I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t even have a plot! There was a character I really liked so I started to write around him and brainstormed as I went. Geniuses write this way, I’m told. I, however, am not a genius so what this produced from me was lots of pretty dribble. I can say that now. And the problem is, it took me a long time to figure out that it was dribble. (I am comforted by the fact it was pretty dribble at least).

There are a thousand ways to go about writing a book. I’ve polled a small population of authors and come to this…

You can Plan. Plan. Plan. Engineers-turned-writers work this way. They chart their course and check their charts and set sail under a favorable moon. The danger in this is that some never set sail at all. Or that its not all that captivating.

Then there’s the creative types, writing freestyle, letting their inner genius keep them afloat in the open ocean. Everyone wants to be this type, I think. I know I did. Partially because I’d love to discover I happened to be a genius and just didn’t know. And also because, I realize now, I’m lazy.

Write an outline and a bunch of character profiles?

Bah. Just start writing and see where it takes you.

Scrawl a bunch of different story arcs? Character arcs?

Isn’t it more fun to just sit down and write? I mean, this is supposed to be fun, right?

As you can see, I had a lot to learn. I do have to say, having employed this method, it kept me going. If I reached a snag in my storyline, no problem. I’d just skip it. I’ll figure it out later, I’d say. Now, let’s describe this weather. (#FunnyNotFunny) But what I was left with was lots of meandering description and no pace. And it is ALL ABOUT PACE. And here I am, post humorously trying to write my story arc and plot points. And you know what, I’m going to be rewriting A LOT.

A friend of mine has an interesting writing technique. She writes half the book, then writes beats (the chapter by chapter synopsis of what is happening) and then she rewrites the whole thing, like new characters, new plot, everything!

“All that time wasted!” I said when she told me her method. “No,” she said. “This is my process. It’s how I write a better book.” So I started to think about that. There have been times I’ve wanted to start all over. Literally, scrap this book and start fresh. That, my friends, is also laziness. Because the real grief is in the editing.

And what constitutes wasted time anyway? What is a long time to write a book? Some people do it in a month. (#NaNoWriMo) Some prolific authors turn out a new book every few months and they’re best sellers. Some craft their masterpiece for years, boiling their ideas down to syrupy delicious prose. If you finish a book… and it is good, is any of your blood sweat and tears (and more tears) wasted?

If you’re like me, you’ve read about Stephen King’s method and Diana Gabaldon’s method and Elizabeth Gilbert’s method. Prolific, best selling authors to learn from. And there is still no right way. We just have to do it wrong a few times until we find the easiest way.

Onward…

laziness meme

 


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NaNoWriMo Vs. Costume Obsession

It’s that time of year again for us creative types. NaNoWriMo, you ask? Um… actually I meant Halloween, creativity fodder.3

(For those not down with the quasi-acronym, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. November, the month in which we writer-folk try, or think about trying, to write a book in 30 creatively-fertile and frenzied days.)

Every year I think. Yeah, NaNoWriMo! I should totally do that! And then I look at my to do list and realize I need spray paint and fabric and well, that’s super important, because you know… costumes.

1 Continue reading


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8 Ways To Work The Writing Critique Group

Teenagers and Writing Critique Groups = Creativity Killersscared-face

Remember being a teenager? It seemed you had to hide any bit of individuality from the mob of your peers and their judgy-ness.

Maybe that was just me. It wasn’t weird that I quoted Shakepeare, danced to swing music and carried vocabulary flashcards in my purse. No. Not weird.

I have teenagers now and guess what? They’re still judgy! And I’m still weird. (I’m told this constantly.) But now, I like my weird. We’ve grown attached to each other. We clique off and snicker about our critics. In my head, we ARE the popular kids.

I’m all grown up now. But writing critique groups can kill creativity in much the same way as the high school mean girls can.

The first time I went to a writers critique group. I was young, not much older than a teenager, really. The group met in an adorable bohemian café that had ombre walls, sold forty different types of tea and had jam poetry sessions that packed the place. This is being a writer, I said to myself. How romantic! Continue reading


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Book Excerpt: Gone Dark – The Sirens

Sam’s eyes snapped open. The dark room was grainy with the promise of morning. She lay still as the sound of sirens rose from the fog on the marsh. At first, Sam understood. Just as everything presented while straddling a dream is accepted without question. The sirens somehow made sense.

When the sirens began a second time, Sam bolted up. She stumbled to the sliding door and scanned the light beyond the glass. The Kawainui marsh was the same. The Ko’olau mountains still steepled in prayer beyond it. But it all felt different. A dense shroud of grey pressed its belly into the thickets of mangrove. The trees looked bent like blades of grass.

She stood at the door, pulling the dream back. A woman, her mother but not her mother, her finger circling the rim of a crystal glass. Sam felt like she knew something she hadn’t known before. And then the dream slipped away, a stone sinking into the pond of her mind.

A shot rang out, sending a buzz down the walls. Sam didn’t move. She watched the wind digging into the cane grass. A mango rolled down the slope of the roof landing with a splat on the pavement outside the door. Continue reading


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Sowing The Seeds Of A Novel – Writing and Gardening

Gardens are like books. Ok, gardens are not as delightful as books and, well, gardens have bugs soooo… 😕 But maintaining a garden is like writing a book because…

Both gardens and books need constant care to grow. I liken that perfect, red glittery strawberry to a jewel of an idea you get at 3am. You know you should stop what you’re doing and pick it/write it down but “meh.” You’re too tired.You’ll do it later. Then poof! You turn it over and the potato bugs have swiss-cheesed it. giphy

They both look easy, until you’re on your knees in aguish because grasshoppers have scarfed down your harvest or you discover that your protagonist is just boring.

Aaaand, if you garden (or write novels) only for food, you’re in the wrong business!

Way back when, I loved the idea of food being a simple equation. Seed – plant – stomach. Easy, right?

But after many moons of battling weeds and insects, I’ve realized three things:

1. I have not outgrown my childhood skittishness of all things crawly.  Continue reading