Hot guy with beard. What writing’s all about …

Hi, friends and readers:

It’s funny how your sexual tastes can change over time. When I was younger I would never have dreamed of dating a guy with a beard. But now I find facial hair kind of sexy. It looks good on some guys.

Right now, my boyfriend’s growing his beard for the NHL playoffs, and it’s kind of “growing” on me, too. So, when I came across the photo I’ve posted here this morning, I thought it was kind of special. Imagine walking into your living room, the morning after partying heavily at a club, and finding him asleep on your sofa.

Yesterday, I said I’d share some thoughts with you about the craft of fiction writing and the publishing business. It’s a topic many people ask me about. So, over the next few days I’ll spend a little time talking about writing.

First of all, people often as me, “What’s writing fiction all about? How do you get started?” These are good questions. All my life I’ve enjoyed telling stories: factual or fictional, it doesn’t matter.

Good stories all have something in common: a beginning, a middle, and an end. You have the setup, the clash of opposing wills, and the triumph of one character over another. This doesn’t have to be about war, it can be about the struggle to find your boyfriend the perfect Christmas gift. Of course, it can involve the struggle to find love, or even friendship.

Good fictional stories nearly always involve conflict between the main character and an opposing force: a person, nature, or maybe an institution of some kind. People like reading about conflict and how your characters handle it. One writer put it this way: “You chase your main character up a tree. You throw rocks at him. Then you throw more rocks at him. Then watch him work his way down.”

The process of creative writing is curious, sometimes inexplicable. You start with a blank page. Sometimes you’ll sit there for an hour, not writing anything. Other times the words just flow. You create characters, conflict, setting, and suddenly the characters take over. They start teling you what to write. (I know that sounds weird but it’s true.) You finish a first draft, then you revise it, several times. You add scenes, change dialogue, delete a character or add one. You might even change the beginning or the end, so your story is balanced.

When your story’s finally just as you like it, you submit it to a publishing house, then start a new one. Sounds simple, right? U-m-m-m . . . it’s not. I  began seriously writing fiction in 2004. My first story was published in 2007, in a literary review. I sold my first story to a commercial house in 2008. My first novel wasn’t published until 2009.

Writing is not for impatient people. And rejection is a huge part of  writing fiction. You can’t be thin-skinned when a submissions editor turns down your story you worked so hard on. But if you feel the urge to write, you should do so. Writing’s not an art, it’s a craft. You learn by doing it, just like cabinet making. What’s important is, you must sit down for at least an hour each day, in a room by yourself, and write. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. Trust me.

The best book I’ve read on the craft of creative writing is The Lie That Tells A Truth by John Dufresne. You can buy it on Amazon’s site. Here’s the link:

I read Dufresne’s book at least once a year, just to refresh my brain on all that Dufresne has to say. He really knows his stuff, and he’s funny.

Okay, enough rambling for now. I have places to go this morning, and things to do with my bearded boyfriend. Have a great Tuesday, everyone.

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