WRITING IS LIKE COOKING FROZEN CHICKEN

Have you ever tried to cook frozen chicken?

If you’re not careful, you’ll think it looks done, but whoa to those who bite into it. You’ll learn pretty quick that it’s just not ready yet. It requires lower heat, longer cooking, simmering  and careful turning at various intervals to be able to reach it’s peak of perfection.  Because it WAS FROZEN when you began it.

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It’s like when you finish your novel and you can’t wait to get it out there. You are pushing it long before it’s ready to be out there.

A novel, as a lot of writing, is meant to be put together with love and zest for what you’re writing about. It should be treasured. So you’ve fniished it, and you’re tired of it now. Best advice. Put it aside. Start another one. Leave it for a while.

Oh, but it’s your baby, right? You can’t just leave it in limbo!

Someone once told me to leave it for six months. Oh, no, I said, I can’t do it. I have to send it out.

Here are a few ideas about what to do with it while you’re waiting for it to gestate.

1.Print it out and at your leisure, pretend you just picked it up at the library and read  to see if it captures your attention.

2. Hand a few copies to friends and see what they think.

3. Get a good friend to read it who does not believe all your work is perfect. Like a husband, if you’ve got one of those. Or a wife.

If they loved it and/or you’re still married after that, consider they absoltuely are brilliant.   If they hated it, don’t give them anything else to read. Why hear such madness from someone who is supposed to love you. What were you thinking?

4. Go ahead and send out queries, but if you sent them out and are praying no one will ask for your work,  then it’s not ready. But you knew that already.

5. If you’ve truly finished your book and you still aren’t sending it out. Do that one more edit. Then get brave and pitch it our into the snow if you have to .

But get it out the door. Make it leave home. Bargain for it. Put it on Amazon. Get it gone.

Then start your next one. Guaranteed, it will be even better than the one sitting on the snowbank.

In novel talk, that means, are you rushing your novel before it’s ready for delivery.

Granted some of us spend more time on a novel than others. I’ve still not figured out how that works. But I have a few ideas.

CHANCE IT !

One of the best and most proficient writers I know told me that her greatest adversary (my word) to her writing was email. And since I arrived on my couch an hour and a half ago, I can say she is definitely correct.

I have cleaned out my junk mail folders, my deletion folders and I must admit I feel an inner cleanliness I haven’t felt in a while. So maybe it’s not an avoidance. It’s good to feel clean and organized. Then  maybe it’s a subliminal fear of ultimate failure. I have come to realize that most of us have that fear, the desire to protect ourselves, to shy away from doing what needs to be done.

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Courtesy of Pinterest

It’s a lot easier to just not do something than to follow through and see it flop, now isn’t it?

But what advantage is there in avoiding taking a chance?

Let me take you back to a time when I lived in New Jersey. I had to meet my then husband in New York City for dinner with some clients. I jumped on a train not knowing what to expect. That’s the great thing about life. Unexpected moments.

How I happened to take that particular train, I have no idea. Fate? The mother of five children, I relished the time I had to relax by myself.

Maybe thirty minutes or so into the trip, the train came to a standstill. All on board were  warriors of transit travel. You could tell with the casualness, their attitudes of quiet desperation, acceptance. Being a full-time freelance writer, I took notes. I’d been published in small newspapers and magazines at that time and had no idea how I’d use my “research,” but I  took the notes anyway.

It was a long, long delay as it turned out, the longest delay in history. Probably in those days I would have said that “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” As it turned out,  I was in the right  place at the right time.

Magic happened. Or was it consistent work? Consistent reporting? Consistent writing?

I went home late that evening and the next day I worked on the story, about how the people were patient, etc., etc. and then I  had the audacity to send it to The New York Times. Remember, this was pre-internet. Everything went by mail, which is hard  to believe today, even for me.

The New York Times bought my story and wrapped  it around a large photo above the fold.  It looked amazing. I have it framed in my hallway even now.

What could have been a downer of a situation ended up being a highlight for me.

I’m using this story as an example that you never know what is going to happen next.

It reminds you, and me as well,  to carry on, to be vigilant whether you are writing non-fiction stories or novels, as I am doing now.

Keep on. Let’s take a chance!

IS FLU A BREAK?

A twinge of a sore throat hit me while driving back from a meeting in Denver. 

LIttle did I realize that I actually had a “pre-cold.” Amazing the education you receive from the pharmaceutical companies. ( Is Pre-Pre cold next?)

My nose dripped  and sneezes came at regular intervals with, you know,  the hack, hack, hack of a cough. 

I feigned a “it’s just a cold” for 24 hours and then ended up thinking I was okay to face the world. Went over to my daughter’s house to watch her paint her baby’s room. One hour in and I announced, “I can’t do this anymore.” She walked me to the door, told me she’d bring me meds later and I went home to bed for the day which turned into several days.

Kristian Hammerstad

Thanks pinterest.com and

Kristian Hammerstad

Five things NOT to do when you have the flu. 

1. Don’t allow anyone in your house or abode. … except the pizza man.

That means the UPS man, your boyfriend, your children or grandchildren or the friendly solicitor. And I was kidding about the pizza man. Do you really want to give him the flu?

2. Don’t panic when you’re running out of groceries. Consider it an imposed diet. Sit back and lose a couple.

Eat canned soup and saltines. When you feel somewhat better, clean out your fridge by eating everything in it.  A liquid diet is also good.

3. Don’t watch the news. Watch all those Halloween horror movies with no guilt. If you’re not sure which is which, call me.

Or come up with something more helpful, like reading…if you can. But when I’m sick, I’m in favor of dulling my brain and my face with ice and vegging out on the couch. If I take sinus tablets, no matter the assurances on the box,  they always knock me out.

4. Don’t wait to collect items for your flu kit.

In case you haven’t had the opportunity, prepare your flu kit. Make sure you have a strong flashlight, a magnifying mirror, a digital thermometer, Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, Jello, tea bags, lemon, honey and cold and sinus medication.

5. Don’t procrastinate.

If you aren’t better in three days, call a doctor or start a diary. Describe the way you feel especially the type of headache you have. So after your procrastination a week later, you’ll have something definitive to tell the doctor.

f5dd6caece99e1d421bd464e3c303835Oh, and good luck! A flu shot might be a good idea.

“FOR WRITERS ONLY”

One of my all time favorite books is “For Writers Only” by Sophy Burnham.

My copy looks like it’s been drug around for years, traveled to many countries, sat by my bedside, had coffee probably spilled on it, marked up with blue, red and black pens at different stages of my life.  That’s when you know you have a good book.

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I had read “A Book of Angels” and when her writer’s book was published, I casually bought it.  Little did I know I would be reading it still years later.

First of all, she writes straight from her heart.

Sophy Burnham is quite honest in the preface. “I didn’t want to write what people would pay me to write, and no one wanted to pay me for what I wanted to write.”  (Sound familiar?) She says that she fell prey to fear and to the inner Judge we are all acquainted with. And so she began this book. I highly recommend it. It’s on Amazon and can be download it to a Kindle. But, honestly, it would be worth it to buy a regular book so you too can mark it up and reread it over and over again.

It has brought me comfort for so many years.

Along with her own misgivings,thoughts and suggestions, as well as her own epiphanies, she stashes a smart collection of quotes that are spot on for a wayward writer. And I believe that we are all wayward in a sense, always seeking the next publishing of our work, always wanting to be taken seriously, always listening to inner voices that can drive one quite mad

So I want to give you a few quotes to stir up your day and make it wonderful.

“One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph. I have spent any months on a first paragraph, and once I get it,the rest just comes out very easily.” GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ

“You do not even have to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” FRANK KAFKA

“Writers kid themselves –about themselves and other people. Take the talk about writing methods. Writing is just work — there’s no secret. If you dictate, or use a pen or type with your toes — it is just work.” SINCLAIR LEWIS

“Each time I write a book, every time I face that yellow pad, the challenge is so great. I have written eleven books, but each time I think, “Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.” MAYA ANGELOU

“Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” SAMUEL BECKETT

One of my favorite quotes from Sophy Burnham is this one on writer’s block.

“Sometimes it comes from too tight a hold on your imagination. Then you must write something more extravagant. Outlandish. Preposterous. Wild. Break through your own inhibitions and play and dance and sing and shout your verses to the moon. Or else you stop writing what is giving you such trouble and write about the writing that you hate, or the subject that wants to be turned upside down and poured out like stars into the heavens, a Milky Way of nonsense that the creative sense adores. ”

Thanks Sophy for the wonderful work you give to the world.

You can find more about her at http://www.sophyburnham.com