It is officially National Novel Writing Month: It is probably not news to anyone who reads this blog, however, that I’m writing a novel. I have been attempting to, in one form or another, for a number of years. What may be news is that I’m actually getting somewhere with it. The other day, I surpassed thirty thousand words. On a single project. That is, as my best friend Lance loves to say, “not nothin’.”

To commemorate the accomplishment, he bought me a very large, heavy book. He handed it to me solemnly during the Halloween party we were attending, and said, “It’s time.” The book was The 2017 Writer’s Market.

“Really? I’m not even done writing the first draft,” I said.

The Girl on the Train was only half finished when it was picked up by a publisher,” he said.

He may be right. Given how taking his advice regarding my writing has served me in the past, he is most likely right. I know it’s getting time to start looking at the market and seeing what else is out there in the same direction I’m going. A part of me, though, wants to completely finish at least the “shitty first draft” before I take that step.

I have been slowly amassing, almost without realizing it, a

The current reading pile on my CPU.

The current reading pile on my CPU.

library of ‘craft books’. This newest volume provides a very solid, very real-feeling anchor to my current to-read pile. It is possibly one of the most relevant ones to my real aspirations.


The top book, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Ms. Weldon quoted repeatedly during my time with her. She even quoted quoted quotes from within the book during the classes I took. (Read that sentence twice.) From what I have read so far, I can see why. I want to take my copy and highlight, and underline, and make margin notes, like my husband does with his Bible.

Lest you think I just made a pile of all my craft books: There is a book that isn’t in this pile, though I haven’t gotten rid of it. It’s called How NOT to Write a Novel by David Armstrong. It’s a little satirical and very British, and I expected it to be humorous and give a dose of reality with its advice. It’s not badly written by any means, but it honestly almost convinced me to stop writing altogether with the very bleakness of the task. One evening, while complaining with Lance about writing over Skype, I quoted one place where Armstrong says something to the effect of: “Just because you can write a novel, doesn’t mean you should.” (I’m probably misquoting and can’t find the reference at the moment.)

Lance’s response was: “David Armstrong gives shitty advice.”

For me, for now, I have to agree. I don’t work well on negative sentiment. I am a sponge, constantly longing for and questing after affirmation. (If you don’t believe that, see my last angry/hurt/disappointed post about getting rejection letters. Only two of them. A fragile writer is a spiky, sharp creature, prone to break.) I can handle criticism, when it comes with legitimate and useful suggestions for improvement. I’ll get this draft done, and then work on my armor again.

I’m going to have to man up if I want to make it to the real world!

[An extra aside for Jerry: I received Ivory and Gold the other day; it is gorgeous. And yes, it is in my craft book to-read pile. I am kind of saving it as a special, secret Christmas present for myself. I want to come to the signing with something new, and fresh, and awed to say to you about it. You’re an inspiration, anyway. I’ve had a taste. When my novel is ready (soonish, I hope!) I’ll be knocking on your e-mail with a copy and a red pen.]


And as a P.S. to the universe:

Today, I saw a giant 350/3500-series dualie pickup truck parked in the clinic parking lot. It had a  giant black smokestack sticking out of the bed, and wide extendable mirrors. Blazoned across the back window was: “MY MIRROR’S PULL OUT – BUT I DON’T”

I wondered to myself, “Your mirror’s what?….”




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