Monday, June 28, 2010


I am a writer. At least that's what I say. I have two finished (yet unsold) novels to prove it. And I am 60,000 words into my third novel, thinking "this is the one."
Yet, during this two week break from classes, I have written very little.
I'm kind of stuck. I'm not sure I really believe in writer's block. I know what I want to happen in the book but I've just been unsure how to get there. I tried jumping ahead to write the scenes I know, but they were falling flat.
This book, The Summer of France, started out as women's fiction. A woman with twin teenagers wants to build a close family before they leave for college and careers. She, her husband, and the twins go to France to run a bed and breakfast for her uncle who married a French woman after World War II. So, it sounds like the book will be all about feelings and rebellious teenagers and marriage angst in a foreign country. Then suddenly I find my characters in the middle of intrigue as the main character discovers that her uncle has a famous painting that went missing in World War II. Black market art dealers are trying to get their hands on the painting and the police can't be far behind. What should she do with the painting and how can she save her uncle and his reputation?

I'm in the middle of a chase scene and I have no idea how to write a chase scene. After two weeks of dithering, I happened upon a writing book at the library. It's a book by Maeve Binchy called The Maeve Binchy Writers' Club. I opened it yesterday afternoon and read the first few chapters on the front porch with a thunderstorm blowing through. Earl sat on the porch reading his own book and was willing to put down his book when I wanted to talk through the stuck parts in my novel.
Amazingly, we fleshed out some scenes to get me through the hard spot and increase the intrigue. Sometimes, just reading about writing or talking about writing can break through that barrier.
This morning, I wrote nearly 2000 words and I have set the calendar on my phone to wake me every morning at 5 a.m. so I can write until 7 a.m.
Thank you, Maeve Binchy, for reminding me that I can find the time to write and I need to be consistent about using that time.
I like Maeve Binchy's books. They're set in Ireland and I love to travel so peeking into the Irish culture is fun. Her books always have intriguing characters, so I enjoy travelling with them. I don't think you have to love the author to learn from their writing books.
Stephen King has a great book called On Writing. I don't read horror books, but his writing book was very helpful when I read it a few years ago. I probably needed to pick it up again to be inspired.
Anne Lamott also has a writing book called Bird by Bird. Lamott has such a wry, witty sense of herself that it is always a joy to read her books, evening something that could be as dry as a writing book.
If I stay on my writing schedule, I could be finished with my book by the end of July. As a matter of fact, there's no reason I can't be finished. I hope someone will hold me to that.
Being a writer though, that's between me and my computer, me and my conscience.
How about you? Do you have a favorite book on writing? If you aren't a writer, do you ever get stuck when you're trying to finish something, whether it's making a quilt or training for a marathon? What do you do to energize yourself and get back on track?
(These book covers come from If you click on them, you can't actually look inside, but you can go to Amazon and do that.)


Stephanie said...

I'm not a writer, but I did get stuck this morning finishing a paper for a class I'm taking. I decided to do some situps to get my blood flowing and try to stimulate my brain. But I do find in the long term "stuckiness" maybe switching gears for awhile helps, as you did by turning to Maeve for help and not just forcing yourself through on your own.

I'm looking forward to the day I see your books displayed in a bookstore, and that day is coming.

Paulita said...

And you also got away from the paper by reading my blog :). Thanks for that.

Sheila said...

OK I'll hold you to your end of July deadline. I'm looking forward to reading this new book of yours!

Linda said...

Your book sounds really great. I especially love Stephen King's book. I think I'll read it again. Wish he would get out of the horror genre.

starslovesyou said...

I'm a bookworm, I read 5 books or more a day and I'm looking forward that I'll be able to read your books someday! :)

Paulita said...

Thanks guys for the encouragement. I'm still plugging away. Just finished my writing for this morning.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a writer but I'm enjoying a book about ... well.. the title is The Journal Keeper by Phyllis Theroux. It's interesting reading about someone writing - who would have thought it.

Since I follow your blog, it's also interesting reading about a writer !

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