Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Where do you do your writing?

I try to write at work sometimes, but it just doesn't work out. I need to write in the area I have created for myself at home. Non-writers don't always understand how this works.

"Why don't you just write at work?" they ask. "You know, when things are slow…"

Well, things are seldom slow, I need peace and quiet, I like my own keyboard, and where's my drink? Oh, and I don't like to be interrupted, especially by email, the phone or my boss.

And I don't want it to bite me, either, somewhere down the line when someone throws it up snottily with a, "Well, we were working, but Kate, you know, was writing." It's pretty much right up there with conducting your own home porn business from work - even though everyone is secretly interested and almost all of them think they could do it.

So I write at home. I have a nifty little setup in a spare bedroom with a desk and a nice chair and enough space for the computer, a drink and a snack. No one bothers me in there, either.

My space will become even niftier when I get the garage remodel done and move my "office" out there where I can construct a mammoth desk and have immediate access to the outdoors, a small refrigerator and the laundry area. I get ideas while doing the laundry, okay? Nothing like dirty clothes to get the brain working…

But we are not all the same. I have seen other writers on the go: at Starbuck's or the local coffee shop, at the Library, the park and the Mall. I have seen them sitting in their cars, laptops balanced between bites of some kind of fast food, or typing away waiting to pick up their kids.

So, tell me. Where do you write? And what would your dream writing space be? And would it include the sweet, gentle sound of the dryer?


The flight of the big and little birds. I saw three herons in flight this morning. Yesterday I watched the Hummingbird Wars at the new feeders.

Tiny flowers creeping through the garden, most of them deliberately planted, but a few interesting volunteers.

A cocktail party at my friend Linda Garner's beautiful mid-century house. Exquisite house, fun guests, lots of great food and drinks!

Monday, September 17, 2007


Well, maybe I just forgot to have my character complete an action which - if left unaccomplished - would have catastrophic or unintentionally funny consequences in the real world. Or maybe I rewrote something, forgetting that everything in the known universe is connected, and when I didn't correct everything down the line, the whole thread of existence was threatened.

Loose ends need some tying up, or at least a sort of gathering and tucking.

Some memorable examples from personal experience:

The Romance That Went Nowhere. In this scenario, a Main Character or a strong supporting character has a romantic twinge or encounter of some sort. In the real world, they would follow up on this, but in The Book (you know, the one you're writing) you forgot all about it and it just disappeared. Wait a minute - that kiss meant something, didn't it? Didn't it?

The Zombie Subplot. You are just typing along, doing revisions and edits like crazy, and that subplot you decided to get rid of gets excised thanks to highlight and delete. Well, most of it, anyway. But the reference to it three chapters on is still there, a lonely undead reference to confusion…

I Love You. What's Your Name Again? Naming characters is such a personal thing. Baby books, phone books, your relatives and favorite writers, characters and pets can all provide inspiration. But if you decide to re-name someone, remember to change all references to that particular name. I have read real, published books where the MC starts out with one name and inexplicably has another midway through the action.

Only Her Hairdresser Knows for Sure. It was like the name - when you changed your MC's name from Betty Sue to Magdalena, you changed her golden locks to raven tresses. Or maybe you just forgot what color her hair was when you referred to her shiny brown bob in Chapter Two, but had the handsome and daring Brash Hardly grabbing her long, titian hair in Chapter Four. Oh, and was Brash always bald?

The History Time Forgot. Sometimes I do a little data dump of history up front, getting warmed up for the real story later. Parts of this historical essay can be important later on, but other parts, like her father's occupation or the story about a childhood trauma, might just be me, setting the stage for myself. If they stick out and have no relevance to the story, go back and get rid of them or they'll distract your reader, who somewhere is still wondering about those historical incidents that never showed up again.

The Stuff You Left Out Went Bad. Sometimes it's the other side of the coin you have to worry about. Don't leave out the important details because you know them. If it doesn't get written, how can your reader know?

Now, did I forget to turn off the printer before I left the house? You know how those old bits of electronics heat up…


A fabulous dinner party at my friend Nancy's. Five of us celebrating with excellent food, a wonderful lime cake, and a promise of more celebrating in a few weeks.

Getting all the laundry done throughout the day and ending up with everything clean and folded. Clean sheets on the bed!

Happy Birthday to my friend Bill Sanders - an icon of the furniture design world, raconteur extraordinaire and all-around great guy. And I loved his new haircut, too!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


The writing is so good it absorbs me.

I am walking the Cornish seacoast, choppy wind in my hair, thinking about hot cups of tea. Thank you, P.D. James - you put me right in there, eyes welling with tears.

Or maybe I am thrown back into my old Counterintelligence days, thinking about how interconnected tradecraft techniques are, especially when peripheral people are drawn into a job, or when you recognize something on the other side of the fence that you always thought was yours alone. Thank you, William Gibson - you got my stomach in knots, sweating over the old paranoias.

Getting drawn in is what it's all about. Losing yourself in the story - it's why you read, isn't it?

And isn't it why you write, too?


The Calendar that tells me I only have thirteen more work days left.

The dish of M&Ms on the coffee table. Only a few at a time are disappearing - DH & I are both being very controlled and sensible. Besides, I remember that time I went face down in 5lbs. of them.

Rum cakes from Tortuga Rum. I just ordered a chocolate one for someone special's birthday.

I know it's September 11. I'll remember the past, but I won't let it stop me. The future is too important.