Roberta Branca

Archive for the ‘Writing Practice’ Category

What This Blog Is All About

In Private Musings Gone Public, Writing Practice on September 26, 2010 at 3:54 am

This blog is about being a writer. What it means to me, what my every day life is like, what I aspire to, and what I do about those aspirations.

I am not a full-time writer. I work full-time as a librarian, commute 45 minutes to and from work each day, and volunteer here and there when I can. I also participate in a bi-monthly writer’s group that meets on the second and fourth Saturday of every month. I’ve had a few stories published online,and I was a journalist for five years from 1990-1995.

For most of adulthood, though, I have fit writing around the other aspects of my life: work, social life, personal interests, graduate school. I can attest, therefore, that it can be hard to think of yourself as a “writer” when you are not able to make it the central part of your work life. None the less, I have been crafting stories on paper since the age of four and reading stories and making up my own stories even longer than that.

I believe very strongly that “being a writer” involves keeping an active mind whether or not you are actually committing words to paper. In this sense, I am writing all the time. I take note of conversations I overhear as well as the conversations I encounter personally. I commit to memory the unusual color of a particularly striking hat. I cannot look at a box of cereal without wondering, “I wonder what it is like to eat cereal on the other side of the world?” And the next thing you know, my mind is off and running on pure imagination about breakfast in China, and I am late for work if I don’t watch the clock.

Therefore, my posts might be about my experiences with pragmatic matters, such as sending work out. Or making time for writing every day. Maybe I’ll write a breezy review of how my week went: what were my goals, did I accomplish them, what did I accomplish that I didn’t expect? On the other hand, they may just as likely be Private Musings Made Public — wanderings of my mind that take me someplace surprising, a day-to-day experience that lends itself to rich descriptive language. Please see my post, Be the Guide You Want to Meet, as an example.

Perhaps I’ll share some particularly poignant show of support I received, or some advice that rang true. See Don’t Be A Writing Diva as an example along this vein.

I hope that other part-time writers will recognize themselves in my blog posts. I have an even greater hope that someone who has never considered picking up a pen before will stop and say, “Aha! I can do that!” Also, I hope fellow writers will identify with my experiences and share their own through commentary, cross-posting, etc. I hope to start a dialog about what it means to Be A Writer.


Don’t Be A Writing Diva

In Procrastination, Support, Writer's Block, Writing Practice on September 18, 2010 at 11:18 pm

All writers face this scenario: You’ve made the time to write. Maybe you turn on soft music, make sure the dog/cat/other pet has their needs taken care of so they won’t bother you, etc. And you stare at the computer screen/blank page/chalkboard utterly unable to get going.

Or, you’re typing/writing away and you know it’s crap. Just utter blah. So you decide to call it a day until “The Muse” comes to you again.

Recently I was whining to my significant other about writer’s block, and he responded in his usual frank way.

“You don’t have enough publication credits yet to be a writing diva.”

We were in a lovely Greek restaurant so luckily I was in a receptive mood. Plus, there was a lot of truth to it so it seemed only right to take it in good humor. I have two short stories published online, and another published as an electronic book. I am already working on a mystery novel in spite of these thin credits.

For one thing, my production rate is not high enough to worry about whether I have anything to say or not; I have to write on a daily basis even if I have to unravel all the work later and start over. Everything I’ve ever read about writing from published writers says that you have to write nonsense every day just to stay in practice. Spit-and-polish comes later, after some more disciplined work with your editing hat on.

What I take away from this brief conversation is that my writing practice won’t happen in a vacuum. I need supportive yet honest people around me who have the right to share in my failures if I expect them to revel in my joys and empathize with my sorrows. Also, while it may be true that I have a sixth sense that I was born to be a writer, the act writing itself will only happen as an active, daily choice.

As Stephen King says in his book On Writing: Even Thoreau stopped staring at the pond and wrote a book.