Two For Tuesday: Soup Recipes!

So a fellow AWer, Kate Hart, started this Two For Tuesday thing wherein you post two of something related to each other. Since I don't have a teaser today, and I'm generally always thinking about food, I thought I'd post some more recipes for ya'll.

At the moment, I'm freezing. It's been so nice here for the last two weeks, and all of a sudden it's gotten cold again. I shouldn't be surprised. It is Manchester. Luckily, I find comfort from the cold on days such as these by making a big pot of soup. Therefore, I am going to pass along two soup recipes (that I did not make up myself) to you! Enjoy!

1. Onion Soup - It's not bad for you, tastes sooooooooooo good, and warms you up from the inside! I substituted one cup of white wine for one cup of the water, and it the added so much to the flavor! Also, you might try adding a teaspoon or two of dried thyme if you like it. Technically, it's good if you can sauté the onions a bit before adding the liquid, but this isn't as "light", so you might try using a little butter to soften the onions a little bit and let them soften the rest of the way with the liquids. Can you tell I like experimenting?? You can add a slice of a crusty white bread and top with cheese, broiling (this would be placing it under the grill in the UK, or so I've been told) it until the cheese is bubbly, if you want to. We prefer the bread on the side, which is convenient, because it's healthier.

2. Broccoli Cheese Soup - My best friend posted this recipe on her blog. She got it from another site, and I made it for dinner last night. It may just be my favorite broccoli cheese soup ever, and if not, it's definitely in the top three! It's more soupy than the thick kind I'm used to, and that's because it doesn't have loads of cheese. It has just enough to give it a strong cheese flavor and the creme fraiche (if you use it) adds a nice creamy tang. Again, this recipe leaves a lot of room for experimentation. For example, I blended the whole thing and had some frozen broccoli that I boiled and cut into smaller pieces that I added back for the chunky texture that I like. Also, I kept the skins on the potatoes (after washing them of course), because they just blended up with the rest and kept all the nice vitamins. I used two teaspoons of whole grain mustard and quite a bit of the creme fraiche container. It was so yummy!

If you try these recipes, let me know! Also, if you want some tips on ways to experiment with them, post a comment or send me an email. I hope you try them and love them as much as I do!

A Week of Firsts

Since moving to England last year, I've been faced with having to get used to many things like driving on the left (not as hard is it sounds), understanding this weird form of English (all English was not created equally...and there are many people even my Brit friends have a hard time understanding), and living without pickles (the absolute worst part about living in the UK...sorry, Mom, but the pickles come first...just kidding). I had managed to go along fine and dandy without having a haircut or having to see the doctor. I did manage to see the orthodontist a while back, and that was a surprisingly wonderful experience. Don't get me wrong; I wasn't expecting that orthodontist visit to be horrible, but I had been told nightmare stories. But, I also wasn't expecting the experience to be better than any of those I'd had in the US. Go figure!

Back to this week. On Tuesday, I finally forced myself to make an appointment to see my GP, an NHS doctor. I'd heard loads of horrible stories about NHS doctors--trying to get an appointment without having to wait until you're 90, going in only to be seen for 2 minutes and sent home, being told the same thing over and over again about you not actually having anything wrong when something still hurts, and so on. So, it was with a little trepidation that I went on Tuesday. I had no problem getting an appointment, although had I not been working from home, I could see how it would be difficult. I got there, waited no more than 10 minutes, and the doctor called me through. He did a series of tests to check where my shoulder hurt and when. Then told me what he thought it was. Then he gave me several choices for treatment explaining the benefits and drawbacks of each. He even asked if I had any questions and was able to answer them for me. Needless to say, it was a good experience, and I hope they continue to be that good.

So today, I decided to have another first--a UK haircut. This shouldn't be that scary, but have you seen some of the people walking around here looking like they have a bird's nest on their heads for the sake of fashion?? Really, it's enough to make me never want to set foot in a hairdresser's. But, I did. And the results are a good way!



I sure hope the rest of my UK firsts are pleasant like the last several things. I especially hope I only have to experience the UK driving test once...being the first time.

What other firsts can you think of that I may or may not have experienced in the UK? Post in the comments, because I like to read them, and they usually make me happy! Let's keep it clean...relatively.

How Writers Do It: Where Stories Come From

This is the last blog in the How Writers Do It series. I know what you're thinking, "NOOOOO, it can't possibly be the last one!" Well, I'm afraid to tell you that I do not lie (well, maybe sometimes I do, but that's only when it's required in a board game...or is it?). I've enjoyed taking Cory Jackson's enlightening questions, reading the awesome Writing Down to the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, and discussing those questions in the context of the book here on my blog. I hope to do another of these sometime in the future, because I've learned a ton of stuff about myself as a writer and a person in general. I hope you've gotten something out of it to.

So, for the last question of the series, we're talking about where stories come from. Fun times.

From the time you get an idea for a novel to the day you first put your fingers to the keyboard, how does the story come to you?

Goldberg has an enormous amount in her book about where to find ideas in your daily life, like in the cafe or on the bus or at a wedding. It's refreshing to see that ideas might pop up from anything really. So, how does this tie in with the question? What happens after you get that tiny niggling of an idea? What do you do? How do you proceed?

For me, it always seems like a huge undertaking going from a tiny little spark to the full-blown story. It's scary enough that it's easy to decide not to keep going. "Someone else will have some similar idea sometimes, and they can just write about it," you might say. In fact, I often talk myself out of writing because of this very problem (and the AW people kick my butt threaten to shank me calmly talk me down from the ledge and into continuing) Well, that's where Goldberg has something fabulous to say.
Only, if you remove your clothes immediately and plunge into the water, it may be too cold. You'll jump out again, saying, "It's too big a task." Approach eroticism from across the shore, fully clothed, and take your time swimming across the river. If you start taking off your shirt and pants slowly as you swim, by the time you get to the other side you'll be naked--brazenly erotic, the way always wanted to be, but you won't be so frightened or embarrassed by it.
So why did I just quote something on eroticism? Because I think it fits nicely in with this idea of taking something so small that anything's a possibility really. Your idea is a tiny speck in the ocean of the whole big bad story. "Where do I go with it? What's the story? What happens? Oh this is all too much for me, I quit." But Goldberg says instead of jumping in completely naked, do things in steps, slowly, over a bit of time. Let yourself acclimate to the story.

Is this what I do? Sometimes, but I should practice this a lot more. It's easy to get scared into thinking you can't do it or your story is stupid. Interestingly, with my first novel, which I'm still working on, I didn't have this problem at first. I had an idea of a boy and a girl who'd known each other a really long time. I talked about it with my best friend who helped me come up with some little details and I wrote the first third not even thinking about where I was going with it. So, okay, that's not great either, because I eventually got stuck. BUT, the point is, I took it in small steps. I didn't have an idea at one second and just start writing it. I talked about it and thought about it. The characters became real to me in my head. THEN, while I wrote little bits, I got more comfortable and things started flowing.

I think it's like what Goldberg said. I could have jumped in naked at that moment I had the idea and realized that the task was just too big. But I didn't, I wrote a little and thought a little and talked a little and wrote a little more. Did I plot? Well, I tried. It would have helped with the whole breaking down of the story (which I also tie to the whole taking off your clothes a little at a time while crossing the river thing, if that works for you). There's all sorts of things a writer can do to help themselves get acclimated to the "big picture", and I probably don't do any of them, but I try. It's what works for you. Everyone's different.

When I get an idea, I have to think about it a lot before I can just start writing it. Other writers don't need to do this. Things just flow. So how do my fellow series bloggers deal with their stories? This is a good segue into what my fellow bloggers have to say on the topic, so go check out their blogs! I will be.

Teaser Tuesday #4: A Bit About Fred

Okay, so last week I noticed that Olivia came to the forefront of the teaser. I admit it: I love Olivia. She's always so peppy and funny and just seems to shine. But that worried me a little about Fred (my MC). So, here's a little snippet where Fred does some talkin'. Again, it's first draft and very rough. Also, I've still not figured out how to get rid of the lines in between quotation paragraphs, so it's a boring ol' quoting scheme this time. If anyone has suggestions, email me!

As always, let me know what you think (I usually dance jump up and down read and thoroughly appreciate comments. Suggestions are always welcome!!


“Well, I’m just glad you didn’t get eaten by a bear or something. Although fighting off wild animals would have been way more exciting than what I did while you were off communing with nature and you were trying your hardest to get yourself knocked up.” I pointed at Aeron and then at Liv, who both rolled their eyes at my rant. “I had the joy of filing books and updating library database records. Talk about fun.”

Actually, I had enjoyed working at the library this summer. It was relaxing, and once I got started on a job, no one bothered me. I could be in my own little world of making sure everything was ordered and in the right place, which left me with a huge sense of satisfaction.

“Anyway. I’m glad to be back in civilization where someone can cook food for me. I think I’ve eaten enough fish and cous cous to last me a lifetime. Speaking of food, I’m going to die if I don’t get an omelette,” Aeron said as he picked up the menu again.

Aeron looked over at the waitress who was gabbing to the cook about their weekend. She showed up about two seconds later ready to take our order. I didn’t need to look at the menu before I ordered a double order of hashbrowns and one waffle. Olivia made a scene of reading the menu, not finding anything low-cal, low-fat, or low-carb, and settling on a glass of 2% milk and a bowl of fresh fruit. Aeron ordered half the menu before the waitress yelled out to the cook what we wanted.

“Don’t you ever feel like trying something different, Fred? I expect Olivia to get the healthiest thing on the menu, so that’s not a surprise. But, why do you always get the same breakfast?”

“Why mess with a good thing? And, you know I don’t do eggs. They’re just...eww.” I scrunched my mouth and pinched my nose, which garnered me a chuckle from Aeron. Liv just rolled her eyes again as she sipped her coffee.

I didn’t even need to look at mine to know that it had already been filled with two creams and two sugars. Aeron had been taking care of my coffee since we’d started this breakfast tradition. I raised my eyebrows in thanks and he winked. “Like I said, you always get the same thing.” 

Driving in the UK

So, if you follow my tweets, you'll know that I recently took my driving theory test and have now started driving lessons. Why am I doing all this when I've been driving for almost 15 years now? Well, in the UK, you are only allowed to drive on an American license for a year before having to get your UK license. Actually, you should start going through the hoops about 3-4 months before your American license is no longer valid, because it takes quite a bit of time to get all the tests scheduled and taken. I didn't do that, so now I'm scrambling!

Anyway, unlike my husband, I am scared out of my mind about this driving test. I wasn't as scared about the theory test, because, really, it's just memorizing a bunch of answers. But the driving test? It's like one of the hardest in the world! Since I'm so prone to freak outs about not being remotely prepared for things, I've started my driving lessons about a month before my test. Now, if you've never driven a day in your life, you'd probably need more than a month. But, I already know how to drive a manual, so it is all about getting rid of "bad" habits.

I thought this would be relatively easy in the whole scheme of things. I mean, I'm not trying to learn how to use a clutch and stuff, right? WRONG! Apparently I do several things wrong according to how the driving testers test you in the UK:

Handbrake Use. I only use it when I park. Apparently here, you should use it when you're stopped for any amount of time longer than you having to inch out to go forward, like at stop lights and stop signs and when giving way (yielding) to other cars. This is a difficult "bad" habit to break, because it's hard for me to switch my brain to the handbrake.
Clutch Use at Stops. I was taught to not use the engine to brake at a stop (unlike on a hill, when you should downshift instead of overheating your brakes), because it wears on the engine which is much more expensive to fix than the brakes. Here, you should use the engine to brake so you retain control over the vehicle. This annoys me beyond belief, and my dad actually did some internet searches about this. There seem to be arguments on both sides of this. However, I find it very intriguing that there also seem to be a lot of Brits having to replace the clutch before 100k miles on their car. Now, I'm not sure how normal this is in general, but I KNOW that if we ever had to change the clutch out on my first car (which happened to be our family car for 14 years), it was not before 100k miles.
Clutch use around corners. I tend to downshift before a turn, then come off the clutch and give it gas as I go around a corner. This is a no no, and one I plan to try and remedy. You should already be in the lower gear before you go around the corner.
Hand placement on steering wheel. It's just like the US-10 and 2. However, who on earth doesn't cross their hands while driving around corners? Really??? So, yeah, obviously I need to work on this.

I learned all this in my first driving lesson. And, seriously, even though I have no problem driving here and have driven a decent amount since moving here, I felt like a total new driver as soon as someone was marking how well I did! It all seemed overwhelming, like I couldn't possibly remember everything I was supposed to be doing.

If I ever say I want to be a teenager again (highly unlikely), I'll remember this. It's exactly how I imagine I felt when I was 15 and learning how to drive for the first time. Whew!!

How Writers Do It: Deepening Your Characters

This is the third week of the awesome Corrine Jackson's series on "How Writers Do It." Honestly, I'm kind of at a loss on this week's discussion. I haven't been writing that long, and consequently don't have a lot of experience with plot development, character development, emotional development, and well, pretty much anything that ends with "development." So, it was a great time to turn to the great book Writing Down to the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. This will probably be more my response to her readings than my actual ideas on how I do things, since really, as you will see, I probably don't do them in this case. But, it's a learning process! So, here is this week's topic:

Deeping your characters: What is at the heart of a complex character?

Ha! That's a great question, Cory! It's an important question, and probably one any writer should know. Let's see what Goldberg has to say on this subject. Actually, there weren't any actual chapters devoted to character development. However, there were several bits and pieces of different chapters that I felt offered good advice on details. Details about places, things, people, psychology, etc. All of these go into a complex character, in my opinion. Here are several quotes from Goldberg and my thoughts on each.
...use original detail in your writing. Life is so rich, if you can write down the real details of the way things were and are, you hardly need anything else.
The chapter this came from was one on details in general. She mostly talked about taking in details of things and places around you and transplanting those real details into your writing. By doing so, it causes your imagination to build on the original details, allowing itself to come up with imagined details as well. I think this is important in developing a complex character as well. We all feel and experience life in different ways, and those feelings and experiences are real. I would venture to guess that even a person with the simplest life is complex in some way. Maybe they have a turmoil of emotions that they can't deal with. Or maybe they have a secret in their past that is the basis for how they think and act now. Whatever it is, it's real. So why not use that, your own experiences and emotions, to feed your imagination for your characters to development deeper layers?
Our lives are at once ordinary and mythical. We live and die, age beautifully or full of wrinkles. We wake in the morning, buy yellow cheese, and hope we have enough money to pay for it. At the same instant we have these magnificent hearts that pump through all sorrow and al winters we are alive on the earth. We are important and our lives are important, magnificent really, and their details are worthy to be recorded. This is how writers must think, this is how we must sit down with pen in hand. We were here; we are human beings; this is how we lived.
This quote was especially powerful for me, but also raised a couple of questions. First, I think Goldberg eloquently states kind of what I just discussed above, or at least I took it to mean that. We should use what we know, what we feel, who we are, and everything that makes us to pour into our characters. Goldberg goes on to talk about how it's not just us we should pay attention to, but everyone. People matter. People exist and they love and hate and feel sadness and joy in different ways. They have different backgrounds and families, schooling and friendships. We're all different. Observation and understanding are a writer's best friends. Not only should we draw on ourselves, but we should draw on others. By using the idea in the first quote (transplanting original detail) we create characters based on bits of people, allowing our creativity to open up and creates layers of our characters that we might not have known existed before we started thinking of real people.

This isn't to say that any of my characters are based on real people. They aren't. I don't know anyone exactly like Fred, Aeron, or Olivia. But I do know people who have certain qualities that each of them hold, myself included. I also know that bits and pieces of who I wish I could be are in each one of them. Some of their experiences are based on my own and those of others I've talked to. Others are based on observations with my own imagination there to fill in the motivations for their actions.

I'm not saying any of my characters are complex. In fact, sometimes I worry that they are pretty superficial. But, then I think about some conversations I've had with friends and all the introspection I've done to try and figure out why I am the way that I am, and it brings in new ideas. My characters jump out and say, "Hey! That happened to me!" And it goes into their complexity I guess. To me, characters should feel real, even if they are fantastical. There should be something real about them. When I go up and talk to someone at a party, it's never as simple as my saying "hi". There are always things going on in my head, reasons I wanted to talk to them, insecurities about having to mingle in the first place, memories about the last time I did something similar and it turned out badly. Just like people, characters should have motivations for what they do, how they feel, how they act, and those are based on everything that's happened to them before they came to the page.

Maybe none of this made since. Really, I'm not sure it even makes sense to me. So, you tell me (and the rest of us since this IS a series), what do you think is at the heart of a complex character? How do you create complex characters yourself? If you're not a writer, what makes a character "complex" when you're reading?

And don't forget to check out the other writers participating in this blog series!!

Teaser Tuesday #4: The New Ch. 1

Yay! I'm posting a teaser again. I go in spells. But, after a massive brainstorming session with my friend, Hazel, I realized that the 37k I had already written on TD were going to have to change quite a bit. I already knew this, because I committed the newbie mistake of mistakes. It was horrid in fact. I started TD with my MC waking up from a dream! *Runs and hides from the shame of it.* *Comes back with a crimson face.* Oh, but it was worse than that, my friends. That was the second version of Ch. 1. The first version was my MC IN a dream. Yes, I'm already so embarrassed, I couldn't possibly turn more red. So there it is. Version one of Ch. 1 of TD was horrid.

That brings me to this week's teaser. This little snippet is from the new (and, good grief, I hope improved) version of TD's Ch. 1. It's the cliched first day of school and Fred is meeting her best friends, Aeron and Olivia for breakfast before school starts. It's in it's craptastic first draft form. Here ya go...

Snipped...Thanks for the comments!!

I love to read your comments, so let me know what you think! They don't have to be all praising either. If you think it sucks, you can tell me. I won't bust out the tissues and sob. Okay, maybe a little, but then I'll suck it up and work on things. :-D

Note: I have no clue why this stupid quotations thing isn't working right. I'm trying to fix it. In the meantime, sorry for the massive amounts of lines!!

How Writers Do It: Getting Into the Zone

For the second part of the the lovely Cory Jackson's How Writers Do It series, I'll be discussing "Getting into the Zone". This week, I actually have the awesome Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, because it finally came in the mail. I haven't been disappointed in any way!

On to this week's question:

What goes into the creative process of writing a novel?

That's a totally general question, right? Luckily, Cory gave us some guidance. Her examples included the author's mindset and the writer's environment. So here I go.

Goldberg talks a lot--and I mean A LOT--about this very topic. In fact, I find that almost every one of her chapters has something covering our mindset as a writer and the environments where we choose to write. So what does she say? I'll take a few of excerpts from the many I've highlighted and discuss a bit after each.

In order to improve your writing, you have to practice just like any other sport. But don't be dutiful and make it into a blind routine...Don't just put in your time. That is not enough...Otherwise you are just mechanically pushing the pen across the page and intermittently looking at the clock to see if your time is up.

I've had a lot of advice from different people about how I should write a certain amount every day just to make sure I'm writing. In the same vein, I heard that you should set aside a block of time and just write. Well, I think this is good advice, but personally, it hasn't been working for the exact reasons Goldberg gives here. She goes on to say that if this is you, if you're just writing along because you told yourself you'd write for an hour, but you'd rather be doing something else, STOP WRITING. For a week or a month, whatever. It seems to be the equivalent of burnout. I found this hit especially close to home. I think I may be like this, a writer who writes in massive spurts then takes a break for a while to get the energy and excitement back up. Not everyone needs this, but I found it incredibly satisfying to know that when I feel this way, I'm not some total writing loser. Goldberg is giving me permission to keep thinking about writing, take a break for a bit, and come up refreshed!

Okay. Your kids are climbing into the cereal box. You have $1.25 left in your checking account. Your husband can't find his shoes, your car won't start, you know you have lived a life of unfulfilled lost your favorite pen, and the cat peed on your current notebook.
Pick up another notebook, take out another pen, and just write, just write, just write...
Finally, there is no perfection. If you want to write, you have to cut through and write. There is no perfect atmosphere, notebook, pen, or desk, so train yourself to be flexible.

I laughed quite a bit when I read this. Then I stepped back and was sobered by how true this rings for me, especially recently. For a while, I had the symptoms of the burnout discussed above. But now, I have this story simmering in my head, permeating my body until I have to talk about it all the time. Am I writing? No, not really. Why? Because I have a 1,001 things to do and life sucks and I'm hungry and there's this great TV show on and I don't have anywhere to write and and and... None of those excuses matter. What matters is that there's this creative energy bursting to get out of me, and it's not going to rest until I cut the crap and make myself sit down somewhere--anywhere--and get it down.

I don't need the perfect room or a kitchen table that doesn't wobble when you walk near it or chairs that aren't close to busting every time I sit down. I just need a plug, some headphones to block out the husband's video games, and maybe a cup of tea. Tea helps me think. And, you know what? I love that Goldberg has given me all this freedom! Or maybe it's that she's given me the permission I thought I needed to not confine myself to what I was told I should be doing. Maybe I can find what works for me. Maybe if I feel like writing in bed one day and on the couch the other (which is exactly what I end up doing, by the way), it's okay, as long as I can write.

And, I totally forgot that you can visit Cory's blog and comment to win a book!!! Plus, don't forget this:

Check out the other writers participating in this blog series!!

Fantastic Book Giveaway Contest

As you know well, I like books. So, lucky me, there are so many generous bloggers out there willing to do book giveaway contests. And, since there's an amazing one going on right now, I thought I'd bring your attention to Elana Johnson's contest! She's celebrating having a how hoard of followers by giving away books!! Oh, and that's not all! She's giving away SIGNED (and personalized!) by their authors. Sweet!!! So, get on over to her blog to enter!!

New Blog Layout

As you can see, I have a shiny new blog layout!! After seeing Vero's amazing layout on her blog, I decided to waste fill the day searching for blog layouts and trying to apply just the right one! I found a couple others, but they didn't fit the bill. Then I stumbled upon this one. At first, the title was boring, but then Vero snazzed it up for me and created the one that's there now! She also helped me figure out how to do cool things with blocked quotes and the page links. Basically, what I'm saying is Vero is awesome! You should check out her blog to see just how talented she is.

What do you think of the new layout? Am I missing something you think I should have? Is it easier or harder to navigate than the last one? Any other thoughts?

How Writers Do It: Writing as Art?

Howdy! You might be asking yourself why on a Thursday I am not being thankful. Well, I am, BUT even better than that, I'm taking part in a month-long blog series on "How Writers Do It: A Writing Process Series". Each Thursday in March nine writers will each read a separate book on the writing process and discuss a prompt within the context of the book they've chosen and their own writing practice. For more information about the series, check out Cory's blog post introducing it.

The books I'll be reading for this series is Writing Down to the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Naimark-Goldberg*

So, without further ado, here is the prompt for today:

Writers as artists: How do you define yourself as a writer? Are genre writers artists?

I'll admit that I was quite intimidated by this question. For one, even though I've done artsy things in the past (i.e., singing and acting), I've never really considered myself an artist. I tend to reserve the word "artist" for those few brilliantly creative people who paint or sculpt. But really, what is an artist? Merriam-Webster defines an artist (in the context of this post) as "one who professes and practices an imaginative art" or "a person skilled in one of the fine arts." I also looked up what forms of art are considered to be a fine art, and creative writing was included in the list.

So, is writing an art? According to the definition above, yes! Still, do I define myself that way? I guess I should. When I think more about, I continue to compare writing with something I've been more familiar with in the past: painting and sculpture**. What these artists do is take some plain--a canvas or piece of clay--and turn it into a glimpse into a world or a single point in time or person with a mysterious glint in his or her eye, anything their imagination takes them, really. As the viewer, we look at these paintings and sculpture and wonder. These works of art allow our imagination to go beyond that of the original artist to make the scene or the expression on a scultpure's face our own. We wonder what was going on in Saint Teresa's mind--what is it that she sees?--when she's in extreme ecstasy? What is the man whispering to the girl with the wineglass that makes her smile like she does? What I just did there was attempt to create a story surrounding these glimpses in time. Not only has the artist succeeded in sent his imagination into the physical realm, but he pulled me, as the viewer, into the world and encouraged me to make it my own in my mind.

So, isn't that what writers do? I think so. We, as writers, take the ideas in our heads and physically manifest into a worlds and characters and time periods through our words. Our paper (or computer monitors as is usually the case now) are our media, but the effects are the same. Maybe even more powerful in some cases, especially when we are able to create characters that readers can identify with and feel connected to in some way. I know as a reader I often feel incredible grief after having spent a long time with a particular character and then have to leave. It's like losing a good friend. How is a person's ability to bring out such emotion in another person purely through their use of words and imagination not art?

That leads me to the next question posed above. What about genre writers? Are they artists too? Well, yes. Why wouldn't they be? Landscape artists tend to paint landscapes, but the effects are generally the same. They bring out emotion and imagination in others. In the same way, a romance writer creates worlds and characters that bring out emotions in us as the reader. A mystery writers pulls us into the solving of the mystery. And, YA writers, like me, pull teens into a world with characters they can hopefully relate to or remind those of us past the teen years what it was like to be so embroiled in the overwhelming wave of emotions of teenagedom.

Although writing might not be visual, in that it doesn't show you what a world looks like or depict the character for you, it describes it. Sometimes I think this might be better than a painting for me, because it forces me to really build the look of the world or the character in my head. In fact, I often feel disappointed when I have this idea formed and I see another person's physical representation of what a character looks like. I know that happens all the time (The initial controversy over RPattz portraying Edward in Twilight, anyone? Yes, I went there. So sue me.).

As writers--and artists--we take something incredibly personal to ourselves. As Naimark-Goldberg says, "Writing is a path to meet ourselves and become intimate." In doing so, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to complete strangers, offering up that part of ourselves that we dared to put on paper. I think in every case, a person's writing is reflective of that person in some way. It may be small. Obviously, I don't think a writers who writes about a psycho killer is one themselves, but something in that story will reflect something about the author. And in the end, our readers either connect or they don't. It either effects them or it doesn't. They like it or they don't. But what we've done is set the stage, so to speak, for our readers to take what we've put to paper and make it personal for themselves.

That is what I consider to be art.

I guess by my own discussion, I should consider myself an artist. Right? I don't know why it's so hard for me to so. Maybe it's the scientist in me hammering away that I'm a scientist not an artist! But whatever it is, it's a growing process. I didn't choose to write to make money or get popular or have tons of praise. I started writing because I had something to say, something that wouldn't leave me alone until I got it down on paper. If no one but me ever sees it, it's art to me. It affects me. I hope some day it will have some meaning for others as well, even if it's just to pull them away from reality for a little while. For the time being, I'm content to put my ideas to paper and build a world where I get lost with characters I love or hate or love to hate. After all, in doing all this, I'm growing and learning about myself. And if nothing else, that is a good thing.

What is your take on today's topic? Do you think writing is art? I'm always curious to hear from others!

Also, if you read Cory's post for today and comment, she's running a contest this whole month (one per week). You could win a book on writing! And, don't forget to check out the other seven writers (see bottom of the post for links) participating in this series and comment on their posts. I'm sure they love hearing from you as much as I do!! I definitely plan to get over there and read what they (and the authors of their selected books) think about writing as art.

Check out the other writers participating in this blog series!!

* I ordered the book last week, and it still hasn't come. So, I've managed to read a small amount which was available on a preview. I will update this post when I read the chapter on art and writing after the book gets here.

** I do not profess to be able to paint or sculpt. I can't nor do I want to. It just fascinates me and gives me an extreme pleasure when I contemplate it and spend time just immersed in the world of it.