Tuesday, July 31, 2012

In my previous post, many of you were intrigued with the question of self-publishers possessing an "entrepreneurial temperament." What might that label imply?

I found a number of broad-strokes articles on the topic, which I'll link here should you be interested in reading more:

~25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs
~10 Qualities of a Successful Entrepreneur
~Entrepreneurs: Key Characteristics and Skills

Here are some key ideas I gleaned from these lists and how I think they apply to a self-publishing enterprise. Entrepreneurial authors need to be

Passionate
If you don't love your work, don't love TO work, it will be impossible to interest readers and to keep producing quality work. Passion extends not only into your writing itself, but also into how you interact with the world. There is something irrepressible in the spirit of a passionate person that is life-affirming and life-giving. Good books flow out of deep passion; readers respond to it.

I know there are some who struggle with bouts of depression--seasonal or other types--who believe this makes them unfit for entrepreneurial authorship. I don't think that's entirely the case. Monitoring mood and  developing self-care will need to become an area of investment, just like the math-phobe would invest in hiring a good accountant. Which brings me to a second point....

Resource-minded
You need a vision for what skills and resources you need to succeed and where you might find help for those areas where you personally have gaps or lack. Instead of throwing up your hands in defeat and saying "I could never do that!", an entrepreneur says, "I need help with this. Where can I get it?"

Many, many skills you need to succeed as a self-publisher can be outsourced. Many should be. Don't despair if you need to bring a team on board to help with graphic design, editing and proofreading, ebook formatting, marketing, accounting and taxes.

Eager to learn
There's an underlying humility needed when you're an entrepreneur. To succeed, you need to be willing to face your knowledge and skill gaps and take steps to address them. Because you're resource-minded, you're willing to hunt high and low for answers to every question. And you LOVE to learn new things. You find it exciting and empowering.

With the learning mindset comes an acceptance of "the learning curve." You expect your acquisition of knowledge and skills to take time and include setbacks. But your passion drives you to keep seeking, keep trying. You can be patient with the process especially if you have the next quality....

Goal-directed 
Anyone who is able to write an entire book is goal directed by nature. You have an end-point in mind and take steady steps toward reaching it. If you've managed to keep your tush in a chair and write draft after draft until the story resonates and the prose sings, you are able to face the publishing end.

It's really a matter of taking your drafting and revising mojo and applying it to a new goal--getting a quality published product into the hands of eager readers.

Creative
This one trips up some writers, strangely enough. They are able to create entire worlds out of the snips and snails of their life experiences and dreams, but won't open those energies toward "practical things."

Say you don't have much ready cash to hire a cover designer. Some think this means they MUST do it themselves, then feel overwhelmed or defeated. Have you considered bartering? And I don't mean necessarily a skill-for-skill exchange, though a designer might really need help with writing copy for her professional website, for instance. Maybe you have non-writing skills that would thrill a designer: cook meals, crochet an afghan, tutor his/her kids, clean an attic, do some yard work, babysit.You get the idea.

Use the creative flexibility you exercise when you write to approach any skills gaps or snags in your publishing plan. Creativity is especially important when you market. Watch what others do well, then do it with a twist. Have an open mind about who your audience really is--think more broadly.

What do you think? Do you have what it takes?
Tuesday, July 31, 2012 Laurel Garver
In my previous post, many of you were intrigued with the question of self-publishers possessing an "entrepreneurial temperament." What might that label imply?

I found a number of broad-strokes articles on the topic, which I'll link here should you be interested in reading more:

~25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs
~10 Qualities of a Successful Entrepreneur
~Entrepreneurs: Key Characteristics and Skills

Here are some key ideas I gleaned from these lists and how I think they apply to a self-publishing enterprise. Entrepreneurial authors need to be

Passionate
If you don't love your work, don't love TO work, it will be impossible to interest readers and to keep producing quality work. Passion extends not only into your writing itself, but also into how you interact with the world. There is something irrepressible in the spirit of a passionate person that is life-affirming and life-giving. Good books flow out of deep passion; readers respond to it.

I know there are some who struggle with bouts of depression--seasonal or other types--who believe this makes them unfit for entrepreneurial authorship. I don't think that's entirely the case. Monitoring mood and  developing self-care will need to become an area of investment, just like the math-phobe would invest in hiring a good accountant. Which brings me to a second point....

Resource-minded
You need a vision for what skills and resources you need to succeed and where you might find help for those areas where you personally have gaps or lack. Instead of throwing up your hands in defeat and saying "I could never do that!", an entrepreneur says, "I need help with this. Where can I get it?"

Many, many skills you need to succeed as a self-publisher can be outsourced. Many should be. Don't despair if you need to bring a team on board to help with graphic design, editing and proofreading, ebook formatting, marketing, accounting and taxes.

Eager to learn
There's an underlying humility needed when you're an entrepreneur. To succeed, you need to be willing to face your knowledge and skill gaps and take steps to address them. Because you're resource-minded, you're willing to hunt high and low for answers to every question. And you LOVE to learn new things. You find it exciting and empowering.

With the learning mindset comes an acceptance of "the learning curve." You expect your acquisition of knowledge and skills to take time and include setbacks. But your passion drives you to keep seeking, keep trying. You can be patient with the process especially if you have the next quality....

Goal-directed 
Anyone who is able to write an entire book is goal directed by nature. You have an end-point in mind and take steady steps toward reaching it. If you've managed to keep your tush in a chair and write draft after draft until the story resonates and the prose sings, you are able to face the publishing end.

It's really a matter of taking your drafting and revising mojo and applying it to a new goal--getting a quality published product into the hands of eager readers.

Creative
This one trips up some writers, strangely enough. They are able to create entire worlds out of the snips and snails of their life experiences and dreams, but won't open those energies toward "practical things."

Say you don't have much ready cash to hire a cover designer. Some think this means they MUST do it themselves, then feel overwhelmed or defeated. Have you considered bartering? And I don't mean necessarily a skill-for-skill exchange, though a designer might really need help with writing copy for her professional website, for instance. Maybe you have non-writing skills that would thrill a designer: cook meals, crochet an afghan, tutor his/her kids, clean an attic, do some yard work, babysit.You get the idea.

Use the creative flexibility you exercise when you write to approach any skills gaps or snags in your publishing plan. Creativity is especially important when you market. Watch what others do well, then do it with a twist. Have an open mind about who your audience really is--think more broadly.

What do you think? Do you have what it takes?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Self-publishing. How do you decide if it's for you?

I'm a cautious person, so deciding to publish my novel Never Gone on my own wasn't something I arrived at overnight. I spent a lot of time researching and soul-searching. As I was considering the option, I found it incredibly helpful to read about others' decision-making processes. So in the coming weeks I'll share some of the factors that went into my decision, in hopes that it will be educational for those still weighing the pros and cons.

Here are some of the questions I had going in:

What does success look like to me? What's my ultimate goal?

What's happening to publishing? What trends seem to be emerging regarding models that are sustainable and models that aren't?

Am I willing to give up the cache of being approved by gatekeepers?

What are possible downsides of legacy publishing?

Am I temperamentally suited to being an entrepreneur?

What other networks might substitute for the support a legacy publisher might provide? Can I find them or build them?

What skill sets will I need to develop to build my writing business?

Is this particular project better suited for independent or legacy publishing?

Is the book actually ready? How will I know when it is?


These are fairly broad-strokes areas of research. You can see why I've spent the better part of eight months reading everything I could get my eyeballs on that could provide some perspective on the topic.

One of the most helpful things I kept hearing was this: It's not a forever decision. You can self-pub some projects and seek legacy publication for others. Learn your market and where your project might fit and make a business decision.

I can tackle these questions in order as I proposed them, or in whatever order you like.

Which of these questions intrigue you most?

Thursday, July 26, 2012 Laurel Garver
Self-publishing. How do you decide if it's for you?

I'm a cautious person, so deciding to publish my novel Never Gone on my own wasn't something I arrived at overnight. I spent a lot of time researching and soul-searching. As I was considering the option, I found it incredibly helpful to read about others' decision-making processes. So in the coming weeks I'll share some of the factors that went into my decision, in hopes that it will be educational for those still weighing the pros and cons.

Here are some of the questions I had going in:

What does success look like to me? What's my ultimate goal?

What's happening to publishing? What trends seem to be emerging regarding models that are sustainable and models that aren't?

Am I willing to give up the cache of being approved by gatekeepers?

What are possible downsides of legacy publishing?

Am I temperamentally suited to being an entrepreneur?

What other networks might substitute for the support a legacy publisher might provide? Can I find them or build them?

What skill sets will I need to develop to build my writing business?

Is this particular project better suited for independent or legacy publishing?

Is the book actually ready? How will I know when it is?


These are fairly broad-strokes areas of research. You can see why I've spent the better part of eight months reading everything I could get my eyeballs on that could provide some perspective on the topic.

One of the most helpful things I kept hearing was this: It's not a forever decision. You can self-pub some projects and seek legacy publication for others. Learn your market and where your project might fit and make a business decision.

I can tackle these questions in order as I proposed them, or in whatever order you like.

Which of these questions intrigue you most?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My 400th post seemed like the right time to share something that has been brewing since last fall.

My young adult novel, Never Gone, will release in September.

I'm publishing it as an e-book and a paperback. Little old me. It has taken me a long time to move from being reconciled with the decision to being extremely excited about it. Cautious, perfectionistic person that I am, I've already grown in ways I'm only beginning to understand since I made this decision. Like learning to own who I am and what I think, without backpedaling or wilting in the face of criticism--real or imagined. 

I have confidence in the power of this story. Confidence in the opinions of the 30+ people who read some version of it and encouraged me to pursue publication. Confidence that every professional and creative experience I've had this far in my life has prepared me to make the leap from writer to publisher. Confidence that God will grant me grace each day to walk through the process, faithfully giving it my best effort, if I leave the results to Him.

In the coming weeks, as I busily prepare the edited manuscript for print, I'll share a little about my decision-making process and, of course, news about the book itself.


As part of this transition from writer to author/publisher, I've joined forces with a group of writers of realistic fiction called "The Rabble Writers." Our new site describes us this way: "We're storytellers who play in the shadows, aware there is no compassion without pain. No laughter without silence. No sorrow without love. We celebrate the intimate, the personal and profound. We are the rabble-writers."


Our site not only posts poetry daily, we also engage in conversations about a wide variety of topics we're passionate about. Come on by and say hello!


Did you suspect this news was coming, or have I totally surprised you? Are you naturally cautious or does risk-taking come easily? 





Tuesday, July 24, 2012 Laurel Garver
My 400th post seemed like the right time to share something that has been brewing since last fall.

My young adult novel, Never Gone, will release in September.

I'm publishing it as an e-book and a paperback. Little old me. It has taken me a long time to move from being reconciled with the decision to being extremely excited about it. Cautious, perfectionistic person that I am, I've already grown in ways I'm only beginning to understand since I made this decision. Like learning to own who I am and what I think, without backpedaling or wilting in the face of criticism--real or imagined. 

I have confidence in the power of this story. Confidence in the opinions of the 30+ people who read some version of it and encouraged me to pursue publication. Confidence that every professional and creative experience I've had this far in my life has prepared me to make the leap from writer to publisher. Confidence that God will grant me grace each day to walk through the process, faithfully giving it my best effort, if I leave the results to Him.

In the coming weeks, as I busily prepare the edited manuscript for print, I'll share a little about my decision-making process and, of course, news about the book itself.


As part of this transition from writer to author/publisher, I've joined forces with a group of writers of realistic fiction called "The Rabble Writers." Our new site describes us this way: "We're storytellers who play in the shadows, aware there is no compassion without pain. No laughter without silence. No sorrow without love. We celebrate the intimate, the personal and profound. We are the rabble-writers."


Our site not only posts poetry daily, we also engage in conversations about a wide variety of topics we're passionate about. Come on by and say hello!


Did you suspect this news was coming, or have I totally surprised you? Are you naturally cautious or does risk-taking come easily? 





Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stubbornness might look like persistence, but sometimes it's really a hindrance to truly progressing as a writer. Yes, I'm talking about when to trunk a project.

I've been wrestling with a manuscript on and off for several years. Frankly, more off than on. I've written and rewritten the 85 pages or so of it more times than I care to count. Each iteration, I try new plot developments, adding and subtracting characters, revamping motivations. I make a little forward progress then realize it still doesn't work, and here's why: Everyone in the story has a character arc except my protagonist. 

The main dilemma is between two other characters, and my protagonist is actually peripheral. The outcome of their conflict has fairly high stakes for her life, yet she's more reactive than proactive.

It's the wrong person in the wrong story.

No amount of outlining can fix a foundational issue like this. Nor can "writing through the block." It's not a matter of being more disciplined, but of coming to terms with the fact that not every scenario can turn into a decent novel, especially if it hamstrings your POV character.

You can only write the right character in the right story.

That's very liberating, isn't it? I've had two other ideas percolating during these years, and kept putting them off because I "had to" be disciplined and finish a draft of my problem manuscript.

I had dinner with one of my CPs last night and talked through all these things, including idea #3, which she's seen as a flash fiction piece I wrote last year. As we discussed how to expand that story, a whole world unfurled in my head. I woke with character names on my lips.

If you've been fighting too long with a story that perpetually stalls, it's not weakness to trunk it. It's wisdom.

Do you quickly abandon manuscripts at the first sign of trouble, or do you persist longer than you should? What kinds of core problems make you trunk projects?


image credit: morguefile.com
Wednesday, July 18, 2012 Laurel Garver
Stubbornness might look like persistence, but sometimes it's really a hindrance to truly progressing as a writer. Yes, I'm talking about when to trunk a project.

I've been wrestling with a manuscript on and off for several years. Frankly, more off than on. I've written and rewritten the 85 pages or so of it more times than I care to count. Each iteration, I try new plot developments, adding and subtracting characters, revamping motivations. I make a little forward progress then realize it still doesn't work, and here's why: Everyone in the story has a character arc except my protagonist. 

The main dilemma is between two other characters, and my protagonist is actually peripheral. The outcome of their conflict has fairly high stakes for her life, yet she's more reactive than proactive.

It's the wrong person in the wrong story.

No amount of outlining can fix a foundational issue like this. Nor can "writing through the block." It's not a matter of being more disciplined, but of coming to terms with the fact that not every scenario can turn into a decent novel, especially if it hamstrings your POV character.

You can only write the right character in the right story.

That's very liberating, isn't it? I've had two other ideas percolating during these years, and kept putting them off because I "had to" be disciplined and finish a draft of my problem manuscript.

I had dinner with one of my CPs last night and talked through all these things, including idea #3, which she's seen as a flash fiction piece I wrote last year. As we discussed how to expand that story, a whole world unfurled in my head. I woke with character names on my lips.

If you've been fighting too long with a story that perpetually stalls, it's not weakness to trunk it. It's wisdom.

Do you quickly abandon manuscripts at the first sign of trouble, or do you persist longer than you should? What kinds of core problems make you trunk projects?


image credit: morguefile.com

Monday, July 16, 2012


by Dusty Crabtree, author of Shadow Eyes

When I first started developing my idea for a story and eventually decided to write a young adult urban fantasy that dealt with angels and demons and essentially spiritual warfare, I had to make a huge decision.  Would I make it a Christian book and openly talk about God, or would I keep it secular but include underlying Christian themes and morals.  After contemplating and praying, I decided on the second.  The reason?  I didn’t feel like anyone else was offering teens the types of books I wanted to offer them.  Think about what types of young adult books are offered currently.

Christian young adult books – These are an obvious choice for teens who are Christian and want to read clean books.

Secular yet clean young adult books – These are a great alternative for teens who don’t generally read Christian books but want something that is uplifting and refreshing.  Although some have older protagonists, these books are often geared toward middle-school kids with middle-school protagonists.

So what about the teens who aren’t drawn to either of those categories or who aren’t even Christian?  They end up reading the third option: Secular young adult books in popular genres like urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and dystopian, which often include graphic violence, substance abuse, and relationships and views of sexuality that aren’t healthy or godly. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy many of these books and am drawn to them as well.  But at this stage of my life, I’m firm enough in my faith that I can handle reading books with a worldly viewpoint without having my Christian view changed or skewed.  But it’s harder to have that distance when you are younger.  I’m involved with a book club for teens at my church, and we’ve discussed how media affects them and their peers. One girl said that teens are like sponges when it comes to the messages they absorb through books, TV, and movies.

I wanted to offer an alternative—young adult books intriguing enough for teens from many walks of life to want to read, yet reflecting a Christian worldview about topics like purity, drinking, depression/anxiety, and hope.  My desire is to write books that explore broken ways of living, yet show them in a different light.  Instead of avoiding brokenness (which is fine for a certain audience) or making it seem acceptable, I wanted to show harmful behavior for what it truly is – evil.  I hope that as readers go through experiences with Iris, they will begin to see the nature of evil differently and also come to realize they, too, are never without hope and have the ability to rise above their pasts.

About Shadow Eyes, from the publisher’s description:

Iris Kohl lives in a world populated by murky shadows that surround, harass, and entice unsuspecting individuals toward evil.  But she is the only one who can see them.  She’s had this ability to see the shadows, as well as brilliantly glowing light figures, ever since an obscure, tragic incident on her fourteenth birthday three years earlier.

Although she’s learned to cope, the view of her world begins to shift upon the arrival of three mysterious characters.  First, a handsome new teacher whose presence scares away shadows; second, a new friend with an awe-inspiring aura; and third, a mysterious and alluring new student whom Iris has a hard time resisting despite already having a boyfriend.

As the shadows invade and terrorize her own life and family, she must ultimately revisit the most horrific event of her life in order to learn her true identity and become the hero she was meant to be.


Dusty Crabtree has been a high school English teacher at Yukon High School in Oklahoma since 2006, a challenge she thoroughly enjoys. She is also a youth sponsor at Cherokee Hills Christian Church in Oklahoma City and feels very blessed with the amazing opportunities she has to develop meaningful relationships with teens on a daily basis.  Her passion for teens has poured into her writing as well.  She is the author of the young adult urban fantasy, Shadow Eyes, through Musa Publishing, which she wrote in order to give teens an intriguing and provocative book series that promotes moral messages.  She lives with her husband, Clayton, in Yukon, Oklahoma, where they often serve their community as foster parents.

Check out Dusty’s blog at http://dustycrabtree.wordpress.com/
Find her on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/dusty.crabtree.1
Follow her on twitter at https://twitter.com/dustycrabtree
Shadow Eyes is available for purchase at http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=176
(also available at all major online bookstores)
View the book trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7UP9A0Fm78

Monday, July 16, 2012 Laurel Garver

by Dusty Crabtree, author of Shadow Eyes

When I first started developing my idea for a story and eventually decided to write a young adult urban fantasy that dealt with angels and demons and essentially spiritual warfare, I had to make a huge decision.  Would I make it a Christian book and openly talk about God, or would I keep it secular but include underlying Christian themes and morals.  After contemplating and praying, I decided on the second.  The reason?  I didn’t feel like anyone else was offering teens the types of books I wanted to offer them.  Think about what types of young adult books are offered currently.

Christian young adult books – These are an obvious choice for teens who are Christian and want to read clean books.

Secular yet clean young adult books – These are a great alternative for teens who don’t generally read Christian books but want something that is uplifting and refreshing.  Although some have older protagonists, these books are often geared toward middle-school kids with middle-school protagonists.

So what about the teens who aren’t drawn to either of those categories or who aren’t even Christian?  They end up reading the third option: Secular young adult books in popular genres like urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and dystopian, which often include graphic violence, substance abuse, and relationships and views of sexuality that aren’t healthy or godly. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy many of these books and am drawn to them as well.  But at this stage of my life, I’m firm enough in my faith that I can handle reading books with a worldly viewpoint without having my Christian view changed or skewed.  But it’s harder to have that distance when you are younger.  I’m involved with a book club for teens at my church, and we’ve discussed how media affects them and their peers. One girl said that teens are like sponges when it comes to the messages they absorb through books, TV, and movies.

I wanted to offer an alternative—young adult books intriguing enough for teens from many walks of life to want to read, yet reflecting a Christian worldview about topics like purity, drinking, depression/anxiety, and hope.  My desire is to write books that explore broken ways of living, yet show them in a different light.  Instead of avoiding brokenness (which is fine for a certain audience) or making it seem acceptable, I wanted to show harmful behavior for what it truly is – evil.  I hope that as readers go through experiences with Iris, they will begin to see the nature of evil differently and also come to realize they, too, are never without hope and have the ability to rise above their pasts.

About Shadow Eyes, from the publisher’s description:

Iris Kohl lives in a world populated by murky shadows that surround, harass, and entice unsuspecting individuals toward evil.  But she is the only one who can see them.  She’s had this ability to see the shadows, as well as brilliantly glowing light figures, ever since an obscure, tragic incident on her fourteenth birthday three years earlier.

Although she’s learned to cope, the view of her world begins to shift upon the arrival of three mysterious characters.  First, a handsome new teacher whose presence scares away shadows; second, a new friend with an awe-inspiring aura; and third, a mysterious and alluring new student whom Iris has a hard time resisting despite already having a boyfriend.

As the shadows invade and terrorize her own life and family, she must ultimately revisit the most horrific event of her life in order to learn her true identity and become the hero she was meant to be.


Dusty Crabtree has been a high school English teacher at Yukon High School in Oklahoma since 2006, a challenge she thoroughly enjoys. She is also a youth sponsor at Cherokee Hills Christian Church in Oklahoma City and feels very blessed with the amazing opportunities she has to develop meaningful relationships with teens on a daily basis.  Her passion for teens has poured into her writing as well.  She is the author of the young adult urban fantasy, Shadow Eyes, through Musa Publishing, which she wrote in order to give teens an intriguing and provocative book series that promotes moral messages.  She lives with her husband, Clayton, in Yukon, Oklahoma, where they often serve their community as foster parents.

Check out Dusty’s blog at http://dustycrabtree.wordpress.com/
Find her on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/dusty.crabtree.1
Follow her on twitter at https://twitter.com/dustycrabtree
Shadow Eyes is available for purchase at http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=176
(also available at all major online bookstores)
View the book trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7UP9A0Fm78

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I've noticed something of an opposite trend to Mary Sue characters recently, especially in YA and MG books published in the past 5 years. I guess I'd call them Poison Polly characters. The ones who have no friends, fight with their families and are generally miserable all the time. They're so negative, their lives are such an unending suck-fest, I really don't want to spend 200+ pages with them. Throwing them into dangerous situations doesn't make them more likable. You keep hoping the villains will put them out of their misery.


Have you come across some Poison Pollys? Am I being too harsh, or do you think I'm on to something?


This was a response to Nicole's post Mary Sue, I can't stand you
Thursday, July 12, 2012 Laurel Garver
I've noticed something of an opposite trend to Mary Sue characters recently, especially in YA and MG books published in the past 5 years. I guess I'd call them Poison Polly characters. The ones who have no friends, fight with their families and are generally miserable all the time. They're so negative, their lives are such an unending suck-fest, I really don't want to spend 200+ pages with them. Throwing them into dangerous situations doesn't make them more likable. You keep hoping the villains will put them out of their misery.


Have you come across some Poison Pollys? Am I being too harsh, or do you think I'm on to something?


This was a response to Nicole's post Mary Sue, I can't stand you

Monday, July 09, 2012

As I was getting ready for work this morning, I heard this interview with psychologist Dan Gottlieb reflecting on the idea of "absolute rest." He was responding to questions about a new study on therapy for concussions, but went on to discuss the possible wider implications. It's worth a listen (click the audio player on the page I linked above).

I was particularly struck by Dr. Gottlieb's description of taking a "silent retreat" as beginning with a 24-hour painful withdrawal process, of "detoxing" from the "drugs" that are familiar to us all: technology, speed and distraction. He noted that we fill our lives with so many distracting gadgets that "we often can't even feel our own bodies." Ouch. So true. I had my personal wake-up call on that front last fall (my poem "Anemia" in Poetry Pact vol. 1 describes some of it). Now that I'm on the other side of the tests and treatment, I know it will take concerted effort to fully live in my skin, not just my brain.  

I'm intrigued with the idea of technology detox. I generally stay off the interwebs over the weekends in order to focus on my family. And yet, I wonder if two days is enough to do what I really need--get my head cleared out and my creativity fully energized.

Do you find you live in your mind more than in your body?  Do you ever truly rest? Have you tried abstaining from all technology for a period? What was that like?


image credit: Dorne, www.morguefile.com

Monday, July 09, 2012 Laurel Garver
As I was getting ready for work this morning, I heard this interview with psychologist Dan Gottlieb reflecting on the idea of "absolute rest." He was responding to questions about a new study on therapy for concussions, but went on to discuss the possible wider implications. It's worth a listen (click the audio player on the page I linked above).

I was particularly struck by Dr. Gottlieb's description of taking a "silent retreat" as beginning with a 24-hour painful withdrawal process, of "detoxing" from the "drugs" that are familiar to us all: technology, speed and distraction. He noted that we fill our lives with so many distracting gadgets that "we often can't even feel our own bodies." Ouch. So true. I had my personal wake-up call on that front last fall (my poem "Anemia" in Poetry Pact vol. 1 describes some of it). Now that I'm on the other side of the tests and treatment, I know it will take concerted effort to fully live in my skin, not just my brain.  

I'm intrigued with the idea of technology detox. I generally stay off the interwebs over the weekends in order to focus on my family. And yet, I wonder if two days is enough to do what I really need--get my head cleared out and my creativity fully energized.

Do you find you live in your mind more than in your body?  Do you ever truly rest? Have you tried abstaining from all technology for a period? What was that like?


image credit: Dorne, www.morguefile.com

Monday, July 02, 2012


How do your characters feel in their own skin? Self-conscious? Cocky? Healthy? Despairing? Blissfully carefree?

Hang out at a pool for any length of time, and you'll soon notice a wide variety of embodied responses to being nearly naked in public. The pool is a great venue to observe how body image plays out in behavior. Some love to flaunt their assets (or their perception thereof). Others cringe and hide. Some step out tentatively and watch always for reactions. Others are too distracted to care how they look. Some drag their bodies around as if wearing flesh were a tiresome ordeal. Others joyfully skip from here to there, glad to be alive. Some relish the cool water. Others prefer baking in the sun or ducking into the shade to read.

Here's an exercise for thinking through character body image: Imagine your character at the pool. How does she behave? What sort of swimsuit does he choose? How readily does she let herself been seen, and by whom? Whose attention does he hope to win? Who does she feel judges her?

Would this exercise help your characterization? What did you learn from it?


This is a repost from July 2010
Monday, July 02, 2012 Laurel Garver

How do your characters feel in their own skin? Self-conscious? Cocky? Healthy? Despairing? Blissfully carefree?

Hang out at a pool for any length of time, and you'll soon notice a wide variety of embodied responses to being nearly naked in public. The pool is a great venue to observe how body image plays out in behavior. Some love to flaunt their assets (or their perception thereof). Others cringe and hide. Some step out tentatively and watch always for reactions. Others are too distracted to care how they look. Some drag their bodies around as if wearing flesh were a tiresome ordeal. Others joyfully skip from here to there, glad to be alive. Some relish the cool water. Others prefer baking in the sun or ducking into the shade to read.

Here's an exercise for thinking through character body image: Imagine your character at the pool. How does she behave? What sort of swimsuit does he choose? How readily does she let herself been seen, and by whom? Whose attention does he hope to win? Who does she feel judges her?

Would this exercise help your characterization? What did you learn from it?


This is a repost from July 2010