Wow.  I barely have stats today.  I’m looking at my log going, what the heck happened to Tuesday through Thursday?  I know I worked those days…though, for the life of me, I can’t really recall those days.  And being that I’ve been running late, late, late with everything — the blog especially — I feel like it’s always yesterday.

I do have good news to report, however.  Being that I had a writer’s meeting scheduled on Sunday, I managed to squeeze in several hours (always of the “wee” variety) and knocked out a 4,000-word short story that was nicely received by my fellow Third Ninjas Omnicient.  Yay!  It was a nice way to end the Month of Speed.

I think next month I’ll continue posting work log stats each week, though I think I’ll drop the week number from now on as I foresee it becoming a bit tedious.  I hope it will keep me conscious of my record-keeping and eager to make those numbers improve.

My goal next month is attaining an even, consistent pace, even if it isn’t as prolific as I’d like.  No more binge-writing for me, thank you.  It makes me…less pleasant than my normal sunny self, you might say, reducing me to spending mornings grousing incoherently during “Curious George,” while the Toddler piles laundry, stuffed animals, and coupon flyers all over me in an attempt to entertain herself.

Though I didn’t write as much fiction as I would have liked this month, I still wrote a damn lot.  A bunch of you did!  I can’t even tell you how excited I am about all the folks who contributed to this month’s pile o’ words!  Thank you, guys! I feel like I kind of have co-workers now.  Very awesome. 🙂

Check it out:  Apparentbook drops us another 1,812 words (bam!), and Heather (A Girl About to be Discovered :))comes sliding in with another 1,889 words (bam! bam!).  The reason for my laying prostrate on the couch unable to defend myself from becoming a preschool art installation, 4,498 words for short story prep (back story, exploring various plot avenues, brainstorming), and 4,340 words of the actual short story (thunk!).  I didn’t even count this past week’s blog post word counts.

What that means is as of midnight, February 28, 2011, we are the bad boys and girls of 60,333 wordsShazam! The dinosaurs are preparing for the ensuing celebration as I type these words.  (They’re fluffing in the dryer.)


38.  “When the Light Left” by Becca De La Rosa (Ideomancer Speculative Fiction)

Beautiful and touching.  I love this author’s style and use of language in this story.

39.  “Amor Fugit” by Alexandra Duncan (Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Mar/Apr 2010)

I looked up what “Amor Fugit” means after I read the story, as my Latin is a bit…well, non-existent, and it means, “fugitive love.”  Learning that made the story all the more meaningful to me.  I love that phrase, fugitive love.  Beautifully written story, with a kind of subtle tension that tugs you gently forward without you realizing it.  It’s no wonder it was selected for The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2011.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a free posting of this story online (and I can’t ignore the one of the markets I most want to break into), but I did find this cool interview with the author in which this story is mentioned.

40.  “The Frog Comrade” by Benjamin Rosenbaum (Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Mar/Apr 2010)

Cute story.  Although I was expecting a twist at the end, I wasn’t expecting that one.  For that, I give it a thumbs-up.  I like being surprised. 🙂

As I can’t locate a free posting of his story either, I offer you another cool author interview.

As an aside, this gentleman’s website is awesome…specifically his “Bio” page and his awesome, giant ray-blasting “Stats” page.  I’ll have to go back and check out his blog when I get a chance.

41.  “Living the Lie” by Oonah V. Joslin (Every Day Fiction)

Intense piece of flash fiction.  Vivid imagery.

By the way, I love this author’s first name.  I fell in love with it when “Legend” came out with Tom Cruise. 🙂  Therefore, I love the name of her blog.

42.  “Billy” by A.F. White (Every Day Fiction)

This might be the best piece of flash fiction I’ve read recently.  Nicely done.


“The Female Brain” by Louann Brizendine, M.D.

My best friend has been talking about this book for some time now, and she let me borrow it several weeks ago.  Dang.  I wish I read it a long time ago.

Not only has it been helpful in understanding what my little girl has been going through hormonally and what to expect as she grows older (yeek!), but it’s helped me figure out what was behind all that drama I put myself through in my 20s (and maybe once a month…ahem).

As I read through it, I found myself saying, yeah, yeah!, that’s true, I guess I’m not so weird, and oh, thank God.  It also made me feel proud and appreciative of my female brain.  All my quirks that are innately female and seem (to me) to come across as weak and emotional were retranslated into characteristics that are crucial to the health and success of the human race (we are the mommies):  empathy, peacekeeping, multitasking, intuition, et cetera.  It also highlighted perceived weaknesses (on my part) and made me realize that these are basic needs of any human female psyche.

I can’t say enough about how important this book is.  There are so many aspects and considerations that go into human interractions, and very often hormones and gender are not even on the list.  As I read through it, I realized how invaluable this book is not only to understanding the biology of the female brain, but to understanding and writing believable female characters in fiction.

Now, I have been accused in the past of being a very “girly” writer.  I wasn’t offended by the remark.  I am, as a matter of fact, a girl.  I feel comfortable writing female characters.  But now that I’ve read this book, I’m looking forward to writing a female character with these things in consideration.  Obviously, my personal experience is limited to my age, but I am encouraged to write a story with a menopausal female character.  I think I could make her more believable now.

Anyway, this book just turned out to be a great writer’s resource.  I recommend it to anyone who writes and has any female characters (read that to mean everyone).  Louann Brizendine, M.D., also has another book out called, “The Male Brain,” that I’m looking forward to getting my paws on soon.  Maybe after reading it, I will be able to write more believable male characters.  Get out the grog and the remote control!  I’m ready!


The Hermitess and her smaller version received visitors today. Well, just one visitor…my good friend since high school, Mona.  We haven’t seen each other in over a year! It’s unbelievable how quickly time slips past.  Kept telling myself, gotta send her an email, gotta drop her a line.  People, call your friends today. Don’t assume that they’re always gonna be around. Mona returns to flying the friendly skies in May, and of course, around that time, I’m being relocated to latitudes that bewilder.

But it was wonderful to catch up with her.  Mona is a freelance writer who is also the author of an awesome travel blog over at Text and Candy.  She also brought over the very glossy, very sexy issue of Out There Magazine, which contains her fantastic article on how to join the mile-high club, which was located in the very coveted back page of the magazine.  Very nice.  I’m so proud of her!

Yesterday I got in 1308 words in an hour…of fiction.  I am pleased.  Rougher than an unshaven man after a 24-hour bout of the flu, but there ya go.  I throw that on the pile along with apparentbook’s 1,067 words and Sparks in Shadow’s 625 words.  (Awesome!  Thank you, guys!)  That brings us to a current group effort grand total of 47,793 words.  Squee!  Only 2,207 words left to go.  Wow!

In other news, the new MacBooks are out.  I lust!  I lust!

Which reminds me…time for a friendly public announcement:  EVERYBODY BACK UP YOUR HARD DRIVES!  (Not that I’m planning to jump hard drives or anything, I’m just sayin’….)


In case you’re queuing up late for the buffet line, this month we’re focusing on speed!

In my post titled, “The Speed of Story,” back on February 8th, I proffered the hypothesis that there are four areas an idea needs to travel through to become a story:  1) Yon High, that magical place where ideas are born and doesn’t really involve us; 2) The Lightning Bolt, the way in which ideas are transmitted to you via Yon High; 3) The Brain, that complicated snake pit of self-doubt and worry; and 4) Output, the way in which you capture a story, which is what we’re here to discuss today…which naturally leads us into the Wilds of Technology.

The infamous They say it doesn’t really matter how you get the words down, just that you somehow do.  But I think it matters.  I think it matters a lot.

Don’t get me wrong.  Of course it’s most important that you get the words down at all, and I’m no stranger to writing it out in longhand to try and loosen up writer’s blockages.

But at the end of the day, the final form that your professional work must take — and it is crucial that you consider it your professional work — is some sort of digital format that, in most instances, should be compatible to Microsoft Word.  I won’t argue the merits of Microsoft Word versus some other word processing software.¹  Why not?  Because this is just one of those things that is.  No sense wasting energy trying to change something you can’t.

And besides all that, don’t you want to remove any sort of physical limitations that you can between you and the written word?  Better to be able to focus on what’s happening in the scene rather than where they hid the dang “q” again.

So here’s the bottom line:  If you want to make your living as a professional writer, you have to learn how to touch-type…and quickly.  Now, before you throw your hands up to tell me about your dad who typed reports for the Army for 30-plus years using only his two index fingers, thank you very much, let me inch a little farther out on this limb.

Not only do I think that being able to type 60-plus words per minute is an essential skill for the 21st century writer, I also think basic computer skills, web skills, graphic design skills, social networking skills, marketing skills, and even basic programming skills fall into this category.

I know that reading this is probably giving many of you an uncomfortable sinking feeling in your gut, but you have to look at this thing objectively.  We live in a digitally-connected world now.  Not only does this make information and opportunities more accessible to us, it makes them more accessible to everybody else in the world.  What that simply means is that there’s more competition, lots more.

And let’s take a look at some of that friendly competition.  We’ve got innovative published authors out there releasing their novels for free and winning awards and then signing traditional publishing contracts for their work.  We’ve got authors on raising money to fund their work.  We’ve got authors who have earned publishing contracts through their blogging efforts.

This is the brave new world we’re operating in…only it’s not so new anymore.  The kids that were spoon-fed on this stuff are now grown up and entering the field.  The competition is smarter and faster and not afraid to try new things.  And I’m willing to bet that all of them can type fast.

Now, if you are not a touch-typist at all, or are simply a slow typist, please don’t feel defensive or ashamed…or even illogically proud of your 23-wpm typing speed.  Just get busy.  There are hundreds of free typing tutor applications and games you can download.  The games are fun.  And if you spend just a few focused hours on developing your typing skills, you will see a marked improvement.  It doesn’t take long at all.  I learned to type fast in a few weeks back in high school, and I never had to think about it again.  It’s just like playing video games, guys.  Practice, practice, practice!  Once you develop this skill, you’ll never look back.

Now, for those of you who already know how to type, you get a “meets minimum requirements” sticker — yay! — and tomorrow we’ll discuss coding your own website from the ground up.

Ha-ha!  Just kidding.  Really, I am.  But maybe not completely.  I think the more we learn, the more we open ourselves up to having our own brave and innovative ideas.  Maybe it’s an overstatement to say a modern writer needs to be able to build their own website from scratch, but it couldn’t hurt.

But definitely, unequivocally, a writer’s gotta be able to type fast.²


¹ I actually use OpenOffice myself, which I love…and which also happens to be free.  But I am not shut to the notion of any other software I might need to further my career.

² Obviously, if you have some sort of disability that prevents you from using the keyboard, there are other options out there, most notably Dragon NaturallySpeaking.  The incredibly prolific Lynn Viehl uses it regularly and blogs about it here.


Everyone says you need to read, read, read to understand how story works.  While this is true, sometimes you just need to give 3:08 minutes of your undivided attention.  [Warning:  Contains graphic scenes.]


I was turned on to this video by Tobias Buckell, who writes in his blog:  “I will be using this as a teaching aide about story and plot, in all seriousness. The sequence in linear order is often what beginning writers attempt, but the drama of understanding what is happening in the first as you piece everything together, with the end being the confirmation of what the girl is and what happened, makes for a far more emotional punch.”

Yeah, no kidding.  I cried like a little girl.  Watching this last night made me want to return to bed and curl about the baby and remain that way until the sun came up.  (Instead, I snuggled her up until she rolled away amid little baby snores, then returned to my desk for some writing.  I would like my cookie now, please.)

I wish I could hear Mr. Buckell talk about this video in a teaching setting.  It really is a perfect little piece of flash fiction.  Buckell also includes in his post a recut version where everything is put into chronological sequence, which demonstrates his point.

I do think, however, that the one thing video has over us fiction writers is soundtrack.  The music used in the video instantly filled up my tear ducts, I am not kidding.  I wish there were a way to embed soundtracks into electronic copies of books.  Wouldn’t that be grand?  Another way to manipulate — ahem — draw your readers into your world.  I’m sure it’s not too far away.  Maybe e-readers will eventually track your eye movements so it knows when to cue forboding music.  That would be cool…and a little eerie.

Anyway, many thanks to Tobias Buckell for sharing this.  I’ve been following this guy’s blog since right before the publication of his first book, “Crystal Rain” (which is an incredibly fast and enjoyable read), and he’s now got his fifth scheduled for release in February of next year.  Go read him.  You could learn a thing or ten from him.  He’s one of my Big Three Bloggers I keep on the toolbar of my browser.  (In case you’re curious, Neil Gaiman and Marjorie M. Liu are the other two.)

~     ~     ~

In other news, the dinosaurs are preparing for their end-of-the-month party in honor of…us!  Thanks to Kathryn, with a fantastic 8,724 words, and Heather, with a whopping 15,959 words, we now stand at 44,793 words!  Just 5,207 words left to go!  Whoo-hoo!  Thank you, guys!


How did you all do this week?

Me?  I did a little better this week as far as keeping track of my time.  I suspect there’s still several hours missing, but I’m happy with the progress.  I notice I have a tendency to forget to write the stop time when I get interrupted…which is a lot.

I can tell it was a good week, though, because the log spans more pages than usual to accommodate all the ideas that kept tapping on my window.  Got lots of brands in the fire, which always makes me glad.

Again, the biggest obstacle was the Toddler and her terrific allergy to sleeping.  However, this past week saw a vast improvement in her going to sleep faster and with less shenanigans, and sleeping for longer stretches of time.  Our next goal is getting her to fall asleep on her own.  Sigh.  I am mentally preparing myself for this project…but oh, man, won’t it be so wonderful?  For both of us?  (I like to dream big.)

Needless to say, most of my work is getting done in the wee hours, whenever she is asleep and I am awake.  This has resulted in quite a sleep deficit for me, and I ended up paying for it by losing two blog days this week.  I think eventually I’m going to have to commit to a regular sleep schedule, something that goes against every chromosome in my body.

Overall, though, I’m happy with how the past week went…especially the blog post I got out with my brother’s painting.  He did such a wonderful job, I keep pulling it up to look at it.  Hopefully, we’ll have more from him very soon.

On the fiction front, I have a writer’s meeting this coming Sunday.  As the Japanese noir is still giving me pains — more on that later this week, probably, as far as what never to do — I started a new story Saturday that I’m busy working on.

I’m terribly behind with the Write1Sub1 challenge as well, so I am going to attempt to be more succinct in my blog posts so as to accommodate the fiction this week.  I refuse to give up on this one.

My original goal, as you might remember, is to develop a 3,000-word-a-day habit.  The idea is that 16 consecutive 3,000-word days will be a good start towards developing that habit.  Right now the goal is to have one 3,000-word day.  So far this year, my highest word count for fiction in a day is 1,912 words.  “Slowly but surely I will break the speed of story,” says my tortoise to your hare.

All right.  Here are my stats for this week:

1.  Hours spent writing:  22.8

2.  Blog Word Count:  4,635

3.  Fiction Word Count:  1,912

Holy smokes!  The end of February is nigh, and with my word counts (plus my wonderful friend Marian, who submitted to me via text message her 2,722 glorious words from her fantastic new blog), the total word count this month is 20,110. This is a fantastic number…but it’s a far cry from the 50,000 words we need to be allowed with our cameras into the Secret Dinosaur Celebratory Ritual.  I hope I don’t have to dig out my journal word counts.  Don’t think I won’t.  I am not ashamed.  😉

Anyway, if you follow this blog and you wanna see what the dinosaurs do in secret to celebrate, help us get to 50,000 words!  If you know me in “real life,” but don’t want to come out of skulking to post it in the comments, text me.  Word counts from stories, novels, and poems are great, but if you’re writing in your journal every day about how much you hate your neighbor’s dog, those will work just fine too.  Tally those bad boys up and send them our way!  Anybody contributing will, of course, be hailed and applauded right here at My Blue Screen along with a lovely linky-link to your blog or website.

Right.  Back to the word mines then.  Happy writing!


This week’s reading adventures led to the discovery of a great new fiction resource:  Free SF Reader:  Free Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror. The site is run by Blue Tyson, who also runs the site Free SF – Not Free SF MegaBlog.  I can’t even fathom the amount of time and effort this man has put into this fantastic compilation of speculative fiction.  This is why SF fans rock!  This should keep me busy for a while. 🙂

This week’s reading list:

34.  “The Excision,” by Nicole M. Taylor (Brain Harvest)

A haunting little gem of flash fiction.  The metaphor is wrapped up quite nicely in the last two lines.

35.  “Make-Believe” by Michael Reaves (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction – Mar/Apr 2010)

First of all, I really enjoyed this.  I thought the story the protagonist was telling was exciting.  I mean, come on…three young boys out in the desert in 1955, armed only with plastic guns, near a cave sealed with dynamite after boys not unlike them disappeared a generation ago?  What’s not to like?  I love these nostalgic sorts of stories where the author is waxing nostalgic on this time in history.  Something about that era, a sort of innocence.

Though the core story was riveting and frightening, I did question the context in which the protagonist shared this story.  It was such a traumatic and horrifying experience that it seemed unseemly and a little out of character to be sharing it in an Outstanding Alumnus speech.  That said, I still recommend the read.  It’s a great ghost tale.

36.  “The Fairy Princess” by Dennis Danvers (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction – Mar/Apr 2010)

Set in a near-empty sex-bot factory on Christmas with a protagonist so determinedly neutral — and therefore, uninvested in anything in her life — I didn’t think this story would have the emotional impact it did on me.  It was understated in a very sneaky way.  I loved it!  Danvers’ language is so wonderful I had to get out the old highlighter.  “He’s got eyes like a Sunday school Jesus.”  I think Danvers’ sex-bot characters made for a kinder, more forgiving mirror of humanity:  “I think I may like humans better than you do.”

Unfortunately, this story isn’t available free online, but if you’re interested in buying it, an electronic or a physical copy, you can do that here.

37.  “The Elephants of Poznan” by Orson Scott Card (Lightspeed Magazine)

I give this story a very hearty thumbs-up.  Go read it.  This is a prime example of what a solid story looks like in the hands of someone as experienced as Card.  Though the beginning was a wee bit slow for my taste, the concept is original, the emotional tension is well done — just a very good story.


This was the view of the clouds coming in at about 3:30 p.m. this afternoon in the High Desert.  I took this pic on my way to “the office.”

An hour and a half later, it looked like this:

You probably can’t tell, but there’s big, fluffy-looking snowflakes out there.  They looked like cotton balls falling from the clouds.

To give yourself an idea of what a rare occasion this is for Southern Californians, one of the girls working at Starbucks threw her arms in the air and squealed, “It’s snowing!” and ran out to dance on the sidewalk.  (All you people Back East are shaking your heads thinking, “Day-am, Californians really are weird.”)

I can attest, however, that the snowflakes were not the light, airy kind that lend themselves to perfect missiles of icy warfare, but rather large juicy things that plopped in inch-wide water bombs that ran down my scalp and into my ears and collar…not that I had run out to dance in the snow either.  I <ahem> had a phone call to make.  Yeah.

Anyway, I am currently in the midst of a short story today, so I hope you will forgive me for the light fare I offer today…or perhaps you’re thanking me.  And if that’s the case, hell, you’re welcome.  Anytime.

As for the short story, I won’t say much more about it now except to say it’s new and I’m really excited about it.  It seems very relevant to what’s going on in my creative life right now, and I am grateful I took those notes back in ’08, and doubly glad I managed to find them.  Miracles abound.  😉

So I am off tonight to walk the walk.  Wish me exciting travels!  Hope you guys are off doing the same.


“Autopilot” by Jon McConnell…my little brother!

Now we come to the third and most difficult part of an idea’s journey to becoming a first draft story, and that is the brain.  That’s right.  The very thing responsible for making us capable of placing words next to each other to form epic sagas that last generations is also the very thing that prevents more masterpieces being written than we’ll ever know…or would want to know.

In Steven Pressfield’s magical, indispensable, I’m-never-going-to-stop-pimping-it book, “The War of Art,” he identifies the negative, repelling, impersonal force that prevents us from doing our work as Resistance.

Pressfield writes:  “Resistance seems to come from outside ourselves.  We locate it in spouses, jobs, bosses, kids.  ‘Peripheral opponents,’ as Pat Riley used to say when he coached the Los Angeles Lakers.  Resistance arises from within.  It is self-generated and self-perpetuated.  Resistance is the enemy within.

Are you all looking down at your bellies right now, thinking about the frightening alien that always emerges from your gut to rest its judgmental chin on your keyboard and criticize your writing voice every time you sit down?  No?  Oh, okay.  Never mind.  I guess it’s different for everyone. <cough>

Incubating parasitic aliens aside, we truly are our own worst enemies.  If you have ever worried what anyone thinks about your writing — or art — be it your spouse, your best friend, your parents, your kids, your co-workers, imagined readers, then you’ve met this particular variety of Resistance.  And I think it’s easily boiled down to its molecular level, which is good old-fashioned Fear.

We are ultimately all afraid of being judged unloved or unlovable.

You don’t believe me?  Then what is that gut-twisting feeling you always get after you share your work with someone?  Right.

When we speak of this concept of “art,” I think most of us imagine art as some sort of receptacle in which we place a small piece of ourselves, that we must somehow suffer by taking away from ourselves.  That may be true in some respects — like blood, sweat, and tears — but that little piece of ourselves that we have put into an effort of art does not define us as a whole.  That means when we receive judgment on a piece, it’s simply a judgment of the piece and not of us.

In other words, that novel you’ve been working on and loving on and hugging on for the past five years may seem like all-your-eggs-in-a-basket, you’re-gonna-die-a-painful-death-of-grief-if-you-don’t-sell-it, once-in-a-lifetime type of project, but it’s not.  You are not one book.  You are not one story.  You are not one poem, one painting, one song, one recipe, whatever it is you uniquely make.  Please do not make the mistake of attaching your identity to one project.  It’s not necessary, and it only causes pain.

“Life is not a support system for art.  It’s the other way around.” Stephen King, “On Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft.”

King is right.  You can’t afford to risk your ego and your psyche with this kind of thinking.  Nobody can.  Life is about people.  You have people depending on you.  Do what you have to do to be happy as an artist, but remember always, you are just a mere mortal and your art is but a result of focused concentration and effort by you, a mere mortal.  This way of thinking will save you when your brain starts coughing up lies to trick you away from your work.

What does this have to do with getting faster at writing first drafts?  Everything. I think the biggest problem with Fear is that it’s strongest before we begin.  If we never begin, there is no first draft at all…just a lot of standing around and feeling bad about it.

You have to turn Fear on its head, slap a harness on it, and ride it into worlds outrageous.  This is key.  Fear is not a negative force.  It’s simply how we tend to perceive it.  But Fear is behind every innovative, genre-busting, widely-lauded project.  Fear can drive us to take amazing risks if you use it right.

Let me ask you this:  What’s more scary?  Finishing your novel, putting the best of your time, love, and energy into it, and sending it out into the world where it most likely will receive rejection before it receives success, if ever?  Or is it more frightening the very notion that you might never write the story you were meant to write because you were too scared to start?  This is like dying from an ailment that was easily cured because you were too afraid to see the doctor.  Very sad stuff.

This is not headline breaking news any of these things I’m telling you.  You all have heard this stuff a thousand times before.  So why haven’t you been listening?  Don’t read this stuff and then go on carrying on like you have been, squirreling ideas away for some distant future, talking more about the writing than actually doing the writing.  At some point, you’ve got to really play the role of the artist and ply your trade.  Otherwise, you’re just a conversation piece with a label.  Those guys never get to live forever.  You don’t want to be one of those guys, do you?

So how do we get around all of this Fear?  (In case you’re wondering, I capitalize it because it deserves that kind of respect.)  How do we capture its positive qualities and use Fear as fuel that will burn hot enough to allow us to escape the gravitational pull of everyday thinking?

Would that it were so easy that you could just remove your brain and set it aside, yes?  Even the most stalwart writing professional has these niggling little worries that if they let them, will work their fingers into the cracks and blow up full force into paralyzing, work-stopping Fear.  What we need is some kind of strategy, some kind of coping measure that will allow us to deal with our worries in an effective, efficient matter.  What we need is a magic feather.

And I haz one.  Wanna hear it?  Great!  Here it is:

Whenever you sit down to work and your brain starts cranking out some Fear-based notions to trip you up, say these magic words:  “Fuck ’em.”

To all the ego-blasting comments made by your mother-in-law, your spouse, fellow writers and artists, fuck ’em.  To the seeming threat of a life toiled in obscurity, fuck it.  To the fears that your words are meaningless, stupid, humorless, lacking in any sort of intelligence, fuck ’em.  This is an effective way of getting your brain to shut the hell up and let you get your work done.  Whatever creeps up to whisper in your ear, if it’s not, “You go, girl!” (or “boy!” as the case may be), then it needs to be squashed with those two very simple, very strong words:  “Fuck ’em.”

If this sounds unnecessarily profane, it’s not meant to be.  I’m a firm believer that the word “fuck” has its place in our language, and there’s no stronger word that I can think of that has the strength enough to squelch bad feelings before they grow into something insidious.  Next time you worry whether or not you should even be writing at all, try saying, “Ah, fudge it.”  Not the same.  I’m just saying.

By the by, this is not to suggest that you go to your husband or judgmental sister and tell them to fuck off.  That’s a totally different use of the word, and you’re on your own if you do that.

By the way — and I know this is getting tremendously long, and I do apologize for that, but this is such an important topic for writers and artists — there’s always a lot of talk about humility.  I agree that the artist should be humble about his or her gifts and their work.

But I also believe that there’s just no place for humility when writing the first draft.  This is the critical, primordial stage of your creation where you need to get arrogant, strut your stuff, build yourself up.  Look yourself in the mirror and say, “Hello, beautiful!  Won’t you look nice on the back cover flap of your debut, hardback, bestselling, take-the-nation-by-storm book with a highly anticipated famous-director-attached summer movie to come?  Would love to chat and admire, but I’ve got a story that needs handling.  Ciao, baby!”

Do this.  Really.  Stand in front of the mirror and say something grand and incredible and thrilling to yourself.  This is your future, and if you don’t imagine it as being epic, it never will be.  And no matter what protestations your brain tries to throw up, just say, “Fuck ’em,” and give yourself a big kiss…and then get to work, gorgeous!


Big, huge, grateful thanks to my brother, Jon McConnell, for creating this amazing painting for us…and in less than a day.  Go check out his website!  He is a true artist in every sense of the word.  I love you, bro.