My novel didn’t really start out as a novel. I didn’t plan it that way. I just started writing, working off an idea that had been pestering me for years. I wrote during Boo Monkey’s naps. I wrote to stay sane with two small children and a lot of self doubt. At some point, a little voice in my head said, “Hey, I think we’re writing a novel.”
For the record, this wasn’t the voice of any of my characters and it wasn’t the normal voice of self-doubt. This one was new. It’s crowded up there.
I kept writing and the little voice got a little louder, a little more jittery with possibilities. The characters got louder too, and the self-doubt faded — until I finished writing.
I had a very brief period of elation, about as long as this sentence: “Hey, I wrote a novel!”. Then, I learned about query letters and agents and the whole long, rambling, frought-with-anxiety path to (possible) publication. Self-doubt crowed. It’s good at that — lots of practice.
It might have kept on crowing indefinitely if I hadn’t stumbled upon a group of writers and artists who blog about their own creative processes, their own little voices. From them, I draw inspiration and solace, a kick in the pants when I need it, and the infinite blessing of milk-snorting laughter.
I follow about thirty blogs in Google Reader, from industry news to personal reflections. In the spirit of praise, here are five of my favorites and why they keep me reading. That pesky self-doubt voice gets quieter when they’re around.
1. Amanda’s Wrinkled Pages: Amanda Hoving’s “wrinkled pages” are finer than many a polished tale. Her stories of motherhood and writing unfold with clarity and grace, and her narrative timing is fabulous. Hoving’s sense of humor lights up posts like Eight Days Without A Refrigerator (Life At Room Temperature) and, my personal favorite, Stories From The Road (Or, Make A Move And The Opossum Gets It!). Every post takes a slice of an ordinary, messy day and makes it shimmer with possibilities.
2. Don’t Pet Me, I’m Writing: Tawna Fenske is the author of the just-released Making Waves. I recently ordered the book and can’t wait to read because, quite simply, Fenske makes me laugh until I am in danger of peeing my pants. Her zest for life is infectious and her comic delivery impeccable. Posts like My real advice to new writers and My dog the chick magnet are a sparkling blend of creative insights and comic appreciation for life’s strange and bumpy twists.
3. How to Feather an Empty Nest: Brenda Gottsabend is a gifted photographer who combines visually stunning images with inspired prose in blog posts like Me and my Shadows and Magic Happens. A former IT professional who quit her job and went back to school for graphic design, Gottsabend continually inspires me with her bravery and her receptivity as an artist. She takes ordinary images and makes them extraordinary, challenging her audience to revise the way we see the world as well.
4. inside-out underpants: As you might guess from the title, this blog is full of laugh-aloud moments. What you might not know is that Sarah Callender’s blogs are also full of wise and witty commentaries on everything from the connection between marriage and writing in Monogamy to “Darwinistic terrorists” in Conspiracy. Callender is an agented writer, which makes me very hopeful that someday I’ll have her book in hand, ready for the marvel.
5. Writer Unboxed: Authors Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton started the Writer Unboxed site in 2006 as a forum for the exchange of ideas on narrative and creativity. Since then, the site has grown to include over eighteen regular contributors and a host of fabulous guests. From the joys of editing to following your talents, each blog topic helps aspiring and successful writers to persevere in a tough market. Moreover, with author interviews, book tour advice, and insights into social marketing, Walsh and Bolton give writers the means to succceed at every point in their careers. Writer Unboxed is my daily dose of tonic for the writing blahs.
Those are a few of my favorite blogs. Now tell me, what sites do you love to visit? Please share — whether the topic is parenting, writing, cooking, gardening, or pink-polka-dotted elephants!