writing life

All posts tagged writing life

Here Comes the Sun

Published April 13, 2015 by Elsa Pla

I’ve been so busy with my job as school librarian and with growing my little online businesses, that time has flown by and I’ve hardly noticed. I can’t believe my last post was five months ago. Truth is I’ve been thinking and reading about writing during my bits of free time, but I haven’t been doing much actual writing. That said, the winter doldrums are over (yay!), and days are now longer and more productive, so it’s time to push forward and get some real writing done.

“Little darling, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter. Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here. Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say: it’s all right.” –From “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles.

Three books I’ve read about reading and writing:

Windows on the World: Fifty Writers, Fifty Views by Matteo Pericoli (A collection of  pairings of drawings of well-known authors’ window views with the authors’ descriptions and reflections on those views. “A perceptual journey through the world as seen through the windows of prominent writers.” –Amazon) This book makes us aware of the effect our surroundings have on our writing.

What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund (A fascinating metacognitive study of what we visualize when we read.) This book also leads us to imagine what readers see when they read what we’ve written.

Ray Bradbury: The Last Interview and Other Conversations by Sam Weller (Contains discussions on Bradbury’s creative influences and writing process.) Anything written by or about Ray Bradbury is educational and motivational to any writer. Here’s a quote from the book:

“People will always give advice to a writer to slant, to write for the money. Don’t do that. Don’t do that. You will sicken and die. If you turn away from you–who you are, what you are, what you dream, what you need–you are going to wind up so unhappy, so miserable. It’s not worth it. Being poor isn’t so bad as long as you have your imagination and what you are. Being rich for the wrong reason is a lousy business, You aren’t rich at all.” –Ray Bradbury

Thank you, Ray, for making me feel happy about being poor but true to myself as a writer. 🙂


A Push

Published July 9, 2013 by Elsa Pla

The Salty Sea

I took a leap of faith and self-published my second collection of poems in eBook format. It’s available through the Amazon Kindle store.

Today I’m posting 20 quotes.  (Because we all need a push sometimes.)

1- “The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.” — Neil Gaiman

2- “You are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you. Go work with it.” –from workisnotajob.com

3- “Guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.” –J.K. Rowling

4- “By the time I am nearing the end of a story, the first part will have been reread and altered and corrected at least one hundred and fifty times. I am suspicious of both facility and speed. Good writing is essentially rewriting. I am positive of this.” –Roald Dahl.

5- “When asked ‘how do you write?’ I invariably answer, ‘one word at a time.'” –Stephen King

6- “It doesn’t matter how slow you go, so long as you don’t stop.” –Confucius

7- “Why worry? If you’ve done the very best you can, worrying won’t make it any better.” –Walt Disney

8- “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking down your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” –Mark Twain

9- “We should write because writing brings clarity and passion to the art of living. Writing is sensual, experiential, grounding. We should write because writing is good for the soul.” –Julia Cameron

10- “Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.” –Kurt Vonnegut

11- “Dance above the surface of the world. Let your thoughts lift you into creativity that is not hampered by opinion.” –Red Haircrow

12- “Why do I write for children? There is one good reason. I would hope to encourage some part of one generation at least to use their minds as minds are supposed to be used.” –Diana Wynne Jones

13- “I became a children’s book writer because it was the most subversive thing I could think to do.” –Bruce Coville

14- “You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.” –Stephen King

15- “Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that’s the whole art and joy of words.” — C.S. Lewis

16- “We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” –Ray Bradbury

17- “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” –C.S. Lewis

18- “Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do.” –H. Jackson Brown Jr.

19- “Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.” –Margaret Shepard

20- “You are the gull, Jo, strong and wild, fond of the storm and the wind, flying far out to sea, and happy all alone.” –Louisa May Alcott

Now let’s go write.

Back on the Writing Wagon!

Published January 7, 2013 by Elsa Pla

my youngest daughter (right) and me (left)

I fell off the writing wagon for a while (a couple of months!). That’s okay, though. It happens. It’s part of the adventure of writing. The important thing is to get back up, get back on, and not give up.

I’ve decided to change things a bit in The Write Town. Instead of blogging only about writing exercises, I’ll be blogging about anything having to do with writing and the writing life. That will give me more topics to blog about and, thus, make my writing life a lot easier.

As a start to the new year, I’d like to share a bit about myself and my work:

I’ve loved poems and stories for as long as I can remember. My father, a kind of renaissance man, instilled in me a love for literature, philosophy, and science. My grandfather was a poet, and from him I learned to love poetry, as well. The first book I owned was a collection of fairy tales my father gave me when I was six. I still have — and treasure — that book.

I’ve always been an avid reader, and I’ve always wanted to be a writer. In high school and college I wrote romantic poems and musings, but I put aside my writing dreams when I became a wife, mother, and science teacher. I barely had time to scratch my head! I still read a bit and sporadically wrote in my journal, but that was pretty much it.

Sixteen years ago, after moving to Denver, I decided to give my writing dreams a chance. I took a writing class and started experimenting with stories and articles for children. But since I was a single mother of three and a middle school teacher, it was still difficult to find time to “really” write. I was always so tired! But in spite of everything, I pressed on.

I obtained an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. The experience at VCFA was life-changing. I became part of a wonderful community of like-minded writers who have stayed in touch throughout the years, encouraging each other and celebrating each other’s successes.

My MFA qualified me to switch from teaching science to teaching reading and writing, but, of course, it didn’t guarantee that I would become a well-published author. In seven+ years, I’ve only published one short story in a minor magazine and one poem in an obscure poetry collection. I’ve also had a storybook almost published by an imprint of an important publishing house (the imprint folded and my story ended up in publishing limbo). I don’t give up, though; I continue to send my stuff out to publishers whenever I can.

A year-and-a half ago, I decided to use the internet to communicate my work, both as a writer and a teacher of writing. I dove in, sink or swim, and started a writing website (www.writecook.com) and a reading blog (www.elsapla.wordpress.com), both for middle school kids. A year ago I retired from full-time teaching and started a journal blog (www.catchabutterfly.wordpress.com) where I share thoughts on living a simple, spiritual life. I also began selling middle-school writing lessons on the TPT marketplace (www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Seller/Search:elsa+pla), and I started this blog: The Write Town.

My online presence has been slowly growing, which is super exciting. Writers need readers and vice-versa. Thanks to the internet, a writer can have an audience, whether or not his or her work gets formally published, and a reader can access a world of enjoyable and useful text.

Now that my children are grown and I’m semi-retired from the classroom, I finally have time to “really” write. My present goals are to continue to use the internet to grow as a writer and teacher and to be a part of the growing community of amazing writers who share their talents through cyberspace.

I have accepted that the publishing world is changing and that writers must adapt and search for creative ways to communicate their work. I’m learning to have faith, stay calm, and carry on, no matter what; to love the work and stay true to my dreams; and to continue to strive to be the best writer that I can be.

“The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.” –Ray Bradbury

“Love the writing, love the writing, love the writing… the rest will follow.”  Jane Yolen

That said, the last writing assignment I shared was:

Do a character analysis of a main character(s) in a favorite book and then of a main character(s) in a story or novel you’re working on.

Here’s a useful character analysis chart:

Know Your Character

I’ll be working on this exercise this week. Please join me!