Maggie Robinson

Feb 15
On Writing

True confession. The writing—it’s not going so well. Well, that’s an exaggeration. It’s not going so fast. I’ve been in the middle of Edward and Caroline’s book for almost a month. I love them—it’s an ‘Opposites Attract’ story. Caroline is frisky and feisty and Edward is proud and prickly and there are sparks galore. They are the last book of a trilogy, and I’ve been analyzing why it seems so difficult to finish. Mistress by Midnight was done in 6 months, Mistress by Mistake in 4. Am I experiencing separation anxiety? I do have something to look forward to—I actually know what I’m going to write next and am relatively enthusiastic about it even though it’s all very amorphous.
I didn’t start Mistress by Marriage until the beginning of December, so it’s not like Edward and Caroline are withering on the vine, their edges curled, their skin fragile. They’re still plump and juicy. But I spend many of my waking hours wondering just how to get them to their HEA. So far I haven’t a clue.

So I’ve done something shocking. I took Stephen King’s On Writing out of the library. I love this book so much I might have to break down and buy it. Now, I’m the original bumble-around-in-the-dark girl. No helpful hints about craft for me, which explains why I didn’t know about GMC and POV for the first three years I wrote. The book, in King’s words, is ‘snapshots out of focus,’ vignettes of his development as a writer. I stopped reading King’s fiction somewhere during his alcohol and cocaine-fueled years—the books were becoming progressively darker for me and I do hate waking up in the middle of the night wondering if something is under the bed (besides my first three manuscripts). But he is a brilliant writer (my favorite is The Stand) and still married to his college sweetheart, which I love. He includes a poem his wife wrote in one of the chapters, and to me it was a truly romantic gesture. It is obvious he respects her words and her consistent support. Without her partnership, the first few pages of Carrie would have stayed crumpled up in the trash can.

I’ve been thinking a lot about support systems. Everyone who visits here (especially the Vixens) is part of mine. My husband is convinced without ever having read one word of my stuff that it’s absolutely great (poor sap). My heroine Caroline is a writer, and she’s blocked, too. I believe it’s time for Edward to overcome his prejudices and help her out. So by writing this blog, I may have uncrumpled a page or two. And major, major public thanks to Elyssa Papa, critiquer extraordinnaire, for reading the first 50,000 words and giving me so much insight into my own characters. I’m bringing her notes with me on vacation this week, where I shall sit by the pool with a drink or two and think about what she wrote. Become inspired. Or drunk. (But that won’t be Ely’s fault.)

How ‘crafty’ are you? Do you know what you’re writing/reading next?
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

10 comments to “On Writing”

  1. Elyssa Papa
     · February 15th, 2009 at 11:36 am · Link

    Maggie, there’s no need to thank me like so. You know I love reading your works!

    Speaking of Maggie—which I can do since she’s on her way to Fl—well, she’s being way too modest here. Her books are awesome, and Mistress by Marriage is no exception. (And this is only after reading the first 50K). Trust me, this book is going to knock everyone’s socks off. It’s so rich and fantastic, and I can’t wait to be able to read it when it’s completed. And buy it when it’s published.

    I wish I could write as fast (and clean) as Maggie! Seriously, she writes incredibly fast. I always feel like a snail when it comes to my CPs, especially when I’m languishing in word count (like now). TACOM took me six months, LAYLOM four, and this one is at four right now. So maybe it’s every other novel that will go lightning fast for me.

    I remember reading On Writing when it first came out. It was a very good writing book; I’m going to have to find my copy or buy a new one to reread it. And, coincidentally, The Stand is my favorite of King’s as well.

    I definitely know what I’m working on next; I can’t tell you how thrilled I’ll be to finish the rock star’s book and move onto something new.

    Have fun this week!

  2. Kelly Krysten
     · February 15th, 2009 at 11:43 am · Link

    Okay, I think the getting drunk part is a great

    Okay, kidding aside I DO know what I’m writing next and I’m so much a fish out of water for this new book(which is a new genre AND sub-genre for me) that it scares me a bit.
    AND I have tons(Legions!!!) of crumpled pages.
    I hope your writing goes well. And since absolutely EVERYONE goes on and on about how talented you are, I have every faith that all WILL go well.
    Good luck!:)

  3. Janga
     · February 15th, 2009 at 2:08 pm · Link

    I can remember reading Maggie’s early drabbles on the then EJ board and recognizing even from those small bits what a talented writer she is.

    I know what I’m writing next, next being after I complete revisions on TLWH and complete the other two books in the trilogy that I now have about 30K each on. I just got a new idea this week. My problem is that the new idea is always more fun that the work in progress.

    I agree that King’s book is one of the best. As some of you know, Anne LaMott’s Word by Word is my favorite. I reread portions often because she says what I most need to hear.

  4. J.K. Coi
     · February 16th, 2009 at 10:10 pm · Link

    Don’t worry Maggie. Your writing is beautiful. I’ve been looking forward to this book the most of all your mistress series (not that the others aren’t just as awesome). I’m absolutely positive that you’re on the right track.

    And if it’s coming slowly…then welcome to the club. I have less than 10k to write in my book and do you think I can get it done?

  5. Keira Soleore
     · February 16th, 2009 at 10:17 pm · Link

    Pssst…Maggie, visit the Candice Hern board.

  6. terrio
     · February 16th, 2009 at 11:48 pm · Link

    I’ve been stalled for what feels like forever. I may be setting a record actually. Cannot find the motivation to save my life. Thought maybe the new home would do it. Nope. The time off during the holidays. Not even close. The new year? Nada. The new comp, still nothing. I think maybe I’m supposed to stay a cheerleader. 🙂

    I haven’t read nearly enough craft books, which is something that would likely help me immensely. I have some, I just have to find them. *sigh*

    Hope you’re having (had?) a great vacation, Maggie!

  7. Linda Banche
     · February 19th, 2009 at 1:45 pm · Link

    Nothing ever goes as quickly as you would like, and writing is no exception. But since you write a clean first draft, you’re ahead of the game. Sounds like you won’t need tons and tons of rewrite. And then there’s the old saw about “keep writing”. It may not be very good the first time, but it’s THERE, which is a very good thing. Rewrite happens.

  8. BernardL
     · February 21st, 2009 at 12:15 pm · Link

    The Stand was a favorite of mine also. I read everything King wrote until Cujo and Pet Semetary. My daughter and son at the time were the same age as the little girl and her brother in Pet Semetary. King’s novel endings became so loathsome to me, I stopped reading his books for a time. Because I’d read the book, I didn’t see the movie Cujo for a very long while. When I did see it, I was amazed. Hollywood actually knew better than to keep a woman and her child in a Pinto being terrorized by a rabid dog and at the very end let the kid die. Too bad King didn’t. One of King’s best writing features is he makes you care about his characters. One of his worst, at least back in the time of Cujo and Pet Semetary, is that he didn’t care about the characters. When I began reading his novels again, I noticed right away he had gotten the hint. While I still think he secretly craves to mutilate every main character he creates, King no longer eviscerates the entire cast he’s drawn the reader into a relationship with. 🙂

    If you’re creating characters as likeable as King does, Maggie, you’re doing well. Just put the HEA ending to the third book in your own time and you’ll have out written King in at least a couple of his novels. 🙂

  9. J.K. Coi
     · February 21st, 2009 at 4:27 pm · Link

    Bernard, that’s very true isn’t it? I’ve always been a huge King fan, but those late ’70’s, early ’80’s books of his were really hard to read for exactly the reason you mention–you knew everyone was going to die.

    You’re also right in that I think he’s changed his outlook on the reader relationship a little bit, and I think moving away from the blatantly horror stuff into more psychological thrillers has been a good move for him.

  10. Maggie Robinson
     · February 21st, 2009 at 7:20 pm · Link

    Thanks for visiting while I was away! It’s going to take me ages to get back in the groove now—Key West was very laid back and wonderful. We had to shovel our way into the house this afternoon. 🙁

    Ely, you are absolutely invaluable. I will thank you forever!

    Kelly, it’s always fun to try new things. Good luck! But I must warn you—once I tried shape-shifting cougars and discovered I was not the cat’s meow.

    Janga, wow, you’re moving along! I will have to try the LaMott book—I always love the quotes you use.

    JK, it’s funny how everything comes in waves. I go great guns in the beginning, stall out in the middle, and sometimes overwrite the end. Oh, well. Writing is such fun, yes?

    Keira, done. Yay. hey, everybody, I won a Jane Austen action figure! I have this cool JA thing on my bulletin board that can keep her company.

    Terri, I have a feeling when you get started, you’ll never stop. You have so much going on in your life right now with Isabelle and work and school. I admire your perseverance enormously. Think of all those ideas bubbling under the surface. (And I still remember the sex scene on the kitchen counter, hon. You are a writer!)

    Linda, I remember thinking when I typed The End, I really was finished, LOL. Now I know better. Tomorrow I have to get 2 books ready to send out—books I thought were clean, but I bet I’ll find plenty to do.

    Bernard, I know King has moved on. I suppose I should move on with him. Like you, it all got to be too much for me. He made a comment in On Writing that so many people think The Stand was his best work, and it’s hard on him as a writer to think his best was over 20 years ago.And HEA is mandatory in romance, you know. 😉

    JK, of his latest stuff, what should I be reading? (keeping in mind I stopped around It)