One of the best workshops I went to in San Francisco was presented by Lillian Darcy and Jane Porter. Titled “It’s My Process and I’ll Cry If I Want To,” it was about figuring out — big surprise — your process and making peace with it. One of the things Darcy and Porter recommend in trying to figure out your process is look at how you’ve managed other projects in the past. I was talking to my sister about last weekend, and in the middle of describing it, I suddenly realized that I handle anything that requires creativity the same way: I mull it over in the back of my mind until it reaches critical mass, and then I act. (Sometimes “critical mass” really means “so irritated by it I want to make it go away.” Just saying.)


Things are quieting down at work, so I should have some mental energy left for writing. That’s good news. What’s better news is that things are starting to gel in my head. (Gel? Gell?) I know the transition I need to write, and I know at least the opening to the first scene. I’d like to know more, but I suspect the transition and scene will insist on being written whether or not I know more. In short, they’re reaching critical mass, and not the irritated kind.


I really liked this blog post. Since I don’t expect ever to make a living, or anything approaching a living, with my writing, I think I come at the popular vs. critical acclaim question from a slightly different place, less of an “of course I want to be popular — I want to eat, thankyouverymuch,” place.

Which isn’t to say I don’t want popular acclaim. I want my work to reach as many people as possible, and I would love it if a lot of people love what I do. That would be cool.

At the same time, I’m not sure how I’d feel about awards. Being a finalist in a contest is the closest I’ve ever been, and it’s exciting and cool and a thrill…and then life goes on and you still have to figure out how to fix that flat spot in the middle of the story.

One of my favorite quotes in the world — and this might well be a paraphrase, and it’s definitely from memory — is Josh Beckett of the Boston Red Sox: “Worrying about results corrupts the process.” So that’s the idea I’m trying to hold onto when contemplating popular vs. critical acclaim — that stuff is completely out of my control; all I can do is do the best work I’m capable of in the moment, and that’s what I need to focus on.


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