On Being True to Self–A Writer’s Voice

Photo: Victoria Ceretto-Slotto 2/10

My agent has forwarded me two letters of rejection from publishers–both of them complimentary. They mentioned “smooth writing,” “strong voice” etc. The reasons for both rejections stated something to the effect that there was overwhelming sadness in the story in spite of the hopeful ending.

My initial reaction was, “Well, I’ll do a rewrite and throw in some humor.” My close friend and writing buddy cautioned me against this and told me that it was probably more about not being a good match to the publisher’s list. This gave me reason to ponder–am I so anxious to be published that I will compromise the story I have to tell? I thought about literary fiction that I’ve read and appreciated dealing with painful subjects and reminded myself that my own life of working with death and dying predisposes me to deal with topics of loss, redemption, survival and hope.

The reason I’m indulging myself in this post is that it brings to mind the importance of being true to one’s inspiration and unique voice as a writer. We each have a sacred song to sing and I believe we are called to deliver our message to the best of our ability. My message in “Winter is Past” is that life is precious, live it fully and believe that the heart has room for love.

That being said, while being open to suggestions of an editor and willing to rewrite until I have calluses on my fingertips, I never want to be untrue to the song I have to sing.

On Finishing a First Draft

Today I celebrate writing “The End” at the completion of my first draft of novel #2: “The Sin of His Father.” I feel a sense of exultation and accompilshment, although I realize the really hard work is still in front of me. What’s next? I need to let it lay dormant for a while–4-6 weeks, I suppose. Then dig in and rewrite/revise. Anyone who writes will tell you that’s a huge, but most important task.

Because I’ve written to an outline this time, I have a blue print to revisit and help me with the story arc. To be honest, the story took on a life of it’s own and led me in directions I didn’t expect. About two thirds of the way into the manuscript I barely consulted the outline. When I read it over, I’m sure I’ll discover a few things to enrich the narrative.

I’m grateful for the privilege of being able to enter that creative space where the Spirit drives me. It’s an amazing experience to read things you don’t even remember writing and to understand that it is driven by a Force you didn’t even know was at work within.

Happy writing. Enjoy the process!

Showing Up and Writing

I just shared this short poem on Facebook:

Meditation is like
You have to show up
or nothing happens.

In a recent post about avoidance of writing, I outlined some of my well-practiced excuses and they’re all myths. Every day that I carve out time to write is a good day…most of the time I’m able to craft something I can use somewhere.

Easing into writing can be a challenge. My preferred path when it comes to poetry is to go out into nature and allow her to gift me with inspiration.

If I’m working on my novel, I usually jump-start my session by reviewing and editing my work of the previous day. This practice gets me in that space, into the heads of my characters.

Today in the desert it’s raining off and on–it’s the kind of day that leads to introspection and inspiration. It’s the kind of day to show up.


For me, winter is a time of introspection. Nature seems quiet, but all the work is happening underground or inside. In Reno right now, there is an inversion layer, so even the atmosphere is oppressive. Snow that fell over a month ago has turned to mucky ice. I haven’t written anything new since before Christmas–all my efforts are spent in preparation for our annual sojourn in Palm Desert.

During winter, Earth awaits new growth. In the same way, our moments of dormancy are periods of preparation for new life, both in the realm of creativity and spirituality.

My primary writing goal during our stay in the desert is to complete the first draft of my second novel, “The Sin of His Father.” Oh, I plan on plunging into poetry, reading, taking lots of walks, enjoying the milder weather and even hacking at the golf ball.

But, beyond that, the most important thing about winter–even in the desert–is the opportunity to go within. This is a time of retreat.