When a Writer Needs Help

 

I’m a writer, and I need some support. No, this isn’t a plea for help, but rather an attempt to express appreciation for the supportive members of some of the writers’ organizations I’ve enjoyed being a part of. I can’t think of any other organizations I could contact 24-7 as a writer in desperation and expect them to offer help—not anything nice anyway. And those I can think of who would even try to sound polite would require me to first give them my insurance information and fill out a health history form. Guppies and Sisters in Crime have been different. When writers have needed help, they were there, and no forms to fill out. That’s not something we should take lightly. We writers all need support from time to time.

I’ve also been impressed at the positive and supportive attitudes of many of the well-known writers I’ve enjoyed meeting and listening to at conferences I’ve attended, such as SleuthFest. I’ve appreciated the supportive camaraderie of other writers I’ve encountered at conferences, who like myself, are not big names in the industry.

Where is this coming from? I suppose there are many reasons. For one, I’ve worked in situations that were competitive, petty, and nasty, at times making the whole world seem that way. I suspect many of us have. I like competition, the other stuff—not at all. Lately, I’ve been reading some of the experiences other writers have had regarding critiques and reviews that sometimes turned out to be unpleasant, contradictory, and confusing. I’ve had those experiences too. Not everyone who picks up a book is considerate, let alone kind, or necessarily helpful. I had to stick a manuscript on the back shelf due to an overload of well-meant commentary that nearly did me in. It’s still there. But, in addition to sharing the sad stories of real-life writing experiences, the writing groups on the positive side of my experience deserve appreciation for simply being there, and available and supportive. Those seem worthwhile values, in a very tumultuous time.

As writers, I suppose the most rewarding thing we can hear is when someone loves our writing. The thing most helpful when we stray from perfection, is good criticism enabling us to see where to go with our writing. But there is another thing of vital importance, and that is knowing we are not in isolation. There are others out there who share our love, our passion, and our dedication to an undertaking that is all too often kind of brutal when it comes to social recognition and reward—especially monetary reward. There are so few who reach the top of the ladder that it seems audacious to call oneself a writer, but I was told that was exactly what I needed to do when I attended my first writing conference. I found it’s much easier to do that when joined by others.

This weekend, Lesley and I are taking some time-off in one of our favorite southern locations, Key Largo. I’m anxious to go there, partly because my current Bobby Navarro novel is set there. I’ve been fighting to kick a flu bug this week, and look forward to a change of scene. I also want to double check some of the places Bobby goes to, even if the names have been changed in the story. The weather looks good, and I’m sure the food and music will be as well. The photos this week are not from Key Largo, but they are definitely Florida.

 

New Year, new Resolutions

It’s that time again. People are making, or already have made, personal resolutions to kick off the new year. As we all know, these New Year’s Resolutions seldom last. Some never get started. Nevertheless, I love it, and I refuse to believe you are too old to accomplish change. After all, aging is all about changing, and getting used to changes. You know, that arthritic pain is just a part of aging—get used to it. Doing your chores is just a part of life—get used to it. Ha, if you think eighth grade is tough, wait until you get to high school—get used to it. So, let’s be realistic, if we are supposed to get used to unpleasant stuff, why not get used to something becoming better? Why not get used to something we want?

With that said, the road to good intentions. . .etc. I remember quitting smoking. Not easy. Failed more than once. Finally hit on a plan that worked. . . so far, at least. (I put it that way in order not to get cocky. Getting cocky leads to failure. And, who knows? I may fail again. . .although it’s been around fifty years now.) When I was quitting, I didn’t tell others that’s what I was doing. Didn’t want to jinx the effort. When asked why I wasn’t lighting up, I’d just say I didn’t want one right then. I even carried a pack of cigarettes around with me so I wouldn’t be tempted if someone offered. I had my own; I just didn’t want one. Technically, it was true. I was dying for a cigarette, but in my head I didn’t want one. So, you don’t have to tell others what you resolve, just carry out the resolution one day at a time, and–get used to it. After a while, it becomes a habit.

Last year, I resolved to achieve more balance in my life. Nothing too specific, although finishing the novel I had underway was part of what I had in mind. I wanted a modest resolution. You see, I had resolved to achieve better balance before. Guess what?

One of the things that helped me with the balance thing this time, was my wife, Lesley, convincing me it was better to write for an hour, or even a half hour, than not to write. I had previously relied on waiting until I could find a bigger chunk of time down the road. That didn’t happen. Little bits worked. A little bit every day accumulates over time. So, it’s not just setting a modest goal, it’s doing modest bits of behavior in the right direction on a regular basis. Forget about big changes, it’s the little bits of change that add up to success.

f course, if this sounds like I now lead a well-balanced life—forget it. You can believe it or not, but I have a lot of improvement yet to achieve. No, really! But, it’s like when I stopped smoking—I did better this past year. . .for more time. And, as for those times when I did anything but better—we need to learn from our failures, it’s how we gain successes.

So, what’s in store for this year? I’m not saying. We had a great getaway for New Years, and I hope to continue moving ahead on my work in progress and have the next Bobby Navarro mystery out this spring, or summer. Beyond that, I’m just picking out one little thing I want to do differently, and trying to take regular steps in the right direction. How about you?

 

A Time to Cheer

I had hoped to finish the rough draft of my current novel by Christmas, but I told myself and others my goal was to finish by New Years, because you never know what might pop up to get in the way. Happily, I have finished the rough draft. It’s a great feeling. Of course, last time I finished the rough draft of a manuscript, I ended up completely rewriting the whole thing. I had lost my voice. I had been reading Robert Parker, one of my favorites, and started sounding like a cross between Parker and me. I don’t think that will be a problem this time, but it’s always nerve-wracking to await someone’s response to what you have written. Of course, until then, I have a lot of work to do editing and tuning the present manuscript. Nevertheless, I’m excited to be on track for getting this Bobby Navarro sequel out this coming spring/summer. And, for a few days, it’s time to celebrate.

Of course, when the draft was finished the other day, I enjoyed glass of scotch. That was the official celebration. One of the things I’m aware of when I come to the end of a manuscript is that I feel eager to finish it, but reluctant to let go of the characters and the story. Afterwards, there is a mixture of feeling relief, accomplishment, and loss. The nice thing about writing a series, is that I will be able to work with the main character again. Last night, I had ideas running through my head about another Bobby Navarro story when I was supposed to be getting to sleep, but that’s not what I meant about looking forward to working with my protagonist again.

I remember a Kathy Bates movie, Misery, when a writer celebrated the end of his manuscript with a single cigarette and a glass of wine. Of course, if you saw the movie, you know what came next. I wouldn’t want to have been in his shoes.

Now, I am taking a little time to let the manuscript cool off before beginning the editing process. In the meantime, I have the chance to ride my own motorcycle, play a round of golf, and maybe do some hiking. That’s the advantage of finishing a draft while in Florida. Yesterday, I took a ride down an unfamiliar road that turned out to have a wildlife management area, Du Puis Management Area along one side of the roadway. The area offers hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, and even camping. It’s not far away from where we are located, so I’m looking forward to visiting there again.

Over the past months, I have enjoyed hearing from some of you who have visited my blog, and I look forward to bringing more news of Bobby’s travels and adventures in the coming year. Thank you for your support.

 I wish you all happy holidays, and a great year ahead.

Glenn Nilson

A Writer’s Lament

A Writer's Lament
I cannot think of a thing to write,
And here it is, Saturday night.
Something for my blog is due
And I’ve not one idea that I can use.
My mind is empty
I’m drawing a blank
I couldn’t turn a phrase
With a platinum crank
All I’ve done
This week and last
Is to work on my novel
To get it done fast.
I’ve still fifteen thousand
Words yet to go
But, I’ve forgotten what happens
At the end, and so
I’m stuck.
 I had some ideas, at first,
And a plan
For a story exciting
In a setting so grand.
With characters you’ll never
Want to forget
And an ending that will blow
Your mind to bits.
That was then.
This is now.
If I can’t get moving
I’ll soon have a cow. 
And, I still have my holiday
Shopping to do.
My credit card is maxed-out
And the bills are due.
I know people say, ‘tis a time to be jolly,
Hang up a wreath,
Some bells and fake holly.
But, Lord, if I weren’t brain dead,
I could finish my blog,
Have a drink,
Go to bed.
So, before I conclude
This writer’s lament
Let me wish you great joy
And a holiday well-spent
From me and my protag
Bobby Navarro


New Web Site – New Blog

Welcome to my new blog site – Glenn Nilson

Recently, I decided to combine my blog with my web site. I’m hoping it will be easier having everything together. I intend to keep my blog posts along the same theme as before: love of the outdoors, love of motorcycle riding, camping, cooking, and sourdough. In addition, just as I started my former blog as a means of sharing my book promotion tour along Route 66, on occasion I intend to use this blog to talk about my writing interests and activity.

I appreciate your visit to my new blog, and hope you’ll take a moment to check out my whole web site. As the weather warms up I’m already looking forward to what the outdoors has to offer this summer. I hope you’ll join me.

Glenn Nilson