My Gentle Barn: Writing about Animals

Some of you know that I was writing a book with Ellie Laks (her memoir about starting The Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita).  It was an amazing, deeply fulfilling project for both of us. Her stories never stopped touching my heart and soul, and I also never stopped laughing (pretty great way to spend a year).

Well, the fruits of that labor are just about ripe. The book, My Gentle Barn: Creating a Sanctuary Where Animals Heal and Children Learn to Hope, is due out March 25, 2014.

If you like, you can even preorder it now through The Gentle Barn website. Or you can go straight to Amazon. Hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed creating it!

How to Write Your First Book

Check out this great interview with twenty-one successful authors about the experience of writing their first book—from how they made a living before they sold their first book to the nuts and bolts of getting the words onto the page.

How to Write Your First Book

Calling All Writers (read this article before you say yes to writing for free)

If you’re being asked to write—anything—for free, I just hope the person asking is your mother or your kid (or the person who shares your bed). Because if the asker doesn’t fit into one of these categories, he or she is no different from someone in a dental chair saying to the dentist: “Oh, and I just want to confirm that you’re not going to charge for this crown, right? I’ll show it to everyone; it’ll give you great exposure.”

Tim Kreider has published an exceptional essay in the New York Times that tells why it’s wrong to write for nothing: Slaves of the Internet, Unite!

You owe it to yourself (and to every writer who ever hopes to make a living writing) to read this article.

 

Writing and Failure

Last month, I wrote a blog post on the writer and rejection (If You Get Rejected, Should You Quit Writing?).

Here are some further thoughts on rejection by several oft-published writers, including the likes of Margaret Atwood: Falling Short: Seven Writers Reflect on Failure.

Are You a Good (Enough) Writer?

I just read a lovely piece in the L.A. Times by writer and book reviewer Héctor Tobar. If you have doubts about whether you’re a good (or good enough) writer, read his article: In defense of ‘bad’ writers.

Drawing Inspiration from Nature

My second office

For as long as I can remember I have craved deep greens and muddy browns. I’ve often escaped to natural environments to write, or to read over my writing. I am soothed by trees, bolstered by the earth, and draw inspiration from breathing clean, fresh, mulchy air.

I have favorite spots I escape to, places where the phone won’t ring (sometimes there’s not even cell reception) and where piles of papers won’t grab at my attention.

I once fled to Palomar Mountain in San Diego County, pitched my tent, and promised myself I wouldn’t leave until I’d gotten the upper hand on the chapter I was struggling with. (I stayed a week, but I descended the mountain triumphant, the completed chapter tucked under my arm.) Yes . . . I wrote longhand for a week in that campground void of electricity.

Now I sometimes escape to nature to take a break from writing. But, still, it raises the water table of my creative juices, keeps the well from running dry.

I’ve come to call these spots my “Second Office.” They’re free of rent, and they free my mind.

(Also check out these earlier posts: Go on a Writing Retreat to Kick Your Writing into High Gear and Recipe for a Non-Writing Retreat.)

I invite you to share some stories or images of your own writing (or creative-well replenishing) escapes.

My other second office

Writing Samples

I’ve finally finished the manuscript I’ve been working on and handed it in to our editor at Random House (ah, that’s why there haven’t been any posts in a while).  It’s a book on which I’m the collaborative writer. It has been an amazing project!  More on that as it nears publication (spring 2014).

Now that I finally have a breather, I’ve decided to spruce up my site.  Made changes here and there, including the addition of a page of writing samples. I’ve started with just one sample, a personal essay I wrote a few years ago and read aloud at the Tasty Words essay show in Santa Monica.

I’ll add more samples soon, when I figure out what I’m allowed to post (copyright issues, etc.); I do a lot of writing for other people.

To see the new page, click here.

Love That Deadline

It’s true.  I do.  I love deadlines.

Not that I always love the date attached to the deadline. But no deadline at all is not the writer’s heaven I used to think it was.

I learned early on to work with a contract, even when it wasn’t generated in-house. If I did some work for an individual author or writer, I’d draw up my own contract. I was slower to learn about the value of including a deadline in that document. I wrote a beautiful contract once, covered all bases, got contract advice from the wonderful National Writers Union (NWU: consider joining!), and presented my document to the author I would be writing for. He requested a few changes to the contract, which I made . . . but he said nothing about the absence of a deadline. Woo hoo! Was I a clever girl! I had squirreled out from under the dreaded deadline pressure—which I was sure would squash my creativity. I could now write in peace. I could craft a masterpiece. I was blessed.

. . . until a year into the project, when the book manuscript was not done and I’d run out of money. I now had work I owed someone and more work I needed to take on to pay the rent.

It wasn’t like I hadn’t been writing during that year. I’d been writing every day, loving life. But I hadn’t been focused on the manuscript’s finish line . . . because there wasn’t one. I would get there when the manuscript was complete. Completion was my finish line. But I’d forgotten to take into consideration how long my funds would last.

A painful lesson learned. Now I love deadlines.

Besides, if you have a deadline, you are one of the lucky ones—a writer or editor with a job or a project. It is cause for celebration. And if your deadline is not externally imposed, then you are one of the disciplined ones. Also cause for celebration.

How about you? Do you love that deadline? (We’d love to hear your experiences—the good, the bad, the ugly!)

An Editor Gets a Smart Phone

I now have a follow-up to my “An Editor Tries to Text” post. Yes, it’s true, I’ve bought myself a Smart Phone. I no longer hate texting. And I don’t even hear that sound effect in my head of water (or rather time) being sucked down a drain when I think of texting. (I also used to “hear” that sound effect when I thought of blogging . . . but that’s long gone now. I blog as I please and not more. No time-suck effect. Just pure joy.)

So . . . it looks like I’m slowly being pulled along with the tide of technology. And to tell you the truth . . . I am tickled purple by it. Sure, technology can do evil in the hands of the evil. But it can equally do good in the hands of the good. As far as I’m concerned, we have the president we have today because the internet has finally filled shoes as large as corporate money. It was a long time comin’ but the People have found their power (on the internet). . . . . . (Well, there goes my resolve to keep my blog and my Writing Coach persona free of politics. I promise I love my Republican students with equal huge-heartedness as my Democrat students.) I just think I need to start letting my blog-hair down a little more. (Thus the stream-of-consciousness blog post!)

I’d better quit while I’m ahead and end simply with this:

Happy, fruitful, creative, and thriving New Year, everybody. Big love to you all, Nomi