Writing When You Don’t Feel 100% or Even 60%

A friend shared this with her friend, who is my friend, who shared it on her blog, and now I’m sharing it with you.

Maggie Stiefvater answers a question about being creative while suffering. She starts:

“It’s hard to describe to non-creators how difficult it is to be abstract when you’re in pain, or when you’re exhausted, or when illness or drugs or mental illness has washed you up on a strange chemical shore. All art requires an element of abstraction, of big picture thinking, because art at its heart is simply the act of imposing artificial structure upon the world. With writing, you don’t even have the concrete sensory anchor of paint or clay or bricks. You have only words, in themselves already art, some past human’s clumsy attempt to translate a concept to a vocalization.”

Read the entire question and answer here. Content warning: some cursing.

“I don’t know when I’ll actually be completely better. But I do know that on those 20% days, I don’t have to make things. It’s ok. I can spend those days enjoying whatever I can. Consuming art instead of making it. That’s enough. That’s right.”

Tips and Tricks for Writing Successful Twitter Pitches

#PitMad is this week. I wrote this post in 2014, and it’s been so cool seeing these practices put to work in Twitter pitches over the last four years.
Some things have changed (like rules and the character limit), but other things are still the same. One thing I did have to include for 2018 was an addendum to the part about vampires… ha!

Lara Willard

Or, general tips and tricks for pitching on Twitter, and how pitching SFF is different from pitching other genres.


This is going to be a long one, folks. Skip around as needed!

Update from PitchMAS—when pitching in a general pitch party, your hashtags matter so much more. Make it easy for an agent to find you, or they never will. I tried searching for different genres during the party so I could retweet—I couldn’t find them because people weren’t using effective search terms. Use age category tags and genre tags, plus relevant keywords (like “diverse” or “WNDB”—see my notes on references below). Looking at my winning pitches from PitchMAS, hashtags and keywords mattered most, then other references, then stakes.


  1. Well-Known Twitter Pitch Events
  2. Tips for Pitching on Twitter
  3. The Importance of Hashtags
  4. After the Pitch Party
  5. My Personal SFFpit Results
  6. Analysis of my Personal SFFpit Results
    1. Analysis of Timing
    2. Analysis of…

View original post 3,010 more words

Commercial and Literary Fiction as Paintings

I’ve written at length about differences between literary and commercial fiction (including different genres and what “mainstream” fiction is), but reading Bone Gap this month while also studying Frida Kahlo has got me thinking in allusions, so I wanted to share another quick observation on the topic.

Commercial fiction is like representational art: whether it’s about something true or not, it’s clear what the subject of the painting or story is.

Images in this post may be copyrighted and are used for educational purposes only.

Above: Moroccan Man by José Tapiro y Baro, 1913; Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1847; Self-portrait at the Dressing Table by Zinaida Serebriakova, 1909; Rebecca et Eliézer by Alexandre Cabanel, 1883

Literary fiction can be more like impressionist, expressionist, surrealist, or abstract art—less accessible because the subject isn’t always clear, and the presentation isn’t always appreciated.

Symbolism holds more weight in literary fiction.

Literary fiction holds cultural literacy dear, alluding to classic literature and ancient mythology.


Penelope by Carlo Carrà, 1917

Literary fiction is more likely to experiment with mixed media, incorporating poetry, illustrations, comics, letters, or other ephemera.


Bed by Robert Rauschenberg, 1955

Words in literary fiction are like visible brushstrokes, sometimes drawing attention away from the story and towards the writer as artist. Word choice is important: how can you combine words in a fresh way to create new impressions on the reader? What connotations do the words carry? Literary fiction is imbued with tone created not by line or color but by diction and metaphor.


The Cyclops by Odilon Redon, 1914

Do you have a favorite modern artist? What is your favorite work of literary fiction?

[Download] Printable 2019 Quarterly Calendar

Well, I’m officially registered to start my MFA in a matter of weeks. Weeks—eek! I just bought a new weekly planner (I buy the July—June ones), and since my academic year is going into 2019, I figured I should probably print out my quarterly calendars for 2019, too. So good news: you don’t have to wait until December or January for next year’s calendar!

Near the end of 2015, I made a post about time management, which included free downloads to help you get organized, including a Gantt Chart Excel template and a printable blank quarterly calendar.

Download 2018’s quarterly calendar here.

Plan Several Months at Once with a Quarterly Calendar

I’ve been using this quarterly calendar since 2015 as a family planner, color-coding events and appointments for each family member. We can see the whole year at a glance, and I use it daily! It also works really well for planning out projects. You could use highlighters to create Gantt Charts on your calendar.

These are super simple, and I’m letting you download them for free. The only conditions are that you may not upload this calendar to your own site, you may not redistribute it (you can send people here, though), and you can’t profit from the calendar in any way. If you want to profit from a quarterly calendar, you’ll have to make one yourself, from scratch. ❤

Subscribe to my blog (don’t worry, you won’t get many emails from me!), and then download the grayscale or color calendar by clicking on either image link:

Continue reading