Category Archives: Archives

What does a room of my own mean to you?

When asked what one needs in order to write, Virginia Wolf said she needed “500 pounds and a room of my own.”

What do you think she meant? Was she saying that she needed exactly “500 pounds” as money in her day was measured? I do not think so. I think she was saying that she needed an income comfortable enough that the basic necessities of life were covered. Enough money that she did not have to worry where her next meal was coming from, or wonder if she could pay the rent. After all if I am always hungry and worried that I may be thrown out into the street and be homeless at anytime, I’m not going to be able to focus on similes and metaphors.

I believe “A room of my own” could mean a whole house or just a small corner of a room. It doesn’t matter. Many years ago I was sorting boxes of old magazines I wanted to keep for reference, into order by date of issue. I had so many magazines that I had to spread them out on the living room floor. It was the only space large enough. I’d spent an entire afternoon lining them up into rows and moving them from one area of a row to another as I worked through many years and months of dates. I was about halfway through when I had to stop to get dinner for my family.

When the evening dishes were finally done and the kitchen back in order I returned to the living room to resume my sorting. My magazines had been gathered up and thrown into a huge heap in the corner of the room. Nobody would admit to the deed, but I knew then the living room was not “my room.”

In my room or my own space I can spread out my projects and nobody will bother them. I can lay my papers and books on a table or on the floor if I wish and leave them there all strung out and in disarray. If this is truly “my own room” when I come back my papers will be exactly where I left them. Nothing will be touched. That I believe is what she means by “A room of my own.”

I recently staked out a room of my own from vacated rental space that the tenant no longer wanted. It is 20 feet by 22 feet with a huge storage area. It is in an area where I do not think I will be able to re-rent it easily, So, it is mine.

In my room I will put my favorite books, a library table, a music maker of some sort, my computer and printer, plenty of reference books, a big easy chair or recliner, reading lamp, coffee table, inspirational pictures on the wall, and enough shelves in my storage area to hold paper, ink supplies, glue, staples, paper clips, pencils, notebooks, paper cutters, laminating machines. I want plenty of daylight and maybe even a dorm sized refrigerator and microwave for snacks. The room will be comfortable enough that I will want to spend time there.

Who knows I may even store some folding chairs in the closet for friends or students, in case I decide to invite someone over or host a seminar in my space.

Right now I am measuring for carpet and plan to put a curse on any who disturbs my space. There will be an amulet above the door.

Dixie Thomas Reale

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Question of the month

How can I stay motivated to write when the rejection slips keep coming?

ANSWER — CELEBRATE!

You might feel that you have nothing to celebrate, but you do!

We, The Other Bunch, attended an Idaho Writer’s Guild workshop on agents over this last weekend — what they can do for a writer and why they are important. We gathered a good deal of useful knowledge and tips from the panel of agents but, I think the most important nugget of advice came from Amy Rennert, of the Amy Rennert Agency of San Francisco. Her advice was to “Celebrate finishing your book; celebrate finishing a chapter; celebrate finishing a sentence, celebrate writing. It is hard but it is fun.”
Let’s face it we, writers, love to write. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t because the rewards are few and very rare. So, as Ms. Rennert advises, celebrate the joy of writing. Celebrate that we can make others see through our eyes, make them feel any emotion we choose. The reader will cry or laugh according to the words we choose to put on a page.
That is power worth celebrating. So let’s hear it for writing! Yahoo!

Save 30% on Voices from the Snake River Plain

In honor of Mother’s Day, Lulu is offering a 15% discount on books purchased during the month of May. We are also offering a 15% discount on our books at Lulu, so you can save 30% on your next order.  Check it out here.

Buy the book here. Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Question of the Month: Why do you write?

In a recent interview with Amanda Turner, host and producer of The Writers’ Block on Boise Community Public Radio based in Boise, Idaho, I was asked what advice I would give aspiring writers. “Know why you want to write,” I said. Running out of time, I added a few words about best-selling suspense writer Ridley Pearson, and the interview was over.

If I had had more time, I would have elaborated on that answer. I believe every writer should know why he or she wants to write, and here’s why. There are many reasons to be a writer. Not all of them have to do with becoming a published bestselling author. The way you measure success has a lot to do with your goals. For instance, maybe you write because:

  • you are a wordsmith, and like to play with words
  • you like to express yourself in writing
  • you like to tell stories
  • you have something to say
  • you want to make money
  • you want to see your name in print
  • you want to be famous
  • you want to be published

At base level, writing is writing. You sit down and put your thoughts on paper. You rearrange the nouns and verbs until the sentences make sense. For some writers this is enough; their success is seeing their words in written form. For others, success might be writing a story that has been passed down through generations. Others may not consider themselves successful unless they have published one book, two books, or earned a hefty advance.

I use Ridley Pearson to demonstrate what a successful writer looks like not because he’s a bestselling author, but because he knew what he wanted to accomplish as a writer, and did it. Some years ago, I attended one of his workshops at a writer’s conference before he was multipublished, and this is what he told us. He wanted to be a bestselling author before he turned forty. So he studied the industry and took steps to make that happen. He learned the craft of writing, did extensive crime research, targeted a specific market, networked, and queried. If you ask him, he will tell you he didn’t become famous over night. But he had a goal, and took the needed steps to make it happen.

Which leads me back to my advice for writers. Know why you want to write. It could be as simple as writing in your journal every day. It could be as complicated as writing a thousand page epic and getting it published. It could be to simply play with words. We all write for different reasons. Knowing why will help you get to where you are going.

-Bonnie Dodge

Writing is rewriting….

Yes, we’ve all heard the phrase. But this is a good article about why it is indeed important.

http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/19bb0be3#/19bb0be3/64

Why I love my critique partners

For more than 10 years, I have been in the same critique group and I love my critique partners.
Here are some of the reasons why.
They see what I do not. They help me talk out my writing problems. They are tough, but supportive. They have strengths where I have weaknesses. They are great listeners.
We need people who will read our writing to spot the gaps in plot that we have missed, when our characters are acting uncharacteristic, and just to read our writing from a different view. These are all the things we overlook because we are so close to our project. My critique partners have prevented me from making bonehead mistakes that would make me appear to be a total dope to an editor.
Sometimes when a plot or writing problem is rolling around in my head, they will also act as a listening board to help me talk through the problem and come up with a solution.
My critique partners can be tough in their reviews, but also point out the good stuff that I have written. I belonged to one critique group that was totally negative and I wanted to cut my throat at the end of each session. Not a good thing. As writers, we beat ourselves up enough. We need the right amount of negative and positive, so finding the right partners is essential.
I am strong on plotting. My critique partners are great at motivation and structure. They are more literary where I am not. They help me improve the weaknesses in my work.
I credit them with helping me make one of my books the best it could be. That one was published by FSG in New York. I paid for their dinner (and dessert), but owe them so much more.
They are there to listen to me whine and reassure that yes, I am a writer.
I have learned so much from them and I hope they can say the same for me. If I never publish another book, I am still so grateful to them for helping me become a better writer.
God bless my critique partners.
Patricia Santos Marcantonio

New Anthology in the Works

If you heard Bonnie’s interview on The Writers’ Block, you know that The Other Bunch is getting ready to launch a new book. This book is called Hauntings from the Snake River Plain, and will include essays, poems, fiction and nonfictional Idaho ghost stories. Beginning June 1, 2011, you will be able to submit your Idaho ghost stories for possible inclusion in this anthology. Check back often as we work out the details.