Friday, February 19, 2010

The Essential Writer: Writing as if Life Depends on It

Meet writer Linda Merlino, awarded the Connecticut Press Club Runner-Up for Best Fiction of 2009 for her novel Belly of the Whale. Linda is a real working writer, as in a writer who has two novels under her belt and a third under way but still juggles other work, family and, well, life.

Now crafting her most demanding novel ever, Linda knows the less romantic side of writing and the importance of what used to be called the "perspiration" side of inspiration.

LM: Writing my third book in 10 years does not exactly make me prolific — persistent, maybe, but not prolific. The third manuscript should be a piece of cake, as the cliché goes; but, no, cake it ain’t.

AA: What's involved in writing this book, and what role does daily discipline play?

LM: For one thing, the discipline needed chafes my inner free spirit; a five a.m. start is the key, but not always achievable.

AA: Most of us write, and — meaning we work at other jobs and write, too. What's a good day in the writer's life like for you?

LM: When I am in a rhythm, it clicks — rise at five, dog, yoga, write, work, home, dog, dinner, write, sleep. Throw in, or throw out, the following: fending off life’s surprises, also life’s responsibilities and oh, yes, having a life.

AA: Where does your inspiration come from?

LM: My inspirational thought: Nothing to do but write, write as if my life depended on it.

Visit Linda at Linda Merlino

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Strength in Numbers: What Happens When Writers Collaborate

Meet Emmy winner Susie Bedsow Horgan — with a background in drama on Broadway, in Los Angeles and in daytime TV as a writer and producer, Susie was on the writing team of One Life to Live, and was executive producer as well.

Now a life coach whose niche is “designing the next act of your life,” as well as a writer venturing into screenwriting, Susie knows what real collaboration is.

AMA: I'd love to get your take on writing in collaboration—what was it like writing for a daily TV show?

SBH: I think collaborative writing is one of the most exciting ways to write. For years when I worked in soaps, collaboration was a big part of our writing process. First of all, it's always so thrilling to hear other's great ideas; that in itself sparks your own creativity in ways that sitting in front the blank screen can't. Also, its fun to exchange ideas and then to have those ideas greeted with enthusiasm and support. I spent many happy hours sitting around the writers' table with my colleagues hammering out stories and episodes. We'd laugh as we wrestled with the knotty problems unique to daytime television. The experience bonded us, and we are all still friends.

AMA: What about the collaborative writing you do today—what form does it take, and how does it energize you?

SBH: I find that being in a writers workshop also does the same thing. Sharing your writing with other writers who are supportive, as well as knowledgeable and talented, spurs one on to work harder, go deeper and be truer to one's own voice. In addition, I continue to collaborate with a number of different people on different projects. The connection with another creative being is always energizing, exciting and very productive. I love the combination of writing on my own and writing with others as well.

Visit Susie Bedsow Horgan at Get a Life With Susie