I could have sworn I *just* updated this blog, but like so many things that involve time these days, I was surprised to find that it’s been a minute. An over-eight-months kind of minute.

So what have I been up to? Where has the time gone?

The short of it: global pandemic, stress, teaching lots of classes, teaching fewer classes, starting to write a new book, finishing that new book, relational upheaval, relational unknown, that whole global pandemic thing suddenly coming to an abrupt halt (“What global pandemic…?”), and of course, spending time with the one consistent: my dog, Roonil.

So, a lot has been going on, and yet time has started slipping by at an alarming rate. It still has that slick quality that the pandemic gave it – where every day felt similar and routine became safety and safety became paramount – where time just fell away and it was Monday, and then Monday, and then another Monday again… Time is moving just as quickly, still, even though things have changed.

(“What global pandemic…?”)

Maybe this is just getting older. Maybe this is just the way it feels when days are hot and the sun is ruthless. Or maybe I’m just waiting for something.

It feels like something is about to change; like I’m anticipating the next chapter of my life. I can see it – it’s just there. Maybe on the other side of this oppressive heat. Maybe when one more shoe drops. (How many shoes are there? I thought there were just supposed to be two…) Maybe when I’ve finally rested, just a little longer, just five more minutes, after this year. After this decade. But as it is, I’m in the middle. These words have ended and new ones have yet to begin. I’ve landed on an accidentally blank page.

But it gives me time to pause. And rest. And wonder:

What do I want next, exactly? For career? For family? For my home?

I’ve whittled this dream down over the years to a fine point that feels more solid than amorphous; a point so fine I could cut my finger on it. But the details of how and when exactly, they’re still coming into focus. It seems outside of my control, other than to live brave and true, and say yes to the things that give me life. No to the things that don’t.

And so I’ll wait, and live, and let the heat of summer wash over me and make me lazy and heavy-feeling. I’ll teach classes. An announcement on that will come soon – I promise. I’ll make art. I’ll write – maybe I’ll even start posting here again.

Mondays will become Mondays will become Mondays.

And someday soon, maybe on the other side of all this heat, a new chapter will begin.

Don’t worry. I’ll let you guys know how the story’s going.

  1. I sit down at the same time each morning and write for at least one hour, at most two. Sometimes I get a lot done. Sometimes a little. Sometimes I’m sure I’m just writing things I will ultimately cut. The point is, I make it a practice and I make it consistent.
  2. I don’t go back and edit until the whole book is done. Unless there is some important detail that has changed later on and needs to be changed throughout (like a character’s name, for ex) I save all editing, revising, cutting, and fleshing out until the entire book is done. If there is something that I know I will need to add in from an earlier page, I’ll go make a note of it in that spot and highlight it so I won’t forget when I’m revising.
  3. At the end of each writing day, I write down my ideas for what will happen in the next scene and mark that in bold, so that the next day when I sit down to write, I will know exactly where to begin.
  4. Additionally I begin each writing day by rereading the last five or so paragraphs that I wrote, so I can drop immediately back into the style and the world.
  5. I have a list of characters, a timeline, and a rough plot outline at the bottom of the document. As I am writing and things are changing, I continuously update the character details, add things to the timeline, and refer back to my plot outline. This way when I’m 100 pages in, I won’t forget some detail about a character and contradict myself or get lost in the flow of writing and forget what the story is about.
  6. My characters are color-coded according to their relationships with each other.
  7. I speak the words out loud as I’m typing. This helps me hear the flow of it and helps me avoid mistakes.
  8. I keep my home clean and cozy and quiet. A space that inspires me to create.
  9. I don’t try to force myself to sit when I have too much energy. I’ll take a walk, dance, come back.
  10. I sacrifice a tiny bit of my soul to the dark and covetous gods of creativity by blood rite each morning for a chance to just glimpse the elusive creative genius and just feel something, dear god, ANYTHING –

Anyway, happy writing! 🙂

Quarantine. Month Three.

I seem to have lost my mind, because I’ve decided to offer another, new creative writing class starting in just over a month. We’ll see how this goes.

I’m planning to offer this 10-week Intro to Fiction class every six weeks. Monday and Tuesday nights. Available anywhere in the world. Because, what else am I doing?

Seriously, though. The demand for this class has grown during this more isolated time, so I’ve decided to up the supply. I believe it’s so important to stay creative and connected during this time. If you’ve ever wanted to dive into your fiction-writing-self, maybe now is the time.

I had no fiction writing experience going in to Natalie’s Short Story Class. By the end of the ten weeks, I had written a short story and workshopped it with the class. Natalie offers a clear class structure, does a brilliant job of teaching storytelling basics and offers informed support and activities to encourage creative risk taking with a group. I loved this class!

– Patricia T, two-time student

Details and registration can be found here.

I hope you’re all staying safe, healthy, happy, and creative out there.