Tag Archives: writing

Chasing the elusive Chapter 2

Some people devote their entire lives to finding a cure for cancer. Some spend their lives looking for true love. For others, self-fulfillment is a lifelong goal.

The Holy Grail. The fountain of youth. The One Ring. Whatever the object, the quest for something larger than ourselves is what drives human civilization forward and separates us spiritually and intellectually from the animals.

Yeah, yeah. Blah, blah, blah.

For me, I’m afraid, the goal is far more simple. At least it should be. I’d just like to finish Chapter 2.

Time to break the pattern

You see, it’s no problem for me, when inspiration nudges me toward yet another not-too-shabby book idea, to knock out Chapter 1. I have a long and impressive history of producing butt-kicking, attention-grabbing, spine-tingling first chapters. At last count, I had  six Chapters One for various books that never made it to Chapter 2.

Well, it’s time to break the pattern. Today I started working on Chapter 2 of the seventh pretty decent book idea that, come hell or high water, I am going to finish. Now. This summer.

And this time I’m pulling out all the stops, looking at every possible angle, studying every obstacle. And what I’ve discovered, as I think about all the distractions that have prevented me from forging ahead into the rest of whatever book I’ve started, is that my biggest obstacle is me, and how I always manage to get in my own way.

I have met the enemy …

I might call it something else. The dishes piled up in the sink. The papers that need to be graded. Serious questions about whether this is really going to be a marketable idea and, even if I succeed in landing an agent, who’s to say anyone will want to read it?

The reality is, those are all obstacles of my own making. I even understand the basic underlying principle here. If I never really make a serious effort, then I’ll never have to face the painful possibility that my best just wasn’t good enough.

No one has to tell me that this is the classic definition of failure. I already know from firsthand experience that the only regrets I have ever had in life are about the things I didn’t do. They’re never about the things I did do … even when those things didn’t work out as I’d hoped.

I know, too, that by sending myself my own rejection slips before I even get started, I am making sure no one else beats me to it. Unfortunately, in so doing I am also ruling out the possibility that somebody might be interested enough to take a chance on me. And that maybe somebody else–and maybe a lot of somebody elses–might actually be glad I made the effort.

Tell me what you think

Sound familiar? If so, I’d like to hear your thoughts. Please respond in the comments below and tell me what stops you from pushing through your own negative self-talk. And, tell me what tricks you use to get past it.  I’m looking for some good ideas, and there’s a good chance I’m going to try try some of your suggestions. If I do, I’ll write about it here and tell you how it worked out.

So there’s my challenge for my fellow authors out there. What does your negative self-talk look and sound like? What do you do to get past it?


Filed under Articles, change, Essays, Quick takes, Uncategorized, writing

Poem for April 9

Today’s Poem-A-Day challenge for National Poetry Month is a Two-for-Tuesday prompt. Again, credit for the challenge goes to Robert Lee Brewer of Writer’s Digest. He challenges us to write one of the following (or both):

  • Write a hunter poem.
  • Write a hunted poem.

My offering for today is about both the hunter and the hunted:

The Vampire

He invades her dreams at night, cold and quiet as the grave.
Turning toward him, she sees those dark features transformed
Into the face she knows only too well — but no —
She turns away again, she closes her eyes against the thought.
She mustn’t know. She must forget.
He must remain a figure cloaked in mystery,
A nameless phantom from some morbid legend found in books,
Or else she could never face the dawn.
For if she has no hope that he will vanish with morning’s light,
Where then is she safe?  Where can she hide?
More than once she has thought how strange it is
To be haunted by a vampire with such sad eyes.
He comes, and stands there, and watches her in the dark
(As she has so often sensed him watching her in the day):
And he tells her, not in words but through grotesque pantomime,
How he will regenerate himself by degenerating her innocence.
But how can she tell him, as she shivers in pity and dread,
Trapped in a helpless limbo where sleep and wakefulness merge,
That she would gladly drive the stake through his heart herself,
If she did not fear breaking her own as well?

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Filed under Poetry, Quick takes, Rape, Uncategorized, writing, writing

Poem-A-Day for Sunday, April 7

Here’s my offering for the poem–a-day challenge in observance of National Poetry Month.

Quatrain:  a poetic form consisting of stanzas containing four lines, most typically with the rhyme scheme abab (also called the heroic stanza).  This is written in iambic pentameter.


When, some years hence, my words have all been penned,
My stories told, my poems nearly spent,
If I have but one more–oh, then, dear friend,
Let that one be for you. I am content.
And if the passing years should steal my song,
If, on some day, my notes no more ring true,
Let every one of them be somehow wrong,
Save but this one–I still will sing for you.
And someday, as we look back on these days,
And smile at how we’ve lasted the years through,
If I am granted but one final gaze,
In that one glance, my eyes will be on you.
 © 2013 Ann Graham Price
All rights reserved

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Filed under friendship, Poetry, writing

If she could do it, so can I

If Laura Hillenbrand could produce her bestsellers (Seabiscuit, Unbroken) while virtually incapacitated by chronic fatigue syndrome, I can do likewise while virtually incapacitated by chronic migraine. You somehow figure out how you’re going to live the life you want, and do the things you know you were born to do, no matter what. Because the alternative is simply no alternative at all. It isn’t worth considering. It’s unacceptable.


Filed under Chronic migraine, Quick takes

Who says writing is hard?

Forget all that stuff you’ve heard about how hard it is to write. Forget, too, everything you’ve heard comparing the act of writing to “sitting down at the keyboard and opening a vein.”

Absolutely not true. Pure bunkum.

The fact is, writing is a cakewalk. An adventure. A joyride.

No, if you love to write, it’s no problem filling up an empty screen with words. Lots and lots of words. We writers like nothing better than the opportunity to make a short story long. It’s what we do best.

Unwriting, now. That’s a different story.

It’s the unwriting part  — you know, where you have to convey the same amount of information in one-100th of the space, throwing out those beautifully crafted phrases you slaved over because they push you way over your word limit — that’s what takes so much effort.

Which is why it’s 4:32 a.m. and I’ve only just now finished sweating over a very short piece for a client.

The first 2,500 or so words were ridiculously easy. I was witty; I was eloquent; I was a boundless wellspring of wisdom that flowed freely from my fingertips.

Winnowing all of that down to 500 words or less? Not so much.


Filed under Uncategorized