Writing: Finding my tone

Support me (or one of the other 250 Write-a-thon participants) as we “write it forward” to make it possible for other writers to attend Clarion West.

I started writing this post six years ago; amusingly, it’s just as true today as it was then. Including the part about the person asking me if I’d written the book. I’ll be spending the next six weeks rewriting a novella as part of the Clarion West Write-a-thon. Please stop by the Write-a-thon website to support me (or one of the other 250 writers) as we “write it forward” to make it possible for other writers to attend Clarion West.

BooksYesterday someone asked me “So, did you write your book?”

The answer is yes…and no.

In the past 20 years, I’ve written one novella and several short stories. I’ve also started several book projects.

For many aspiring fiction writers, the problem is story, or plot, or simply putting words on the blank page or screen.

For me, the problem is tone. Each of my fiction projects has a different tone, but (until after I studied at Viable Paradise last fall) none of them seemed to be my tone. I’ve seen this in the work of other writers who achieve a distinctive tone when working in a particular sub-genre but somehow “gray out” into blandness when they tackle a different type of story. I think that I’m only just now finding my sub-genre.

Meanwhile, people telling me to “write what people will want to buy” isn’t helpful.

It makes me think of a New Yorker “About Town” piece from many years back about novelist Larry McMurtry. His mother once attended a public reading he was giving and rose from audience to ask McMurtry why he wrote such “depressing” stories. His reply:

“I’m writing for me, Mom, not for you.”


Ignite Seattle — 15 talks and one wedding

Karen Anderson ignite talkThe videos of the May 22 Ignite Seattle talks are up on YouTube — 15 5-minute talks (including mine) and one 5-minute wedding.

I’ve created a page about my talk on “What You’ll Wish You’d Known Before You Joined that Nonprofit Board” with the YouTube video and information about longer versions of the talk that I have developed for conferences and trainings.

The talk has been getting tremendous buzz on Facebook.

For those of you unfamiliar with Ignite: It began in Seattle in 2006 with an evening of 5-minute talks at a community theater space. The motto is “enlighten us, but keep it quick.” Topics range from urban bee-keeping to finding the right school for your kid to songwriting. There’s a definite “how-to” theme.

The gatekeepers are careful to discourage anyone from making a thinly disguised sales pitch for their business or organization.

There are now Ignite events all over the world. I spoke at an early Ignite Seattle (2007) on “Ten Tips for Survival in the High-Tech Workplace” and realized about a year ago that I wanted to share some of my more recent experiences with nonprofit boards.

%d bloggers like this: