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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Find a Way In

It doesn’t matter that this is my sixth novel–sometimes I still feel overwhelmed. When I was pushing past it during my retreat with Elizabeth earlier this month, I jotted down a few strategies to share with you.


1. Take dictation.
Pretend you are behind a two-way mirror in this imaginary universe of yours. No concern for beats, tags, or description. Just listen and go.

2.  Run with a juicy tidbit.
Take a detail you are particularly pleased with, and spin it out. You might end up with a sentence, a paragraph or a page, and it’s progress any way. For example–and you probably won’t consider this “juicy,” hah–I am a little bit fascinated with the bodies of elderly people. When I picture the shape of my grandfather’s face when he isn’t wearing his dentures, or how the skin of a very old person sometimes reminds me of twice-used tissue paper, or the remarkable ears of a man I once met at a B&B in County Down, I actually get a little bit excited to describe them. You have to harness that feeling whenever it happens!

3.  Remember your audience (and cheering section).
I have a clear memory of walking down a certain Galway street with my friend Seanan several years ago (Dominick Street, crossing to Ravens Terrace; can’t remember where we were headed), telling him about a story I was calling “Apparition Hill.” I knew why I needed to tell this particular story, and what it might mean for anyone who chose to read it. When I recall the urgency and excitement I felt in that moment, I remember that I can do this.

1 Comment to Find a Way In

  1. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    September 25, 2013 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    #3 applies to my work as well! You always need to remember for whom you are writing–whether you are writing about climate change or a fantasy novel 🙂

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.