Karen Desrosiers' Blog
Writing and the Writing Life

I am a writer and artist attempting to live a creative life.  I've created this blog to share my experiences, daily struggles, and progress as I make my way through the worlds of freelance writer and starving artist.
Blogs I Like

Mira's List       Grants & resources

ECCA             Exeter Ceter for
Creative Arts

My Artful Life   Lisa Allen

Jay Reiter       Photographer

Reflecting the life we want or the life we have...

I have long felt that as writers we most often use our art as a way to reflect on, to create commentary on, the condition of society, the world we live in.  In many ways my writing does this.  It looks at how people behave in certain circumstances, how people treat each other, and it often looks at what I see as the darker sides of human interaction.  On Public Radio this week, there was a report on two brave, young Pakistani women who are musicians.  During the interview, one said, "You create work that would reflect the world that you want to be in rather than the one you are in."  This really fascinated me, and stuck with me.  In part because this is opposite of what I do in my writing, and what I believe a lot of writers do, and in part because I suddenly realized that this is what I do with my art work.  My visual art is all about creating joy, looking for happiness, with bright colors, texture, and joyful images.  While my writing looks at the world I am in, my visual work attempts to create the world I want.  This is my Yin-Yang, my personal means of balance, I suppose.

Posted by Karen at 11:30am April 8, 2011     {0 Comments}
Tips for writing when life gets in the way

We all live very busy lives these days, and it can be difficult to fit in writing time when life is constantly in the way.  I envy people who can carve out specific blocks of time to write, and then actually use them to write.  I plan them, even write them in my schedule, but more often than not that time ends up going to other activities.  Here are some simple ways I've managed to fit writing into my everyday life, regardless of what else is going on.

- Keep paper and pens with you at all times.  If you have a few minutes between
  activities you can do a little writing.
- Use a recorder to write out loud while you're driving.  This is great for brain-
  storming ideas and writing dialog, which comes out best when you hear it.
- Join a writing group that imposes deadlines.  Sometimes meeting an obligation
  or making a deadline is just what is needed to fit in the writing.
- Learn to multi-task and make use of time you're already doing something else,
  like during a child's soccer practice, during lunch break, and while.dinner is
- Have multiple projects going at any given time.  Sometimes when you're stuck
  on one project, you can keep yourself going by switching to another project.
  Consider having projects in different states or drafts.  Sometimes it's easier to
  edit and sometimes it's easier to write fresh.
- Try setting small goals so you at least get some writing done each day rather
  than attempting to accomplish something big.  A page, or even a paragraph, is
  better than nothing.
- Consider keeping a journal where you can write about your writing life.  It's all

Posted by Karen at 11:30am April 22, 2011     {0 Comments}
Editing versus Writing New

I am always fascinated with issues of process, with how process varies from writer to writer, and for any one writer.  It occurs to me that the process of editing and the process of new writing are very different - at least for me.  In fact, they use different skills and I'm convinced they use different parts of the brain.  This all became clear to me recently, as I've agonized with myself editing my novel, and taking those last few steps to completing it.  Even as I've managed to write over a hundred new pages for my next novel, I feel a sense of guilt and failure over not having the edits done.  Of course, instead of sitting down to edit, I then proceed to analyze the process.  Why is it so much easier to write new than to edit old?  Why does editing feel more like work?  For me, there are a number of factors that go into this.  As a teacher and freelance editor, I spend a lot of time editing other people's work.  I think this contributes toward my reluctance to spend time editing my own work.  But the bigger part of the puzzle is that if feels less creative to me.  I love making up the worlds in my stories, I love telling the stories.  The creating gives me energy.  The editing is more like house cleaning... and just not as fun.  But like house cleaning, it's a necessary chore.  It's part of the process, and it has to be done.

Posted by Karen at 10:30am April 30, 2011     {0 Comments}
On Freelance Editing

I'm editing two novels write now, for two fabulous writers I know.  And I must say, that despite my general feeling that editing is much like doing housework (and I do not like to do housework), I am having a great time with these novels.  They are both very different styles, themes, and genres from what I write, and what I usually read.  Editing them is like being alowed to work in an amusement park.  I'm having a great time enjoying the stories and getting to know the characters, while still working with words. 

Posted by Karen at 1:30pm May 10, 2011     {0 Comments}
The Research Hole

My new novel project is historical fiction, based on 17th century France and Quebec.  While I've done quite a bit of research in my writing career, for various non-fiction projects, this is my first go at a historical novel.  And I've discovered a new stumbling block in my writing process that I have to figure out... the research process.  As a fiction writer, and story teller by nature, I just want to get my story down on paper.  But I find that with every scene I create, I have a page of questions to make the details authentic - what did they call that room of the house, what did they wear, what would they be reading?  The questions pile up.  And some feel immediately pressing... how can I tell the next part of the story if I don't know what it looks and sounds like?  So I stop the story telling and work on the research.  But then an hour or two or five go by, and I've written precious little.  Frustration sets in; I'm not getting my story out.  It feels like a form of writer's block in a way.  I haven't figured out, yet, how I will resolve this bump in the road of my writing process.  I went to a workshop, recently, on writing historical fiction, and the instructor stressed remembering that story is the first order of importance in all fiction... so for now, I will continue trying to get the story out, and hope that I figure out the research later.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Posted by Karen at 8:30am May 20, 2011     {0 Comments}

I'm intrigued by where writers get their inspiration to keep on writing, to push through the difficulties, the blocks, the moments that split you open, and keep on writing.  I often seek out quotes from writers as a way to find inspiration.  Another guaranteed source of inspiration is going to author readings and talks.  When I hear someone talk about their writing and read from their work, I want to run home and push through my own.  This past weekend, I experienced another source of amazing inspiration - I attended the graduate student readings and graduation for the Southern NH University MFA class of 2011.  Truly exciting and amazing.  The world is in for a treat with all the literary works to come from these talented writers. 

Posted by Karen at 11:30am June 19, 2011     {0 Comments}
Understand the process...

To everyone who is not a writer, but may have a writer in their life, it is important to understand the process and unique qualities that come with being a writer:

-  It takes a long time to write, and an author could be working on the same short
  piece for months, the same novel for years, or even decades, so you must be
  patient with us
-  There are far more people who write than who manage to get published.  For
  many, publication itself is not the goal, we write because we have to, for the
  writing itself.  So, please don't ask if we've been published.
-  Many writers don't like to talk about their projects, particularly while they are in
  the formative stages.  We don't want to give it away and we don't want to tire
  of it.  Please respect the creative space.
-  Our characters are real to us, so if we talk about them, or talk out loud to them,
  we are not crazy.  They aren't our imaginary friends, they are our friends born of
  our imagination.  There's a difference.

Posted by Karen at 9:30am June 1, 2011     {0 Comments}