Taking the long way around

In 2013 I went on a long, circuitous road trip of 6000 miles from San Francisco to Boston in my trusty Honda CRV. I meandered quite a bit, stopping by the side of the road to take photos whenever I felt like it, and generally taking the long way around. I stopped at many national parks along the way and took a gazillion photos. I had no real schedule or agenda. It was glorious.

Posted in response to daily prompt Meander.

Big Sur Horizon

This photo of Big Sur posted in response to today’s daily prompt, Horizon. I took a series of photos left-to-right and then pasted them together in Photoshop to make a panorama. I was fairly outdoorsy when I lived in California and always had my camera (Nikon D200) with me. Nowadays my biggest hobby is writing. Still, my trusty camera and lenses sit on the shelf, waiting for the day when I feel like taking a picture again. Odds are higher that I’ll take photos with my iPhone, and not lug around the heavy Nikon.

Big Sur Panorama

And another Big Sur coastline horizon:

Big Sur Beach

On revising

I started this blog in order to write about my novel & the novel-writing process, and maybe to even get a little feedback, but when I sit down to put together a post I feel very exposed. I don’t like working in a vacuum, but I’m also frequently averse to sharing my work outside a select subset of people. So much of my identity is wrapped up in my creative projects that I fear criticism of the project as though it were criticism of me. I know in my head this is not the case, but emotion is ruled by the heart and the stomach.

My novel is deep in the revisions stage. I work on it in fits and starts. When I get feedback from friends or editor-types I tend to go on a rampage of editing. When I feel good about the writing, I go on a rampage of editing. When I feel like my writing is dumb, I avoid it. Right now I’m avoiding it.

It’s a bit of a a vicious circle, either in the positive or negative sense.

Do you have a source of feedback for your writing? How do you avoid that scary exposed feeling? What do you do when you feel like your writing is dumb? How long do you spend on a post before hitting that publish button? Do you revise posts after you publish them?


My form of procrastination is a random language generator.

It makes little paragraphs like this:

  • None of the nude cheese lets everything speak of her tryout. Some fiercely stunning pauses speak of her. She says, medium-size. He replies, collecting operatives. They say, mad.
  • I yearn for an oval, parental, and crimson layer. Azure housemothers can gladly take her overcast border. She says, corned. He replies, confusing those heretics. They say, confused.
  • They grin at something. Those customers have these discerning outlooks. She says, blorpy. He replies, rubbing the stuff. They say, nervous.

I wrote it in JavaScript:


Feel free to use those sentences in your own writing projects.

I am a little obsessed with it. I strive to make it better and better. I want the output to be as natural-sounding as possible. It is satisfying when it spits out realistic-sounding sentences. It’s extremely satisfying when the grammar is correct. I spent hours getting the plurals of the nouns to match the verbs. I spent forever deciding whether or not a sentence needs an adjective, an adverb, or a prepositional phrase.

It will never produce a novel. If I spend half as much energy on my novel as I do on this thing, I’d be done by now. Yet, I am fascinated by the process of creating machine-generated sentences. I am drawn to it. Occasionally, from an unexpected and surprising turn of phrase, I get inspiration.

I find myself getting lost in sites like this, imagining how I would emulate such rules in my own language generator: http://www.gingersoftware.com/content/grammar-rules/adjectives/order-of-adjectives/

What’s your form of procrastination?

Color lists for writers

My novel features an artist. As such there are many descriptions of colors, paintings, and art. Here is my multi-purpose list of colors, gleaned from HTML color names, stones, jewels, flowers, foods, and pigments/paints. See the expanded list with hexadecimal swatches here.

Basic colors:

  • black
  • blue
  • brown
  • gray
  • green
  • orange
  • pink
  • purple
  • red
  • white
  • yellow

Shades of black:

  • dark of the moon
  • charcoal
  • coal black
  • ebony
  • graphite
  • gunmetal
  • ivory black
  • mars black
  • obsidian
  • payne’s gray
  • smoke
  • slate gray
  • steel

Shades of blue/purple:

  • aubergine
  • amethyst
  • azure
  • baby blue
  • cerulean
  • cobalt
  • coral
  • cornflower blue
  • cyan
  • blue topaz
  • denim
  • eggplant
  • hyacynth
  • indigo
  • jade
  • lapis lazuli
  • lavender
  • midnight blue
  • navy blue
  • palatinate blue
  • peacock blue
  • periwinkle
  • plum
  • powder blue
  • pthalo blue
  • robin’s egg blue
  • royal blue
  • sapphire
  • sky blue
  • slate blue
  • steel blue
  • ultramarine
  • violet

Shades of brown:

  • almond
  • amber
  • beige
  • bourbon
  • burnt sienna
  • burnt umber
  • chestnut
  • chocolate
  • cocoa
  • coffee
  • cognac
  • copper
  • dirty
  • eggshell
  • flesh
  • hazel
  • hazelnut
  • leather
  • mink
  • oatmeal
  • raw sienna
  • russet
  • sandy
  • tan
  • taupe
  • tawny
  • tea
  • walnut
  • whiskey

Shades of green:

  • aqua
  • aquamarine
  • army green
  • beryl
  • chartreuse
  • emerald
  • forest green
  • grass green
  • jade
  • lime
  • olive
  • patina
  • pear
  • teal
  • turquoise

Shades of pink:

  • amarinth
  • cerise
  • hot pink
  • fuchsia
  • peach
  • magenta
  • mauve
  • orchid
  • rose

Shades of red:

  • apple
  • alizarin crimson
  • blood red
  • brick red
  • burgundy
  • cadmium red
  • crimson
  • fire engine red
  • maroon
  • perylene
  • pyrrole
  • quinacridone
  • rouge
  • ruby
  • rust
  • scarlet
  • vermillion

Shades of white:

  • alabaster
  • cream
  • diamond
  • fingernail
  • ivory
  • lace
  • milk
  • pearl
  • silver
  • titanium
  • tooth
  • whites of the eye

Shades of yellow:

  • antimony
  • cadmium
  • champagne
  • cornsilk
  • gold
  • goldenrod
  • lemon
  • ochre
  • titanate
  • tooth

Color modifiers:

  • cloudy
  • hazy
  • milky
  • neon
  • opaque
  • stained glass
  • translucent
  • transparent

In response to daily prompt Opaque.

On reading

I’ve read that to be a good writer you should read, read, read. I have lots of books on Kindle and in paper format but I have a habit of starting them and not finishing them. I’m the queen of half-finished books.

Some of the half-finished books on my Kindle or nightstand:

  • The Scarpetta Factor by Patrica Kornwell
  • Geek Love By Katherine Dunn (I read it so long ago that I consider this a fresh read)
  • Until I find You by John Irving
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • Another Bullshit Night in Suck City: A Memoir by Nick Flynn
  • Finding Hanna by John R Kess
  • By Reason of Insanity by Randy Singer
  • The Judas Goat by Robert Parker
  • Finders Keepers by Stephen King

Maybe I haven’t found the right novels to capture my interest. Many years ago (almost twenty-five years ago!) my favorite novel was Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. I read it so long ago that it feels as though I’m reading it for the first time. The last book I really loved and read all the way through in recent history was Stiff by Mary Roach, but even that was a few years back. I read a few others by Mary Roach. Packing for Mars was quite good.

Does anyone else have this problem? Do you even consider it a problem? Are you an avid reader? Tell me what books you like best.