The Writing Rookie #8: The Matter of Feedback

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It is a well-established fact that any writer, in possession of a manuscript, must also be in need of readers to review and critique his or her work. However, actually getting those critiques – and then deciding what to do with them once you have them – is, I’ve discovered, one of the trickier parts of the whole writing process.

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Announcement: Langford Book Accepted for Publication; MS Readers Wanted

Hi all. Chris Bigelow has provisionally agreed to publish No Going Backward, my novel about a gay Mormon teen coming out and coming of age, with Zarahemla Books. I’m looking for readers who would discount code united pharmacy be willing to look over the MS within a relatively short timeframe (my revised MS is due to Chris for editing by the end of April), in exchange for bribes, favors owed, baklava, what have you.

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The Writing Rookie #7: Making a Mosaic

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My wife cleans one room at a time. This, she insists, is the normal, the sane way to clean a house. You start with one room, you pick things up, you sort things, and then you vacuum (or mop, as the case may be). And then you have a clean room.

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The Writing Rookie #6: The Voices in My Head

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Think about what passes through your mind when you’re reading a story. Do you see pictures illustrating the various scenes? A movie, perhaps?

Most people have a largely visual response to written text. Some of us, however, are more auditorily inclined. In my case, when I read a story – or pretty much anything else for that matter – I hear a voice mentally narrating the words on the page. (Reading quickly makes the voice speed up, which may be one reason why I find skimming documents so intellectually draining.)

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The Writing Rookie #5: Conditions for Writing

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Edward Gorey – in a marvelous little piece titled The Unstrung Harp; or, Mr Earbrass Writes a Novel – describes the conditions under which his protagonist writes: “Mr Earbrass belongs to the straying, rather than to the sedentary, type of author. He is never to be found at his desk unless actually writing down a sentence. Before this happens he broods over it indefinitely while picking up and putting down again small, loose objects; walking diagonally across rooms; staring out windows; and so forth. He frequently hums, more in his mind than anywhere else, themes from the Poddington Te Deum.”

I can’t claim to be quite so eccentric as Mr Earbrass. However, I will concede that one of the more baffling, indeed frustrating, elements of learning how to write has been trying to figure out what my own ideal writing circumstances are and then inventing ways to achieve them. Continue reading “The Writing Rookie #5: Conditions for Writing”

The Writing Rookie #4: R&R (Research and Recordkeeping)

Here’s #4 in Jonathan Langford’s series The Writing Rookie. Don’t miss an awesome usage of the word ‘stroppier.’ ~Wm

Author’s Note: This is adapted from something I sent out as part of an occasional print-blog series that gets mailed to miscellaneous family and friends. Just so you know.

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Writing, it turns out, involves an astonishing amount of research. This isn’t just true for science fiction and fantasy — which I’ve known for a long time, thank you — but even for my current, mainstream Mormon novel, set (more or less) in a place where I grew up and in a time only 4 to 5 years in the past.


In the past, I’ve often thought of research not in terms of positives, what it contributes to the writing process, but rather in terms of what it prevents: i.e., the measures you take to make sure readers don’t think you’re an idiot. Last spring, I remember starting to write a scene where I was about to make one of my characters into a cross-country runner. Then I thought, I really ought to find out something about cross country. Like what time of the year people do it. And so I called up one of the teenagers in my ward who’s into athletics and eventually decided it wouldn’t work right for the plot role I wanted it to fill, and so I abandoned the notion. (Chad wound up playing soccer instead.) Continue reading “The Writing Rookie #4: R&R (Research and Recordkeeping)”

The Writing Rookie #3: Off Balance

In this edition of Jonathan Langford’s guest column The Writing Rookie he describes a phenomenon I know well — it is an odd combination. ~Wm

Walking (I believe I once read) is a process of continually falling and catching oneself. Always, at every point in the process, we’re essentially off balance. What stability we achieve comes from the fact that the activity is continued over time, in a constant, ongoing transition from one unstable position to another.

That’s an image that’s occurred to me more than once over the past year in connection with my writing. No matter how much I write, it always feels like I’m a little bit off balance. It never actually gets comfortable. At the same time, there’s a certain impetus to it, a drive to do more each day. It’s an odd combination.


I remember back when I was around what’s now called middle school aged that I used to dislike essay tests because they were hard, even though I did well at them. The mental exertion involved in trying to come up with things to say seemed to me quite a sufficient reason to avoid writing when I could. It wasn’t until I was older that I started to value writing for the focus and clarity it provides to my thinking, the opportunity to explore ideas, the sense of satisfaction in successfully aligning words with intent–the feeling that in writing I am creating something, and that part of what I am creating is myself. Continue reading “The Writing Rookie #3: Off Balance”