Monday, January 26, 2015

4 Ways to Boost Your Reading

As a person whose sole job in the world is not "reading books," my reading habits are sporadic at best. I empathize with people who say they've "just had to let reading drop" while real life happens. I understand that person. Sometimes I am that person. But though I forget it sometimes, reading is truly one of life's greatest pleasures. I don't know how I manage to forget it because reading used to be my sole passion in life. I cannot tell you how often as a child I read and read and read until I was pulled out of the book by the call to chores or a meal or bed. I can still get back that intoxicated, bleary-eyed bliss if I let myself sit without a bit of technology in a quiet place with a good story for an hour. Just an hour. Just an hour and I can find my Paradise lost of childhood reading. It's a beautiful feeling and I can be drawn in by the champagne tones of a light old favorite, the wine-heavy tongue of a Dickens, the brandy-flavored wording of Mark Twain, or the gin-and-tonic Wodehouse. It's easy for me to admit that I'm a "book drunkard," as Lucy Maud Montgomery had it. Now that I've waxed poetic and probably showed my ignorance of all forms of alcohol (interesting fact: the only times I've had it were accidental doses of Communion wine), I'll get on with the body of this post. Ways to Improve Your Reading Times. Because we all know that it's much harder to read than it is to talk about reading. I even find it ironic that I'm sitting here blogging with an ignored copy of Chesterton's The Innocence of Father Brown at my elbow and Captain America: The Winter Soldier playing on the TV across the living room from where I sit. I ought to be reading my book instead of blogging or watching a (very good) action flick. Maybe later I will. Just bear with my hypocrisy one moment longer. Below, I've compiled a list of tactics that help me fit in consistent reading even when life gets shockingly busy.

1.) Use a bookmark: if I can't find my spot in a book, I am much less likely to go back to that book if I have only a few moments. It takes too long to figure out where I left off and get back into the story. On the other hand, if I have my place clearly marked, it isn't hard to pick up the book and read a paragraph or two. Which leads me to my next tip...
2.) Don't wait for a free hour to start reading: I feel as if I've mentioned this before, but I recall reading about some Englishman who ended up making his way through a massive collection of law volumes in his lifetime by picking them up every time he used the bathroom. Don't judge me. Bathroom time is essentially the perfect time to sneak in a paragraph or two of a book. It's quiet. It's private. No one will bother you and no one will shame you for taking a while. There are other good moments to sneak in reading time...waiting to pick up a sibling from dance practice? Take a book along. Have a half-hour at the coffee shop? Read a book instead of browsing Facebook on your phone. Now for Tip Three...
3.) Be not so attached to technology: Sometimes the best way to free up time you thought you didn't have is to leave your phone, tablet, or iPad in a different room. I blush to think of how many hours I would have to devote to reading if I decided to disconnect from the WiFi and devote my attention to my book rather than my messages. I have this obsession with clearing notifications. If I see a notification pop up on my phone, I have to type in my password, open the app, check the notification, and clear it off the list. I hate seeing un-looked-at push-button notifications. Come to think of it, I ought to turn that setting off and see how it helped me.
4.) Read a book with a friend: I'm not saying you have to start up a book club. I'm not even sure what you're supposed to do at a book-club. But when I know a friend is depending on me to text quotes back and forth with her from a book we are both reading, I'm much more likely to keep at it. I will now give an embarrassed shrug to my friend Joanna who is waiting on me for a Pride & Prejudice re-read. Author Clara Thompson and I are all set to begin reading Ivanhoe together whenever she manages to get a copy. It's double the fun of reading alone: you get to read a book, and you get to share your experience of that book with a friends. It's like live-time Goodreads.

This is just the beginning of many ways (some cleverer than mine!) that there are to improve the consistancy of your reading schedule. Leave your favorite method for frequent reading in a comment below and share with the rest of us your method to a happy reading life.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Shig Cobb or The Fairy Mumbler

January (thus far) has not been my biggest word-count month. Most spare hours (and there haven't been many) have been spent writing and rewriting my Cottleston Pie paraphernalia like synposes and query letters. Not the most delightful of tasks. I have written absolutely nothing in the next Vivi & Farnham mystery but as soon as I get back in town after my mini vacation to a married friend's, I intend to dig back in. I do, however seem to have a genius for bothering in other stories that I really ought not to be looking at. First there was Darley Coom, the story that begins on a train out of London. I feathered about in that a little more this month...and now I can't find what came of it. This probably means that I wrote it by hand on an obscure piece of paper and will never find it again. *huff* The other night I felt like writing but not writing in Scotch'd the Snakes because I hadn't worked back up to it. What came out of this mood was "Shig Cobb" or "The Fairy Mumbler," and I am unreasonably attached to the one-thousand words that make up its opening scene. Sometime I will finish it...

I even dedicated the first painting with my new watercolors to this scrap.

Few people—if any—believed in fairies those days. The fairies themselves, perhaps, hardly believed, which merely shows how far ignorance can go, left to bite its own hindquarters.
When milk curdled in the cool-sweating dairy, Goody Lindsay invoked curses on heat and drought. When the largest hay-crop went moldy all in one night—and that not even a damp one—Farmer Faggot shook his fist and bemoaned the heavy dew. No one, of course, suggested fairy-mischief, because fairies didn't exist. Hadn't for years. Never had, mayhap.
There was, however, one person quite concerned with the existence-or-not of fairies. His name was Shig and he was a small thing with hands like corncobs and a crumpled left shoulder, and shoes too big for his feet so that wherever he went, he shuffled.
“Daft Shig,” the villagers called him.
“Cobble-fist,” others spat.
“Run along, Cobb.”
So early on in age—perhaps five years, perhaps seven—Shig received a surname: the first gift of his life, beyond that gift of life to begin with. Shig Cobb: fairy-mumbler. The fairy-mumbler part had not come into his story yet. Not officially. It was there, at any rate, but not recognized and appointed as it would be later on, for Shig Cobb, along with his other misfortunes, was mute. Mumbling to anyone, fairies or people, seemed out of the question.
“Won't you speak, Shig?” the baker, whom he worked for, had used to ask him.
He would ask this question every day while pounding out the dough, fat and white like himself, but Shig never spoke. Perhaps he would not. Perhaps he could not. It was difficult to say in the case of such a quiet fellow as him, and so the baker aired the invitation daily.
“Your hands, Shig...what happened to them?” the baker ventured to ask one cloying, hot afternoon in late August. He was not an ill-natured fellow, this baker, just rather nosy, and it irked him to no end to employ and care for a boy with lumpety-crumpety hands and not have the satisfaction of at least knowing what had caused it.
Shig fiercened and narrowed his shoulder upward till they looked like a peregrine's wings, baiting for flight.
“Mind me not, boy.” The baker flumped the white, white dough over again in a floury, cumulus cloud. “Here's me thinking that if you could, you'd tell me to mind my own apron strings, and here's me thinking you'd be right.”
Ever so slightly, Shig's body slid down into its constant shrug: right shoulder lower than the hitched-up left, eyebrows arranged likewise.
“Will you be kind enough to slide these rolls into the oven and mind them while I pass a mead-y hour at the public house?”
Of course there came no answer—silly of him to look for one—but the baker watched Shig slide off his flour barrel, take the stone tray in his stumpy, bumpy hands, and ease it into the oven as gently as could be wished.
“They'll rest easy, won't they, under your care?” He eyed Shig and a beetling fondness for the creature pricked behind his eyes. “I wonder, boy, do you sing to them that they rise so high? Do you save all your sweet songs and pretty words to coax my bread along? For God in Heaven knows bread never tasted better nor lasted longer than Shig's bread.”
The boy was silent. The baker was pensive. But a leathern jug of good, golden mead awaited him at the Red-Shank and before long, all thoughts of Shig and his bread were swept away in a sip of the honey-lipped mug.

As soon as the baker had gone, Shig Cobb dragged his flour barrel to the side of the oven and climbed up to watch the progress of his bread. Shig belonged to no one as far as he could tell, and probably never had. Well, if he had, he could certainly not remember any part of it, so what good was that? But as long as he made sure the dough rose and the coals marked the loaves' cheeks with kisses summer-brown, he belonged. To the bakery. To the bread. Bread did not last long, unlike clay pots or wooden chairs or many another thing. Shig was glad, in his wordless way, that he'd chosen bread. Bread must be made fresh every day. Every day, Shig belonged.
You couldn't say that about many trades.
“ you sing to them that they rise so high?” The baker's fond question wrestled between Shig's ears and bothered him. He did not sing but he wanted to sing, and it was only just the other night that he had dreamed of singing the only song he knew—a short Latin hymn—for an audience of nodding poppies. He had sung louder and more graciously than anyone he'd ever heard—even the miller's heart-faced daughter—and the baker had called him “son,” and then he'd awakened and realized the singing was not him, but was the miller's heart-faced daughter after all on her passage river-way with the miller's dusty cow.
He had been frustrated. He'd cried.
For it was a true thing that Shig Cobb could not talk. If he stuck his tongue out and crossed his eyes and thought incredibly hard, Shig sometimes thought he could remember having been able to speak. But he had been too scared to say anything when he'd come to this village three years back, and had been too shy to say anything for a long time after that, and had finally stopped trying to say anything at all. No one wanted to talk to him, for one thing. Shig Cobb was the brunt of many jokes, but never invited to speak with the jokesters. Even the baker, lazy soul, did not expect or want answers to his clumsy questions.

So Shig did not speak and he certainly did not sing. Not ever. Not that afternoon. Instead, he perched on the flour barrel and rested his bruised knees against the warm flanks of the oven, and told himself fairy stories with the silent voice in his head that could make words and was fond of it.

There y'are. It's a small thing but a sweet one, and I wouldn't mind finishing it out, though I've no idea where it ought to go from here. This is always a delightful and slightly-frightening stage of a project. Some of my best work recently has come from not knowing what is coming up but loving the characters...think John Out-the-Window. Perhaps this unclarity will bode well for me when I rip back into Scotch'd the Snakes. Because I'm still hung up over a certain little detail of plot. I have been re-reading Anon, Sir, Anon, though, and getting back in the mood, so here's to getting back in town and buckling down to work. :)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Quintessential Mystery Novel

(This post originally showed up at Vintage Novels on November 7, 2014)

The Quintessential Mystery Novel.

The Unfathomable Case And The Clever Means By Which It Is Solved.

The Joy Of Having A Watson.

These things belong to the Golden Era mysteries.
Not that I have read so terribly many mysteries in my lifetime, but I have dabbled in the genre as a reader, and I’m entering it as a writer. Through my experiences, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Golden Age of the Mystery Novel was dubbed so for a reason. I have read and enjoyed some mysteries written by contemporary authors. Funny thing is, the setting always pre-dates the late 1940’s.
What on earth makes the Golden Age authors so much more to my taste than the modern writers? What key did they hold to unlock the joys of the mystery-genre for me? How can I feel that Lord Peter Wimsey and Sherlock Holmes were real people, while I have a hard time suspending reality to get my thoughts into the story-world of the modern detective? There is a certain measure of the Watson in me, or, as A.A. Milne described it, “A Watson, then, but not of necessity a fool of a Watson. A little slow, let him be, as so many of us are, but friendly, human, likeable.
These questions bring to mind the words of P.D. James, a modern mystery writer who has made a respected name for herself in the genre:
“What we can expect is a central mysterious crime, usually a murder; a closed circle of suspects, each with motives, means, and opportunity for a crime; a detective, either amateur or professional, who comes in like an avenging deity to solve it; and, by the end of the book, a solution which the reader should be able to arrive at by logical deduction from clues inserted in the novel with deceptive cunning but essential fairness.”
The latter part of this quote is where I find the charm of the Golden Era novel: “...which the reader should be able to arrive at by logical deduction from clues inserted in the novel with deceptive cunning but essential fairness.”
Between the covers of a Golden Era novel, I can expect to find all the material I need to decipher the puzzle for myself. Which is important, because I do tend to be “a little slow, but friendly, human, likeable.” Indeed, I sometimes look crossways at Sir Arthur Conan Doyle because he so often broke that essential fairness principle. “Why yes, I could certainly have guessed the murderer from the mud on his boots if you had told us there was mud on his boots.” Nevertheless, Conan Doyle (whom we acknowledge is pre-Golden-era), Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, G.K. Chesterton, and many others in their day managed to create something spectacular in the mystery novel: a genre that has borne the traces of time well, and shows no sign of fracturing.
My new mystery, Anon, Sir, Anon, was actually inspired by picking a random book off the library shelf. When I chose to read P.D. James on Detective Fiction, I really had no idea that the Vivi & Farnham series would be born. But at the end of that intriguing book, I had a detective character, a burgeoning plot, and pages of advice, quotes, and tips on writing a British Mystery. In a way, I had done my research before knowing what I was up to. Without that little volume, behind which is the considerable wisdom of P.D. James, I would have been at a loss over the essential components of a classic mystery. Armed with her words, I was able to try my hand at this most tantalizing of genres and I am pleased with the unexpected brain-child that resulted. I would not have succeeded, however, without keeping in mind lessons I’ve learned from the Golden Era writers.
Dorothy L. Sayers taught me that the story world must feel enormous. Perhaps what I love best about Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey stories is the breadth of experience and education in his character. You feel that, while he is dealing with a mystery, his life encompasses much more. Sayers gave him friends, acquaintances, family, money, the ability to travel, a fabulous education, war-experience, humour, class, fashion-sense, an eyeglass. Never once in the stories does the reader feel that the investigation  is all there is to Lord Peter. In fact, one can almost get a sense that he toys at it on the side, and his real occupation and attention lies elsewhere. As my friend, Jennifer Freitag has it, “An old sleight of hand. The suggestion of more beyond.” All the best Golden Era novels have this dual tone of minute, country-house introspection, and far-reaching, grand planes of intellect and experience beyond the pages of the present novel.
Agatha Christie taught me to “gently seduce (the reader) into self-deception.” No one ever said that the same set of initials belonging to one suspect (thinking of Christie’s The Mystery of the Blue Train) couldn’t belong to another heretofore unsuspected character. I tried employing a similar trick of self-deception in Anon, Sir, Anon and was delighted to find that most of my beta-readers swallowed it hook, line, and sinker The simplest bit of redirecting the reader’s attention will often have them snatching at gnats while the real deal goes quietly on in the background.
G.K. Chesterton taught me that nothing is too absurd to be impossible. The craziest solution imaginable? Sometimes it’s right. Common sense only goes so far in an official investigation and the more creative your detective, the more complex and ridiculously “I should have seen that coming” your solution can be.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle taught me that a Watson figure is indispensable. A.A. Milne (whose Red House Mystery I adored) addressed the Watson dilemma in this way:
“Are we to have a Watson? We are. Death to the author who keeps his unravelling for the last chapter, making all the other chapters but prologue to a five-minute drama. This is no way to write a story. Let us know from chapter to chapter what the detective is thinking. For this he must watsonize or soliloquize; the one is merely a dialogue form of the other, and by that, more readable.”
Conan Doyle invented Watson and in doing so, helped millions of readers who, like myself, find it hard to keep up with vague hints and slip-shod clues and need a little bit of explanation. There are many ways to spin the Watson character. Agatha Christie seems to choose a new character in each mystery, while Dorothy Sayers created Harriet Vane, Lord Peter’s love-interest. In Anon, Sir, Anon, I created Genevieve Langley: the niece of the detective, Orville Farnham. Vivi and Farnham split the roles of Sherlock and Watson just about 50-50, bringing a freshness to the role.

The Golden Era of mysteries has many tips  for writers today to glean. The stories have endured, and it’s worth discovering why. Of course there are many fine contemporary mysteries, but for me, there will always something especially delicious about a vintage whodunnit in a little English town. After all, there really is nothing like a curious trip to the not-so-distant past.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Cinderella Interviews:Five Glass Slippers Video!

Two nights ago, I was given the distinct honor of hopping on a Google Hangout interview with my "Slipper Sisters" and editor Anne Elisabeth of Rooglewood Press. Author Shonna Slayton (Cinderella's Dress) asked us about our versions of this classic fairytale, traditional elements we bent to our purposes, and more! Though we began the night with technical difficulties, Shonna persevered and was able to splice several of us in after the fact. Here, then, is the video. I hope you have fun watching it. I had a blast watching the chat live (since my internet was not letting me participate) and "meeting" Clara Diane Thompson via FaceTime last night. Cheers!

You may purchase Shonna's fascinating retelling (a World War II keeper of the original Cinderella-dress? Extraordinary.) via Amazon, and Five Glass Slippers may be found there as well. Treat yourself to a fairytale this cold January day! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Cover Reveal: The Sound of Diamonds

I have known Rachelle Rea for several years now, and within that time have known her in the capacity as my fellow devotional-blog-writer, friend, critique-partner, and editor. Today, I am pleased to display the cover of Rachelle's debut novel, The Sound of Diamonds (Book One in the Steadfast Love Series) to be released later on this year by WhiteFire publishing. I had the privilege of reading an early version of the story and found the slightly unusual setting to be a refreshing break from your more common "historical romances." I hope you will join me in congratulating Rachelle on her contract and cover-reveal. I look forward to celebrating The Sound of Diamonds on June 15th of this year. :)

Synopsis: In Reformation-era England, a converted rogue wants to restore his honor—at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk Godfrey knows he has only one chance at redemption.
An independent Catholic maiden seeking refuge in the Low Countries finds herself at the center of the Iconoclastic Fury. Jaded by tragedy, Gwyneth’s only hope of getting home is to trust the man she hates, and she soon discovers her poor vision is not the only thing that has been blinding her.
But the home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, will the saint and the sinner hold to hope…or be overcome? When Dirk’s plan fails, could all be lost?

Bio: Rachelle Rea plots her novels while driving around the little town she’s lived in all her life in her dream car, a pick-up truck. As a freelance editor, she enjoys mentoring fellow authors in the craft. A homeschool graduate and retired gymnast, she wrote the Sound of Diamonds the summer after her sophomore year of college.

Monday, January 12, 2015

"Quiet, Sparkler." January's Chatterbox Receiving Entries!

"Lots of people go mad in January. Not as many as in May, of course. Nor June. But January is your third most common month for madness."
-Karen Joy Fowler, Sarah Canary
I realize January's Chatterbox is late and that it is my habit to be tardy with these things. I will plead the excuse of many events leading up to last weekend (we had seventeen extra people staying with us for a wedding) and leaving no time until now for scheduling blog posts. But all's well that ends with the Chatterbox link-up appearing on the blog within its prospective month, and I am pleased to introduce to you the first topic of 2015:


I may or may not still be bitter that we had no fireworks, sparklers, matches, whirligigs, etc. for New Year's Eve. I may or may not have determined my favorite groomsman at this wedding when he gave me two extra sparklers, even though I already had one, and through his understanding was able to make up for the lack of New Year shizzam. At any rate, January is the first month of the year and I always associate it with fireworks. I also associate it with sequins, sparkling cider, cracker-and-cheese-plates, and olives. But because "olives" would be a weird topic to hand off to my public, I've stuck with "pyrotechnics" and I greatly anticipate what you make out of that. Off you go, ducks! Away from me.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Write by Hand: a good look at the old method

There are very few patterns I notice in my writing process. I don't stick to one genre, my stories don't come to me all in the same way. I don't craft the same characters or use the same setting or otherwise follow some mystical set of regulations that make me tick as a writer. We discussed my complete dissimilitude to classic stereotypes back in September with "I'm Not a Real Writer I Guess."  I'm one of those people who thrives on spontaneity, creativity, and impulses. ENFP's, baby. Gotta love us. We don't like being predictable.

I was cleaning my house on the second day of this new year, putting away Christmas, trying to scrub toilets, finding that my older (yes, older) brother had flushed a ball down the toilet by accident and that's why it wasn't exactly an opportune moment to clean the toilets just then, putting a sign on the bathroom door so no one else would make the get the picture. The house was in disarray, the January day and myself were looking like one hot mess of seventy degrees and Pine-Sol. I moved a stack of papers to the stairs, intending to take it up with me when I had gathered my courage enough to tackle the project of my bedroom which I'd left in rather a state the day before after primping for the annual Civil War Charity Ball. Shifting the papers aside, curious to see which letter I had forgotten to finish and send off this time, the words on the first page caught my eye:
"Dear Mavis:
It is twelve days before Christmas and my true love has given me nothing..."
So it was a letter--many actually. The first several days of John Out-the-Window shifted under the acres of mess since I first began the project and transferred it to the computer to share with you. Then a ray of light shone through the dust motes I'd stirred up while shuffling papers and sweeping old Christmas tree needles and I recognized the one component shared by every successful story I've written:

They all began on paper.

On the heels of this thought came the recollection of something author Anne Elisabeth Stengl said recently in a blog post about the fluidness and lucidity of things written by hand. She mentioned being able to tell if something had its humble beginnings with pen and paper strictly by its tone. Anon, Sir, Anon began as a scrawl in my purple hodge-podge journal. Fly Away Home began on a yellow legal pad, I believe. John Out-the-Window and many a piece of well-received flash fiction also started old-school. Even Cottleston Pie has its origins in flattened wood pulp and ink. The stories that have not begun on paper have not gone far. At all. What is there about a pen and paper that inspires me more than a bald page of Microsoft Word? And why does the act of writing my words long-hand insure their success?
Unsure what the deal was with this phenomenon and calling to mind long-past mentions of famous authors who insist on writing their first drafts by hand, I did a little research. One common theme suggested was the obvious fact that when you are not on an electronic device, your chances of being distracted by web-browsing, Facebook, Pinterest, or emails is majorly minimized. If you've silence your phone and put it across the room and your laptop is powered down, you won't be trying to hold (very interesting) chats with a writing friend about character development, update your best friend on what happened over the weekend, research mid-winter temperatures in the South Island of New Zealand, and re-tweet your own blog post and seven others, while very contentedly hashtagging "#amwriting" when you are, in reality, doing everything but #amwriting. And then there were deeper, more philosophical/biological reasons. In an article at Writing Corner, Mia Zachary hypothesizes:
"Hand writing compels you to move forward across an entire connected gesture and integrates three distinct brain processes: visual, motor, and cognitive. Writing by hand requires executing sequential finger movements that activate brain regions involved with thought, language, and short-term memory--the mind's system for temporarily storing and managing small pieces of information."
She finishes her article with a quote by Stephen King that sums up my experience with at least beginning first drafts by hand:
"Writing longhand...brought the act of writing back to this very basic level, where you actually have to take something in your fist and make the letters on the page...It slows you down. It makes you think about each word as you write it, and it also gives you more of a chance so that you're able--the sentences compose themselves in your head. It's like hearing music, only it's words. But you see more ahead because you can't go fast."
I identify with the concept of hearing it like music. "...the sentences compose themselves in your head." My brain runs ahead of what my hands are capable of writing and because my hand is flying to keep up, the theme flows. I can't delete what I've written. I can scratch it out but it will still be there, a theme explored further by Sarah Selecky in her article, "Why You Should Write by Hand." Now, Selecky takes a bit more of a mystical approach to her reasoning, saying that as you are writing that first draft you are, "...divining your story as you go, you need these markers to guide your subconscious. They are your material! Taking them away is cruel..."
 Her second point is the one that I believe is the main answer for me:
"To your brain, writing by hand feels more like making art."
I believe the act of physically writing something down versus typing it into a sterile page of a Google Drive document does tap into a piece of my brain that is not otherwise brought into the picture. I enjoy creating art. I do typography, watercolor painting, sketching, and drawing. Sometimes I fiddle around with clay or acrylics on canvas. It's a creative release and lets me rest the verbally creative part of my brain that blinks at a computer screen and summons words from thin air. But when I put a pen to paper, I am drawing and creating and tangibly making art with my words. It's a beautiful feeling, and freeing. Even if I'm not writing as quickly as I would on a keyboard, I have a physical sensation of the words flying out of me, following my rampant cursive letters following a vague idea that I must hunt behind or lose forever. Selecky suggests this exercise:
Try this: on a blank piece of paper, write a list of words that start with the letter “B.” Write the words very slowly, as they come to you. Print them in all capital letters, or make your cursive ribbon-like, as though you were a calligraphist. Line them up one under the other to make a word tower. Continue to play with the shapes of your letters as you write the words. Experience the peaceful, exciting bloom of creativity as it floods your right hemisphere. You’re working with language, yes, but you’re also playing, you’re drawing.
In general, my opinion of hand-writing manuscripts has aligned with the (temporarily) immortal words of Sweet Brown:

"Ain't nobody got time fo' dat!"
At many times, writing by hand is inefficient. I might write for twenty minutes and get only half of what I'd have if I'd sat at my keyboard and typed. My hand cramps. It was not for nothing that a monk scrawled in the margins of an illuminated manuscript: "Oh, my hand!" If I'm pushing for word count, writing long-hand frustrates that goal. So when I start a story, I generally only write by hand long enough for the story to get rolling, my mind to leap far ahead of the cursive letters pelting after it, and the coals to be stoked around my imagination. At this point, I transfer to the computer and continue in peace.
Now that I've recognized this pattern in my work, I think I'll respect it. I also am willing to bet that if I reach a point in the story where I'm stuck, a return to the Write by Hand method might just be the kick in the pants I need to get it on its feet once more.