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Conversation at Carrot Ranch

You might call this a bit of a holiday break.

I had fully intended to take a year-end break to learn from the past year and further the vision for the next. Visioning is an important part of my process and I take my year-end vision work both seriously and playfully. Due to the difficulties at the present moment, I thought this would be a good time to break.

Hugh and Colleen were correct. After multiple exchanges with the Happiness Engineers, they determined that the edit feature I used was indeed theme-related and that theme is now retired. Ugh. Poor timing because I wasn’t yet ready for the transfer of the website to its new format. I can’t figure it out during these last two weeks of school. My students need my focus. I need to stay the course and grade 54 final papers.

I’m not sure how or when I can round up the last two Collections, but I can’t keep collecting without a reasonable way to do it. The mere thought of “getting behind” creates a sense of anxiety for me. So, I’m pausing the Challenges and Collections to regroup and accelerate some of my 2023 plans. The Challenges are going to go on hiatus until January 1, 2023.

However, this is going to be a campfire break. Time to sit around the warm flames with a favorite beverage and converse. Each week, I’m going to prompt a conversation in a similar way to what I do in my classroom. Like I tell my students, the way to cultivate original ideas is to share your thoughts with others. There are no wrong answers and different answers demonstrate original thinking. And that’s a good thing!

Let’s get a fire started. Gather round and ponder this — what role does conversation have in your writing? Do you use conversation to process your story ideas? Do you let your characters talk to tell you the story? Do you stay silent, preferring not to talk about your writing or works in process?


  1. Ritu says:

    My characters don’t seem to stay quiet. I love listening to their conversations, though!

  2. First of all, breathe Charli. I get the anxiety feeling of this but yep, we can all get through and I love this campfire strategy for that. Aanii. Yep, let’s hunker by the campfire, that makes sense to me.
    Your ponderances make me laugh.If anyone appreciates Kid and Pal, well, thanks and you’re welcome, but they exist because their conversations are usually necessary to get a story out of me. (Been to the Cowsino?) Often their silliness or even seriousness has to be let out before a “real” response rises. (I don’t count them as a response to a prompt, they write themselves) I am lucky to have other characters that I lean on or that pop in to get me through a prompt, as a total pantser, my recurring characters have covered my a**. So there, that’s my writing process, it’s all here at the ranch. Someone, put a log on the fire, please.

    • Charli Mills says:

      The fire has plenty of cordwood. We’ll keep adding logs, D. I like how you explain your process of allowing Kid and Pal to play around (or get serious) to catch a story beyond them. I’m a huge believer in play opening us up to creativity. I often find that a place, or a region, can be a story touchstone for me. I’m breathing. Muttering and cursing at times, but still breathing. Today, I decided to eff the office on campus and I’m going to the local toy shop for coffee and will grade papers there.

  3. restlessjo says:

    I don’t write. I mumble to myself, Charli. Take all the time you need. The technical side of blogging can be a nightmare. I’ll pop in and warm my hands now and then.

  4. Norah says:

    Enjoy your visioning break, Charli. I understand your frustration at not being able to achieve what you wanted to do with the collection – through no fault of your own I might add. I hate the way ‘they’ are constantly changing/updating/’improving’, only to cause havoc in what we’ve established. Why can’t they leave our systems alone instead of making them worse every time.
    I have had ongoing issues with my website too and have finally decided to get a new one built. Whether it does what it’s supposed to remains to be seen, but it’s a last ditch attempt.
    I am also taking a blogging break from readilearn and am happy to take a flash fiction break too. I feel totally worn out this year and am having difficulty even trying to keep up with anything.
    I use a lot of dialogue in my stories. I enjoy the characters telling about themselves and what’s happening through their words. Sometimes they do well. Other times they’re a bit confused, like me. I’ve been told I do the child voice well. Maybe that’s because I’m still a six year old at heart.
    Look after yourself. We’ll both get ‘there’ in our own way and our own time. That we are not there ‘yet’ is of no matter, the fact that we are ‘getting’ is the point.
    Hugs to you, Charli. Thank you for all you do for writers everywhere, especially me.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Norah, sometimes I wonder if “update” fatigue is a real phenomenon. I noticed recently that I feel a strong reaction to even seeing a notice that my computer, app or software is going to update. What will future generations think of ours? That we were too plugged in or will life alter beyond what our science fiction writers imagine? Yes, it is frustrating to not get that sense of completion with an ongoing project due to these ongoing technology glitches and reconfiguring. Your writing from a child’s perspective has always struck me as authentic. It enriches your stories. Your inner six-year-old is a good writing partner! Onward and upward to “there.” Thank you for teaching me about “not yet.” I use it a lot with my students. You take care, too. Bug hugs!

      • Norah says:

        That’s an interesting pondering about updating, Charli. Perhaps the younger generations will accept it better than we do, when they are used to the updates from birth. They’re a fairly recent thing in my life. 😅
        Thank you for your kind words about my authentic child voice. You were one of the first to describe it so and encouraged me to continue with it.
        I had someone ‘yet’ me today. I thought that was pretty cool. I also met a young man I taught in year one 16 years ago. He’s now 23. It was wonderful to catch up. You will be rewarded with this wonderful unmatchable experience with your students too. Bug hugs back! 💖🐞

      • Charli Mills says:

        The good you put out into the world and your writing come back around. What a wonderful experience to meet up with a student 16 years later. I don’t know if you remember encouraging me to reach out to my 7/8 grade teacher who hooked me on writing stories (and he had sadly passed by then). But you made me realize that our teachers don’t always know the positive outcomes they spark. As for younger people and technology, I don’t think they all buy into the digital world we’ve created. Many of my students write about a lack of access to mental health, sleep deprivation, and the manipulation of people by media. As long as we keep processing our thoughts, feelings, wisdom, and experiences I yet have hope for humanity. Bug hugs back to you!

    • Oh my goodness, Norah. Good for you. I’m exhausted too and will start my break on December 17th. Happy Holidays.

  5. Sadje says:

    If I’m writing fiction, the story sort of writes itself. It’s not the characters who decide but the plot itself makes itself go in the direction it wants. I hope this makes sense!

    • Charli Mills says:

      Oh, yes, that does make sense, Sadje. I’m one of those who hears the characters, but I also know writers who are plot whisperers. Even in my college writing courses, I’ve noticed that some of my students are tuned into plot and others to characters as readers. Thanks for sharing!

  6. You do right by taking a break, Charli. Much better than working yourself into a freezy. I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know why other bloggers and writers don’t take blogging and writing breaks. Instead, some disappear without a trace, while others crash with blogging burnout. Blogging and writing are supposed to be fun, and we’d all do well to keep that in mind when faced with writing or blogging stress or guilt.

    Keeping up with the WordPress changes can be an uphill struggle, but I’ve witnessed much improvement in the platform over the last few years. My grandmother always said, ‘If we stay still, we become stale.’ so even though I’ve always disliked change, I now embrace it and think positively about it. It may look like it hinders, but improvement comes if we allow it.

    As I said in a previous comment, let me know if I can help with anything regarding the blog.

    I’m just off to get some more wood and supplies for the camp, so I’ll add to the conversation when I get back.

    • I’m looking forward to your return to the fire.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Hugh, that’s such a good question — why don’t we take more breaks from writing or blogging? I never made it publicly known, but I stepped away from my writing after I graduated. I also wanted to experiment with breaking the blogging cycle to establish the challenges and collections as literary opportunities. But it’s been really hard. For one, I miss conversations like this. But “blogger’s guilt” is a real thing. So is blogger burnout. I’ve spent this entire past year trying to sort all that out. Without a plan for my writing and the direction I took to teach at university, it’s been a disconnecting year for me. It also allows me to be thoughtful about the renovations to my vision. But I’m ready for this break and for the inner growth it allowed. Despite the recent frustration, I do believe WP is a high-quality choice for establishing a website, although it’s not the easiest format. It is one of the most secure. I will reach out to you Hugh, after finals next week. Thank you for the kind offer. Enjoy the campfire!

      • I’ve taken many blogging breaks that lasted between a few weeks and a few months, Charli. I usually take them when I’ve had a book to get ready for publication or when there have been lots going on outside my writing life (like when moving house). I’ve always benefited from them, yet some bloggers believe the blogging world won’t cope without them. But guess what? It will, and they’ll come back refreshed and a better blogger when they return.

        When I first tried the Block editor, I wouldn’t say I liked it. But it wasn’t long before I realised I hadn’t given it time to learn about it. So I read articles and watched tutorials about how it worked and how to use it. I set up a draft post and practised using it. The more you use it, the easier it gets. And as Colleen once said to her readers. ‘the Block editor isn’t hard to use; it’s just different.’ And while WordPress moves forward, so does all its staff. As new themes are added that are block-friendly, old themes are retired and no longer supported so that the Happiness Engineers can spend their time on all the changes at WordPress, much like all the changes we encounter in our lives. Our lives would become very dull without change.

      • Yes!!! I’m there right now, with writing/blogging/book creating exhaustion! I start my break the 17th. Until this year, I didn’t realize how much time off I needed. You and Hugh are so right.

      • Charli Mills says:

        Cheers to the opposite of a dull life, Hugh!

  7. Liz H says:

    As some wise person somewhere once said, ” For God’s sake! Don’t just do something. SIT THERE!!”
    You’re right. Your students, the paying job, the one that gives you health insurance and other benefits take precedence, so you can go on, refreshed, with all you offer here.
    At least, that’s what the little critter hiding on my shoulder & under my graying curls, is telling me. But now he’s being nudged to the side and is sliding down my back and into the crease of my battered sofa. Yep, it’s those long-ignored characters tugging my earlobe and shrieking in my ear…or is that my tinnitus?
    Get ‘er done, take some time to restock the campfire, and refill the creative well. Deanna’s bringing a bottle or two from the Saloon, and Hugh’s just coming along with the supplies for S’mores.
    Dies Krampus work for with the Happiness Engineers? I’m just sayin’…

    • The s’more the merrier. Yep, I found some nice ciders and craft beers over at the Saloon and would be happy to make a hot toddy or tea if someone wants.

    • Charli Mills says:

      It’s not tinnitus, Liz. They want our attention. Though, sometimes I can hear mine snoring, bored from waiting for me to play with them. I’m laughing at the visual I have of our characters lurking in the creases of our sofas! Mine all want to be buried beneath the blanket of joy, for now, getting giddy over story collection via the Netflix stream. Yes! We have plenty of Ranchers sharing and stoking the inner and outer flames. Ha! Well, bless those Happiness Engineers with nightmares of happiness detained. I can even send a herd to accompany Dies Krampus.

  8. Jules says:

    Sometimes change is good. But like I mentioned before… fixing what works that isn’t broken can be annoying. That coming from a blogger who still hasn’t messed with the Block Editor… And now I saw an add for some new drop and drag WP function for new blogs on my pc news – I don’t even use sound when I am on my PC. Take a break and do what needs doing.

    I generally write small verse. Conversation comes in spats in some fiction. But it isn’t my primary focus. Partly because one doesn’t always know who is speaking. I find that in books I’m reading too… “Blah, blah blah,” I said, followed by “Really?” She said. – You have to know who started. And if there are several people talking… Well it can get confusing.

    Be of good cheer all and keep calm Janunary isn’t that far away. ~ (((Hugs))) Jules

    • I started a pattern of just dialogue with Kid and Pal and worry that it can be confusing to readers. If it’s just them it sort of doesn’t matter, but sometimes there’s a number of characters in a yarn. Oh. Wait. It still doesn’t matter. Much. Beyond the yarns, dialogue ideally isn’t confusing and shows something about the character or moves the plot in a way that third person telling doesn’t.

      • Jules says:

        When the conversation is identifiable… I don’t have an issue. But sometimes there is a page of patter and if you forget who started first and no names are mentioned… Books and written material is just different because one doesn’t always see ‘who’ is speaking. Perhaps it isn’t as confusing as I’m dribbling on about… but writers tend to stick in their comfort zones. Prompts though, sometimes bring out new directions worth trying.

        I do like Kid and Pal. And all the Ranch folk that visit. But like sonnets, meter, and forced rhyming, a few things I stay away from… long conversations at the moment aren’t my thing.

    • Charli Mills says:

      May we all find our clear voices so conversations can rise above any mud of confusion! Dialog is a technique. Conversation is all about chatting like we are sharing ideas and understanding. I like that kind of conversation, Jules. Deep, meaningful, or sometimes absurd and funny. You be of good cheer, too! May joy take us into the new year. Hugs!

      • Jules says:

        Conversations are sometimes difficult in books where charactors have names that are challenging… like the Lord of the Rings… I have written some conversations. But as you say it is a techinque that one need to enjoy both in reading and writing 🙂

        (PS. Be on the look out for something for your ‘library’… )

      • Charli Mills says:

        I make up my own names for those characters with speculative fantasy names, Jules!

        And thank you for adding to my library, although I won’t know the title just yet — peeled your awesome stamps to give to the veteran who collects them and wrapped the mailer to savor your gift under the tree, too. Thank you!

  9. denmaniacs4 says:

    I have just written a book about a newish older writer. Part of the book tells two mysteries he is writing but the core of the book is his rather humdrum, occasionally interesting life, his escape daily to his writing station, his food, his entertainment, his family backstory, his modest but evolving romantic life, all down in the midst of Covid, pretty much all of the things I need/needed to keep me writing.

    • denmaniacs4 says:

      make that “all done in the midst of Covid.””

    • I’ll be interested to see how that book is structured. Sounds like maybe there’s an inner and an outer story? Either way, congratulations on finishing a book!

      • denmaniacs4 says:

        The first third of the book was written on Labour Day weekend, 2021. Part of the 3-day novel contest. My writer character, Gronsky, wrote in real time, alternating his writing process/minute by minute through each of those three days with the chapters of the mystery he was writing. In November 2021, Gronsky entered his first (and only ) NaNoWriMo experience. Gronskys November’s day-by-day life was interwoven with a new mystery he was writing, this one set in the period, 1946-48.
        I think that summarizes the structure…

      • That Gronsky’s an ambitious fellow. Good luck to both of you with the book(s).

      • Charli Mills says:

        Interesting character, Gronsky. Looking forward to reading one day.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Such cores might seem humdrum, Bill, but they are universal experiences. Building mystery around the mundane can be the spark to get into the story. It feels familiar, but more is happening. I’ve been wondering how a global pandemic will change the stories we tell and the conversations we have.

  10. First, Charli, take care of yourself. That’s what is most important. You’ve done a phenomenal job with encouraging writers both here and with your classes, etc. and your health (physical, mental, emotional) supersedes everything else. That you have people like D. Avery, Colleen Chesbro, and others who step in helps, but most of the responsibility still lies on your shoulders, and after all this time, I certainly understand taking time off. Face it, you have been very successful in this venture because there are so many of us (and I am late to the party, but here thanks to JP’s encouragement.) who reappear week after week (and we can disappear whenever we want, but that’s not as easy for you). So, relax, and enjoy some time away.

    Now, I’ll pull up a log to sit upon and more kindling to keep the fire burning. Some hot chocolate, but skip the s’mores until the marshmallows actually melts the chocolate holding the whole gooey mess together on the graham crackers for me (I’ll eat them separately), but everybody else enjoy them.

    As for the writing process, it depends. I have to mull my ideas around in my mind before putting pen to paper (actually to the PC), and then it spews forth with editing clarifying coming afterwards. What I am writing also affects the way I write. If I am writing poetry, I nearly always put it on paper first (and sometimes with haiku and senryu, I will write multiple iterations of the same haiku with tweaks of word usage, constantly editing), playing with the words. Dialogue, though, moves the action along well enough, but I have to know what’s going to happen, and since I have never gotten too far with any longer work, I tend to put it aside as I know I am not disciplined enough. I suppose that is why this format has been helpful; a character or two show up every so often and eventually there is a story there. I agree with JP that the constant changes in the wordpress editors, etc. are frustrating, and I blog differently than I used to. Face it, I am not sure what I am doing.

    Wishing you all the best,

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks for the warm cocoa smile you’ve put in my heart, Nan. I’m already feeling the difference in my mood, sliding into a break. One more week –finals and end-of-the-semester tutoring. I have late-night studies with my students tonight. I’m also proud of all the improvements and writing acts of bravery I get to witness both here at the Ranch and in the classroom. As for your process, I find it interesting how you use a frame to guide your writing. I think of different styles, techniques, or formats as patterns. The more variety we learn to craft from poetry to dialog, the more we enrichen our writing craft. I think blogging is changing in general, not just the updates or editors. We all feel it! May it expand our creativity! Wishing you all that is good, Nan.

  11. PS. I love the community and the community members I have met (virtually) here. It truly is empowering to share the love of writing with you all. ~nan

    • There it is. We’re simply a group that loves to write together. Thank you for sharing the love, Nan.
      And yet, we don’t often talk about writing. I don’t anyway, I get all tongue tied and stare at the floor when the conversation turns to writing. But here in the dark under the stars and around the campfire…

      • Me, too, D. I guess I am like you, a pantser. I take a few days to think and then I might have an idea. I guess that’s why I always smile and chuckle at Kid and Pal’s antics. They rather remind me of my struggles. I’ll bring the marshmallows!

      • I try not to think as that only drives ideas away. If an idea lands in my head I don’t look at it directly, don’t make any sudden moves. I ignore it and let it tumble around until it’s ready to be tamed. That’s how a flash goes. Kid and Pal usually just burst out and hit the page running, I just get out of the way. Their doing that usually frees up the real response. Sometimes the sequence is reversed.
        True confession: I’m actually not that fond of s’mores. But I do love a campfire.

      • D. I love your true confession; I am not, either. S’mores are overrated in my opinion. I actually blogged about that several years ago.

    • Charli Mills says:

      I love the community, too! What a joy to share the journey with such writing pilgrims as you!

  12. Reena Saxena says:

    I take the central idea and put it as a part of dialogue. The characters and conversations are then built around it to elucidate the theme. It starts with a sentence, which may well be the end of the piece.

  13. Some of my flash fiction stories have been nothing but dialogue between characters. I love writing dialogue, and when you only have 99 words to play with, it can be great fun getting every word of speech into the story.

    I tend to put myself into the head of the characters as they speak – a bit like head hoping, but in a way that does not confuse the reader who is speaking.

    My childhood desire to be an actor helped, especially when I was doing school plays, and even to this day, I have no problem putting myself in the head of any character who appears in my stories. I guess they are speaking to me because it is my fingertips typing as they speak.

    • Ha! Head hopping! Yes, that’s what a writer can do. Heart hopping too, I suppose.

      • I’d never heard of head-hopping until somebody pointed it out in one of my stories. Then it made perfect sense to me. I still see head-hopping in many stories, and it cannot be very clear to readers who in the story are saying or thinking what.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Head hopping is certainly needed while writing, Hugh. We do have to pop into each character’s head. However, standards for books are to allow readers to follow the flow of a designated “head.” Thus, head hopping on the page can create reader confusion. That said, once the writer can differentiate between authorial head hopping and story flow head hopping, you can use it as a technique. Most qualified editors will flag it, though because it is typically a novice error. At the revision level, it gives the writer more to work with — what the author knows; what each character knows; what the readers know. I tell my students that every writer has “quirks.” I don’t like saying they are “errors” because I don’t believe anyone’s writing is “wrong.” Instead, we seek creativity in the mastery of all these craft elements and control over our quirks. I love how you understand where your authorial head hopping comes from and pursuing acting is a great way to expand character development. So, it’s a benefit to you to know how your fingers follow everyone’s heads.

      • suespitulnik says:

        Head hopping continues to be my nemesis. I hope to one day recognize when I, as the author, am doing it and how to fix it. Hopefully, I will hear an explanation that will make sense to the way my mind works.

  14. TanGental says:

    Hi Charli
    Be well, be good and beereathe….
    Love me a good campfire, even if I stink of a chimney with sooty afternotes later. Reminds me of my gran who made bonfires as others make breakfast. If she could have carried one with her… indeed, Elon, mate, skip space and design the portable campfire. Much more useful.
    And i think it was inevitable i’d have characters and a recalcitrant muse who deal solely in dialogue given I’ve always liked the sound of my own voice – that said, the first time I heard myself recorded I was horrified at this mouse in human form; a baritone I was not. I let the dialogue write itself if I can. There’s a joy in allowing it to flow. One early course i went on – it may have been with Anne? – the tutor recorded about ten minutes of us over dinner without us knowing and played it back. It was revelatory listening in to true conversation with its repetitions and pauses and elisions and those words and phrases we use to gain thinking time (‘like’ ‘you know’). If we wrote true dialogue we’d bore our readers but using a smattering of true dialogue can be refreshing.
    So, while I find some potatoes to bake in the embers, any chance of a non-alcoholic toddy, D?

    • There’s tea and coffee and I’m hoping someone steps up with a good chai recipe. There’s mulled cider too.
      I am grateful that I don’t hear my own vocal voice in my characters’ dialogue, I think I wouldn’t write it anymore if I did. But sometimes they sneak into my speaking, I have to be mindful of that. That’s why those two yahoos are currently banished to the Saloon under the pretense of being busy monitoring the Cowsino.

      • TanGental says:

        It must make for an interesting interaction if you suddenly break into Palish

      • suespitulnik says:

        I smile every time I hear Kid and Pal called “two yahoos.” My vision is of the two cowboys in the old movies that are used as comedic sidekicks. Life is always more interesting when they are around and usually more fun.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Musk-e-melon can go to mars, please! I think our ancestors did create a portable campfire, carrying sacred embers from one fire to the next. Your gran, Geoff, was a firekeeper! I’m one of those making breakfast and D. is my firekeeper. Yes, absolutely, there is joy to the flow. I love that your writing instructor recorded class during a dinner conversation. Dialog is pure joy at its essence but it can evolve into so much more through the revision process. Bring on the potatoes, I’ll grab the butter and sea salt and bacon, and D. has a non-alcohol toddy waiting for you!

  15. Hello Charli –
    Oh yes – do take that break as a gift from on high. It’s been a challenging year on many fronts and even with covid in decline (Yes!) there are plenty of stressors out there that just slowly eat away at us. We (I in particular) can’t have that happen to you.
    This was my first year with the CR99 project and it’s been a game changer. I half expected to fail but came through just fine and love looking and reading through my collected 99 word story gems. I’m normally so verbose that this should not have worked, but I bought and read and studied the book and then went for it and succeeded. I can’t thank you and our peer readers enough for helping me pull this off.

    About updates: I – HATE – them. My job is partially dealing with them and when I’m blogging WP is doing to me what I’m trying to protect my customers from – updates either from us or some change of their own doing. Software is complex and is far from becoming self-correcting. The damn stuff has no idea it’s making us crazy and putting some of us out of business by breaking something critical. Peer I work with all have their own horror stories.

    That said, I wish I knew what WordPress was thinking sometimes. Their changes seems to be designed to act like little explosives that leave craters where functional blogs used to sit.

    It won’t stop. Managers who own software always have a long list of changes they need or want to make and there is no way to do full scale testing of these changes. So, I have a suggestion, or more of a guideline I guess, Use the old KISS rule (except we all agree to drop that last ‘S’) because the more simple we keep our blogs – the less exposed we are to all the terrible things that new feature code forces on us.

    For example, peers who know me know that I gave up on the block editor. I was spending way too much time trying to make it work and not getting any writing done. I’ve abandoned the thing and made my posts as simple as possible and most of my problems went away – just like that.

    I know that is won’t fix everything persons like you need, but for all the rest, there’s plenty of grace for you from us, your thankful users and readers.

    I hope a solution is not far from being wrangled into service. The CR99 project is vital in my thinking.

  16. I came to sit at the fire and listen to the conversation. The next thing I knew, exhaustion set in and I nodded off. What did I miss? LOL! Charli, you and the rest of the gang are amazing. I’ve only this year started experimenting with dialogue more because of the challenges. As for the WordPress Woes, as I like to call them… I have no answers. The FSE is a full site editor. I’ve not tried to create a FSE site. They seem very generic! I’m still clinging to the few classic themes they let us use. Mr. Linky collects links for my poetry challenges. I still think that is a viable option. Many of us use the system and visit each other’s blogs, read and comment from the challenge post. I used to have everyone email me their poetry to create a recap. The post took hours to create when the block editor was introduced. However, that’s the only way I can think of to collect the flash pieces. We could create a template post, which you could copy each week. This would require a cut and paste from the email into the specific block. It’s terribly time consuming. Happy holidays to you all! 🎄

  17. Gloria says:

    We all need a break sometimes, Charli.
    I’ve just had a blogging break. I usually do around this time of year.
    My last few weeks have been spent on preparing my novel for publication. I had hoped to get it out in November, but my proofreader had different plans! More tweaking, a bit more polish here and there. I should have a proof copy of my book in my hands before Christmas!
    Conversations with other writers and readers has been a crucial part of the process of writing my novel.
    It has taken me the best part of six years to complete it. I’m not embarrassed about that.
    During those years I’ve been learning through reading, online courses, having conversations with the people around me and with my online friends. I learned how to write a novel while I was writing a novel. (I still have so much more to learn.)
    I’ve eavesdropped on conversations in cafés. I’ve never heard anything interesting enough to use in a story, but I have studied personalities, physical characteristics, accents, reactions.
    My novel is fairly dialogue heavy too. My characters talk a lot. I’ve had many conversations with them over the last few years. I’m sure my husband has questioned my sanity several times. He has stopped asking, ‘Who are you talking to?’. He has accepted that conversations with invisible people are normal for me.
    I’ve always had conversations with myself. Not in my head, but out loud! I need to hear it in order to believe it and to remember it.
    So, conversations are a very important part of my writing, Charli.

    • Cool! Congratulations on finishing up that novel. Finished that is, after more conversation with your proofreader. It’s worth waiting a little longer so it will be just so in the end. The conversations you have with writers, readers , yourself and your characters can only be good for your craft. And good for you for talking out loud with them all. I am most comfortable letting my characters do the talking. I have a very hard time talking about my writing.

  18. This is probably a conversation I’ll have with myself. For some reason most of my comments here don’t get noticed. Maybe my comments are just too dull, I don’t know. Because of this, I’ve become reluctant to comment… Anyway I love dialogue. I’ve written so many dialogue only flash fiction pieces I’m considering an ebook of them, though I have no idea how to publish one. I love it when characters say something that surprises me, and I have to work out how to respond to it. I think I like dialogue a lot because I listen so much. I’m very quiet myself as I’m a rather extreme introvert and so seldom add much to the conversation, unless it’s something I’m passionate about. I don’t like the constant change on WordPress as I keep losing things I rely on. When the Block Editor came out I could no longer find symbols anywhere and so now I have to go to another site to copy and paste them. Lately the word counter has disappeared and so I now have to go to another site for that as well. I’m still not fond of the Block Editor. I have thought about taking a break from blogging, but I do get blogger’s guilt. After New Year’s I’m thinking about taking an extended break. Views on my blog are now around 50% of what they were two years ago, even though I have many more followers. I just find it heart breaking that things I write these days get far less attention than they used to. Part of me thinks I should just walk away from it all, but having a blog encourages me to write, and if I don’t write I start getting depressed. One reason I write is for communication with the rest of the world, since I don’t talk much my writing is my voice. It’s me saying “This is what I think….” Without that things would be pretty bleak.

    • We’ve all had the same problems. I hope you take and a break and come back! This year I’ve decided to spend more time on comments on the blogs and less time on social media. Everything I really need is here, not on SM. Hang in there with WP. I’ve looked for other sites but they don’t offer the community like WP does. And, I see you.

    • Comments, both giving and receiving, can be the hardest part of this blogging thing, for me anyway. My blog is a place to throw down my writing, to share prompts I take part in and when I do take part in a prompt, I try, if life permits, to visit every other participant’s site to read and leave a friendly word. That doesn’t always get reciprocated, much less start a conversation, and that’s okay. It has to be. My main reason for having a blog is to have a place to hang out and invite people to read my stuff; the stats aren’t really a part of my goals* or reasons for having a site. But the more I am an active participant the more people come by, good genuine people. I have tried some new to me prompts too, in fact for a while I was only posting a #picoftheweek, which surprised me as I don’t see myself as a photographer, but it carried me through my writing slump and introduced me to more people. You may know, though, Carrot Ranch is one of my favorite places, the Ranchers my treasured peeps. I’m glad you’re here at the campfire Joanne! And the Saddle Up Saloon is always open! (Even though the December Cowsino was inadvertently titled November until moments ago. 😣)

      (*note to self— establish goals)

      • Yes I find commenting, or responding to people’s comments, really difficult too. I think my issue is I’ve been ignored a lot in my life (I’m the youngest sibling in my family) and these days it really bothers me when it feels like I’m being ignored or not getting through to people…

      • Ha! I too am the youngest sibling in my family. Being ignored was actually a strategy. Safe. But moving on in my older age, yes, it’s good to be heard and to get through to people. Funny, I’ve been thinking a lot lately on the wise words the pre-school class I worked in last winter used– “Say what you want and need”. I’ve used those words and philosophy regarding communication numerous times, in my marriage, with my aging parents, with the young man I support, anyone in a service field, and with myself. Everyone but the cat, she’s very good at making known what she wants and needs. And the clarity is so helpful, reduces frustrations and disappointments around (mis)interpretations. I’m learning to step back and check; was I clear about my own wants and needs, and what did I do or can I do to be clear, how much am I willing to put into that? As far as my blog, I’m probably not willing to do much more than I am currently to get the interactions I want and need. As my young man says, “Nah, I’m good.”

      • Okay. I want and need (see above) some company at the Saloon! I want to see some stories and I need to hear conversation beyond Kid and Pal’s incessant yammering!

      • suespitulnik says:

        Interesting point Joanne and Dee; I too, am the youngest sibling and still look for recognition and encouragement, but don’t take the time to do it for others. I need to work on that or expect not to receive any recognition. My writing is overstuffed with dialogue as far as the percentages go, but I move my story with it, so I am not ready to accept I must change my technique as I see it as my voice.
        I also value my Carrot Ranch peeps and look forward to interacting with them regularly.

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