Welcome to the website of writer Erin Boatkicker

Erin Boatkicker is a young writer with grand fantasies of using a handful of words to change someone’s life. She’s constantly busy and sometimes even surprises herself by how much time she can find to write. She’s a university student majoring, unsurprisingly, in creative writing, as well as working two jobs, learning to drive a car, planning a wedding, and dealing with her crazy but mostly lovable family. Right now, she's put all her other writing projects on hold and is focusing entirely on Only Make Believe, a novel she started for NaNoWriMo 2010. She hopes to have the first draft finished before November 2011.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Elusive Bird

It was many years ago that I first stumbled across a quotation, and instantly fell in love with it. "Hope begins in the dark. The stubborn hope that if you just show up and do the right thing, the dawn will come." It was attributed to Anne Lamott, but I had no idea who that was.

About a year later, after I'd scribbled that quote on everything under the sun, after I'd recited it a thousand times to friends who felt helpless, and reminded myself of it, I was wandering through the library and a name jumped out at my from a shelf. Anne Lamott, staring at me from the spine of a book called Blue Shoe.

Wonderful, wonderful book. My library didn't have anything else that she'd written, so  for a while, she fell off my radar.

Another year and a half passed and I found the writers forum. What should my eyes stumble across in my first week there? Someone recommending Bird By Bird: some thoughts on writing and life, by, you guessed it, Anne Lamott. Did this woman know me personally? She wrote good books AND wrote for writers? Wow, how great! I was in a new city in a new state. Maybe some of her books are at this library. Coincidentally, the only one they had was Bird by Bird. Unfortunately, it was checked out and had a waiting list of 13 people. I added my name to the list. Finally, almost 8 months later, my name came up, I got the book, but  at that time I was in the midst of moving. I only read half of it before it was time for me to leave the state and return the book.

I moved back in a place where the library doesn't have it. I wanted to buy it, but my budget didn't allow it. I moved again, and found a library with some of Anne Lamott's novels (Rosie, Crooked Little Heart, Imperfect Birds) so I was temporarily satisfied.

Then, I signed up to take a writing class this fall at my college. What did my professor assign as a textbook? BIRD BY BIRD!

I'm thrilled. I immediately buy it. Two days later I recieve an email comfirming a returned payment. The bookstore I bought it from didn't have it in stock and had decided not to restock it. Fine. My local Barnes and Noble doesn't have it. I go online to Amazon. I found the paperback immediately, but I wanted, still want, a hardback. It took a little digging but I found it. I ordered it. It arrived on my doorstep. I opened the package, smiling because I knew what was inside.

Out fell a paperback.

I couldn't figure out how to exchange it for the proper format, so I returned it for a refund, and bought it again. What if it happens again? I'm nervous. I still haven't got the book. I'm nervous. Anne Lamott, you are one tough ol' bird to get hold of.

But I love you. Come invade my bookshelves with all of your wonderfulness.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Losing Something Unexplainable.

Three days ago, I sat at home all day and didn't do a thing. I honestly have no idea how I managed to waste an entire day. I didn't write, didn't read, didn't even watch a movie. I didn't clean or cook. I just simply sat and did nothing. Then, two days ago, I cleaned the kitchen. I did the normal things - dishes, counters, floors, and then I did some of the things that I don't do often enough - I reorganized the cabinets, I washed the oven, the microwave. I also picked up the living room.Yesterday, I spent most of the day out of the house, but before I left in the morning I cleaned and washed my dresser, and alphabetized out DVD collection. Today, I finished picking up the living room, and sorted through a pile of CDs and DVDs I had. None of them were in cases. Some were actual CDs/DVDs and some were ones I had burned. Some were photos, some were music, some were computer software, and a few were simply blank. I sorted through them, found the cases for the ones that had them, labeled the ones that weren't labeled. Sorted out the blank ones and put them away. I found a new place to store the music CDs, away from the DVDs, Photos, and Computer stuff. I reorganized my desk. I started reorganizing my file cabinet. Notice something missing on that list of things I've done?

This blog post is the first time in four days that I've sat down to write anything. Really, nothing. I haven't written anything for any story. I haven't written a blog post, I haven't even made a post on any of the forums I frequent, or, even more notably, I haven't updated my status on facebook. I haven't chatted online with any of my friends. No phone calls, no text messages. I've barely even talked to my fiance, four feet away from me.

For the past 4 days, I've been wordless. Few words have been in my head. I've been feeling a lot, but for once in my life, I haven't had words for it. And I don't like this feeling. This blog post is me forcing myself to write. Because even though it's hard for me. I'm having to really think hard about what words go together in what order (grammar has all but flown out the window, right along with vocabulary) But it's the only thing I can think of to beat this. I have NEVER felt this way before. Never been totally without words. There are times when I don't want to write one story, or maybe even, I don't feel like fiction. Maybe I don't want to chat, or I don't want to talk. Lately, I haven't even wanted to read. I haven't been able to feel the words. All the things I've been doing have been mostly silent activity. It's not a good feeling. I don't like it. I need to fix it. And I hope this helps. I hope that putting words together helps, even though its hard, and I don't feel the words like I normally do. They don't flow. It's ugly, me putting these words here. It's not the right feeling.

Is it my motivation? I want to write. I just... the words feel foreign. Not natural. They don't feel like words feel. And that sounds ridiculous, but it's how I feel and it's seriously a problem for me.

Friday, April 29, 2011

"Fucking idiots" or watching out for dual meanings.

Oops, I probably should have warned you, this post contains profanity, that is used purely for profanities sake, rather than for any deep literary purpose.

Well.... sort of. If it didn't have SOME purpose I wouldn't be posting it but.... now I'm just babbling.

Last night a friend of mine tweeted (I'm still no good with twitter, btw. Irrelevant, but if you want to help, that'd be great!) something about "when boys are fucking idiots."

My first thought in response was "I wonder who [the object of her affection] is having sex with." It took me a good minute and a half to realize that wasn't at all what she meant, and even then, I had to text her to be sure. What she had intended it to mean was "when boys are really dumb."

I learned two things, from that little tweet.
1) I'm apparently the type whose first thoughts jump to sex.
2) I need to be really careful when I write not to use words that could even vaguely be understood in any way other than what I want.

Now, I know, I know, that's the first thing anyone will tell you. Anyone who writes regularly, a fiction author, a journalist, a professor, and even a second grader. But sometimes, we need that spark. Ther moment of misunderstanding to open up our eyes. To remind us why that's important. Because I would be angry if my fiance was fucking an idiot. But if my fiance was acting like a fucking idiot, I'd get over it pretty quick.

In the same vein A+ for people who can successfully use duel meanings in their stories. They never come naturally to me, unless they aren't supposed to. I can never write them perfectly, without careful planning. I can never work them into my stories easily.

And now that I've babbled enough, I'm done.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Finding the time to write (I'm looking for tips)

I sometimes wonder whether I'm repeating myself.... I have this vague sense of having written this post at one point in the past. Have I? I have no idea.

Writing comes in a cycle for me. I get ideas, LOTS of them, and I don't have time to put them all on paper. I jot down some notes here and there, and that's it. I'm overrun. Then, I stop having ideas, and all I want to do is write. I can write for hours and hours and hours and days at a time, with no breaks for anything but food and the bathroom. Then, I get into a dry spell, which I know for sure I've written about on this blog before.

For once, I'm writing about this when I'm not in the middle of a dry spell. I'm in the "write-write-write-write-write" period of my cycle. (No, no, not that period, not that cycle) But I've hit an unusual road block.

I do not, and have not recently, had the TIME to write. What? How does that happen? It happens when you have 5 classes, and two jobs.

I've never had this problem before. When I was a little kid, I had plenty of time to write. When I was in jr. high and high school, I had a lot of responsibility at home, and lots of homework, but school didn't matter to me, so I just wrote instead of doing my homework. I didn't want to do the homework anyways, and if I wasn't writing, I was on Myspace (remember when myspace was cool? haha) or some other website, wasting time. It didn't matter if I kept taking breaks from cleaning in order to write. As long as I got the housework done, it didn't matter.

Now, the things I do outside writing actually matter to me. I need my jobs to pay my rent, buy my food, and pay my tuition. I wanted so badly to be back in school, and now I'm here, I'm going to make the most of it. I'm not going to fail my classes.

But then, what do I do? I've never had to make time for writing before, and I'm a little at a loss as to how to do it. As things are right now, I'm squeezing writing in one sentence at a time, in between tasks at work, I'm scribbling on note cards when I'm in the car (Don't panic! I don't drive.) and I type little phrases here and there while I'm waiting on web-pages to load for school stuff.

I'm fitting it in, little by little, but it's really not doing it for me. I'm looking for tips on fitting writing into my schedule, without sacrificing my grades or one of my jobs.

Starting a few hours ago, it's spring break for me, so I should have some time to write during this. I'm hoping to have a plan for writing, after the break is over.

Friday, February 18, 2011

On a short Story

Remember me talking AGES ago about a little story called Mr. Buttons?

Well I finally finished writing it. I edited it down to fit into NPR's Three Minute Fiction contest. I went to submit it. Re-read the submissions guidlines and came across these horrible words.

entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on January 23, 2011.
I looked at the date and time on my computer. "January 24, 2011. 2:02 a.m."

I wanted to cry, or die, or throw something. TWO HOURS! I MISSED THE CONTEST BY TWO HOURS! Well, if you want to be REALLY specific, two hours and three minutes.

I'm taking a film class this semester, a production class. One of our assignments is to make a short, 3-5 minute film. Three minute story can be translated into a three minute film, right? I'm going to make it so. Mr. Buttons will soon be a short movie. I can't guarantee the quality of any of it. I'm new at this. But Damned if I'm not going to do something fantastic with Mr. Buttons, and do it soon. It'll take some editing to turn it into a movie script rather than a prose piece, but it'll work. I've already got it halfway done.

Fairy Tales

Lately I've been going back to the hundred-times abandoned Fairy Pumpkin Adventures story. Clever title, no? I think I need a new one. Yes, the story is about fairies and pumpkins and adventures, but that's a crummy title.

I was 7 or 8, maybe 9 the first time I started writing this. It's a childrens story. It's a GOOD story, even now. I think, finally, I will finish writing it. Finish editing it. Submit it somewhere. I'm not sure yet where I'll submit it, because I'm not sure yet exectly what it is.
The story, the characters, I know all of that. But the writing itself, what I would classify it as? What it's target age-range is? Well CRAP!


The story is light. A fairy tale more Disney than Grimm in style. It's main character is an 8 year old girl. Are 8 year olds still interested in fairies? I was a weird kid, at 8. I watched both Sesame Street and The Nanny on tv. There was no in the middle. It was either "baby stuff" or "grown up stuff"

I don't know what 8 year old's like. I have two little sisters, and I remember them being 8, but I can't, for the life of me, remember whether fairies were acceptable, or too babyish.

And then comes the whole trouble of the writing style. I could easily make the main human character a few years younger, if 8-year-olds aren't into fairies. But I think the style that I have the story written in, so far, is too sophisticated for an 8 year old. I've been doing my research, reading kids books. Sometimes, I think it's fine, other times I wonder if it's written a little too "adultly" (why yes, I DID just make up a word. GO ME!) If the writing is too advanced for the average 8 year old, should I keep it anyways and hope that the parents will read it with them, or that the kids are advanced? Do I leave it alone and hope that older kids pick it up and read it, despite being older than the main character?

And then we get into labels. I don't know what to call it, how to categorize it. I don't know whether to submit to magazines, or publishers (or agents, whatever). I feel a little lost. If I send to publishers, are kids books genre-sorted, reading-level sorted? I can't even seem to find that information anywhere. Does each publisher do it differently? I don't even know what any kids magazines are, so I don't know how I would submit to them, if I wanted to..

The story isn't finished yet. Length will have some factor on where I might consider publishing (I wont send a novella-length story to a magazine) but I still feel so lost. I understand how Y.A is done. I understand how regular adult books are done. I don't know about children's.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010: Week Four

Today marks the end of Week Four of NaNoWriMo, and I am starting to really feel proud of myself, in a peaceful way that I hadn't felt throughout the rest of this. Up until this point I was excited (which I still am!) and it made my pride probably unbearable for everyone else. Now I'm sort of just calmly reminding myself that I've got this in the bag (which I have!) and that this novel is going to be great (I hope.)

Believe it or not, until this week I hadn't actually started the most important part of my plot. Up until about Wednesday, everything was just build up. I can already see that a lot of what I wrote is going to end up being cut. Sarah had been slowly decending into insanity a bit already, but the things that push her really over the edge only started recently. Friday night, actually, is when I wrote that first scene. From the beginning i was so eager to write that scene, and I've finally written it, and it felt like gold. I managed to write 1749 words in only 45 minutes. For those of you who don't know, that's fast. I can type that fast on any day, but to actually create that fast, to choose the right words, and build a scene that fast..... I impressed myself.

I'm still right on track for winning, and I love that I can say that. Last year, as I've probably already mentioned I didn't make it even to 14k. Not even halfway. This year, I'm going to win it, and be very proud of myself for writing 50k in a month. My novel wont be finished, and I'm going to try and keep myself going at the same rate through much of December if I can, or until the novel gets finished. It's starting to look like it's going to be somewhere upwards of 100k. I'd hazard a guess at around 125k, but I can't say for certain. The 47k that I've already written was supposed to only be about half that length, so I wouldn't trust that number.

I'm rambling aren't I? But this past week there hasn't been anything noteworthy. THe words flowed from my fingers with very little effort. I even managed to exceed my word-count goal on Thanksgiving, and in truth I didn't expect to write at all that day. But one minute I'd sit down, and the next I'd be nearing 2000 words and I be like "hmm, how did that happen?"

I love when I get into a flow like this, but it's also a bit scary. Just like a coffee-high or a sugar-high, it's going to eventually be followed by one of the most painful crashes. But you know what? I wouldn't trade this writers-high for the world, even if it does come with a crash later on. Because of this high, I'm thinking I might just win NaNo this evening. I haven't started writing today, and there are still two days left after today, and I've only got 3000 words left to write before I can officially call myself a winner. I can do that. I did more than that on Day One. My goal now is to write as much as possible before Midnight on the 30th. See how much I really can do.

And then I can start planning for next year.

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