Category Archives: Naomi’s Posts

Voicey-Voice Voice

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

I’ve been thinking about voice a lot lately, or at least the act of having a voice. Maybe it’s our current political climate or maybe it’s that I’m five scenes away from a first draft and I’m still not sure I’ve mastered my voice yet. Whatever it is, voice has got me rattled.

Since I’m not going to even pretend to be an expert on discovering literary voice, you’ll not find a five point plan for creating the voiciest voice you could write here. What I will offer are some solid examples where, in my humble opinion, the authors write with a voice that is honest, reeks of music and is totally engaging. Stick with me, We’re going directly to the source, folks.

My list began to get ridiculously long as I thought about all the books I believe have strong voice, so below I’m including only the books I’ve recently devoured:

Picture Books
The Bink and Gollie series
Last Stop on Market Street
The Piggie and Elephant Series
Life on Mars (love that this book is in first person)

The Red Pencil
Roller Girl

Kids of Appetite
Goodbye Days
The Carnival at Bray
The First Time She Drowned
Aftercare Instructions

Perfect Little World
The Girls
The Bone Clocks (Currently reading, but added because 40 pages in and the voice is excellent)

(Not consumed recently, but always and forever):
The Outsiders (Because duh)
The Cather in the Rye (Because double duh)
The Harry Potter Series (Because triple duh x 7)
Invisible Man (Because this book, for me, is the master “duh”)

My list is clearly not exhaustive, so please share the wealth. What books are you reading that have great voice?


…And She Made Progress!…Until She Didn’t.

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

If you read my last post, you know that I set some concrete goals to banish my spiral into a summertime slothfest. And for the most part it worked fantastically!

I was up almost every morning at 5:30, sometimes earlier. I can count on one hand the number of mornings I wasn’t. I kept my summer reading to designated times and used my post-its to set Continue reading

And Then It Was Summer…

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

Summer is a tricky season for maintaining habits. I’m not sure if it the warm weather or the incurable desire to head to the beach (even though it’s nowhere near where I currently live), but all I want to do is hunker down with the pile of books on my nightstand and read. Kevin Wilson’s a Perfect Little World is calling my name.

I must resist. Continue reading

Avoiding Difficult Scenes Doth Not a Writer Make

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

I have a confession.

I dance around the scenes I don’t want to write. Or at least don’t feel equipped to.

Currently, there are three big gaping holes in my manuscript. All three holes should be filled with essential scenes; all three are insanely difficult for me to write. There are scenes before and scenes Continue reading

“to live deliberately…”

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

Naomi Hawkins-Rowe

Imagine a cabin. Or a stone cottage. Imagine the only sounds you hear are the wind whipping through the trees and birds chirping. Imagine the fresh, earthy smell of the woods after a storm. Imagine solitude. Imagine writing without interruption. Now, imagine you’re wearing a cardigan and rocking a stern pout. You know, the look that implies you’re giving your story a good scolding. You smugly sip coffee and celebrate your own genius. Sounds like a fluffy dream, right? A little too perfect. A little too staged.

But before you write this fantasy off, hear me out. What I’m proposing can be doable regardless of what is going on in your life. I’m talking about literally carving out vacation time to focus on writing without interruption. Namely, doing a residency or going on a retreat is what comes to mind for most people, but if that is not an option there are other ways to find solitude to write.

The point is to get out of the house! Get out of your familiar space, which is teaming with distractions. Laundry can wait. And the dishes for that matter. If you have a job, you’ll likely have to get creative with your time. And if you also have kids, that can be an added challenge. In this case, ask you partner or a friend for an hour of solitude and then run like mad for the door!

If you read Poets & Writers, the March/April issue had some great suggestions for alternative writing spaces. If you have the time, but not a lot of money, P&W suggests going camping, or begging to borrow, at no fee, a relatively isolated space from a close friend (a cabin, houseboat, submarine. O.K., that might be a little extreme). They also suggest just writing outside. Take a hike and write when you reach the top. Find a nice tree at the park. Go to the library. Or if you have a shed, hide out in there. (Though in my own experience, I’ve found still being present on my own property counterproductive, as small creatures can still find me. And do. Even with the doors to the studio locked!)

There are always bus rides (hail, Jeff Zentner) or train rides if you are fortunate enough to live near one. Though the latter might cost you a pretty penny. I can’t imagine how fun it would be to write on a train. And there’s also the perk of saying you birthed your story on a train.

However, IF you are in a place that you can take several days or weeks to yourself, I highly recommend a residency. Some are just weekend long retreats, others a month or longer. There are countless writers and artist colonies all over the world. Short spurts of isolation to write are great, but once you get on a role, if can be very difficult to stop.

And, yes, they cost money!

But don’t write of residencies for monetary reasons. Many writer’s colonies and retreats offer fellowships that you can apply for. In fact, Rivendell is offering  fellowships, funded through the SAF, for parents of children 12 and under.  For those who don’t meet this requirement, Rivendell also has other fellowships available for first timers. (If you can’t tell from this post and my last, I absolutely love this place! Hence the PR. Though, let it be noted, all the gushing is my own unpaid enthusiasm.)

Whatever way you decide to “get outside” is one step closer to consciously choosing writing. Henry David Thoreau “went to the woods…to live deliberately…”, and I am certain he was onto something.