Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for June 2016

Writing: When Done Well, it Only Seems Effortless…

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Folks, haven’t you ever wondered just how much work goes into your favorite books?

I’ve been pondering this lately, and here’s my best answer: a whole lot of effort goes into what later seems to be effortless prose…in other words, a writer works hard for what seems effortless, in the end.

We writers often castigate ourselves because our writing isn’t coming easily enough, or quickly enough, or (fill-in-the-blank) enough. Yet, later on, when you re-read your efforts, you barely remember, “Oh, didn’t I have the flu then?” or “My goodness, how did I write that while under so much stress?”

Of course, some writers use their writing as a way to GAFIAte — that is, get away from it all. To those writers, anything they do with their stories is like a mini-vacation; it’s still work, mind you, but it’s work done with a will and a smile on their faces.

For the rest of us (including yours truly), that type of writing — the GAFIAting I just discussed — is elusive, at best. Most of the time, writing takes planning; hard work; effort. It still gives you, the writer, a feeling of satisfaction in the end…but it doesn’t feel like a mini-vacation at all.


Instead, it feels like the hard work that it is. Worthwhile work, granted. Work we’ve chosen to do in this life…work that we see, so we must do it, and tell the stories we have inside to their best advantage, in the hope that someone else will find some worth in it, or maybe get a chuckle out of it and get through their day a little better, or perhaps even come back to your words time after time and find renewed meaning and purpose if we’ve done our jobs particularly well.

Those who aren’t writers may not understand how much work and effort there is in what you do. (I can’t speak for them, so I don’t know.) But one thing is clear: those of us who are writers know full well how much goes into our stories. How much of ourselves, and our drive, and our will, and our care, and everything that we are — our souls, maybe, for all I know — are reflected in our books, if we’ve done them just right.

So. For today, writers, try to do this one thing — just write. Don’t expect it to be effortless, ’cause that is beyond absurd. But do expect it to be from your heart, from your spirit, from your soul, even if you’re fighting with verb tenses and spelling and your story doesn’t seem to make much sense.

Because down the line, what you’re doing will be worth it. Trust me.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 6, 2016 at 1:53 am

Springtime in the Elfyverse

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Today’s guest blog is up at the Opinionated Man’s busy establishment…take a look!

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 3, 2016 at 12:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Thoughts on Comfort Books

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Folks, over the past several weeks, I have been struggling with a wide variety of things.

To wit…does my writing matter? Does what I’m doing as a person matter? Are my perceptions accurate, and will I be able to turn them into some decent-to-better quality writing in the not-so-distant future?

I don’t know if these questions would’ve hit me quite so profoundly without the ongoing housing crisis, mind. (That remains unresolved, by the way. I probably will be writing about that again…but not today, yes?) But they have…and in a big way.

That said, I have found a lot of comfort reading and re-reading my favorite books and authors. Some of the books I’ve read over the past couple of weeks include Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s Night Calls series, Lois McMaster Bujold’s THE CURSE OF CHALION and PALADIN OF SOULS, Patricia C. Wrede’s CAUGHT IN CRYSTAL and Enchanted Forest chronicles…and, of course, my go-to standby, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s wonderful Liaden Universe (TM), most particularly the stories featuring Daav yos’Phelium and Aelliana Caylon.

What reading these stories tends to do for me is twofold. One, it takes me away from my immediate problems and reminds me that others, too, have faced adversity (even if fantastical and unusual — then again, I like that sort of thing, as you might’ve guessed). And two, these stories are life-affirming, they often make me laugh, and they always make me feel better after I’ve read them.

In short, these comfort books remind me of why I started writing, oh, yea many moons ago…I wanted to tell stories like that, that made people laugh, and maybe gave them an hour’s ease from life’s burdens…and if I did my job superbly well, maybe someone would find my stories life-affirming, too.

I can’t be certain I’ve done that as of yet. But I’d like to think that in the not-so-distant future, I may well yet attain just that…ah, well.

Anyway, what are your favorite comfort books, and why? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments section.


Edited to add: Mind, there are so many great storytellers out there, and I’m only naming a fraction of the people I’ve read over the past few weeks that I’ve enjoyed…so if your name isn’t on this list (yet), please don’t despair. (No need for that.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 1, 2016 at 3:51 am