Have the guts: Is writing your vocation?

“Volition and Vocation” = guts, stamina, personal will to achieve what you know you should do.

In a fragmented age it’s hard to even want to follow your own path.  But it’s more important now than ever.  Take a deep breath.  Do you want to express yourself?  Look around.  Find out what you can do, immediately.  Do you need to earn a little money?  Figure that in and get moving.

Is writing your vocation?  Are you flexible?  But can you still be yourself?

Studying other writers last night, I kept coming on that phrase, “Volition and Vocation.”  It means many things.  For most of us today, it simply means putting our heads down and being the artists we know we are. Going for it, despite all the distractions.

The ancient Greeks and Romans, talking about the work of art itself, said that it should ‘move’ a person, from one state of mind to another.

That’s how I feel about my life work.  It must constantly challenge and move me, from a stalemate to a vital, living and breathing way of life.

What we do should move us and change us for the better.


So far, micro-jobs don’t cut it — for me.  I frankly don’t believe that life is profile-driven.  I’ve read others who get ‘sucked down the rabbit hole of the internet’ in this process.

But if you can get through their process quickly, that’s one idea for you! I met a Scotsman (in Thailand) yesterday who supports himself, traveling for months at a time, writing about what interests him. He started with micro-jobs.

His advice:  there are thousands of micro-jobs on the Net.  Just find something that interests you… it works. Give me feedback about how you were able to cope with micro-jobs!

(My only good experience with a micro-job so far:  the chat line people were very helpful. I’m an expert now on customer service reps. Maybe I’ll write an article on that.)

Now in my heart of hearts, I’d just like to finish Sexy Oil Field Lover!

You might also be interested to know that non fiction article writing is a bit more ‘human’ than it was for a few years.  I’ve seen a few ads lately asking for ‘less emphasis on media’ which is nice.  (More writing, fewer supporting videos).  I still like Writers Market and some online marketing services, too. Quite a bit of work, but it’s worth it.

(I published my first article in  an internationally published trade magazine in 1995.  I threw a yoga hand-out I’d written into an envelope. They published it as a ‘linked poem’ and I wrote for them for over 10 years.)

Time to meet a friend for lunch.   Let me know what you’re up to. You’re interesting, you know.



Taichi master nanchangIMG_0050

pushing with the energy that comes at you…

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I’m not a big fan of rules, any kind of rules. When 3 publishers wrote to see my full manuscript I didn’t exactly celebrate. It was more how I tidied up my desk, cleaned the computer screen, bought a new desk lamp and waited for the storm to blast me sideways.

And it’s still blasting me sideways. Because I did ignore the rules — on purpose. I’d been writing different forms of fiction, including narrative non fiction, while teaching creative writing to university kids. I wrote a few books, took photos and spent many pleasant hours doing research. I did some of my research in the field, some at the computer. Not much in libraries, because I was in … countries that didn’t exactly have reliable libraries, quite a bit of the time.

When I was in Oklahoma last year it seemed only sensible to both write and do research. One day I saw a book about ignoring the experts, write from your heart. I decided to take a chance. I spent a year writing Sexy Oil Field Lover.

Publisher #3 has been kind and helpful (like Jane Austen’s characters said about almost everyone. By the way: Jane Austen really was the Queen of Irony. In this case, she shared a joke with her readers: everybody used that expression, but the people referred to didn’t always live up to being ‘kind and helpful.’)

But she’s a miracle. She’s been supportive and intelligent.  She writes to me and has never once used phrases that drive me nuts, like ‘deep point of view.’  I get the feeling that she’s beyond that.  I understand now why authors dedicate books to wonderful editors.

She immediately pointed out that Sexy Oil Field Lover had ‘structural’ problems despite all the wonderful words I’d sent her. And she discussed how I could change these things.

It’s harder work than I’d anticipated.  I feel my characters’ voices grow fainter every time I must dance around, obeying this rule or that.  I wish I’d written a play!  People just say what they think, and get on with their lives…

On the other hand, I love these particular characters and I won’t abandon them.

Then there are Edward Albee’s wonderful words: ‘I’m not a nice person. I fight back.’ I’ll do this book, keeping my characters true to themselves. I might even write more popular fiction after this.

Just a word to the other rebels out there. Keep your integrity, but it’s a waste of time not to know what editors demand.  I think we can still write what we feel, but  publishers can afford to be choosy now.

An easy exercise I devised for myself is to analyze how a few authors use the point of view most used in fiction — 3rd person. I think you could use this exercise for any technique that you want to master.

Notice the way a successful writer uses it.  I’d say avoid the thousands of discussions raging about a subject (like pov). Just pick up a novel and concentrate.

See how an author successfully writes (in 3rd point of view, for example). Then set yourself a topic  or  choose a scene — and learn how to write that way, too. Notice details. Maybe read an established expert on that author’s technique to make sure you don’t sail past something you’ll need to do.

Here are a few ideas.

All 3 editors said I should describe Cody’s life apart from her sexiness with her oil field lover. I’ve written several scenes now that do that.  

You could write a scene about an imaginary person that shows both aspects of their personality. Or shows one side and hints at the other.

I also had to rewrite how they met.  (Not the hot one posted on this site, for opening the book. She said to use that later.)  

You could write about a first look, through one person’s eyes. Then learn to write narrative and dialogue the way the editor says to.

This shouldn’t take a lot of time. Sleeping on it helps, too.  Then you’ll probably wake up with a more cheerful attitude about doing revisions.

I love hearing from you.

Much affection to you all. Julie

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She’s My Little Rock & Roll..

Remember that song by the Stones, long long ago? Pretty creative, energetic, descriptive?  Recall the next line: ‘Her … got soul…’

Creativity is the way to keep your soul as your own.  You can quote me on that.

I was reading up on deep point of view today.  My favorite explanation is here:

Diving Deep into Deep Point of View

Writers in the Storm isn’t always my favorite writing blog, but this was just perfect.  It explains very clearly what publishers (so far as I know) demand of us, if we’re writing love stories.  (I don’t know about other forms of fiction, but non-fiction doesn’t have these expectations.)

Frankly, I became exasperated with Writers in the Storm when they went on a tech-is-Life jag.  I’m pretty strong on keeping humans in charge.  There are so many wonderful sci fi stories about humans becoming passive and lazy.  I read some especially chilling ones this last year.   I’m careful about using too many gadgets and devices to do my writing for me.

At any rate, I do recommend this post.  It also gives credence to using fewer and more descriptive dialogue tags, even if you’re uninterested in the other stuff.  I think we can all learn from this post.

Although I’ve read Julia Quinn novels and agree with other authors that JQ’s text is ‘sparse’ — I enjoy her light touch and simplicity.  Also, I think her sparse prose sends us a wonderful sense of FUN.

I’m looking over my dream-journals (I’ve written my dreams down for years, first thing each morning) to make my descriptions come alive.  Hemingway refused to describe his protagonists.  I describe people once and that’s enough.  I simply won’t shove long-winded descriptions down readers throats.

But I want to be fair so I looked over some of Julia Quinn’s books today.  I decided that learning to have a light, cheerful touch is probably the answer.

Another idea is to look at your own journals/dream journals.   Translating a dream into everyday English does strengthen your powers of description.  You have taken an abstract thought and put it into robust, earthy English. And diaries/journals do keep us describing our emotions.

A little talk about technique that will hopefully help!  Keep in touch.  Julia Bates






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I got the idea…

in a motel in northwest Oklahoma, just under a year ago. I went to my room and started writing and I haven’t stopped. There were tumbleweeds blowing down the sidewalks & this handsome guy…

Source: I got the idea…

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I got the idea…

in a motel in northwest Oklahoma, just under a year ago. I went to my room and started writing and I haven’t stopped.

There were tumbleweeds blowing down the sidewalks & this handsome guy was leaning on the counter, talking to the clerk about the latest tornado.

The book’s with a publisher now, so keep your eyes peeled. These few paragraphs aren’t the ‘real stuff.’  It’s real conservative where I live so this is middlin’.

But Titus & Cody are pretty energetic, pretty sly. They can’t keep their clothes on very long (they take ’em off every 7-8 pages).

BTW. I’m not clinical/analytical. Love = action = sex.

Here’s a sample. Cody & Titus ‘met’ at a party.  6 hours later, she had to go home. They spent the small hours on the grass, in the dark, drinking champagne & …


He said “Nice to meet you, Dr. Tredwell.”

He still held her hand and he was smiling. She noticed how long and strong his fingers were.  How would those fingers feel on her body? And that hand. How would it feel, holding her tight?  She dreamed about her hand holding other parts of him, one part in particular.

“I hope I’m makin’ that plain to him…”

They were in the lobby of a very private hotel, standing much closer than was strictly necessary.

None of the men she worked with noticed her. They saw her as the chief’s smart, reliable assistant.  They never thought about how she was in bed or what she could do to a man. Well, Titus Stone saw her.  And he wanted her.

She whispered, “It’s sure good to meet up with you…”

His deep voice rumbled. “I think you’re real important, Cody.”

It was clear that they wanted each other, right away.

She glanced at her watch and he made his move.  He had to speak in a kind of code, but she understood him. Perfectly.

He said, “Real soon now. What do you say to that?”

It seemed to him that her white blonde hair and thick black eyelashes made a man look hard at her face. Especially at her lips.  Her lips were plump and shapely, seeming to invite his … everywhere …

“I didn’t get a good look at that bottom of hers…”

Instead he looked at her lovely eyes.

“I think her eyes would make me real …

They were strangers but that didn’t even slow her down.  First, she rubbed her … against his arm. Then her … brushed his hand.  An exclusive hotel didn’t let things like this happen in their lobby.  But she did those things and it turned him on.

Suddenly her soft, full … were pushing on him. When she heard him gasp, she shifted her weight a little and pressed on him again. This time she stretched a long sexy leg across his …  and nudged him with her … Turning to leave him she breathed in his ear and her … rolled over his chest.

Nobody saw her do this because it happened so fast. Nobody suspected a thing because she was a pretty woman with an important job. And she looked respectable. But he got the message.

They went outdoors and as soon as they were alone he reached out for her. He felt her … and pushed his…


I wrote for everybody who needs a break from Life. And it’s  juicy reading. The ‘readability score’ is 85.5: a person can just cruise along & read and read.  You get involved in the hot times they have & forget everything . (I taught Creative English. Remember how some things make you put your book down & walk away? Not This Book.)

No jumping around, no flashbacks, preaching or long descriptions.  Sexy Oil Field Lover’s good dirty fun for an office worker, a caregiver, a nurse’s aid or an orderly after a long day (I ran this by plenty of exhausted people). If you’re a customer service rep or the teller at a bank, or you work at Walmart, Taco Hut or Safeway, or if you teach piano or play in an orchestra…if you graduated from 7th grade or graduate school & know the facts of life, Sexy Oil Field Lover is for you.

The plot’s fun to read (not so fun to live around, like I did). There are some adventures and violence — you know that Okies believe in their right to firearms.  There are small armies of thugs…

And in the book, poor people do desperate things. (Titus worked in the oil fields, moved to town & became an entrepreneur. The small towns are real jealous of him, want to hurt him..)

But none of that overshadows the romance.  It’s a love story.  That’s the main idea. 260 pages…many of them showing two naked people in love…

And there’s a beginning, a middle and a HEA. I’m actually proud of my work.

You might not care about this, but the Creative Writer in me cares. I heard it and I wrote it down.

People in the southern part of the state talk like this. What the poet said is true. The waitress really does call you ‘Baby.’ (And so do Titus and Cody, when they’re alone. They say a lot of things to each other, which I write down for you to enjoy.)

I changed all the place names because it’s real truthful & I don’t relish getting busted.


So the idea came to me, watching this gorgeous dude in a motel lobby during a tornado. Hope you’ll pick up my book & have a hell of a good time.

All the Best!

Julia Bates

But why don’t you just call me ‘Julie’?

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