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Writer's Digest presents an excerpt from my webinar, "Three Secrets of the Greats: Structure Your Story for Ultimate Reader Addiction."

Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn, one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers, interviews me about storytelling, writing, independent editing, and the difference between literary fiction and genre, with an impromptu exercise on her own Work-in-Progress.

Editing client Stu Wakefield, author of the Kindle #1 Best Seller Body of Water, talks about our work together on Memory of Water, the second novel of his Water trilogy.






  • By Victoria Mixon

    Last week we found Joy & Fulfillment through Writing. And it was good.

    So this week let’s respond to that joy & fulfillment. Because everything about being writers is about cause-&-effect, even living the life.

    Let’s be grateful.

    Recognize the source.

    Sometimes it’s the littlest things.

    I know I’ve mentioned once or twice before a ceremony we do at our house, in which we light a candle and everyone around the dinner table says what they’re thankful for. We wanted our son to have a sense of what’s meaningful in life—in this Age of Meaningless Consumerism, when we don’t really know what we truly need or or want, but we sure know how to buy—and over the years this ceremony has served its purpose well. We’ve all become pretty adept at naming things we appreciate.

    Sometimes it’s huge and touching and profound, like having each other, having our health, being safe together every night in a largely dangerous world. Sometimes it’s topical and specific, like the excitement of finishing an important project or the relief of not having to mow the lawn or the peacefulness of the cats not fighting under the table. And sometimes it’s utterly trivial, even silly, like gratitude for spoons and forks, for a particular joke, for curtains, for hair.

    When my son was very young, he was often simply thankful for the candle.

    Write in great, glorious, intensely specific detail about the touching and profound, the topical and specific, the utterly trivial, even the silly. Write everything you know, everything you imagine, everything that happens to you and everyone you meet or hear about or suspect exists. Write your life.

    That’s your source.

    Realize what it’s worth.

    Train yourself to live in service to this source, and when you have written be aware of how little you bring to this work, how much of it is simply channeling your life into clean, clear words.

    Ask yourself what you would do without your source. Hang in suspended animation, forever and infinitely barely surviving, without the extraordinary gift of your five senses or your ability to perceive through them? The ancient Greeks understood stasis and subjected the dead to a period of limbo before resolution to remind us of the value of living.

    Your life is the most precious commodity you will ever own.

    Give thanks.

    So give it its due. Stop right this instant and breathe. Look around you.

    Where are you? What does it look like? What does it sound like? What does it feel like? How does it smell? Stick out your tongue—how does it taste? Writing puts all of that into specific words so that it fixes in your memory forever. Working with those words, struggling to find just the right ones in just the right order, learning the many brilliant techniques of written language to re-create the experience of this moment out of all other moments in life, yours or anyone else’s: that is an act of thanks.

    You are here. You are you. You are alive.

    Writing is your lens through which to refract your gratitude, so that it will never leave you.





    “The freshest and
    most relevant advice
    you’ll find.”

    —Helen Gallagher,
    Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    The Art & Craft of Fiction
    The Art & Craft of Story


    A. VICTORIA MIXON, INDEPENDENT FREELANCE EDITOR


    VICTORIA’S ADVICE COLUMN


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    6 Comments

    “The freshest and most relevant
    advice you’ll find.”

    —Helen Gallagher, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    The Art & Craft of Writing Fiction

    The Art & Craft of Writing Stories


    A. VICTORIA MIXON, FREELANCE INDEPENDENT EDITOR

    VICTORIA’S ADVICE COLUMN

    6 Comments

6 Responses to “How to Find Gratitude through Writing”

  1. Excellent advice – I learn to be more and more thankful as I grow older. And as I grow happier. I see joy where I once saw … well, quite the opposite. X

  2. ‘For hair’. Your posts are sparkling refreshment as always, Victoria. Thankful you left this stockpile of inspiration

  3. Great post Victoria!

    Giving thanks for what you have, your resources as a writer, is a great place to start building the right mindset. So often writers concetrate on what they don’t have (adoring fans, a first draft, the Man Booker prize) rather than what they do have (authenticity, a voice, things to say, a wicked plot containing a Mexican wrestler, an ostrich and tennis raquet). I think I know which mindset will get me closer to the book I want to write.

    Thanks for some pleasing and festive thoughts!

  4. I’m grateful to find other people online with a sense of gratitude. It keeps me in the right frame of mind. Thanks, Victoria, for being one of those people.

  5. Sometimes when I’m feeling crappy or out of sorts, I just start naming things I’m grateful for. Always does the trick. Thanks for the post.

  6. Love that part about writing your life. It comes out eventually whether we wanted it to or not right?
    Great post.
    Lisa




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Authors


MILLLICENT G. DILLON, represented by Harold Ober Associates, is the world’s expert on authors Jane and Paul Bowles. She has won five O. Henry Awards and been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner. I worked with Dillon on her memoir, The Absolute Elsewhere, in which she describes in luminous prose her private meeting with Albert Einstein to discuss the ethics of the atomic bomb. Read more. . .


SASHA TROYAN is a Professor of English at Montclair University and author of the critically-acclaimed novels Angels in the Morning and The Forgotten Island, both Booksense Selections, beautiful stories based upon her childhood in France. I worked with Troyan to develop her new novels, Marriage A Trois and Semester. Read more. . .


LUCIA ORTH is the author of the debut novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, which received critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, Booklist, Library Journal and Small Press Reviews. I have edited a number of essays and articles for Orth. Read more. . .


BHAICHAND PATEL, retired after an illustrious career with the United Nations, is now a journalist based out of New Dehli and Bombay, an expert on Bollywood, and author of three non-fiction books published by Penguin. I edited Patel’s best-selling debut novel, Mothers, Lovers, and Other Strangers, published by Pan Macmillan. Read more. . .


SCOTT WILBANKS, represented by Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, is the author of the debut novel, The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster, published by Sourcebooks in August, 2015. I’m working with Wilbanks on his sophomore novel, Easy Pickens, the story of the world’s only medically-diagnosed case of chronic naiveté. Read more. . .


SCOTT WARRENDER is a professional musician and Annie Award-nominated lyricist specializing in musical theater. I work with Warrender regularly on his short stories and debut novel, Putaway. Read more. . .


M. TERRY GREEN enjoys a successful self-publishing career with multiple sci-fi/fantasy series set in the Multiverse, based upon her expertise in anthropology and technology. I worked with Green to develop a new speculative fiction series. Read more. . .


DARREN D. BEYER is an ex-NASA experiment engineer who has worked on every Space Shuttle orbiter but Challenger. In his sci-fi Anghazi Series, Beyer uses his scientific expertise to create a galaxy in which “space bridges” allow interstellar travel based upon the latest in real theoretical physics. Read more. . .


ANIA VESENNY, represented by Beverly Slopen Literary Agency, is a recipient of the Evelyn Sullivan Gilbertson Award for Emerging Artist in Literature and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I edited Vesenny’s debut novel, Swearing in Russian at the Northern Lights, and her second novel, Sandara. Read more. . .


STUART WAKEFIELD is the #1 Kindle Best Selling author of Body of Water, the first novel in his Orcadian Trilogy. Body of Water was 1 of 10 books long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. I edited Wakefield’s second novel, Memory of Water, and look forward to editing the final novel of his Orcadian Trilogy, Spirit of Water. Read more. . .


GERALDINE EVANS is a best-selling British author. Her historical novel, Reluctant Queen, is a Category No 1 Best Seller on Amazon UK. I edited Death Dues, #11 in Evans’ fifteen popular Rafferty and Llewellyn cozy police procedurals, which received a glowing review from the Midwest Book Review. Read more. . .


JUDY LEE DUNN is an award-winning marketing blogger. I am working with Dunn to develop and line edit her memoir of reconciling liberal activism with her emotional difficulty accepting the lesbianism of her beloved daughter, Tonight Show comedienne Kellye Rowland. Read more. . .


LISA MERCADO-FERNANDEZ writes literary novels of love, loss, and friendship set in the small coastal towns of New England. I edited Mercado-Fernandez’ debut novel The Shoebox and second novel The Eighth Summer. Read more. . .


JEFF RUSSELL is the author of the debut novel, The Rules of Love and Law, based upon Jeff’s abiding passions for legal history and justice. Read more. . .


LEN JOY is the author of the debut novel, American Past Time. I worked with Len to develop his novel from its core: a short story about the self-destructive ambitions of a Minor League baseball star. Read more. . .


ALEX KENDZIORSKI is an American physician working in South Africa on community health education and wildlife conservation. I edited Kendziorski’s debut novel Wait a Season for Their Names about the endangered African painted wolf, for which he is donating the profits to wildlife conservation. Read more. . .


ALEXANDRA GODFREY blogs for the New England Journal of Medicine. I work with Godfrey on her short fiction and narrative nonfiction, including a profile of the doctor who helped save her son’s life, “Mending Broken Hearts.” Read more. . .


In addition, I work with scores of aspiring writers in their apprenticeship to this wonderful literary art and craft.

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