Old friend. Gold advice.

Last week was spring break, dudes! Spring break at the McLanes! (Or, as it is known in the world of stay-at-home-moms, MANDATORY OVERTIME.) Not that I don’t love hanging with my kid. I do. But it’s pretty hard to get anything else done when you’re hanging with a four-year-old who likes to get the party started before 7 am.

2013-03-07 07.32.02

I call this “alarm clock in flight”

But something really good happened last week: I happened to have a long chat with my old writer pal, Mart. Mart and I met in 2001 at Clarion, where we were suite-mates. We got along well despite the fact that she was a reasonable adult and I was a 21-year-old idiot. (Mart is sort of a Wendy in that respect, she always has a Lost Boy or Girl under her wing; she’s Good like that.) And since we were both native Michiganders, we continued to hang out after Clarion was done. But we’ve only talked sporadically over the last few years, and just happened to touch base last Wed. And it turns out we had some smart things to say to one another.

So without further ado, and in the hopes that some of this might inspire some of you, here is Mart’s best writing advice to me, (and vis-à-vis). Transcript has been edited for coherency and to avoid spoiler-ing Mart’s WIP, which is her story to tell, not mine.


Martha Allard

Which brings me to my snag in the book. Well one of them.


Amy McLane

what snag?


Martha Allard



Amy McLane

write it. You can always go back and change things if they don’t work out. You can’t fix a blank page except by putting words on it.


Amy McLane

and then I’ve got two different short stories I’m poking around on but the things I’m trying to say with them are really big and hard so the one I’m most afraid of is a little stalled out because I’m scared of it and it’s one of those situations where I’ll have to write 10k and then cut cut cut to get to the heart of it, the other one is less personal (inspired by a Post Secret) so it’s coming along slow but sure


Martha Allard

Write the scary stuff. But you know that.


Amy McLane

I know. And I will.

The next day I was driving in rush hour traffic when I started getting lines in my head for Scary Story I Am Afraid to Write. I suddenly saw one of the pivotal plot turns, and once I voice-recorded it on my phone, I got the ending. How the end had to be, and how I’d been avoiding it. Because it was what I feared. And I realized I had stalled out because I’d been desperately trying to avoid that ending, but without it the story would be watered-down to the point of incoherency. Which is why I stalled out on it. Circle of Life! But now, thanks to Mart’s gentle butt-kick, I know what I need to do.

Gotta love a true-blue friend. Always good for a butt-kick.