Thank You, Random Newbie Writer!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, exactly HOW new do you have to be at writing to have JUST discovered Grammerly, yet still feel the NEED to tell a writer’s group you belong to that using it is lazy?  That writers should just pick up a book or a dictionary?  (Shall we tell them about Pro-writing Aid, Scrivener and the other dozen-odd programs that give writers a hand?)

Thank you, random newbie writer; I really needed a laugh today!

Mostly, because I’m still processing events from this weekend, and I wish I could say I was surprised, but it feels like I’ve been watching this happen in slow motion for a very long time.  So many warnings were ignored by those who needed to listen.  (Will they listen now?)  I also really, really wish I believed this would be the last incident.  My fears tell me the worst is yet to come.

As for my editing/revision adventure, I have tightened up the first chapter in the WIP, and already foresee things in later chapters that will get the CHOP.  I doubt there will be only one pass through the whole thing.  I haven’t really started incorporating the notes, yet, plus there will be a round of text-to-talk, and a round of Grammerly or one of the other aids.  Once that is finished, I will either start seeking an agent or small press, or take the chance on self publishing.  The plot thickens (hopefully).

Happy writing, y’all!

“Ping!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile I was patting myself on the back last week for having a Good Excuse ™ for not writing, and the resulting blog post hid the fact that I was a bit panicky about not writing, I was unaware my brain had sifted into a different mode.

Yes, I was right in the middle of a fight scene.  Yes, it was THAT fight scene: the one with the inappropriately erotic words snuck into it.  I was also working on the second draft of another short story, where I tackle the nearly illegible pen and paper scribbles and try to type them into a coherent story.  Both are highly creative forms of writing, at least for me.

And they fell flat.  Just gone, and hardly missed in the crazy prep for an anime con.  When they didn’t come back on my first normal day for writing, I panicked a bit.  Truthfully, a LOT.

I could feel them fizzing, or burbling, like a  warm pot on the back burner of a stove, waiting for the right time to have a last-minute ingredient added.  I’ve felt this sensation before, so I was soothed, because it comes back, the creative side of writing, when it is ready, and not a damn minute before.  But that still left me stuck in front of blank pages…

Until I realized I had done something unusual to the novel that I laughingly refer to as my Work-In-Progress, despite the fact that I haven’t been able to stand the sight of it in nearly a year.  I had been re-reading it in the evenings, to unwind, instead of my to-read pile.

And it’s rough, and I have made my usual mistakes, and I’ve made eighteen pages of notes for changes over the past year, but I still love the story, and I’m ready to work on it.

You know, being a writer would be a lot easier if we got some kind of notice when our brains sifted to another mode.  I didn’t realize I was IN editing/revision.  There should be some kind of “ping,” or spider-sense, or notice hammered to our front door.  Instead we are suddenly swimming against the current, and struggling.

I’m better prepared for the task, this time, due to research and time spent working on smaller projects.  It seems a less insurmountable mountain, shrouded in thick clouds.  I can at least SEE what I need to achieve.  My intention is to have a ready manuscript for either agent shopping or self publishing by the end of the year, if not sooner.  Time will tell if I am up to the task.

Happy writing, editing, revision, or whatever!

 

Sometimes Family Comes First

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMeet Dexter, my latest excuse for not finishing my writing projects.  He took two days to complete from scratch, 3-D pattern-making as I went, because I couldn’t find one for sale on the internet.  The hands took five tries, but they are pose-able.

Why?  I’m glad you asked.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHer.  When you have a child with autism, you will do anything to make her feel accepted and liked.  And when she wants to cosplay an obscure video game character named Jak, you make a soft sculpture of the sidekick, Daxter.  Because you have the skill and you make the time.  And you watch her glow under the attention of excited fans of old video games, as they ask for pictures and reminisce over their misspent youth.

You end the day exhausted but happy, without a single word written for nearly a week, because you don’t waste chances like this.

When you are a writer, you WRITE EVERY DAY YOU CAN.  But you also put it down for moments like this.  Life gives you something to write about.  Don’t forget to LIVE!

Happy writing!

Head-in-the-Clouds Musings

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I had a startling thought the other day.  One of the Facebook writing groups had a post asking for confessions of clichéd tropes we secretly liked.  It didn’t take long for me to figure out mine.  For all the modern whining about “the Chosen One” and “Mary Sue” and other criticisms of the Hero’s Journey, I actually love the moment when a character realizes and accepts that they have a destiny, or finds that they have a real gift to save others.  That sense of hope of finding your place in the world.

I guess it’s something I wish I had.  Reading and writing are the closest I ever come to that feeling.  I have to remind myself that you can get away with anything if the readers like it.

In other news, a Facebook meme prompted me to make a declaration I may live to regret.

The joke was that a writer had used up all the good words while writing a sex scene and couldn’t write another, the implication being you shouldn’t use the same words over again, to avoid annoying the reader.  A friend commented that the good words must have been “thrust,” “thighs,” and “BBQ sauce.”  (Hahahahaha!)  My declaration was that I would use those same good words in my next fight scene, along with “moist,” “throbbing,” and “lave.”  (I adore “moist” as much as I loathe “lave.”  “Throbbing” is likely to spark giggles, even at forty-nine.)  More friends have added “ream” and “lather” to the list.  Challenge Accepted!

Accepted–mostly–because I said I would write them into a fight scene, not that they would survive the revision/editing process, or get published, but I am hopeful.  Honestly, I try to write fight scenes and erotic scenes in much the same way; as visceral as possible.  I have ranted on a similar topic before, in my old post “Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Spell Casting Scenes.”  (It’s rough and snarky, but I was new to blogging.)

The fight scene is shaping up nicely; it’s a new character, so her personality is still malleable.  I’m enjoying letting her tell me about this one time she had to fight bad guys while in this oddly erotic mental state.  I’ll keep you posted.

Also, I’m up to a hundred followers.  Yay!

Unless someone backs out…  Hey!  Where ya going?

Happy writing!

Daydreaming “In Calabria”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPeter S. Beagle published “The Last Unicorn” in 1968.  He was twenty-nine.  I was born the same year, so that book was not immediately on my reading list.

In fact, I did not discover the story until the 1982 animated film.  It would not be an exaggeration to say it helped shape my life.  It was one of many films and books that molded my view of the world, including my fascination and love for animation, movies, storytelling, myths, and fairy tales.  I never grew out of those first loves, and over time I learned that was a fine thing.  I still dream of the Red Bull, waves of unicorns coming in on the tide, human folly, and a unicorn’s regret.

I was in my twenties before I got a hold of a copy of the book he had written.  It was sublime.  I found more of Mr. Beagle’s books in my thirties and forties, but not all, to my current embarrassment.  The books I read were all very fine things.  He’s not a rock-star author, nor a household name, but I adore his command of language.  His prose weaves a subtle spell created from ethereal mists and hard labor.

I was shocked to find his latest work, “In Calabria,” in my local library’s new arrivals, but in a pleasant way.  I honestly didn’t realize he was still writing at 78.  This is a new goal for me, to be still publishable at that age, even if it’s too late to match being published in my twenties.

So, I’m currently in book-dream-land.  It’s a timely vacation, since I am at a point in my life where I need help believing in the intangible magics, like love, justice, and hope.  Writer whining, unhelpful suggestions, and ridiculous posturing will be lacking this week, and maybe, that is a fine thing, too.

Happy writing, and please support your local library!

How Do I Avoid ALL of the Vampire Tropes and Clichés When Writing About Vampires?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

How do you avoid ALL of the Vampire tropes and clichés when writing about Vampires?

You can’t.

Seriously, you can’t.  If you have a story idea, just write it.  Yes, it has all been done and said before, especially if it involves vampires.  Or dystopian futures.  Or romance.  Or aliens. Or magic.  Or pretty much everything you can think of.

Who cares?  Do you have an idea?  A twist?  Are you mixing in science?  Or back to gothic supernatural?  Horror?  Something lighter?  Does it sound like it would be fun to write?  Then write it.  Later you can decide if it is useable or publishable.  People love this stuff for a reason, and a good story is always a good story.  Just don’t tell the same old story in the same old way.  Tell YOUR version.  Don’t you realize that EVERYBODY ELSE GOT IT WRONG!

I follow a couple of writer’s  Facebook pages, and I keep seeing questions like the title of this blog (or similar questions), over and over.  I used to comment, but I was one of many voices, and lost in the landslide of opinion.  Now, I just shake my head and scroll past.

Your choices are to not write about vampires at all, or just get in there and mix things up.  Play with the tropes.  Joke about them, and laugh with the reader.  Or make them scary, again.  Turn ideas on their head, inside out and upside down.  Build a world with hard and fast rules, or merely guidelines.  Find the source material and mine out the purest elements.  Take the mythology apart for the parts you want, and ignore what doesn’t work for you.

It doesn’t matter who or how many have written about vampires before.  Nobody else in the world has the exact personal mythology as you.  It is made up of all of the stories you have come across, real and fictional, liked or not, and the order they arrived in your life.  You are different from everyone else. Books, movies, family secrets, TV, conversations, cultural traditions, arguments, lucky happenings, personal tragedies; they all affect how YOU see the world.

Tropes and clichés–as annoying as they can be–are our shared mythology.  Don’t fear them.  They are your friends.  They show us that we are similar enough to understand each other, but different enough to learn from each other’s point of view.  They link us to people we have never met.

Don’t let writing what you love make you afraid of being repetitive.  Write the story you want to read.  If you decide you want to be published, then revise and edit to current standards.  It’s hard work, so decide if it’s worth it.

Just remember lots of people won’t like it , no matter what it is.  Make peace with that, or tell them to feck off, whichever is your style.  Hopefully, you will find an audience that loves the world and characters you created, and beg you for more.

Most importantly, and in the words of Noah Lukeman, “Don’t bore the reader.”

That’s How We Roll…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere is a very important thing I have taken away from all of my hours researching writing and writers–especially published writers–is that writers keep on writing.  Yes, there are pauses, breaks, blocks, family obligations, day jobs and all kinds of things that take time away from writing.  But, if you are a writer, you keep on writing.

Keep writing!  Even if it’s in the nooks and crannies of your life, you keep writing.  Maybe you have a place to write it down, or maybe it’s just an ongoing story writhing around in your head, but you keep writing.  Because it’s what you ARE, not what you DO.

It is both a tremendously liberating concept, and an incredibly restrictive one.

The reason I’m on the subject is I missed a deadline for an anthology I wanted.  I found out last Friday that the slots were full, and the pre-promotion had begun.  Ouch.  Saturday was busy with family, and Sunday I just read most of the day.  There was some internal whining about writing too slow, and generally sucking.  Whatever.

But this morning I wrote another six hundred plus words on that short story.  I like it.  I think I’m getting better, and I want to finish it.  I don’t plan on pulling a Bradbury, and writing several short stories a week, and using that to pay my bills, because he was an amazingly prolific writer.  But I do want to write more than one kind of story.

So, I’m going to finish it.  I’ll take out the bit that it needed to be in the anthology, send it to a beta or two, revise and edit, then start submitting it out to magazines or anthologies as I start the next writing project.

Because, that’s how writers roll.  You are right, Fortune Cookie fortune, and Mamma didn’t raise no fools.

Happy writing, y’all!