From the Depths of Insanity!!!!!

Scan_20171004 (3)What the heck was I thinking?  Committing to Inktober2017 was horribly naïve.  I am so far out of my depth that the deep-sea fishes–the kind with running lights and glow lures–think I am stupid for risking this crush-depth.  I mean, it’s fun, creative, and nerve-racking, and I’m getting to do things I haven’t done for DECADES, and I’m learning lots about myself…

Well, I guess I answered my own question.  And I wouldn’t be the first artistic/creative person who switched mediums, or just found some days were better for different mediums.  The stories are still there, on a low simmer, but so much creative effort is going into each piece of art that I don’t have any to spare.  I am getting some editing done in the early am, so I still have a hand in.  Struggling to get the beta reading done, and the helpful posts haven’t happened.  Sorry.

So, I hope all of you have productive and creative weeks.  I’ll get a handle on my schedule, one way or another. I hope the spin I gave the Franz Kafka quote (above) gives you a chuckle.  My apologies to Terry Pratchett for his use of the “Five Exclamations of Madness,” and for stealing the newspaper idea.

Artists Are Nature’s Pinhole Cameras

 

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The dappled sunlight during an eclipse.  You don’t even need a pinhole camera to see it.

 

Artists are the pinhole cameras of society.  We create shadow plays of the events happening in our culture.  Sometimes the shadows are what you expect; sometimes every thing changes and moves, or even disappears.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that ART (including fiction) is the safe place to watch the big, cosmic things happen.  You don’t need special equipment, or mechanical tricks of light and shadow.  This service we provide is a part of out nature if our voices are free.  We show you intangible things like eclipses and justice.  The feel of sunlight and hope.  Of darkness and despair.  We show you as much as we can, to the best of our ability, but also within our limits.  It’s up to you, and me, what we do with it.  We create the world we live in.

I keep forgetting to mention it, but I really do like hearing your points of view (and stories) on my various topics of writerly life.  Sometimes I’m slow on a response, or completely miss a comment, but I AM trying to make myself available as a sounding board.  It makes the whole thing seem less like self-imposed solitude.  NOBODY understands the creative weirdness of the artist/writer life like another artist/writer.  So feel free to comment, here or on Facebook.  (Twitter seems harder to follow threads, but also do-able.)

“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!

 

Head-in-the-Clouds Musings

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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!

Today, I Will Nap.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell, I got through the Beautiful Freaks Fest with most of my brain intact.  I don’t feel it was my best writing, and the fiber arts/artifact creation/photography caused lots of insomnia, and nearly gave me a panic attack by Sunday.  Sooooo many things got cut out of the posts because my imagination far exceeds my time and abilities.  I had to be vague with specific details, like dates, names, and locations, because the second I commit, I HAVE to make sure everything is 100% historically accurate, and I would have never pushed the “publish” button, AND that would have been its own kind of failure.  Also, I was so busy trying to get my own posts out, I couldn’t get to the other writers/artists to look/like/share their work, too.

I also ignored a lot of weekend chores to get anything posted, and there is a vague sense I was only half aware during the conversations I had with my family.  Writer’s fog, I call it, although it affects all creative types.  I will hope for their forgiveness, and try to do better in the future.

BUT, I did it!  Three fiction posts in three days!  The links to the fest are still open, so I will spend the week visiting my co-conspirators.  Please, visit them, too.

I didn’t realize how comfy I had become with the “publish” button while running a blog.  All the old anxieties came roaring back when it was a work of fiction.  This does not bode well for future self-publishing, and puts another tick mark in the traditional publishing column.  Hmmm…

When I wrote the original short story six months ago, a letter from a man to his sister, begging her to come home and help him deal with the aftermath of the Fae touching his life, I had no idea it would go in this direction.  Now, I have the beginnings of a blog serial, and perhaps I’ll collect it into a novella.  (Although pic heavy e-books are difficult to format, from what I have heard.)  There is so much more to that short story than I thought.  Time to dig deeper into the research.  Yay!  Research!

What else is in my future?  Finishing the other short story, catching up on beta reading for friends, overdue reviews for other friends, revising and editing my novels, more blogging with my creative brain exposed, and hopefully–somehow–getting my work out into the world and published.

But first, I’m going to take a nap.

Happy writing!

UPDATE 6/28/2018;  The Mayfly Bride fiction posts were removed to revise and submit to anthologies.  Sorry for any inconvenience.

Cue the Music…

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Cue the calliope music; I signed up for the Beautiful Freaks Fest.  Watch to see if I drop the ball, plates, chainsaws, my brain, or what ever it is that makes me think I am a writer.  I’ll be posting free content for three days this weekend.  The plan is a combo of story telling, pics of fiber arts, and bad poetry.  I’m not ready (this weekend wasn’t productive in that way) but I’m trying to play catch up this week.

I’m also stalled out on the horror short story.  I haven’t been able to sit down for it for four days, despite getting a first reader to read the first half and tell me I was pointed in the right direction.  I KNOW the direction, and this is the second draft, so it should be just a matter of sitting in the chair and typing, but there seems to be a block.  There is also the issue of almost five thousand words and being only half way through.  I’m pushing the envelope of short story word length.  We’ll see how that plays out.

Happy writing, and I’ll see you this weekend!

Update 6/28/2018: The story for this festival, The Mayfly Bride, was removed to be revised and submitted to anthologies.  Sorry for any inconvenience.

Is the Writer Blocked, or Just Stupid?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome writers believe in Writer’s Block, and some don’t.  Whatever you want to call it, there are times that the words don’t flow, or what does come out is garbage.  It happens.  The trick is to figure out why.

In my continuing quest to let you see my abby-normal brain working (no flash photography, please) let’s poke at the short story that has stalled out.

I’ve got the characters, some dialogue, some introspection, some action, a twist, some creepy shit (it’s horror), and a decent circling back ending.  In the past I’ve been able to run with this much, and flesh out the story around these bones, but I only have about half.  Mostly what I’ve written this week is just not “muscle.”  It’s goo.  Or phlegm, or something like snot from a sinus infection.  There is not a lot of it, either, which is seriously screwing up my daily word count promise to myself.

I’ve picked at it during breaks in the day job.  I’ve taken walks.  I’ve read good books.  I’ve watched new TV shows.  I’ve organized part of the garage and attic.  I’ve napped.  I’ve sat down and just written oozing, stinking garbage to see if that will jar it loose.  It’s not budging, and I’m running out of time.  (It’s a self-imposed time restriction, so the only one hurt if I miss it is me.  But, shit, I’m tired of hurting myself.)

There’s a history book beside my knee that is the right time period for the story, but I haven’t cracked open.  Why?  I don’t know.  (I think I won’t like what I’ll find.)  There is also a book of the same genre that I’ve been meaning to read.  That could give it a jump-start, but I just leave it closed.  Why? I don’t know.  (Ditto.)

Something isn’t right, and I’m not sure if it’s one of the elements of the story, or that I’m just a shit writer.

If it’s the story, something will jar things loose.  Some small bit of information, or a sudden realization, or a casual comment dropped into a conversation.  I’ll adjust the elements to accommodate the changes, and be writing happily within minutes, without a frackin’ care in the world.  Magic.  Abra-cadabra-skippity-dee-do.  Familiar magic, at this point, but magic all the same.

If I’m just a shit writer…  Well, this could take a while.  Because I’m not a shit writer, and if my brain is telling me that I am, then there’s some fear burbling to the surface.  Fear of failure.  Fear of success.  Fear of being an imposter.

Fear.

It’s something all people deal with, and writers are certainly not exempt.  Unnecessary fear is the brain confusing one thing with another. Chemicals for one job applied accidentally to the wrong job, but it sucks the artist’s brain into a pit of self-loathing, and climbing back out is everything.

It might be time to step back, and take another run at “Art and Fear,” which I have mentioned here, and re-examine what the hell I am doing.  I’ll keep y’all posted.

Happy writing!

(Ignore the fake smile.)

 

 

Are We All Mad?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWriters.  Are we all mad?

Is that why we all trying to write down our dreams and nightmares?

Today I feel like a blindfolded person trying to put together a puzzle the size of an elephant, and it’s a picture of an elephant, without ever having seen an elephant.  But I only have one piece.  Or is it too many pieces to hold all at once?

I find more pieces when I read other writer’s stories.  Is that why we write?  To show our pieces to others?  Is each story a piece, or each writer?

There are so many of us, now that there are so many places and ways to publish.  Why do the stories need so many writers?  Is it all one big story?  A meta story?  A story that wants to be told?  Are WE the tools, and not our pens and computers?

All I have today are questions.  Are we all mad?

Or, is it just me?

 

What is Inspiration?

Inspiration.  Is it a freight train or a butterfly?

For me, receiving inspiration feels like being struck with lightning wrapped in bacon, or being ambushed by the teasing scent of your favorite flower on your daily walk.  Either way, it’s never the same place twice.  Or arrives in the same way. Because it’s not just the world that changes in the blink of every eye; YOU change that quickly, too.

What has me musing on the subject of inspiration this morning?  Last week I got to watch it in action.  And it was sooooooo cool!

Writers like to observe things.  We are The Watchers of things, and like the comic book characters, we store it all in our grey matter.

If we are smart writers, we make writing a habit.  Even when we aren’t inspired; even if we don’ wanna.  Even if we aren’t being paid for it, yet, we make some space in our lives that is writing time.  Be it bed time, break time, the kid’s naptime, laundry day, Sunday, or every day, we set out some mental space to create with words.

I’ve had this mental writing space in the past, and I wanted it back, so I have worked for it over the last few months, with a lot of bad days and good days.  Inspired days, and slog days.  Golden thesaurus days, and obscenity dripping days.  Numb-to-the-world days, and bleeding-in-gushes-and-spurts days.  Writing days.  You know, normal days, like everyone has.

So I had the good seats to watch myself receive inspiration.  It is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer needs to get their name out into the world, and while exposure won’t pay the bills, it can lead to more opportunities.  Yet another chance to submit to an anthology came up and for some reason it caught my eye, despite my failures in the past.  I didn’t have anything that could be modified to fit the theme, so that meant I had to write something new.  There is an open time limit on submissions, but it’s 2/3 full, so there is a bit of a race to submit before the slots are filled.

I began gathering bits of memory together; myths, stories, mental pictures, personal history, and remembered emotions. While discarding those bits that didn’t fit the anthology’s theme, I started fitting everything together, creating the “What if?” questions that will drive the story.

(BTW, I also realized the I do use a type of outline in my process, meaning things had to make sense to me to progress through the story, but it all happens in my head and is very amorphous until the plot is set with an internal logic.  I’m not as much of a “pantser” as I thought.  Huh.)

Flashes of lightning formed in the process, like the flashes you can see in a far off thunderstorm.  Stark blue and white and amber lit my personal night sky, backed by the deep, moist grey and angry navy of storm clouds.  The hidden alchemy of thought meeting thought.  A part of me watched the process, and it was beautiful.

When the flashes  slowed and weakened before I had a full plot, hook or twist, I posed a question to one of the writing groups I follow.  The conversation helped, but I needed more.  I posted to another group, and got a few takers, the conversation causing the “What if?” storm to roil and seethe, flashing like the strobe lights at an illegal underground dance club.  I rubbed my hands together in glee, chuckling evilly, manic grin stretching my lips, as flashes of inspiration brought the story to life.

“IT’S ALIVE!!!!!”

So, that is what inspiration feels like to me.  I don’t know if I can write the story well enough.  I don’t know if I will make the cut off before the slots are filled.  I don’t know if it will be good enough to be accepted into the anthology, or I’ll be forced to shop for another home.  What I do know, is that I have a new story.  It’s in rough draft bits, crammed tightly together with notes, and in the wrong order, and some of it’s still in my head, and some of it needs research, and refining, and to be typed, and edited, revised, edited, again, and again.

But I have a new story I adore.  That is the coolest feeling.

And I’m telling you the story of its creation so you might find some amusement or hope or even a bit of inspiration.  That seems to be my thing as a blog writer, writing about writing to writers, to serve as an example, for better or worse.  Let me open up my head for you to observe.  Please, no touching.  Or sneezing.  Euwww!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI didn’t have a picture of bacon wrapped lighting, but this is the flower that stalks me like a ninja.  Behold, the invasive, humble, and childhood-memory-infused Honeysuckle.

Happy Writing!