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!

Cue the Music…

Beautiful-Freaks-Fest-2017

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!

Slow Writing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARevision of the short story is going slow.  I can only manage one scene per morning, no matter how much time I actually have to write.  Also, WTF is with only able to write in the morning?  I used to be able to write any time of day.  Now, my brain seems to be fried baloney by noon and I end up on social media, or reading emails and blogs.

AND the story I liked and thought I had a pretty good handle on?  The revision is bigly different, and much better, I think.  I don’t know.  Crap!

Sorry if this is all tedious to you.  Since I am only in my fourth year of writing seriously, with expected results and an eye toward publishing, I seem to be struggling with my methods.  I know that each story requires different things, but GEEEZZZ!

On top of all that, and a busy week at the day job, an online writing fest has caught my eye.  Another un-paid Horror gig, but you have to get your name out there, right?  Right?  Fortune favors the bold?  Anything less feels like standing still.  I’m not sure how I can pull together something good in less than two weeks, let alone scary, but I can’t stop thinking about it.

Seriously, what is with me writing Horror all the sudden?  I gave up reading it in my twenties because I like to sleep at night.  Maybe writing it won’t have the same effect, but can I really expect to produce good work if I’m not reading the genre?  A lot of the on-line writer friends I’ve made are horror writers, and I need to read and review their work to help support them.  I foresee a lot of sleeping with the lights on in my future.

Either way, I think I’m about to get too many plates in the air, spinning all at once.  Listen for the crash!

Let me go find something useful to do, instead of all this angsty writer feels.

Happy writing.

Shhhhh! I’m Busy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShhhh!  I’m busy writing, or at least typing.  The writing happened last week.

The rough draft of the short story came together, all at once, in 1600 words worth of missing scenes.  The rest of the week was spent in re-reading and taking notes.  I don’t remember exactly what was the tipping point.  Doesn’t really matter, since that is not the kind of thing you can re-create on the next project.  Each project requires a different set of circumstances.

Now I’m on to the second draft, typed this time.  What you should know about me is this is almost harder than the rough draft.  I’ve never worked in an office, so computers and technology are not my everyday tools, although I did take a typing class way back in high school.  My keyboarding style is best described as “Monkey-Chicken Hybrid on Caffeine.”

But, before I go, let me type up a few thoughts that occurred during the week.

Writing is work.  If you don’t also enjoy the process, please, go find something pleasant to do with your time.  Save your sanity.

Editing/revision is where you make sure the words are fit for another brain.  YOU understand the story, but will another person just reading the words–without your brain–understand what you are trying to say?

Watermelon is the food of the Gods.

Teenagers are crazy.

Graphic novels are pictures and story, and I LOVE them.

Punctuation, grammar, and slang should reflect the target audience.  Anything else is just making it harder to be read, understood, and enjoyed.

I gotta get back to typin’.  Have a good ‘un.

 

 

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!