Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘creative life’

The Stories We Tell

I’ve been thinking a lot about storytelling. I think it is because my novel hit a wall and I realized I have to rethink the story. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I’ve been trying different versions to see what works. So far I haven’t found anything I like.

I have other short stories that I’ve started and not finished. I could work on them too. Like I said before, one of my goals is to write 6 new short stories this year (along with a novel). So far I’ve finished one. We’re into the fourth month of the year, so I need to get going. I don’t want to wake up and it’s November and I haven’t done anything.

Watching TV sometimes help. As some critics have said, we are in a golden age of TV. (Anyone else ready for the final season of Game of Thrones?) There are so many shows on TV and different ways of telling a story. Last night was the season premiere of Killing Eve and I love the storytelling on that show. It unfolds with these unbelievable circumstances, but their actions are completely in tune with each character. I just love it. My guilty pleasure.Also I find more plot driven shows, help me see a beginning, middle and end. Seeing how the writers lead the viewers on an arch is becoming helpful.

I’ve also been rereading myths. Why do some people become heroes and others become villains? What makes them good? Why does the audience care about them?

These are all the questions I’ve been exploring to help me write. My main character in my novel has conflict, but I’m not sure why she is doing what she is doing. I don’t understand her motivation. I guess I don’t know her well enough. You’d think after years, I would know more. Just goes to show that characters are always changing and surprising you.

One thing is for sure. The more I think about this in my writing, the better my writing is going to get. I’m not much of a spontaneous writer. I always leave some room for surprise, but I don’t like to just write and see where it goes. Nope. Not that kind of writer. I like to know my stories well. I’ll memorize the passages and live in the character’s heads for a while. Then I can write the story, their story, the way it should be.

Write Different Pieces to Fire Up Your Creativity

I’ll tell you a secret.

I write really bad poetry.

It’s cheesy and rhymes. There is no point to a lot of them. They ramble on and on…

But I write them to write. They are in my head, so I write them down and then moved on to something else. When I was younger (like a teenager), I would write every idea that came into my head in spiral notebooks. I still have those ideas and half written stories in a box somewhere. Many of them are bad, but I wasn’t writing them to show anyone or to publish. I wrote them because I wanted to write.

I do this now mostly in my personal journal. I write about my day (or week) and then move on to the next piece. I have no intention of showing anyone my journal ever. Really it can be quite boring.

Some people may think, “What’s the point of writing stuff no one will read?”

Well… it does take the pressure off. Writing the poetry and the journals help me write with out expectation. No one will read it, so it doesn’t have to be great literature, or even make sense. I’m just writing to blow off steam, or create. It can be stupid, sentimental, words that make everyone roll their eyes if they read it, but it doesn’t matter because no one will.

For me, this freedom helps me move on to the other work that I want to share. Writing in my journal helps me write on this blog. Every now and then, I’ll say to myself, “This would make a good post!” So I take note and write the idea down. The bad poetry helps me think about images or ideas that I may explore in my fiction.

Sometimes I even write stories that I have no intention of submitting. Those stories help me work out a character, or a setting, or some technique I want to work on. I remember writing and erotica story just to get better at sex scenes. I didn’t like any of my previous attempts, but when I deliberately set out to write something sexy, my writing changed. I think it got better. But that story is in the (so called) trunk. It served its purpose and I’ve moved on.

Give yourself permission to write the bad stuff. It’ll help you grow. You’ll have fun. Don’t worry about what someone else is going to think. You’re not going to show anyone anyway.

Don’t Give Up – 2019

             You know what to do.

Do you need to hear this today?

Don’t Give Up!

Sometimes I need to hear it.

You know those days when nothing seems to be going right and you think you’ve wasted time? That’s when you need to hear it. Or maybe it’s when you were so sure about something and nothing came from it. Maybe that’s when you needed to hear this command.

Don’t Give Up!

I got a rejection letter the day I got out of the hospital. I got home, took some pain pills, settled down, and made the mistake of looking at my e-mail. There was the succinct letter saying (very politely) the usual version of, “Thanks, but it’s a no. Good luck with the story.”

Oh man! I didn’t want to see that…

Not the day I get home and I’m puffy from the IV fluids.

Not the day I’m popping pain meds every six hours.

Not the day my stomach hurts because of the twenty inch incision made three days ago.

No. Nope. Nada. This sucks. Rejection sucks.

But I didn’t quit. I love that story. I know it will find a home.

How do I know?

Because a few days later I got another e-mail. Somebody — some blessed stranger — bought my chapbook. They plunked down their hard-earned monies and bought my book.

I was honored and humbled.

A couple months later I saw a call for an anthology. My story would be perfect for it. It opened April 1. So, you know I submitted it right away!

Don’t Give Up!

You never know what’s going to happen next.

 

 

Goals for 2019

It’s 2019! Happy New Year!

I’m 26 days out from my surgery and feeling good. Not going to lie, it was a tough recovery and I didn’t really feel good until around the 14th (about a week after I came home from the hospital). But day by day, I felt better and while I didn’t get any writing done, I did have a lot of time to think about what my goals were going to be for the year. For the first time in a while, I can really concentrate on writing. I don’t have to think about money, or my health. I’ve cleared those hurdles, and while I’ll keep an eye on other parts of my life, this year, I’d like to shift the focus back on getting my writing career moving forward.

Also, please enjoy these snowy pictures I took. It may be cold, but winter can be beautiful.

Goal #1– Finish my novel

I’ve been working on and off since 2014 on this book. It needs to be finished. Even if it is bad, I need to finish it. For a long time, I didn’t think I had another novel in me. I wrote two other novels years ago (think late 90’s and early 00’s) and they were bad… but I finished them. This new novel is the first idea I’ve had that I think could be a full novel. I JUST HAVE TO FINISH.

Goal #2 – Write 6 new short stories this year.

This one is a bit of a cheat. I have 2 stories that I’ve started and I need to finish them. So really, I just need to write 4 completely new stories. Not too hard. I’ve found that calls for themes in journals, or, anything really, can spark a story for me. I also find them to be a good break in between novel writing.

Goal #3 – Write 100K words

Not hard if I finish my novel.

Goal #4 – Grow followers of the blog

I’ve had this blog for a while now. 10 years (next month) I think. And while, I’ve never been too hung up on growing my following, I shouldn’t ignore it either. I think the best way to do this is to post more often. Consistency breeds growth.

Other Goals

  • I haven’t forgotten about my 100 rejections challenge from a few years ago. I’m still doing it. I got 3 more rejections this month. Currently, I’m up to 75.
  • I also want to attend more writer conferences. So I think I will set myself the goal of going to 4 this year — one for every season.
  • More consistent with the blog. I’m thinking about changing the look, but we’ll see.

That’s all my writing goals for 2019. Wish me luck. See you on the next post!

What are some of your goals?

 

New Story Published at Four Star Stories

Look A New Story!      photo: Department of the Interior

 

My new story “Future Virtual Love” is now live at the Four Star Stories website. Click here to read it in full!

For all of my fellow writers, I wanted to give some background info on the evolution of the story.

The first version was written sometime in late 2012. I later revised it and added more (about 1500 or so more words). I then workshopped it twice. The first time in summer 2013 and then later in fall 2013. During summer 2013, my professor encouraged me to submit. I had held off submitting, because I wanted to focus just on craft while in grad school, but she said that the story was strong, and I should try. So off it went into the cycle of submissions and rejections.

During my thesis in Spring 2015, my advisor said that I should try submitting it with a significant portion cut. It wasn’t that the story was bad, in fact the whole story was part of my thesis and accepted. Honestly, her advice came from the feedback the story was getting from editors. “The story is good,” they would say, “but not quite for us.” It got quite a few personal rejections and, yes, that spurred me on, but also made me take second, or even third looks at my work. Then, my advisor suggested that I submit the shorter version instead.

3.5 years after that first workshop… 1 year after thesis… 18 rejections later… I submitted to Four Star Stories in July 2016. In September 2017, I got the acceptance e-mail.

Now in February 2018, the story is published.

Yay!

This experience taught me a lot, but there are TWO big lessons:

  1. Believe in your work. If you think your work is worth publishing, eventually others will as well. It may take time, but it will happen.
  2. Don’t be afraid to take a hard look at your writing and change it if YOU want to. (Don’t let anyone talk you into changing something you think is right and true.) No story is perfect, and don’t revise until the story is a mere shell, but do take a look at it and see if there is anything that can get better. As an artist, we should strive to be better at our craft then we were the day before.

Don’t stop learning.

Don’t stop growing.

Summer 100K Results & Beginning of Short Story September

I haven’t finished typing up everything I wrote for the months of July and August 2016, but as I said before, I didn’t hit 100K words. I still estimate that it will be closer to 10 – 11K in words. This is a huge feat when you consider I had barely 1, 000 words this year. Once I finish typing it all up, I’ll give the final results (hopefully this week). So what happened that kicked my productivity into overtime? Here are a few things:

Change of Routine

July chugged along and I didn’t have much success, so in August I threw the game plan out the window and radically changed my routine. Up until that time, I had been an evening writer. My routine was to wake up, have a breakfast, work (I work from home full-time now.), workout, shower, dinner, and then finally write. You know what? By the time I got my workout in, showered, and ate, the last thing I felt like doing was writing. I just wanted to turn my brain off and watch TV or surf the net.

I had tried working out in the morning, but I couldn’t do it. I’m an early riser, but I liked working out at the end of my day after sitting in front of my computer. I was used to writing in the evening, because that’s what I did when I went to an office. But once I started working from home, I had no evening commute. So I got lazy and pushed the time further and further back until I was writing at the same time some TV show was on that I didn’t want to miss. (Side note: I don’t have cable so no DVR.)

So I told myself starting in August I was going to write first thing in the morning. I woke up and before I got dressed, looked at the news, or ate any food, I would write. And it worked. The pages started to pile up. Chapters got finished. I no longer felt worn out or tired when I wrote. I also didn’t feel guilty about staring at the TV, or going out at night. Before I would beat myself up for not writing, but now I could say – I got some writing in this morning. I’m good.

Consistency

Not everyday was perfect. I missed 6 days in August. But today is the 22nd day in a row I have written some fiction. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t want to break the streak. That can be addictive. I would say to myself You’ve made it 10 days, why not go for 11? And I would pick up my notebook and get a few words down, happy as a clam that the streak was still alive. Some days I still had to write at night, but mostly these were morning writing words. They were the first things done before the rest of the world got moving.

Speed

I have accepted at this point in my writing life, I am not a fast writer. I don’t get 1,000 words written a day. I get closer to 200-300 words done. While I admire those that can churn out fast copy, it’s not me. Frankly, I’d rather be slow, but consistent. The words do add up. Maybe one day I will build up my speed, but right now, I just want to be consistent again. Once in a while, I will do a marathon day, but that will burn me out. Yesterday was Labor Day in the US, and a holiday for most. I spent about 5 hours or so finishing a story. I happy it’s done, but I don’t want to do that everyday.

Conclusion

I’m going to stick with this routine until it doesn’t work anymore. That’s the most valuable thing I learned. When your routine doesn’t serve your needs, it’s time to change it. You might have great success.

Also I want to make a note that it is time for my annual challenge to myself called Short Story September. I started in 2014 writing a new short story every week. Last year (2015) I tried writing a story everyday, with not so great results. So I’m back to a new story every week. I’ve already started the story for this week and hope to be done by Saturday. I’m also writing a novel, so I may switch things up and work on that this month too. Either way I want 4 new short stories and/or 4 new chapters.

Submissions are also chugging along. I’m at 55 rejections, and I have four currently out for consideration. Hope to have a few more by the end of the month.

Thanks everyone for reading. Happy Writing!