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Posts tagged ‘writing’

Continuing On…

It’s a new month and a new reality for me. The dust is starting to settle around my unemployment. I still feel like I should be working everyday and often I find notes written to myself about a work thing I needed to get done or a goal I wanted to hit. I forgot to stop the alerts on my calendar, so stuff pops up every now and then.

But I’ve also waded through the paper work for unemployment benefits, healthcare,  updating my resume, and job searching. I have to say – It’s nuts the way almost every employer wants you to create an account on their site just to submit a resume. I have so many passwords now… LOL.

Hey you gotta laugh, otherwise you’ll cry.

One thing I do want to address is my fiction writing career. For the first time in a long time, I have the time to really write, everyday, without feeling guilty. I apply to jobs in the morning and then in the afternoon, I pull out the stories. I don’t have to worry about taking time away from anything else, because I’m not doing anything else. It’s freeing.

Even when I was working full-time and I would take vacation days, I still didn’t write with total freedom. Days off meant doing things I would have the chance to do like travel and do house projects. Now I really have the time. I have to keep myself busy and active. The last thing I want is to start waking up at 10am and not get dressed until the afternoon.

Nope. Not a good idea.

So, I’m up at my usual time of 6am. I do my usual morning routine: lemon water, vitamins, scripting, and exercise. Then it’s make tea, get dressed, plan my day, and see what’s going on the world (usually an hour or so of morning talk shows). Then at 8am or so my (new) workday starts. So far so good.

As a reminder, I had 4 writing goals this year:

-Finish my novel

-Write 6 new short stories (1 down, 5 more to go.)

-Write 100K words

-Gain more followers on the blog (Got a nice little bump in April.)

That should be plenty to keep me busy. Let’s do this!

Keep Going!

Today I was reminded that it has been a year since I put a down payment on my first home. Two years ago, I lived in a different place and was plugging away at my goal to save up money. Time seemed to move much slower while I worked toward my goals. The days repeated over and over.

I felt like I would never get there.

I feel like that now. I’m plugging away at my novel and stories, but not really making any progress. Things are still unfinished. I know that I will be done one day. But that day seems so far off.

I have to remember that sometimes when you are in the middle, it is tough to see the end, but it is there. There is an end. You have to keep going and trust that you will get there.

I’ve done it before. I’ve gotten degrees, paid off lots of debt, saved up large sums of money, and written novels (and lots of short stories). All long-term goals I achieved. This should be a familiar thing to me.

And it is, but sometimes I need to be reminded. I need to keep going and until I get to the end.

I Did It! 30 Straight Days of Posting!

Hearts stand for the days I wrote.

Here we are at the end of the month. It was either March 30 or 31 when I decided to embark on this expirement. I figured I shouldn’t think about it too hard. I would go for it and see what happened.

For the first few days I didn’t even want to say publicly what I was doing. Many times I say I will do something and then life happens and I don’t get to it. So I thought I would post for a while and, if I made it to day ten, then I would say something. Not only did I make it to April 10, but all the way to day 30.

So what did learn by doing this?

First, as I said earlier, I do have the time to write. This month I had a birthday, worked full-time, had some personal and professional bad news, and had all the everyday pressures we all have. Also this month was arguably the biggest month for pop culture. Through all of this, I managed to post everyday. Sometimes it was late at night, but I posted.

Second, my fiction writing fell way behind. Although I wrote everyday, I didn’t write much fiction. Easter was the big fiction writing day, because that post was very short. I figured most people would be busy. This is partly why the posting will scale back to one a week. (I’m thinking Wednesday.) I want to keep up the daily habit, but apply it more to fiction.

I have a big goal this year to write 100K. Plus I want to fix this problem with my novel and finally finish it. Also, I have 5 more short stories to write this year. Clearly, I have no shortage of projects that need my attention.

Thanks to everyone who read and shared these posts. It was fun. Maybe I’ll do it every year in April.

And a big HELLO to all the new people who are following!

How I Found My Literary Voice Part 2

After I graduated from undergrad with my BA in English, I had a plan. I wanted to find a job that paid me enough to live and still left me with free time to write. I got my wish with an electronic publishing company in Northern Virginia. The job was interesting and the people were great. I didn’t make huge amounts of money, but it was enough to pay the bills.

I had been so inspired by Raymund Chandler, I thought I would write mystery novels. Through out my teen years, I read Mary Higgins Clark, Jonathan Kellerman, and the Nancy Drew stories. So after settling into my new adult life complete with my own apartment and new job, in a new city, I started to write my mystery story. It was slow going. I liked the idea, but it just didn’t feel right. After a few months, I put it aside.

I had a dilemma now. This was my best idea. If I wasn’t going to work on it, what would I do? My typical writing schedule was to work on my lunch hour and a couple of hours when I got home. In March 2000, I started a short story on my lunch hour. I was just playing around, trying to think of something to write, when an idea came over me. The story would be about a girl who was scared to grow up, so much so that her fear came to life. It was a strange, weird idea that I found compelling, so I followed the thread.

A couple of weeks later, I had to put the story aside. I was being laid off and job hunting became a priority at lunch time, instead of writing. Plus my apartment turned out to have so many problems that my roommate and I needed to start looking for a new place to live. My strange story would have to wait. I packed it away in a box.

Months later I had a new job and a new place. The apartment was good, but the job was taxing. I had a long commute and had zero energy to write when I got home. I also made the mistake of moving myself and instead of doing it in one or two days, I moved little by little over the course of a month. (Pro tip: Never move yourself. Pay people to do it. Trust me.) I didn’t really relax until the holidays.

I opened my writing box and there, on top of a stack of papers, was my story. Funny thing, I didn’t remember writing it. I read it with fresh eyes and realized: 1)I didn’t write an ending and 2) the story was good. I wrote the ending right there on my bed. Also, I realized I needed to quit my job. Writing was my calling and this demanding job that drained me, added thirty pounds of stress on my body, and left me unhappy had to go.

By the end of January 2001, I had a new job (back to electronic publishing) with a sensible commute and plenty of time to write. I enrolled in a community writing class and work-shopped my story. I had no idea how people would react, but I was damn proud of the story. It was the first thing I wrote out of school that I felt was in my true voice.

The class was good and most people reacted to it just as I hoped. But there was this one woman (I can’t even remember her name.) who hated it. She said to me, “I don’t understand anything that is going on here. Why don’t you just get rid of all this supernatural stuff and write a real story.” I was utterly confused by that and, at twenty-three, had never met people who were so hostile to genre stories. I have since met plenty of others who were just at snotty and I steer clear of them. My stuff is not for them, plain and simple.

Anyway, after this lady said her piece, an older woman named Carol took one look at her and shook her head. She leaned closer to me and said, “Ignore her. You write magical realism. That’s who you are.” I had never heard the term, but you’d better believe I went home and googled it. I took a look at my bookshelf and sure enough next to the Chandlers and the Dashell Hametts were Anne Rice, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and quite a few of those teen horror/fantasy books from Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine. (Remember those?) Turns out I had a strong streak of the supernatural in me.

And to even solidify this realization, I found a note written on a realistic story that I had written while at UNM in Advanced Creative Writing. My professor wrote in the margin — This is good, but it is all a bit magical. My true voice had been inching out years earlier and just didn’t see it. After that class, I knew who I was as a writer.

I knew my voice.

Be that Quirky Writer

We writers are an odd lot. I started reading this book, It Takes a Certain Type of to be a Writer by Erin Barrett and Jack Mingo. It’s full of quirky anecdotes about writers and their behavior. My take away is that every writer has a certain set of rituals, behaviors, and tics that makes them create that magic that ends up in their writing.

So I started thinking about some of my own quirky habits.

First, I write 90% of my stuff long hand first. After a long day of working at my computer for my day job, sometimes I just can’t look at another screen. Hand writing my stories ensures that the writing gets done for the day. One exception is the blogging. I always compose these posts on the computer.

Second, I need a good dose of caffeine just before I start. In the winter, it’s black or green tea. In the summer, it’s ice tea. Back in the day, it was a Cherry Coke or Coke Zero, but, ya know, we’re trying to clean up our diet, so that don’t fly no more. The drink not only perks me up, but also is a break between what I was doing before and the writing time. My brain switches over and once I finish, I’m ready to work.

Third, I  don’t like to talk about works in progress. In the past, I’ve opened up about stories I’m working on, detailing plot and character, but I always regret it. So my new rule is, no details until I’m good and ready.

Fourth, I like black ink. I’ll tolerate blue (or other colors), but I prefer black.

Fifth, I used to write my first drafts to music. That habit has changed over the years. Now I prefer silence. Occasionally I will turn the tv for the white noise, but it has to be something that I can tune out like white noise in the background.

Those are all the quirks I can think of now. I’m not too exciting with my writing rituals. I don’t like writing in bed, nor do I pace around like others. My little habits get the work done and I’ll keep doing them as long as they keep working.

Adding the Funny

Look At This!
photo from: Department of the Interior

I’m adding the funny back into my writing. My last few stories that I’ve finished have had some real spots of humor. I’m not quite sure why this is happening, but I’m here for it. While serious fiction has its place and I am certainly not going to abandon it, I also find myself leaning more on the strange, humorous moments in life too.

Maybe this decade got a bit too serious for me.

Or maybe I am changing as a writer. (I don’t think so. If you read my story Where’s Rocky? you know how funny I can be.)

I guess it all comes back to my ideas about writing different kinds of stories. I not one of those writers that tells the same story over and over again. My imagination is sparked by so many different things, I want to explore them all. Imagination really is boundless.

And I want to laugh at it. Enjoy it. Delight in it.

Hmmm. Spring has made me more playful and fun.

Bye winter.