Thursday, June 28, 2012

Here's... questions

I'm happy to say I'm back in the swing of things. Supportive friends of mine ask me sometimes if I've been writing, and it's a difficult question to answer for me, like most. I work on stories pretty much everyday, after all, ponder on how to improve things I've written and on how to improve on things I've even yet to write. There's even some storytelling in my hobbies that make me think on character development, story pacing, and line writing. Ultimately though, for the past month and a half, the answer to the question has been no, I haven't been writing. But all that changed this Sunday.

Now I'm back to lying awake on nights late in the week looking into the mental file of an outline I have in my head. I think about what's happening next, and why it's important, who's involved, and where their place is in the overall setting. Lately, I would say my excitement over it has to do a lot with its familiarity. When it's all said and done, I might have been doing it wrong this entire time, but even if that's the case, I have doing it wrong down pat. Recently, some changes in my life led me to believe that things aren't going to be as easy for me as they could be, which makes the familiar seem safe and contenting. I'm not sure yet what to do with that realization.

In other news, my brain has had other thoughts. For anyone who reads this diatribe of mine, you might also know that I've wrestled with content for a long time. My mentor described the subject matter of my recent novels as a phase. A close friend said that it was regrettable someone with my predilection chose the subject manners in question. And most recently, a reviewer attached phrases like "too literary" and "esoteric" to my first novel, which includes words like "vampire" and "magic." In lieu of that, almost as if my brain had decided it was all true, I happened upon an idea for a contemporary novel. What's more, it stuck, and the characters, the conversations, the situations have all become much more clear in recent days.

If only my biggest problem was to decide which story to write first. But then, I wonder who among us gets to decide what our biggest problem is? They come to us, primarily, they affect us most directly, and we're the only ones who can claim such situations as ours, so why can't we? Another question without an answer, like a sentence without punctuation. Or a simile without the words like or as... which isn't a simile at all anymore.

On the one hand, I feel like I'm a little lost in a giant hotel with no employees or helpful signage. On the other hand, I'm writing again, so despite everything I still feel kind of great.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Things told me

The vacation is over, in more ways than one. I won't get into the messy personal details, but a few quotes come to mind. Favorites include, "you've still got options, even when there's a gun pointed at your head," and  "I've learned that 10% of life is what happens to me and 90% is how I respond to it." Which is to say that I find myself under the gun, and the past few days have encouraged me to carefully mull over my response to recent events.

One response I've decided on is not to stop writing, and I'm happy to say that it felt very natural, that decision. Before the news came, I had been editing through my sci-fi manuscript, cringing at points, and remembering why I did it in the first place at others. When I was done, I felt good, and the notes for the next book flowed freely, and have continued to even through the present (though, admittedly, I haven't slept very well). A related response is that I'm also going to revisit the agent search. I was willing to spend years publishing books with small presses in an effort to create a readership, proof to agents and editors that I was a safer investment, but with two books published, there's nothing to say that I couldn't try again now. I might still fail, of course, but somehow "I might still fail" sounds a whole lot better than "I might still try."

A friend of mine, a few weeks ago, talked to me about evaluating and re-evaluating. He maintains that one of the major high points of his life occurred in the midst of his trying to change. A different friend, who has long been very congratulatory of my limited success got into researching the success of certain highly popular books, which is to say, he's been reading them. He didn't tell me what conclusions he had come to, or if it had actually helped his writing focus, only that he could say, without pause, that he was not the target audience. I shared my own insights into recent novels turned record-breaking movie series. What I didn't say was how impressed I was with that level of commitment to try to change. Had my own mysterious challenges not arisen, I might not have been so receptive, either. That is another response I've decided on. Re-evaluation.

Believe it or not, I'm also trying to exist more in these e-places. Blogs and pages and profiles and such. I'm still coming to grips with the fact that, at least in the beginning, what a writer says on an internet page is more important than what they say on the pages in their books. But I also suppose it's better to come to grip something before it comes to grip you. At least, that made more sense before I typed it out.

Either way, things stand, and I'm working on doing the same, but I will leave with another favorite quote I heard recently, "If you want to be a writer, then write."

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sunless Rhetoric

A good friend being good to me strongly encouraged me to write this weekend, because I hadn't in some time. What I had been doing was blazing a trail through the box of games the same friend bequeathed to me (okay so maybe he isn't so good). I stumbled across a fascinating parallel between the writing in games and the writing in books in that I found myself, as the main character, wondering why I should care about certain details and regretting not having as much information as I should've had to connect with the story material. "This," I thought to myself as I wandered around aimlessly, "is what bad writing feels like to a reader." However, what I was doing could not be expressly described as researching.

But I did write, and for the first time in a long time no one will be able to see what it is I put down. On about the third page, my computer restarted, saving nothing of what I had written. I searched and searched when it finally booted back up to find no trace or sign, not a stray word or dangling punctuation. It was as if I had never sat down and committed to those passages. And yet I felt better, felt like I had done something productive, felt like I had exercised whatever muscle is required to string together ideas and fuse them as one with whit. Suddenly, it didn't much matter that anyone would ever read them and tell me whether what I wrote as good, or poor. I was back to square one.

In an opposite gear, I was featured in an interview by another author at my publisher. She was also nice enough to review my novel as well. Around the end of the month I think the rest of my promotional efforts will bear whatever fruit, and of course those items will be posted here.

This morning while questioning the drain in my bathroom, it answered to me in the form of the last novel in my urban fantasy series. A character, whom I had thought of previously, flashed onto the insides of my eyelids in much more vivid detail. I thought about who he was, and who he wasn't, what people sought from him and he from others. I do believe he has bejeweled teeth. I had other plans, though. I'm still trying to get notes about my sci-fi novel from the people who read it while warring against the notions that it wasn't very good and doesn't deserve a sequel. I'm happy to say that the strongest weapon against those negative thoughts has been to simply crack the thing open and work with it until it is good enough. Yesterday I wasn't aware I had such confidence.

So, that's about where things sit. I just finished reading one book and another has recently landed on my desk. I hope to get back to the writing soon. The last page I wrote wasn't nearly good enough to have been my best, even though no one will ever see it.