I think, as a writer, we live for the moments when inspiration hits us like a bolt of lightening. We rejoice when a new world bursts forth from our brains, lighting the fire of creativity. Our struggles are rewarded by this sudden explosion and we are euphoric. This happened to me the other day. A story popped into my head. The characters, the settings, the beginning, middle and end all laid themselves out in the proper order, begging me to start writing. Isn't marvelous when that happens?
However, there are downsides. Lightning strikes have their adverse affects. For me, it means forgetting the other books I'm working on. WIP's that deserve my attention are ignored for the shiny shiny of the my new lightning strike. Another problem is that the energy I fell at the beginning of this new work of brilliance fizzles out. Once the first jolt of electricity drains out, it is hard to replace. While I'm not a plotter, I am a muller. Most of my stories are mulled in my head for awhile before I start writing. Or they start out with a scene and no particular place to go, which makes the writing process fresh for me. But believe it or not, it is hard for me if everything is in place before I start writing, particularly if it is so solid. I lose interest quickly. The saving grace is that this is a new setting for me and a new subgenre. Hopefully it will keep me on my toes and excited.
How do you feel about lightning strikes? And how come I have the darndest time spelling "lightning?"
ALSOMelissa has written a wonderful review over at Ainsley Park for a new historical romance so please check it out. I also did a new background for the blog and it is awfully nice.
I quit writing this weekend. I swore I would never write another word. I'd convinced myself that no one was going to be interested in my books. My stories are all flawed. My hero in my historical isn't alpha enough. The heroine in my urban fantasy doesn't wear leather and carries a PhD rather than a gun. And my other WIP...well, I hadn't started picking it apart yet.
While most of this is internal, I can see the influence of the publishing news in my thought process. After hearing the news out of the RWA conference and the gloomy reports about the economy, it is easy to see why it would prey on my mind. I look at the books being released and realize my stories are nothing like them. What editor is going to look twice at them?
By Sunday I was over it. There are two things to keep in mind and I had forgotten. I joined RWA in 2001 I guess and the news was the same then as it is now. Book sales are down. Publishers aren't buying, etc. etc. But books are still being sold, new authors are still debuting. Yes, it is hard road to navigate. Yes, it is very difficult to get published. Which leads to my other thought. So? If the only reason I write is to publish, I am in for a world of disappointment. If I decide to write a book featuring a heroine dressed in leather who slays demons/vampires/people who text while driving, by the time I get it submitted, the agents and editors are going to pass because they have enough of those already. It does no good to follow the market trends. Write what you love, write what you want to read. I may never sell, not something I like to ponder, but I'm realistic enough to know that could be the case, particularly on the path I'm on. But I enjoy writing. I enjoy the stories I create. I like my characters. If you can make your love of your own writing apparent in your manuscript, you will get attention.
One of my least favorite writing excuses is blaming the muse for not cooperating. As if some mythical figure has influence over your writing. I know, it is the personification of the writer within you, but it also a way of avoiding responsibility. "I can't write today because my muse is silent." But is it really true? I haven't been writing much this summer. I'd like to blame it on some nebulous internal muse, but the flat truth is that I'm lazy. Writing takes effort and I'm tired. It's hot, I'm cranky and I'd rather play Bejeweled than focus on any of my WIPS.
And the muse isn't the only one getting the blame. Lack of time, family commitments, jobs, all of these become excuses for our inability to get words on the page. But really we need to look in ourselves to find the answer. Sometimes we just don't feel like writing. That's okay. Unless you've got a contract, you don't have to kill yourself to meet a deadline. You can slack. But don't blame a muse. If day after day you feel like this, still, don't blame the muse. Take your WIP out and see if it something in the actual story which is pushing you away. Maybe you are out of the habit of writing. Like exercise and dieting, writing takes focus and work. The rewards are slow in coming.
For me, I've just had to put my butt in the chair and write. Sometimes I can only do it for 10 minutes or so. Some days those words flow easily, some days, not so much. On Tuesday I managed to get 600 words written for the entire day. Yesterday, I got 450 written in less than an hour. Accept the fact that your creativity needs to be forced and do what you can.
You are in control. You are the creator, not some mythical entity in your head. If you wait for the muse, you will be surrendering the fact you are the one in charge. You may have to change the way you approach your writing, look for new tools to get you on your way, but ultimately you will be more productive.
Forty years ago a momentous event happened. Mankind walked on the moon. It was an amazing event I find hard to comprehend. I don't remember the event, I was only two. I don't think I appreciate it as much as I should. In a world of wonders, its hard to keep sight at how truly a wonderful occurrence it was.
In a world where companies like Industrial Light and Magic make it all look so real on the screen, the moon landing seems so unglamorous, so simple in comparison. But I think it was the key to unlocking our imaginations about space. It has ingrained itself in our consciousness, an assumption that we can do anything. It's good that we can think that way, but I fear the younger generations won't appreciate the supreme accomplishment of the Apollo 11. Eventually we are going to land on Mars. How incredible will it seem to a generation who has been to Tatooine? How incredible will it be to kids who have traveled at light speed?
I think it is important to make our children understand how important the moon landing was in the big picture. The thought that we could actually leave earth and land on someplace else should seem much bigger than going to the grocery store. We are jaded by the bad things we see. Why should we be spending money on space when there are so many terrestrial issues which need our attention? How can we be worried about worlds beyond ours when we have so much to worry about on our own? Valid questions. We are explorers, we quest for new knowledge. We seek new places and look for new answers. It feeds our imagination. It empowers us. And if we can put a man on the moon, we can, eventually, do anything.
Sorry for the long absence. I wish I could say this was a snapshot from my vacation, but alas, it is only a photo pilfered from the Internet.
We will not be going away this summer. Lots of factors are in play, most prominently is money. And those of you who are contemplating a third child, remember that five people require two hotel rooms. My husband is self-employed so there is no vacation pay and since he's not there working, no money is being generated. Kind of sucks, really. Anyway I'm not here to whine. Oh wait, yes I am, thus the title of my blog.
I am a little discombobulated these days. I think it relates to the fact I won't be taking vacation. And while my husband would argue that everyday is a vacation for me since I'm a stay-at-home mom, I could use some time away from the homestead. But it isn't going to happen anytime soon, so I need to deal with it.
Writing usually works. Heck, I take my writing with me on vacation, it can really relax me. But not the last week or so. I've been agitated and unable to focus. If it weren't for twitter, I probably wouldn't get any writing done at all. Funny, my attention span lasts about 140 characters. However, I have been turning the restless energy into use and cleaned up the house. I dusted and mopped the girls' room and their toy room, threatening them with slow painful death if they mess it up.
Something else that's got me down is that my dryer died on me. It has created a hole in my heart. Laundry is the one constant in my life. I do have a stackable set upstairs, so I'm not totally without a dryer, but it is small and only does about half a load. Hubby and I have been doing serious shopping. We've decided to replace both the washer and dryer. I've done more research on appliances than I've done for pretty much anything. We actually settled on a set of Electrolux, but it is going to take two weeks to get them in. Yikes. The Best Buy manager practically tackled us as we were leaving offering to give us a deal on another brand if we wanted. Thus, been back at the Internet reading reviews. Talk about a life decision!
All in all, however, these have served as convenient excuses for not writing. There is no reason I shouldn't be spending time on word count. Even now, writing this, I'm thinking about how I should sweep the kitchen floor. Grrr...not sure why this is becoming a problem. Its not writer's block, I can easily keep writing. Maybe I need to bungie cord myself to my chair.
I'm not a particularly political person. I have my political beliefs that I hold somewhat dear. My allegiance to the Los Angeles Dodgers is stronger than any loyalty I feel to a political party. I'm also not a cheerleader for my country. My degree is in U.S. History so I'm more than aware of the atrocities committed by this country. But I'm also aware of our great triumphs and the perseverance of our citizens.
I'm reading 1776 by David McCullough right now, apropos considering the time of year. It is truly a marvel to read about how ill-prepared and the disadvantage this country had in its fight for freedom from Great Britain. England at the time was probably the most powerful nation on earth with a massive navy and an army of well-trained troop. George Washington, on the other hand, had generals who received their military training from books they read in their spare time from their other professions. He had an army of men who had never had a day of training in their life. They had only their passion and their belief in what the country should be. They sacrificed more than their lives. They sacrificed their livelihoods, their families and the security of being part of a powerful nation.
If you read the text of the Declaration of Independence, you can see how it encourages rebellion when the government is not doing as it should. As Americans, we are expected to complain about our government when we see an injustice. We are expected to take to the streets and show our displeasure, it is encouraged. To maintain liberty, we must be vigilant and outspoken. It is our responsibilities as citizens to protect the freedom and rights of all individuals, whether we agree with them or not.
I suppose this concept has hit home hard with the Iranian election. Reading about the horrors perpetrated against people for exercising their opinions is mind blowing. In American, bitching about the government is a national sport. It doesn't matter who is in office, there is going to be pages of written word published complaining about them. And if you've ever been to D.C., you can see a protest everyday. We can do this with impunity. You can go out and rally a crowd, screaming to the hills about how vile your government is, how they are responsible for everything bad in the world and not worry about being tried for it. It has been tried, the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 tried to silence protests of the government. It only lasted a couple of years and is considered a black mark on our history. As you can imagine, it was wildly unpopular and it led to a change in government at the next election.
Aung San Suu Kyi also brings to mind the freedoms we take for granted in this country. The Burmese politician has sacrificed so much for her country. When she was elected prime minister, instead of taking her rightful position, the military junta nullified the results and arrested her. Can you imagine if we did that in this country? While the circumstances of her situation is horrifying, her sacrifice is what hits home with me. She has been separated from her family for years. Her husband died and she was unable to see him. She could leave Burma, the government would be thrilled to see her go. But if she left, she could never return. Her love of her people and her dedication to democracy in Burma overrides everything else. Would you be able to do that? Fortunately, you don't have to because it was done 223 years ago by the original citizens of this country already did. By declaring independence, they were risking their lives and their livelihoods. They lost family and the security of being part of an empire.
I hope you enjoy today. Enjoy the fireworks, the hot dogs, the parades. But keep in mind how hard fought our freedom was and how so many others in the world are still fighting.
First, let me say HAPPY CANADA DAY to my friends up north. Hope its a good one and full of fun and food and frolic and fireworks.
My 9 year old is obsessed with the Titanic. She has read about it and made it the focus of school projects. She's been fascinated with the wreck for a long time. I don't know why it intrigues her so, but she is captivated. I don't think she can wrap her mind around it, it is larger than life for her.
Unless you've been living in the outer reaches of the universe for the last week or so, you couldn't happen to miss the recent deaths of certain celebrities. I have no desire to rehash their lives, accomplishments, etc. but to make a point. Some people simply see them as famous people who died. But they were more than that, they were larger than life icons. In the late '70's, I don't think there was a girl who didn't try to get their hair to feather just like Farrah's. And in the early '80's, I didn't know a person who didn't own "Thriller." These two people wormed their way into our culture, becoming something more than human. They were never truly mortal to me, obviously they were, but the persona's they created went far beyond what I had in normal life. Its funny, we read about celebrities who try and convince us how "normal" they are. Do we really want that?
For most of us, life has a routine. We get up, go to work, participate in a few activities, watch t.v. and go to bed. No, it isn't exciting, but ultimately, it makes us happy. But we love the exposure to those beings who are larger than life. It takes us away from our daily routines and lets us experience life on another plane while never leaving the safety of our own.
As writers, we have it even better. We don't have to wait for TMZ to bring us news. We don't have to watch the news to find something scandalous or extraordinary to spark our interest. We can create it. No matter what genre you write in, the point it to create a story most people will never experience. Our characters are plunged into danger, into heartbreak, into inescapable situations which require us to pull them out in the most fascinating way possible. The reader joins us on a larger than life adventure which gives them another view of life they don't ordinarily see. It doesn't have to be a tense spy adventure or an epic romance. It doesn't have to be a story populated by monsters and magic, knights and ladies, it can be an ordinary world with ordinary people with an extraordinary situation. As long as it evokes emotions which we don't get to experience everyday and takes us out of our humdrum routine.
As a reader, what does a story need to make it larger than life? As a writer, what part of your current project is larger than life?