Monday, November 26, 2012

Meet Alec.

I'd just finished 2.5 hours of driving hell on Thanksgiving Day, avoiding accidents and traffic standstills and the temptation to purchase something glutenous at Dunkin' Donuts.  Then, finally, I was the passenger, and I popped Black Holes & Revelations into the CD player (what? I'm old-school).  In under 3 songs, I saw a new character in my head.  In a black leather jacket, smiling a slightly creepy smile.  I've seen this guy before; he was a muse for the story I wrote last year, the one I'll be turning into something else entirely (eventually--and not before the first two Emerson books are done).  But this time he went by a different name.  I knew just by looking at him that his name was Alec and that he was up to no good.

Which is precisely why I need to introduce him to Emerson.

It won't happen yet.  He'll show up in book 4.  But right now, he's already got some of my attention.  I'm still figuring out what he's all about, but I'm already intrigued. 

I've said it many times before, and I'll say it again: there is no more aptly-named band than Muse.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Fellow writers, has this happened to you?  You’re writing something, and everybody and their mother, and their mothers, and their brothers too, say they want to read it, that you must send it to them when it’s done.

So then you write this story and you edit the hell out of it, taking great pains to make it as perfect as possible (don’t worry, it’ll only be a few minutes before you inevitably look it over again and find something else you want to change).  Finally, though, you feel like it’s just perfect enough to share with eyes other than your own.  So you take that little masterpiece and you send it to those people who have been eagerly demanding to see what you spend night after night working on.  You don’t even ask them for feedback—you give ‘em a no-strings-attached “Here it is for you to read!”

And then all you hear is crickets chirping.

And eventually, you hear excuses.

You hear “I’ll read it tomorrow!”—which would be more convincing had they not said the same thing the day before, and the day before that.

After a while, you stop asking, and you’re left with a very important lesson: It’s important for a writer to be self-sufficient.

Getting feedback is always a good idea, but trusting your gut is equally important.  I had promised myself that, for the short story I was writing for a contest, I would be the only one who saw it before I submitted it.  I wanted to see how good my instincts are, how good of a story I could craft using only my own brain, with no outside opinions involved.  (For the record, I think I did a pretty good job.)

It’s a good thing I only wanted to deal with my own feedback and reactions before submitting the story; I’m pretty sure if I’d waited for anyone else to chime in, the deadline would have been passed long ago.  I’m glad I can trust my gut and be confident with what I send in.  Whether my gut is right or my gut is wrong matters less to me than having the confidence to submit something entirely on my own—although I do, of course, hope my gut is right, as that bodes well for all the other stories I have bouncing around my brain.

So far, I’ve gotten feedback about my story from only one person.  Luckily, it’s a person whose creative instincts I trust and whose opinions I really respect when it comes to this sort of stuff.  The story I sent him was rather dark and disturbing--the kind of thing that, if it doesn’t leave you unsettled at the end, either something’s wrong with you or something’s wrong with how I wrote the story.  He was, unsurprisingly, unsettled by it.  The last bit of his commentary to me: “That’s the mark of a good short story, though.  It sticks with you if it bothers you.”  

It stuck with him.  Mission accomplished.

My self-sufficient author brain is happy to not necessarily need this sort of reassurance, but also really, really pleased to receive it.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

New ideas.

Yesterday I got 2 new story ideas.  (I know, I know--I should be working on the current story.  But the "idea" part of my brain just won't quit, and I'm really grateful for that...)

When I think of story ideas during the daytime, I don't even write them down.  Instead, I sleep on them.  If I wake up the next morning and can still remember those ideas, and they still seem like strong ideas, then I start working on them more in my head.  If I can't remember them, or if the next day I think they suck, then I abandon them.  Simple as that.  If the idea can't withstand a night of sleep without me forgetting or poo-poohing it, then it wasn't a good or interesting idea in the first place.

But luckily, I woke up feeling awesome about the 2 new ideas, remembering everything I'd thought about them and more.  One idea is for a stand-alone book, the other for a series.  My brain's already on overdrive, developing more details of these ideas.  I'll probably begin a file for each of them today and start jotting down the details.  Not actually writing the stories yet (it's Emerson's time now, you know?)--just gathering details, snippets of character conversation I'm hearing in my head, plot points, etc...  I don't want to lose these little gems while I write Emerson.

One of the most comforting things for me as a writer is never feeling like I'm fresh out of ideas.  Because I never am.  Fresh out of time some days to write them, but never out of ideas.  :)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Progress...sort of.

So many thoughts bouncing around my twisted little brain right now.

Trying not to feel guilty about a week where no writing happened.  We had no power for a few days, and the days we did have power, I worked crazy hours at ye olde day job, had to do crappy things like clean out a fridge/freezer full of not-good-anymore gluten-free food (boo!), etc.  I actually felt calmer and more centered during the storm and the days we didn't have power; now I'm all like "FUUUUUUUCK, I need to write, and I'm such a bad person for not writing!!!!"

To be fair, I did do some backing up of my Emerson writing (always a good idea), a bunch of reading/research that will absolutely help make the story even better, and, of course, I'm writing here.  I listened to more Muse when I could and am starting to hear "Survival" at a certain point in the book.  I've felt inspired, although not always in good ways or by good things. 

All of that is progress.  But none of it directly contributes to a larger word count.  Which makes me feel like it's simply not enough progress (but really, no matter how much I do, when will it ever be enough?).

I want to write a chapter before bed tonight.  But it's already after 4 AM.  My sleep was fucked up, which is why I'm up.  Somehow I feel both too manic and too sleepy to write.  But I'm going to give it my best shot anyway.