Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Alarums and Excursions

Be careful what you wish for. Got a crit back on "A Time To Every Purpose" this morning. Ouch! Well, that's what I need. I fall in love with my stories too much and blind myself to their gaping flaws. I need a separate pair of eyes and someone who is willing to be honest, no matter how bad the news is. I have at least disengaged my ego from my stories so rejections and hard critiques don't hurt my feelings the way they used to. Progress!

Critiques have become very valuable to me, both in the giving and in the receiving. Giving critiques forces me to concentrate on the issues that I'm thinking about in my own writing, thus improving my skills. Getting critiques helps me see my work through a different pair of eyes. This helps me to avoid making so many assumptions about what my readers know and how they think.

Currently working on the transcription/rewrite of "Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet". It looks like it will run around 4500 words.

Today's "Well, DUH!!!"

Kids With Special Needs Have Bigger Medical Bills the headline trumpets. How much did it cost us to find this out?

Monday, January 03, 2005

Rekindling the flame

I have a tendency to get too bound up by details. Word count, craft, market research--these things, while essential for publication, drain my enthusiasm. I don't write for publication. I write because I am in love with words and stories and characters. I write because I love beauty and want to create one little piece of it that is mine, that expresses my feelings, that shows the inner me. That passion can easily get swept aside by the mundanities of the writing life.

Over the past week, I have had time to slow down, to think, and I decided to go back to my roots. I got out an old spiral-bound notebook and a ball-point pen and carried it with me everywhere, even at work. Any time I had five minutes, I would open my notebook and write a couple of paragraphs, play with a thought. I soon discovered that the passion is still there, and it is just as strong as it ever was. I was just not paying enough attention. I was not making time just for the pure exhiliaration of writing. That has to change, and it will.

My one New Year's Resolution: Make time for me.

I also discovered that writing this way gives me a brand new perspective on the process of creation. By slowing down to manual speed, I am forced to think harder about the story. I am allowed to choose words more carefully, to explore byways and passing thoughts. Instead of worrying about writing 1000 words per day, I can emphasize creating quality fiction without the time pressure. That pressure will come in its own time. The novel-writing business has built-in pressures that cannot be escaped, unless your name is Salinger or Updike. I'll burn that bridge when I get to it.

Do What You Love And The Money Will Follow. That was the title of a book published a while back. Maybe it's true, maybe not. I don't care. The most important thing in my life right now is the "doing what I love" part. Money is just not as large a concern as it once was. There are more important issues that I need to focus on, like happiness and sanity (or are they the same?).

Two Thumbs Up!

I have two articles in the latest issue of Vision: "Done to Undeath: Vampire Cliches That Suck The Life From Your Story" and "Getting To Kno0w All About You: Web Sites For Character Building".

Thumbs Down!

On the other hand, I just received word that Dark Energy Speculative Fiction turned down "Carrion Comfort", though with an encouraging note. I need to get busy and find just the right niche for this one.

Progress on other fronts

Rewrote "A Time To Every Purpose" and sent it out to the e-mail crit group. It's been so long since I worked on it, I had forgotten just how much I love that story. Another one that needs to find a good home. Holly, if you're out there, you may remember this one as the story that was inspired by your line: "And now, my bag of bones in hand, I pray for beauty." I still think that's one of the most beautiful lines I've ever read.

Speaking of lines, this one's been haunting me lately: "I never knew emptiness could hurt so bad." The rest of the story will be along soon, I hope.

Still working on character charts. It's hard to dig down to the core of these characters. Makes me think too hard about some things I would rather avoid. No help for it, though, the story must be told. I have also been doing a lot of thinking about the beginning of WITB. I now think that Thomas may have been setting John up for a while by causing mysterious disappearances and really ugly murders wherever he has gone. Have to work on that concept a little more. That would let me get the evil right out front in a hurry at the same time I'm introducing the characters.

Whew! So many words, so little intelligence!