Saturday, May 14, 2005

Thoughts on Reconnecting

The problem is, I've become too civilized. Where once, I prowled the jungle of my mind and roared my defiance to all the lesser beasts. I now walk clean, paved streets among white-washed buildings and breathe sanitized air. I have removed myself from the primal turmoil and worry about mowing the lawn and keeping up with the neighbors. I miss my former state of noble savagery and long to shed the strictures of my current life, to run free once more through the living world and not give a damn what anyone else thinks.

I think this all started when I came out of the closet as a writer. Once I began to show my work to others, I started becoming dependent on their reactions. I submerged and devalued my own feelings in favor of the approval of others. That's wrong. I have to believe in myself, or I lose the whole damn-the-torpedoes attitude that I depend on to get the passion into my writing. The more I worry about doing something "wrong", the fewer chances I'm willing to take, the more I rethink my words before getting them down, the more distance I get between my self and my work. The result is crap that neither I nor anyone else cares about.

Now I will be the first to say that "The Prodigal Son" is amateurish crap as a story. It's cliched, static, and has a laundry-list of faults too long to list here (and I don't really like to think about that, anyway). When I wrote this story, I had no idea about craft. Plot was an empty word and character development an enigma. I didn't know then that adverbs are our enemies and adjectives suspect at best. I didn't know that the action was more important than the language. I didn't know a lot of things that I have learned since then. Yes, I'm being sarcastic and more than a little bit cynical.

But...

The passion and energy and joy of writing shows through clearly, at least to me. The words often hit hard and are dead on target. This story has a life of its own outside of me. It's real, far more so that anything I've written lately.

I'm a right-brained person. I'm left-handed, intuitive, and completely unreasonable. I can't let myself be bound by external opinions about what sells or what makes a story good. I have to get back to trusting my instincts and pouring my heart's blood out onto the paper. I have to get my stories down off the TV screen and let them live. They need to groan and laugh, to cry, to sweat, to stink.

I've got to find the Wizard, so he can give me my heart and brain and courage. Then maybe Glinda will show me how to get home again.

Web Work

Have to occupy my fingers while my mind is engaged in other matters, so working on some other projects the past two days:

Got a new and up-to-date index to the reviews that have appeared in Vision

Put together a combined Table of Contents page for the Vision index showing all articles arranged by issue

Finalized and posted a survey on my Web site. I'm gathering data about why people read writers' blogs for an article I have pitched to Writer's Digest. Whatever they decide, I am moving ahead with the research. I think it will be enlightening and useful. Your input is greatly valued.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Just Confirms What I Already Knew

Your Deadly Sins

Sloth: 80%
Wrath: 60%
Gluttony: 40%
Envy: 20%
Greed: 20%
Lust: 20%
Pride: 20%
Chance You'll Go to Hell: 37%
You will die with your hand down your underwear, watching Star Trek.

Talyn

Holly has posted a sneak preview of the first chapter of Talyn at Silent Bounce. You have to have an account to read it, but accounts are free, and she will not send you any unwanted e-mail. There's another for pre-order. I'm spending my book budget like I actually have one.

She's also holding an essay contest with the prize being an ARC of Talyn. Essays, fiction, humor, or poetry under 250 words on the subject of "Rediscovering Honor". Should be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Nature or Nurture?

In her comment to yesterday's post, Debra said (in part): There was a time when the only thing that mattered (creative-wise) was the story you wanted to write. You felt its call, heard its voice, and felt that indefinable sense, the pull to give life to words and make a vision incarnate. The story resided in your heart before it journeyed to your mind.

Debra, you must have been hiding in the closet back then. LOL. That describes perfectly how I used to feel and work. That's what I'm trying to get back. Take a look at my first published story, "The Prodigal Son" for an example of what kind of work I was doing then. It has severe technical flaws, but I still like the feel and imagery, and it has a raw energy that I have lost.

What happened was, I wanted to improve my writing, make it more socially acceptable. I wanted to out myself as a writer. I wanted to improve my craft and skill to match my desire and talent. During the process of educating myself, though, I fell into a deep and deadly trap. I began to worry far too much about what other people were doing and about how I "should" be working and what techniques were acceptable and what weren't.

Along the way, I lost sight of me. I lost my vision and my voice. I have gained the whole world of writing craft, but lost my own soul. I have to find my soul. I have to find that spring that used to bubble up, clear and cold. I have to uncover it, clean it out, let it flow again. I need to get back the energy and excitement I used to feel. I used to sit up all night writing and be just as fresh at work the next day as if I had slept through the night. Now a thousand words wear me out, and I don't even feel myself in them.

The way I see it, I need to do a couple of things. First, I have to forget about "everybody else", and I have to forget about "should", and I have to forget about "can't" and "don't" and "do this, not that". It's my vision, damnit! I'm going to tell my stories in my own voice and in my own way. Fuck the rules! I've learned the craft and lost the art, and that is unacceptable. Craft without art is dead words for dead eyes. I won't do that. I'm better than that.

So now, I have to give myself permission to write. To do that, I am going back to basics. Free-writing, working on what sings to me that day. No more schedules, no more rigid expectations, no more word counts until I get back to me. I'll certainly keep blogging and reading blogs, but you may not hear much about particular stories or projects for a while. Just the normal lunatic ravings of a fevered mind.

I'm off to see the Wizard!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Consequences

Every choice we make has consequences, even the ones we don't make. As the Rush song "Freewill" says "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice".

I got crazy with the Vanilla Wafers last night. This morning, my fasting blood sugar was 302. Ouch. Target range is 80 - 120. 4 hours of sweat and cursing later, I had gotten it down to 84. I know better. If I overdo, there is a price to pay. I made my choice. Mea culpa.

Consequences.

A friend asked yesterday (in e-mail) how I was doing with my plan for WITB. Ouch again. Where did April go? I'm now a month behind. Again, mea culpa. I know I sabotage myself. I should be more aware of it, but I get too distracted by other things and wander off. Things don't get done, and I beat myself up for it. Then, I beat myself up for beating myself up. The upshot is that the work still doesn't get done.

Consequences.

So now what? What are my choices?

I could choose to just give up, crawl into a hole and hide. The consequences of that lead to complete loss of faith in myself, despair, and depression. Been there. Done that. Not an option.

I could pick up where I left off and just push everything back 6 weeks. There are some issues with that that I have run into. Strict discipline and rigid structure are anathema to me. Whether self-imposed or external, as soon as I or anyone else says "You have to", I dig in my heels and say "Oh yeah? Try to make me!" It's a fundamental reflex that I have not yet been able to get under control. That way leads to frustration and stress. Not a good option, either.

I could opt to just wing it. Go where the wind blows me. Write whatever comes to mind. Screw goals, just do something for fun. At the end of that road lies a large pile of unfinished business and regret for missed opportunities.

Consequences.

Somewhere between the stait-jacket and anarchy lies my Golden Mean, the place where I can work in a way that suits me and be happy with what I turn out. I'm still searching for that place. Please pardon me while I waffle.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Miscellanea

* Got a response to one of my queries on overdue stories. C/Oasis had e-mail problems and "Where the Heart Is" went bye-bye. I resubmitted. Still waiting to hear from Pif Magazine.

* Cut 2 head of broccoli from the garden over the weekend. Yay! Fresh-from-the-garden is way better than plastic-from-supermarket. Corn is knee-high. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, okra, and beans coming along nicely.

* Puppy is doing very well. She weighs 38 pounds and had her first bath. She was not amused. She's fitting in nicely. The other two have accepted her, except that Stubby doesn't like her to be in the bedroom at night. He's jealous and a little grumpy.

* Spent Saturday afternoon at my great-niece's fourth birthday party. Yikes! The only excitement was a broken arm (a fall from the monkey bars). Other than that, just a calm, normal spring day surrounded by masses of screaming four-year-olds.

* Mother's Day gets harder every year. It will take a day or two to fully recover.

Lots of private stuff to write about.

Later.