It’s no secret, from the emptiness of the blog pages and previous posts, I’ve gone into a little creative hibernation. Not the ideal situation for a writer who’s aspiring to find some publishing love. Or, just any writing love, to be frank. I had this wild, out of nowhere, thought a few weeks ago. It started with just a word “scout” and it followed me around for a couple of days until my creative side turned the light bulb on and realized it was supposed to grow something. A few more days of noodling and mentally layering in some ideas became a full idea of “let’s write this down lest we forget it”. I’m happy to say, I finally captured a small, little snippet today. I’ll post it here in a second. I’m not sure if it’ll take off and it’ll continue but it’s 600+ more words than I had yesterday on any WIP, and, well, it gets me excited and my fingers would like to write more. I take it as a sign of things to come.
I was finishing up a meeting today when a friend called to break the news about Linkin Park front man, Chester Bennington. I hadn’t received any notification via CNN or ABC News on my phone and when I went to their webpages all I saw was news concerning the upcoming release of OJ Simpson. I had to run to another meeting so I hung up the phone and continued my search for news about Chester. All it took was a quick visit to Twitter and there it was, a tweet from Mike Shinoda letting everyone it was real news.
I’m not a die hard fan of Linkin Park but I did see them during their Carnivores tour and I’ve bought almost every album. Honestly, I knew them as the band where the lead guy screamed the lyrics and I couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to be screamed at for a long period of time. After my own small identity crisis (that can be more for a later time) I started listening to Fort Minor which led me to Linkin Park (thanks Mike Shinoda), right in time for Minutes to Midnight. It’s not everyone’s favorite but it definitely sealed my love for LP.
I was excited with LP’s latest release, even if it has a strange, sad undertone. Heavy was released first and I wondered what would cause such dark struggle. My depressed characters gravitated towards it and also wanted to push it away, there was something which hit deep for them and their own internal mind games. And then, when their tour was announced I was thrilled to buy tickets and see them at Citi Field. And now, everything changes.
This song was my ringtone for a long time, it wasn’t that I was depressed or thinking about loss, I just thought it was beautiful. Now, it’s fitting.
“And the shadow of the day
Will embrace the world in gray
And the sun will set for you”
Thanks, Chester and Linkin Park, for the lyrics and for being an influence on my writing. Rest in Peace.
I missed a couple of blog posts this week. I blame my getting acquainted with Twitter and reading all of the fun tweets. I can see how easy it is to scroll through things and get caught up in the short, simple messages. So, back on track, back to the words and the typing and the creating of word soup or maybe word vomit. I’ve had a lot of different characters come down and sit with me lately, all trying to get an edge in over the other, trying to sell me on why they should hit the page. Some have definitely not made the cut, others are getting fleshed out (this is a strange and creepy expression if you ask me) and others are quiet. It’s those quiet ones I worry about, they grow into the loudest voices after a while. They kick the chair over they’ve patiently been sitting in and then demand the attention in the room. And you know what? All those other voices, primary, secondary, maybe even the tertiary ones, they all shut up and listen.
I thought I’d share a small sample of a character I killed off a couple of years ago when I was fooling around with darker characters. I loved Nigel, I still love him in some small way since he pops back up in my waiting room of characters. I went through a phase and read a fair amount of Regency romance and other historical romance novels and like I do with everything, I wondered if I could write in that genre. A little backstory, Nigel was a Victorian doctor. He lived on the outskirts of London and after aiding a few prominent families be began to make a name for himself. He rarely accepted dinner invitations as he held a dark secret. He lost his wife, he was unable to heal her and now he’s taken on the idea he can craft her spirit a new body, from his patient’s bodies. Even if his patient’s didn’t need to lose a body part, he made it happen. He was unable to shake the spirit of his wife and move forward, the pain too deep.
This is Nigel’s last scene:
There was a heaviness in the air, a finality that weighed down the ruined estate even further in its despair. The secrets that the estate held, they whispered excitedly to each other as a realization shone through the darkness. The image at the bottom of the stairs, what did it mean?
The day had been ordinary, dull. The same stagnant breath that slowly repeated day in and day out, uninterrupted unless the owner decided to haunt the premise. The owner had not been out to visit of late, the house accustomed to having only the ghostly tenant wander through the halls. The air rent with a strange tingled sensation as the owner suddenly appeared by horseback, his body slouched and inebriated, the horse slowing and stopping to bring its swaying rider to a stop in front of the broken, unhinged doors.
The doctor fell to the ground with a resounding smack. The harsh, hard earth did not even register though the alcohol daze that he had drowned himself in that morning. He lifted his head and squinted through the door and down the great hallway. Rusted suits of armor, rotted tapestries and countless other remnants of his former life taunted him to enter, to lose himself like he always did when he returned to wallow. Arm over arm, he crawled his way in to the hall. Slowly pushing himself up to his feet, he walked towards the back hall where he knew his darkest demon would find him.
“Nig!” the tinkling tone broke through the silence. A sounding of a bell, but not quite a perfect ring. “Nig!” she called again. The doctor felt his body convulse as her voice beckoned him more fervently. He stumbled down the hall and towards the mess of bottles, his boots crunching on shards of glass. She appeared from around the side, ethereal and beautiful as always. His breath knocked from his laboring chest. He reached for him and screamed in torment, agony from her chase of him finally beating him. He fell to his knees, collapsing in grief and hurt. He could no longer continue, he had to be free.
The drug moved slowly through his body, he was slightly conscious of the fact his fuzzy mind may be hallucinating due to his delusional thoughts or the poison working itself through his system. He could no longer take a full breath, he closed his eyes and waited. Suddenly a laugh broke from his throat, he covered his ears and screamed again as he could not stop her voice calling him back to her. He grabbed blindly for the shards of the discarded bottles from previous visits, raising a jagged end, he pressed deeply into his wrist, no pain registering. He sliced across both his wrists and felt only relief, the end to a torment. He felt her presence as his heart pumped precious blood out through his open wounds. She stroked the hair from his forehead. “Finally, Nigel, baby. Come back to me. Please.”
With a confidence that he would finally be free, he exhaled and closed his eyes, leaving behind only a trace memory of his existence.
I vowed after translating the majority of my last novel out of notebooks, journals, napkins, and scraps of paper, I’d never hand write another book. I struggled, at times, to decipher sloppy cursive passages I’d scribbled at the end of a long work day. After translating most of it and learning the joys of trying not to self-edit as I type (something I’ve already done a million and one times to this simple blog post) I felt comfortable writing at length on my laptop. Hearing the clack of the keys as my fingers flew in an attempt to capture all of my wild thoughts became a simple pleasure. A night cap, if you will.
So, why am I drawn to start almost every new project by committing pen to paper? I’m back in the same tortuous loop of decryption! It’s laborious. It almost feels like a waste of writing time. But is it? The muses seem to strike best when I’m conversing with my characters and letting their dialogue flow across the page, as though I’m their therapist taking notes while they speak to me from whatever seat happens to be in the room. I don’t go back and self-edit, it’s more stream of consciousness writing. In some small way, the same feeling I get from my fingers tapping on keys, I get from keeping my cursive skills alive on the page.
I know I’ll be cursing in a couple of days or weeks when I start my conversion to the computer. Hand writing anything seems so analog today in the digital world. Maybe it’ll be a nice keepsake down the road, the scraps of writing from a crazed mind. And maybe it’ll be fuel for a backyard fire. Either way, as the ink flows, the hope is the words will too, and then the click of the keys will sound. All things which equal a happy writer.
I’ll admit it, I’ve been through a writing dry spell lately. At least, novel writing. I still get the same old clips and phrases and prose, which tend to roll out of me when I’ve been inspired by a song or visual stimulation. (Have I mentioned before I have a love of landscape photography?) I have started more than 2 novels and have a notebook full of ideas for more novels. So, why then can’t I settle on one idea? There are numerous excuses I could post here, including many which would explain my blogging hiatus. But, at the end of the day, it’s just that I have not cracked my knuckles and felt the keys fly under my fingers as I get a solid idea put on screen.
It’s been a year since I finished my first novel. A book which took me 5+ years to pluck from the depths of my dreams and believe it was worth telling. My goal was to complete it by the time I turned 35, the bonus would be if I could find representation and/or a publisher to start the ball rolling on getting it out there to readers. 35 is right around the corner… I’ve finished and I had Sunday Submissions set aside and somehow, I submitted to Sunday and the craziness of life. Time to whip myself back into writer shape. It’s time to really focus and get this going because this dream isn’t going to just come on a fluffy pillow presented by some footman from the days of old. Nope, this is an elusive one I’ve got to chase down. The chase is on, my friends.
Time to buckle down and submit another set of queries. Since my work week is now unpredictable and busy, I think Sunday will be the day to sit down and write and query. I’m looking forward to trying to find the schedule I’ll need to be a productive writer and member of the Corporate World. Any suggestions on how you all have found the balance would be great! Also, has anyone heard or using a My Trending Stories site? I received an email inquiry from them the other day but I’m slightly skeptical.
I was searching for a good quote for today, there’s only a little time to spare before Monday is no more for me in my time zone, and my brain was vetoing all of the lovely, peppy and spritely quotes. I feel slightly unmotivated about writing and it can be hard to pep yourself up. The logical thinking side of my brain, which has been on ice since I left the corporate world, has been thawing out and creeping up to dominate over the creative side. I fear it will take me another 4 years to write a book, piece by piece, late at night with only Sara Bareilles to fuel me. And I can’t let that happen, not the Sara part, she’s always welcome, but the 4 year part. I’ve started journaling again in hopes it will jump start a little creative writing and picked up a few writing podcasts to listen to during my commute.
As I scrolled infinitely through quotes and searched for different ideas, tumblr notified me of Tyler Knott Gregson’s latest post. If you’re not following his website or Instagram or know of him, check him out. He runs an awesome Write Yourself Alive class and is an amazing writer and photographer. The post he shared really resonated and I found the motivation I was searching for all of a sudden. Balancing everything will be hard at first but I can’t lose sight of what I truly love and the goals I’ve set for myself and my journey. I need to remember to swim.
It’s the last Writer Wednesday in August and I have a confession to make. I’ve barely written anything the past month or so. Sure, I’ve written a few starting passages to ideas and jotted down character names and ideas in my notebook, but I haven’t written anything too substantial. I chalk it up to the impending change which will soon be starting next week. I’m returning to the corporate workforce.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to spend the last year plus polishing off my novel and taking care of my family. I was able to soak in all of the experiences which many stay at home parents soak up every day. It’s incredibly bittersweet to leave behind the job at home for a job back in an office, even if it’s cubicle free. I have loved being able to jump on my computer and flesh out ideas whenever they strike. Not to mention go grocery shopping in the middle of the afternoon crowd free. I know those opportunities will be few and far between as I focus on learning a new company and new projects.
Before I took a year off, my novel took about 2 years to write as it was a midnight to 2 AM kind of gig. I don’t think I can afford those office hours this go round, nor the length of time it took to produce my first novel. I feel a little more focused as a writer headed back to the work force. I know writing is in my blood and I’ll always need to share my crazy ideas after they’ve been crafted. But publishing is a beast, and right now, I can only afford to feed that beast a miniature dog bone. I don’t think it or myself will be very happy with the end result if I feed that bone to it.
So on this last Writer Wednesday of the month of August, I’ll kick back and laugh at silly shows and songs with my family, holding tight to the memories being created. I’ll keep my running bar tab of ideas going, I know I’ll have a huge creative debt to settle, but it’s been worth it. My writing vacation this past month is ending and it’s time to get busy. Somehow though, I know I’ll work a little harder under those deadlines and pressure. I’ll complain about it and moan and probably make a blog post about “what was I thinking” but it’s all worth it. I just have to find the right balance. Time to tackle new changes.
I’ve finally made the decision to go with querying an agent first, rather than trying to submit straight for publication or going down the self-publication route. I am not an expert in publication so it’s best to leave this job to the experts, granted that’s if I can manage to land an agent. I have a positive outlook on the process, it’s something new to learn and experience and I’m sure it’ll teach me a lot. However, I also am bracing for the dreaded rejection letter. I thought this Peanuts cartoon summed up my outlook on the future.
If people ask what this is like, I would equate it to submitting your resume, as a kid straight out of college, for a big time job. You have to sell yourself, sum up your life experience, or in this case a synopsis of your book, and convince the person reading your letter you’re worthy of their time and consideration. So fingers crossed, let the querying begin.
In speaking with my critique partner, or maybe it was more like grilling with questions, lol, I found out they wanted more about one of my secondary characters. Granted, this secondary character is crucial to the story and eventually, no matter how much I want to stuff the character in a box, they would eventually get their own book. I can’t say they’d ever get a happy ever after, it’s just not my style, but they would certainly get a fitting end. I asked my CP if they thought a novella explaining the character’s circumstanced might have helped them understand the character’s positioning in the book. My CP said yes and the secondary character lunged for their turn in the spotlight.
I went back through the book, to ensure I got the character’s details correct, and all of a sudden big new ideas started to form. I heard dialogue first and definitely had curiosity about what my character wanted me to know about them and hear in the scene. I could glimpse in the distance the cinematic feel to the opening. And then my character opened their mouth to confront someone and my whole perspective on the character changed. I’m excited to dive in and see what happens next.