Month: January 2016

Week 4 2016 – Lost in the Labyrinth

TheRoadNotTaken-Poem

That Robert Frost knew his business. That is one pretty poem, and it’s hard to forget. I am a lifetime out of high school, and I still remember it chapter and verse. Of course, I am older and wiser now, and embarrassed at how badly I misinterpreted Frost’s words. I quoted this thing in my high school year book (and I bet a good many of you did too).

ForestRoadsI was determined to take that road less taken, ignoring those pivotal words “Though as for that the passing there had worn them about the same“.

A “different” drummer pounded in my head. I was going to stand out, be different, and there I was a rebel without a clue.  I saw myself a best-selling writer by 21, the first girl to play football in the English Premiere League, and a good many other fantastical musings. My life went a different way despite that imaginary fork in the road. I imagine most end up in bear’s belly taking a road not taken in a forest.

As this 4th week of 2016, the end’s very beginning, reminded me, there was never that neat, peaceful little fork in the road in that somber forest. It’s a bloody labyrinth and here there be monsters and possibly a worm. If you are very lucky that is.

LabyrinthWormThe little benign worm in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth means no harm. He helpfully tries to guide you away from the goblin’s castle which is precisely where you must go if you are to retrieve that most precious to you. I suppose I listened to the worm when I first became entangled in the labyrinth that is my life. I never made it to the goblin’s castle.

Instead, I found myself in something that more resembles  Pan’s Labyrinth than it did the lovely, Jim Henson, Muppet maze.  NOTE: If you have never seen Guillermo del Toro’s film, Pan’s Labyrinth, do yourself a favor. It is frightening, beautiful, sad, glorious, and a true piece of art in film.

PansLabyrinthI fought against the labyrinth of my life for years, never stopping to gape at the wondrous beauty nor recoil from the horror of it, just wandered trying to get back to that lovely fork in the road. Those crossroads that never offered any choice at all because it was never this or that. Life is a million decisions and encounters, and twists and turns, words and deeds, nuances too subtle for the naked senses of man to perceive. It is truly a labyrinth.  Now, I embrace the unsolvable maze that is life, curious as to what lay around each bend and turn. I turn back at the dead ends, and sometimes sit entrenched in the beauty despite the horror.  This week there was a dead end, overgrown, uncared for, and so I turned around. There was another way to go.

 

Week 3 2016- Ducking the Blizzard

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I am stuck in a conversation with the universe’s oldest trickster. That’s where my revisions are at the moment. Chapter 25, the critical turning point. It’s about 250 words of text, and it’s stymied me into something like a catatonic state.

A small dusting of snow caused work to let out early on Friday. North of us got squashed by an apocalyptic blizzard.  Anything frozen sends everyone in my neck of the woods into a frenzy. One flake of snow and everyone is off to get milk and bread and hole up until clear skies and temperatures break forty.  It would have been, in normal circumstances, a great weekend to light and fire and just write. That’s not what happened.

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New York – A Blizzard

Every time I sat down to write, gibberish came out. Absolute gibberish. I could not for the life of me construct an active coherent sentence. I know exactly what my book needs, but somehow my fingers touching the keyboards are not doing the job. I am in writer’s limbo. And it’s making me grouchy.

I am just going to blame it on the blizzard ignoring us, as blizzards are wont to do this far south of Hell. It’s either too cold with no snow or too hot with no rain. I can abide freezing if there’s snow outside, enough that no one can get to my house and I can have a fire, coffee in the day, and a good beer at night. I am an oddball that requires total solitude to really write. I don’t know what that is. I wish I could get over it, and simply be rude, and ignore all my visitors be they family, friend, or lost soul. Instead, I cook for them. Clean. Play games with them. Share the pug with them. And there were many guests, family, and friends this weekend. So less writing. IMG_0299

For the last four days of this week Janet Reid was ill and right in the path of that terrible blizzard. No blog. My, we the Reiders, are so worried.  Many of us started perusing other blogs from inside our little community. I read a few dozen, and I found some great stuff. I was particularly drawn to Lucie Witt’s Post on Editing as this is where I live right now. Another post I found most interesting belonged to Donna Everhart about reading being part of a writer’s job. I feel guilty both when I read (because I love it so much) and when I don’t read (because I should be). I can’t win.

However, discovering these new blogs  enriched the week, and tempered my editing angst with some new knowledge, a little solace, and more than a bit of inspiration. In fact, I will go out on a limb and recommend exploring other blogs when you’re feeling stuck or uninspired. There are some truly remarkable voices out there.

 

Week 2 2016 – Mostly Migraines

 

IMG_0330Only 2 weeks into 2016,and I barely made it though the last week. Winter is here and kicking my butt. It started with a Migraine last Sunday, followed by all sorts of cold and death. David Bowie and Alan Rickman both died. Cancer blows, and it has robbed us of two great and inspirational artists. I will let others write their dedications more adequately than me. 

I was much distracted this week, not just by the migraine which kept creeping back over the week, but by the oppressive cold. I really want to hibernate until this winter foolishness is done. 

My daughter and I stopped for coffee this weekend at a wonderful place called the Land of 1000 Hills. This was the ending and bright spot of the week. My daughter visited and we went for brunch, a little shopping, and coffee at the nearby Atlantic Station. I got a cappuccino and the barista created a remarkable bit of art in the foam. With one sip, the lovely swan faded and disappeared. Such a delicate and beautiful thing this art in my coffee. Life feels like that now, just a single delicious taste, and it begins to grow cold and mutate. I feel old. I feel time slipping away. I feel I need to write faster before my whole world fades away like a swan drawn in the foam of a cappuccino.

 

Week 1 2016 – Dragon’s Milk

IMG_0166The theme for the first week of 2016 is Dragon’s Milk. It’s a mead that mixes well with winter and enhances your desire to hibernate until spring.

In a nutshell, here’s what went down this week in my little writing world.

  1. 1. Revisions – yes. They are proceeding- worked on them Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. About 20 hours total. Getting closer.

2. My exile to Carkoon is now over. I hope it lasts. Refer to Janet Reid’s Blog to see if I run afoul of the great shark again.

3. Wrote some blog posts, this blog post even

4. Wrote a bit on other works outside my current revision. That helps keep me going when my invisible friends stop talking to me. I just make up new friends and problem solved.

5. Entered a flash fiction contest. This will seriously help your writing, even if you happen to write epic fantasy. Try it. Don’t worry about winning. Although, it’s very cool to win. I won back in October. It was very exciting.

Now there is Mead and winter is coming. No, I am not talking about Game of Thrones. I meant that literally. I am actually considering hibernation. Go have some Dragon’s Milk and get back to me. If you can still stand after.

Putting Away The Past

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Frankie with her Christmas present

I took down the Christmas tree today. It’s like putting away my past. Every year since my daughter was born, I have obtained two ornaments- one with the year on it and one that is associated with some memory or other of that year. It was a pug ornament this year, a standard baby’s 1st Christmas the year my Kate was born. She is a December baby. We have been on our own since she was a baby, just the two of us in a crazy world.

Books and stories helped us survive, and the mundane pace of everyday life faded into great adventure. It is all there on our tree every year. There are Harry Potter ornaments, ballet slippers, Mickey Mouse, snow globes, etc- a recounting of the years.

All the petty things that life threw at us were countered by dragons that could be slain (The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien), a boy raised by a sorceress to slay an evil god (The Belgariad by David Eddings), a boy kept in cupboard under the stairs who was really a wizard (Harry Potter by JK Rowling), a genius boy used by his government to wipe out an entire alien species (Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card),a little hobbit entrusted to overcome temptation and destroy a great evil (Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien), wardrobes with whole worlds within (The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis), journeys back in time with vivid descriptions of the Dark Ages (The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis), witnessing the building of Canterbury Cathedral through imagination blending with history (Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet), and hundreds of great tales on pages of black and white. How the world expands when we read and when we write.

My daughter is traveling back from spending New Years in New York City. In May, she will graduate from college and plans to move to New York to find and follow her dreams and make her own stories. I think 2016 will feature some sort of NYC ornament. Of course, it is impossible to know what will happen next. Still, it is time to put away the past and look forward. Always, there will be more stories to tell, to read, and to live. Each year I spend here in this time and place will yield another ornament with its own tale to tell. So until next year, the past is put in its place.

 

 

Scary Movies and Herbal Tea

 

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Frankie awaiting scary Movie

Writing today involved revisiting chapter 8 of my WUS (Work under submission). I rewrote it between the beta reader period of my book and submitting it. I am in the middle of an R&R (revise and resubmit), and this was part of trying to do that. There is a continuity problem in chapter 25 which relates back to chapter 8. My brain is all jumbled today so I have not fully repaired the issue in chapter 25. I suppose the holiday has taken its toll, but there are still hours of dark to go. I need to clear my brain.

Last night I watched the special episode of Sherlock. You know Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman? That did not clear my head because it was simply brilliant. I couldn’t stop thinking about it  to start thinking about my own work. The principle writers, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, are magnificent in their adaptation and creation. Gatiss has done a great deal of writing for stage and screen in the sci-fi arena so I have immense admiration for the man. One of my projects is a screenplay of that general genre. I wish I could pick his brains for an afternoon, but the British frown on kidnapping almost as much as we silly Americans do. Even for art’s sake.

The Sherlock writers are true to Arthur Conan Doyle’s original text while adapting these tales to modern day London flawlessly. The series is perfection. Gatiss also plays the part of Mycroft Holmes with impeccable precision and humor. If you have not watched the Sherlock series, stop what you’re doing, fire up Netflix, and cancel all engagements for the next 36 hours. That will leave you at least 8 hours sleepy time. It’s just that good.

However, if you are trying to be a good little writer, forget I ever said anything. Instead, if like me, your brain has gone bye-bye, try reading a book. I did that and it didn’t work though dear Patrick Lee (Ghost Country – 3rd book in Breach trilogy)  did his best to shake me out of my verbal paralysis.

Now, I am going to try an old stand-by that has worked in the past. A scary movie and herbal tea. Not a slasher film. I don’t want to be nauseous. I want to be scared witless. You see that causes an adrenaline rush. And I suppose that is why it works. I don’t want to go to sleep after. So I write to escape whatever boogie man has been shoved into my psyche so that I can eventually sleep. Temper that with herbal tea to keep me calm, and most times, this works like a charm. We will see if this works come tomorrow.

 

 

Pug in a Pub

PugInPubTwo great things happened for me in 2015. I rescued a pug that my daughter and I named Frankie. And really there’s nothing better than a pug at a pub. And I discovered Janet Reid’s Blog. This is a life line for writers anywhere in their career. If you don’t know about this blog, go there now. The regular blog readers (Reiders) and commentators are a friendly enough bunch and we hardly ever bite.

However, I am dissatisfied by my general life progress. Most of this is due to my own weird inclination to be mostly a hermit. I need to stop spiraling in this endless nothing ever changes rut I am in.

I never do resolutions. The most useless pile of manure to ever infest the planet. Life is too damn unpredictable, and I end up ranting at myself like this at the end of each year. Instead I have goals. Some of them lofty, some of them not so much. You will hear the sagely advice, break your goals down into realistic, achievable small bits. That works great. If you’re dieting. Less so if you’re dying.  And we are all plummeting towards that inevitable eternal dirt nap. Regardless of angels singing (they do have lovely voices, even some of the fallen ones) or pitch fork yielding hell beasts, nobody has any idea what you are doing once you leave this world. Here, time works against you.

So this year, I will strive to kick my ass to do the following…

  1. Write every day. Even if it’s just 100 words to say I had a shitty day or that I am too tired write.
  2. Expand my body of work
  3. Finish the revision on my book and resubmit the damn thing
  4. Write a better query letter
  5. Write a better synopsis
  6. Write better. Keep writing.
  7. Get an agent
  8. Attend at least one writer’s conference (even if agent is attained)
  9. Read more. It helps with the writing.
  10. Query until the pain of it is unbearable. For every rejection, send out another query.
  11. Stop making excuses. Just write.

I am going to use this blog to be my monitor. If it goes silent for weeks at a time as it did at the end of 2015, something is wrong. I am making excuses, avoiding getting things done. Maybe I have a migraine or the flu (both those things happened after November 2015), but unless I am on my actual death bed or the internet collapses (both entirely possible), then I better be writing something and recording that I did so here.

Let’s see where this leads. Shall we?