Eventually, it always comes back to writing

So, yeah. I’ve been writing. As soon as I finished the first draft of one story, I started another. Now, scenes from my next novel are playing in my head. It’s a bit distracting, but I’m not going to drop everything and open that novel file yet. These little previews are just the Muse letting me know she’s working on it.

Still, it’s hard to be patient with the story collection project, when I have a novel waiting. I have a couple more stories to write, and then, as I get feedback on the lot, it will be editing time. Recently, I received valuable feedback from someone I’ve never worked with before. She wrote seventeen comments on a story of less than seven hundred words! I had to laugh because that’s the way I critique. I think we might work well together. ;-)

In other news: Has the weather this season been unusual where you live? We’ve been dry most of our rainy season, but finally got a good drench a couple of nights ago and then again last night. It’s been so warm and sunny, my peach and nectarine trees were set to bloom, and now the rain has brought a chill back to the air. Has anyone checked the earth’s tilt lately? I know my equilibrium’s off.

You all probably know that Adele won six Grammies Sunday night. Well deserved, in my opinion. I saw a link to an analysis of why her song “Someone Like You” is such a tearjerker. Though the song doesn’t quite make me cry, I do get chills at moments when I listen to it, so this analysis sounded reasonable to me. Now, if only I can figure out how to apply that “appoggiaturaa” thing to writing highly emotional scenes.

And there you go, I’ve brought the subject back around to writing again, so I think I’ll go do that. You go do something you love to do too.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, and I’m not blue!

I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about what I was writing until I’d written it, but, like all fiction writers, I lie. I won’t go into detail though. The title of this post says enough. After months of wrapping myself in rope after rope of “shoulds”, I ended up so tightly bound I couldn’t write at all.

What happened to my plan to write more short stories for a collection? Well, critique comments pointing out things you “can’t do in short fiction”, depressed me. I see now that half the stories I’d written are really novel chapters in poor disguise. My lack of higher education has smacked me down. I don’t know the conventions of short fiction, and I don’t want to take the time to learn them—at least, not right now.

But I do have a story to tell, and it’s novel length. In fact, it’s the story I started to tell months ago, before I let my marketer’s brain take over. The story excited me then and it excites me now. I write what I write. It finds the readers it was meant to find. That’s my career plan.

Of course, now that I’m fired up, it’s almost time to take a break for the holidays. Life has a wry sense of humor. I’m not worried though, I’ve lived with this story for a good while. It’s not going anywhere. And PLEASE, if you hear me starting to doubt again, will you kick me?

Do you take a break for the holidays or try to keep your regular writing schedule?

Maybe a good smack would help!

For once, I’m thankful that thousands don’t follow this blog. As a writer, I seem to be having some sort of breakdown—in public. Several times during this year, I’ve mentioned my next book. It will be this novel. No, forget that one, it’s this novel. No, not that novel, this novella. No wait, it’s going to be this short story collection.

In the last two weeks, I’ve had discussions with two different writer friends about my proposed short story collection. Both of them responded with, “Is that what you want to write?” My answer was yes, but I wonder if I lied. Not consciously. I’ve had a bit of fun writing stories, but enjoying something and doing it well is not the same thing.

Am I just killing time writing short fiction because I can’t decide which novel to write? After reading the beta feedback on my last story, I realized I’d actually written two incomplete—read failed—stories. Or did I write the bones of two chapters for a novel?

I had already made notes on such a novel after writing a particular short story almost two years ago. The main character of that new “story” was a secondary character in the first. So, I guess now I have nearly three chapters of that novel written. Even so, I’m not sure that’s where my heart is.

Yes, I have a problem. Heck, all I had to do was read back through my own blog to identify that problem as fear of failure. And I already know the solution—WRITE. So why aren’t I? Well … uh … I’m beta-reading for a friend, and it’s time to start getting things in order for Christmas, and I just discovered Words With Friends on Facebook, and, and, and …

Maybe I need a “personal writing trainer”, someone who will stand over me with a scowl, tapping her foot until I figure out what I really want to write, and then glare at me until I type a hefty number of words each day.

But, above all, I need to quit blogging about my next book before it’s written!

I ain’t no Pollyanna

This is my third attempt to write a new blog post. I produced grumpy posts from the first two topics. So, instead, I’ll talk about my recent decision to change my negative attitudes. I’ve discovered it’s not easy to become more positive. I hear myself saying or thinking negatively and correct it like an echo of Willy Wonka: “Strike that. Reverse it.”

Apparently, I’m naturally a gloomy person. I was born at twilight; I wonder if that’s the reason. I’ve always been attracted to the dark tales. It shouldn’t surprise me that it’s hard for me to maintain a constant sunny outlook. My husband has pointed out for many years that I instantly think of the worst scenario in any situation.

Of course, I always protest his assessment. The fact is, I laugh a lot. And I may have an odd sense of humor, but I do have one—though I don’t have the knack of translating that well into words.

I look over the stories I hope to publish soon and see deaths, divorces, murders, childhood terrors, a rape, the loss of hope. Yet, the first novel I published is a love story?! What’s that about? My light and dark sides fight it out. Thankfully, my dark side is content to be fulfilled through fiction—and occasional blog posts.

I think I’ll go mix up a batch of brownies and then sit in the sun while they bake. Maybe I’ll come up with a sweet, happy story to write. Well … maybe not that sweet. Or happy. *sigh*

Tuesday Tales, Titles, and a Thriller

Since I’m in the middle of a read-a-thon, I have books on the brain. I finished The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks yesterday afternoon and immediately started The Help, but today, I’ll put down the books and go to the movies with my husband. We’re seeing Contagion, if you’re interested.

Speaking of books, I’ve made a final decision on which one I’ll publish next. It will be a short story collection. I hope, before too long, to whip into shape the stories I’ve written so far, plus the one I’m working on now, and the one I plan to write next. They make an eclectic grouping, so I made a list of appropriate book titles, but then searched Amazon and found out most of them have already been used … some more than once. I’m sure something will come to me when it’s time.

Speaking of books again, if you’re looking for a thriller with a heart, check out Monarch, a new release by Michelle Davidson Argyle. This is the blurb:

Nick’s life as a CIA spy should be fulfilling, but it has only given him unhappiness—a wife who committed suicide, and two daughters who resent everything he has become. Now, stuck in the Amazon on the last mission of his career, he must track down Matheus Ferreira, a drug lord and terrorist the U.S. has tried to bring down for years. If he succeeds, he’ll have the chance to start his life over again.

Just when Nick is on the brink of catching Ferreira, he’s framed for a murder that turns his world upside down. His only chance of survival lies in West Virginia where Lilian Love, a woman from his past, owns the secluded Monarch Inn. He’s safe, but not for long…

I rarely read thrillers, but I’m glad I read Monarch. My fear that the CIA agent storyline would bore me and possibly be hard to follow was groundless. The characters were well fleshed out, warts and all. The author deftly entwined the action story with a love story, switching back and forth, without any confusion and the breaks were just long enough to build the tension, but not make me want to skip anything to get back to the other story. I found both stories satisfying. As a bonus, I learned a bit about Monarch butterflies. :-)

Find out more on Michelle’s blog, including a list of giveaways you can enter to win a copy: MONARCH giveaways!

A story! A story? A tale of fear!

All my sources tell me that, as a new indie author, I need to publish more work soon. Writing a novel is not quick work for me. I have a story that might run novella length—might. I haven’t written it yet, of course. Another option is a short story collection.

Until the last couple of years, I’ve never been a big short story reader. I’ve written some, but they were for my own eyes. But, in the last year, I’ve greatly increased the number of short stories I read. I also read articles on how to write short fiction. I’m still not sure I get it.

I’m also not sure why I don’t get it. It’s almost as though I have a mental block. I think I write a beginning, middle, and end, but it doesn’t seem like a story to me. Is it a vignette? Is that a story?

Does a story require a moral? A lesson? A reason to exist? Am I over-thinking this? Probably. I fear I can’t write short stories. Then again, I fear I can’t write anything. FEAR.

I’d like to say I bravely take up my pen keyboard and wield it like a sword, but that would be a lie. The truth is I sit here quivering. I sit here wishing, hoping, praying that the words I’m typing make sense … have a purpose … tell a story.

That’s what I’m busy with nowadays. And I thank Christ Craig for her recent post reminding me that I have to face that fear or I’ll never know if I’ve written a story at all.