Block, Fiction, My Books, Novel, Writing

When the wall comes crumbling down …

brick-wallExcuse the brief post today. I’ve been stalled on finishing my novel for a few weeks now. At some point, my mind erected a wall between me and my story. I’ve tried to force through it resulting in copious use of the delete key the next day. I’ve tried ignoring it resulting in many blog posts and the piece of flash fiction I posted yesterday, but no progress on the novel. I’ve re-read earlier chapters of my novel hoping to spark a fire to burn through it. No effect on the wall, but I did manage edits and revisions in those earlier chapters.

But yesterday something changed. I don’t know what. I was going about my usual day of writing email, replying to comments on my blog, leaving comments on others blogs, checking Facebook, Twittering, and playing a thousand rounds of Bejeweled Blitz when I realized something was shaking under the surface. The wall started crumbling.

So, today I’m back to work on the novel. Send good thoughts my way.

Block, Dream, Fiction, Novel, Writing

Dreaming the truth …

Saturday night I dreamed I had a beautiful house, in the woods, filled with happy children … until the bear appeared … inside the house. I was the only adult in the place. It was up to me to protect everyone. motherearth

Okay, you say, but what does this have to do with writing? This dream is absolutely about writing, so let me tell you the steps my subconscious took to produce it.

I’ve been thinking about where I need to be to write—both physically and metaphorically. I love the ocean; it inspires me. But I love the woods more. I picture myself living there; I think it’s ancestral memory.

So, there’s the house in the woods.

Many of us, or maybe it’s only the women writers, refer to our work as our baby. We certainly labor to bring it into this world. And it’s not easy bringing it to maturity, either.

So, there’s the children.

I’ve also been wondering how to get around this inner editor that’s giving me fits trying to finish this novel. It’s a problem. Bugabear is the old-fashioned word that popped into my mind yesterday.

So, there’s the bear.

Now put on your dream hat and follow along. In dream symbols, your house represents your true self—your mind, your heart, your soul—however you choose to refer to it. So, in my dream, I am in a lovely house, with large windows all around so I can have a 360° view of the woods around me. There are children in this house, my babies.

Suddenly, I realize there’s a huge bear in the house. It paces. It sniffs. It’s hungry. I don’t want anyone to bear panic. “Be calm, stand still, don’t run,” I tell them. No matter which way I turn, the bear is there, blocking the way.

I’m almost paralyzed with fear, but I know it’s up to me to do something. As it happens in dreams, a weapon, a rifle, appears in my hands. I don’t want to shoot the bear; but neither can I let it kill anyone. And then—

I am standing inside the house, my children clustered around me, and I’m watching out the window as the bear ambles away through the trees.

So, my friends, I ask myself—as a writer—what is the nature of my weapon?

Photos: (1)“Dreaming Girl” 4Head Garden of Dreams, Chelsea, UK; designer: Marney Hill; co-designer: Heather Yarrow  (2) Black bear; Bryan Harry – NPS Photo

Advice, Block, Doubt, Fiction, Novel, Read, Tips, Writing

Ignorance stays out of your way

My last post concerned the idea that where you write can affect how you write. This post voices my overwrought opinion that what you know can affect how you write. In other words, sometimes knowledge can hogtie you, where ignorance lets you run free.

I wrote my first novel in six months. Certainly, it needs a deeper edit and, since I’m the only one who’s read it, there’s a good chance some revision is in its future. But still, it’s a whole novel. By contrast my second novel is taking more than twice as long. Why?

Probably the main reason for me, is that I know more about writing now. NO! I know more writing RULES now. When I wrote that first novel, I was just a Reader. I could spell and had a geekish grasp on grammar, but I hadn’t read any how-to-write manuals, or taken any classes or seminars. I just loved reading fiction and making up stories of my own. I usually kept these stories in my head, but occasionally I’d start writing them down. I’d even started a few novels, but never finished one. Then, a chance meeting sparked an idea that I couldn’t shake, and before I knew it, I had started writing another novel. This time the writing was different; the story flowed.

I had a wonderful time writing that book because I didn’t know it was supposed to be hard.

Back then, I wasn’t a Writer. I didn’t know all the rules that now cause me to second guess myself a thousand times a day. I didn’t know only well-published authors are allowed to use adverbs and adjectives and dialogue tags other than said. I didn’t know you should never start a book with a prologue, or with the weather, or that certain things had to happen at page 100, or 200, or whenever. I just wrote the story the way it made sense to me. Oh, how I wish I could write unencumbered like that again.

Now, under the burden of all these rules, I have a hard time letting the story flow. I’ve read some writing tips—underage rules—and tried some of them, but they didn’t work for me. I even tried typing blindfolded, but claustrophobic panic put an end to that.

And if I let myself think about writing the life-or-death query letter, or the number of other writers vying for “my” slot on the release list, or the state of the publishing industry—well, I start to wonder if I shouldn’t do myself a favor by deleting everything in my Writing file and taking up Reading again.

I know it would take awhile to quit editing as I read, but I think I could do it.

Really.

Except, well, there’s this one story idea …

Block, Fiction, Novel, Words, Writing

Pain, loss of words, and nudity

I spent the weekend sitting in my husband’s leather chair. It doesn’t fit me, my feet don’t reach the floor when I sit in it and the back is too high, but it’s the only chair I can sit in without pain. For the past two days, I’ve had a pinched nerve, disk, something, that causes me real … breathtaking … pain when I stand for more than three minutes.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t complain because I would be writing anyway, but that’s not happening. The words won’t come. I know why. And I know this drought will not last. But for now, I can’t write. That’s not to say I’m not typing anything. I’ve typed a couple thousand words this weekend, but will any of them end up in my novel? Probably not. They’re just the product of the logical me, pretending she can write fiction.

The real me, the one who can write, is confused, in hiding, treating herself to wine, and orange chocolate sticks, and visions of a certain young actor in a BBC production. All of him. Every single, gorgeous inch of him. (I considered accompanying this post with a photo, but I’ll let you dream your own.)

Which brings me to the last part of this post title … why is America so prudish about nudity?

[Disclaimer: disclaimer: I am not advocating that family programming should include gratuitous or sexual nudity.]

Characters, Fiction, Writing

I Can’t Hear You

Today, I will clean my house–for two reasons. Thanksgiving is four days away and my house will be full of family who, I’m sure, would appreciate not vying for space with stacks of books, toys, craft supplies, and pet fur … oh yes, and my shoes scattered wherever I stepped out of them! The second reason I will be cleaning instead of writing is that I can’t hear my characters right now.

Maybe that’s a blessing (see reason #1) but I’m a little panicked. What if they never speak to me again? I’m leading up to a crucial scene in this novel, one that has been written for weeks, but how can I bridge the gap when my main characters aren’t speaking?

I have another fear about this silence. Just two weeks ago, one of my characters threw me a curve by letting me know that I had misunderstood her. Now, I fear that these two characters might be conspiring to change things again. I fear anarchy!

But, for today … I clean (there is no joy in Whoville!)