Cycles

May 28, 2014 § 2 Comments

As much as I like writing,  the desire and the drive to do so comes in waves. Sometimes big ones, sometimes small. Sometimes, there are no waves at all for a very long time. And other times, the waves are one after another, boomboomboom.

I’ve been trying to figure this out for a long time now, and today I had an interesting epiphany: when I am in a good mood, I want to write. A lot. Like, constantly. And along with this constant drive to write comes also a drive to do lots of things in general. I want to make lists, I want to organize, I want to reach out to other people – to write letters and make phone calls. These sorts of moods usually make me super-productive at work, too – it becomes sort of a contest to see just how many items I can strike off my to-do list in a day, or given days.

I absolutely love being in this sort of “state of being.” I feel positive, hopeful and strong, ready to take on just about anything. I want to write ALL the words. Do ALL the things. Kick ALL the asses that need kicking. But mostly, I just want to write. And submit and get published and go on book tours and give lectures and readings and then hole up in my personal ultra-comfy and secluded writing retreat with floor cushions and armchairs and teakettles and esoteric art on the walls and write until I burn holes in the paper (or the screen.) I mean, that’s what I want.

This blessed, blissful state never lasts for long. Just as quickly as I ascend the mountain, I always seem to slide right down the other side into apathy, lethargy, and a certain “damitol funk” (props to Raine for that little gem!)  It’s as if a switch gets thrown and all of a sudden, it’s all about basic functioning and going through the motions, and the last thing I want to do is write. So much for book tours and teakettles.

I think a lot of this has to do with all the major changes going on in my life. And hormones.

I guess.

Perhaps….?

Whatever. I’ll take the waves and ride them whenever I can.

And, here’s a random snippet from something on my bookshelf, just for fun:

“What did I care about the squawk of the little very self which wanders everywhere? I was dealing in outblownness, cut-off-ness, snipped, blownoutness, putoutness, turned-off-ness, the snapped link, nir, link, vana, snap! ‘The dust of my thoughts collected into a globe,’ I thought, ‘in this ageless solitude,’ I thought, and really smiled, because I was seeing the white light everywhere everything at last.”
~
from The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac.

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Before I retire…

April 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

This little gem came in the mail the other day, courtesy of a kind gift of some Amazon credit:

photo (2)

My original intention was to post something thoughtful this past Monday, the 21st, in honor of John’s birthday, but it got away from me as per usual.

So, I thought I’d at least dip my toe in the pool tonight and share, and then go to bed with a wonderful meditation on deck:

“Come to the woods, for here is rest,
there is no repose like that of the
green deep woods.
Here grow the wallflower and the violet.
The squirrel will come and sit on your knee,
the logcock will wake you in the morning.
Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill.
Of all the upness accessible to mortals,
there is no upness comparable to the mountains.”

John certainly knew the score.

And Now…Two Years Later…

April 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Time to blow all the dust off and get to work…again.

So many things, so many possibilities. So much material in my head.

So much to do.

Thankfully, I’ve been (albeit slowly) disabusing myself of the starry-eyed idealism I’ve held about writing for a very long time: the thought that a gift for writing was enough – an “if you write, they will come” sort of attitude. But guess what? They will never come if you don’t do the actual work! Why bother if there’s nothing to read?

I know I’ve still dues to pay, and it’s time to start coughing up the funds to satisfy the bill, if indeed it will ever be satisfied. And this is where proactivity enters the picture.

So here’s what’s going through my head these days, in no particular order:

  • Regular blogging.  I think it’s safe to say that blogging has practically become a staple of the writing world. There’s about a million of them out there, but blogging gives everyone a chance to get their stuff out there for free, with ease and little if any risk. But consistency is key. And I need me some consistency for sure.
  • A writing calendar. There was a very spot-on post I saw today about creating an editorial calendar (you can find it here.) Essentially, this puts one on track with having a planned schedule for blog posts which in turn encourages consistency by enforcing a sense of accountability with one’s readers. This is definitely something that might help me.
  • Writing on paper. There’s just something about holding a pen and moving it across blank paper in a meaningful way that has always appealed to the writing purist in me. I wrote about this some time ago here, and I still stand quite strongly by those words. I have a stack of partially-filled journals just waiting for me to get busy.
  • Writing groups. I need to make connections with other writers who are as serious about their craft as I am learning to be about mine. A writing group that makes regular meetings a priority provides motivation, encouragement, constructive criticism and accountability – all things that are missing at least in some part from my current writing practice.
  • Believing in my writing talent, without apology. This is a big one for me. I’ve wondered more often than I care to admit if I have the talent and creative firepower to write stuff that other people would want to read. Well, I’m not so delusional in my thinking that I assume my style, my topics and my voice appeal to everyone – but I do know that I write well and that my audience is out there, somewhere.
  • Selling myself. And I ain’t talking street corners here! Making it as a writer has just as much to do with how well one “sells” her or himself as it does with possessing the talent to write. Social media seems to be the best place to do that selling these days, and there’s an ever-increasing number of available platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, – not to mention all the blogging platforms. This puts one’s work in front of as many pairs of eyes as possible – friends, family, acquaintances or complete strangers.
  • Submit! To magazines, to literary journals, to book publishers, to newsletters, to online websites, to other blogs. Write all the stuff. Send all the stuff. Collect the rejection notices, paper your walls with them, and then sit right down at the keyboard or with the pen, write and write and write, and submit some more.

And last but not least:

  • Practice. Consistent, dogged, uncompromising practice. Not much else to say here…

…or here. I’ve said it, now to do it.

A New Year

January 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

1. Write.
2. Submit.
3. Write some more.
4. Submit some more.
5. Keep writing.
6. Lather, rinse, repeat.
7. Wallpaper your office with rejection letters……
8. Repeat steps 1-6.
9. Ad nauseum.

10. Published?

Happy New Year!

The Day After

May 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

I have invented a new affliction called Submission Anxiety Syndrome – or SAS for short.

Symptoms include a creeping sense of dread and regret, accompanied by a slightly unsettled stomach and an urge to sign up for as many remedial writing workshops as one can possibly afford and/or cram into one’s schedule.

The cause: hitting “upload” on a lit journal website after several bleary-eyed hours of editing and re-editing, and then re-reading (just one more time) the final manuscript which  is now irretreivably sitting in the Inbox of the journal editor.

This is usually immediately accompanied by a few choice expletives, pronounced forehead slapping and groans of anguish, followed by questions either muttered under the breath or screeched out loud, such as:

“How on EARTH did I miss that??” and

“What exactly was I thinking when I used that verb/phrase/adjective??” and 

“Is it actually possible that a comatose sea-otter could have come up with a better title??”  (One should not actually answer this one.)

Yes, I have a very acute case of SAS today.  

Perhaps the editor will have mercy on my apparently “not-nearly-as-awesome-today-as-it-was-last-night” excuse for a manuscript and at least toss it into the “maybe” pile.

Writing and Community

May 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Writing groups are awesome.

I’ve been participating in a group that “operates” through Facebook, and while I certainly acknowledge that is indeed a writing group, it’s not quite the same as meeting in person. The sense of community is stronger, the feedback more immediate and intimate, and also more emphatic and perhaps meaningful when combined with facial expressions and body language.

As part of my requirements for my journalism class, I had to meet with a formal student writing group that was put together by the Academic Resource Center on campus. We were allowed to share both academic and personal work, but most of us ran our academic work by each other, since that was the stuff that was always more urgently due somewhere. What I really want, though, is a group that is geared towards fiction and meets on at least a semi-regular basis – say, at least once or twice a month.

As a writer, I would say this is a priority. Working in a vacuum is not a good thing; feedback and criticism – both positive and negative – are important parts of the process. New ideas and angles, typos and inconsistent dialogue and events are all much more easily identified and/or corrected when other eyes have the opportunity to review a work in progress.

So, I need to either find one, or create one. I’m game either way. It’s on my list.

An Interesting Thought

May 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Writing is a disease – you catch it and you don’t ever get cured, and you don’t really think about where you got the virus or what the antidote might be.”

~Will Campbell, Baptist preacher, author and civil rights activist
Excerpt from 
Of Fiction and Faith by W. Dale Brown

I’ve been very surprised by this book so far. It’s a collection of Brown’s interviews with a few famous and a few not-so-famous authors (by contemporary standards, anyway) who also happen to be people of faith, in one way or another. It might mean that I’m really just woefully under-read, which is a very strong possibility, but I had personally only heard of one of the authors featured in the book before I picked it up.

I wasn’t expecting to get much out of it simply because at first, I thought reading these interviews outside of the context of having read any of the subject’s works would be meaningless. What I’ve discovered instead is a whole new slew of authors I’d really like to check out.

I can tell from the questions he asks that it was never Brown’s intent to assemble this fine collection with the purpose of promoting the authors he interviewed, but in many ways that is the effect this book has had on me. It certainly reinforces the fact that there are so many rich sources of literature out there that even if I make to 100, I won’t live nearly long enough to thoroughly explore even a fraction of them.  

This fact is depressing and exciting, all the same time. The ultimate literary paradox.