Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Flights of Fancy

Not a real post today, loves. I'm burnt out at work and my brain's flirting with a midterm due by this Sunday.

I am writing. That's a fact. In fact, I've finished eight chapters of revisions over the past week. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but seeing as in the original manuscript, the info in those new eight chapters took a good fifteen to tell, I think it's GREAT!! My goal for this revision was to cut a huge chunk out.

So far, so good.

Write on!
Jen

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"The deep breath before the plunge"


photo credit

Not a regularly scheduled post, I know, but I'm excited and I wanted to share. Yesterday, I picked up a pen and pulled out a notebook whilst sitting at "The Job". I started writing. I didn't pay attention, I just let the story take over.

The story is wise.

Our stories create us, not the other way around. Fear prevents us from letting those stories free. Fear of what we will become. Fear of the responsibility that will come from that change. Fear of those who may (and will) reject us for the change that is inevitable.

The story is truth.

When we try to control the telling of the tale, we interject our own judgements. We inadvertently lie. Keep yourself away from the telling. Let the story tell it. You can edit its rough grammar, paunchy prose or suggestive swear words later. If you must.

The story is consuming.

It burns through your veins like fire and clogs your arteries with its ash. The only freedom is to let it loose, spill it out over the page or keys. Blindly trust, as in love. For storytelling is love, is has to be. If you don't love your story, you won't sacrifice. If you don't sacrifice, you won't give birth. And if you don't give birth, the truth will remain hidden, suffocate and die.

Trust your story.

Trust.
So hard.
So necessary.
But think of it this way.
Your story trusts you. If it didn't, you would not have been chosen. Rest in that trust. You were chosen, not widdershins.

Now...DIVE.


(ps: i could buy every bracelet this lady makes. every. single. one of them.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Get it written

"Don't get it right, get it written!" ~James Thurber, American humorist

I opened the door. You know, the one at the end of the hall. Yeah. That one. It opened quite easily. Seems it had been unlocked for some time, waiting not-so-patiently for me to turn the knob.

There's this tale I've been working on for a long, long time. I call it my trilogy but it's more than that. Much more. It's the first work I've ever poured my heart and soul into. It's the first work I've ever been broken over. It's also the first work before which I've ever found myself cut open, bleeding and dying.

Dying to self in order to live.

For ten years I've worked on this story. Off and on, in anger and doubt, in excitement and confidence (oh how precious few those times are).

Behind that door was this story, not as I've written it, but how it wants to be written. I've been trying so hard to get it "right". To make it polished and smooth, so it will go down easily like a liqui-tab to a sore throat.

This story doesn't want to go down easy. No, it wants to tumble forth, jagged edges and all. This story has teeth and talons and refuses to be tamed. I've tried shoving it in boxes and closets and locked steamer trunks to no avail. It will NOT be what I've tried to make it.

SAFE

To be honest, this story scares me. I thought it was straightforward. I thought it was done. Now it's asking me to rip it apart, tear it o shreds, throw those bits and baubles to the four winds and see what happens when the chill takes them. When the monsters are set free.

Looks like I have a lot of work to do.

Question: Have you ever had a story-a completed or almost completed story- REFUSE to let you submit it? Have you ever had a story fight to be told TRUTHFULLY and not how YOU think it should be told? Have you ever had a story that SCARED you? Have you ever tried to make a story SAFE because you're afraid no one will read it if you let run wild?

Friday, January 14, 2011

A thought doth vex me

gorgeous photo found here

Perhaps vex is too strong a word. More of a nagging, a niggling. You know, that little tapping of a thought you get in the back corridor of your mind.

There's this door, see, down that long, dark hallway called imagination. It's at the very end. We all have one. For some reason, mine's always locked.

The hallway is filled with looking glasses and in every one I see a reflection of a story - past, present, future. Character and plot renditions of my self. Many, many layers.

Back to this door.

Tap-tap-tap

A source of constant preoccupation. Distraction from job, school, family. From the current WIP. Lately it's doubled it's efforts. Tip-tap now rattles BANG-BANG! I'm kept in a constant state of troubled awareness. This door, locked and chained. What's so desperate to get out?

The chains have fallen off.
All I have to do is open it.
The only thing that stands in the way?

FEAR

I plan to open it this weekend.

Am I mad?
Yes. Most blissfully so.

Wander on,
Jen

Thursday, January 13, 2011

You write WHAT?!?

First, a few announcements (and if you've read something similar on my other blog, skip down below the numbered points and proceed merrily to today's post!)

1) School. Wow. So I thought since I'd been several *cough* times before, this would be a cake walk. WRONG. This cramming a semester into 8 weeks is great for finishing quicker but murder when you've got a job, two blogs to manage and countless other obligations. For now, my posting here will be Tuesdays and Thursdays.

2) In light of the above, I have been a terrible, horrible blog reader. Forgive me, do. I love reading each and every one of your blogs and will make it by as I can. Promise!

3) Daleks stole my blog design! Or I'm just having a terrible time trying to get this one tweaked to my liking. Please pardon the construction.

We now return to your regularly (ahem) scheduled post.

"So, you're a writer. What do you write?"

What an easy question.

"I write fiction."
"Romance."
"Chick lit"
"Fantasy"
"Dystopian YA steampunk dark-fantasy set in an alternate London somewhere in the late 1800s"

Huh?!?

How many times have we been faced with an interested individual who eagerly awaits our response to that question? How many times do we falter? Why?

As soon as people find out I write, they immediately ask, "Oh, what do you write?"
I immediately hesitate. Not because I'm ashamed of what I write. It's more of a pause to gather myself together to receive their response.

"I write mostly dark fantasy and horror, predominately for the YA crowd but some adult literature as well."

Insert nods, tight smiles and...walk away.

I don't write what's popular. I don't write what's expected. I'm 5'5", sorta skinny, pale and blond. People always (ALWAYS) assume because I'm quiet and small that I'm meek, mild mannered and girly.

I'm not.

Funny how people judge your writing by your appearance. People judge us everywhere we go by our appearance. Why should I be surprised that they judge my genre by it as well?

There's nothing wrong with being meek, mild and girly. There's also nothing wrong with writing what's expected. If you look like a romance writer and you write romance then by golly write the best darned romance you can! I don't read romance normally but when yours gets published, I'll read it because it's you. Seriously. Not lying.

Why? Because I support other writers the same way musicians support other musicians. You may play grunge, industrial, electronic punk and you run across a chick who plays cello in a pop orchestra. You may not like orchestral music and she may not like punk, but as musicians, you respect the work. You respect the artist (at least, I hope you do *glare...grrrr*)

As writers, we respect the art and craft of others. We many not like it, we may cringe at the sight of it. But if you're serious about your work, if you're hell-bent on getting it right, getting it written, I respect you and your effort. And I'll dance in the streets with you when you're rewarded for your blood, sweat and tears.

I guess that's why, deep down, I want those who ask about my work to respect it too. No matter what my answer. But they won't. They can't.

And that's OK.

That's why we have each other. That's why we write these little drabbles we call blogs, it's why we meet for coffee to morn another rejection and why we invite everyone over for cake and tea when we get a request for a partial. It's why we send out newsletters and forward links to contests and agents.

I don't care what you write. I care THAT you write.

So keep writing! And give me reason to dance and serve cake! Otherwise, I just look silly ;)

(If this post seems a bit disjointed, it's probably due to sleep deprivation and caffeine. Or Reavers ate my brain.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Drawing water from the well



Countless tributaries lead to the oceans. Some are raging rivers, others minor trickles. There are streams that lead to tranquil, mountain lakes. There are rapids that rip through canyons and roar into deltas. Cold, clear snow run off. The muddy, mighty Mississippi.

Would you say that any of these contribute more or less to the water level of the oceans?

Dostoevsky
Tolstoy
Shakespeare
Poe
Austin

L'Engle
Owen
Dekker
King
Rowling

These are the oceans, both past and present. These are the writers to which we turn when we need inspiration. When we feel our language is flailing in the aftermath of a tsunami of slang, we can pick of their tattered covers and rest in the assurance of their eloquence.

We elevate them.
We emulate them.
We feel inferior.

And yet...

We as writers are tributaries to their oceans. The ocean is a great body. The water is what fills it. The great body of the written word is fathomless. The authors who fill it churn, rise and fall with the tides. Into this body flows the streams, the rivers, the trickles that make up the newly published, the soon to be agented, the rejected hopeful.

Not only do we contribute, but we draw water from this vast oceanic well. We drink deeply from it, letting it run over our teeth, parched lips and wounded souls. The words and stories from the pens of the masters helps revive our faith in our calling and their truth cheers us onward.

Ever on.

Even in the face of writer's block, lost voices, and rejections.

Write on, my fellow trickles, write on!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Due to Inclimate Weather...

...this blog is taking a rest.



So I can go play in the snow :D



Have fun out there (and stay safe if you've been hit with ice and snow like we have)!



Snow covered palms.
Only in Georgia.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sometimes, you just gotta dig!

So.

Voice.

We talked yesterday about what it is and why we need it so badly. Occasionally, it goes missing. Perhaps we use it too much and it gets tired. Perhaps we don't use it enough and it gets weak. Whatever reason, writers have times, early in their careers, when their unique voice packs a sack lunch and heads off into the Rockies without a forwarding address.

What do we do? How do we find it?

I'm not so sure how you're going to take my answer, but I'm going to give it to you anyway.

You write.

Lost voice? Write it to find it.

I told someone today that I lose my voice several times in every story I write. I go off on tangents, wander down rabbit trails, chase pirates. Inevitably, I end up back where I started, wondering where my voice went.

What do I sound like? Not Stephen or J.K. or Ted. What do I sound like? Not Madeleine, not James, not Orson or Oscar. Me. Jennifer.
The best way I've found to return to my voice is to park my backside in a chair and write. Notice I said "return to my voice". We tend to be the ones who leave, who deviate from our true nature.

Why?

I don't think it's done deliberately, at least, not most of the time. In response to one comment I got from yesterday, I replied that I think we try to emulate others because we respect their brilliance and their success. And there's nothing wrong with trying on a few different writing hats now and then. Nor is there anything wrong with having more than one voice (I have several. The talk to me often, usually at the same time. It gets rather confusing.) The best thing for us to do is to create our own brilliance, have confidence in that brilliance, and forge our own success.

To do that, we must write.

I mean, write with all the passion and guts and desperation you have in you. Pull out a note pad and some pens and just write. Shut yourself away and type furiously about whatever pops in your mind. Spit it out until you pick it up, wipe off the blood and sweat and say, "Wow. That's me?"

Yep. That's you.

The real you. YOUR unique, authentic voice.

The trick is to keep it.

Trust me, it is a trick and sometimes I have to just sit down and write a bunch of gibberish until I fall into my voice. When that happens, you'll know. You feel a sense of peace and ease with your words. They flow. They may not be perfect, but they're yours and once out, you can manipulate them however they need to go.

Try it.

Next time you feel your voice has gone flat (or south), write your guts out and see what happens. You may just find that you caught up with your voice on that lonely trail. And you'll get to see some great scenery along the way!

Happy weekend!

Go forth and be fabulous!
~Jen

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Laryngitis

Photo Credit

Have you ever lost your voice?

You know the feeling. Aching throat, perpetual cough. That hacking, throat clearing noise that grates on your nerves and everyone elses. Just when you start remotely feeling better, you wake up and suddenly-you can't talk! Now, you might be like me and find it amusing to be speechless. You might also find that people are happier to be around you when your forced to communicate by written word only.

Ever lost your writing voice?

A writer's voice is his mark, his signature. It's the way fans know the new book is going to be just as great (if not better) than the old. An author's voice is a gateway into their world, an opening of a narrow door that leads to strange and wonderful worlds. Sometimes you catch a note or two and off you go, following the golden bricks of discovery. Other times, all you hear is clanging and you walk past the door, fingers stuffed in your ears.

Not everyone is infatuated with the song of every author. It's what makes us unique and recognizable in a sea of published works. It helps us stand out when someone reads and excerpt without first informing the crowd of our name.

What happens when that voice is lost? What happens when you suddenly wake up one morning and find your writer's voice has flown the coop? How did it happen?

A number of things can contribute to Writer's Laryngitis (hmmm, perhaps I should copyright that one...). It could be that you're obsessed with Neil Gaiman and, gosh darn it, you're going to sound just like him! Or maybe it's a bit more subtle. You find an author you adore. You read her books religiously, sometimes two and three times a year. You sit down one morning to write your brilliant new novel and, lo! Your words doth cometh out like the Bard's! You pause. Is that really so bad? I mean, heck, how popular is Shakespeare? You wouldn't mind being the best selling Cliff Note on the rack in 50 years. You ink up your quill and begin.

Yet...something just isn't right. It's not that Shakespeare's words are any less powerful today. It's the fact they're Shakespeare's words and not YOURS. I speak from experience on this. I have a favorite author. I read her books three or five times a year (I lost count). Funny little fact: I pulled out my beast of a trilogy and, LO! It doth sound oddly familiar. And I don't me familiar as in my reflection in the mirror familiar. Chunks of dialog and description are now crossed out. Why? Because they aren't me. They're someone else.

It's fine to emulate the greats. There's nothing wrong with reading the classics and finding out what makes them tick, what makes them timeless. It's even perfectly acceptable to try your hand at sounding like Austen or Poe or Wilde. But when it comes time to write YOUR novel, you need to sound like YOU.

How do you do that?
Stop by tomorrow and I'll tell you :D

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Use the Force


photo credit

There's a rumor going around that writer's are otherworldly creatures, connected to some unseen force that rockets ideas to our brains at light speed. Where else do all those boy wizards and time traveling whats-its and lords of rings come from? It's not like you can stop by the character emporium on 5th and Main and bring home three dragons, a hobbit and a talking newt named Earl.

The truth of the matter is, we're not gods of old reborn. Heck, most of us aren't even geniuses. No one stops us on the street corners or corners us in line at the coffee shop and says, "You're a writer aren't you?" If they did, I'd imagine they'd look kind of shifty-eyed, like they were in on some cosmic secret. We know one another by our furrowed brows, our fingers click-clacking over laptop keys at the book shop, the seven empty cups of coffee on the table at the cafe, the dark circles under our eyes. Others know us by those things too, only there's no sympathy in their glances. Most of the time they look at us as if we're untouchable - or smell funny.

So where do those ideas come from? Where do we get our super-human strength to stay up all night, type 10 pages between phone calls, revise a novel at lunch, and spend 30 days in November every year writing like mad a bunch of gibberish we hope will one day be a best seller?

I like to call it The Force. No, not THAT Force. I'm talking about the force that pulls us to the empty page even when we know we should be doing the dishes. The force that won't let us leave the computer until that last adjective is cut, sliced, hacked, and banished to hell on a one-way bus ride. The force that causes us to smile when we meet another kindred soul struggling with query letters, reading a tattered copy of our favorite book in the airport.

This same force also can hurl large objects amazing distances whenever we get another rejection, a scathing review or another family member telling us "I just don't get it". It forces us into the cold rain to walk for hours trying to come up with another character name besides Bob, Bill or Harry. The force that will stand stubbornly by and refuse to budge until our significant other reads our latest article and smiles while doing so!

It binds us to the pen, penetrates our veins, it holds our galaxy together! It creates worlds and rumors of worlds. This force, if left to it's own devices, can even cross our paths with agents, publishers, editors, or just a group of really groovy writers who get excited about another grammar book by Lynn Truss.

The key to all this fabulous force-age? Don't try to control it. Let it go, let it be as wild as it wishes to be. It's frightening, it's amazing, it's down-right preposterous, but we crave it. We need it.

And when we sit back after a blissful run with it, look at all those pages we just typed out, all those pencils that lie broken and in desperate need of sharpening scattered across the floor, we look up and smile. Because we know The Force is out there, watching us, waiting for the next moment we give it the risk taker's nod and it can blow us away with its genius.

It's a wild ride and I'm very glad to have you along.

~Jen

Monday, January 3, 2011

Stay TUNED!

Tomorrow's the big day, loves!

This blog will go live on 04 January, 2011.

*confetti*
*volcanic eruptions*

See you soon!
~Jen