Writer’s Block? Try Writer’s Berlin Wall.

Writer’s Block? Try Writer’s Berlin Wall.

(Note: I am frustrated and venting.)

I don’t like the term ‘writer’s block.’ It’s an icky term. It gives us this mental image of a blob of half dry concrete perched on that handy-dandy box of ideas that roosts inside the creative center of our brains. While this might feel accurate, it is in no way helpful. It makes it seem like this very easy process of removal. Just pick up a sledgehammer, or a local martial artist, and give it a good whack.

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(I feel like this could be a useful skill during the apocalypse)

I know, I know. There are a lot of websites out there that tell you that writer’s block is a lie. That it’s something your brain just made up and it doesn’t actually exist. All you have to do is keep writing and you’ll be fine. Or my favorite “If writer’s block is staring you in the face, write about it.”

Yeah…no.

Let’s put some things in perspective first.

Three weeks ago my book came out. (Go check it out)  So far it’s done better than I expected for a first time publication. It hit #3 on the mystery and thriller genre, and #5 on the shapeshifter/paranormal tag. Overall, on Amazon at least, it rests at #7435. I was pleasantly surprised, even though I found a typo or two when I went back and re-read it.

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(I hate commas.)

Yeah, that’s pretty accurate to how I feel since the work went through myself, a very talented editor, and several friends. I was fairly sure that it was free of errors. But hey, I can’t fix it now.

Then a very dear friend told me that I’ve been really hard to get a hold of lately. “You’ve been so focused on writing, I feel bad trying to get your attention.”

And then the spouse says, “Well, I can’t really ask you to do anything. You are always working.”

There was a hurricane. Flooding in the downstairs. And money demands from the IRS. My kitchen was a mess and my spouse kept trying to clean everything…which sounds great until I felt so guilty about not cleaning that I couldn’t concentrate on anything. This eventually turned into me getting into a snip fest with pretty much anything that walk into my line of sight.

Isn’t creativity grand?

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(I assume each of these actors tried writing a screenplay before filming these scenes)

So let’s look at the list we have here.

  • Feelings of creative inadequacy
  • Guilt for alienating friends and family
  • Anxiety over household chores
  • Hurricane over which I had no control but felt like I should
  • Money issues
  • Household tension

 

Wow, those all sound like anxiety inducing events. Maybe there is some kind of correlation between anxiety and disassociating from your creativity, which may or may not feel like the literary equivalent of hair in the drain. So the nay-sayers who don’t think that writer’s block is real can sniff decade old draino and stop telling me that what I, and thousands of others feel, isn’t real.

Dreams Coming True

Dreams Coming True

I did not always want to be a writer. I have, for as long as I can remember, been a very avid reader. Growing up my family didn’t have a lot of money. We didn’t have cable, or internet (yes, there was a time in which the web was something that the average person didn’t have), but we did have a library within walking distance of two of the apartments I lived in. Books were my primary form of escapism and entertainment.

Who am I kidding? Even with a heavily utilized Netflix account, they still are.

That being said, I never really thought about being a writer. Up until I went to high school I was pretty sure I was going to be a super hero. In my teen years I thought I was going to be a Broadway actress. As I was neither bitten by a radioactive butterfly, nor did my Thespian pin get me any insteps for the theater world, I turned back to my first love…books.

I’d like to say that writing was my first thought. It wasn’t. My first thought was editing, but comas and I were never really friends. Then I thought of being a librarian, but a library science degree eluded me…because I discovered studying criminology….and then anthropology…and then…okay, you get the idea. I loved to study.

I took creative writing on a whim. I thought that it would be fun, and a way for me to deal with my on again off again relationship with depression. It worked. I also discovered a passionate outlet for that imagination that wanted to be a super hero, a theater star, a glob trotting anthropologist, or a law enforcement officer. I discovered that I loved to write.

I know, me and a hundred thousand other amazing people want to be writers, and plenty of them wanted to be writers for far longer than I have. But it’s been my dream for almost eleven years now, and I am living it.

I am happy to announce that Foehammer: A Paranormal Crimes Division Novel by Lorena Black will be coming out later this year.

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Taking My Own Advice

So a while back I published a blog post about the importance of stepping away from your work. I was pretty specific about why a writer needs to take their time away from a written piece and just come back to it later. Have I mentioned that I really hate taking my own advice?

Ugh.

For those of you who have been following me for a bit you know that I recently participated in NaNo. I managed to get my very first book written. I didn’t write the 50k novel. It is most definitely a novella, but I wrote it.

Did I practice what I preached and take time away from that work before I started editing? Yes, I did, but only just barely. The very next day I went out and immediately printed out all 157 sheets of The Dominatrix and The Beast. I rubbed my cheek against the warm pages like an overly affectionate cat and wiggled in barely contained happiness at my own awesomeness.

I took it home, I got out my red pen, and I stopped.

I really want to jump into the indie author pool. I’m frothing to throw my work into the digital ring….or some other mishmash of cliches. But, and it’s a Sir Mix-A-Lot sized ‘but’, my work deserves to be given every chance to be awesome.

*sigh*

So I guess this means I have to take a step back and work on something else. The question, I guess, is what should I do? Should I try my hand at writing short fiction? Should I work on books two, three, and four in the Domina Claire series? Should I poke at that sci-fi novel I’ve been wanting to try my hand at?

So many questions! What about you guys? When you finish one work how do you know what to work on next?

NaNoWriMo- Day 21

Word Count: 34,602 words

So, my story is just sitting there looking at me. It’s like a cat that’s just knocked something off the counter, swishing it’s little tail going “So what are you going to do about me, human?”

And the answer (for both really) is “I haven’t got a gosh darn clue.”

It’s the rotten truth of it all. I’ve covered the story that I was going to write. If I do any more it will be because I go back and start editing. I could do that, but it sorta breaks the Don’t Think, Just Write motto that is the core of NaNo mentality.

Okay, I’m going to be extra honest. I’ve already done a little editing. That’s how I went from 21,000 words to my current word count. Shhh. I wont tell if you don’t. I mean, I haven’t ACTUALLY gone back and edited. I’ve just re-read some of my work to be inspired to write extra things. It’s…not quite editing. Right? Yeah, right.

In my “not quite editing” I’ve noticed several themes in my work. food is a reoccurring background element. There is a diner scene, a grocery scene, two different grilling scenes, and two making breakfast post coitus scenes.

I may have a fascination with food.

Oops. I might change this in editing, chances are I wont. My lycanthropes need to eat, and my main character is a bit of a foodie. So…it fits. I just look forward to any and all reviews that go “This writer really likes to talk about food.”

Yes, yes I do.

I’ve also noticed that there are a lot of long conversations. Like, yeah they are broken up with description and movement, but the conversations go on for pages. I like it, and I’m terrified that readers are going to go ‘uuugh, these people wont shut up.’

I guess what I’m really saying is I’m terrified that everything I’ve done is wrong. Yup. That’s me. Super confident writer of all things paranormal and erotic. -insert self effacing sigh here-

Vampires En Vogue

Over the past few years, thanks to the Twilight boom and a great many other YA books that ran along the same vein (pun!) vampires have seen a boom in popularity. This has made some of us jump for joy and some of us cringe.

If your like me you probably did a little bit of both.

It was a really weird for me to witness I was in my mid twenties when my younger sister shoved a novel in my hands and told me that I absolutely had to read it. She and I had exchanged novels before and I trusted her opinion. So that evening I cracked the book and gave it a little look.

I did, in fact, read the entire thing. When I got to the end of it I set the book aside and decided I probably wasn’t going to read the next book. The story just didn’t do anything for me. I understood that the author was trying to take a mythological creature and try to make it her own by making them shiny but it just seemed to fall flat in the character department and the story felt…really dysfunctional.

About six months later everyone was talking about it. Like, seriously…everyone. I was a little flabbergasted (isn’t that an awesome word?) and I didn’t really know what to do with it. I thought perhaps I might have judged the book to harshly and borrowed the rest from my proud Team Jacob, sister and read the rest of the series.

I still didn’t like it. There were parts of the book that made me legitimately uncomfortable. But what surprised me the most is how many people were frothingly protective of the series and how many were vehemently opposed. The most amusing battle of the two wars were a gaming buddy of mine who is a middle aged African American 6’4″ guy and weighing in somewhere near 400 pounds  going up against another friend of his who was tiny, redheaded, and befreckled. The dude was Pro-Twilight. She was not.

What amused me most were the people who thought that this fandom was going to last forever. I tried to explain, so many times, that this was normal and that it wasn’t even the first time I had seen the vampire craze come and go.

Vampires were HUGE in the Victorian Era. I mean, they were the thing. I don’t know if you are aware but the oldest lore about the creature we call vampire revolves around a recently dead becoming possessed, they were more like really quick mildly fresh zombies. They smelled and were gross. It wasn’t until the publication of the (weirdly named) Varney the Vampire that they took on a more aristocratic ideal.

And it became a craze. The serialized publication became a BFD for the era. It would go on to inspire the story Dracula. Then there was Carmilla (Oh my god go read Carmilla) Which inspired…well you see how this went.

Sometime in the late 80’s to early 90’s Anne Rice’s books became a really huge deal. I don’t know if it was the publication of the White Wolf gaming books Vampire: The Masquerade (and the 90’s drama of the same name) or what. But everyone I knew was reading whatever vampire stories they could get their hands on. A while later they were declared “Like, so last year.”

Unless you were me. I continued to be pretty obsessive about the monsters of the Victorian Era.

The difference, I think, was the era that Twilight was born into. The Era of Social Media has a large impact on what’s cool and what isn’t. But it seems to me every couple of generations the bloodsuckers pop up…because they just wont stay dead.

Why is this so important to me? Because I love writing about vampires and werewolves and witches (oh my!) and the fact that people are beginning to get like, seriously upset about this subject confuses me.

“Why are there all these stories about vampires falling in love with human. I don’t fall in love with a cheeseburger” Then dude, I hate to tell you this, but you are totally eating the wrong cheeseburgers. But joking aside…I do not understand why people are STILL so angry about this.

Are you angry that women are swooning over vampire dudes? Then go write about the perfect vampire lady. It would be awesome to read that. I guess what it comes down to is I think there are far more pressing things in this world to be upset about than vampire people and their mortal love interests.

Where I Write

I’m a bit of a homebody. My favorite weather is rainy. I like cheap coffee’s and expensive teas. My preferred pet is a over-sized, super cuddly cat. When left to my own devices I am likely to turn my couch into one big nest where I can curl up and never leave.

Okay, not never-never, but pretty darn close.

You’d think that this quirk of mine would lend itself easily to writing. Newsflash: it doesn’t. From the sanctity of my nest I can read just a couple more chapters of that paperback I picked up. I can play my DS or watch another episode on Netflix. Seriously though, whose gotten anything done since the invention of Netflix?

So, when I get into a writing rut I have to get out and write.  I hit up all the normal hotspots for literary hopefuls. The local library, the bookstore, the coffee shop and panera bread. But my all time favorite is a family owned burger joint called hotrodders.

The decor is throwback fifties Americana with sparkling red booths that tend to sag in the middle. Their wifi connection is liable to go out when new customers pop in the door. The checkerboard floor is in constant need of sweeping and on the right day you can catch the family in the middle of a scwabble.

So why do I go there? Because they handmake the buns for their burgers, the cook is a certified chef, and the entire family welcomes me by name with my favorite drink. I never feel like an intrusion no matter how long I linger.

Okay, it’s more than that. The entire atmosphere is ripe for personalities and people. It never feels like you are walking into a restaurant. It feels like to are walking into a families kitchen to sit down and enjoy a meal. The owners know a good portion of the community and offer military and law enforcement a discount on their food. There are just so many kinds of people who come through here…it’s hard not to get inspired by them.

As I sit here two gentleman have come through the door. They smell of paint and sweat and the musk of rain. One is slim, the other is fat. The slim one has the dark weathered look of a man who spends a great deal of time in the sun. His bleached hair hands around a slender and worn face. The sleeves of his pink floyd t-shirt are just short enough to reveal the ink of old tattoos.

The larger man keeps tugging at his pants. His wide legged posture takes up a great deal of limited space and his companion is forced to stick his legs under his own chair. The ash brown curls around the fat mans face are short enough that they turn his head into a perfect ball shape.

They talk about the old ladies house they just got done painting.

There is a good chance I will use these two in a story somewhere along the line. I’ve already added their descriptions to my notebook and will tug at that when I need someone interesting…

I guess what I’m saying is that this place inspires me and for all my writers out there I encourage you to find your place. Just don’t take this one. It’s mine.