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.

japanese-girl-breaks-bricks-with-forehead

(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.

I Have Arrived…Kinda

I Have Arrived…Kinda

Me and MLK have two things in common…dreams. Alright, so his dreams are way cooler and far more inspirational than mine, and that reference is overdone. Still, I think that the crux of the matter is that I have dreams…and that’s neat.

Mine revolve around writing. I know that I am not the only one with this dream, and I also know that many of my followers share this one with me. It is also one I know a lot of us are struggling with, myself included.

I have taken a lot of steps to achieve this little dream of mine. I have taken classes, joined groups (both online and real life), I have taken part in NaNo, started a blog, gotten into twitter…so on and so forth.

But hands down the biggest step forward I took was to get involved in ghostwriting. This took me over that line from amateur to professional. Sure, my name isn’t on the cover of the works that I have taken part in, but it HAS helped me nail down this ‘writing every day, even if it’s not what I wanna do right this moment’ thing. In this capacity I have written, thus far:

  • 40 short stories, between 2,500 and 10,000 words.
  • 6 scripts for short films. about ten pages each.
  • 17 single scenes, words counts varied, but around 4k each
  • 3 novellas between 20k-35k

All in the span of three months. Which, if you are counting, is a lot of words. So many words. I am proud of these achievements. They are awesome. It’s been amazing.

However, I have just received (and accepted) my very first offer to pen a full length novel. I will be receiving $750 for a 75k thriller/romance novel and I am so excited about that. I cannot even express. Sure, my name wont be on the cover….

…but that’s the next step.

 

Seriously though, horror

Seriously though, horror

I write naughty things. I find something glorious about describing the feel of satin hands sliding across sweaty skin. Or whispered promises and candlelit dinners. It’s fantastic. I’m not ashamed of it. At least I’m not till my conservative 80 year old grandfather looks me in the eye and asks me what my books are about.

That conversation went about as well as you can expect.

That being said, I have a deep and abiding passion for horror. I have a ridiculous collection of horror films (new, old, and remade), I have a slew of shelves devoted to the literary version of the genre, and I even wrote a screenplay based off of the mysterious case of Elisa Lam.

I think part of it is because I live in (almost) rural Virginia. We are very proud of our claim to be the ‘most haunted state in the US’. There is even a very lucrative series of books out there that collect all the local stories. So here I am, surrounded by the idea of ghosts, witches, and mysterious murders, what is a writer to do?

It’s a tad bit hard to cross the genre of romance and horror without it falling more into one than the other. Perhaps I ought to take another pen-name and devote that time and energy to the bump in the night stories.

Or not. Who knows?

Ghostwriting

When I am not bashing my head against my own work, I am bashing my head against a client’s. In some ways I find this a very freeing (and lucrative) way to keep writing, even when I have no inspiration with my own work.

My niche, so far, has been writing short stories revolving around alien romance. Who knew that I could bring my love of smooches together with my love of futuristic political arenas. It’s pretty neat.

I get to make my own hours, pick the clients that I want to work with, and when the writing is done I can send it out and not have to worry about someone’s poor opinion reflecting on my personal work.

However, it is not without its flaws. There are some clients who think that writing is very easy and straightforward. They do not understand that it is not particularly feasible to write an 80k story in a matter of five days, much less do so with perfect grammar. So, there’s that.

At the end of the day, though, after everything that has gone on in my life recently. It’s really nice to be able to tell people that I’m a writer, professionally.

Dear Followers

The past few months have not been easy.

I do not have the heart, nor the words, to go into details but I can say that a lot has happened. The shortest explanation is: Housefire, Water Heater Death, Cancer, and an emotional breakdown.

It has not been an easy few months for me nor the people I am closest to. However, I am back. I cannot promise to post everyday, in fact I can’t make any promises where my posting habits will be concerned. Just know that I am alive and as well as I can hope to be. Thank you all for sticking around through my absence.

 

Siblinghood of the World Blogger Award

 

First, let me apologize for my absence on this little bitty blog of mine. I’ve been focusing so much of my time on my work and my cookbook (Kitchen Witchery: a Food Magic Guide to the Dark Half of the Year; coming up in 27 days) that I haven’t had a lot of time to give all you amazing followers due attention. Please look for me to rectify this in the future.

Secondly, one of my all time favorite people, Shanon Noel Brady, nominated me for the Siblinghood of the World Blogger Award and since she is incredibly awesome I am going to answer her questions, then create more questions to pass on to some of you. Fun!

Also, she recently got a story published, go check it out!

Now, on to the questions!

  • What was the first story you ever wrote?
    • When I was in the fourth grade my teacher wanted us to understand how books were made. This was an eye opening experience because while I was an avid reader I never really thought about the person behind the pen. I realized that I could be one when I was done being a Magical Space Princess.

      The teacher gave us each a bound book to write and illustrate as we wanted to. Please note…I am a terrible artist. I did, however, manage to scrawl out some wobbly stick figures depicting a rainbow earth worm in search of a magical flower. His name was Henry.

  • What book have you read the most times?
    • The Alienist by Caleb Carr. A novel based in turn of the century New York about the first forensic team that profile and catch a serial killer. It is so wonderfully written, historically beautiful, and it just gets me every time. I love it. It’s strange to me that this is my favorite book. I tend to read things that have a fantastic or magical element but this story is realistic and I still adore it.
  • What are your favorite kinds of characters to write?
    • I love magical people living ordinary lives. The Orc who works the late shift at the gas station while he struggles to finish his first novel. The half elven college student studying magical chemistry. Mermaids with active tiwtter accounts and goblins in law enforcement. I love the idea of the fantastic and the ordinary coming together and studying the world they create.
  • How about your favorite kinds of scenes? (Action, steamy, tragic death, etc…)
    • Like my characters the normal that becomes paranormal. I have a scene where a woman dressed in punk clothes is working in a garden with a cat sunning beside her. She takes her clippings in and puts a pot on the stove as if to cook. But it becomes obvious as the scene progresses that she is casting a spell, the pot is her cauldron, the cat her familiar. All these almost normal things slowly become fantastic.
  • Describe what your writing space looks like?
    • In a word? Messy.
      There are multiple books I use for research piled haphazardly on every surface so long as it is mostly flat. I have several printed out manuscripts in various stages of editing. The topmost shelf is cluttered with figurines and statues of comic book characters and historical figures. Empty cans of Dr. Pepper and half drunk glasses of water roost in between bits of sewing projects that I work on when I get stuck on a scene or idea. There is usually a snack and a feline within arms reach.
  • What do you struggle with the most as a writer?
    • Finishing a project without getting sidetracked. I have about…80 projects spanning a multitude of notebooks and digital documents. During my work I often get ideas for other things and fear loosing it so I will jot down my thoughts…which sometimes leads to me wanting to work on another thing…so on and so forth. The hardest part for me is really focusing on something with enough tenacity to finish.
  • Any recommendations for good music to write to?
    • Okay, I cannot write to music. I know that SO many talented and amazing authors swear by it. But when music is on I wanna get up, clean, move around, dance, sing and play my air guitar. I tend to have a television show on when I write, something I’ve already seen that isn’t loud or distracting. Cooking shows, Star Trek: TNG, The X-Files, and similar to name a few.
  • What is the most age-worn, tattered and battered book on your shelf?
    • A thrift store copy of The Other Boelyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory. I dunno what happened to this poor book before I got a hold of it but there are stained pages, the cover is half gone, dog eared pages, and more.
  • What’s your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?
    • The Fog by Stephen King. The story was a great look at what happens to a group of normal people in a very abnormal circumstance. How mob mentality responds to stress and the challenges of survival when your day job is an artist.

      I choose this one not because both the film and the story are amazing in their own rights but because it’s one of the few times where the author flat out admitted that the changes in the film improved upon the story. The movie gave us one of the best endings of all time and if you haven’t seen it…go watch it.

      A very close second would be Interview with the Vampire…but I say that in part because I find Rice’s stories hard to plod through.

  • Do you have a notes system for on-the-go ideas? If so, share with us the most random note you’ve jotted down, even if it only makes sense to you.
    • I do! My most random note that I can remember is: Real Trolls dislike comment sections.

 

So on to my ten questions:

  1. Where do you get your inspiration?
  2. What literary cliche do you secretly love?
  3. What deceased author would you love to speak with?
  4. What book/series does everyone love but you loathe?
  5. Was there a particular book that inspired you to write? If so, what was it?
  6. During what time of day is easiest for you to get creative and why?
  7. Have you ever written something that made you feel uncomfortable?
  8. Do you like to research for your work?
  9. What do you want out of your creative life?
  10. What do you think marks a great book?

 

So, now that this is done it comes to tagging…and I’m going to take the cheap way out and say absolutely anyone who reads this can consider themselves tagged because I am interested in seeing all of the answers. Cheating? Maybe a little…but I’m a tad greedy.

 

A Death in the Family

Tomorrow is my grandmother’s funeral. I wont be there. It’s not that I don’t want to be, even though I kind of don’t; and it’s not because I can’t, though that is most certainly true. I have, however, been asked to help write the eulogy because I am “the one who can write” in my family. In doing this I discovered a few surprising things.

I loved my Grandma Donna, but sometimes it was very hard to like her. She grew up in a very different time, but that is no excuse for some of the things she did. She was the kind of woman who made you finish everything on your plate, even if you didn’t put it together yourself, because you ought to be thankful for what you had. While I understand the concept the practice never made me any more thankful for my food; but it made me a lot more thankful  for the family dog.

She did not often say “I love you” or tell me when I did a good job. She was quick to point out when I had made mistakes. She was ruthlessly disgusted by anyone she thought was ‘fat’ and she didn’t care for whining of any variety. Homosexuality was a sin and girls ought to put time into their appearance; but not too much.

She once told my seven year old sister who was still recovering from several stomach surgeries that she was getting fat.

Do not mistake me, not everything about my Grandmother was harsh. She taught me how to make a dollar stretch, how to sew my own clothes, how to alter hemlines. She wanted me to be a self sufficient woman. My first cooking lesson was at her elbow and from her I learned the magic that turned a seed into a plant to dinner.

It was because of my grandmother that I know all the words to The Wizard of Oz and the Sound of Music. She introduced me to thrift stores, and romance novels. She had a large impact on the person that I am today.

But I learned, in writing this little snippet, that if she hadn’t been my grandmother I probably wouldn’t have loved her much.