Essays, Misc

Red Wine and a Side Order of Confidence, Please

There’s nothing quite like setting foot in a social function for triggering every insecurity I have in a span of 2 seconds flat. Last night, I got a taste of how far I had come in regards to self-confidence as well as a view of how far I still have to go.

Let me explain.

Last week, Deanna Radford from my writing group (a wonderful poet who’s into some really interesting edgy music) mentioned a cocktail party that was taking place on Feb. 16 at a local hotel. It was part of an event where sales reps from book publishers meet with local bookstores to do business, but a new feature—the cocktail—was added to allow writers the chance to mingle with these publishing superpowers. Though I’m not a fan of social gatherings of this kind, I am trying to figure out the Montreal writing scene and thought this would be a great chance to get a lay of the land, so to speak, and agreed to go. Honestly, I had no idea what I was walking into. I figured the event would be held conference-style in a hall where I could sip wine in a dark corner and recon the room. If things got too crazy, then I could slip out ninja-style and no one would be the wiser. But right from the start, I was confounded. The event was held in a penthouse and it was a small group, maybe 30-40 people. This meant I would be in close proximity to people. And OMG, people would see me and I would have to talk.

And then it happened: a very nice, talkative sales rep entered my bubble and asked the question I was not prepared for: ‘So what’s your book about?’

Now, I write all the time about characters sweating bullets when under stress, but this was the first time in a while that I can remember actually feeling sweat ‘trickling down my back’ and ‘pricking at my brow’. Note that it is a horrible, horrible…horrible…feeling. I literally stood there thinking: Do I give her a log line? Tag line? Short or long pitch? Or talk from the heart? The traffic jam in my brain led to nonsensical stuttering until something—I have no idea what–came out. Luckily, she was very understanding, and seeing that I was a genre writer and independent, she very kindly hooked me up with the manager of a popular local bookstore.

From www.beyondanxietyanddepression.com
From http://www.beyondanxietyanddepression.com

By then, I was more than thankful for the counter stocked with wine. Lots and lots of wonderful, red, nerve-soothing, brain-numbing wine. I made sure my cup was full. The fuller it was, the less I had to talk. Oh, and the food table also came in handy for that.

The evening trucked on. The wine kicked in. My brain settled down. I met some lovely writers, two of which I gave my business card to once they showed interest in what I was doing (writing and this blog). I chatted with reps from some of the big publishing companies, sat across an ottoman from the Harper Collins rep, and chatted with the rep from Penguin-Random House from across the dinning room table about the power of social media and how it has become an essential too to writers and publishers. I smiled and nodded, happy to learn that, in this regard, I seem to be on the right track. I walked away going, ‘I just talked to the rep from one of the biggest publishing houses in the country. Say what?!’

Talking about myself is the hardest thing to do, as I can’t imagine anything more boring to a listener than hearing about me. And being introduced as ‘a writer’ with ‘one published book and another on the way’ was hard to get used to, especially being independent amidst people working under the traditional model. I mean, I write and have published, but I don’t have a label backing me. Who can vouch for my legitimacy as a ‘writer’? But, I was lucky. I had two wonderful friends flanking me (Cora Siré, a fantastic writer and poet and one of the most intelligent women I know, and Deanna already mentioned above). They introduced me to publishers and other people deeply involved in the Montreal writing scene that they already knew, and their lead-ins made for smooth introductions. Not only that, they talked me up. Listening to them made me realize that I had done some interesting things–stuff I was proud of–that were worth talking about. This realization enabled me to smile wider, shake hands with more gusto, and greet people with greater ease (dare I say confidence?).

I left the evening with my head swirling. What did I really get out of the experience? How can I apply it to what’s happening in my writing life now? Here are two thoughts:

1) As in independent author, the evening itself wasn’t that useful. None of my books are published by any of the companies present nor will they appear in bookstores because of it (I’ve learned that many bookstores don’t accept independently published books unless they are backed by a label of some sort). However, Deanna noted that it’s important to put faces to names. One day, if I manage to successfully publish with a traditional company, or try to set up a reading or a book-launch or other event, these contacts just might come in handy.  

2) I learned that independent/self-published authors are making strides and are earning respect. Most of the time, when I stated that I had self-published, I detected what I thought were looks bordering on respect and interest. One seemed to appreciate that ‘going it alone’ gave me the chance to learn the ropes. Another rep admitted that indie publishing has its place and that it was a good thing that writers have more options than before. I hadn’t expected these responses but they were definitely welcome.

I think my point is this: being a lone writer and staying behind the desk might be comfortable, but we’ve known for a long time that the market is changing. Writers are expected to ‘get out there’ more than ever before. We are being called to understand and to participate in the business side of things, including marketing, promotion, and networking, things that don’t have anything to do with writing itself. It’s not comfortable, but it seems to be becoming a must. Did everything go smoothly last night? Nope. But I survived. It was scary and challenging, but the experience was invaluable. My suggestion? Try to get out there, see what you can learn from other writers, about the relationships between the movers and the shakers. Start with small events and go with good friends who have experience with this sort of thing who can help you out when you need it. And then feel good about stepping out of your comfort zone.

What are your thoughts? Do you find it hard to talk about yourself and your work? What do you do to get over it? Do you like these kinds of social functions? What do you think about writers being called to step into the forefront more and more often?

Essays, Misc, Stories

Writing for Fun: The Messed-Up Result

So, a few weeks ago I wrote about the wacky writing experience I’d had with Sharon from my writing group. We’d met up at a local restaurant to chat, eat, and write. What I think started out as a serious attempt to write something good quickly degenerated into fun and nonsense, but the experience was freeing. (Click on the link above to read more about it). Anyway, I’d mentioned that if ever Sharon agreed to it, I’d post the story we came up with. She’s a great sport and agreed. So, I’ve posted it here. Now, please note that this is an exercise. The goal was to reignite the creative juices while feeding off the energy of another person. No editing, no rewrites. Pure expression of thought. Doing this, and seeing the results (which are humbling), just served to remind me that writing for the sake of writing should be fun: I forgot about performance anxiety, the desire to be perfect, and of doing things right. We laughed a lot. Bonus! And, though the story itself isn’t totally comprehensive, I enjoyed trying to emulate as much as I could someone else’s style (maybe we rubbed off on each other)–a means of stretching my own style and voice. And, if I look hard enough at the result, I can pick out many ideas, styles, and themes worth exploring. So, all in all, I thought the exercise was a success. For those who don’t know how it worked, all we did was agree to write 350 words before handing off. That’s it. As there’s no title, I just threw one in. Oh, and there’s a strong language warning: we stayed in character for this one. So, without further ado, please enjoy…

 

When You Call 9-1-1, Make Damn Sure You Do it Right the First Time

bridge

The light from the street light falls across the trees, a burst of light grey quickly falling away into shadow, like dusk. In the alley, I hear the cats mewing, then spitting, yelling and screaming as they begin to fight .They are mean bastards, cats.  All teeth and claws. And those eyes that watch you, captivate you with omniscient heavy-lidded knowingness.

I walk faster, away from the alley, across the bridge and away from town . My footsteps echo, and I wonder if they reverberate enough to wake the sleeping troll. When I step off the cobblestones and touch the soles of my feet to the street, only the quiet running of the stream is heard. The troll sleeps. The cats war. Yet I have escaped will walk on.

“You really think you’ll make it out alive, do you?”

“Shut it,” I say, pulling my collar up to my ears.

“Now, now, I’ve held my peace all this time, though it nearly ended me. You have to hear me now.”

“I told you to shut it!”

“But Simon—“

I stuff my fingers in my ears—childish, but it always seemed to work. He wouldn’t let me be, otherwise. Talk, talk, talk, jabber, jabber, jabber. But that is how my father had wanted it. A conscience, a needle that always pointed north for his wayward son who needed one.

That’s what he thought, anyway.

“That little mess you left behind, Simon, what do you plan to do about it?”

I shrug. “Dunno. They can rot for all I care.”

I sensed him bristle, pictured rather than saw him grimace. I never really saw him, come to think of it. But I knew him, and he knew me, intimately.

“Listen, just go away. I’m almost at the limits, now. Once I cross over…”

“Stay,” he said. “We can fix this.”

“I don’t want to. Tell the old man he can go to hell, too.”  Then I thought about it, laughed to myself and blocked him out again. “Well, I guess he’s already on his—“ 

“LAST LEGS????? Is that what you want, Simon? You want me to spell it out????? L-A – ”

“SHUT UP! I said!” As if the “I said,” adds the emphatic to the first. Pathetic is the ‘ic’, the ‘tic’, that’s what it is. That’s all.

The little mess I left behind. I know what he’s talking about. I turn into a darker-lit stretch of this cobblestone … as if darker even works here. It’s so dark, I’m having illusions, or is that delusions? I see an oasis of light. A pinprick. Yet if I glance above, the orange glow of the street lamps lend enough to this landscape of endless row houses that I could even see the detail of the door, if I wanted to. If I wanted to, I could make out more than the door. I could land myself straight on the window frame and go right through the windows, all two of their double-strength, triple-insulated glass.

I won’t though. Wouldn’t want to ruin it for the kiddies, still awake I see, as I walk by. What time is it? 10, 11, 2 a.m.? Who lets their kids stay up so late? I’m in front of one place now, and through the curtains. They haven’t rolled the whole thing over; there’s a place where the cloth is folded still, too thick, or wrinkled, or something like that, and I can see in.

“SIMON! I’m talking to you! Why do you always pretend, go somewhere else when I’m TALKING???!!!!”

I shake with the intensity of his anger. My collar has fallen, and my ears, exposed. I pull the shirt’s neck up over my ears. Again. Repetition is part of it, I realize. If I repeat, repeat, repeat, maybe I can magic him away. It’s worked before.

“That little mess you left behind. What are you going to do?”

Inside the brownstone there’s a flicker, a flame. From here, I can’t really make out what the source is, but it’s like an insistent candle calling the family into their current gathering. I concentrate on that flame.

There’s a raging beside, behind, probably in front, but I stand on these two feet and give him everything I have. Swaying. Concentrating on that flame.

“If you’d give me a second’s peace then I wouldn’t have to play these mind games,” I finally say, calmer now but still focused. The flame still burned in my head, it’s after image flickering and fluttering, thin like the birth of an idea.  

“What are you going to do?” he asks. His voiced is tense. He knows what’s coming. He’s known it since the alley cats, since my footsteps echoed across the lifeless bridge. And because he knows, I smile.

I head towards the house.  There’s a stick on the ground. I pick it up, flip it once in my hand, and keep walking. The approaching lawn is well-kept, dark green. Not one weed. Well, not for long.

“This isn’t a game, Simon.”

“Of course it is.” I hurry now, skipping across the grass, dodging the garbage and recycling bins already carefully set out, early. Such good and careful citizens.  The lid’s snapped tight. Not even the raccoons can get in.

A dog barks. I duck behind one of the bins and count to twenty, waiting out the following silence, just to be sure.

“I can bind you, you know. It’s painful.”

“I know. Dammit I know!” Other than his voice inside my head, the neighbourhood is quiet. Peaceful. So quiet and peaceful I want to scream just to break it. What I want are the thugs, the angry teens out for kicks, thirsty for trouble like me. The stick feels heavy but right against my palm. It’s perfect for what comes next.

His voice is louder in my head. “Do you think she would want this?”

I grip the stick. I pictured bashing his head in with it, only he had no head, no body. Just this damn annoying voice running like poison water though my head. “She left me, idiot. That’s why I’m doing this.”

Damnit! Ouch! Someone’s left something out here, on this kept lawn.  In the light beyond the pulled drapes, I can make out something, like a face. A DAMNED DOLL! What the fuck? One hand on the stick. Safe there. The other I use to pick up this wretched thing, the face peering out, small lips set in a grimace.

There’s a moaning, a grueling kind of murmur, a shudder through my hands. “There you are, Simon. There you are.”

Shit!  The doll lands on the toe of my left shoe. Shit!

“What are you doing?”

“Simon, I told you. I told you this is it. The big one. This is what you’re made for. Now, take that stick. No, not like that. Hold it high. This is what you’ve come here for. So what are you waiting for?”

He’s right. I’m struck by how accurate he is. Many years, too numerous to stand here and count, like I’m some rabid mathematical fucking genius in the middle of this lawn with this pursed-lipped doll behind my heels. If I don’t hurry, there will be more than the doll at my heels.

Here I am. At the door. Through the spiral of window on the left, the right, just above my brain, I make out a staircase. That’s right. There are two floors here. No, three. The basement. A finished basement, with a ping-pong table that’s often folded, so that one lonesome can play by himself, back and forth, against the folded green board … teasing him into believing he’s actually playing some goddamned game. Solitaire stuff. And the air hockey table. With the problematic fan that sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t; and when it’s not working, you have to kick the thing, or maybe you’re not a kicker. So maybe you wait, turn it off, on. A million times, every time thinking, “This is going to be it! I can play again.” Thank God, ‘cause what else are you going to do down there?

Down in the finished basement, with the stupid ping-pong paddle in your hand, and the board turned up, so you’re playing yourself, your own goddamned self. Or on, off, flicking the switch on the air hockey set, knowing that the second you try this again, the air will start flowing again and you can throw it at him! More than get it into his goal! You can beat him, beat him with the red mallet, red like cherry pie and things shouldn’t be that red.

Shit. Just stepped on that pursed-lipped doll’s head. It cracked; a round egg with no yolk, pieces bunched on the grass. Good riddance.

“Back to the cobblestone, Simon. Let’s cross back into the centre of town, where it’s safe. You can’t hurt anyone there.”

“Nowhere is safe, Simon. Haven’t you figured even that out yet?”

I kick the door. It flies open. Cheap locks mean easy deaths. I raise the stick and dash into the house.

Or I thought I did. Stupid slick-tongued voice in my head, stupid mind-controlling piece of shit Father-given impulse controlling freak. Living in my head. Deciding what I can and cannot do.

“Fuck you,” I say.

“I warned you. If you fight it, it’ll start to hurt.”

“I’ve always hated you.”

“And I never hated you.”

“Because you’re not fucking real!”

By then, the Father slid into the hallway.

“What the—Gina, call the police! Some asshole has walked into the house—with a stick!”

I hear the woman whimpering in the kitchen, fiddling and dropping the phone.

“For fuck sake, woman! By the time you call we’ll all be dead!”

I’m fighting him. I picture the stick crushing the man’s head, like a real china doll, brains and blood and bone spattering across the white tile. Pain flares up my legs and down my arms, but I use it, fight it, incite it. The wife is in the kitchen, squealing to 911 but the stick bashes her in too, crushing her stupid body against the wall and then, down the hall—

“Gah! Stop it, asshole! It frigging hurts!”

“You’d gone too far. I had to so something.”

___________________________________________

Falling onto the kitchen tiles. “I could crack my head!”

“That’s what you want, isn’t it? To crack?”

“What are you doing?”

But it’s not him. There’s a voice outside the one inside. I can barely turn my head, hand’s underneath my shoulder. I’m coiled on the floor. Can’t look. Seems like red is everywhere now. A fucking meat pie or cherry or rhubarb or strawberry or… blood?

“I SAID, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?”

The voice, familiar. Like a faraway time. Maybe it’s mine. I swing up on one elbow. There he is, standing in the door frame of the kitchen, the living room light shining against the outline of his face, neck, heavy shoulders. His torso. What is he doing here?

“I told you it would hurt if you continued. I told you.” He’s shaking his head like some grand know-it-all, patronizing the hell out of me.

I see he has the stick in his hand, only there’s only a half of it; it’s splintered, like some Godzilla came around and broke off the top. I think of the air hockey table, without air, the cats fighting out there, I swear I can still hear them. You’d think someone would have put them, the doll, the whole world out of its misery.

And with one eye still turned to the red tiles, I think of the cobblestone street I’d just left. I sense him in the doorway, arms crossed, half of the stick hanging out of one hand. He’s waiting for an answer. To what?

“Honey, the police are on the way.”

It’s the woman. She’s hiding behind the wall, talking to her husband from the safety of the kitchen, where the knives, and vinegar and all the sharp tools are. She’s probably eying them all, trying each one out for size.

I look up, and the man is backing away from me, crab-like, scuttling across the floor, dumbstruck and just looking, dumb.

“What the—who are you people? Where the hell did he come from?”

My head is spinning. My arms and legs are still burning, hot like hell itself had opened up under me; it lava had become my blood. I wipe the blood from my face but more keeps running down from the cut. “He’s my nemesis. The devil. He’s evil incarnate and he’s just saved your miserable, frigging, Ikea-perfect lives.”

He moves from the door, not the crab-man but him, devil-man, uncrosses his arms and grabs me by the scruff of the neck. “Poor boy has no manners,” he says to the stupefied father. “His mother just left him and all. You know, youth, no direction. Lost souls and all that. It’s a terrible epidemic.”

“Piece of shit, no good meddling father!” I swat at his hand, but it grips like an iron collar.

“Sorry for your trouble, sir. We’ll be going now.”

“Honey?” calls the wife. “The police…?”

“I-I…”

“Have a good night, you two. I’m sorry for the disturbance.” He drags me along the tiles behind him, we cross the threshold and I’m back on golf green.

“You’re nothing but a party-pooper.”

“That’s my job, Simon. Father’s orders.”

I get to my feet, follow him along the road until we get to the cobblestone bridge.

Here the entrance spreads out to darkness, all the way across there’s the lone street lamp beating down on the other entrance, as if someone’s about to make his grand entrance … or would that be exit, as if the one person on this bridge, under that street lamp is some kind of star of the evening. Some goddamned movie star. But here, there’s nothing.

He’s silent now, my father. Everything is silent now. I touch the stones that make up the hand railing of the bridge. It’s ancient, this thing. Came across a storm a few years back, and almost thought it would suffer from it. But no, still standing.

What are you going to say about a troll bridge after all?

That must be why he’s silent. This is where I leave him, or him, me.

“You got to promise me. You have to promise me.”

“What? What do you want now?”

“That you’ll shut it down.”

“Shut it – ”

“Shut down your mean streak. You have to, before you destroy all of us. Your mother too.”

“What the hell does she have to do with this?”

“You know what she has to do with this!” My father crouches by the entrance, or exit, or whatever you want to call it, of the bridge. Cobblestones. Cobbled together. He crunches up, like a … well, yah, like a troll, and quietly moves along the shredded grass here, to the current below.

“Your mom is feeling it, Simon. She’s feeling it now, and you have to stop this. We’re not getting any younger.”

There he crouches. Troll Father. Waiting for the next traveler to cross.

I’m yelling. “Oh, yeah?! And what riddle are you going to ask now? They’re almost used up, aren’t they? All the answers! We KNOW all the answers! Father!”

Essays, Misc, Stories

Stuck? Try Writing Poetry

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any new writing. There is a reason for that: busy, busy, busy relaunching my first book under my own name, busy revising the sequel so it might be ready in the new year, and well, Life keeps happening. And another thing: being in this writing group of mine has really done a number on me. 

Being primarily a genre writer it was a stretch for me to jump into a group that consisted mostly of lit-fic writers. But I wanted the challenge; I wanted to see what I could glean from the experience. It has been great, and I have learned a lot. But it has also been confusing. “Rules” that have been drilled into my head in all my learning over the years and which apply generally to genre fiction (“No head popping”, “cut out ‘to be’ verbs as much as you can”, “show don’t tell”, “pacing is key”, “make sure you hook your reader in the first chapters” amongst others) seem to be thrown out the window in favour of the story–at least that’s my take. I’m also being exposed to different types of writing I’ve not come into much contact with before (creative non-fiction, for example). So, when it comes to thinking of writing a story, suddenly I’m bombarded with a slew of  questions before I even begin: why am I writing this? Is there some larger application or meaning to this and how can that best be shown? Can I even figure out how to blend the old and the new into a comprehensive story?

From www.blogging4jobs.com
From http://www.blogging4jobs.com

None of this is bad. It’s just taking time to figure it all out and turn it into a language (voice) I can use. That’s why that ‘silly’ writing experience last week was so important to me: it reminded me why I write. I write because I like it, not because I feel I have something to prove. Since then, the stress has diminished.

Today, I wrote two poems. I don’t consider myself a poet but when Life Happens, as it has in drastic fashion over the last few weeks, I find poetry helps unblock me. They might not be great but at least creative expression is flowing. Oh, and I usually write poetry by hand. This is a tactic I usually hate, since I think faster than I write, but for poetry I find refreshing. I’ve heard it said that handwriting uses a different part of the brain and forces the brain to slow its thinking. Perhaps this is what contributes to that ‘unblocking’ alluded to before. Anyway, since this is a writing blog here’s the second of the two poems written today. Enjoy, or not. I told you, I’m not a poet 🙂

Compulsion

 

Goodbye
is holding a palmful of water,
watching crystal rivulets trickle back into
the pool from whence they
Came.

Goodbye
is standing on a mountaintop,
listening for an echo only to find
it’s been dispersed
by trailing winds.

Goodbye
is me
standing,
waiting;
while your shadow,
my essence,
passes me by.

The pieces of us
Are scattered on the floor.
I pick them up
Put each one in their designated
place.
Only they fall.
Some things
just aren’t meant
to stay together.

I dig, shovel and stack
grains of sand.
Destined to ruin
no binder
no glue, my constructions
always collapse.

Our castle I will build,
this habit I will tend.
And this goodbye,
petty and ridiculous
as a house built of sand
will remain
unfinished.

Copyright@ 2014 Dyane Forde

From completehealthcircle.com
From completehealthcircle.com
Essays

Writing for Fun

Fall has certainly lived up to its name this year; so far I’ve dealt with the ‘fall’ of significant relationships and most of you have already heard of my grandmother’s recent passing. Folks, it’s been a tough few months. And we haven’t even hit November yet.

From quotes.lol-rofl.com
From quotes.lol-rofl.com

Still, there have been a few high points. After wanting to for a really long time, I finally got the courage to terminate the contract with the company that published my book, The Purple Morrow, so that I could regain full publishing and distribution control. So, for the last few weeks, I have been learning to format and, poof! like magic, the book is now available on Smashwords and its affiliates. And the best part is it wasn’t hard. I might be blogging about that experience soon so I won’t get into all of that now. Re-launching on Kindle (and eventually CreateSpace) is next. But major thumbs up to me for going ahead with this, as I’ve been afraid to tackle this project for months. Yay, me!

…What else has been going on…? What else…?

Oh yeah. The madness.

From funny-pictures.picphotos.net
From funny-pictures.picphotos.net

Last week, the day after our family loss, I went for supper with Sharon from my writing group. She’s such a neat lady: great-big smile, super-smart, funny, and endowed with a really unique writing style and voice. Earlier that week while feeling blah from the falls of Fall, in the hopes of jump-starting my creative flow I had put out a call to the group to see if anyone was into doing a collaborative writing activity. Also, I’d been in ‘editing mode’ so long it was hard to transition back into ‘creation mode’. Anyway, Sharon was game and we met at some neat little local restaurant/microbrasserie. She stuffed me good with the restaurant’s massive onion rings while she sampled their beer and I sipped red wine.

Anyway, a little while later, my stomach full of fries and sausages and onion rings, she pulled out her laptop. I was scared. I mean, okay, this was the reason we’d decided to meet in the first place but…I hadn’t written anything new is ages! And this was Sharon, English lit maven, smooth-talking poet…and then there was me. Internet-bred writer and sorta graduate (not at all) from the Writing School of Hard Knocks and Getting My Ass Kicked by Better Writers. I started to sweat. Grabbed my glass and gulped water. Signalled the waitress for more.

“Throat’s dry. Keep it coming.”

“Beer? Wine?” the waitress asked.

“Hell, no! Water! I’m thirsty!”

She nodded and walked away, but as she withdrew I thought that maybe I should have more wine. Then I could pass out, avoid this terrible mistake of a meeting and, when I came to, blame the whole thing on the ‘the spirits’.

Mercifully, Sharon went off to powder her nose but then I was stuck with the blank screen, cursor flashing like its sole purpose was to remind me that I had nothing to say. At all.

I’m going to suck. Whatever I write is going to suck. She’s a serious writer. The group is made up of serious writers. I’ll suck and she’ll tell everyone. I’ll have to quit, or move—we might see each other at the mall or Target. Everyone will know I’ve lost my voice. Craaaaap!

I started to write. I’d been staring outside the restaurant’s back door and noticed the street light was casting a greenish-yellow light across the boughs of the trees; the effect was kind of neat.

Describe it.

Capture the mood and then go from there. If it sucks, well, it sucks.

So I continued to write. 350 words was the limit we had agreed on before handing off. Now, I at least I was writing. It wasn’t so bad. But what was, was knowing that Sharon, who had since returned, was waiting to follow-up on what I had started. From over the top of the screen, I could see her politely giving me my space, looking at her phone…

“Alright, done”. I handed her the laptop. “I have no idea what I wrote, but…”

She took it, scanned what I wrote and was off. Damn, she was fast!

From www.etsy.com
From http://www.etsy.com

So, we go back and forth like this a while, all serious about the sacred activity of writing, of creating–until she started to giggle. I have no idea what she read that set her off, but suddenly, she was smiling, nodding and typing away. She kept on giggling and kept on typing while I wondered WTH was so funny since I hadn’t intended to create a comedy—what’s funny about a sociopathic teenager bent on a bloody home-invasion???–but I wasn’t really disturbed. I figured at least she was writing and not looking askew at me, gnashing her teeth as she snaps the laptop closed to dash off to hail a cab out of there.

I read her section. It was good. It contained her trademark style. Cool. But it also had some funny stuff in it.

I started to giggle. And giggle some more until I couldn’t stop. Then we were both giggling, laughing out loud like no one else was in the place, writing, handing the laptop to the other, giggling and writing some more…

The night finally ended. We had to go home. But I didn’t want to. I’d had way too much fun.

Clearly, in light of the last few months I’d needed that. But on the other hand, as we talked, we remembered that writing should be fun. Yes, as writers we have specific goals and we work hard, striving to get the next project done, submitted, or edited. But fundamentally, writing should be something we do because we enjoy it—something that leaves us elated, pleased, content. I had actually planned to post the story we’d written, for kicks. I’m just waiting for her permission, if she gives it. Later that night, though, she emailed me saying that long after getting home, she was still laughing, and I admit that for a few hours afterwards, so was I.

I write best when I don’t care about people’s expectations. That night’s experience was a reminder that I should write because it’s fun, that I should worry about the rest (finesse, editing, ‘perfecting’) after I’ve gotten the story out onto the page.

So the message? Enjoy yourself! Write nonsense if you have to. If you’re feeling stressed or stuck about a project, stop, breathe, and think about why you are doing what you’re doing and reset your goals. Or, try an interesting writing exercise with a friend and feed off their energy. Laughing, BTW, is an excellent stress reliever. It can help clear out the crap and leave you feeling relaxed and focused so you can tackle that troublesome project.

From plus.google.com
From plus.google.com

Anyway, I just might post that story one day, so stay tuned. And stay tuned for more information about The Purple Morrow and the sequel, Wolf’s Bane, which I am beginning to prepare in earnest for release in the New Year. I’ll be posting updates, excerpts, and maybe even a cover reveal, too, as the release date approaches. And as usual, drop me a line. I love to hear from you. Do you have any funny writing stories? How do you deal with getting stuck in a rut or feeling insecure, untalented, or like the well has just plain run dry?

Until next time!