Friday, March 31, 2006

New E-mail Address

I’ve had the same i-55 e-mail address for almost ten years. That’s a long time. That’s almost as long as I’ve had internet service. (Smile) Now, i-55 has become part of a bigger company that I know nothing about, so I’ve decided it’s time to move on at last.

I know many people use my i-55 address and have it saved in their address books, but it ain’t gonna work any more. (Smile) Well, I guess it probably will, but I won’t get anything sent to it. Instead, please use the link here on my blog.

Where? There. Over that way >.

It’s under the title Links, the last listing, Contact Me. If you click on that it will take you to a page on my site where you can send me a message through a form, or through one of the addresses listed there.

If you are a member of one of my RWC groups, you can also reach me with the group owner address. That address can be found on each group’s Yahoo home page.

Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to spring forward….you know, move your clock up an hour Saturday night before you go to bed. Yes, it’s already that time of year again.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Those Short Stories

After my last post about trying short stories, I’m happy to report shorter is better, at least when you are trying to find your way back to writing. Yesterday I was working on a short story and I actually completed fifteen full, brand new pages of writing, all in one day!

I can’t even remember the last time I ever managed that many fresh pages in one day. Even better, I enjoyed every minute of it. (Smile) The short stories I write are for me only. I’m using them as a way to get to know the characters a little better in my novel. Since these stories are for my eyes alone, I don’t have to worry about rules, about length, about style, about anything at all. The only person I have to please with these stories is myself.

That’s a wonderfully freeing thing at this point in my life.

All I have to do when I write a short story is go with the flow, have fun, add what ever plot twist or non-twist I want. It’s all about me and what my muse is telling me. I think I had forgotten how much fun creating a story could be. For years now I’ve worried so much about the writing, that the fun part, the creating, the story telling, took a back seat to the self-doubt and the picky little editor sitting on my shoulder.

I think maybe that’s why when any extra stress came into my life, I couldn’t write. The second guessing every word I wrote was enough stress, so any thing else just toppled it all. Writing became only something that I hoped I would get paid for. It was work. There wasn’t anything fun about it. And since I'm not gettnig paid rigth now... well... how many of us would go to work at something we didn't like every day with only the hope that just maybe, one day, some day, we might get paid something for it, just maybe?

I had fun yesterday. (Smile) I was stressed about other things; I’m sick as a dog right now with the worst cold, I’ve been writing letters trying to raise money for a program at my daughter’s school, I have two children graduating in a little over a month and there are a hundred little things I still need to do, sick or not, and yet yesterday I just pushed it all aside, didn’t even worry about cleaning house or cooking, and just let my writing take me away from all of it. I remember when that was always what my writing did. It was a release, a safe place, somewhere to run to where there were no worries.

I think if I really keep trying, my short stories will help me get back to the novel I need to be working on. I’m going to find my way back on my own terms though. Some how I’m going to figure out a way to bring the joy of writing with me. I think that’s going to take awhile, since someone else will be looking at the novel, but I’m going to get there. I don’t ever want to force another story again, long or short.

I think I feel like writing a whole novel is too much work to be fun now, so I can't just push everything aside and write it how ever I want, like with the short stuff, but who knows how I'll feel in a few weeks, or maybe even sooner. (Smile)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Could Short Stories Be the Way Back to Novel Writing?

My last post was about my fiction writing, well, about my not writing. About how when anything really bad happened it threw me off and I had such a time finding my way back. It felt like I was alone, the only person who was that way. I felt like maybe that meant I wasn’t willing to try hard enough, or I didn’t have enough love for writing to stick it out through the hard times.

Today I was reading some articles in my latest copy of Writer’s Digest Magazine and found an interview in there done with author Alice Hoffman. (I loved her book Practical Magic. The movie was great too.)

Anyway, in this interview she mentions going through some bad times in her life, when it seemed a lot of things were going wrong, and how during that time she found she didn’t have the energy to work on a novel. Instead of trying to tackle a novel, she took what energy and time she did have and worked on short stories. When she wrote, she didn’t allow herself to go back and second-guess the words, she just put down what came and kept going.

When I read this it was like someone opened a door for me. Right now I feel like there’s no way I can even work on my novel. It seems like trying to climb a mountain when someone has tied my legs together and hooked on a hundred pound boulder just for good measure. The thought of writing a short story at this point, still feels a little like standing at the bottom of a mountain, looking up, squinting into the sun, knowing I have a long way to climb. But…at least it doesn’t feel like my legs are tied or that I’m dragging a boulder with me. It just seems much more doable at this point and place in my life.

Alice Hoffman used short stories to find her way back, to build a bridge to her longer novels. I don’t see why I can’t do the same thing.

An idea popped into my head right away. That’s a good sign. (Smile) I think I’m going to write short stories with main characters that are minor characters in my novels. That way I’ll get twice the bang for the same work. Writing these short stories will help flex my writing muscles, help me find my way back into the comfort those novels once offered. At the same time, using minor, but important, characters from my novels, especially the main one I was working on before the hurricane, will help me stay in contact with that novel, help me flesh out some of the characters even more, and maybe add some extra pull toward that bigger story for me.

Maybe it would work for any of you who find yourself in the same writing blocked mode. It’s at least worth a try.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I Wish I Could Write Through Anything!

Long ago I found I couldn’t. Well, mostly I couldn’t. I did fine with my daily writing schedule for a number of years, but I couldn’t write a word after I found out my mother had cancer. After she died, it took me over a year to even glance at one of my manuscripts again.

A year or so later, I landed my first full-time freelance writing job. It was non-fiction, short biographies of singers and musicians. I did the research, the interviews, and then wrote up the bios, including adding HTML tags in the text as required. My weekly payday depended on my output and my meeting each week’s deadline. The more I produced, the more I got paid. It wasn’t really creative writing like my fiction, and I knew there was an editor waiting for it each week and waving a paycheck. As long as I did the correct research and wrote good bios, I got paid for them. (There’s no such guarantee with fiction, not even after a good bit of success.)

I went from that first job to writing greeting cards, then on to another bigger company doing bios again, and then reviews. During the years I did all of that non-fiction writing, I never seemed to have any energy or time or writing left in me to work on my fiction. It made me sad, but as a wife and mother with more bills than money, I did what I had to do. Through it all, no matter what was going on in my life, I never missed a deadline. I remember losing two dear friends during that time, and one Christmas week deadline pulling all the holiday stuff together for my family, completing all my bios, and doing it all with the flu and a double eye infection. There was no joy to my writing. It was a job. So I did it when I was supposed to do it. Even if that meant being up until two AM before a morning deadline.

A few years later, I was upset when the company I was working for cut back and tightened its belt to the point of getting rid of about 80% of their writers, including me. I tried to find another writing job at first, but when I didn’t find one soon, I was actually relieved. After years of non-fiction I finally decided to put it aside and turn to my fiction full-time. It was something I had been dreaming of.

I did fine at first, finished a couple of long manuscripts in pretty good time, then my father got worse and I spent more and more of my time caring for him, along with of course having to care for my children and be a housewife. I found it hard to be a full-time caregiver for my father, a full-time mother for my children, a full-time wife for my husband, along with handling all of the housework, shopping, bills, ect… Still, I found time almost daily to work on one of my stories—though not as many hours as I would have liked. Sometimes it was only minutes.

In June of 2004 my father became even more seriously ill. When he was put in the hospital, I spent hours with him daily. When he died. I fell back into not being able to write at all. I managed to pull myself out of the grief in less than a year this time. I turned back to my fiction writing and found comfort in it.

Then, this time, I got sick. I was thirsty all of the time, sleepy all of the time. I couldn’t sit still long enough to write because I would almost fall asleep. I just felt awful. I soon found out why, I was a diabetic.

Just about the time I began to feel well enough and awake enough to face the computer for longer than the time it took to do a few e-mail messages, I found out my blood sugar counts were getting worse instead of better. Learning I would need to start doing daily blood tests at home, as well as go on daily meds to try to control the disease, knocked me for a whole new loop. I’m terrified of needles, so just the thought of what I was facing, along with what I knew about being a diabetic because my father had been one, was enough to send me in a brand new downward spiral.

I caught hold of the cave sides on the way down, and climbed right back up this time. At first every word was a fight, but I slowly started to get back into the rhythm. And then…

Yes, you knew something else was coming. This time it was hurricane Katrina. Talk about turning my world upside down. She even turned it inside out. It’s been six months today since she hit my home, and I’ve yet to write more than a few words. I have even shied away from e-mail messages, mainly only doing the ones I have to for my groups, and answering friends after long lags. Many days I have a great idea for something to write here for my blog, and I let those thoughts slip away too.

I’ve tried hard, but I just can’t seem to get anywhere at all. I think I’m actually afraid that if I start writing again, and get back into a normal writing routine, or anything near it…something else will happen. Maybe even something worse than the other times. It feels like fate doesn’t want me to write my romance novels, and slaps me down with glee anytime I start doing too well at it.

I’ve felt this way, or close to it, before, and thought maybe just not ever writing again would be the best thing for me. I’ve tried that. But even now, when I can’t write, I can’t leave it completely alone either. The story I have started calls to me. The characters walk through my mind at the oddest times and whisper secrets to me. Plot points pop into my thoughts, ideas for a new story, a better way to end a scene, those kinds of things that only other writers know the power of.

Always before, the story and the characters kept on pulling at me until I could no longer resist the comfort of their world, until I willingly slipped back into its brightness with them.

I know that will happen again, I just can’t leave it for good. Part of me wishes that I could though, unless there was some way for me to turn into one of those writers who can write through any thing. I know some of them in person, and nothing, nothing short of their own deaths, would stop the flow of words for them. I wish they knew some little secret that they could share with me. What ever it is they have found that makes them able to write on no matter what. But I guess even if they could, the secret that works for one probably wouldn’t work for another.

I guess there’s nothing I can do but sit here and wait, try to reach out when the pull comes, and hope that sooner instead of later, I’m able to slip back in.