Wednesday, September 26, 2012

And there is movement...

I have so many things going on, so many fingers in so many pies. My life would make a terrible reality show, due to the sheer number of THINGS I HAVE TO DO ALL THE TIME. My internal thought processes, on the other hand, those I could write a book or two about (which I may just do someday).

I am still writing madly, everything from exposition and articles, to children's stories in verse, to my 3 ongoing novels, to...well, a handbook on love. Why am I writing a self-help book, especially on love? Excellent question. It's the coolest thing I've ever written, and you'll just have to wait to read it to find out why.
Ok, 1 hint: I have figured out the component parts to "being in love" and thus have solved every romantic problem imagineable. (Slight hyperbole is still cute, right?)

Otherwise, writing life progresses. I am learning from mourning, learning from pain, learning from the people in my life who do and think and say miserable things. I am learning to hide cruel and callous people from my own life in pages of my books, thereby rendering them powerless.

I am learning. I am doing. I am living. I am creating.

What else is there?

:)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Taking the Plunge (or The Scariest Thing I Ever Ever Did)

I allowed someone to read SERA. And I respect that person's opinion a tremendous amount. And it's not finished.

I was going to give up on it, on my characters, on Coy. I was going to shelve yet another mostly finished book and walk away because I didn't feel like I'm good enough to write their story.

I can't believe how differently I feel now... I am reinvigorated, and back in love with everything about my book. Last night I even worked out the resolution in such a way that it leads into the coolest sequel EVER. No, seriously, you don't understand: angels, demons, true love, so much pain...and now possibly my version of Armageddon.

I also set up a writing schedule again. I used to be so disciplined with my writing time, and that's how I got 75% of a book written in 3 months, and why I've had the other 25% left hanging for over a year. I am going to get serious about this writing thing.

For those of you who have crit partners and who go through this experience all the time, YOU ARE ALL SO SMART AND BRAVE. For those who never have, oh my gosh, try it. Having just one person fall as deeply in love with your story as you are and want to know how it all turns out is the best high I can imagine. It makes me feel like maybe, someday, it will be more than one. Maybe, someday, I'll have readers.

It also makes that not matter nearly as much, since I really don't need anymore outside approval than I've already received.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Rebirth

It's been awhile...it's been decades in terms of "life" time. Everything I am has been broken down into composite parts, and the rebuilding has begun.

I wonder what it will be, this writing life as a single mother, once the dust settles? At the moment, I'm running a 22 hour/day schedule with very little time for personal writing. I have started a business based on my love of words: http://www.halawriting.com/ Check it out if you wish...I'm pretty proud of it.

But what of my daydreams on paper, my thoughts and my characters...? What of Coy and Asher and Sera... They sit, neglected, waiting for my rebirth.

I have life again in words. Again I have found healing, strength, and power in what I write.

My rebirth will be the rebirth of my book. And it will be beautiful.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Stagnation and Doubt

I have stopped writing.

 Ok, no - that would be physically painful/impossible for me. I have, however, stopped working on my WIP and haven't really worked on any of my current side projects. I have been writing tons, but most of my writing is falling into the spheres of journalling or exposition.

I am experiencing creative stagnation. I don't think this is as painful as typical writer's block where the writer has something to say but just can't say it. I just can't disappear into my writing lately. Part of this is because I recently had a revelation: I don't write as well as I need to. I often fall into the common traps of one-dimensionality and too much 'telling'. I want my stories to have the impact they deserve, and I have come to believe that I am (at least currently) not the best person to write them.

But the more I put it off, the more crippling my doubt becomes. I now doubt every single thing I have ever written. I doubt my ability to communicate clearly - much less weave a web of dreams around my readers.

 I have written in a sporadically prolific manner since junior high school. I wrote reams of poetry and piles of songs only to fall silent for long periods. I have had long periods, some lasting years, where I haven't written creatively at all. During each famine, I have doubted that I would ever write anything again.

The difference is that I have never doubted the worth of everything I've ever written.

Until now.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Writing heartbreak

Vicarious experiences.

How many times do we fall in love or hate in the process of reading a really good book that provides vicarious experiences?

I have started writing a heartbreaking short story....well the concept is heartbreaking, we'll have to see if I can pull it off to the point that I break a reader's heart as well. The technique for creating vicarious experiences is unclear...often you don't realize that you've created it until after a reader has pointed it out. I want my readers (if I ever have any) to completely enter the world I weave around them. I want to create the magic that I've felt so often...I want to create the escape that I have sought in books all my life.

So, reaching out here...anyone have any ideas on how to leave your readers sobbing, laughing, reeling.... Living in your story with your characters...rather than just reading their experiences?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Writing as Escape

I've been thinking a lot lately (yeah, I know, big shocker) about the reasons why I write. I've discussed on here that writing can be an act of arrogance, an act of deceit, and an act of vanity. But today, as I leapt into Coy (the cafe at the centre of my wip) I realized that I was writing as a means of escape.

I've always read to explore. I've been to Paris, to Rome, all over England. I've been to Narnia and Never Never Land. I've been down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass... In books I have met some very good friends who have never, could never, let me down. In books I have been brave, I have been bold, impulsive, and free. In books I am so far away from my life that it comes as a shock to the system when I have to come back to reality.

Today, I got that freedom while writing. I'm sure I've had it before, but it's never been as needed or as noticeable as it was today. I immersed myself in my characters' lives, their motivations, their pain...and for a little while I got to forget my own. Today I found real success in words and scenes being created. I finished a really difficult scene (I'm not terribly experienced at writing battles so I've been avoiding it) and felt like I was on top of the world.

I cannot wait to see where this new headspace takes me...and my story.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pass the Tea and Sympathy...

Writing. It's something that happens to people more than it's something people do...at least for me.

I'm trying to finish out SERA, my wip, and I'm trying to sketch out stories and themes for my next project. I've realized, though, that my heart isn't in it, because my heart is out there living real life.
It's not that I don't still live in my book, I do...I still love to hear my characters talk to each other as they sit in the amazing world I've created. Usually, though, my inner life is quite calm, and my characters' lives are the most interesting things in it. Lately my head has been somewhat chaotic and I'm seeing this chaos on the pages.

People say to write what you know, what you've lived. Writers are supposed to go out and take on life so they can be accurate in their make-believe worlds.
But what happens when the real world takes over and bleeds into the created one?


Should I ride out the storm, or try to push through?

Either way, the chaos itself may serve as a great platform for a new book very soon. Silver linings...?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

#mytwitterbook

So here it is, the plan for the book inspired by friends and acquaintances on Twitter. I hardly slept last night, so many thoughts were flying around in my head. I have come up with a few guidlelines to make this project both feasible and realistic. Please feel free to comment with opinions/suggestions.

#mytwitterbook Guidelines and Requirements

Theme: The one that got away; the path not taken

Who is eligible: The ideas considered will come directly from my Twitter followers. People in my city and those I know IRL will be given preference if I end up with more responses than I expect.

How to send me an idea: DM on Twitter, email me if you already have my addy, comment here if you are already a Twitter follower and blog follower

What am I looking for: Bare bones of your (or someone else's) experience with the theme - can be in more than 1 DM, can have as much or as little detail as you are comfortable sharing

How will your story be used/what participation and/or rights will you have: I will use your story as inspiration, and will inevitably expand and add detail as I see fit. However, you will be kept up to date on license taken and will have input into the final product if you wish. You will not retain any rights, nor will you have control over the publication or sale of the story you inspired.

I may make this more formal as I go on. For now, I just hope I can get 10 responses. This is definitely the coolest writing project that I have been involved in - I can't wait to get started!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Intoxication of the Idea

Tonight on Twitter I fell into a conversation with 2 people from my city. The conversation grew and evolved as we laughed and teased about my wip.

Then one of them, @KevinMacKenzie, offhandedly mentioned that I should use some of their ideas sometime. Like a compilation of 10 short stories from 10 Twitter people with a common theme. It hit me like a revelation.

I could do this. I want to do this. I got that high that comes with the first few moments of inspiration...and now I'm determined. I'm determined not only to write #mytwitterbook but to finish SERA first. I'm going to have a clean slate when I start this new project.

That, and the realization that I can make a pattern myself for the stuffed animals I'm planning to make, have made this a pretty good Saturday evening!

Flawed II. Writing as Confrontation

How many of you have seen the sweatshirt with “Be careful or I’ll put you in my novel”? I really want to read a book by the person who came up with that slogan – I bet we have some things in common.

I usually try to write unrecognizable characters, but sometimes I really want to insert verbatim that snotty exchange I just had with *friend/family member* into my wip. I want them to read it when it’s published and to hear themselves the way I hear them. I want to eviscerate them in my novel-world. I am Creator and Destroyer when I write, and as clich├ęd as it might be, with ‘great power comes great responsibility’. While I write out my rage and my tears, I am unstoppable and uncontrollable. In real life I can remain cowardly and passive-aggressive.

What’s the harm, right? I take my pain and my anger and I unleash it on people who only live in my head. This seems like a much better path than brutal confrontation, and it usually gets the job done. But what about later, when that character’s spiel or their unlovable traits or what have you become central to the story and it’s impossible to write them back out again? Those who write from an intensely personal place do so with the knowledge that they are figuratively airing their dirty laundry with the hopes that it will be read by the masses.
The masses are fine. What about that person who ticked you off/inspired you? What if by writing those words out, you have healed, forgiven, and moved on? Those words, one would hope, will live on indefinitely.

What responsibility do writers have to the real life people who inspire despicable characters? Is it remotely feasible to try and avoid writing recognizable personalities? I know from experience that some people in my life will ‘read themselves into’ whatever character they feel like. People (myself included) often have a very difficult time reading work by a friend or family member without thinking ‘Was that me? Are you trying to say something?’
Plausible deniability at this time is probably more worthwhile than a titillating scene…right?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Flawed. Writing as vanity and deceit.

Being by nature a writer I have enjoyed my (and your) fair share of introspection. As a returned-to-the-Church Catholic I have spent my introspective moments for the past five years focused on how both my actions and my intentions appear to God and my loved ones. I have also had to take a good hard look at my innermost ugliness, my vices, and my faults.

I have many failings. I probably have a heck of a lot more than you do. But then, if you've spent as many years screwing up as I have, you may give me a run for my money. I have many failings, but (please ignore the wordplay as I struggle to be honest) only a few major weaknesses. All of my sins, my failures, my regrets come down to a few massive character flaws.

Vanity and deceit. Deceit caused by vanity. Vanity leading to deceit. Healthy imagination. Creating a social persona. Maintaining and defending said persona. These are my major flaws. (People who know me would almost certainly add others, but I have a feeling that, followed to their core, I would discover them to be due in some way to vanity and/or deceit.) So I know these things about myself, and I do my level best to keep myself from falling into my own traps.


Writing is the one area of my life where I can give these flaws full rein and not face consequences irl. My imagination is then allowed to spin the most convoluted web of organized untruths that it can conceive, and my vanity can create a Me who is not Heather. That Me lives the life that this me cannot. She is prettier than me, smarter than me, friendlier and more popular than me. She takes risks that I can't even think of without a shudder. She is powerful in all the ways that I am weak. She is an expression of my vanity.

The other, more obvious, expression of that vanity is the thought that anyone, anywhere would choose to take time out of their busy lives to read the yarns I write.

Reading may be purely voyeurism, writing pure deceit, and publishing pure vanity. I don't believe that's all they are for me, but it's only honest to admit that in a small part of my psyche, that's the truth.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

That old familiar fear...

In my quest to finish SERA, my wip, I have decided to fully reread everything I've written for it to date. This includes my handwritten notes and chapters, each chapter on my laptop, and all the outlines I've drawn up to date.
When I started writing SERA, I decided to create each chapter as a separate word doc, so that when I want to navigate through the story I'm not dealing with 300 pages to sift through. This has been extremely helpful, not only in the drafting stage, because placement of each of the plot points is much easier to visualize for me; but also will hopefully be helpful in the revising stage, as I will be able to look at each chapter individually, moving them around within the full text as needed with no more effort than a change in the table of contents.

As I began my first real read-through of all the chapters in order (which is a totally different experience than reading them piecemeal - an effort for which I'm generally rewarded with hours of self-doubt and insecurity), I fell in love all over again. The places came back to me with such intensity, I felt as if I had been travelling away from home for far too long. The characters struck me with their different personalities; some I hadn't really though of in months were there on the page and in my mind's eye: beautiful, weak, hateful, disgusting, powerful.

I read and felt a sense of both wonder and pride that, although I am faced with mountains of revision and I am nowhere near ready for the much-needed edit, I created this world and these people. It amazed and saddened me that these characters don't yet exist for anyone but me. The pride lasted precisely three seconds (ok, maybe I'm ballparking it, but still it wasn't very long) before the fear took over. I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach and my hands started sweating.

That old familiar fear, the paralyzing, creativity-sapping fear that no one will ever read my story, or love my characters or feel about this as much as I do took over. I went from euphoric creator to doubt-riddled writer in three seconds.

Do you ever feel that old, familiar fear?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Laws of (Writing) Attraction

The past few days, I've been thinking about men, attraction, and writing for the masses versus writing for myself. It is an interesting place, being an omniscient writer in our characters' universe - being able to decide who is attractive to our MCs and why. Having this resonate with our readers is a different story.

Case in point: Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Polite, well-bred, dark, reserved, deep - he seemed to have been written exactly for me. Even physically he hit all of my major points of attraction. I wanted Lizzie to fall for him; I wanted smarmy Mr. Wickham to be seen for the charlatan he was; I wanted Mr. Darcy to be vindicated and celebrated for the glorious being he is.

How did dear old Ms. Austen writing so long ago tap into exactly the type of man who would be the ideal not only for myself, but for countless others? Is there an archetype for writers to follow?

I don't think there is one archetype of 'attractive male',most recently the emnity between "Team Edward" and "Team Jacob" is the most glaring example of diff'rnt strokes for diff'rnt folks. The two characters are practically opposites, although passion and emotion are traits they share in abundance. I am a "Team Edward" girl (as much as that title pains me), and I struggle to see anything romantically alluring in the character of Jacob Black. Those who are avidly "Team Jacob" find Edward to be cold, controlling, and unfeeling.

So as I craft my own hero, I am sure to write the male romantic interest/hero to follow at least some of the pattern forged by Mr. Darcy and Edward - after all it's my world, my sotry, and if I don't fall in love with thtem a little bit, then what's the point of writing them? However, I would like for my books to be liked by more than just myself, so I will have to include positive characters who do not fit my standards but who would be attractive to others.

I wonder if I will be able to write less-attractive-to-me characters with the same passion and authenticity that I apply to my favourite guys.

Next post: writing female characters as an exercise in personal vanity and vendetta.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Can one search for inspiration?

How does inspiration happen? Is it a lightening bolt that wakes you up, or a random thought in the shower? For me, it's often either, or both. It's the when of inspiration that seems to be the most difficult part. I often have that moment of pure, blissful clarity as I am in my car without any way of sharing it, or as the shampoo is dripping down my face and coming dangerously close to my eyelashes. I think I will remember it, I will myself to remember it, but all too often I fail.

Inspiration funny though: I believe that I experience these random acts of brilliance exponentially more often when I am seeking itafter a long absence and not for too long. I have committed myself to finishing my favourite of my 3 WIPs, and just yesterday I had a flash of realization, an unravelling of the gnarled plotlines in which I had become hopelessly entangled. I saw, clear as a dirt path through a thick forest, how to avoid the formerly inevitable ninja-monks from having to save my plot. I had been racking my brain, begging for this kind of revelation for months prior to 'temporarily' shelving the whole shebang.

(A tweet from @fakeNaNoWriMo back in November that said something to the effect of: when in doubt, add ninjas was hilarious to me considering the horror I was facing.)

Having the curtain lifted, seeing the answer that should have been there the whole time, made me think: what is inspiration, and can I really call it at will? Is it an energy that as it is used depletes? Is it a muscle that grows stronger with practice? Is it completely random and unintentional for humans - a brief glimpse of the brilliance of God?

Whatever it is, I am elated that it came to visit me. I never realized how unhappy I was about the death-by-ninja that awaited my beloved novel.

I fervently wish that the angel of inspiration, for an angel it seems to me, comes to visit you all this month! Happy writing!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

And here I sit...

...clutching my pretty pink duotang filled with a nothingness that is so smothering. I rarely make New Year's resolutions, however this year I have decided to forego my habitual start-something-new-and-fun-that-I-will-suck-at eagerness and try something really new. I'm going to try to finish projects I shelved in disgust, despair, or exhaustion.

I was reading about perfectionism this morning. A blogger stated that the worst perfectionists he knows are not successful, high-powered professionals, but rather people who most often do not begin things and never complete them. The blogger insisted that this level of perfectionism was absolutely crippling to the point that the sufferer was so convinced that nothing she could do would be 'good enough', so what was the point of even trying? I fall in the former category when it comes to anything of real importance to me(that story that means something, the one I'd love to tell; the social life I'd love to pursue; and others, my most secret hidden goals kept away from prying eyes and judgements...) and more often the latter in areas and endeavors that don't scare me as much (like keeping up this blog!).

The post struck a resounding chord with me that has been haunting me ever since. So this year I am going to make a resolution. I never do things by halvs, and it's a doozy: I am going to beat my own perfectionism, strike out and risk failure. I'm going to finish those novels I have started instead of writing something completely new. I'm going to keep the paintings I had planned on the back burner until I finish the ones I have already deemed to be beyond saving.

Those pieces of my soul that I have left wasting away in shadows are going to be liberated and celebrated. I am going to finish Sera's story and what's more, when I'm through, I'm going to let someone read it.

OK, that may be going a bit too far...but at least I'll finish them. For myself.