Saturday, March 30, 2013

How do you do your writing thang?!

It’s been a week since my stomach went on strike and the smell of some foods still make me sick. You may ask, Why is that relevant to you and your writing? Give me a paragraph and I’ll share that little tidbit of information.

So! While I was sick, I came up with a really interesting idea about someone transforming into something else and having the same symptoms I was having a week ago. Except their problems are going to be worse. Much worse. There will be more screaming at the toilet. More ‘oh God if you make this stop right now I’ll be less snarky to my husband’. More cold sweats and… well, you get it. That was the only good thing about me being sick this past week. Great ideas!

Back to why I know you want to know why I’m talking about me being sick. And here it is: us writers who don’t have the luxury of sneaking off to a quiet place to read and write have tons of other stuff to deal with. It’s called life. I have a fourteen month old daughter. She is walking and running, teething and grumpy, screaming because she is so happy and crying because she’s so sleepy. I gotta tell you, she does not make it easy to write. I wouldn’t trade her playful growls and giggles for anything on this planet. Or on Alpha Centauri. Or the Death Star. Or in that made up place where werewolves and Sethians roam free and angry. So you have to get creative. Well, not that creative.

I won’t lie and say that EVERY time she’s takes a nap I dash off to the computer and write until I hear her little cute self moving around on the baby monitor that can transmit a fly fart from 300 paces. No! If I’m off of work that day (yip-yip days off from hell, I mean work) I take a nap when she does. If I don’t, I can’t stay up until two or three o’clock in the morning writing! That hour long nap in the middle of the day is powerful. For both of us.

I can go to work and function with only four or five hours of interrupted (and yes, I do mean interrupted) sleep. And can work all day long, go home to my daughter, get dinner ready for her and my husband and do all the other stuff that I have to do. And after I put her to bed, I check my CafĂ© in Facebook, sit on the couch with my husband (unless he’s already gone to be to get 8 FREAKING HOURS OF UNINTERRUPTED SLEEP) and then I write.

And then I write.

For at least an hour, I edit, I write, and I jot down little ideas that have come to me while I was cooking dinner; or while I was wrestling a piece of God-knows-what from my daughter who is in that stage where she wants to chew and taste everything.

Most of us simply can’t stay home peacefully while someone else takes care of everything. I can’t go to a coffee shop to get away from the family so I can write. Maybe when she’s a little older. Maybe when my husband cooks and cleans and the most crass person you know decides to take etiquette classes. We’ve got to learn to work around it.

How do you do it? For those of us who MUST write, what do you do? How do you carve out time to spew out all those creative thoughts that roam around in your head? ‘Cause for those of us who just HAVE to write to function properly, there is no other choice.

That didn’t sound sappy, did it?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sick and inspired

I’ve been screaming at the toilet all day.  For those of you who aren’t privy to that phrase, it means I’ve been yarking my guts up every time I eat something.  But it makes me think of a story that I will write after I can sit up for longer than 10 minutes: a human women who is turning into something else.  I don’t know what she’s turning into yet, but she and I will get there.  And her metamorphosis is going to suck.  She’s going to feel how I feel at this very moment: light headed, tired, extreme sour stomach, faint…  And when she’s finished turning, she is going to be magnificent.

It’s weird how certain situations make me think of writing.  It’s good.  What’s been eating at you to be let out?  A novel?  A poem? A novella?  A picture?  A song, even?

Sometimes your muse quietly waits in the background, waiting for you to get started.  At other times, the muse is pointing a crossbow at your head telling you to make it happen; write, paint, finger paint, whatever.  Just do it. 

And as soon as I am physically able, me and my muse are going to bake cookies and write stories with macaroni noodles. Because she's awesome and likes to do things like that.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pirate Ship? Tardis? What would you do?

I get tons of stuff from Writers Digest.  My inbox is full of stuff from them.  Daily.  I love it!  I sit at work and read every word of every email and link they send me.  At home, I pretty much kind of run through them because my 14-month old daughter doesn’t like me being focused on anything but her unless the Mickey Mouse Club or Little Einstein’s are on. God help the person who disturbs her clapping little hands with Leo and the gang or grooving as she does the Hotdog dance.  The dirty looks she gives have an eerie way of making you shut-up. 

Anyway, I received ‘Your Weekly Writing Prompt’ from WD which is supposed to inspire writers to… you know… Write. 

In the last week of February, the prompt was called ‘The Boat’.  It asked what you would do if you were reading your favorite book on the beach and noticed a boat slowly drifting to shore and then lands near you.  A person dressed as a pirate yells, “I have a treasure map and I need help. Are you in?” Answer in 500 words or less.

So, what would I do if a dude draped in pirate clothes drifted in his boat near my spot and asked me was I in with finding treasure from a map he had?  Question one: do you have any weapons in that there boat ‘cause I’ve got the sneaking suspicion we’re going to need a few.  If you give me a minute, I have a few swords upstairs.  Seriously.  I do.  Question two: do I have time to grab an extra change of clothes?  I don’t like being dirty.  (If not, I’m still in).  Question three:  you don’t want to do anything weird to me, do you?  I will attack you savagely without abandon if I feel threatened.

Once my questions were answered, and he said no and honestly looked offended at the third question, I would hop in his boat and push-off.  Look alive mattes!  We’ve got buried treasure to find!
Here goes an even better question:  what would you do if the Doctor (yip-yip to my fellow Whovians!) showed up in the Tardis and asked if you were game?  Question one: can you bring me back to this date and time after we have our time-traveling shenanigans so I don’t miss my daughter growing up? 
Fear not beloved Doctor, I believe you can. 
Hanging out with the Doctor and traveling with a pirate are things I think about without being prompted to every single day.  Standing in my kitchen, I think I hear the whir of the Tardis beckoning me.  I imagine being on a pirate ship looking for lost stuff.  Driving down the street, I put myself into my character’s shoes and wonder what they would do or say so I can write it down when I get home.  I think about this stuff every day.  I hear song lyrics and they insight an entire world that calls for me to create it. 
Why?  Because I’m a writer.  Every day I get ideas.  I build on ideas I already have.  If I don’t write, even just for myself, I get shaky and irritated.  Ask my husband.  If I’m too weird, he’ll ask one simple question.  No, it’s not if I’m PMS-ing.  “When was the last time you wrote?”

He asks because he knows that writing is a part of me and if I don’t do it, if I don’t let it out, I get hit with Marvin the Martian’s Discombobulator and everything goes wonky.   

Just sharing.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

On your mark...

So, I’ve decided.  I’m going to publish a few pieces on Kindle.  It’s a short story I’ve been working on.  The first thirty pages or so will be free.  A girlfriend of mine pretty much told me to get on with it or get off the pot.  I enjoy the potty!  I don’t want to get off.  It’s warm and cozy and comfortable on the potty!
Yes, I will begin submitting my novel to agents in a few months but I want to make sure it’s in a more awesome state.  I’m giving myself until May 1st.  The date was going to be April 15th but I’m trying to be realistic.  My daughter is an awesome ball of walking/running energy, I work, and I’m trying to find a book cover for the short story that I’m going to publish on Kindle.  I’d only be lying to myself if I said I’d be finished rereading the entire novel by April 15th.  The only time I really get to write or edit is when my daughter is asleep, it’s late at night, I’ve still got quite a few things to do and I’m forcing myself to write at midnight.  It’s hard.  Doable, but hard.  
Shout-out to my buddy for having her work requested by an agent after submitting her query.  She is awesome and so is her novel.  She’s going to do awesome. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

How much is too much?

MaryJanice (yes, that is her first name) Davidson did a reading of her book at the Barnes and Noble in Columbia a few years ago.  She’s my favorite author and if I didn’t go listen to her speak, my eyeballs were going to explode and I wouldn’t have been able to breath for a few days.  At least two.  Anyway, I asked her how she edited her books before she was THE MaryJanice Davidson.  Did she hire an editor?  Was she a member of a critique group?  She told me her husband read it.  He was her ‘editor’ and now look at her! 
That leads me to my concern this week:  how should I have my book edited?

I’m a member of the Charm City Writers Critique group. We go over 10-15 pages a month.  My ‘best, good’ (ode to Forrest Gump) critique buddy Faye McCray and I exchange about 70-80 pages a month.  We're almost done going through each others books and when it’s done, I’m almost tempted to throw all 78, 000 words at her and beg her to reread the whole thing now that we’ve gone through it once.  She may chuck it back at me and run off.  I hope not.  We’ll see.

I’m getting away from myself. 

Am I overdoing it?  Should I let it be or have another read through?  I don’t know. 

I want it to be perfect.  As perfect as humanly possible.  But nothing is perfect.  No one is.  Well, He is.  But we’re talking about my human, Roslyn-written book.  I love this book.  I know these characters and I talk to them so they can tell me what they want me to say for them.  Am I sullying their sweet words?  Am I being a worry-wart?

Though writing is what I do really well, besides being a great mom and wife (yea me!), it makes me feel like a teenage girl who was just asked to the prom by the second cutest guy in school.  The cutest guy is with that skinny pom-pom carrying biznatch, just so you know.  But the second cutest is way awesomer.  He’s the artsy type, so he’s wayyy better.

Should I self-publish a few pieces on Kindle or just start stalking agents?  I’ve got one in my sights.  She already loves me and she just doesn’t know it! 

But she will.

Any suggestions?

Friday, March 1, 2013

A little nervous...

I’m afraid, nay I am nervous, about submitting my work to an agent.  Of course I am.  Every writer is.  But I’ll share with you why I’m really nervous.  What if they don’t like my work?  Then who is the one who really sucks: me or the agent???  

Ray Bradbury said that writers should pick a room in their house and cover the walls with your rejection letters (eek! all four walls!).  Once the walls are covered, you’ve pretty much done your worst, you’ll be better for it and you’ll sell.  I learned this by way of Laurell K. Hamilton’s website.  

About four years ago, I completed my first book called Loyalties and I queried an agent about it.  She didn’t even want to know more.   I wrote it before I joined a writers critique group and after just one meeting I realized that my book needed some      SERIOUS work.  So, I’m kind of glad it was turned down (the really mature part of me feels this way).  I found that I did a lot of ‘telling’ and not enough ‘showing’.  Not good.  

Two years later, I submitted a short story to a fanzine and it was published.  It was even mentioned in the Baltimore City Paper.  I submitted another short story and that was published as well.  Now, here is where my nervousness jumps in.  What if after all this time of going over it and having a great person critique my work, my book still isn’t good enough?  I got one rejection letter and tried really heard to turn it around.  Did I do so successfully?  Will I be rejected again?  I don’t know. 

What I do know is that I’ve finished a novel that I really believe in; a novel where each character, even the antagonist, means something to me.  They reside in my mind and they are the ones that motivate me to write because they are the ones that want their story to be told.  Is this good enough?  

I think so.

In fact, I’m betting good money that it is.  After I put a few pieces on Amazon for Kindle, I’m going to spend a bit, and I do mean a little bit, of money to promote myself on those e-book selling sites.  Who knows what will happen.  I know what I hope will happen.  I just hope I don’t have to wallpaper a room with rejection letters in the process.