Loved One of My Inspiration

Yes, I’m still here, blog friends! I was going to do a #weekendcoffeeshare, but since the link-up is closed I’m posting this anyway. If you’re not familiar with #weekendcoffeeshare go to part time monster and investigate this fascinating phenomena. 

coffee

If we were having coffee I would tell you this isn’t your average writer’s block. And, it’s probably going to take more than a huge jolt of java to break through the monster stall in my brain. But, thanks in advance for the listen.

The urge for words seems distant now, almost as far away as the stars, disguised by uneasiness and cloaked in acute sadness. I tell myself that I will want to write again, that I haven’t come full circle and I believe I haven’t but, I admit, this is different. This is loss of mind power, of inspiration, of physical confidence.

Some days it feels like grief, like the of loss of a love, of a family member, or a cherished animal companion. The worst of it is, I know I’ll never see the loved one of my inspiration again…at least not in it’s prior form.

Honestly though, I don’t want my creativity to return in it’s old form – not really. When you’re truly obsessed with a thing, like writing or painting, I’m not sure you can be objective enough to see what you’re doing. I know I wore the first-timer rookie blinders with every keystroke.  Perhaps I should think of this change as a new range of vision. When I begin again, my view will be a wider angle, a panorama of words, paragraphs, chapters. I’ll see the timeline of my novel clearly and watch as the story flows and weaves itself from year to year, encompassing two generations of my world and the people who live there.

There are still holes in the story line, of course. Some of them are big enough to swallow a tank, but I know where they are now. I have time to fill them or erase them completely. Now that this pesky publishing thing is no longer an issue, I can do whatever I want and write whatever I want. In a way, that’s liberating.

At this moment my mind is only fit to read other people’s novels because they have already done the hard work. I don’t have to suffer and sweat over a hot keyboard, I have only to open the pages of their hard labor and be amazed. They created these stories just for me, for my amusement and inspiration. In the next weeks and months I’ll read for enjoyment with the knowledge that among these words is the spark I need.

Read. That’s one of Stephen King’s rules for writers. And, speaking of The King, I’d love to talk to him about long medical recoveries and its effects on creativity:) Anybody have his cell number?

How is your writing adventure going?

 

Photo credit: ultrakml / Foter / CC BY

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Writer’s Laryngitis

It’s rare my surly muse visits, and my writing has suffered in his absence. But, since I’ve reminded myself sucess is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, I’ve resisted the impulse to press the M key. Until now.

Alive or dead, Juan Reyes really is one of the most extraordinary characters I created. In case you don’t know, he was a videographer in my first novel. I killed him off so, in tribute to his stunning journalistic talent, good looks, irrepressible humor and selfishness, I resurrected him as my muse.

Tonight, in a gesture to the holidays, he wears new clothes, a black leather duster and broad-brimmed hat instead of his usual blood-stained fatigues. The overall effect is a bizarre combination of  western bad-guy and 1970s pimp. While I don’t comment on his clothes, I know he wouldn’t mind the comparison.Black leather jacket

Concern flickers in his eyes but, never given to sentimentality, a flirtatious grin immediately replaces worry.

“Been a long time since you summoned me,” he says, flashing his lighter and inhaling rapturously. Smoke wreaths my keyboard and while I can’t smell it, I remember the feeling.

I glance at him. He’s standing closer than usual tonight, almost within reach. Although he can’t enter the corporeal world, I have the strong feeling he wants to hug me.

“Laryngitis,” I say, turning to face him. “You know, my voice is gone.”

“Your voice sounds fine to me, but if it’s really a problem, try gargling with Jack Daniels twice a day.” In spite of his irreverent comment, he looks down at me, his dark face serious.

“Juan, I didn’t call you because…it took a while to figure out what was wrong with my book. My writer’s voice is gone, lost.”

dreadlocks 2He shakes his head, black dreads swirling over his shoulders. “I knew it was serious. I thought it was just my equipment when your words stopped coming. You put your WIP away, didn’t you?”

I nod.

“Don’t worry, girl,” Juan says, moving closer. I almost feel a rush of air as he brushes his hand over my keyboard and a single sentence appears on the monitor:

AN HONEST WRITER KNOWS WHEN TO MOVE ON.

“There’s no shame in quitting,” he whispers.  “Keep in mind the world you created will serve you well in the next novel. You have a character who’s so powerful, wise and relentless, I’m almost jealous. You’ll use him again. You have lyricism you’ll repeat while you fold it in with new inspiration.”

He crosses his arms. “When you blog about me, that’s your voice. That’s the way your world is. Remember: the definition of writer’s voice is the intangible power you use to make the reader wish he could live in your book or make him damned glad he doesn’t. It’s a sensibility; it’s like me. Always there in the background, adding all three dimensions, running like illegal software in the reader’s mind. He’s not even aware what’s happening, but you’re seducing him while he reads.”

We’re silent for a moment, and then he says, “I think we should watch a Christmas movie, don’t you?”

“Anything for you, muse. Which one did you have in mind?” I ask, my cursor hesitating over Netflix.

DIEHARD! Love all that 20th century American cursing,” he laughs.

“One of my personal favorites,” I agree and, as a young Bruce Willis fills the screen, my muse fades into the starlight of my office window.window stars

Have you ever misplaced your writer’s voice, if so, what did you do to regain it?

 

Photos: Foter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Off the Radar

Yep, I’m going off the blog radar…temporarily. A week, maybe two.

1048553049Company is coming from Florida. My sister and my niece arrive tomorrow, and it will be up to me to show them the beauty that is Colorado. When you live in a gorgeous location like this, playing tour guide is no small task!

I’m sneaking up on the last two chapters of first-draft. Yes, I know I’ve said that for almost a year, but this time I really mean it. I’m tired of waiting around for my muse, so I’m completing this draft without him. Today I’m working an important scene in which two adversarial female characters unite for the first time as they discuss another main character, a man…of course! This scene answers questions,  presents others, and proves things are not always what they seem. Then it’s on to the final chapter. 1048553031

This is recharge time for me, probably waaaay overdue. The Manhattan Bar sounds awful good right now.

So, tell me, loyal readers, what would it take for you to go off the radar? 

Photos by me.

 

File of Someday

Funny how it happens, this fixation with a scene, a line, or a word.Sunflowers3

I first noticed it when I was painting Sunflowers in Cobalt.

In the upper left corner of the painting were a few square inches of sublime perfection.The oil paint meshed with the canvas in such a smooth and graceful way, the colors blended into the beauty of a sunset, and the eye of the beholder immediately ground to a halt on this spot. Suddenly, the rest of the painting, the gorgeous vase and buttery yellow flowers were an after thought instead of the focus. Under Photoshop’s mighty microscope of save-for-web you can see where I feathered my gorgeous brush strokes away. I hated doing that, but it was necessary.

The same thing happens with writing, doesn’t it? Now that I’m working on my latest novel, I’m on the lookout for the fixation pitfall traps. In my first novel I forced myself to sacrifice a great scene, the poker game, for the sake of the plot. It was a wonderful moment between my characters with high-stakes, daring innuendos, and sexual tension. But, it just didn’t move the story along, so it had to go.

Later, I did realize one thing. There’s no reason I can’t use that concept, with its playful mayhem, in a sequel or a completely different book. So, it waits, filed under someday. My characters knew how great it was and, someday when I’m writing along, minding my own business, they’ll remind me the card game has found its niche.

(I did sell Sunflowers in Cobalt. Sometimes it pays not to get too attached).

Which one of your scenes fascinated you beyond reason? What convinced you to delete it?

Painting by Me.

Three Letter Word

OK. It’s official. I am in hell.

While playing with advanced find in MS Word 7 (yes, I do have better things to do but what can I say?)  I stumbled over an alarming trend in my latest chapter. The. That unassuming article – everywhere. So, of course, unable to leave well enough alone, I investigated my entire 45,078 first draft and was horrified by the vast amount of thes therein. Grand total of 2052 so far.5573590854_d7d2298ddb

I researched around and found a great resource in www.owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/. According to this post, the is a definite article. Like an adjective, it modifies nouns. In this case, specific or particular nouns. OK.  I checked a couple of my favorite fiction authors, calculated their use of the. They hardly use the three letter word at all.

Repeat words plague every writer, I’m sure, but this onslaught is horrible. My writing is suffering, that’s obvious. Am I trying too hard? Probably. But if I’m repeating a word why couldn’t it be a cool multi-syllable word like, say, minesweeper or necromancer? I mean, this is embarrassing.

 

So, what’s your repeat monster word and how do you control it?

Photo by Foter

 

Muse Humor

Juan Reyes leans in the doorway of my cluttered office. specter-2

smoke-1-2He gestures at the Word file on my screen while extracting a pack of Marlboros from the pocket of his camera vest.

“I don’t want to alarm you, girl, but this may be one of the worst chapters you have ever written,” he says, lighting his imaginary cigarette.

“No smoking in here, muse,” I snarl.

“I don’t have time for this kind of nonsense,” he says, ignoring my icy stare.  “You’re making me look bad, lady. This is the second time in two months I’ve had to stop by. If you don’t pull yourself together, I’ll be reassigned to the Sunny Sarasota Retirement Home inspiring the Silver Sneakers crowd or, worse, I’ll be riding herd over budding artists at Little Tykes Fun Fiesta. You know I’m not fond of kids.”

“You never had kids,” I snap. “They are highly creative. It’s possible you might really enjoy them.”

He nods, smiling that seductive evil-dead smile. How could I, someone who struggles to scribble a single coherent paragraph, have written such a tantalizing creature?

“Point taken. However, their creativity differs from that of adults in one profoundly important way.”

I glare at him. “Which is?”laughter

“Children haven’t lost their sense of humor, my beautiful writer.” Juan folds his arms over his vest, covering the laser burns on the fabric. I did kill him off in my first novel, but he has returned as my muse and alternately infuriates or inspires me.

You’ve lost it, babe,” he says, shaking his head. “The humor you had in the first novel is too well-hidden in this second story.”

I sniff, insulted but intrigued. “Yes. You’re right. I’m just having a hard time making murder, drug lords, and slavery funny.”

He laughs, white teeth flashing in his brown face. “There were plenty of terrible misfortunes in your first book and somehow we made the readers laugh.  For God’s sake, have you forgotten everything I taught you? Humor is essential in this kind of  fiction. It can’t be taken seriously. Think of Carl Hiaasen’s Skinny Dip. A man tries to kill his wife by pushing her off a cruise ship, for crying out loud. But she lives to torment him.  Even a  grim book like Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War has humor or at least irony. Your POV character is too, too serious. Of course, her situation is dire, but she is still capable of sarcasm, if you allow it. Turn her loose. She can banter with the best, heap on derision, look death in the eye and laugh.”sarcasm

He thumps his chest and a puff of smoke rises from the bullet hole over his pocket. “Until the day you re-shirted me, I was one  sarcastic sexy bastard. Remember how humor makes a book sing? Hell, even The Stand had its moments. How about Randall Flagg’s classical reference to Sympathy for the Devil?” Juan chuckles, brushing back his dreads. “OK, that was only in the mini-series but it made you laugh out loud.”

“Yeah,” I mutter. “Naomi is too serious. Maybe because she’s older than my usual characters. Oh god, am I falling prey to ageist stereotypes?”

“Naw. She’s still hot in an obsessive workaholic paleo-archaeologist a kind of way.” Juan grins down at me, perching on the edge of my desk. “Listen, when you had me fired and disgraced by the biggest news outlet on Earth did you let it get me down? Hell, no, you had me laugh in the face of failure, and it made me a great character.”

As his gorgeous Cheshire cat smile fades, I return to my chapter. Time for a rewrite. This chapter only.  He was right about humor – he’s always right.

 

How important is humor in your writing? How do you make your readers smile?

 

Photos from Foter

 

 

 

 

Road to Perfection

prepare to be annoyedOk. I admit it.

I am annoyed with my first draft because I am a perfectionist. Probably caught the disease from my dad. Those of you who know me well know I am the most imperfect of creatures, but still I expect wondrous talent from my first draft. Obviously, I missed the part where Dad counseled his students that the road to perfection requires practice, practice, practice.

I keep forgetting. First Draft is practice – bones before flesh – priming the canvas – ect.

Good news is, while wrangling with my perfection addiction, I’ve discovered how to give my charming yet reticent main character more steel and sparkle. She’s surrounded with fantastic characters who pretty much write themselves, so I’m grabbing a bit of their mighty mojo for her!

Do you suffer from perfectionism? How do you deal with it?

Update: I’m still chugging away with about 40,000 words so far.

 

Photo: Flkr.com