That’s Going to Leave a Mark

I believe Garth Brooks may have said it best in his song, “Papa Loved Mama”, when he sang, “It was bound to happen and one night it did.”  Except it didn’t happen at night.  It happened on a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon.  One that just happened to follow two days of weird spring snow.  If I have never suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder previously, I sure felt like I did at this point.  It felt as if spring was never going to arrive.  So, I was feeling low and emotionally vulnerable anyway.  Exactly the opposite of what you hope to be experiencing the day you receive IT.

Your very first rejection letter.

To be honest, I was kind of expecting it.  I mean, the idea of have your first two stories accepted for publication back to back is a little too much to hope for.  I also knew that the competition for this particular anthology was quite steep.

However, actually receiving the letter was kick in the proverbial gut no matter how much I expected it.  Nothing can shake your self-confidence that actually being informed, to your face, that this time your best just wasn’t good enough.  I’ve been told that you have to have a thick skin to survive in this business and now I know how thick my skin is, which is not very.  Not yet.

But it will get thicker.  Like soft, unworked hands that suddenly undertake days of manual labor, my “skin” will blister, peel and then callous over, leaving it less vulnerable to the inevitable unpleasantries I will encounter in this new world of which I have chosen to be a part.  And, the next one will hurt a little less.  And the next one, even less.  And so on…

I have spent the weekend licking my wounds and feeling sorry for myself.  I can continue on this path because, let’s just be honest, it’s a lot easier to sit around pouting than to face that blinking cursor and create something out of nothing yet again.  Or I can dust myself off and hope this experience will make me a better writer and a more humble person.

I think I will chose the latter.  Or maybe not just yet.  Perhaps a coin toss is in order?

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Blog Hop

Armand Rosamilia sent me these questions to answer as part of a blog hop, so here are the answers though I doubt they will outdo his “subversively interesting answers”, whatever that means.  At the end, I will tap three more authors to answer them as well.

What are you working on right now?

I’m currently working on a story about a zombie with a conscience.  And then there the whole seven kids thing.  That keeps me pretty busy, too.  I feel like I spend about seventy-five percent of my time matching sock, actually.

How does it differ from other works in its genre?

Well, my zombie still has feelings and emotions.  Even though she is compelled to attack the living, she really feels badly about it and wishes she could stop herself.

What experiences have influenced you?

Life, in general.  Really, it is the things in life that I have no control over that I seek to create and bring to a satisfactory conclusion (to me anyway) in my projects.

Why do you write what you do?

I write in order to have a socially acceptable method of channelling my fears and anger over the unfairness of the world.  And so I don’t punch mean people in the face.

How does your writing process work?

In fits and starts.  I get an idea and I have just a vague notion of a beginning and an end.  Then I start writing and wing it.  Sometimes, I get very frustrated with myself and have to step away from it for a couple of days until I feel creative again.  Other times, I have to push myself through the bad times by just typing something, anything, for an hour.  I will almost always come up with something by the end of the hour that will put me back on course.

What is the hardest part about writing?

It is a toss up.  Trying to write every day with as many kids as I have is always difficult.  The other thing is editing.  I just hate to edit because after re-reading my own work so many times, I only see what I want it to say.

What would you like to try as a writer that you haven’t yet?

Maybe a good mystery thriller or a super creepy ghost story.

Who are the authors that you most admire?

There are so many that I admire and for so many different reasons that I couldn’t possibly pick any favorites.  I think anybody who sits down at a computer and looks at that empty page and flashing cursor and creates something from nothing is worthy of admiration.

Who are the new authors to watch out for?

Well, me of course, LOL!  I read  “Words With Fiends” by Matt Schiariti and I loved it.  It was fast-paced and creepy and made me never want to play Words with Friends again!  He has a novel, Ghosts of Demons Past, that should be coming out soon.  I just happen to know it is wonderful.  Be on the look out for him.

What scares you?

My biggest fear is that something will happen to one of my kids.  But, I am scared of lots of things: heights, small spaces, clowns and demons are the ones that jump to my mind first.  Especially clowns.  They’re just creepy.

Now, to continue the fun.  I’m tapping Matt Schiariti, Suzi M., and G. Elmer Munson to join the blog hop.  Their answers are sure to be more interesting than mine, so be sure to head over to their sites next Wednesday to check them out.

Getting “Unstuck”: Writer’s Block

I don’t get writer’s block.  When I get to the point in a story where the ideas cease to flow, I call it “getting stuck”.  Because, apparently, I can’t be like anybody else.  Oh, hell….I just can’t admit it is writer’s block because I’m afraid it will curse me.  Regardless, I have a technique for dealing with getting stuck.  It is called a “sprint” and I try to write 1,000 words in one hour.  The phrase and idea was coined by the wonderfully talented writer, Belinda Frisch.

And that usually works.  Just the process of sitting down and forcing myself to push through and write will almost always get the ideas flowing again.  Now, while I am writing these 1,000 words, my entire internal dialogue goes something like this:

“This is total and utter crap.  I don’t know why I am even continuing to waste an hour on this because it is such crap.  This crap doesn’t even make sense.”

As you can see, I like the word crap.  A lot.  I’m attempting to wean myself off of using the alternative, but my potty mouth is fodder for another post.  Anyway, my good friend and mentor, Armand Rosamilia, once told me, “The day you write something you think is perfect and brilliant is the day you got lazy.”  So, I figure the fact that I think it’s complete drivel at the time is encouraging.  And he is right. When I go back and re-read it after the hour is up, I find that although what I have written isn’t perfect by any means, I can more often than not clean it up and it becomes something I can use and gets me over the hurdle of being stuck.

So, how do you get over writer’s block?  Do you let it set until your muse inspires you again?  Or do you force yourself to fight through it?

Am I a writer yet?

Yes, I am a writer.  I can say this, not because I have ever published a book (I haven’t) or had a story published (I have), but because whether or not anybody ever sees any thing that I ever write or not, I still write it.  Merriam-Webster defines a writer simply as “one that writes”.  To bastardize Shakespeare a litte: I write; therefore I am a writer.

I am an author.  The first definition, also from Merriam-Webster is: one that originates or creates.  I figure I create everyday when I sit at my computer and bravely charge into battle with the blank page.  The second definition of author is: the writer of a literary work.  I have completed three short stories and am about a third of the way through my  first novel so I think that I qualify in that regard, as well.

Now, I know that this pales in comparison to most writers, especially those of my advanced age.  I resisted the idea of writing for many, many years to the consternation of my high school English teachers and college composition professors.  All told me that I had an innate ability when it came to writing.  But there was just one problem: I hated to write.

That’s right. I said it. I am a writer that hates to write. I do not write because I have a burning need to share my ideas with the world at large.  In fact, I didn’t write a single piece of creative writing with the intent of showing it to another soul until I was 42 years old.  Frankly, the reason I decided to write was because there was a story I wanted to read, but it did’t exist.  Until then my fear of writer’s block kept me from ever seriously considering writing more than a grocery list.

However, once I started writing my novel, and connected with other writers through the internet, it started to snowball.  My three short stories were all written since the beginning of the year.  Writers are some of the most supportive and kind people you could ever hope to meet.  All of my shorts were written because another writer told me I could do it.  As a result, the first story I ever submitted was accepted for publication in an anthology.

It has taken me some time to stop answering the question, “What do you do?” with my stock answer of “Oh, I have seven kids.  I’m just a full-time mom.”  Now, I respond with, “I am a writer.”  Because being a mom, that’s who I am.  Being a writer, now, that’s what I do.

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