A Writer Reflects

Writer-once-upon-a-time-1024x576Earlier this week I was sitting a table in the breakroom at my day job, scribbling down story ideas. A random coworker approached and jokingly ask if I was writing a book. I answered straight-faced with a “yes”, causing him to look at me funny. With a sigh, I stopped writing and reached for my wallet to pull out a business card. I explained that yes I do write fiction, mostly fantasy, and had several things available on Amazon if he were interested.

o'connorI didn’t know this person. My day job is in a building with probably 400 people. I don’t know them all but I had seen this gentleman before in passing. The sigh was involuntary because I was being interrupted. Its the same as when you are trying to read or watch a movie and someone keeps talking to you. With a book or a movie often you can go back to the last line you read or rewind the film. When you are writing and someone interrupts your thoughts are gone once derailed depending on when they interrupt. In this case, everything was pouring out off the cuff and when I got suddenly got brought back to reality it was like someone turned off the water while I was drinking from the fountain.

Earlier that day I had been asked a question. I was stuck in a meeting with around sixty other people and happened to mention to one of my work friends that I have a new book of short stories out. This elicited surprise from those nearby, which confused me. I’m a writer. I don’t hide it. I thought I was quite obvious about it but it seems I wasn’t as apparent as I thought I was.

I was then asked, “If you are a writer, why aren’t you rich?”

I laughed because it doesn’t work that way. If all it took was to write and be semi-decent On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by [King, Stephen]at it to become well off, the distribution of wealth would be much different than what it is. My answer was: “Because I am not Stephen King, and even he started off writing in the laundry room.” (I work at an appliance company so this was met with more amusement than average.)

non-fictionIt is intriguing to note that people still equate books with wealth. Once upon a time books were hard to come by and only the wealthy had them. However, even then, the people that wrote the books were not as well off as the people that read them. Unless you are one of the few who receive a lot of advertising and tend to be decently prolific, writing a book is not the way to fame and fortune. Which isn’t why most writers write anyway.

I mean, we wouldn’t mind a little of the fortune. We all have bills to pay and would love the chance to be able to do so without worry or the necessity of having another job. It’s just not the way things usually work; regardless if you go the traditional publishing route, go indie, or do a combination of the two.

There are some writers who make a good living. I hope to be one of them someday. I library-425730_1920think that is the hope of most writers. Those that are actually in it for the fame and fortune are usually disappointed unless they have very good marketing teams.

Could I be more successful than I am right now? Oh absolutely. I just need to get over my ingrained insecurities, stop sighing at people who interrupt my writing when they may be potential customers, actually finish the dozens of writing projects I’ve got in the works, and then tell lots and lots of people that I have books and they should read them instead of hoping for some kind of divine osmosis to happen where everyone just suddenly knows my stuff exists.

I’ll get there one day.

dream time

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Sunday Yard Sales and Writing

Right now I am sitting on my front porch with my computer open before me. It is pleasant and sunny with a strong breeze blowing the wind chimes. Two tables are set up at the end of my driveway with various items decorating the tops in the hopes of enticing some random person into handing over cash.  This was not my idea.

54514151_10210688318363354_3942095613344088064_oYesterday I went to a small convention in Chattanooga. Even though I was running on only a couple of hours of sleep, I had a good time. I picked up a couple of graphic novels and a nine-tailed plushy of a kitsune in glasses. It was fun. It was Metrotham Con’s inaugural year and I think I just may return for year two if they manage it.

My weekends are usually divided up into a day where I actually go out among the masses and accomplish things like socializing or grocery shopping, and a day where I stay home and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist. Yesterday was my do things day. Today was supposed to be my stay home and do-nothing-unless-it-involves-a-creative-endeavor day.

Then my mom decided she wanted to have a yard sale. At my house. On a Sunday. At one o’clock in the afternoon. label-2016248_1280

She is having a bad depression day too which isn’t making life any easier. Signs weren’t put up to advertise her impromptu yard sale until 2 o’clock. We haven’t had anyone stop by yet but I am still sitting here waiting. She decided to run home and see if she could convince my dad to come back with her, so now I am temporarily in charge. I put a few of my books on the table with her stuff because, why not?

If she does manage to get my dad to return with her maybe I will cook dinner for all of us or something. I highly suspect that no one will return and in about an hour I will be packing away her yard sale. That is okay too, I guess.

So far this yard sale hasn’t generated any revenue unless you count words. I started a new story and have been fighting formatting for the new poetry book I’ve been trying to get out. I also managed to write this post. If this day had gone the way I planned, I probably would have never changed out of my pajamas and would have stayed inside reading. I consider that a perfectly reasonable way to spend a day off. However, this has maybe turned out better. Sitting out here is rather relaxing and peaceful. Duke

 

Bathroom Epiphanies

If I ever get the chance to design a dream home, I will have a moisture proof bathroom-759473_1280cabinets installed. They will all be within easy reach of the sink, the bathtub and shower, and the toilet. Within these cabinets will be a variety of writing implements and paper or voice recording devices. This way I will be able to record all of the epiphanies I get while in that room of the house.

kitchen-1416383_1280

 

A special drawer will also be installed in the kitchen, near the sink, for the same purpose. I am guessing my epiphanies must need water to bloom. ( I am a Pisces after all.)

 

Today I was brushing my teeth when I realized I have been trying to tell the wrong story for years. I thought I was writing my own thing, but as I pondered all the wonderful authors that I’ve enjoyed and reflected on how many favorites have crossed the rainbow bridge, I came to the conclusion I have been writing to fill a hole.

 

to-write-1706661_1280The characters are mine. The ideas are mine. However, there has always been something missing. Sometimes I have managed to grasp just a spark of whatever it is, but often it disappears. I want that magic I experienced reading my favorite authors and to obtain it I have been unconsciously attempting to mimic them. Like a kid in her father’s shoes, I’ve been tramping around trying to be like those I admire.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is how we learn. However, there comes a point where you have to wear your own shoes.

whats-your-storyI thought I knew my writing style. I thought I knew my voice. Now I know that I should take a closer look and maybe focus on those sparks of magic that were my own voice shining through.

An Update

Hello everyone. Long time, no chat. I know, I really should post more often but I did post a warning about my time being eaten by school, work, and kids.

So remember when I said I was going back to school in hopes that it would help me improve my writing? Well, I have managed to learn a few things.

  1.  I prefer writing for myself instead of my class and my teachers.
  2. I have to unlearn how to simplify.
  3. Teachers seem to want long exploratory paragraphs and information dumps rather than just sticking to the point.

Number 3 somewhat baffles me. I mean, part of me understands. They want to A_picture_is_worth_a_thousand_wordsknow that you really know what you are talking about. Maybe I have learned to simplify too much? I used to read books that warned against information dumps in stories. I am beginning to fear I fixed something that wasn’t broken and now I have to unfix it.

I have to go to work in a few minutes and I have an exam tonight so that’s all for now. I just wanted to let people know I am still alive and my hiatus from my blog is only temporary. My posts may be irregular but they will still happen from time to time.

No Brakes?

rails-253134_1280Sometimes life moves so fast it feels as if you are going down hill on a runaway train. I keep thinking things are going to mellow out. My kids started back to school last week. I am still waiting for the newness to turn into routine. I need it to soon because next week I start back to school for the first time in years.

How am I supposed to toss another ball into the air when I am not certain that I can juggle what I have? Ready or not, my time in training at work will be over Thursday and I get to see if I can fend for myself in the wild…er I mean call center. (The wild would probably be easier.)

My new job will depend on what team I am picked for. Some people already know which study-1355437_1280teams they will be on. I don’t yet.  It kind of feels like I am back in middle school; the short, glasses wearing asthmatic everyone picked last.

I still feel like I am faking my way through knowing what I am doing. I do my best and make my best guesses but I’ve had a few moments where I’ve been pulled aside and had my mistakes pointed out. It isn’t malicious. I am glad they let me know. How else am I to learn?

It’s just that I have spent a long time more or less knowing how to do my job. This however, is all new and there is so much to absorb. Going in I did not realize it was going to be such an information dump. I worry that I am not up to the challenge.

So recap: The kids are back in school. New  work responsibilities start Thursday. ( I can’t even prepare because I don’t know what clown-587234_1280they will be.) Monday my classes start. The following Monday my schedule work changes.

If I can’t manage to juggle all of these responsibility balls, then I may run away and join the circus. Surely physical objects would be easier.

To write a book…

charlie-chaplin-392926_1280When I was in school I hated American History. I thought it was boring. I thought that since other countries had been around so much longer, they were obviously much more interesting.

Now that I am older, I am no longer so excluding. For the past few weeks I’ve been focused on the American Civil War. My attention was peaked last year when I did some family history research. It was more recently that I received a book of local ghost stories that pinged that interest again.

Then I spoke with another writer who I greatly admire. I told him that I had been thinking about writing a book that takes place during the civil war. I recounted what I had found out about my family, and he said: That sounds like a good place to start. Why don’t you?

That “Why don’t you?” Has been echoing around the empty cavern of my skull for weeks.

I tried to use the excuse, “Well, life has so many changes going on right now, with the new job and going back to school…”

My inner writer answered with, “You don’t work on the weekends and part of your degree is going to be in History anyway.”

Then the dragon of self doubt raised its head and said, “Do you really think you can find anime_dragon_1024x768-634320the time to write a book? Look how well that has worked in the past. You have three unfinished novels sitting on your computer right now. And remember that rejection letter. The one that hit the mark so well.”

The dragon almost got me. Then I remembered the rejection letter it was reminding me of was the catalyst I needed to pull up my boots and march back to school. The three unfinished novels reminded me that my current way of writing isn’t working very well and I need to try something new. (Not that those three will never be finished. Two are honestly in a rewrite stage but I changed things and got stuck in the muddle in the middle. Then proceeded to wallow in the muck.)

So now, with so many things already on my plate and with so many new challenges to face, I find myself stacking yet another task on top. I’m going to write a book. Sanderson Quote-800wi