Monday, November 30, 2009

I wrote last night

Once upon a time, a long time ago...

I was a prolific writer.

I wrote in my journal most of the day, constantly scribbling as if an observer of the world outside of it. These days, I regularly misplace my journal and write, on average, once a week. Facebook seems to have replaced those journal entries and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

I used to write 10-12 articles a week for the newspaper. In those days, I never had the energy left to write anything else.

One summer, I thought I had found the best job ever. They fired me after a month, because they had hired me to be their in-house writer and the VP decided he'd rather have an artist. I boosted my confidence my writing a third volume to my paranormal chick lit series (series nicknamed Fashion and Fiends) -- 170,000 words in about 35 days.

I can write a press release in 20 minutes, but my own résumé stumps me.

I wrote a ten-page paper in French on the political parties of the moderate right in three days during my Thanksgiving break.

But I have not written a single word on my second volume of Fashion and Fiends since June? July? Whenever we launched our critique group via GLVWG. I had about six chapters then, and since we were submitting 20 pages a month, I knew those six chapters would last through December. And here I am, in December (almost), with no more chapters. This book has my favorite tentative title (Courting Apparitions) but the hardest plot. It's a ghost story and ghosts present a lot of limitations. In addition, the first draft spent the first 200 pages with the main character moping around doing nothing, because of his grief for the dead person...

Of course, Stephenie Meyer's New Moon has the main character moping for 200 pages. Maybe Étienne just needs to rebuild a motorcycle and hang out with a werewolf...

Well, last night, I wrote about 400 words. The novel I wrote after I got fired... That one needs to be split in two: one half for the ridiculous fairy plot line (which will get saved for another project) and the other half for the actual plot line where evil witches destroy the balance of the universe and a non-magical woman has to stop them. I've dickered with the plot and did a scene last night where the heroine waits for her missing husband, in a venue where she thinks he has to attend and her disappointment when he doesn't...

In my "old days," before returning to school and raising a five-year-old daughter, I could polish off 5,000 words a night, almost every night of the week.

I miss those days, but the other activities-- school, work, parenting, the non-profit boards I'm on-- indirectly do make me a better writer.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Contemplations on Writing

Today I attended the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group meeting ( Our member Kathy Kulig gave an informal presentation on social networking for writers. I also got to hear the usual round of success stories, welcome some guests and chat with some friends.

I'm president ex-officio this year, having done my term July 2008-2009. It's a good group, currently with 155 members, and what makes it magical is the combination of published and unpublished fiction and non-fiction writers of different abilities and different professional backgrounds.

But lately, I've found the group disheartening more than inspiring. Many of us have remained in similar places for the entire time I've participated in this group. Others have progressed, others perhaps given up on the craft.

With all this talk of social networking and marketing, it's a reminder to me of how this business has changed: from the rising oil prices and the effect on page counts in hardcover books to the rise of small, independent press... I find it dizzying. Every time I feel like I'm on the right track, something leaves me feeling derailed.

More and more people I know are pursuing small presses or self-publishing. Yet, others have not deserted the dream of a New York publishing contract.

I find that actual writing skill has less to do with success than marketability.

I find that recognizing your talent isn't enough for an agent. It's more like finding a spouse, someone who loves you and your work and can conjure great lust for your prose. Personalities have to mesh AND the writing has to demonstrate that special sparkle.

That's how my rejection letters can refer to my work as "very visual" and "highly commercial" yet still be rejections.

Writing brings us on a journey, and it's a journey where our hearts and minds will be tested. It's a journey that leads us to doubt. It's a journey where we learn to write for ourselves. It's a journey we make because it fosters happiness.

So, this blog, which will meander and have irregular posts as I search for my voice and what I have to say (yes-- they can be different), allows me to talk to others about the conversations I have with my imaginary friends. Call them characters if you must but if you're a writer on your journey, maybe my highs and lows will remind us all we're not alone.