Titles are hard. Just like some emotions.
I’m a pretty optimistic person, I think. Most of the time, at any rate. Sure, sometimes I think life has just kicked me in the ass, and I’d love to make more money and be closer to my next goal, and maybe feel a little more excited about getting up for work each morning, but I can’t really complain. There are only about three people in my life who would listen, anyway. But sometimes, people can sure bring me down.
I was watching a Ted Talk about the new philosophy that people are embracing--that they are maybe “sorry” for feeling sad, mad, discordant, etc. I don’t really feel sorry for feeling those things when I feel them, although sometimes I may apologize for having expressed them. I am certainly a reactive person, but I’m definitely also a reflective person, and after my little eruption, I can pretty easily move to the next stage of processing. But I’m a little concerned that this idea of hiding emotion, or worse, denying emotion, is a trend. If anything, we are human, and humans emote. But better than that? Humans are resilient.
So, I think the key is to figure out how to best handle that in your life. I’m not offering advice, because I’m definitely trying to sort it out for myself, but I do think we each have to do our own thing. And I’m past the point in my life where I’m looking for someone to understand me. I think what’s most important at this point, is figuring out how to understand myself. I’ve finally realized that in the game, that’s what I’ve been trying to do all along.
What I learned at Owl Creek Bridge
Tonight in class I was happy to be teaching "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." What a fun story to tear apart. It messes with the reader, and one has to ask, does the gimmick work? There isn't really that much to the story after all, but oh, what twists and turns it takes. Poor Peyton Farquhar. Or is he?
I assigned this story, thinking it would be a nice change of pace. It is not difficult, and it does some really interesting things with detail and sensory articulation. It's fun to break apart.
One of my students insisted that she hated the story. Another said he'd read it a time and a half, because he read it as a kid. And both of them had completely incorrect "takes" on it. That's what happens when you don't read it for reading's sake.
The girl insisted it was about suicide. Hmm. No.
The boy was blown away by the details that he'd overlooked. When he was 13. I'm telling you, folks, teaching young people is occasionally a challenge. He is now 20 and still taking shortcuts.
The idea of suicide evidently came from a mistaken HS analysis. She insisted her teacher presented it that way.
Now, I'm the first to know that students don't always report teacher commentary faithfully, so I take that with a grain of salt, but if that teacher IS teaching this story as a suicide story, I weep.
But most importantly, what I thought about after class tonight, was that I am expected to do my job, and that is to present, enlighten, articulate, draw out and help students polish their own ideas about literature. And TRULY, you CAN have original ideas about literature. But sometimes, you can also just be flat out WRONG. So, when your instructor assigns a reading that perhaps you have read before, you might want to re-read it anyway--even if you have it memorized. Trust me on this. And that is the student's job. Do the work you are paying to do. Your instructor truly is not there to torture you, but is, hopefully, there to help you become a little more thoughtful.
I've learned so much in the last two weeks about writing, publishing, cover art (and the lack of it), and myself.
I like Peaky Blinders FAR too much, and will watch and rewatch the seasons in a bingeworthy fashion far too many times, because most of Netflix is boring.
But mostly, what I've learned is that I can still surprise myself.
Writing is easy enough--until I determine a goal and then realize that I've set a difficult bar. My most frustrating moments in the last few weeks were when I realized I could not achieve what I had set out to do--at least not in the time I had allotted myself. That was hard to recognize, come to terms with, and move past.
So, I've done some hard work this last couple of weeks.
I have achieved more goals in this year than I give myself credit for, but not as many as I'd hoped. That's what 2018 is for, I think.
But, to organize...
Self-publishing as a business decision for myself was the right thing to do. But I made a lot of mistakes. I've had to backtrack and fix some of them, and I've had to take a little more time to move to the next platform--Kindle. Finding an agent for the longer, more substantial books is really rather intimidating, but I'm looking forward to the process. The self-publishing route is preparing me to write to these people to try and sell those books. On that note, taking that time has also made me aware of how many problems there are in my novels. I've got a lot of work to do there too.
In my relaxed moments, I believe I could write all day long. Then I sit down to do it...and I realize I was wrong. Writing is hard work. Creating a beautiful cover is easy enough, but not at first. My learning curve has been long.
At any rate, lessons were learned. I know much more about me, and I'm glad of it. 2018 is going to be beautiful for so many reasons, not the least of which will be my decisions about realizing my author potential.
I hope you look forward to these words and to 2018 as much as I do.
My friend called me at 7:52 this morning...and she never calls. But I didn't answer it because I was snoozing. So then, I check my messages when I get up and all I hear are thunks and static for 30 straight seconds!
I call back and no answer.
So, I do what any other person would do, and I text her.
"You're not kidnapped, are you?"
About thirty minutes later, she sent a note that her phone was in her back pocket and she butt-dialed me.
"What a relief!"
Wait...prove it! What if the kidnapper texted that!
I definitely have a plot twist.
Back to Chattering Swallow. Notes to People will hopefully be up today. I'll keep you posted!
It is Christmas Eve! And, it is A Beautiful Life, after all. I've worked at publishing Notes to People all day, and I'm just waiting on approval from Nook...maybe it will be up in a few days! I'm so excited.
Now it is time for Christmas movies and for working on my draft of my next book--Empty Nest. That and Chattering Swallow, which is still in progress. It's a bit of a dark story to be writing on this holiday, but it will be done soon, because I am determined.
In other news, Little Black Dog sleeps all day, and then grumbles when I make him go outside. Clover is completely content to take up whatever warm space the house offers. And Precious, well, she just ignores me.
Have a wonderful holiday, and share your love with those you love. I wish you all glad tidings and happy moments.
I just learned that several students look for my blog and I disappoint them when I don't post!
I've been so incredibly busy the last few weeks trying to wrap things up and my motivation to write has been dampened by the obligations of work and life...and well, of course...softball. But I'm back! (I am pretty sure I said that just a few weeks ago) But really, I'm back. I'm back to think and write and laugh and chat and share and be invested. And to report back on my murder mystery, Chattering Swallow, which I firmly intend to finish writing by the end of this month. Goals, people!
Goals for 2017 to still complete:
Query Fires at Christmas
Publish Notes to People (I'm almost there!!)
Finish drafting Chattering Swallow.
Christmas break begins in about 24 hours, and my goal achieving begins roughly around that time too. I mean, give me a minute to drink a glass of wine, if you would.
So thanks, kids, for the best surprise in the form of affirmation ever: I will keep writing. I appreciate all of you. Thanks for showing me you appreciate me.
So I've jumped in with both cold feet. I have announced to my social media peeps, my son, and just about everybody I know, that I am self-publishing my first book this weekend. Aaagh!
Nook and Kindle have a great platform space (for now...until Net Neutrality...) where I can publish my work on my own. I have my text, though it keeps going through revision and addition, over and over and over, and I have my cover art, but not my cover print just yet. Notes to People will be out by next week. Consider it my Christmas gift to myself, and perhaps, to you as well. It will be available as soon as the platforms post the text, which should be Monday or Tuesday.
Notes to People is just that: Notes. I see someone, or something and I make an observation, and even though I may not say the words at the time, I say them in this text. You might find something you meant to say one time. I'll keep you posted!
I'm so excited, and so nervous! But I've made it so I can't sit back on my heels. They are both fully submerged in this bathtub of goal setting. I can't wait until you read it.
Peace out, homie.
We always want the pleasure piece that most often, we cannot have.
Like tonight, I went to bed exhausted, which always means I'm going to bed with cold feet. I mean, the house was cold, to be sure. So, I did what any normal person would do and layered my blankets fuzzy, down, fuzzy. I was cozied up. And then I woke up hot. So, I'm awake, blogging. Because humans are fickle.
I found that after I kicked the blankets around for about 13 minutes and 24 seconds that if I took off the top blanket, kicked my leg out and wrapped the (cold) down blanket around the warm fuzzy one, placing the cool blanket against my legs and the hot blanket trapped somewhere in the down, that I was suddenly...just right. Exactly the opposite of where I had been two hours before.
That's why I like writing. I can change my mind 18 different times, draft it out, erase it, rewrite it, and then draft it out again, only to cut that scene and write something completely different, and the shade of truth becomes a different shade of reality.
Maybe I'm just delirious.
It is 2 am, after all.
When I wake up again, I have to get back to ripping off the veneer and finding out what's been crawling under the surface in order to get at what matters.
In writing, it all matters.
Perfectly laid plans often go awry.
I'm relaxing in a hotel, prepared to write, but enjoying the coffee and the calm far too much to engage my brain deeply.
I'm violating all of the writer rules. I immersed myself in my story last week, and haven't been back to it in days. I'm going to lose my mojo, if I have not already.
But the coffee is good and the calm is quiet, and writing is really hard work.
How badly do I really want this? I want it badly. This blog may be my warmup. It may be my day. I'm not sure yet. But for another five minutes. I'm going to let William Faulkner's, Ernest Hemingway's, Stephen King's, and Michael Connelly's advice bits remind me of what I should be doing, until I'm ready to do it.
It's a beautiful morning. Maybe it's time to get cracking.
Peace out, homies. Have a good one, wherever you are.
The danger in using people you know and love or once loved as characters in your murder mystery is that you must analyze them...how would they speak, think, act? And what if they are considered a suspect or a culprit? It's a curious thing, this writing thing. I am dreading writing a scene between two people I care about very much, but I don't think I've made my audience care about them. I could write anything I wanted. I could make the audience hate them. I could make the audience love them, and weep when I kill them off. There is so much power in words. So much power in the art of storytelling. I love it.
But back to my point. Danger. People. Murder. Mystery. And the art of avoiding being sued. Dare I publish that on this blog? Does anyone read this blog any longer? I feel isolated, and the murder in my story is a fascinating way to examine that. Don't think I'm the victim. I'm actually a part of each and every single one of these characters. That is probably the most fascinating piece...that I do empathize with each of them. Each person contains a piece of me as the author. What a trip.
The End of December. That is my plan. You can buy it then. Hey. Maybe that's a great title.
Love you, boo. Have a great day, wherever you are.
Wanted: a good set of sentences to grab you from the depths of the internet. I keep trying to catch your eye.