Do you write better during the good times or the bad times?

During bad times, some writers seem to pour out a more substantial amount of work. If the pain and heartache are authentically transformed on the page, the work touches readers.

Some writers in history seemed to have sought out heartache and drama through alcohol, affairs, or other. As if their creative bent fed off their self induced suffering.

But a writer needs to produce when things go well, don’t you think?

I’ve heard of many “one-hit wonders.” Their first novel, fraught with the strain of life’s challenges, zings. But then, sitting back with their big, fat check, they are unable to produce.

My hardest times are relieved through poetry. As if words are squeezed out in some sort of rhythm that requires the concise, mystical format of a poem.

But I recall good times, great times, when my writing poured out too – the excitement of new challenges on the horizon lit up the page.

What do you think? Do you write better in good times or bad times?

Compliment Collage

We sit back, in hard times, and wonder – why do I do this?

Most of us write because we’re driven to by the tales and characters percolating over in our brains. We might go absolutely mad if we didn’t let it out somehow!

Compliments are rare in this line of work. Sometimes people will say they liked the book or give a good review, but it’s really very nice to receive an email like this:

“I also wanted to say that your story is very beautifully written and so impactful. I’m grateful to have read it.”

Isn’t that beautiful? Thank you. Thank you.

And, then today,

By the way, I really liked your story. It had an Edgar Allen Poe vibe.”

Woo hoo! Anyone who knows me understands that I am a Poe fan! I’ve written about, lectured on, and have done my own Poe – Cation

This particular story has not been released yet. “Ghost in Her Room” will be published in Dreamers this summer.

Hold on to those compliments, ladies and gentlemen! I think we need to post them, highlight them, make a giant collage and put it next to our desks for when motivation escapes us.

Summer Goals

I know we make new year’s goals, some of which we keep. This year, however, I decided to make summer goals.

Write everyday

Draw everyday

More yoga

Get out more – now that we’re out of quarantine

Start my back burner projects

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s a good start.

SMART Goals need to be specific, so I learned in the Psychology of Motivation class I took last semester. I’ll work on specificity as well as the other things noted in the YouTube video.

I would love to hear other people’s goals!

Welcome to the world of participation trophies, self publishing, and mediocrity.

I saw a post in one of the writers’ groups. It read something like, “Editing is so expensive, is it really that important?”

Welcome to the world of participation trophies, self publishing, and mediocrity.

I have NOTHING against self publishing (or even participation trophies); however, there are many people who point to these as the problem creating people who don’t try, who don’t work for what they want, who don’t even try to shine.

Yes, there are published books, even from the big 5 publishers, with errors, and author’s cringe because authors work at their craft. They spend weeks and months reading over their WIP thousands of times. Their beta readers read it. Their editors edited it. They rewrote, and edited, edited, and edited for it to be letter perfect. At no time, do any of the authors I know, sit back and say, “eh, does the editing really matter?”

That’s where the real work takes place. That’s writing. Putting words on paper is only the very first part of the job.

The short answer is “yes, editing matters!” Do it yourself or spend the money.

There is far too much crap out there to sift through. If it is not something you feel will shine, win awards, of which you can be proud, put it in your bottom drawer. You can still tell people you’re a writer and your opus is in progress.

A fondness for 4am

4am

The world is different at night. Those early morning hours before the sun rises, it seems no one is awake, no one is moving around ready for the world.

Even if you live in a big city. Maybe you hear some far off traffic. A train somewhere in the distance. Still it seems the world is your private microcosm.

There’s not much one can do at 4am. There are no appointments to keep. No errands to run. No one to call. Polite society (and even maybe not so polite society) are, too, in their own little secular places.

It’s quiet, mostly. It’s serene. The crickets are quieting. The birds are stretching.

All there is to do is reflect, to write, to enjoy the chill in the pre-dawn air, and the peace that has not yet been disturbed.

It’s a special time for us, artists, writers, thinkers to belong. We are separate but together.

I’ll (not) see you there.

Time for a good book burning?

What do you do with all those old notebooks? journals? piles of notes?

How long should we keep them? forever?

I guess, there’s different things here. My old notes and notebooks full of ideas are floating in various places, saved for that some day I might mine them for good ideas.

Yet, there are other types of journals and notebooks – our personal ones. Does anyone every throw those away? burn them?

One woman told me she was sorry she threw hers away. She’d like other people to see them, read them, understand they weren’t alone in their thoughts and feelings.

Certainly, that is why I write. However, that is not why I keep a journal. And those journals, over the years, have piled up. I have nightmare images of my daughters reading them after I’ve passed, wondering if they should have committed me.

There’s probably some good mining that could go on in them, but I don’t want to reread them. They are the past, dark things best left there – aren’t they? Or do I use them, dredge things up, use them to add authenticity to my writing?

There’s plenty of me in my writing, my fiction. Need I add more? Or do I destroy the evidence?

I like ’em short

I’ve been reading and writing novel length works lately. I belong to a few online book groups and people are always posting great reviews of this book or that. Sometimes I pick them up, sometimes I like them. It’s hard for me to find that book that hits the sweet spot – the perfect mix of good writing and a good story.

I love the exceptional use of language. That’s a talent.

In my literature and writing classes, I use Best American Short Stories. I chanced upon an old copy the other day. I read half of the first story and felt engaged, awakened!

Picking up the book of short stories immediately energized me with ideas for short fiction.

The joy of reading a short story happens because they’re tight, no nonsense needed, straight to the point, well written and excellently executed niblets of fiction.

The joy of writing a short story is the challenge. The point, the characters, the setting all expertly set up in concise wording in a small period of time. The use of language is easier to control, the beauty and rhythm easier to accomplish.

I once belonged to a short story group. It was so gratifying to read the short fiction. If you didn’t like what someone chose, you could still read the ten or twenty pages and talk about it. It’s not 300 pages of silently cursing your book group.

So… I’m going to recommend some books of short fiction. Of course, I recommend the Best American Short Story Series. Wonderful writing by newbies and scholars alike!

And mine: But also – I’m a huge fan of Jo Rousseau and Ron Terranova.

Jo Rousseau and Ron Terranova also have websites/blog. Stop by and check them out!

Recharge, Recover, Release.

Recharge, Recover, Release

There are all kinds of tired. Some of which I sleep well, some of which I do not.

Sometimes I’m physically tired. I worked out. I hiked. I did enough manual labor to make my body exhausted. I sleep well on these nights.

There’s mentally tired. My brain wore out from working facts and figures into some sort of rhythmic sense in my world. Sometimes, on these nights, I do not sleep well. I’m disturbed, wondering if it formed into a smooth shape of being.

Then there’s emotionally tired. Dealing with people – angry, upset, unhappy, or even large groups of chaotic masses wear me out. I do not sleep well on these nights. I toss and turn, trying to work out the ugly aura left around me.

But – I never get any of those types of tired from writing. Writing is recharging, recovering, releasing. I let go of the day, the facts and figures, the angry masses, the physical exhaustion, and I’m able to create something that is life giving, soul soothing, and has meaning.

Writing is a way of living free from outside infections.

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Similar Topics:

Create to Relieve Pain

The Healing Power of Story

Healing Through Writing

The Haunting Effects of Childhood

I have refrained for the most part from talking about my family here or on social media. Family issues are a little taboo to talk about in public. Some people let it all hang out, others post angry messages and complaints, others take revenge by posting private messages or other things in regards to the family member with whom they are upset.

We’ve probably all had to deal with this at one point or another given social media and the desire for attention that it brings.

But if I am putting myself out there and trying to be as authentic as possible, I have to tell you I have family issues that go for miles and miles and miles. Books have not been written because no one would read anything so long and repetitive.

The very reason I seek joy and serenity these days is because my childhood was filled with incredible chaos. I back away from anyone who has a flair for dramatics that involve unpredictable antics. I will never go back and relive those days.

The problem most people face is repeating patterns because there is comfort in the familiar, even if it’s crazy.

But not for me. I start shaking. I get ill. I can not handle the chaos or the craziness.

The very sad thing is that some of my family members have not broken those patterns. Many people I knew from childhood passed too young. Some have chosen a path of chemical denial. Many have served time for their errors. Some continue those behaviors.

I got out. And I am thankful for that every day.

When one gets out, however, there is always an effort to drag them back in, drag them back down.

When I was young, considering college, considering change, one of my mother’s friends said, “Sounds like someone thinks she’s better than us.”

That wasn’t it. I wasn’t better than them. I just wanted more or maybe something different.

There are times I have experienced backlash. Harassing phone calls and text messages, threats and name calling – I continue to try to back away, block, lose those from my past who want to drag me down with them.

It’s been 30 years and 3000 miles. The past doesn’t want to let me go. The past, or those in it, are angry that they’ve been left behind in a misery of their own making.

ghost1

Change is hard. Change is scary. It needs to be continually worked. Some people are not up to the task, they don’t know where to begin, so they lash out at those who somehow found a way.

While my childhood most likely inspired my desire to write, and the chaos does lend fodder for writing, the craziness haunts. It’s a ghost whose touch, long and unyielding, chills me still.

Someday, there will be a book.

Passion Comes in Waves

Writing is like passion, coming in bursts, wrapping us up, and pulling us forward toward some unknown destination.

Untended passion wanes, loses it’s spark, leaves us alone on the beach, gazing at the sand.

Commitment to job and kids and groceries seems so mundane in comparison with that flow that drags us away from life and onto better places, but we pay that so much more mind. We have to work, and kids have to be fed, and groceries need to be bought.

If only we could commit to that passion, carve out those wee hours, those tiny moments, hidden away from responsibility and live our lives enthralled and in love with that story, poem, act of writing it all out.

Passion can not survive on promises of some day. Passion thrives on action. Write. Write. Write like there’s no tomorrow and no day will ever be wasted.

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Check out other entries:

Your Journal is Important

The Myth of Writer’s Block

The Healing Power of Writing