Descending into Madness…

logo1-the-descent-into-madnessSometimes, that’s what writing feels like.

I recently finished a particularly difficult story. I’d written it over the summer. Then life happened, and while I wrote here and there and started new things, finished other things, submitted, and even came back to this story repeatedly, it refused to be finished.

This story became the terrible twos who kept throwing a spoon down on the floor and crying for me to pick it up only to throw it down again.

When my real children did this – I left the spoon on the floor and shrugged, “guess you’re using your fingers now,” but you can’t do that with a story, huh?

But what you can do with the story – as with all writing – is keep showing up. That’s what I did. I kept putting that story in front of me and trying to work out of the kinks. We can’t give up the story when it gets hard.

One of my favorite stories is one Stephen King tells about Carrie. I’m paraphrasing here: His wife found Carrie in the trash and brought it back to him, saying something to the effect, you can’t stop just because it got hard.

(of course these are the days when we used typewriters or notebooks and were able to physically put those in the trash and not just click delete, which, by the way, don’t ever do!  Ignore the story, put it elsewhere, but don’t delete it!)

And I’ve read/heard the above King/Carrie story a few different ways, so it may not be exact; however, the point is – You can’t give up a story because it’s hard.

Even if the story never gets published – I learned something by writing it, by sticking it out.

The new term in student success is “Grit.”  (I know, it’s also an old John Wayne movie). It alludes to the idea that the students who struggle and push through who will become a successful student and graduate. It applies across the board – school, life, and definitely writing! (Not surprisingly, to that movie as well).

I recall another story I’d had a particularly challenging time with. And just when I thought it was finished – the dreaded blue screen!  It was gone. Memory wiped. I gave it a few weeks (and a long weekend in New Orleans) and came back at it.  “Psychic Surprise Party” was published six months later in The Oleander Review. (It will be republished in May online).

Even if this one is never published, I learned something by doing it. I’ve learned something in all of these not-yet-published stories and poems. We are writers. We are driven to write. It is our little corner of the puzzle-solving-world in which we exist.

The next one might be easier. And maybe it’s smilethis challenging one that will push something out of the way for the next one. Maybe the next one will be difficult too, but we’re going somewhere, learning something – keep pushing through.

That’s what makes us writers.

And we’re all a little mad here…..

 

 

 

 

 

Author to Author Interview – Welcome to Ann Harrison-Barnes

Tell the readers a little about yourself:

My name is Ann Harrison-Barnes, I am the proud single mother of a beautiful little girl. I’ve been blind from birth. I love spending time with my family and playing with my nieces and nephew, when I’m not reading, listening to podcasts, writing or crocheting.

Tell us a little about your writing – genre, publications, etc.

I write Christian fiction with a bit of mystery and suspense. I guess you could call my first full-length novel a Christian mystery. I have also written a children’s book and I’m working on a few others. I’ve not only published my own books through Amazon KDP, two of which are licensed under the Electric Eclectic Books brand, but I have been featured in four anthologies. Three of which are online, and one I’m figuring out how to offer as a giveaway. One of my books is a small short story collection that has a bit of everything. I am currently working on revisions for a how to book for aspiring authors who want to self-publish their own books through KDP

Do you have a favorite character, story, setting that you’ve created?

My favorite novelette is called Inner Vision, an Electric Eclectic book. I loved adding a bit of mystery, intrigue and a bit of romance to this Christian fiction story.

How long have you been writing?

Well, that’s a hard question to answer, because I started when I was in fourth grade, then I dabbled in it when I was in high school, but to be honest with you, I have been writing professionally for over eight years now.

What was and is your motivation for writing?

After I suffered emotional abuse from my first husband, I had dreams of climbing. And I turned to music. Those dreams gave me the inspiration and motivation to write A Journey of Faith: a Stepping Stones Mystery. Since then, I have been compelled to write stories and novels to share the message of God’s love through entertainment.

What do you hope readers walk away with after they’ve read something you’ve written?

Each book has its own special message, for example, I hope that people get the message that they shouldn’t give up on their life long dreams. I hope they learn to face their fears and not let fear hold them back from doing the things they love, when they read A Journey of Faith.

What is the biggest challenge your blindness has presented in your writing?

Adding photos to blog posts, formatting my books, creating covers, and sometimes having the necessary funds to seek the services of an editor. As for marketing, transportation to events can be a challenge.

What do you believe or hope your writing future holds?

I hope that I can at least touch the life of one person through my writing. If I can  bring them closer to God or give them a brief moment to allow their inner child to be fondly remembered through my Children’s books, then I’ve done my job. If I take on professional clients, I hope to give them high-quality work. However, I also want to find writing jobs that I know I’ll enjoy.

Please visit my website for more about me and my books. While you’re there, be sure to hop on over to my blog.

https://annwritesinspiration.com

Thank you, Ann! Best of luck to you!

Food for Flow

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Scientists have discovered some foods are better for creativity than others. Some of those foods, Avocados, Coconuts, and Almonds have a high fat content but with what is often referred to “healthy fats”, which creates feelings of happiness and the desire to act.

I do notice that my flow is much better when I keep a healthier diet, and I do eat these types of foods pretty regularly.

Do you notice any difference in your creative juices depending on what you eat? If you never paid attention before, try it. Let me know if you sense a difference.

Writing is easy?

One of my favorite quotes:

newyear

Because, sometimes, it feels like that!

What’s your favorite quote?

Why I Write

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The second part of the statement of poetics written many years ago included the reason I write.

Of the many reasons I write, comes the desire for order.

Life is chaotic. Many things are not only out of our control, which I can live with, but happen without explanation; the lack of reasoning is challenging for me to accept.

Sometimes I write stories to understand. Therefore, I write stories to order my universe. To put life in terms I can understand.

I read a story many years ago about a child who died from cancer. How does such a precious gift leave us so soon? I wrote a fairy tale called Seeds (never published). The story could never explain or give an answer to such a sad happening, but it did give life to a little girl I never knew.

Of all the reasons you write, can you narrow it down to one or two? Share here or one of the social media accounts.

A Statement of Poetics

newyearA few months ago, I found some things I wrote years ago. Among the stories and poetry hid my statement of poetics. As a requirement for one class, we needed to construct a formal (maybe semi-formal, we were all creative writers) statement of our values as integrated into our writing. That’s the simple definition. A statement needs to include your desire for your writing, your intention.

I resisted this assignment. It’s rather challenging to label yourself, pin your writing down. However, I knew I had to do it for myself – to discover what it was I believed of my creative abilities.

One of the things from that statement stuck with me, even when I thought I’d lost it.

“If left to my own devices, I would hermatize.

I would be the strange lady in the old shanty down the street

who wanders her Munster-looking yard by moonight kicking at sticks,

overturning last fall’s leaves in search of new ideas or an old peace of mine.”

Of course, it was not my intention to hermatize; it’s a part of my personality to want to be left alone to write.

What it reminds me of is Virginia Woolf’s proclamation in A Room of One’s Own in which she surmises, we need a room of our own in which to think, write, create.

That was written 90 years ago, but the statement is truer than ever.

Given social media, television, cell phones, kids, work, responsibility and life, we are newyearmore distracted than ever! Many of us writers need to actively seek out a quiet space where we will not be hunted down and found out.

And we need to learn to pry ourselves away from those other things which are so important to us – kids, family, work – to form a little space for ourselves.

My intention for 2019 is to seek out that space and to carve out some time for myself to write.

Happy New Year, writers.

What is your intention for 2019?

 

Writing Wednesday – STRESS!

stress

One of the worst types of writer’s block is caused by stress.

I like to roll out of bed and get straight to writing before any other distraction or activity comes up. I find that I work better and longer if I push everything else away until a manageable time. However, I find stress takes me completely out of my writing brain.

Where I can stop for breakfast, talk to friends or family, or even keep an appointment and get back to writing, when I’m stopped by a stressful event or activity I find it extremely difficult to do any work.

The good thing is that it takes a lot to get me to that level of stress; however, that’s not so Stressed-Brainfor many writers. Besides the littlest distractions causing problems for many writers, any stress weighing on a writer can keep them from being productive. One of the elements of stress is the inability to focus on anything else – it is the most distracting distraction a writer can face. Stress causes us to avoid things – things like writing!

If you’re experiencing something like this and can’t get on track with your writing, you need to ask yourself what is happening in the background of your life. It depends on each individual’s ability to handle stress, but it could be a small thing like a car problem or a large thing like a family problem. These things wreak havoc with our ability to be productive.

Again, my cure for this is to focus first on my writing and, second, on anything else. Cures for others might be similar. Block out the stress and focus on the writing – this could be a way of de-stressing. Creating a time to worry about problems is an age old recommendation. Years ago, someone told me “plan ten minutes before bedtime to worry.” I, personally, prefer before sleep and after waking to be the least stressful times. But it could still work – schedule your worry time like we all should schedule our writing time. Or, give yourself time to solve that problem, and realize if it’s something you can not solve and let it go.

stress2Let it go! If it is a stress we have no power over that is the only answer. It will pass. Focus on the writing, that you can control!

I like the quote “you can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” That’s what we have to remember. We can choose to stress about problems that we can’t immediately solve, or we can choose to use our writing as a distraction from that stress.

If you’ve found anything that’s worked for you, please post it in the comments!

 

 

 

 

Next week – decision making and writing.