Two of Swords

I really want to get back to my writing. Problem is, I’m not connecting with my material these days.

I’m never sure what to do about this sort of thing. I don’t think it’s writer’s block per se so much as me not feeling it. And in order to write well, I really do need to be emotionally invested in what I’m writing. After all, it would be easy to do a paint-by-numbers job and just construct the story, but (at least in my case) it wouldn’t be very good.

Now it’s often said that writers should just write, even when they don’t feel like it, and I do this a lot of times, but I usually don’t get very far. Not because I want it to be perfect (though it’d be nice if it were); I know the important thing is to get that draft out and then go rework it later. I just don’t have the steam to push through like that. I get restless and want to move around the room, find something else to do. It’s a weird sort of impatience, with myself or the work or both. So I often channel that energy into submitting things. Which, of course, only ups my impatience because then I have to wait for feedback and responses.

I love writing. But it’s a lot of work. And yet it’s even worse when I can’t write for whatever reason.

I will try.

My Writing Process

I sometimes get asked (as I’m sure many writers do) what my “writing process” is or involves. It’s rather complicated, actually. It involves a lot of daydreaming, usually while lying on my bed clutching my stuffed dog (a Patrick Puppy from FAO Schwartz).

Before you say, “Well, that sounds easy!” let me assure you it’s not. For one thing, I have a husband, three children, and a cat that seem to want or need me almost every second of the day, so finding enough minutes to string together for daydreaming is a trick in and of itself. And a lot of times I’m so tired, I can’t conjure anything to daydream about. And the daydreaming bit is crucial to the writing because after I get something worked out in my head, I go, well, write it.

Once I’ve got something well and truly underway, however, I can usually go sit at the computer–again, when I’ve scraped together the time–and work on it without needing long sessions on my bed or couch. It’s only when I hit a wall that I go back to the virtual drawing board and begin dreaming up new angles.

The next question is, I suppose, “But where do you get your ideas? How do you decide what to daydream about?” And that I really can’t answer except to say I gather these thoughts from everywhere and anywhere and weave them in my mind. It might be that I marry a song lyric to something I saw on the side of the road, or a line of dialogue pops into my head and I feel the need to build a circumstance around it. A horror story I never wrote because I really couldn’t bear to put it on paper was prompted by a weird drive during which the family and I drove through a small town and saw not a single soul, then turned onto a road that ended in some kind of family-owned smokehouse. Truly eerie. And I had this terrible thought that, if we were to go in there, they would take my baby (she was 8 or 9 months at the time) and turn her into sausage. I imagined her crying and–worse, far worse–the sudden stopping of that crying when they cut her throat. So you may see why I couldn’t write this, but there you have it, one of the places and situations that “inspired” me for good or ill. (And for the record, we turned around and left that town as quickly as we could, and we never did see a living soul.)

The final bit of my process is the hardest part. Whenever I finish something, I want to send it out right away. But of course it’s always better to wait, let the work simmer, then revisit and edit prior to sending it anywhere. Getting others to read it is an option, too; they may see things you don’t. Bottom line is: you want to send out a polished gem, not just-mined ore.

Teaser Tuesday: Queen of Kings

So it’s Teaser Tuesday again, which is when I open the book I’m currently reading and post two “teaser” sentences. I just finished Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson last night (the review is up on spooklights), so this is the next book I intend to pick up and read. It’s Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley. I’m a sucker for those Cleopatra books.

The teaser comes from page 115:

The woman was half snake.
“I hired you,” she said, too calmly, “and you left me.”

The American Version of Sherlock?

So I was reading my Daily Variety (and no, I won’t make fun of my husband’s inability to interpret the headlines–or even most of the articles’ content–due to jargon) and saw that TNT was working on a show called Enigma, which is “a modern-day Sherlock Holmes.” Haven’t I already seen this show somewhere?

Oh, yes. Yes, I have.

Well, Sherlock Holmes is public domain. But I wonder how closely the BBC and Steven Moffat and co. will be watching for potential infringement. It’s a murky area, I would think.

And where will they set this American version? New York maybe? Is that the closest we have to a London on this side of the Atlantic? Will the character even be named Sherlock Holmes, or was that just the general pitch for the show?

Curiouser and curiouser.

I don’t watch anything on TNT myself, but I may need to keep an eye on this one.

And so . . .

Another rejection today, this time for “Warm Bodies.” But they were nice about it, saying that it just didn’t fit in with the kinds of plays they publish. This publisher apparently focuses on the kinds of things kids do in school, and I can agree that “Warm Bodies” is a bit much for that crowd. However, I wish their website had been more clear about this, since it said they publish stuff for community theatres and such as well (which is exactly what I wrote “Warm Bodies” for). I will try it elsewhere.

It is difficult, though, not to get discouraged when it seems to be raining rejections. Some days I feel like I might never be successful on any front, no matter how hard I try.

Sparkfest

What book made you realize you were doomed to be a writer?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember and making up stories for longer than that. So I can’t really say which book did it for or to me. In fact, since I wanted mostly to be a screenwriter, it’s far more likely a movie or television show is the culprit.

What author set off that spark of inspiration for your current Work in Progress?
Right now I’m writing a stage play, and I’d say there’s a bit of Tennessee Williams in it, though I’m picturing a young Ewan McGregor as my lead, and I’d say that more than Williams is inspiring a lot of my choices.

I’m also working on a novella, and again I have an actor in mind as my main male character while drawing the female protagonist from personal experience.

Or, Is there a book or author that changed your world view?
Oooh. Neil Gaiman maybe? It’s funny because I read Dean Koontz and Stephen King for years and years–used to steal my daddy’s paperbacks–and they were very dark and strange and gave me a lot to think about (Twilight Eyes, Lightning, and The Dark Half pop into my mind here). BUT . . . It wasn’t until I started reading Gaiman that I sort of learned how to look at things a bit differently.

Fandom Meme

Here is a random form of procrastination on my part; I should actually be working on my play. But this little meme is a fun way to look at fandoms, of which I have many, not all of them represented here.

The one who seduced you, screwed you over, broke your heart in a million pieces, and laughed about it:
The X-Files probably. It started out so well, and I was so loyal, and then . . . then it just fell apart as it became increasingly clear that Chris Carter either didn’t know what he was doing, was mentally unstable, or both.

The old flame you don’t see very often any more but whom you still really enjoy getting together with for a few drinks and maybe a pleasant nostalgic romp:
Highlander: The Series. (My college nickname was Methos for a reason.) Every now and then I just really need to go watch an old episode of it.

The mysterious dark one whom you used to sit up with talking until 3 AM at weird coffee houses and with whom you were quite smitten until you realized s/he really was fucking crazy:
Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic book series. Friends in college introduced us and boy did we stay up late together! But yeah, pretty fucking crazy.

The one you spent a whole weekend in bed with and who drank up all your liquor and whom you’d still really like to get with again, although you’re relieved s/he doesn’t actually live in town:
I’m not sure I have one of these. At a stretch I’d say Gone with the Wind or the BBC Pride and Prejudice, either of which I’ve been known to curl up with when I’m sick or depressed. Neither is really the type to drink all my liquor, though.

The steady:
Sherlock Holmes. In various incarnations, but you have to understand that I was predestined to be a fan because of my father, who probably would have named me Sherlock if (a) I’d been male and (b) my mother would have allowed it. In fact, criterion (a) may not have been a prerequisite. My father loves Sherlock Holmes, and when the film Young Sherlock Holmes hit theatres, I fell in love, too. I used to watch it EVERY DAY after school. This is not an exaggeration. I would pop the VHS in while I did my homework. My best friend and I would play Sherlock Holmes. My nickname was Sherlock. I’d watch the Jeremy Brett series with my dad. I have an extensive library of Sherlockiana. To date my car’s license plate is SHRLCK. He trumps everything else.

The alluring stranger whom you’ve flirted with at parties but have never gotten really serious with:
The original Torchwood series. I’ve watched some and would like to watch some more but haven’t got around to it.

The one you hang out with and have vague fantasies about maybe having a thing with, but ultimately you’re just good buddies:
Bones. I love this show but don’t have that all-consuming passion for it.

The one your friends keep introducing you to and who seems like a hell of a cool person except it’s never really gone anywhere:
The Terry Pratchett Discworld books. I’ve tried, but we just can’t get our relationship off the ground.

The one who’s slept with all your friends, and you keep looking at them and thinking, “How the hell did they land all these cool people?”
The Twilight books. For the love of God, I can’t figure out why so many of my friends find them “hot.” I read the first two but gave up after that. I didn’t find any kind of chemistry with the books.

The one who gave you the best damned summer of your life and against whom you measure all other potential partners:
Any number of Steven Spielberg movies could be inserted here. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade really set the tone for me, but even before that, Young Sherlock Holmes (as mentioned above). And after all that, Jurassic Park. These are all films as opposed to real fandoms, but they were the building blocks of my hopes, dreams and goals as well.

The one you recently met at a party and would like to get to know better:
I’m only just now catching up with all the previous Doctor Who series. Not the really old ones–my dad used to watch those and I sometimes watched with him–but starting with the 2005 reboot. We’re just now coming to the end of David Tennant’s reign and the launch of the current incarnation (Matt Smith).

The old flame that you wouldn’t totally object to hooking up with again for a one night romp if only they’d clean up a bit:
ST:TNG maybe? Now that I can watch all the eps via Netflix streaming, we can have fun again. Alas, it’s sad that the show hasn’t held up to the test of time a bit better. Back when it aired, wow! But we’ve come a long way in production values since then.

Your hot new flame:
Sherlock.

The one who stole your significant other:
He doesn’t do fandom like I do. And he doesn’t really watch anything I don’t watch too.

Another Teaser Tuesday

In case you missed it last time I did this (and I don’t always remember to do it every Tuesday), this one comes from Should Be Reading. The object here is to pick up your current read, open to a random page, and post two teaser sentences–but no spoilers!

I just finished The Ghost and am now finishing up Bespelling Jane Austen, which has four pseudo-adaptations of Austen’s work recast with paranormal elements. I opened at random to page 128, the story “Northanger Castle” by Colleen Gleason. Here, then, are the two teaser sentences:

She tried to settle in her seat and even to watch the play, but Caroline could not keep her thoughts from wandering hither and yon. She must investigate, if only to ease her own mind.

And After All That . . .

I’ve gotten very little writing done the past couple days. Been so busy with life and children, and getting over a cold at the same time. Hopefully I’ll get back into the swing, soon. I’ve still got people waiting for more Sherlock besides . . .

The news from London also has me feeling sad. I love London and would live there if I could; as it is, I try to go regularly to get writing done because I find London has good vibe for my creativity. And everyone there is always so nice to me, despite my being a stupid American. So I hate to think of that beautiful city having such a difficult time.

Oh, and then I’ve been trying Google+ but I can’t find any use for it so far. Nothing that Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn don’t do for me. I mean, I’m supposedly part of a G+ writing circle, but the feedback is weak. Maybe I need better members or whatever. I guess I have found G+ okay as a news aggregate. But then there’s just so much junk that fills the streams too. Maybe I’m doing it wrong. If so, the interface should be more intuitive.

On the Road

It’s difficult for me to write at home. With three kids, interruptions abound. My husband also has a tendency to wander in and out of the room, and I can’t write when other people are around. All in all it means slow progress in the home office.

Which is why I like to take trips to go and write. Alone. I actually really enjoy traveling solo, and the fact that it facilitates my writing is sort of a bonus. A long weekend here and there can be good (I’ll be in NYC August 26-28), but to hammer out something longer–a first draft of something–I really need two weeks to a month at least. This is often difficult to schedule, but so worth it. And I can do the bite-size work of editing and polishing while at home.

As it stands now, I plan to be back in London at the end of February to mid-March. But it seems like such a long wait! In the meantime, I’ll try and try to squeeze out the words as well as focus on sending stuff out to publishers.