The Restless and Ranting Writer Part II

I just needed a little push out the door...

I just needed a little push out the door…

Writing really is an ironic task. We want to tell stories and connect to people’s lives but the process of doing so usually means working alone. Without speaking we create words and conversations, describe scenes and journeys, and if we’re lucky, explain a little piece of the human condition. Blogging is one of the great oxymorons: we connect to the world socially without ever leaving our writing place. No wonder writers can become such maladroit companions.

Writing may be a solitary task, but writers need community. I tweeted that out last week after I realized that what was making me so frustrated was the solitude I had confined myself to. Even Bilbo had to step out of his shady hobbit hole to move his life into a new adventure.  Sure, I’ve shared in brief writing communities-too expensive conventions filled with promises from some in the publishing world, homegrown critique groups that gave way to life. I’d had little success because I didn’t venture much.   I’d like to make it to that dragon horde of success but first I needed a little push out of the door of my own dusty hovel.

After digitally lamenting my fate, a writer friend reminded me by her own efforts that actively seeking community makes a difference. Despite the fog of media, there are still ways to make connections and at times meet face to face. My search-engine fires stoked, I found a local writer’s group to meet up with and ventured out. I felt like I’d just taken a gulp of air after swimming laps underwater in the pool. I wondered where I’d been all my life. Will it cost money? A little. Take time? You bet. Is it one of the best things I’ve done for myself since I can’t remember when? Yes times one thousand.

Those folks in the middle ages had the right idea. If you worked a craft, you belonged to a guild.   You met with others to hone your craft, share ideas, swap success stories, cry about failures, and spur each other to keep on keeping on (they probably said “thou must keepeth oneth” though). It’s why we geeks trek to conventions-to meet with others of like minds (and costumes). If I’m willing to do that, what was holding me back from the one craft I’ve always clung to for identity? I’m not sure. But I am glad that I decided to stop along the way of my journey to get published and find some travelers to keep me company. I’m sure it’ll make the road seem shorter now.

 

P.S. If you want to follow me on Twitter, find me @CHthewriter.

P.S.S. Shout out to my hubby who was a great editor for this post!

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The Restless (and Ranting) Writer

Ever feel like you’re just not in “the club?” I’m feeling downright ranty about the closed door of the publishing world today. Even as a member of a professional writing association, I’m the unchosen at kickball. Critique groups in your area: Click to page. Scroll. Open to new members? No. Or maybe if you send us a sample of your writing and we decide you might fit our writing style. What? Now I have to query to join a critique group? $#%##!&%$#.

Okay, I feel better now. Sorry you had to see that.

Writing is hard. Darn it, it’s a slow, lonely, frustrating, beautiful and very individual process. It’s even harder if you *gasp* write fantasy.

I’m trying to be in the trenches but I’m often overwhelmed by this social media world that demands that I connect on every share your stuff site, do cool things and take pics of my amazingly pinable creativity, snark my way into the hearts of millions, and lead a life besides all this. Can I just go into my little hole, create, then come up with a precious gem that I’ve hacked out of the earth after years of refining?  I don’t know.  I’m told writers need a brand.  But I wonder if my particular cereal will ever sell.  When I say I’ve had some great rejection letters from agents, my non-writing friends look at me like I’m crazy.  But even good rejection wears on the soul.

Conflicting information abounds in the “How to Get Published” circus. Don’t compare your book to other books in your pitch; give an editor or agent a comp (comparison) so that they can get a quick idea of how your book is like what’s already selling. Include a synopsis; a synopsis is evil! I’m not making this up people! but I’m trying to stop my head from a get-out-the-holy-water-spin-fest.

I have writer friends in the area and right now I feel like I need to do what my daughter does with stuffed animals: pull all of them close to my face and smother my sweet little cheeks into their softness. I need a giant support/critique group hug. I should be noveling right now but that pesky writer’s itch has struck again. And despite my Gollum-like love-hate for social media, I get sucked in because it’s easier to watch other people’s stories than to write your own. It’s easier to say “it’ll never happen” than to hunker down and do it.

That said, there’s a tenacity that I and perhaps most writers have and after these periods, be they long or short, we slap ourselves in the proverbial face, dust off our fingers and type, scribe, tap or speak our way out of a “woe is me” slump. Even if it’s a paragraph and it isn’t that good. Because somebody, someday might read my words. And that makes it all worth it.

 

Here’s a brief bit of something I’ve been working on. Comments are welcome.

 

“The Faceless,” Wynn whispered to Finn. “They’re after me.”

Finn’s eyes grew wide and she redoubled her speed, pulling hard on the ropes with other sailors to unfurl the main sail. The ship began to glide away from the wooden slats and posts, its ropes dangling in the seawater.   “Jonah!” Finn cried, pointing to the end of the dock.

The Faceless were crowding onto the dock, their ceaseless walking undeterred by cries from other sailors. Most backed away but didn’t run. The Faceless weren’t interested in them. They advanced down the long boardwalk, hands at their sides, blank faces turned toward their prey.

Wynn felt cold pinpricks all over her body.   The pirates kept hurrying around the deck, lashing ropes and encouraging sails to collect wind. Balton, at the helm, kept his gaze on the horizon, guiding them out of port at a snail’s pace.

“We’ll never make it,” muttered Wynn. She backed up to the hold, hitting the knobs of the doors to the captain’s quarters with her back. She watched, helplessly as Jonah untied the last of the mooring ropes. The Faceless were within feet.

The Captain unsheathed his sword and swung at the Faceless as the nearest grasped at his throat. His blade cut right through its hand, dropping it with a thud to the dock. The creature made no sound and no blood ran from the wound. Wynn found this more terrifying than seeing the gore of severed flesh. The rest of the Faceless horde converged on Jonah. He swung madly but deftly, chopping limbs and kicking their bodies back, but they kept moving, like slugs over a log, toward the ship’s ropes.

“Haul in the lines!” Finn cried.

Jonah struggled, visibly tired as he fended off the Faceless bodies. He fell back against the dock, pressed down by two of the creatures. Others wrenched his sword from his hand and flung it clattering back down the dock. Jonah kicked and thrashed, but they held him fast. The Faceless not holding Jonah began to jump into the water and swim out to the Sleep in a steady track.

Suddenly, one of the Faceless holding Jonah slumped over, a dagger protruding from the back of its neck. Jonah struggled against the other, flipping both of them off the dock and into the sea. For endless moments, nothing surfaced until the Captain broke, gasping, to the surface.

Happy Birthday America

Enjoy your Independence Day.

Enjoy your Independence Day.