Monday, January 25, 2010

More questions

Y'know, the whole blog thing is just a morass and murky swamp of talking about yerself.  This is not -- despite abundant evidence to the contrary -- my favorite activity. I feel like Dickinson's dreary public frog.

So. More Questions and more Answers.

5) Any advice for unpublished writers?

Don't give up. Do work you're proud of. Have faith in yourself.

Sit down and write. Do it hour after hour, even when you think you're not producing good stuff.

And what is going to sound like contradicting those comments above --
Take joy in what you do.

6) What's next in this series?

Forbidden Rose will be out June 1. That's Maggie and Doyle's story. They meet during the French Revolution, at the height of the Terror.

7) Does she plot out the whole series first?

When I see this, I think, immediately, of Dorothy Dunnett. You look at the first scene of the first book of her House of Niccolo series and it is perfectly obvious Dunnett knew what was going to happen in the last scene of Book Eight.

I am not doing that,
on so many levels.

But, then, I'm not writing a series of books that tells a single story, so I don't have to plan out a whole story.
Instead, I'm basing distinct and separate stories in the same fictive universe. My characters intersect, not because one story leads to another, but because the 'world' I'm writing about is very small.


  1. Alas, this is the consequence of having an admiring bog. ;) I rather like the idea of being part of a bog. It makes me feel all deep and mysterious.

  2. @ Annie --

    Bogs are deep and nutrient rich and last for geological ages. Much to be said for bogs.

    My favorite bog, of course, is the Looooosiana Bayou. A frog starts croaking its name and it's gator bait prettydamnquick.
    I shall take this lesson to heart.

  3. Kidding aside, it's very generous of you to answer so many of your readers' questions. Even if I never try my hand at writing fiction, I still benefit from these glimpses into your creative process. To switch from the bog metaphor, it's a little like taking a music appreciation course. While it won't turn you into a musician, it makes listening to music richer. And occasionally you find yourself thinking about piano lessons.

  4. Thanks for these posts. I really enjoy your "Technical Topics' posts too. Upon reading the POV links, I realize that I am still swimming on the surface a bit, caught in the net of language.

    I'm eager for the time when I am free of that self consciousness and able to really drop into my characters. Really be in their skin, like you say. It helps to have the process broken down in to learnable portions, as you did in the exercises. Thank you for linking it.

  5. One more thing about the exercises- I appreciate the technique of it. When I think 'Now I am going to be in my characters skin' I get a weird feeling in my OWN skin- kind of numb and tingling at once. Frustration, maybe. But to just write it out- the 'off stage' bits- that makes it easier for me. Maybe because it puts me back into language again, out of this vague sense of 'feeling'.

    Of course there is a lot of identifying with our chara as we write them, write their dialogue. But I know there is another layer there, that 'je ne sais quoi' that makes books burst with life. I feel that way about your books, which is why I haunt your blog, wondering what the trick is.

    Still, I am thinking it is an element of relaxation in the writer, a freedom from the constant doubt and worry and always trying. The ability to sit in the chair and just feel without the mind.

    Interesting to me, because I wrote a lot earlier in life- university and after. Then I left it behind for a while to study mediation and yoga. To learn to quiet the mind, to be and feel from some other place. Now, here I am, back at the same quandary. Language and objectifiers and mind and fear.

    Truly, I hope to be published not only because I love to write, but because I am so enamored of the process, the self learning that comes with it. I would love to have the opportunity to grow and evolve and understand this great mystery, the imagination.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me take up your blog space to think this all out ;-)

  6. @ Annie --

    I think I am missing that part of my brain that can read and enjoy and analyze all at the same time. I'm a can't-pat-my-head-and-rub-my-tummy-at-the-same-time type.

    When I read and I'm immersed in story, I don't think about the process of writing. My critical facility is not engaged.

    And then, when I'm reading a work to learn from it, I can't get 'into' the story.

    This is so unfair. But it gives me an excuse to read good books over a few times.

  7. @ LL --

    I'm glad you like the Technical Topics. I feel as though I should be writing about stuff of more general interest than these little niggles about writing, but somehow I never do.

    There's a definite 'taking your mind to another place' aspect to creating fiction. At least, there is in my own process.
    The exercises I reference are . . . I guess they're kinda 'doorways' into the writer's world.

    You are quite right. The first step is to let go of the self-doubt and self-consciousness. Those hags are always on your shoulder. Always clawing at your liver. Always cawing away in your ear.

    And I am somewhat sensitive to reviews. The knowledge somebody's going to read this is almost paralyzing.

    But there is an endless comfort in telling yourself stories. You can escape into the fictive world in the same way you escape into dreams as you're falling asleep.

    In the JUSTINE manuscript I'm doing the initial visualizing. It's almost scary to go to some of these places.

    Words and pictures emerge. Where do they come from?
    Little things, like the hole in the wall being way up high so Adrian makes a cup of his hand and the kids can get through.
    Big things, like Adrian being forceful and insistent, making love.

    Writing is like mediation with a landscape and characters, maybe. Or being somewhat crazy, in a self-directed way.