Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Writing for Real

I went out the other night with a couple writer friends. One of the things we talked about is where all of us are in our book writing endeavors.

Almost word-for-word, I said:

Every time I sit down to work on book 3 in my Shaw McLeary mystery series I give the finger to my laptop.

Yeah. Kind of been like that lately.

But saying that out loud got me thinking about what I'm doing with my writing life and, after flipping it off repeatedly, how I spend my days since I stopped all progress on the series.

Tweets, blog posts, and a brand new book are all on the daily docket. Yea, new things!

I love writing those things and that’s terrific but what about where I left my audience hanging in the last Shaw book? That phone call? The possibility of a relationship? Her trip to Seattle?

What happens if I just can’t bring myself to write it? What if I feel like giving the book the finger every day of its existence and I don’t release one single title this year?

If I leave the series in the dust and move forward with all of my exciting, new, shiny work instead, what happens to Shaw, JJ, Danny, Krista, Shaw’s sister and mom? Do they languish out there in the abyss for the rest of their un-finished lives?

In short? Yes.

So here’s a few things I need to face facts about:

1. Life isn't fair.
2. I’m being a pansy.
3. Boo hoo I have to do work I don't feel like doing...

Said every employee ever.

However, this is where the unique part of my job comes into play. I'm not really an employee.

Self-publisher, self-employed, indie author means I do actually get to choose what kind of writing I do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. I get to be inspired and write things that I love. Be floofy! Play with my inner self-ness!

And of course I never have to worry about people forgetting about me and my writing because I take so long to release a book. Oh, and the other thing is I never have to worry about people caring if I answered all the questions from the first two books or not.

Wait, right?

In short? No.

Because I do have readers. People who have read the first two books, reviewed them, mentioned to me how much they’re enjoying the series. Said outright they can’t wait to see what happens in the next book.

That means, no matter how much I want to pretend I can do anything I want, that I can forget entirely about writing ‘the end’ on my series, I know what I have to do. And also what I want to do about finishing the thing that I started.

Whether number 1 up there is true or not I still need to be fair to my readers. As well as myself and my writing. And that means I need to see this thing through to the end I decided on when I started writing the series in the first place.

Because when it all comes down to it, I love writing new things, love scheduling tweets and posting blogs like this where I work out all the crap in my head. But that doesn’t get me the loyal, dedicated readers that I really want for my fiction.

I think I finally figured out that what I need and want to do have to meet somewhere in the middle. Until I figure out how to bring the Shaw book to light, I’m just going to dedicate some time to it every week and do my best to pull a first draft together by the end of February.

Using all of my fingers. 

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

We'll Get a Table near the Street

Every time I listen to that Brad Paisley song “Letter to Me” I full-on cry. No, I’m not kidding. Despite the fact he sings about boy things solely applicable to himself – Playboy, chewing tobacco, dating girls – I still can’t help it.

The song reminds me of where I was at age 17, how far I’ve come, why all the drama of those days just doesn’t matter anymore, and how I wish I could go back in time to remind myself that everything is going to be fine if I just chill the heck out.

Oh hell. Just typing the premise of the song has me choked up (thanks again perimenopause!)

Anyway, I’ve talked in the past about this thing that happens to me with some songs. And, as a side note, this thing that happens is the very reason I never want to know what a song is really about. All the artists can keep that to themselves, thanks. I like to feel my music. And in cases like the Paisley song, though I can’t specifically relate to the words, I can relate to the overall feeling behind the words and music.

Best way I can describe what happens? The song lyrics will remind me of a feeling I have inside, not a specific time and place.

And “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” is another one of those songs.

I don’t know anyone named Brenda or Eddie (or more appropriately, as the song goes, BrenderenEddie because those two names are really just one word). I don’t know anyone who owns a waterbed, paintings from Sears, or enjoys rosĂ© with their meal. Nor do I know a single person who hangs out with a group of people (called the greasers) at the village green.

The lyrics and references in the song tell us it took place in 1975. A year when I was 2 years old. Hardly wishing two crazy friends well on their doomed-from-the-start marriage.

But something about that song makes me long for those two people that Billy sings about to be the romanticized version of my parents.

BrenderenEddie are two people who once loved each other so much, but just couldn’t make it together, sitting across from each other at their old favorite place to eat, years after they divorced, catching up on how both of their lives went on without the other. That they’ll never forget who they were then but how much happier they are now.

The funny thing is that I have very few Billy Joel songs I can even tolerate anymore. Let me back up for a second and explain.

After living in LINY for a couple years I was SO burned out on hearing Billy Joel every 5 minutes that I pretty much stopped listening. (Seriously, I sometimes thought about staging a Billy Joel v Mariah Carey cage match to the death just so we could get some different music on the FM stations).

Last night revived my love for the man and his music. I’ve never heard him do “Scenes” live before. And I never stay up until 11:30 at night. But when Jimmy Fallon announced that was the song Joel would close the show with, I grabbed my toothpicks to prop open my eyelids and just listened.

May I just say, holy crap! He still sounds great even after 43 years in the business (fun fact: his first single “Piano Man” was released just 130 days after I was released!).

If you’re interested in checking out last night’s performance you can check it out here.

And, in case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t cry last night. It was far too late for that much emotion.

But re-watching it this morning…

Image courtesy Microsoft clip art

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Getting Soft in our Old Age?

Take a moment to read the above article. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Okay, now that we’ve got the words in our heads I’m here to tell you the entire article is a bunch of crap.

Allow me to explain.

As a child of the eighties I’ll be the first one to say I can’t for one second imagine how hard it would be to raise a child in this day and age. The internet age of constant connection, communication, everything you could ever want right at your fingertips. All the time. Anytime.

It absolutely breeds a sense of blithe ambition. Nobody has to work to learn. It’s all right there. Easy breezy.

But it also helps to add a sense of entitlement that everything should be just that easy to get.

Because it is.

However, here’s where I sat and took a long hard look back at my own childhood and the pop culture influences I had. The fictional heroes we all looked up to, tried to emulate. And though the good Doctor who wrote that article makes some good points, I think they forgot about quite a few god-awful examples.

Now, I’m not saying I didn’t thoroughly enjoy a good chunk of the shows and movies I’m about to list (some are still favorites) or that there weren’t some gems about tolerance, respect or loyalty (because there were), but let’s not get it twisted and try to glorify how awesome and perfect it was back then because there was plenty for our parents to complain about too.

Right off the top of my head here’s a few I remember:

Porky’s (1981) – misogyny is the name of the game from the moment you see the movie poster. We taught a whole generation of boys it’s okay to spy on high school girls in the shower without their knowledge or consent. Classy.

Moonlighting (1985-1989) – where to begin? The basic premise of the show is that female bosses are shrews when they insist their male employees actually work for their paychecks. Not to mention, no matter how much of a screw up he is, how many times he threatens their livelihood with his antics he still gets the girl in the end. Uh-huh.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) – I’ve mentioned this movie before and basically in the same vein as this post. Suffice to say we all learned it’s okay to skip school, trash property and disrespect everyone as long as you don’t get caught and let your friends take the fall. How big of you.

The Breakfast Club (1985) – five teens, during a full day of detention, smoke weed in the school library, among other pursuits, while the sole authority figure fumbles around like a bumbling idiot.

Gremlins (1984) – what better way to say Merry Christmas than seeing your entire town trashed by a bunch of aliens simply because a teenager couldn’t manage the responsibility of owning his first pet?

Fraggle Rock (1983-1987) – a bunch of entitled kids live for free underground, take advice from a heap of trash and constantly destroy the hard working Doozer’s construction projects just because they want a snack. And it’s cool that the only adult in the bunch spends all his time traveling and judging humans.

Top Gun (1986) – generally be a dickhead to everyone and sleep with your teacher. Just cry over your BFF’s death while staring at yourself in a mirror and come back later to teach the same class and everyone will forgive you.

Any show where a female was in charge and she wasn’t a bitch or in need of a man to come swooping in to save the day (19?? – today) – a seemingly novel concept in any generation from the dawn of entertainment. Anything which breaks this mold is considered “groundbreaking” even today. (And on a side note, entertainment where men aren’t allowed to cry/show emotions at all or are constantly “scolded” by their wives like they’re children make me want to scream just as much)

Anyway, I’ll stop there but suffice to say there are loads more examples I could use to further prove the point.

However, I think the thing that stands out to me the most from the article above is this:

Yes, the world might be different now than when I was a kid. But when I was a kid we were afraid of the wrath of our parents (even if we didn’t admit to it) and at ten most of us were barely allowed to use the telephone let alone have one of our own to stare at while in a doctor’s office waiting room.

So where does the real ownness lie?

Should it be on the so-called role models of the screen that kids can’t tear their eyes away from, or on the parents who have full authority to force them to put down the tech and just be kids for a change?

I don’t pretend to know the answer. Even if I had kids of my own I couldn’t tell you the answer. All I know is there needs to be some kind of dialogue about the difference between reality (your parents have the right to punish you when you mouth off to them) and fantasy (everything you see on a screen of any sort) so kids these days understand and respect the difference.

Article first read on Facebook here

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Like short fiction? Get a brand new story every month (one you won't see anywhere else!) when you sign up for my newsletter Facts & Fiction. Make 2016 better. Do it now.