Friday, July 31, 2009

Is That a Light I See?

As I lay awake last night watching the minutes disappear on my clock (the heat, oh the heat) I had a small breakthrough with my short story. Now I wasn't inspired enough to get up and start writing (the heat, oh the heat) but I am attacking "The Watcher" head-on instead of warily sidling up to it holding my breath.

I think since this is a new format for me (haven't written a short story since high school and that was back when Caesar was searching for a decent Chianti) the mathematical approach will work best. The story can be broken into four sections. I know my desired word total. Divide and conquer.

No idea if this will actually work. I'll keep you posted. (the heat, oh the heat)!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Wonderful World of Procrastination

I keep telling myself that all these ideas that are bubbling in the back of my brain are simply not formed enough to be set down on paper. I keep telling myself that all I need to do is think about them a little bit longer and then the words will flow like a river.

This is crap, of course. I'm not writing because I'm procrastinating. It's my finest skill and one I have honed for many years.

Now it is true that when you're writing a mystery there is a little thing called plot. All the pieces of the puzzle have to come together at some point. I also believe that you have to give your readers a fighting chance at solving the crime. There is nothing that makes me angrier than reading a mystery and getting all this new information at the end as the guilty party is revealed. I have no problem thinking "Why didn't I pay more attention to..." but to have had information withheld makes me furious.

At the moment I am working on "The Watcher" which is a short story headed (hopefully) for a mystery magazine. I'm wanting to come in at about 2,500-3,000 words. I am finding it a challenge to write a good mystery in so few words.

Ah well. Once more unto the breach.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's Hot

I wish that I was writing something witty and erudite, but the simple fact is that the Fraser Valley (which is where I am located) is going through a massive heat wave. Very few people around here have central air conditioning because it's usually not needed. I'm changing my mind about this and thinking about the lesson that I learned when we got a car with air conditioning. Used much? No. Appreciate it when it is needed for those few weeks of a year? With every fiber of my being.

Adding to my misery is the fact that I had several large trees cut down last week. Now, I'm not a tree-hater. If you've grown up on the west coast you can't be a tree-hater - it's one of the rules. Seriously, it's there. It's right beside pitying anyone who lives 'back east'. But the trees needed to come down and my house has lost some of its shade on the south side. Cue the heat wave.

Trying to write in this weather is nigh on impossible. The only thoughts going through my brain are how to keep cool and worrying about how hot the cats must be feeling. My children live in the basement watching movies on dvd. It's the coolest place in the house. Meanwhile I ooze about the place feeling like a large sponge.

The fall sounds good right about now.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Trial of Characters

I have found it constantly fascinating over the years how some characters are easy to write and some are like pulling hens' teeth. Some characters can surprise you with their wit and wisdom and on more than one occasion they have surprised me with their vocabulary. Other characters sit resolutely in the background mumbling inaudibly. Who are these characters and more importantly, why are they here?

My usual journey leads me to discover that each of these characters is there for a reason - although not necessarily the reason that I first thought. It seems that no matter how much research I do, how much outlining and planning, the damn people in my stories are determined to tell the tale their way and not mine. I have learned that nine times out of ten they know best.

Have other authors had this particular dilemma? I'd like to know.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why Does Writing Always Seem to Lose?

I seem to have come upon a conundrum - why do I always put my writing at the bottom of the 'things to do' list?  Is it because I'm a woman?  Is it because I'm a mother?  Is it because I have a house to maintain?

My answer is because it's not a 'traditional' job.  There's no going to an office with co-workers and coffee breaks and vacation time.  Now, it IS a job in that I get paid for my writing (which certainly helps with expensive children and an old house) but I really think it's because it's a stay-at-home job that it gets short shrift.

True, you CAN write anywhere.  If you've got a pen and paper then you're golden.  But you need time.  And for me, solitude.  I have discovered that if I'm just working out plot or background then I can listen to the radio (my wonderful Classic FM from London, England), but if I'm REALLY writing then it must be quiet - mainly because I mutter as I write and I need to hear myself!  This habit tends to garner odd looks if I'm in a public place.  I didn't mind being looked at when I was acting on stage - and if I could get a good laugh then I was really cookin' but in real life I'm not that forward.  I have trouble speaking to strangers. 

Everything that I've read about writing keeps reiterating that you must set aside a certain number of hours each day to write.  I get that - it's just the reality of it that kills me.  I think women are conditioned to put themselves last - or at least mothers are.

Food for thought. 

Monday, July 6, 2009

To Re-write or Not to Re-Write, That is the Question

I find re-writing a somewhat tedious chore.  For every passage that I like (and honestly think 'did I actually write that?) there are 3 passages that I look at and think 'seriously?  What was I thinking?'

I had a late night revelation a few nights ago (as opposed to a late night revelation which I could have had in the afternoon) and am now playing with changing certain plots - which will necessitate changing other plots, which could lead to a whole bunch of re-writing.

The bigger question is:  When is enough enough?  How do you know that the book is where it should be and to just leave the damn thing alone?  If a large siren would sound it would be better.  Or a loud deep voice warning me to 'step away from the computer'.  

Ah well.  Perhaps I'll work on something else and come back for a 'sober second look' later.