Friday, November 29, 2013

Crossing the Muse

I finished my friend, Jen Hritz's, second novel, The Crossing, last night. It was amazing. I lost four days and touch with reality.  By the time I finished I had learned more about gay male sex than I ever dreamed possible or prudent, and if it had been possible, the book would surely have given me the boner of the century.  That's not what I want to blog about though. 

Joel, the main character of Jen's book has strikingly similar methods of self-sabotage to me. Falling love with the wrong person, sending away anyone who genuinely cares for him. I think if I didn't have to support myself and my child, I would slide down the same slippery slope he takes to self destruction. But that's not what I want to blog about either.

What I want to blog about is the creative impulse. Joel goes through vicious cycles of inspiration, elation, self-loathing, and crushing dry spells. When he picks up the brush to paint, it comes or it doesn't (like love). I was thinking about his dry spells on my way to work and kept thinking I'm glad I don't rely on those capricious gods to keep me writing. I have to admit I was feeling outrageously superior (Yes, I know he is only a character in a book, but after you read it you will understand why I view him as a real person, a friend, a brother). Anyway I was doing the na-na-na-boo-boo thing in my head. Then I sat down to write. Needless to say, I wrote a pile of crap that ended up on the cutting room floor in cyberspace.

I realized sadly that all artists are slaves to the muse. That sucks no end. But I also realized that, like Joel, stopping and waiting for the muse to text or call is a worthless and demeaning way to be enslaved. I choose instead to work without him (my muse comes equipped - if you know what I mean). If he shows up, I'm game to let him in, and I'll even hand him the remote most nights. I like to think I won't beg him to stay, but I am in no way above begging. 

So the long winded point is that unless painters just paint, writers just write, inspiration doesn't stand a chance. Long ago I would get all loaded and sit down for 10 hours in a stretch and come out with utter brilliance, but no one can sustain that method of reaching artistic nirvana for long, and, like Joel, the minute I came down I was forced to realize how completely icky the product really was. Quality work may come in spurts, but the tap has to be running all the time.

I've been away from Elena, Ethan, Sage, Finn, Jo and all the new characters for a whole week now (thanks to Jen). I'm not sure if reading her book made me a better writer (though I think that immanently possible), but it made me more aware of my own muse and how to summon him. I'm off to séance now. Cheers.

Word of warning: this is not the last you will hear about Joel, so go read The Crossing [].

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Where do the ideas come from?

The number one question people ask me after reading Safe Distances is where the ideas for my twisted characters and intricate plots come from. Like most other writers, I have to answer the story fairies who buzz around my head 24/7.  But I have been paying more attention lately because I am wondering too.  Is there an idea organ that lies somewhere behind the andlandula (or some other esoteric brain part that I can't quite put a name to, probably because of the infernal buzzing of those damn fairies .)?

So this weekend somewhere in the middle of Sunday afternoon laundry and cleaning the cages of the hamsters who refuse to move on to the next life, I came up with the idea for my next series of books. The idea came all at once with a fully loaded bevy of characters and several stages of twisting and turning plot revelations and overarching themes. It all hit me in an instant like a fever that comes on suddenly, and I couldn't write or talk fast enough to get it down.  The only way to describe the whole experience is that I had an idea attack. Soooo . . . this is the way I get IDEAS. They just attack me when I'm not suspecting them.  Which begs the question of the fairies who hate this idea.

And no I am not going to blog about my idea. That would be like telling all my friends about the boy I just met and how I am sure that come January we will be madly in love and joined at the hip. Can you say, Jinx?! If I tell you about it, nothing will ever come of it, and I will look like a big fat romantic idiot.  So I am just going to quitely hold onto this precious idea and fall in love with it all by myself in the quiet of my fantasies. If it loves me back and we become a couple, I promise you will be the first to know. . . . Ok, the second. The fairies are very demanding.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Good things come in threes (or fours)

When I'm writing (the books) it's very hard to tear myself away and live in the real world, but I have had some break-throughs recently and some disappointments too.  I'll start with the latter.  There's an Indy published Author (with a capital A) in Austin who has really hit it big.  I emailed this author thinking she might like to meet and chat about her journey with me. Oh well. I have to say though, this is an important object lesson of how I don't want to handle myself when/if my time comes. Being brushed off is unpleasant at best and discouraging at worst. Luckily, I am not easily discouraged.

Now for all the endless good stuff.  I have to start with my dear, wise and wonderful friend Miranda, who recently read my book and gave me some great insight on the genre issue. She also gave me great encouragement in keeping at this.  So the verdict is that I am marketing my books as Young Adult (YA) for older teens. Miranda reminded me that most kids are reading ahead of their current ages. So kids in high school want to read about college and so on. Makes good sense! Given that and some coworkers and friends are buying copies for their teenagers for Christmas, I think this is my best bet. If I get picked up by a publisher and they want to clean up the language and fade to black on the spicy parts, so be it, but I will cross that chasm when it appears under my feet.  Dilemma solved.

Also, I am officially now a song writer. I heard a concert by a well known composer and suggested he needed lyrics for one of his pieces (not randomly-I know a member of his band and we were chatting after he previewed some of his new work). He said, "Write some." I did. And he liked them. Boom! Songwriter added to my resume.  I will reveal who he is after he records the piece.

All good things come in threes. I took a day off work last week to be an extra in my favorite tv show which happens to be filming in Austin. It was grueling and I think I'm done with that experience, but I met a young man who looks like Ethan (the Ethan I have pictured) and he agreed to consider posing for photos for the Geodesy website. I also have found a Sage (One of my coworker's
daughters) and possibly a Finn. All I need is an Elena, and I can do the photo shoot that I envisioned to bring the website to life.  Plus I can get some traction on book covers for Gravitational Forces and Stellar Navigation (Books 3 and 2). 

Or fours. Stellar Navigation is completely outlined (will change I'm sure but having a path to follow through the woods makes the going much easier) and you are all in for a treat with new mysteries from the past, new revelations about the characters you love, and new beyond interesting characters - Cayde a 15 year old hyperkinetic with telekinesis and an endlessly positive outlook; Logan, a female 17 year old juvenile delinquent who travels the astral plane and hates the living; Jamie, no spoilers for this 22 year old guy but he makes Elena question her sexual preference for girls.  'nuff said.

Too much fun. Gotta get back to them. I have a book to finish by February. Yikes!