Wednesday Writers Wisdom: Lessons


This column has been absent too long. LIFE got busy, and despite my efforts to keep this a blog for my writing, I’ve had some growth and changes that you’ll start noticing around here as well.

Today’s purpose is to share some of the gems I’ve learned recently. Not only did they have a direct impact on my writing, but my life as well. Trying to figure out how to manage them all has been overwhelming at best. I’ll try not to ramble…

When I started blogging back in 2010, I had a little blog I called “The Scoop on Poop.” A place to vent with anonymous names with slices of humor (thus the whole poop flung on the walls adage that I used quite often) about my daily family life, I kept it going, trying to follow and add tabs for things as I evolved. I started writing fiction again, filling a long lost spot I hadn’t realized I missed all these years.

I tried to do too many things with my blog, and while I had a decent flow of traffic traveling to my blog for the variety of posts found there, circumstances changed my approach. My family seemed to “outgrow” the poop, and my brain began to focus on my fiction. This resulted in the birth of My Write Side, and managing 4 children, all with their own unique needs, with 2 blogs overwhelmed me. Something had to give, so I let Scoop go, and let my focus shift completely to my writing.

And write, I did. And, with a great need to be read (and accepted), I posted everything I wrote, keeping nothing secret. Everything.

And now, I’m feeling the consequences of that. I’m proud of all my stories, even the ones that aren’t as good as the others. I poured my sweat and tears into them. I craved readers and comments; critique of any kind. I needed to know I was not fooling myself.

But, even after all that, I needed more. I need exposure. I needed to see my stories with others of the same type. I started submitting, adding stories to websites built specifically for storytelling, or for critique. I started expanding, finding more prompt memes to inspire me and submit to, not only expanding my audience, but my voice too.

While this did increase my audience and, in some aspects, get my name out there, AND despite that I have picked up those “award” buttons on my sidebar or won other writing contests, AND despite that doing the above things secured two of my stories in surprise anthologies, I’ve been making a mistake.

A BIG mistake.

Now, before I explain myself, I need to clarify that I don’t have any regrets. I put my words out there and people responded. This feeds my ego and encourages me to one up myself constantly and give you something better than the last.

You might have noticed I am currently restructuring my thought process and doing more sharing of real life than fiction here of late.The reason behind this?

I am discovering that more and more publishers, anthologies, magazines, etc. want new material. While my stories may be new, when I share them with you, that’s considered in many circles as being published. Waa!! So many good stories I could flesh out and find homes for, except…

I hit publish on my blog. And there it is.

I can take the stories down, but how do you ever know when/where/how it’s been shared elsewhere? Reblogging, writing memes, Facebook contests…so much to consider, so many places to look.

This is why I’ve only been posting small excerpts. I can intrigue you without sharing the entire work and jeopardizing anything. I just have to rethink how I’m going to approach what and how I share from now on. After all, I don’t want to stop letting you escape away into my worlds, but I don’t want to stop my worlds from further exploration by new eyes and minds, either.

This is a lesson I can apply to real life too. Whether it be myself or my children, we have to put ourselves out there, but sometimes doing that can bite us on the butt. We have to give our children room to make mistakes, even when we can see what a disaster it will be.

As writers, we too, have to put our “children” out there, and keep plugging on, especially if we want to grow. Just be mindful of what you share. Even those things you think are for the “blog” only could end up being your next big thing. Whatever you do, don’t stop sharing. You still have to build a fan base for yourself and this is a key way to do it.

Virgin No More

My oldest stepson told me about his plans for this weekend-a midnight showing of a cult classic. It takes me back to my own teenage years…

As a teenager, I held many dreams–from Olympic skier to singer to actress to writer. One of the many jobs my gypsy soul managed to acquire had me serving popcorn and soft drinks (Would you like a large? It’s only $.25 more and you can take it home with you!) at my local movie theater. A fabulous summer job, I took advantage of the free-for-employee movies as I could.

I particularly loved the Saturday night shift. Our cinema stayed open late to host a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The first time I covered this shift, my eyes popped as I watched one leather-clad cherry kool-aid spiked head enter the theater after another. Some of them, with chains running from nose to ear, from belt loop to back pocket, came in the concession line. Their orders were always as unique as they were. It easily became my favorite shift.

One Saturday night I didn’t have to work. I had built up a rapport with some of the customers that came in for the midnight showing, and received many invitations to join them, despite my very non-punk appearance. This particular evening I did. They escorted me into the theater…

The room is packed. People stand in the aisles, but they are one person in their unity. The volume is loud as they talk over each other. Excitement electrifies the air, and I feel it creeping over me. I’m hoisted to the front of the theater by a guy in a green Army jacket covered in patches, his blue mohawk standing proud.

“We got a first timer!!” He shouts to the mass.

“Virgin! Virgin! Virgin!” They chant as the theater comes alive. Rainbows of silly string shoot into the air as the movie begins. Everyone remains standing. A few take presence on the small stage in front of the screen. The narrator fills the movie screen and the action begins. Every character in the movie has a duplicate mimicking them on the stage. The entire production is played out live before me. The Time Warp takes on new meaning as dancers fill the aisles and join in.

As the movie ended and the stage emptied, sadness replaced my excitement. This night could have gone on forever. Never had I experienced this before, and never would it fill me with the same emotions again.

After all, you can never repeat your first anything, now can you?

Rolling Excerpt

I started a story a couple of years ago about a young woman who kept having a repetitive dream of being pulled into the ocean by blue creatures and a pirate ship arrived in the horizon. I have been working this past month on finishing the story, which just hit the 10K mark. It is still my main project, but here’s a little tease for you…

“Perhaps your dream is nothing more than a dream, with snatches of memory from when you were an infant. What do they call them? Repressed memories?”

Celia’s arms crossed her chest. Disbelief clouded her features. “Repressed memories? Mom, you are talking about an infant’s memories! No one remembers those.”

“Just because there is nothing written about it, doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if it has, especially with you.” Excitability defined Mother’s tone.

“Oh, come on, Mom. We are talking about mermaids and strange sea creatures, breathing underwater, surviving under water. I’d hardly call those ‘repressed memories.’” She paced the kitchen floor. Her palms patted the sides of her face. “Where are my gills? Where are all the necessary things I need to survive underwater?” She paused for effect. When Mother said nothing, she continued. “Exactly. It’s more than just a dream, Mom. Much more.”

A deep sigh filled the silence. “What will you do now?” Mother asked. “How will you find your answers?”

“I don’t know, Mother. I’ll figure it out soon. I have to!” Celia escaped the kitchen before her mother could question her further. An idea had come to her during their conversation. She knew neither of her parents would like it, but she understood how brilliant it would be to follow it through. She did not know if she would have the patience to survive the day until the chance to exact her plan arrived. Next step would be to make sure the old woman still lived on the island, but that would be easy enough. She flew up the stairs faster than she meant to, and her mother called after her.

         “Yeah, I’m okay!” Celia called back just before she shut her bedroom door and locked it.

So, tell me what you think. Are you intrigued?

No Offense Intended

*Warning: Today’s topic is controversial. Any demeaning, belittling, or mean comments will be deleted.

As a writer in this century, we face issues. Like our predecessors, there are topics that are taboo, and only the bravest make an attempt to rock the boat.

For example, one topic, while not necessarily directed at writing fiction per se, made Facebook rounds yesterday on April Fools Day. It told us that announcing a fake pregnancy was not only insensitive but offensive as well.

My newsfeed was filled with such threats as “If you post a fake pregnancy announcement today, I will unfriend you!” by people who recently lost one, and things like “I’m deleting jerks with fake pregnancies!” by others. It was enough to keep me off Facebook for the greater part of the day.

And today, it still has me buzzing. And it’s not because I’m insensitive jerk who would put something like that on my page, though I can imagine the hilarious reactions my 44 year old self would receive.

You see, as a fiction writer who writes by the seat of my pants, I never know where a story will lead me. I have written stories that involved rape, BDSM, dismemberment, decapitation, etc. As a “horror” writer, all things are an open topic for me.

It’s hard enough to fill a page some days. When you add to that the whole “Who will this offend” thinking, it makes an already difficult process seem daunting.

Whoever told you writing is easy lied. It isn’t.

When you tell me I can’t post a fake pregnancy or you’ll unfriend me, I’m offended. When you tell me I can’t write about rape or this and that topic, I’m offended.

I have a whole amendment that gives me the freedom to write whatever I want to, good or bad, naughty or nice. I’m not one for berating or bashing others and find it offensive when it’s done.That’s not what this is about.

I just don’t want you stifling my right to write, whenever I want to, whatever I want to. I object to being told “You can’t write this.” It’s like you’re offering me a challenge you really don’t want me to rise to.

So, tell me. How do you really feel as a writer when someone says “Don’t say this or write that?”

Faux & Facade & Moving On

This morning is a strange one. Yesterday there was relief, a joyful facade that life would finally return to normal. Faux happiness that everyone was once more where they belonged.

Today things are different. The relief is still there, yet there’s also this little hole left behind that aches. No excited-to-see-me little legs kicking. No bright-smile-to-revel-the-sun to greet me.

It’s painful how easy it is to “go back to normal life” as if the last 3 months never happened.

But this morning, my arms are empty. I don’t have to take the first 30 minutes of my morning to cater to the baby. I can go straight to living, like the past 3 months never happened.

But they did.

Forever Mimi's lovebug

Forever Mimi’s lovebug