Sunday, December 31, 2017

Reflections at Solstice

The solstice, that darkest day, is my time for reflection on the year that has passed and a time to plan what to do in the lengthening meteorological winter daylight that follows. What will I do in the forthcoming dark, cold weeks, that I haven't done in seasons past? Will I continue to follow my muse's capricious whims and add more words to things attempted earlier without resolution or should I embark upon new drafts without assurance that they will ever be completed and end up like their predecessors, languish half finished on my cluttered desktop? Will I work on more pieces this year than last or, more importantly, publish more?

I always resolve to do better, to work on a new idea until the writing is sufficient and it can start the rounds of editors, but find that random thoughts switch me to onto different trains of thought, leaving completed scenes parked on the siding awaiting the return of the muse's engine? Will abandoning the scattered snatches and bits already "complete" persist, or can a renewed resolution overcome bad habits? Maybe this is why I have so many incomplete longer works languishing, that I am constitutionally incapable of concentrating on one damn thing without being enticed onto something else?

No matter how I struggle to overcome my ADD it continues to govern my writing. Perhaps the restricting mechanics of the shorter stories allow me to focus in the brief while before something else distracts me.  That affliction also helps me avoid the Novel's need for providing excessive detail or expounding with expansive commentary that distracts from a perfectly good short story.

At least I hope so.


Saturday, December 9, 2017


Lightning strikes where and when it may.  As you've seen, the agony of a writer (well, me, actually) occasionally turns to ecstasy when something (anything!) is completed.

For the last three months I've been struggling to come up with a concept for a story that would fit an anthology I'd been invited to join. I wrote several outlines and attempted four successive drafts, none of which seemed promising, getting four or five pages down before realizing that the idea wasn't going to be worth the effort, and bemoaning the fact that my creative well of ideas was going dry. Now, this wasn't the only thing I had going: I always seem to have a handful of projects (actually struggles to make sense of a lot of half-baked ideas thatI'd already invested too much time in to abandon) going so this proximate problem commandeered only a small part of my general misery.

Then virtual lightening struck. A germ of an idea came from God-knows-where and I began writing a list of things to be considered which quickly turned into three characters, a plot, and actual scenes.  As quickly as that the entire story came together and, a day later, it was a finished piece.

Now I have no idea of how or why this happened. Some of my friends say its because my subconscious was working on this full time while I screwed around.  Others say it was my muse, that fickle bitch, who decided to embrace me for a time.  Personally I don't give a damn about why it happened, but I care deeply about the how of it.  Why did one sentence build upon another and create something out of whole cloth, the words building a world without forethought?  What magic bends the mind into creative channels and not the prosaic humdrum of reality?  What spell illuminates the joy of words that let you fly to unseen, unknown worlds?

But maybe that's why I struggle to write; just so I can get an occasional ticket to ride that incredible flight.


Sunday, December 3, 2017


I'll be the first to admit that I am not a conscientious writer. In fact my writing occurs occasionally in spasmodic bursts of creativity and more often damn, slogging drudge work.  I am also easily distracted (ADD) and not very good on details, a combination that definitely curtails my efforts. Too often I'm distracted by some bright shiny and lose my often tattered thread of plot.  As I've mentioned elsewhere in my blogs, things such as names, places, and descriptions seem to remain liquid, never resolving until the penultimate draft is unknowingly submitted.* The result is that I carry a burden of guilt about my lack of discipline and fret that should I not write for  a while the magic will go away, never to return.

At the same time I can become extremely focused at times, so much so that I ignore not only outside distractions but occasionally, the physical cries of bladder and stomach.  These periods come when  my demons uses their spurs to ride me to exhaustion. A similar focus descends when I am captured by a compelling book, so much so that my copy-editing persona stops mentally correcting words,  sentences, or sometimes an entire scenes to the  point that I often miss the author's intent.  I wish I could be as critical of my own drafts instead of having these damnable teflon eyes that slide over outrageous errors of speliing or grammer.

Yet, there is a time, a brief moment when clarity prevails, when a scene, a line of dialogue, or a plot detail is suffused with such brilliance that it takes my breath away.  I try to capture this as quickly as possible before the next distracting thing pulls me away.  Too often these flashes happen when I am away from the computer, in a meeting, or struggling with another unrelated story. When I attempt to write it down later the result seems only a pale shadow of that revelation.

So I continue plodding along my punctuated path, stumbling too often, and missing many of the possibilities that may be scattered along the way as I try to produce stories beyond my skill level.  This tortuous practice of achieving something memorable seems to be both a curse and a blessing.

But it doesn't stop me from  writing.

*I too often have regrets immediately 
after submission because of my PSS**