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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Critical Thinking

I started writing fiction in November of 2007. Wrote a few novels over the span of a couple of years, then switched to short stories for a year. Never sold a novel (rarely got a response from an agent), but that's okay. Well, it's okay now.

About a year and a half ago, I set aside fiction writing. I got a new job that required a lot of non-fiction writing, and Maj Tom pointed out that the endless cycle of write-submit-get rejected (or ignored) wasn't something I actually considered all that much fun. I'm not usually a quitter, and I had several books half-written, so it was a hard decision.

A few weeks ago, I figured that was enough of that. I had a quarter of a book that had too many good ideas to set aside forever. I took a sabbatical from Stupefying Stories and locked myself up with the laptop. Here are a few things I've learned since picking it up again.

- I have as many words as I choose to have. I once told one of my writing mentors, Donita K Paul, that I couldn't write fiction after writing non-fiction all day. She said, "Yes, we only have so many words." But I realize now I have more words than I thought. Or maybe it's because I'm more used to writing on demand, now. Writing is this sadistic, twisted thing, and there comes a point where if you're going to do it, you just have to dig in, quit making excuses, and do it.

- Creative outlets are good, but writing's better. I now have purses made from embroidered or beaded Army map cases all over town. Baby Isaac (BTW, my sister had her baby!) has hand-painted Kinderkrakens hanging above his crib. But there really is something different about writing. I've mentioned before how fiction writing helps control my (mild) depression. I had forgotten how much.

- Ughhhh, I am such a sappy writer! Is it normal for your eyes to well when you're editing your own book? For pity's sake! I need to go back and reread The Hunger Games to figure out how to express deep emotion without getting ridiculous.

- Taking a break helped me realize a little better where I need to improve. I think I got too myopic. It's unhealthy to read too much of your own writing.

- It doesn't have to be finished right this instant. Before I had a job, my goal was to sit down and shell out 5000 words every day that I wrote. One day, I think I hit 8500. I never have writer's block (I can always write something, although it may not be the right thing), so there's that. But that's not feasible right now. My friend Evangeline Denmark (who happens to be Donita's daughter) decided that she only needed to write 1000 a day. Any more was gravy. I'm taking that to heart. If I can get 4000 words over the weekend and another 1000 words during the week, I can get this puppy finished by...whenever.

This book is dangerous. It deals with Aspergers, trafficking, attachment disorder, and abuse--all in a metaphorical way. I don't know if I can pull it off without falling into cliche or disrespect. I don't know that anyone would want to publish it. But it's demanding to be written, dangit. I'm hoping that's a good sign.

For this novel, I have succumbed to the time-sink that is Pinterest. To see the pictures I'm using to inspire this puppy, click here.
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