Wake up…wake up…

iTunes is sometimes better than coffee. I’ve got Offspring first and Social Distortion further down the list. Yes, I am stuck in the past. Don’t try to drag me into the future of music unless it’s fast. I heard enough of that “I’m going to sleep the beat is so slowwwww” music in the 90s and I’m rebelling.

I took yesterday off. I journaled, I put some important upcoming dates on my calendar, walked, and otherwise lounged around reading “The Curse of Chalion” for about the 10th time with my feet up, as much as a very busy toddler would allow.

But today is Monday and I’m pulling up that Valentine novella because it’s pure fun. And I’m telling that other story I outlined in Aug. or Sept., “shut up, it is NOT your turn”. I have a huge backlog of stories ready to be written. That one can just wait with the others.

Yes, but where’s the shortcut?

I’m plowing my way through 7 Habits (slow going), and got to thinking about the instant-fix mentality versus non-instant growth in the world of writing. I have seen this in action, writers who look for the instant secret to success. Unfortunately, they never find it because the path to success is different for everybody. I have never heard two writer success stories that were alike, although all success stories have certain common features.

I saw this first shortly after I made my first professional sale. Another writer asked me, “how did you break in to that market? I’ve been trying to break in there for years.” I kind of stared blankly back and said, “I wrote for their writer’s guidelines and I followed them.”

The other writer probably thought I was holding out on him, but that was what I did to “break in”. (That term always amuses me, as if you sell by carrying out an assault on the publisher’s building.)

Of course the longer answer is, before I sent anything out for sale I first learned to write. I have spent approximately 10 years learning to write and approximately another 10 years learning to write fiction. Story is an art form on top of an art form, and you have to learn both. There is no quick way to do this.

I think technology has fooled us into thinking that instant answers and instant rewards are actually possible and we’ve become very impatient as a result.

Mastery in any pursuit is a matter of time and patience and persistance. Whatever you want to do, nothing comes with a package of Instant Guaranteed Success. And I think that’s one of those universal laws designed to teach us that life is a journey, not an arrival. If it was all about the arrival, satisfaction would be very short-lived.

I haven’t by any means “arrived” at the pinnacle of success. But I am successful for where I am. If all I had to do was open a packet of Instant Success, the day when I win a significant award or hit some other major career landmark wouldn’t mean nearly as much to me as knowing that whatever I’ve achieved, I’ve earned. And I’ve grown into it.

The ability to write and complete a novel, not just once but repeatedly, that’s an achievement. Selling a novel not once but three times, that’s another major achievement. It took me about 20 years of work to reach this level of achievement, where I seemingly come out of nowhere with three book contracts and an anthology.

It means so much more to me because these landmarks are part of my journey. My satisfaction comes not just from outside validation, but from inside, seeing how much better I’ve gotten at my chosen profession. The process of becoming a better writer is the process of becoming a better person. Writing demands strength and honesty and persistance. I am a far better person for developing the qualities that make me a good writer, and being a better person enriches my life a lot more than a book contract. Although royalties are cool.

There’s no shortcut, there’s just the road in front of you. And lots to write about on the way.

Monk’s back! But…what’s this?

No Sharona. Whoa. Monk without Sharona is like a peanut butter sandwich minus the peanut butter. How did this happen?

I just have to say that I’m deeply disappointed because I had Season 4 all figured out. Sharona and the liuetenant were going to get together. I predicted this, not just because of the way they sniped at each other at every meeting, but the look in his eyes in Season 3 when he snapped the handcuffs on her. If the captain hadn’t been right there, what might have happened? What, I ask you? Not police brutality, that’s for sure.

But now we’ll never get to see the squeaky-clean lieutenant discover his bondage fantasies, not to mention the love of his life, with Sharona, because…she’s gone.

I’m not about to stop watching the show. But I’m going to keep watching it, hoping that Sharona will come to her senses, leave that loser ex (he’s NEVER going to change) and come back to the men in her life who really need her. Not to mention the viewers.

So I’m a blog-olumnist

I’ve agreed to be a columnist for Romancing The Blog. This is a romance blog communty site, with links to romance blogs and daily columns by authors, readers, anybody related to the industry. I think it’s going to be very interesting. So far the blogs posted have been really good stuff. My contribution will be once a month, so on those days I’ll refer you to RTB to read my blog of the day there. I even have a super-cool columnist button to use. No secret decoder ring, but it’s early days.

Other than that, I have some business to take care of today. Need a new bio for E.C. and other little business details. I exchanged email with my editor in the wee hours of the morning about the cover for Love and Rockets. I should see something fairly soon and I really can’t wait. All the new covers I’ve seen for Ellora’s Cave have been stunning. The covers have new guidelines, apparently, which go hand in hand with their distribution in Borders, Waldenbooks and so on, but this does NOT mean boring. Cover artists Syneca and Christine are making me drool with their recent creations. Gorgeous stuff.

romancing the blog image

More about partnering with Creative Brain

I realized that the blog from yesterday could sound somewhat misleading. No, I’m not one of those people who uses 3×5 cards, graphs, charts, and GMC to block out a story. No such thing, I am one of those fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants unconcious writers. So why do I have an outline/synopsis/proposal done? Here’s how I got to where I am, writing this novella:

First, I got the email with the list of Ellora’s Cave 2006 anthology themes and proposal deadline/requirements. I said to Creative Brain, “This sounds like fun, what do you think? Do you want to do this? Do you like any of the themes?” I tried to do a little brainstorming, but with no result. I moved on to other things.

Then ideas began to come forward. First is the idea that won’t work for an anthology because it’s part of a series, but is nevertheless a kick-butt story and I’m more than happy to write another story using my Bigfoot/tabloid setting. This is the idea that came from the fusion of Village People and the list of themes. (Do not ask how Bigfoot, tabloids, the Village People and a theme from E.C. form a story. I have no idea. Creative Brain puts these things together.)

Next came an idea that’s fascinating, but not fully formed. I wrote it down in hopes that the rest of it will come along some day. Not rounded out enough to make up a proposal, even a one-pager. And it’s a big idea, which probably won’t fit into a novella when it’s rounded out.

And then at last, when I was thinking, “OK, Creative Brain has lots of ideas but isn’t floating one for the anthologies so maybe my silent partner doesn’t want to do an anthology. That’s okay,” up comes The One. (The actual title is not The One, the caps are to indicate The One Idea For The Anthology.)

At which point, as if taking dictation from the spirit world, I wrote the title, the proposal, the synopsis, the outline, and wrote the opening scene and the first turning point scene. (Not in that order. Creative Brain is non-linear.)

It isn’t as spooky as that sounds. Creative Brain had been working on it the entire time and then spit it out fully formed, expecting me to catch it. It only seems spooky because most of what goes on in our brains is unconcious, but it’s there and it’s useful and it is entirely possible to have a happy, productive working partnership with the great unconcious Creative Brain.

It’s mainly a matter of talking as well as listening; Creative Brain takes requests, but the conscious partner has to be willing to listen to the answers and to catch them when they come. Respect the unconcious brain, treat it like the valuable partner that it is, take it seriously, and all will be well. Oh, yes, and don’t feed it garbage. By which I mean don’t spend your time telling yourself how lousy a writer you are, how so and so is better, how you can’t plot your way out of a paper bag, because the unconcious brain doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is imagined. If you imagine yourself a failure, Creative Brain takes this as an order and makes it a reality, unconciously sabotaging any sign of success.

Creative Brain is always at work for all of us, so it’s good to say things like, “I am a success, I am a terrific person, I am creative and prolific” and let Creative Brain find ways and opportunities to make it so. For years I’ve been saying, “I am a best-selling author.” I felt damn stupid saying this when all my stories were getting rejected, but I have now seen this become reality, on two different best-seller lists.

So there it is, how I partnered with my Creative Brain to get to the point where my proposal’s complete and submitted well within the time limit and the story is flowing out. Now I’ve got to go write some more story or Creative Brain will think I’m not paying attention.