Impedance

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Sheila Sund

Funny how easy it is to not do something. The longer you keep from doing it the more impedance builds up. It might be working out, or keeping up a blog, or writing a piece of fiction. Or maybe you put off making a call to a close relative and then it started to become a thing because you had gone so long without calling.

Last summer, I had managed to run a streak of almost four months where I posted five days a week. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep it up forever. But what surprised me was how sudden it happened and how easy it was to not post anything. I had a run of bad luck physically. Multiple doctor visits for different things.  Pneumonia really knocked me on my butt. But even before that I had stopped blogging when I herniated myself. It wasn’t like I had to exercise in order to blog, but the two became linked somehow. Then I ended up going to Oklahoma to work for several weeks and after I returned I got sick.

But the only way to confront this kind of impedance is head on. You pick up the phone and call and try not to make a big deal about how long it’s been. You get out your workout clothes and start back slow and easy. You post something to your blog and make a new commitment to doing it regularly. Maybe not five days a week.

Fortunately, the impedance didn’t effect my writing too much. I finished my last editing pass a few days ago and sent out the piece to a friend of mine for a beta read. It feels finished. I want to be done with it and move on to the next project.

Finishing that project has brought me to a new starting line. I’m healthy again. I’m going to start exercising regularly next week and I’ve started working on my next project.

Part of this reboot comes with some changes. If you have been following me you may have noticed a name change, both for me and for the web address. I decided on using a pen name and I bought a new domain name for the blog. I had been doing some ancestry research and discovered I had three grandfathers with the name Hieronymus. Hawkes is another family surname and I like the alliteration. I have a new Facebook page and a new Twitter persona. I’ve been on Twitter for almost twelve years, so starting over is a bit daunting.

My new project is a piece that I started while I was working on my MFA, just for a palette cleanser in between edits. It was something that was as close to universally liked as anything I had written before. I only have about 7000 words, but the ideas are solid and the thing has some real potential. I debated throwing it all out and starting over. I’m actually still debating that, but I did some work on the opening chapter and I may keep it.

I am toying with the idea of cutting some of it out and creating a short story out of it as a teaser for the novel. I would have to cut it down by about half to get where I would need for the word count. It would be a good exercise.

Am I a Blogger or a Writer?

75226-commitmentIs there a big distinction between the two? I have to write to blog. My average word count for a blog post is just under 500 words, and that is over nine years. That is about two pages of a novel. Two pages of a novel or, in my current case, two pages of a short story that I could be writing to finish those stories.

I enjoy both. The novel or short story has a structure, it can be lose or fairly well-outlined, but it is always there waiting on me to add more words. The blog has a different structure. It requires constant care and feeding if you are going to maintain it. The thing about writing fiction for a story is that there is no pressure to do so much in a given day or week. Unless you are on deadline. And for those of us that do not have a contract or an agent, the time is unconstrained. It doesn’t matter to the novel if I add more words today or not. Do I feel guilty? Yes. Some days very much so. Others not so much. That freedom is one of the few perks of being unpublished. I worry that once I am published that I will have to sit my butt down every day and dig those gems out of the word mine. But for now I can breathe easy.

And don’t ask me why I decided to start blogging more regularly again. I can’t even give you a good reason, other than I wanted to. I follow a couple of writers that blog regularly and have managed to keep it up for a long time. One less so now, as he is having more writing success and appears to have less time or desire to blog. That is at the crux of it.

I have set a daunting schedule for myself. I am trying to blog consistently five days a week. I don’t know how long I can keep it up, or if I will run out of things to talk about. But that was never really my goal when I started this.

The reason is twofold.

One is simply to have a place for my readers to connect with me once I am published. So there is no real agenda other than that. But the second reason is a little more esoteric. I will be fifty-five on my birthday. I feel like I have accumulated a fair amount of life knowledge or what you might consider wisdom, and at times I feel the urge to share some of it. I remember when I was in college, taking my first philosophy course, and I felt the desperate need to write down my own beliefs. My personal philosophy. I did. I have no idea what happened to those pages, but I would love to read them now and compare notes.

One of the things you may struggle with as you age is reflecting on what you have accomplished, and just as importantly, was it enough? Have you made your mark on the world? If not how do you fix that? You might write a book. Or run for office. Or start a new business. Or go back to school and try something new.

Or do a blog. It’s a simple thing, but it’s a little bit like a needy pet. You need to brush it and feed it and clean up after it. It requires time. I have a friend that posts twice a week, and has maintained that for almost a decade. She writes about writing. Singularly. We started at about the same time, but she has maintained that rhythm the entire time and my history is all over the map. Not only in regularity, but in topic. Having this place to bloviate on whatever topic I want is a way to move that ball forward a little. I don’t even know if there is a goal line, but it have the illusion of making some sort of progress toward some place far ahead in the mist. I can write about whatever I want. I do write about writing sometimes, because it interests me. There are a lot of things I want to write about that have nothing to do with story craft. I may actually write them someday.

I’m sure there will be adjustments that have to be made going forward. I honestly don’t know If I will have the time or inclination to post five days a week forever. I’m almost certain I won’t. But for now that is my plan. The downside is it does take me away from working on novels and short stories. There is only so much time in the day. I am still working to find the balance since my quasi-retirement, for working out, spending time with my family, playing video games, drawing, and writing. Blogging is just one thing I enjoy doing.

I have discovered over the last forty or so years that my attention span is often short. I throw myself into things wholeheartedly, and then, when I’ve had my fill, I push it to the side and do something else. I often come back around to the thing, but it is rarely with the same gusto as the first time. Knowing that about myself is a good thing. I try to temper my involvement in some things because of it. But so far I have managed to keep my interest heavily invested in writing. It has been fairly steady for about eleven years now. I honestly believe it will be something I court for the rest of my life. And whether it is simply writing a blog post or working on an epic fantasy, it will be time well spent.

If you write, how do you approach these things?

5 Things Friday: Reasons I don’t have a Blog Post

Disappoint

  1. I’ve had a long week and I’m tired. I have hit all my running goals this week, plus added in PIYO on the off-days.
  2. Trying to do too many things at one time. Couple that with not liking my options and it is easy to drop it out of my priority list.
  3. I have been busy at work (not really,) which has taken away some time to do other things I enjoy. Besides, it was way too nice outside this week to get anything done inside.
  4. It’s after 11 pm on Thursday night and I want to sleep and haven’t written the blog post yet.
  5. I don’t feel like writing (that is a thing that must be constantly fought against.) Hopefully, I will feel like it this weekend. I have made very little progress on my short story this week, and honestly, I should have finished it by now.

Oops . . .

Did I mean weightless? I wish

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Weight Loss actually.

At the beginning of June, I went to my family doctor to set up for a colonoscopy. That’s right, I’m talking about colonoscopies. It will be okay. I promise.

50 is the magic number. So not only do you get to hit a demoralizing milestone, you also get to be probed. Yay.

I’m 54 and should have done this a few years ago. I wasn’t actively avoiding it, just busy with other . . . stuff. It wasn’t high on my priority list, but I knew it needed to be done. I finally got around to it. My wife actually beat me to the punch and got it knocked out a few weeks before me in her usual style. Continue reading “Did I mean weightless? I wish”

Feeling a little Nostalgic

ec99f-versatilebloggerawardI spent the last couple of days moving my blog over to WordPress and updating the old pages. I am leaving a bunch of them here for historical record if nothing else. I cut a few that didn’t really add any value, even for me.

It has been fun reading my old posts and seeing where I was in the writing journey and life in general. When I started the blog my oldest was still in high school and my youngest was in second grade. He is now going to be a senior this fall and my two oldest are out of college. One is married.

When I started the original blog I was fairly new to Twitter and hit it at just the right time for a new writer. It was the beginning of the eBook boom and self-publishing was finally becoming a viable way to make a living as a writer, so lots of writers were on Twitter sharing their journey and we made our own little community. Continue reading “Feeling a little Nostalgic”

Transmutation

Big doins here at Fireflies & Laserbeams. I am moving the main blog to WordPress from Blogger. It has been good to me, but I am ready for something new.

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I’ve completed a new story. I call it new because it is very different from what it was, and involved a complete overhaul/rewrite.

I am going to make an effort to blog more as well.

It’s been awhile since I posted about my writing. Truth be told I took a bit of a break. I had finished two books, along with my MFA, and then I submitted my work. Not sure if I hit a hundred “no thanks” or not. I could count, but suffice to say it was a lot, and it was demoralizing. Heartbreaking even. There is a reason so many writers are self-publishing. It’s hard to break in now. I made a vow to myself that I would let failure stop me. There are no wasted words. Continue reading “Transmutation”

Why do we do it? (No excuse, sir!)

Get that chin in, maggot!  Oh, sorry, flashback. There is only one answer to a “Why” question when you’re a freshman at the Academy, but I digress . . .

 

There’s been a lot of noise on the interwebs lately about how or why people should blog or even in some cases not bother to blog at all.  Some of it I agree with and some of it I think is bordering on the ridiculous, but is that really anything new?  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

 

I am fast approaching my one year anniversary on this blog and looking back I had no idea what I was going to do with this site when I started.  The entire purpose has always been just to have a space out here in the nether to share stuff that interested me, and the largest focus has been on writing, because that is what I’m doing with the bulk of my “spare” time.  On the other hand, I always did intend this to be a place to connect with other people.  I am extremely flattered that anyone is reading this stuff.  I’ve found that I really like to see people stopping by and reading and leaving comments, it has its own addiction.   I love being able to connect to my favorite authors in this new electric frontier, it’s easier than ever before, so in that vein I started this blog with the hopes of one day having my book published and have a place to connect with my readers.  Maybe that’s conceited, it’s certainly not intended to be — I like to think of it as hopeful.

I’m not nearly as disciplined as a lot of my friends who post multiple times a week and on a set schedule, but this was never intended to be about anything specific, just a forum for me to share bits of whatever flotsam crossed my path.  Roni Loren put it very well, “I am not a blogger who writes. I am a WRITER WHO BLOGS!”

I’ve found that I enjoy blogging.  Maybe it would be better if I had a set schedule of different stuff for each day of the week or at least specific days.  Chuck Wendig has a great format over at Terribleminds.  He has a food blog, 25 things, an interview, a word challenge and a random post about whatever strikes his fancy.  Not in that order.  Jami Gold posts every Tuesday and Thursday about writing and blogging.  Roni Loren has two blogs, one specifically for writing and one to promote her “Author platform”.  I’m definitely not ready to do anything that ambitious.  Just trying to post at least once a week for a year has been a challenge.  Not one I always accomplished, but I am going to try something new… I am going to start a regular series of posts about the story I’m working on, as I get it ready to sell.  It might still be awhile before it comes out, but I am going to share nuggets from the book.  I’m going to introduce characters and setting, to hopefully flame the interest a little.

The first installment is going to be on how I created the story.   I’m leaving something to look forward to.  Heh!  Thanks to everyone who’s shown up!  I really appreciate it!

 

Clear Ether!

"What’s it about?"

I don’t know about you, but when people find out I’m writing a book, they get very excited and ask me what it’s about.  I have a real problem here.  I actually get a little embarrassed by this question, as if being a science fiction writer is akin to being a junkie or a male prostitute or something equally vile.  I don’t know why.  I love science fiction!  I mean I rarely read anything else, I love almost all the genres of SciFi equally.  I also like the vampire genre a great deal.  There is some really great stuff out there, and some really crappy stuff too.  I’m hopeful that mine’s not falling in the latter camp.
My WIP doesn’t fall into an easily definable category.  It’s not a vampire story that has roots in the Dracula type vampire, at least not completely.  It has elements of the traditional vampire, but mine are called Nemesi and they started from an alien virus.  See? … science fiction.  


The evolution of the story was organic, and even though the story arc is fairly linear, there are a lot of elements of different SciFi genre, as well as an entire story arc centered around a young woman, adding in more complexity.  I can’t think of another story that is actually “like” mine, so it’s hard to tell someone something like, “It’s like Stephen King and Anne Rice mixed together with a dose of Rod Serling.”  (Although that might be very close…j/k)


So it normally goes something like this: 
“That’s so cool that you’re writing a book, what’s it about?”
“It’s science fiction…”  


Then it goes one of two ways.  I measure their reaction.  If it’s an encouraging smile, then I try to explain a little bit more:
“It’s about an Air Force pilot that gets turned into a vampire and it’s a long time into the future…”  Something along those lines.  Sometimes they ask more, but usually they just nod and say, “That sounds cool, I want a signed copy.”  Like somehow I will have a truckload of them to give away for free.  Of course I’d be very excited to sell them a signed copy, at cost for crying out loud, don’t look at me like that!


or


They give me a clown smile, clowns are scary.  You know, a demented grin, like they are patronizing me.  Actually they are patronizing me. So it ends awkwardly, and we part company.


I really need to figure out how to answer this question with confidence and clarity.   Anyone else having this problem or is it just me?


Clear Ether!

The Life Cycle of an Idea

Kids are able to make up stuff on the fly, but as adults we have a really hard time with people changing stuff on us. Why is that? Do you remember when you were a kid and the world was full of wonder and nothing seemed impossible? We could dream big. One of my dreams was to be an astronaut — I really wanted to be Han Solo, truth be told. We could tell outlandish stories to our friends that made no sense, but we told them anyway because it was fun! Remember fun? I see my kids do it all the time. They take a simple idea and run it over and then back over it and run it over several more times, making it different each time and laughing all the way.

Somewhere along the line of becoming an adult we lose that outlook on life and become cynics to one degree or another. Things need to make sense. Life becomes about the realities of the world and not the possibilities of the world. All the mundanities of life intrude on our time for reverie. We have bills to pay, and jobs or school or both that eat up gobs of our time. We start having children and then we have not only ourselves to worry about but little protégé to teach our worries to. It’s amazing we have any imagination left at all!

Well, as writers we have to find a way to tap back into that dream space that holds imagination. It’s our job to find the barely believable, to look around the corners that hide the stuff that’s not quite normal … to rediscover the impossible. People ask all the time, “Where do you get your ideas?” They actually come from all over the place. You have to keep your eyes open, and your mind open. It’s usually a combination of interesting events or articles that I read that trigger a thought. That thought needs to be nurtured and cultivated. I write it down, and then I think about it more. Sometimes they come in the form of a dream. I still have very vivid dreams, which are sometimes like a James Bond movie, or a fantasy film. I try to write down those ideas too, before they flicker out. If you don’t write them down they will fade away and out of your mind’s grasp. I keep a couple of notebooks at arm’s reach most of the time, because you just never know when lightening is going to strike.

I recommend reading … a lot! Read blogs, read news articles, read stories from your favorite magazines. Read books by your favorite authors, or maybe a new author in a new genre that you haven’t tried before. You never know what will combine into a glorious idea. Ideas are glorious and they need time to grow. They don’t usually burst into life fully formed. You need time to think about them more, to add to them. Keep reading, work on other projects then come back to your idea and check on it. Sometimes it will appear as if it’s hasn’t grown at all. Other times your imagination will spark and the idea will grow and mutate. Sometimes you need to prune it back a little, as it goes strange. I find that showers are great for helping the idea grow; my muse likes showers for some reason. Write all these down in your journal.

It’s also a great idea to take two or more of your ideas that you’ve been cultivating and see if they will fit together. Sometimes this will create a really great kernel for a novel. Sometimes ideas are more suited for shorter length and are just not destined to grow any bigger. That’s ok too, especially now, we seem to be seeing a rebirth of the short story that fits very nicely into the ebook format. They are perfect for a $.99 cent sell on Amazon.

Just because we are grown-ups now doesn’t mean we can’t recapture our youthful imagination. It’s like a small ember that needs some kindling and a little breath of air, then we can add some smaller sticks to it, and then bigger sticks and finally some logs as we kick it into gear.

 

Clear Ether!