Back on track- “Way of the Blessed”

I’ve been doing well, managing to push fan fictions behind me to focus on what I really should be working on, Way of the Blessed.   I’ve produced twenty pages in the past two days, and it’s walking forward under its own power again.   It’s bad news for those who are waiting for the endings of those three fan fics, even worse knowing that at least two of them are just a chapter or two away from being completed, but I’m always much more secure in what I’m doing if I’m working on my own original works.

And for this one, it means research.  While I love to do it, I always feel like I’m just scratching the surface and somehow, somewhere, I’ve gotten something desperately wrong along the way.   I think that’s one of the reasons why I am so insecure with “The Harder Right”, although I did as exhaustive a research as I could, given my limitations, I still feel that there is something in it that would be glaringly wrong to someone who has been there before, I just can’t see it.

Thankfully, Way of the Blessed’s research right now is strictly map based,  (Thank you, Google Earth!) plotting the path between Nathalie’s main home in the Arkansas Ozarks and her destination…her parents’ home in northern Texas.  That part of Texas, I am familiar with and don’t feel the same doubt about writing as I do when I put Nat and Gideon in places I’m only passingly familiar with or have never been before in my life.  But it can’t really be helped, I just have to do the best I can and accept the fact that I will get something wrong along the way.   Science fiction and fantasy are so much easier for me, and I miss always being right with them, but at this point, Way of the Blessed is still very close to here and now and it’s something I just have to deal with.

But, all of that angst aside, it’s good to talk to Nathalie again.  It’s good to be writing my own stuff again (sorry, fan fiction fans!).   And it’s good to be truly writing again.    (Oh, and it is an absolutely beautiful, clear blue day here in the wilds of SW Wisconsin!   I know we’re due for another winter storm later this week, but again, I’ll take what I have right now.)

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The creamy filling.

Something happened last night that really started me thinking about how far I’ve come on this journey.  I tend to be pretty hard on myself, I’ve been pursuing what I’ve known to be my calling for decades now, and it doesn’t seem like I’ve really gotten that much closer to making it a viable reality instead of a pipe dream.   But I’ve had a moment of insight, a chance to peer through the looking glass, and I see not how far I have still to go, but how far I’ve traveled.

My real problem with writing content that reaches out and grabs a reader has always been ‘the creamy filling’ of a story.  Dialogue comes easily, since I see the scene in my head, all I have to do is transcribe what the characters say, word for word, and it works every time.  The mechanics of where they are, what they’re doing, again come from that.   If I see a character picking something up, then I say that they pick it up.  But there’s more to a story than that, there’s internal dialogue, deep characterization, embroidering the little flaws, quirks and foibles of a character in an attempt to reach and touch reality with them.  When I first got deeply into my writing, I had a real issue with this.  Certainly, I thought, my readers really didn’t want to know such pointless, worthless minutiae about a person who doesn’t exist, right?   Wrong.   Meeting a well developed character is like falling in love, and just like you want to see, grasp, embrace and know every little secret about your new found soul mate, sharing some of these points with your characters helps a reader to fall in love with them as well.   There’s a part in Clearing of the Way where Nathalie remembers a quilt she made as a young teenager, which she fashioned out of washcloths instead of the precise cotton patches that her cousins had used.   Years ago, I would have seen the scene in my head, known that it had happened, but would have decided it was too pointless to actually add to a work in progress.      Who would want to know that?  Now I see that it is a valuable insight into how Nathalie’s mind works, and a way to show the reader that she’s always a little step off, even with the family she adores so much.

Now, it’s possible to overdo this and meticulously (ugh, word sounds like work, a real killjoy, doesn’t it?) describe every single thing… which was where I went in overreaction when I realized that my stories were lacking.   A creamy filling still requires a pastry to hold it in.   The search for the happy middle has been a journey, but it’s a journey I’ve taken quite a few steps in.

Spring Fever-These Dragon Haunted Days, Songs of the Unsung, Path of a Calling

Ah, yes, it’s late winter.  And it seems like every February and March in Wisconsin gives me the same restless lack of focus.

I’ve been playing the rejection dejection game with the short stories I’ve described earlier, and that brings its own issues.   I’m fairly used to the dreaded rejection letters by now, but sometimes the whole process still confuses me.  How can they reject a story merely six hours after I email it?  Is their staff that up on their slush piles that they’re waiting with bated breath for the next one to arrive?   Did they change their guidelines for content and/or length without updating their submission guidelines?  Are they full up, but again, didn’t update their sub guidelines?  I know that I’ll never know the answer, but the immediate rejections really make me wonder.   I’d rather wait the usual weeks and at least delude myself into thinking they had a chance.

Writing fanfiction…again.  (Or is that, still?)   Unfortunately, that lack of focus means I’m flitting from fanfic to fanfic like a sugar high hummingbird.  I’m currently writing three.  At the same time.  Yeah, I really don’t suggest it, but thankfully I believe that “These Dragon Haunted Days” only lacks a chapter or two before I stick a fork in it and call it done.

On a brighter note, I’ve become involved in a new writing group, and unlike the one I describe earlier in the blog, this one seems to be much more my style and more closely fits my needs.  It doesn’t hurt that it’s also much closer!  Maybe having some push and input will help me get back to Way of the Blessed and give it the swift kick in the pants it needs to get going again.