Longevity

Last night I had the opportunity to see the Foo Fighters in concert. My ears are still ringing, but 3 hours into the concert, with Dave Grohl and the rest playing continuously, I started to think about longevity.

The Foo Fighters have been actively playing, touring, and making new albums for over 20 years. I don’t think anyone thought the band would have creative output for that long, and no one can predict tastes and preferences for the consuming public. But I think there is a lesson here for plugging along that is relevant to any creative career, especially writing.

So often, I think we as writers lose sight of why we wanted to start writing in the first place. We had an idea for a story that ignited our imagination. We hear “don’t write to the market”, but publishers want to see consistent themes and genres. We hear “write what you know”, but consistently get turned down from agents and publishers. Our stories matter, and we need to remember to keep writing what we want to write, to keep delving into the ideas that keep our creative juices flowing, and keep working on craft.

All the members of the Foo Fighters are talented individuals, but the reason they are the only band from the rock-resurgence 90s to survive today is their persistence. They kept making records, even when the public tastes turned to bubble-gum pop.. They kept touring, when few bands tour anymore. They kept playing, writing new songs, even when many of their colleagues had retired, or quit. Persistence and output matter.

All this is to say- just keep moving forward. Keep putting the stories you want to write out there. Work on craft, and stay professional. Do these things, and you will build an audience. Do them well, and you will build a bigger audience impassioned about your work. Do them for 20 years, and you have a career.

 

Until next time-

Lillian

 

What I am listening to now…. Nothing but the ringing in my ears

The Postman Always Rings Twice

All-

I have lately started reading mystery/ thriller fiction from the 1930s as a palate cleanser. I finished “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” “Murder on the Orient Express,” and “The Maltese Falcon.”

My word, every writer should read these works. The prose is sparse yet insightful, the plots and pacing are superb, and the characterization through description and dialogue is par none. We can all learn something from these writers to help our own prose.

Sometimes, I think we all get too bound up with “what the industry wants” as far as style instead of “what this story needs.” Innovative fiction and a well-written story are always the right design choice.

So, try to read a few books in different genres, different styles of writing, time periods, poetry, anything that will keep your creative juices flowing and keep your own writing fresh.

Until next time,

Lillian

First Page woes

All-

I am deep in the workings of my WIP, and have gone back and re-written my first chapter multiple times. This is part of my process, and I thought it may be helpful to discuss with others out in the ether.

I always *think* I know where my books will end up when I start writing, but by the end, I will invariably have veered off the rails. This is why I am a loose outliner. Because of this, I often go back and rewrite my beginning AFTER I write the end of the book.

So, it equally drives me bonkers and amazes me when I am at a writing conference, and people are reading and critiquing first pages, and put all this work into it, JUST TO CHANGE IT LATER. Ye gods! I know I will spruce up the beginning in preparation for a writing retreat or slush pile reading, but I know the people who ALWAYS bring the beginnings of the SAME works year after year. As John Hartness says, “A 95 is still an A grade.” Finish the story, then move on.

I also think a lot of writers struggle with what to put on the first page. I have heard several famous authors state the entire conflict in the book must be on the first page, certainly by page three. Again, I think a lot of writers struggle with this, and I think it depends on genre conventions. I personally feel the first chapter is fair game to set up some establishing shots, but as an example, James Bond never meets his enemy in the first scene, but that scene always has something to do with character establishment, reader grounding, or plot.

So, I remind myself of the advice I have given here, and will stop going back and  redoing the first bits of the book until I am satisfied with the climactic scene of my work. Then I will truly know what the stakes are about, and can make a proper introduction to the work.

Until next time,

lillian

DONE! For now…..

I have finished my draft for my WIP. Today or tomorrow, it gets wrapped lovingly in tissue paper and sent to my editor.

Here is where the hard work begins.

I know there are things about the story, character, plot, grammar that will require correction. I may have to drastically change parts of the story. What I consider a central element may simply not work, and I may have to trash the whole thing and start from scratch.

It’s all part of the editing process.

I am changing editors for this work as well. My last editor, while great for grammar and punctuation, fell short in the developmental area. I need a developmental editor as much if not more than a copyeditor. So, a change with a new person is in place.

I will keep you updated for the progress of the work as we slog through the swamp of editing revisions.

Have a lovely day. Stay safe, Florida.

Until next time,

Lillian

Warning all ye who travel this path

Hello, gentle reader! I am taking this long weekend to get caught up on my WIP, to meet my self-imposed deadline, and to start working on an old project.

You see, I made a rookie mistake a few years back, and I am paying the price for it now.

After publishing my first book, I was in a crisis of confidence. On the one hand, I was giddy with pride at publishing my first book. I had plans for books two and three, and there are forty thousand words sitting on my hard drive to prove it.

I questioned if I should stop writing in that world and start something new, or plug along with the known world. I analyzed each angle, each argument endlessly. In the end, I stopped writing on my first world thinking no one wanted to read more. I floundered for years trying to work on other things, new bright and shiny items because I secretly feared I was not a good enough writer to handle the race/class/gender/sexuality issues seeded in my first book. The plot- cemented in my head. The characters- real people to me with real motivations. My confidence suffered when it came to putting words on the page, so I didn’t.

Several years later, I am happily working on a new project, and while that brings me professional satisfaction, I still feel the pull of my unfinished business in my first book. I wish I had just plowed through, and trusted myself to handle the subject matter in a thoughtful and productive way. Or trusted myself to read the project after it was finished and say, “It’s not ready yet.”

Will I write in that world again? Of course. Will it be a full novel? Unsure. It is extremely difficult to go back after several years and start dissecting a story. In my case, I may just start over from scratch.

My advice today to all you peeps struggling with your creative endeavors, your hobbies- keep at it. Trust yourself. Or else be sad like me at the missed opportunities.

Lillian

Weather- Sunny, drizzly and a bit humid. This reminds me of any crime novel set in Florida:)

 

Into the Wild

As you read this, I am out of contact in the wilds of the Blue Ridge Mountains in my new RV.
I want to hike to a local waterfall, and write *a lot* each day we are away from town. Surrounding myself with nature is always the creative boost I need to place words on the page.
Getting away is a luxury of time I can't afford with every deadline. When I am at home, I love just taking a walk, working outside in my garden, or playing with the dogs to help me move forward on a project. There is something about the mix of sunshine and fresh air that rejuvenates.
Wherever you are this day, make it a positive one.
Until next time-
Lillian

Still working Major Tom

In honor of the eclipse, I will characterize my current writing style as a gaseous primordial ball of characters held together by weak gravitational forces surrounding minute dirty iced fragments of plot that I hope will coalesce into a cohesive story.

Yes- I am at that place where if I reach out my fingers I can barely touch the finish, but there are so many disparate plot issues and things that need fixing I start to doubt if I will ever finish.

So, all systems are running smoothly and per expectation for this part of the WIP:)

Hope y’all have a lovely week. I’m off to wrangle a stardust-glittered set of ideas into a real story.
Until next time-
Lillian

*Musical choice for the week- Bluegrass. Lots of bluegrass.