I didn’t write yesterday, but I really wanted to. I was tired after a day of meetings and taking care of my husband (the stomach flu, not anything dangerous). But I felt the Spring in my bones, and I felt my muse over my shoulder and I wondered if I could get back into my story that needs writing.
Stories on the docket
I have, in fact, two stories that I could write. One of them is contemporary fantasy, taking place on my fictitious collective Barn Swallows Dance, and in the realm of the Archetypes, InterSpace. Changes happen such that the Archetypes are slowly being fired from their task carrying the essence of humanity and thus humans’ lives. The Archetypes explode at their sudden lack of purpose. The only person who can stop the bloodshed, if at all, is a pregnant eighteen-year-old girl who carries the gift of influencing history randomly. To do so, she faces the dangers of a human in InterSpace.
The other is fantasy romance, about a thirty-something librarian who encounters a charming neighbor who she falls for, to her friend’s surprise. When the man disappears, the librarian meets his goblin accomplice, and she embarks on a journey to rescue her man from a very possessive queen of Faerie.
So there are two stories that I could write — and a third option, which would be to come up with a new story. I don’t know that I have any knocking around my brain right now. I am inspired by the extrordinary relationships of ordinary people, the surprising things hidden in plain sight, and the unexpected consequences of seemingly ordinary things. And people, beautiful people who I can write fanciful things about.
There’s nothing like feeling inspired just as the semester is about to get busy. Tomorrow is the first day of the semester, where I have two classes to teach and office hours and all the little things to take care of, and I want to play with the next book. I hope this goes away, at least for a week, so I feel like I’m beginning work instead of devoting myself to my sideline.
What’s the book about?
The name of the book is Maker’s Seeds, and it concerns the Archetypes that show up in Apocalypse and Whose Hearts are Mountains. The Archetypes are, for intents and purposes, humanoid immortals, and they exist to hold humans’ cultural memories. If the Archetype dies through violence to their hearts or heads, their people will die because of the death of cultural memory.
The above books (none of which I have published) focus more on the human (or half-human) point of view. Maker’s Seeds looks at the Archetype point of view, concerning their Maker’s decision to slowly remove the responsibilities of holding humans’ cultural memories from the Archetypes. The result is a race of powerful immortals choosing sides in a schism, fighting in battle to the death — before the Maker has divested most of their cultural memories, thus endangering much of humanity.
The two central figures of the story are Luke Dunstan, an Archetype and Leah Inhofer, a seventeen-year-old human. The opposing viewpoints between the two — old vs young, Archetype vs human — make for drama as they try to prevent the Battle between Archetypes and the potential annihilation of millions of humans.
That being said …
I’m not ready to write it yet. I’m not willing to let loose my creative mind before the semester starts. Maybe I will this weekend, although I have lost my coffeehouse home because of closure (RIP Board Game Cafe). I hope to reconnect with writing soon.
What is this TikTok thing anyhow?
I’m on TikTok. Yes, I have a TikTok. Yes, I’m old. Yes, I’m probably too old for TikTok. But I have these little books to sell, and anything that can help me do so is welcome.
Someone — a couple people — made obnoxious comments on my TikTok yesterday. The comments even included a reference to “WAP”. (And yes, I understood the reference. I’m not THAT old. If you’re that old, it refers to a really risque song by Cardi B whose lyrics I will not share).
When I get comments, they’re often not positive. Ok, the ones from my friends are, but the ones from the general public are often insulting or argumentative. I don’t know if it’s the nature of TikTok, the fact that I’m using it at 58, or something about me or my posts. I don’t answer the comments, because if I’ve learned anything in my old age, it’s ‘don’t feed the trolls’.
I guess what I need to do is find a niche. “Fireside chat with a weird person” probably isn’t a bad niche. But maybe a better one will come to me. I have to admit I come up with ideas about one minute till filming, which makes me a bit of an improv artist. A weirdo with a fireside chat, after all.
And I’m hoping for positive messages to outweigh the idiots who responded on my TikTok yesterday.
Most of my ideas, strangely enough, come from dreams, and I haven’t had any inspiring dreams lately (except for the one last night where Jason Momoa helped me with an awkward yard task and then winked at me.) I write fantasy and science fiction with a strong relationship (one might call it romance) element, so dreams about unusual happenings or intriguing strangers (not counting Jason Momoa) tend to provoke my dreams.
My imagination of course fuels and expounds upon these dreams. A certain “what if” element comes into play. What if there was a collective in the middle of nowhere that had to keep its reality secret? What if a woman’s annihilating power was disguised as a mental illness? What if the end of the world could be triggered by killing one person?
The well has run dry
Here’s my frustration — I haven’t come up with any new ideas lately. This could be because I’m just coming off a semester; it may be because I’m doing very well with my moods; it could be because nobody intriguing has visited my dreams (not counting Jason Momoa). I have been assigned by an editor I met to start writing short stories for submission until I can get some traction on my novels.
What are the solutions?
One thing I’ve done is write new stories based on the already written ones. This is why I have four novels and 10 short stories dealing with the universe of Archetypes. I have been charged with writing short stories, however, and I need to get out of my world and write standalone stories rather than “reader magnets”. One solution writers often use is writing prompts, or phrases/sentences providing an idea for the writer to go forth with. a couple of my favorite short stories were written on prompts (not about Jason Momoa). Another solution, one that I will be using today, is bouncing ideas off my husband (who is not Jason Momoa).
My request to you
I would love it if you threw me some story prompts to write with, hopefully fantasy (and not with Jason Momoa).
I made 50k (50 editing hours) for Camp NaNo yesterday, and I’m almost done editing Reclaiming the Balance, which is in part a parable about how “woke” people can sometimes get caught being prejudicial of a new situation. It’s also a story about a love affair between a sculptor and a beautiful, truly androgynous being who was “born yesterday” as an adult. I guess it’s also a story about how our pasts cripple us in the present.
I feel a need for more ideas. Short stories this time, because I have enough novels, or so I’ve been told. My idea of stories, though, are mystical, mythical, and at times provocative.
I need some good, weird dreams as material to write. That’s how I’ve gotten my best novels. I need something new to write stories about — most of my short stories are about the world around Barn Swallows’ Dance (the fictitious ecocollective that keeps many secrets); one takes place in the Kringle world. I need to write some standalones to submit to journals and other outfits.
What I need is some time to think. I should have some of that this summer.
This is the question every writer gets asked. Usually the response is vague dread, because many of us don’t know on the spot where we get our ideas. The answer comes only after a good session of introspection, and at the moment the question gets asked, we can’t reflect on the question rapidly.
Over the years I’ve done this introspection, and these are the answers I’ve come up with:
From other books I’ve read. But I need to be careful not to plagairize.
From dreams/daydreaming. This is my favorite source. I often take a dream and interpret it using Jungian methods, which I call interrogating the dream.
From conversations with my husband, which often start with “What if?”
From observation. I don’t know if I’ve ever written a story entirely from observation, but scenes and characters often come from this
From what I’ve written previously. Sequels!
Sometimes I don’t have any ideas. Right now I feel like I need to write a new novel (after revising a couple) and I don’t have any ideas. Ok, actually, I have three ideas based on series I have going, but I don’t know how excited I’m getting about them. Not all ideas are workable:
One of the books would require living in Poland for at least three months to get the flavor of the place. I have no money, no knowledge of the Polish language, and no tour guide.
Another which is part of my Archetype universe, and for some reason it’s not grabbing me.
Yet another in the Archetype universe that’s too nebulous to write about.
I think I need some dreams or daydreaming right now to inspire me. My dreams last night were stupid and not worth writing about. In my dreams, an actor friend of mine got a nose job and I got really angry because he had succumbed to dominant culture beauty standards. That’s it. Unless I’m writing a warped version of The Picture of Dorian Gray, I don’t see much use in this dream.
The good news is that, with my NaNo project of writing the sequel to The Kringle Conspiracy, I have found my love for writing again.The bad news is that I don’t know what to write next.
One possibility is writing the serialized novel called “Kel and Brother Coyote Save the Universe,” a light-hearted space opera. Another possibility would be to write Hands, which would be the polar opposite of Kel and Brother Coyote, a very psychological book about a boy who can heal — or kill — by touch. The one problem with this is that it would be set in the year 2005 in Krakow, and I don’t see any way that I could immerse myself in that era and place to the extent it would feel authentic.
There are still other possibilities. I could write the third story in the Kringle Chronicles, but I want to wait till NaNo next year to write that. I could write a sequel to Voyagers (or lengthen it to a full novel). I could write the sequel to Apocalypse, Gods’ Seeds. There’s so many choices.
But for now, I will edit the slightly problematic sequel to The Kringle Conspiracy, known as Kringle in the Dark. That will keep me busy.
I am going to push myself into writing today. COVID has made me less inclined to write, as has editing all summer (and I’m still editing Gaia’s Hands) and a general sense of not knowing where to go. But today is a good time to start, because I’m going to have the whole day to myself —
My brain just asked, “Why not sleep? You haven’t gotten a good sleep for a while!” That’s true; my kitten Chloe has been waking me up with these claws-out zoomies across the bed. But I want to feel like I’ve accomplished something — and loading up Tweetdeck with my #PitMad entries two weeks in advance isn’t enough. I need to feel like something is going forward.
I’m struggling between staying at home and going out to the Game Cafe. The former has a too-familiar, uninspiring atmosphere. The latter has everything I need, but I’m afraid of getting overcaffeinated.
Tough decision. Hmmm…
But the bigger decision is what I’m going to write. I would feel better writing a short story right now than writing on Gaia’s Hands because that feels like so much work without reward. I’m not liking it for vague reasons and I don’t know how to fix what I’m not liking. The story right now feels like a bucket that takes endless water to fill.
I am wondering if I should free-write to see if there’s a new story in here. My short story plots in the past have included a child trying to get back with her friends, who have been captured by the wee folk; a vampire at a NA meeting.; a woman with bipolar disorder who believes she is the avatar of a wrathful God; a parody of a noir detective story; a story about a woman’s asshole inner child escaping; two buddy stories set in space; a story about cultural differences and a second chance; an immortal who falls in love with an elderly woman and has to learn about death; a few others.
Maybe I need to stir up my psyche with ideas that turn into stories. These stories have come from visual images I’ve experienced; prompts from contests; dreams; flippant self-inquiry, and character development for novels.
My dreams lately consist of equipment failure and taking my clothes off in the middle of the hallway at work. And ex-boyfriends wanting to come back with me and telling me I’m the only one. (I don’t believe them.)
Here’s my writing goals list for the year as of today:
Develop a platform plan by March 1, 2020
Revise Whose Hearts are Mountains via developmental edit by March 1, 2020
Send 30 queries for Whose Hearts are Mountains by March 1, 2020
Send 30 queries for Whose Hearts are Mountains by April 1, 2020
Send 30 queries for Whose Hearts are Mountains by May 1, 2020
Send 50 queries for Gaia’s Hands by December 1, 2020
Write/submit 5 short stories/poems/flash fiction by December 31, 2020
Inner Child – January 30
Kel and Brother Coyote Make a Deal – February 15
Develop idea for next novel
Get an agent
Discuss with agent further books
Publish my first book
Develop personal sales presence
I guess I’m not doing too badly.
Short-term goals tend to build into longer-term goals, and long-term goals can build on each other. I’m currently working on the “getting an agent” part through queries, and if I get an agent to take me on, the queries section of the short-term goals will likely resolve itself. Publishing the book, on the other hand, will take years once I have a publisher, so it’s really long-term.
Personal sales presence is something I can’t really develop (other than developing a platform, which I am doing).
And I have ideas for a next novel. Almost too many, given that I’ve been advised to focus my efforts on shorter fiction. But I’ll pick one by NaNoWriMo (November), then start writing it.
I may have to come up with more goals at this rate.
I’m spending my last couple hours at Starved Rock sitting in front of the fireplace in the Great Hall, soaking up the atmosphere. It has been a good vacation despite my frustrations borne of childhood issues temporarily clouding my perception. I need to get back to writing. This will be easily cured by a big project in the form of my developmental edit of Whose Hearts are Mountains. The frustration, though, is that I don’t have any ideas on the back burner, neither short story nor novel. I don’t like feeling so tenuous about my attachment to writing. I need to have a resolution that I will write two hours a day once more. It’s been a while since I’ve spent that much time — no, I take that back; I was writing/editing four hours a day cleaning up Whose Hearts are Mountains in November. Does anyone have any story ideas I can play around with?