Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Fricassee

Dear Ones!

I'll get straight to it.  (My Friday blog posts are often cathartic.)  I applied for a job, and I've made it to the second round.

This isn't earthshattering; people apply for jobs and make it to the second round all the time.  I'm not asking for gasps of admiration or even polite applause.  I'm just asking for your ear.

Here's the thing--I have a Life About Which I Say Nothing (in order to remain anonymous, obviously), and I have my Writing Life, into which you are fully and joyfully invited on an ongoing basis.  My Writing Life comprises a certain amount of my time, and that time includes this blog and MY WRITING.

You get where I'm going, right?  This job (which entails writing!) is a 10- to 20-hours-a-week, work-from-home, how-could-it-get-any-easier job that would theoretically fit like a puzzle piece into my Life About Which I Say Nothing.  But...and this is a gargantuan but...that 10- to 20-hours-week?  THAT IS MY WRITING AND BLOGGING TIME.

If I am offered the job, and if I accept, I don't know when I will write.

No, I'm not being melodramatic.  We all have the Things we do every day -- our jobs, our relationships, our lives.  And there are only so many other Things we can add to the daily lineup.  So, seriously.  I'm feeling like the fact that I'm even flirting with this job is like admitting that I'm considering, even unconsciously, the fact that it's time to move on.


Believe it or not, I do have other work in my life that isn't Authorly Work.  But I'm sure it's obvious by now that I don't have a 9-to-5 office cubicle job that takes me away from the writing world every day.  (If I did, I don't think I could handle the blog.)  I work from home, which is a huge blessing for many reasons.  So this New Potential Job fits into the way my life is already shaped.

But, oh.  Those hours-that-should-be-writing-hours.  They are sacred to me.  And now I find myself considering filling them up with something that isn't writing.

Well, it's writing.  But it's not WRITING.  What it is, actually, is copywriting.  Which I have discovered is something I can actually do.  I don't love it the way I love writing stories, but I can do it.

Mr. A has been so supportive over the years.  But it's been getting harder and harder for him to watch me work so hard and have nothing to show for it.  I think it seriously pains him every time I get another rejection from an editor.  And there's the whole money thing.  Writing stories is great, but, frankly, there's no stream of income attached to this.

I was supposed to be the one to jumpstart our retirement fund.  I was supposed to be the one to dig us out of the financial hole left by an epically failed business venture that left us with a debt load the size of Alaska.  (Lesson learned: Find investors. Don't use personal credit to fund a business.)

Big dreams, those.  "Don't worry; I will save the day!  In a few years, I will have some books sold, and we can pay off the rest of this debt.  And then we can put the rest in the bank and feel like we actually have some sort of nest egg."

Wow.  These were deeply private dreams, and I've just spilled them to the masses.  But this is raw stuff, and I know that, for many of you, the decision to keep writing or stop writing is pretty raw, too.  There are dreams, and there's reality.  There's the ROI on our time spent.  If warm fuzzies are enough to keep a person writing, then warm fuzzies it is.  But after 10 years of writing novels, my fuzzies have gone cold.

So.  This may all be for nothing, as the job may never materialize.  And even if they offer me the position, I may ultimately feel like it's not a good fit for me.  (I mean, ugh. Copywriting.  How does this compare to writing kiss scenes and making things explode?)  But I had to throw this out there, especially to those of you with full time jobs and super-full lives who STILL FIND TIME TO WRITE.  Like those of you with nine children and six dogs and a job and a volunteer position at the local food pantry.

Writing at night isn't a good option, because my brain doesn't function well after 8 pm.  I've tried.

And I already get up at 5:45 each morning, so getting up even earlier probably isn't an option, either.

(I'm not being difficult; I'm being realistic.)

(Also, I don't do caffeine, so I can't even artificially wire myself up.)

So.  If you have a super-full, super-busy life, but you still write regularly, how do you manage it?  Do you feel like you spend enough time on your craft?  Is it worth anything else you might sacrifice (like, I don't know, sleep or food or possibly shaving your legs)?

I feel like I'm at a crossroads.  And I really, really hate being here.  I need your words of wisdom today.

Thanks for being wonderful!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Public Brainstorm: Feedback

Okay, folks.  Many of you offered great ideas yesterday--it's fun digging into someone else's story for a bit, isn't it?

So please give me your feedback, and I'll determine whether or not we should do this again some time.  If you were a participant:  Did you find this exercise helpful?  Do you have some positive takeaway?  If you were an idea-giver:  Was this enjoyable?  Would you be willing to participate again in the future?

I'm all ears!  As ever, I want this to be a place you want to come to.  Critique away!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Let's Brainstorm!!

We've got a great mix of 8 stories here, and the authors need your help.  Please offer your ideas in the comment boxes!

You can reply directly to specific comments, so that it's possible for back-and-forth dialogue to occur here.  Make sure you "subscribe" to the posts you offer feedback on, so that you'll receive email notification whenever there's a reply to your comment.

We've got SO MUCH creativity in this community.  Let's offer up our collective brainpower and help our colleague get un-stuck!

Public Brainstorm #8

TITLE: The Resurrectionist
GENRE: YA Historical Thriller

18 year old Calvin will stop at nothing to make a name for himself in the medical world, but the deeper he delves into the seedy underworld of body snatching, the more he learns he's not in it just to help people. Set in 1890s America.

Cal has just killed the leader of the body snatching gang, a doctor, that Cal's a part of. He forged a letter of recommendation from the dead doctor for medical school and the dean of the school is pretty much ready to accept him. People in the local medical community are talking about the apparent "suicide" and Cal is gloating.

Where I'm stuck is I want the man's death to be written off as a suicide, so he's think's he's scot free and can make some more serious mistakes down the line and the cops get involved. But there needs to be some sort of external conflict/pressure, maybe within the gang (or a rival)? It's four guys, who all get along pretty well, but now the dynamics have to change. One other guy is doing it for the medical reasons, the other two are just doing it for the money.

Public Brainstorm #7

TITLE: Dragons of My Heart
GENRE: Fantasy

Boy turns his back on the dragons that have helped raise him when his father dies in an accident serving the dragons. I've gotten him to leave the dragons, but there's a gap (of time and space) before he reconnects and returns to the dragons. I'm looking for interesting sub-plot ideas or other challenges that will take him on his journey back to his roots. (Dragons in my world are an intelectual society- not monsters)

Public Brainstorm #6

TITLE: Liars And Thieves
GENRE: Epic Fantasy

The supreme ruler of the Dominion transmits his power to everyday objects, including a sword which protects the life of its rightful bearer--the Lord Regent of Efrathah. When the sword is stolen, Josiah, second in command, accuses trade delegates from a neighboring country who have only recently arrived in the capital.

We're at the point of the story where Josiah persuades the Lord Regent to let him search their quarters and belongings. Eventually Josiah is going to be accused of stealing the sword himself and then thrown into the dungeon.

But when I started to write the scene showing the search . . . well, there wasn't enough conflict. He looks in room A. No sword. He looks in room B. No sword. I don't know how to infuse this part of the story with conflict. Ideas?

Public Brainstorm #5

TITLE: The Memory Taker
GENRE: YA Magical Realism

Astrid takes memories. If someone can't cope with the loss of a friend or wife or someone they love, they can pay a fee and Astrid will erase that memory for them, relieving them of their unbearable pain. Astrid's younger sister is in a coma and Astrid has tried to get into her head to find the memory that has her so deep into unconsciousness, but it's too hard, too straining. But now she's found Kellan. He came to Astrid haunted by the murder of his girlfriend. And Astrid thinks that if she can help fill in the gaps of that horrific memory that's buried deep in Kellan's memories, she may find what she needs to save her sister.

Problem: I want the murder of Kellan's girlfriend to somehow be related to Astrid's sister, but I'm having trouble finding a way to plot it. I want it to be a twist that takes the reader by surprise at the end.

Public Brainstorm #4

TITLE: Still in the Works
GENRE: MG Adventure

Twelve-year-old Holland Stratford hair mysteriously turns pink and Holland tries to hide it from her mom but when she sees her new style, she gives Holland a bronze coin, then collapses.

We're at the point of the story where Holland needs to find the map so she can get the cure to save her mom and get her hair back to normal. Her dad has been arrested because the police think he took the mother. The problem is I'm not sure how to transition from Act 1 to 2 so that is interesting. What can they do to get out of the house without the adults following them or telling them no?

Public Brainstorm #3

TITLE: Splintered
GENRE: Urban fantasy

Splintered is a novel about two sisters, both born in the afterlife, "Elysium." The novel is set in Elysium and Earth. Their father is the immortal Consul charged with keeping the balance between the Core Realms of Elysium and the mortal realm of Earth where it should be. Their mother is Fae and during a massive Horde demon attack on Elysium, she disappears with one sister, Alyssa, taking her to Earth for safety. She's forced to leave her there to hide her identity as the Consuls daughter and so she grows up on Earth, coming into contact with the Conclave, an organization of Auric (magic) users on Earth bent on controlling all magic for themselves. Shes trained by them until she realizes their true purpose. She's pursued and sought after by the Council, and Conclave.

My problem: I can't really figure out why she's so important. Does she hold the key to breaking the status quo? What about her abilities makes her a target?