Tag Archives: muse

Conversation(s) with Death (aka Delirious Musings about the Writer’s Block)

Great way to start a Friday! Look at me firing the engines like it’s the Fourth of July! Four posts in three days, something good must be brewing.

I want to talk about the writer’s block. Inspirational drought. Loss of prose, reading appetite and everything in between, the death of a writer. I blogged about having the block, capital B-asshole-block, years ago when I was but a young pup and really thought I knew what I was talking about.

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Can you hear them laugh? Because I certainly can!

Gosh, my block was like premature ejaculating for a teenage boy, annoying but never really impacted my work to the point where I really considered myself retired from the writing world. In other words, I hit dry spells but could still half decently screw the shit out of a manuscript and feel pretty good about it. Graphic enough for you? Because I just got started.

Anyway… fast forward to the past four years. What forced this terrible drought upon me (and you because you are fully part of my creative process)?

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Well… like I said before here life was shitty and then got considerably better. I did not have pain as fuel to guide my process anymore, so I dried out like a sad sad dying flower.

It was an adjustment, no doubt. Life is just completely different for me. I still have bad times but they are nothing in comparison to the hell I went through. Writing happy is not the same as writing depressed. But something else interfered with my musings too. I think I was in it for something else than writing. I wanted validation, acceptance, instant success and a large following that would provide me with the love I couldn’t find within myself. Once I discovered that love, I said fuck this shit, I don’t need y’all! I basically went from one extreme to another.

The writer’s block is a personal struggle. I did not understand that. There’s no magic pill or potion you can take to beat it every time. While my life did a one-eighty, my writing halted. My ideas simmered quietly in the background. I watched more than I read and I learned to live outside of the realm of words. I discovered unspoken emotions and feelings that did not have a place on my page years ago because I did not know about them. Now I get it when people say writing is all about experience. You can be a young pup and write about fantastical worlds all day, but you need to have lived to sprinkle a dose of reality and credibility to your stories, so that the reader can fully immerse themselves in your universe (and hopefully never want to come out).

I attended a writers’ conference years ago (my only one) and everything that was talked about there was just a big old sales pitch. How to write your next best-selling novel? How to see it on the big screen (and have a hot and promising heartthrob portray your main character, preferably shirtless because we all love a nice pair of male nipples, am I right)? How to craft a catchy opening chapter? What makes people buy your book like it’s crack?

Granted, it was a romance writer conference, and I don’t do romance. But I’m pretty sure other genre conferences follow the same format mostly to attract the ones who want to hit that best seller list, and tell all their friends “I made it!”

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Just like about anything there are clinics you can take to learn all the tricks, you can search Google all day or you can pay experts aka best-selling authors to rob you of your creative spirit. Yes, they are really good at convincing you you need to change your voice to fit in to the likes of a specific audience (usually females age 18-49).

So you end up talking with people about YOUR project, and they manage to drive you as far away as possible from it to sell you THEIR project. Some agent talked to me about writing stories that take place in the 1920s, because why not? Meanwhile I’m trying to sell a paranormal story that plays very much in 2014. Granted, it was not romance but still, there were agents out there who looked for other genres.

It’s like pitching a new TV show. You try to be original, but they steer you to recycle ideas. Give them a spin in a new costume and maybe a horse carriage. Like how many versions of Glee do we need? It’s sickening, you start vomiting on your own prose and you constantly doubt yourself because you don’t know anymore if what you like to write is what people like to read.

Mark my words. After being brainwashed by many many many people, and my slogan is To Thine Own Art Be True, I strayed so far away from my art, I barely recognized myself.

Because I listened (I’m a good listener) I had retained everything that was said about trends and styles, and openings, and catchy words and all this shit in my brain, I ended up changing a story, which was not good to begin with because of xyz reasons that would be too long to explain here, but I changed it, and my character, originally an adult in her late twenties, became a seventeen year old brat.

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I wrote YA. I have nothing against YA authors or readers, good for you if you love teenagers. I personally fucking hate YA. Yes, the cursing is necessary. Because I’m at a point where this gives me a physical reaction of absolute and undivided rejection when I think of YA. Like even if it sells, I can’t fucking stand teenage angst. Give me a seventeen year old who knows nothing about life but her struggles are oh so compelling. You know what she needs? A job. Once you start trekking to work you start to appreciate free time. The process of digging into a genre I freaking despise felt like breaking a leg over and over again. It was just a painful and horrible process. I should have stopped it in the starting blocks. I should have trashed it, and went the route of my usual stuff. But I wrote YA because good people (friends) told me it was trendy and I’d get a bigger shot at attracting readers. I sold my soul and I didn’t stick to my guns. I listened to the advice, refused to listen to my own gut, and went down the YA path which was unappealing, full of stuff I did not care to discover and I really committed to the process too, which made the experience even worse.

Writing should not be painful. Not like this at least. Editing is. Fine, but writing should be free, and fun, and even if the stuff you write about is dark, and challenging, you should still enjoy it, otherwise why do it? After countless full rewrites, I managed to write a YA book about drug addiction, which isn’t so glamorous so no, my stuff ended up being not so relatable to the general public. Sorry, no Prince Charming here. The biggest blow though was when I was finally done, and I sent a copy of the book to a good friend, they did not read it (although they love YA), they critiqued the cover as not being YA enough, and then proceeded to comment that they love to read books that have a message, and talk about real life experiences (which I thought my book was about because drug addiction, you guys).

I should have let this one go. I should have not expected instant gratification or any kind of support although I thought I deserved at least a little bit of support, especially after reading YA books just to be a good pal. I learned people are people and they are not as perfect as I think they are, and they will fail my expectations. There’s no bad blood between this friend and myself, I never really told her how I felt anyway, and I don’t think it’d change anything if I did, so I’m letting this one go.

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Calm and serenity. 

My YA story was really about me though. I had a lot of anger that had to get out. I was a thirty year old female living in New York City and fighting her demons one bottle of scotch at a time. Some people said my drinking was not so much a problem as it was a crutch. Nope folks, my drinking was a problem, a problem that could have cost me my life. It took me a lot of introspection to realize that, and to move away from that.

Oh this got real serious all of a sudden. Here let’s lift the mood up. I’m fine. I got through it. But walking away from my true original goals and writing YA was simply not a good idea. In the end I managed to write a novel, which is still profound, and good, and will teach you something, but please don’t fit into a box. This is art people, we are not supposed to have boundaries. You create the rules. You define which ones you want to break. There is a voice for everyone. Fitting into a category just because people say so is just the stupidest way to ruin mojo.

You gotta find your own muse. You can’t use someone else’s. I’m not a YA author. I write horror, I write paranormal, I write sci-fi, but deep under the layers, I write about me. My characters get shit faced, they fuck strangers and they regret it the next day. My characters are dark and funny, and they all live in New York City even when I send them in outer space. I think my biggest mistake is that I tried to pasteurize a product that wasn’t meant to be clean and pretty. It was meant to hit you in the ribs and make you choke on your own blood. I could not do that with YA. Right, you’re going to tell me The Hunger Games or Divergent are pretty gory, so it could have worked. Yeah, it could have, except I don’t want my main character to be a virgin, and teenager. I want my characters to have lived, and sinned, so they can find salvation. I want them to have experienced life just the same I am experiencing it. With the good and the bad, everything that makes us human is what I like to write about, even in a fantasy world.

I get it. I’m not mainstream. Although multifaceted dark characters and noir backdrops are pretty trendy on Netflix. I don’t care about mainstream.

So there you have it. My block was all my doing. I didn’t stay true to myself. I signed some imaginary contract with some imaginary publisher targeting an imaginary audience and putting all the elements in my book I thought you’d like. Don’t get me wrong, the book is good stuff. But it’s not true to me.

Therefore I’m starting fresh. I’m dusting off the works in progress and we’re going to get real and dirty. You’re going to feel my dread. You’re going to feel my anguish. You’re going to ride the roller coaster and you will ask for more on the way down. There is pain in my story but this pain gave birth to a beautiful muse. She’s much more beautiful and kind than my old bottle of scotch, that’s for sure.

I’m not dead yet. I never died. I just got turned off, and stuck to a mold that wasn’t for me. As much freedom as writing gives me, I turned my writing process into a jail cell. The block had been self-imposed, left a bad taste in my mouth, and really made me believe I was done.

The muse woke up though. I don’t know why now is the time for her to wake up, but I’m grateful she did because I have a lot to write about.

Let’s waste no time then!

Hungry 

I’ve been reading more lately, way more than I’ve been in years. I’ve tried to focus my efforts on writing more, and felt thirsty for words. I had never starved myself as a writer. I thought with all the junk I read all day, every day, I’d been well fed. To the contrary. 

I’ve been working on multiple projects while not being able to really focus on one. My characters are patiently waiting to grow and do things but my mind is in a pit. Now I know why. 

I’ve been devouring psychological and horror thrillers and I can’t get enough. Is this a sign? I’m a big thriller person, always loved them for their fast pace and tension. They make me want to write like that. They make me want to hold my breath until the last possible second. 

I’ve neglected my craft and my muse isn’t too happy with me. I just need to focus. 

For now, I’ll satiate the hunger and read because writers can’t write if they’re malnourished. Enough of the junk, I’ll feast on the good stuff. 

I’m Back. #writing #creativeprocess #mentalblock

It hadn’t rained for the past few months. The sky stayed clear, and the earth below dry, just like her thoughts. All inspiration was gone, just like the muse.

So she stared at the window, hoping the drought wouldn’t last too long. “It happens to all writers”, she convinced herself. “My time of complete mental block is just taking forever to lift.”

She sighed. Grabbing the cup of coffee in front of her, she took a sip and sighed again. “I never used to drink coffee. I need some awakening. I’ve been in the dark for too long.”

Words came so easily before. Now, her brain lacked any creative flow.

“No, it shouldn’t last too long,” she repeated, as if the words had some magical meaning. But they didn’t. The truth shall set her free.

“Maybe, I’m just not a true writer.” Ah that truth hurt like hell.

Because she really believed she had a gift. Words were her friends at some point. She would think of something, anything, and that mustard seed gave rise to a majestic story. Whatever the topic, she could write about it. No biggie. She had it all figured out.

Until a few months back, when she started focusing on selling her latest book, instead of writing more. The time she spent doing what she thought was something, but in reality was nothing, dragged her into a hole where inspiration wasn’t invited. Worse, inspiration didn’t matter.

She was trying so hard to fit in. To find the special formula that would make anyone eat out of her hand like she was pooping gold. And did she poop gold? To her, her stories were priceless. To the rest of the world? The world didn’t care so much.

And that was the root of the problem. She wanted everyone to acknowledge what a brilliant author she was, instead of not giving a darn, and keeping her writing fresh. There was so much to be thankful for. The bestsellers didn’t make a difference. Her stories were about human conflict. No sex, no violence, just tales of people who lived their lives the best they could, and were everyday superheroes.

Because her creative juices came from the streets of New York City. And she knew how to bleed these streets dry by watching, and listening.

After an everlasting period of no real writing, today, the drought finally ended, and for the first time she wrote something. Her mind ran, and she ran with it. It felt so good to be friends with words again, and not to worry about selling books.

She was an author. A real one. Riddled by self-doubt, and all kinds of negative thoughts about her worth and talent.

Doubt didn’t matter anymore though. Deep down, she knew she’d kick ass.

And all she had to do was write.

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#MM Find Your Monday Muse!

Strolling yesterday among book shelves at Barnes & Nobles (always wondered why people hang out in bookstores but not in libraries), I told myself the day 32 Seconds comes out, I’m taking the place hostage until they kick me out. And if I don’t have the guts to take the place hostage, I’m dumping my book everywhere. You think someone will notice the book isn’t supposed to be there? An innocent bystander will totally buy it.

Anyway, long story short, yesterday I re-read my manuscript one more time and finally sent it for formatting and publishing prep. All the good stuff has to come to an end eventually. I’ll disregard the blood, sweat and tears, and the million hours spent writing this story. The torture was totally worth it!

I take the writing bug like an addiction. It’s not as out of control though. And while 32 Seconds gets beautified, I’m working on the first volume of the Manicheans (one out of many). I wouldn’t write if I wasn’t inspired by the Big Apple. I hate and love this town, but thank God I have it! It’s my muse. The stuff I see, hear, smell – the unmistakable stench of Times Square in the summer, the homeless passed out on the sidewalk, the teens smoking a blunt outside the bus terminal, the girls wearing clothing even a respectable hooker wouldn’t dare steal, all that stuff – it’s my life. I thought I could stay away from it, and just write from staring at trees – which I can do, but it’s just not the same – New York brings me back every time.

I not only live for this town, I also live for its people. The mix of cultures, languages, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and all the other stuff that make the City so unique, so vibrant, so entertaining, drive me to watch, listen and learn, until I’m full and words cascade down the page like a waterfall. Worse image would be like vomit, but I don’t really vomit words unless I’m pissed.

32 Seconds doesn’t take place in New York City but the City totally inspired me to write this book. Hope you’re as excited as I am for its upcoming release.

Stay out of trouble. Until tomorrow, folks!

#TT – Trigger the Muse

Ah yes. My muse loves to tell me what to do!! Sometimes though, she’s very silent and I need to trigger her so I can write.

screenshot-museThe internet gave me this cute little how to jump-start your muse list. The website it came from promotes a hypnotic writing wizard software – apparently, with a few hypnotic tricks, your mind will open like a flower and you can write a book at the speed of light.

Alright, I laugh at the idea. I mean come on. First, let’s look at this list. I don’t play the guitar but I do talk to myself all the time, and play with my cats every day. Pretend you are rich…nice one. Write nonsense. Take slow breaths. Mmmmmmmmm. Take a break? Shut up!!!

If there’s one thing I know, my muse doesn’t come over if I scratch my cat’s belly or if I believe my bank account balance is over one million dollars. For the hypnotic tricks, I don’t know about you, but I think hypnosis works great when you want to quit smoking, give birth, or travel back in time so you can get inspired. Maybe that’s what this software is about. Inspiration. And a great way to make money off gullible people who think they can write a book in three days without doing any research.

I’m gonna save my money because I don’t believe in shortcuts when it comes to writing. If you’re dedicated to writing, you’ll spend the necessary time to craft a great story.

To jump-start my muse, I do the following:

– I meditate

– I eat chocolate

– I play video games – or watch walkthroughs on YouTube

– I read ANYTHING

– I watch a movie

– I take a walk

– I go to work

– I talk to people

– I listen to people

And this list could go on and on and on…We all have different methods. My muse gets particularly cranky when I don’t give her the attention she deserves and leaves me dry, and I can’t write anything. Being a writer isn’t supposed to be a one-trick pony. I’d love to press a button and my muse would purr like a Ferrari engine. Maybe in another life.

How do you jump-start your muse?

 

#Life on Life’s Terms

When people tell me to take it easy, I usually react like this: fuck patience. I want things fast, and when it includes writing, gosh, I wish there was a pill I could take like in the movie Limitless, and write my book in six hours. My story would be brilliant, and perfect by the first draft. How cool would that be? Life on life’s terms? Yeah. Right.

The truth of the matter is, there’s no such pill on the market. And even if that pill existed, I would think twice before taking it. First, because I don’t take pills of any kind anymore (except the ones that are really necessary and won’t mess with my mind and sanity). Second, because writing is a process. It’s like giving birth to a child. It takes nine months to make a baby. It takes years to write a book. For me at least, it takes years. My thinking process evolves constantly, and a book doesn’t take two or three drafts, but at least fifteen, including rewrites. It’s painful. It’s beautiful. It’s worth the time and effort when the job is finally done.

I have a tendency to be over-critical of my work. I ask myself the same questions, over and over again. Is the story good? Does it make sense? Will it speak to people? I’m not here to give you fluff. I write about life, my life, and use fictional characters to basically tell you everything I do, think and dream of. Writing feels like cutting a piece of my own flesh and putting it on paper. It truly feels this way for me.

I have a day job. Hobbies. Friends. Commitments. A boyfriend. Cats. All of that takes away from the writing time. And I do get mad at myself for not giving my muse more attention. I wish I could write more. Do more. Life on life’s terms. Life asks of me to be there for others, before being there for my selfish self. So the writing sometimes takes more time than I like. But the end result often appears to be better than expected.

Because life makes me grow. Life gives me inspiration. Life proves to me on a daily basis that my art is versatile. Writing takes away my fears and worries. Writing gives me freedom to dig into myself deeper, and find wonderful treasures. Why should I rush through this? Why should I believe writing a book in six hours would be the best deal ever?

Life on life’s terms simply means time is not my enemy, but my ally. And as a dedicated writer, time helps me improve my craft. I heard from many people I should only work on my books, not blog as often, not be on social sites, not do this, not do that, but you know what? This is just something that doesn’t work for me. Maybe it works for others. I need to embrace the experience. Writing is my passion. If I start putting impossible deadlines on my work, I won’t go anywhere. I’ll probably die before the book is finished.

Life isn’t supposed to be rushed. Nor is writing. I’ll just keep telling myself these words over and over again to prevent the muse from screaming and kicking in the background.