Frequently Asked Question: What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

insecure2bwriters2bsupport2bgroup2bbadgeToday’s question comes courtesy of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

I think we need to define our terms first, wouldn’t you agree? Here’s what Dictionary.com says about the word “ultimate.”

ultimate

[uhl-tuh-mit]

adjective

  1. last; furthest or farthest; ending a process or series: the ultimate point in a journey; the ultimate style in hats.
  2. maximum; decisive; conclusive: the ultimate authority; the ultimate weapon.
  3. highest; not subsidiary: ultimate goal in life.

Here’s the thing: there’s no good answer for me. When it came to my first novel, In The Eye of The Beholder, I started with a short story.  That was all.  I was writing for my own pleasure.  And then the story wouldn’t be quiet.  It evolved into a novel. Then, my goal became to publish it.  The paperback edition was traditionally published in the US and the UK before the rights reverted to me.  I did the eBook myself.

Then, when a rock club I used to frequent was being not just shuttered but torn down, I wanted to write about my experiences in the music business.  That became Music, Mayhem, and Bad Decisions (under its original title, You Had to Be There).

The thing is, I think writing goals are mutable.  Take It Happened in Memphis and Other Stories as an example; I worked on that project for an entire year before deciding it needed to be repurposed in its entirety. Let’s face it; as authors, we know when we’ve missed the mark.  My original goal was to publish it as a collection of short fiction, but it’s too disjointed.  So, now the goal is different. I’m tweaking two of the stories, “Ghosts of Tupelo” and “Last Stop: Storyville,” for submission to Dan Alatorre’s latest WordWeavers competition.  I’ll figure out what to do with the others as I go; some will be discarded for the time being, and a much smaller collection is likely to be set up as an eBook at some point.

So, there you have it. I don’t have one ultimate, overarching goal.

 

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Frequently Asked Question: What’s harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

insecure2bwriters2bsupport2bgroup2bbadgeToday’s question comes from the Insecure Writers’ Support Group.

This is a question with no easy answer.  I’ve talked before about where I find character names.  So, you already know that sometimes I use placeholders while I’m figuring out who a character is.  Oftentimes it’s easy; other times, like with Diana Corbett, I need a little more time.

Well, the same thing applies to book titles.  Bayou NonStandard Time became It Happened in Memphis and Other Stories.  For well over a year, In The Eye of The Beholder was listed simply as Erik/Claire on my computer until I saw a quote by Confucius, “All things have beauty for those with eyes to see.”  At that moment, I knew what the book should be called.

On the other hand, some titles, like Bayou Fire, came to me right away.

In other words, this isn’t a question of either/or, but “sometimes both.”

 

Frequently Asked Question: It’s spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

insecure2bwriters2bsupport2bgroup2bbadgeToday’s question comes courtesy of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

Honestly, I’m not sure how to answer this question.  The majority of my books seem to have been published in late spring/early summer, but many of them took more than a year to write and edit.

I am pretty much a year-round writer; the seasons don’t seem to make a difference.  How about you? Is there a time when you are better able to focus, find inspiration or, frankly, put your backside in the chair and just write?  Feel free to answer in comments.

 

Frequently Asked Question: When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?

insecure2bwriters2bsupport2bgroup2bbadgeOnce again, this question comes courtesy of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

You know, I have come to grips with the idea that it’s okay to have a full range of emotions.  I sit with them, I experience them, I figure out what they’re telling me.  I don’t force myself to ignore them and do something else — whether it’s writing, or doing the dishes.

I don’t know how typical that is, but I know that it’s me.  I can always pick the writing back up again when I’ve learned what I need to know from those internal cloudy days.

How about you?  Do you have some secret trick that helps you in these situations?  Feel free to share in comments.

 

How Do I Restore My Spoons, You Ask?

spoon-3078582_640

Well, maybe you didn’t ask.  However, this post has been burbling around in my head since Sunday’s gospel brunch, so I decided to share my thoughts.

If you’re not familiar with spoon theory and how it relates to chronic illness, check it out here.  I’ll be using the analogy throughout this post. The upshot is that a spoon is like a unit of energy.  When you live with a chronic illness, like I do with Hashimoto’s disease, it’s hard to know what doing a given thing will do.  Sometimes you will be just fine, sometimes you’ll be wiped out completely, or sometimes, unexpectedly, you will get spoons back from the activity.

Friday night, I went out to dinner and a movie with my husband.  I had a great time, but I had also had an extremely busy day at work.  I was at such a deficit that I had to spend Saturday on the couch and cancel dinner plans with friends.  I’d gone beyond my available spoons, so I needed to rest up and restore my energy.

Sunday was the gospel brunch … and I got spoons back because of the live music.

M&M frt Verson 1I am not making this up.  Live music is something I’ve loved since I was a small child.  That love is part of why I was in the music business for a while (reference my book, Music, Mayhem, and Bad Decisions if you want the good, the bad, and the ugly …).  There was a time in my life when I went out to hear bands several times per week, be they local favorites, national, or international acts.

I’ve been fortunate to see and meet some of my long-time idols like Doug Kershaw, Laurence Juber,  the late Mick Ronson, the late Clarence Clemons, and many others.

I even make it a point, whenever I travel, to try to hear local performers.  That’s how I was blessed to see the late Preston Shannon in the months before his passing, as well as seeing Leroy Jones and the Preservation Hall Jazz Masters in the Hall itself.

You’ve probably noticed that music wends its way through my fiction as well.  Not only do we see characters doing period dances, but listening to live performances, playing music either professionally or with family and friends, and more.  It’s all because of my love of live performance.

I have found something to like in every genre of music except Chinese opera … which even its fans tell me is something of an acquired taste.  I haven’t given up on it (yet).

I have tickets to some outstanding upcoming shows featuring favorite performers, which gives me something to look forward to on many levels — not the least of which is knowing that my energy is restored every time I see a live band perform.

How about you?  What kind of activities give you energy in return for what you put out?  Please feel free to answer in comments.