Apr 28

Se Acaba el “Lobo Solitario”

“Lone Wolf” is done and submitted. It topped out at right around 2500 words. Now comes the hardest part of all: waiting.

Now come the questions, the worries:

Did I miss something really stupid?
Maybe this would sound better like this?
Maybe that won’t make any sense to anybody but me.

I know, I know. Work on something else. But I have to get this anxiety out of my system first, so I can concentrate. That, plus deciding what else to pick up now.

Just some things to think about early (Good God, so early!) on a Monday morning.

Apr 27

In the Home Stretch

445 net words on “Lone Wolf”. All the pieces are in place now: character, conflict, and resolution. Now I just have to smooth out the rough spots and knit everything together into a cohesive narrative.

So far, I have done all the work on this story on the Neo, and I have discovered one thing about it that bugs me no end: there is no “Save” key. The Neo saves as you type, which is wonderful, but I learned long ago, early on in my relationship with computers to save early and save often. I find myself reaching for Ctrl-S without even thinking about it. When I do think about it, I often get the finger trembles. Some habits are really hard to break.

Apr 25

Crunch Time

I’ve been working on this short story (now titled “Lone Wolf”) for a while now. It’s currently at 2000 words, but it’s still thin. I know what it needs, but there’s a problem.

The problem is me.

I’m writing this story to a deadline of April 30, because it is targeted at a specific anthology. For me, deadlines = deadly. This is the time when my mind rebels. “You can’t do this.” “You’re not good enough.” “Why even try?” Yadda, yadda, yadda.

This is a different fear than the one I wrote about the other day. If I never finish, then I don’t have to face rejection. Not finishing gives me an out, an excuse. In many ways, I’d rather lose by default than get beat. That way, I can keep my illusions alive.

Let’s face it: in this business, rejection is inevitable. It happens to everybody. Everybody. Somebody like me that’s just getting started gets rejected all the time. I won’t kid you: it hurts. It hurts my feelings to think that somebody did not just faint at the power of my prose. That’s one of those illusions I spoke of earlier. It’s one that keeps me submitting.

Eventually, I have to conquer this fear. Eventually, Hell! How about right now? How about if I tell my mind to shut up and get to work fixing this story? Is there any reason I shouldn’t, any reason I can’t? No, there’s not.

All it takes is the courage to take one more step. That’s all. One sentence, even one word is a victory over my fear, an act of defiance. Now is the time to act. Now is the time to stop thinking. Now is the time to shut up and write.

Shutting up. Writing…

Apr 18

Hiatus Interruptus

Sorry about the silence. Let’s just say that the past week has been one Friday the 13th after another, at least at work. Hasn’t left much time or energy for the home front. If it weren’t for my Neo, I wouldn’t get anything done at all. I loves me some Neo.

I’ve been working on my latest short story. I hope to get it finished and submitted this weekend. If not, by the middle of next week. There’s really not much left to do but polish. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so I can tip-tap on my toy in between cat-naps. Accomplish two goals at once, since I have also been slumberous interruptus all week.

Back later. Y’all keep ’em straight up there.

Apr 12

I Fear

It happens every time I sit down to write. Indeed, every time I think about writing, There’s a trembling deep inside my belly. There’s a jangle of worries in my mind. What if it doesn’t work this time? What if the magic is not there? What if it never comes back? What if I am struck dumb?

I am sometimes struck dumb, but I always know it’s only temporary, only until I put my fingers back on the keyboard. You see, the “magic” is not magic at all. Not entirely, anyway.

I often get caught up in the words we use to talk about the creative process, words like Muse and magic that tend to distance me from the real source of my creativity. I forget that the “magic” is a combination of reading, imagination and practice. I forget that it’s the years of practice, the years of reading, the years of dreaming that gel into that not-so-mysterious blend that we call magic. Making magic takes work. Making magic takes resolve. Most of all, making magic takes courage.

Does realizing all this make the fear any less? Make it go away? Hardly. I have put in the work, and continue to. I have the resolve. What I lack, and always will, is confidence. I fear dipping into that magic bowl and coming up empty, even though I know that it is an ever-renewing resource. I fear pulling out things that scare the Hell out of me–which often happens. I fear the deep feelings that live there, feelings I have struggled for so long to imprison. There are monsters in there, monsters with teeth like steel and claws like knives.

I fear. It’s that simple and that complex. I fear. No talismans exist to take that fear away. No spells, no mantras to whisk my fears away on the cold wind of reason. I am alone with my fear, and my tears give no relief. I fear the page; I fear the emptiness of it, the responsibility that lies on me to fill it. I fear empty words and false emotions. I fear predictable plots and paper characters. I fear.

I often also forget that my fear is also a magic wand. That depth of feeling is a doorway into a dimension of story that many dare not open. Sometimes I find the courage to look through that door. Sometimes I find the courage to step through. Courage is knowing what is behind that door and opening it anyway. Courage is looking deep and feeling deep even though the monsters roar and clash. Courage is taking one more step, drawing one more breath. Courage is writing one word, one sentence.

Just living takes a lot of courage. A lot. More than most people allow themselves to realize. Existence is easy; living is hard. Writing takes no more courage than just living, in the end. All it takes is two sentences. Two sentences to pry open the door; two sentences to dip into the cauldron; two sentences to open the artery and let the blood flow. If I can just write two sentences, I can make my daily words, and the words will be golden. It’s those first two sentences that hold all the dread, all the fear, all the courage.

I fear. And I write. I feed my magic. And I write. I live. And I write. And I write.

Apr 09

The Real Scoop on Rejection Letters

Author Catherine Ryan Hyde has an essay up at Glimmertrain about rejection letters (thanks to Christian for the tip). Go read it. Now. I can wait.

Okay. Now that you’ve got the real scoop on rejections, let me put in my two cents worth. I have 88 rejection letters myself. So far. I plan on getting a whole lot more before I am done. Did you notice how many Ms. Hyde has gathered over the course of her career? Makes me feel like the rookie I am. I can only dream about such lofty heights.

Rejections are actually badges of honor. They are not reflections on your own self-worth; neither are they reflections on the worth of your work. What they are are recognition that you have the fortitude to finish your work and the courage to send it out into the world. They are recognitions that someone out there knows you and your work and recognizes you as a writer. “A Time to Every Purpose” was rejected seven times before it hit the right group of editors on the right day and found a home.

Rejection is only one step on the road to publication. Everybody has to deal with it. It certainly does hurt, but you can’t let it throw you for a complete loop. Keep writing, keep submitting. One day your work will fight its way through the flames and knives, over the chasms, and into print. Who knows? There may be an editor just waiting for your next work with eager anticipation. You won’t know if you don’t try.

Apr 08

Tigers and Tigers and Tigers, Oh My!

The Tigers of India show is fabulous! If it ever comes to a place near you, I recommend it highly. The tigers are all Bengals from the Marcan Tiger Preserve on the Florida Panhandle. They performed a few little tricks like sitting up, lying down in a row, and “attacking” the trainer. The main thrill is seeing these magnificent cats up close, though the fences kept all untrained people ten feet away at the closest.

Here are a few snapshots (yes, the camera’s date is wrong!). Click on the thumbnail for a bigger image:

There are four color variations that occur naturally among the tigers. I managed to get one decent shot of each one.

Madras. She is naturally snow-white with stripes you can barely see and shocking light-blue eyes. The camera actually makes them look darker than they really are. The pure white tigers are not albinos and are not genetic freaks. They occur naturally in Bengal tiger populations, though they are bvery rare.

Nina. She is just a baby. Only about 250 pounds. She was mischievous and did not perform as well as the adults. Just being a teen-ager.

Bhutan. He is 400+ pounds. Light red with caramel stripes. He is gorgeous. This picture is of him “mauling” the trainer.

Tamara. According to the presentation, the only white tigers with black stripes are Bengals, not Siberians, which are actually orange with black stripes.

Here they are doing their “sit-ups”.

They also had 3 babies along for the show. For the Grand Finale, they turned the cubs loose in the main show ring with a large cardboard box. It didn’t last long, but the babies had a big time.

We can’t wait until the next time they come back.

Apr 04

Mission Aborted

No colonoscopy today. It turns out I am apparently immune to the laxative. Yeah, I know, but if I weren’t weird, life would be so boring. We’ll try again during the break between Spring and Summer Quarters in June. tambo, it looks like I’ll be researching frustration today instead. 🙂 The Great Tiger Trek is still on, if the weather cooperates.

Instead of sleeping, I spent the afternoon setting out mums so the wife can re-use the pots they were in for her own nefarious purposes. Good, hard work. Good for frustration. Not so good on the back.

On the very plus side, I finished a first draft of a new short story (as yet untitled). 1742 words. Just for the Hell of it, here’s the opening paragraph. Call it a long-overdue Friday Snippet:

Few people ever go nose-to-nose with a full-grown red wolf. Very few of them do it because they want to. Stan Harrison was one of the very few.

Hope everybody has a great weekend.