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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Finding Inspiration

Since I've re-ignited my writing career (read:  since I've been writing again seriously), I haven't suffered from writer's block or from a lack of motivation.  And even in the last few months, inspiration hasn't been my enemy as much a lack of time and opportunity has been. 

But I have to admit, lately I've been worried.  When I think about writing, about my books, I haven't been getting that sense of impatience to get back to it that I've had for the last three years.  Instead, I've been feeling more than a little ambivalent.  And that's scary to a writer, because we have to be completely enthusiastic about our own work, our talent and our career all of the time.  After all, if we're not, who will be?

Ambivalence means that maybe writing isn't what I'm meant to do.  Maybe it was just a phase.  Maybe I won't be able to write another word.  If I had any talent, wouldn't some agent or editor have taken notice by now?  Who am I kidding?

I've been pushing these fears to the back of my mind as much as possible.  It's been pretty easy to do that, to justify my lack of motivation; I've been busy planning my daughter's wedding, raising kids, helping my husband through his last semester of seminary. . .no one can deny I've had legitimate distractions. 

Tonight, for some reason, I found a new glimmer of hope.  For the first time in quite a while, I felt that old longing to climb back into my story, to re-claim my characters and their fates. 

Circumstances still aren't making writing easy, but at least I have some hope that the desire will come back.

Who knows?  Maybe I'll be inspired to write a new story. . about wedding planning.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Microwave or Fridge?

Sometime in the early 1970's, my father bought my mother our first microwave oven. I can still remember the excitement in our family: we weren't the type to buy every new gadget that came down the pike, but my dad was convinced that microwaves were going to revolutionize cooking and change our lives.

My mom's birthday fell not too long after we got the microwave, and my father announced that this year, he was going to make my mom a birthday cake.  Himself.  In the microwave.

If you've never tried to make a cake in the microwave. . .well, don't.  Yes, it was faster, but it was also burnt on the outside and raw on the inside.  Made for some great family folklore, but not very good eating.

Now take on the other hand the introduction of the refrigerator into American culture. Once we had the ability to keep foods cold without depending on blocks of ice, our options for cooking flew wide open. We didn't have to worry about keeping milk, butter, eggs or milk fresh in the heat.  The fridge really did change lives.

 While the microwave was undoubtedly an important tool, it didn't really change the culinary world long-term the way the refrigerator did. We couldn't see that in the early 1970's, but now we can.

I look at the e-publishing revolution in the same way.  Right now, it's (relatively) new and shiny, and we can see its potential.  It could open up avenues to more authors who are hungering for publication and it could also shift some of the power in the publishing world from the editors and agents to the authors themselves. It could be the fridge of publishing in the 21st century.

But the pivotal word is 'could'. 

Because e-publishing could also be the microwave oven of the publishing world. It could become a tool instead of a revolution, something useful for boiling water fast, melting butter or heating up leftovers, but not so great for cooking a chicken or baking a cake.

I'd love to embrace e-publishing wholeheartedly, without reservation, but it's still early days. It's going to take years before we can fully understand and see clearly what the ramifications will be.  Meanwhile, all the people who are declaring traditional publishing dead would be wise to bide their time.

After all, while I do have a microwave built into my wall in the kitchen, I also still have a regular oven.  And that's how I bake my cakes.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Quest Goes On. . .

If anyone might be checking his calendar. . .yes, it's been nearly two months since I last updated this blog.  For hard-core bloggers, this is a sin of great magnitude.  For me, it's just been life.

The last few months have been more about getting through life and wedding planning than about writing or publishing.  I've been participating in my writers support group, reading and critiquing others' work, and I've been submitting along with them.  But that's pretty much all the writing I've been doing.

Do I feel guilty about this?  Well. . .yes.  I do, because writing is important to me, and I don't have any intention of giving up on it.  I've been trying to keep it all in perspective, being grateful that I can choose to put it on the back burner for the time being while other things take my attention; I'm not on a deadline. 

But it's also been just a tad worrisome.  These past months have been the only time since I returned to it full-time that I haven't felt the pressing need to write.  Like most writers, the fear that that inspiration will leave me always lurks somewhere in the back of my mind, haunting me.  I believe that we all have seasons of life; could writing be only that for me?

I don't think so.  I think that we all have limited time and attention, and that perhaps in these days when I need all the time and brainpower I can muster, my sometimes-pushy characters have kindly agreed to take a temporary backseat.  They're not gone forever; they've popped up now and again to remind me that the story isn't over. 

One of the other obstacles standing in my way is the need to re-vamp my first story, to make it more streamlined and tighter.  Like most writers, I would far rather be writing new material than trying to improve my clearly-already-perfect-because-it's-done story (my tongue is firmly in cheek here!).  But it's got to happen, and the priority princess in me says it should be finished and in serious query mode before I tackle the fourth and final book.

So that's my world these days.  Circumstances are working toward me having more downtime at home these days, and I expect to be back in the saddle and galloping along. 

Which means that I'll be blogging more regularly, too.  And I hope I'll be sharing some good news sooner rather than later.

Thanks for sticking with me.  As always, stay tuned.