Confessions of a would be “lone writer”

Looking at my previous posting: I pick up complaining, and I’m aware I  don’t like that. I thought of removing it but I decided not to, as I struggle to get anything on my blog at all. Not because I don’t want to  (I tell myself) but I just don’t have the time…

Possibly it’s because I’m older (…as noted: I can not possibly the latest “new young writer” as I’m definitely not young!…)  and I had a definite fantasy about what being online meant when I started.   I thought being able to email my material–the ideas that meant so much to me, the characters that were alive to me–to the “right” person  (usually an actor, producer: at the time I wanted to a screen writer) would mean  they ‘d become as enthusiastic as I was about my material, offering me whatever support I needed to get the project off the ground.  The email/internet gave me access to that person.

And of course, I quickly discovered that wasn’t true. Other people–famous or not–have their own projects that they’re working on, and they didn’t have the time and energy to focus on mine–even if they were interested.  Why would it be any other way?

I did, however, “put out to the universe” ..(if I may use that terminology)… that I really wanted someone who would read my material, come to  appreciate it, and give me the support  I needed to get it together and  “out there”. And lo and behold I did find my writing consultant, Julie Rodriguez over the internet. Julie and I have working together for almost 5 years now  (I believe we started in the later part of 2011)  and  her work with me has been so invaluable  that I have discovered  the real  fantasy that I haboured: the myth of the lone writer who’s simple brilliance  draws in the reader.

And that is very definitely a myth.

If I want to put my writing “out there”,  I need   to put  flesh  and bones on the characters, put them in concrete situations that speak to others as much as me. That’s hard work…and collaborative work.  I can’t assume that what makes sense to me will necessarily make sense to the reader.  And if it doesn’t and I go down that path than I’ll be simply  writing for myself…which is fine if that’s what I want to do … But if as a storyteller I want to have others read it, I  need Julie  as sounding board.  Without her I would have been able to finish and put of what I have…

…Which reminds me:  Coming out soon.. the third novella in the  Kooteani Brown series…”Where fantasy  ‘gets real’…”

But that’s the topic for another blog…

Just some thoughts

M.C. Piper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The “working” writer

Anthony Trollope, the famous Victorian novelist who wrote– among other things the Palliser  novels– had for many years a flourishing career in the  British  Post Office. Apparently he’d  get up early in the morning and write before going to work.

I wonder: exactly how he did he do it? !  I have a time when I get up in the morning when I’m full of energy; and if I can use that time to write then I see myself as getting something done. (Reminding myself that good writing is work…not something I could throw together in a haphazard  manner and expect to be done with it)

And especially with my  “day” job, I often have pulls on that precious time–things that need the same level of  concentration; and if I were to put off to later in the day would never get done. I just don’t have that same energy level later in the day.

O to be like Trollope–to be able to write for  2-3 hours and then go off skipping to my job and have the energy to do all the projects there!

Of course,  Anthony Trollope never had to clean the house, do the yard work, make meals. He had a wife and servants to do that.  And maybe he had a secretary/editor–someone who would sense of his notes; clean them up, so that he could let go of the messy re-writing, and get on with the  larger story.

I don’t know…and I guess I could find out.

I just know that I beginning not to believe in the “lone writer” .  Writing that is to be shared  is a collaborative effort.

I mean: what’s  the point if I  can’t communicate  the essence of the story in ways that make the characters  come alive to others?… if they get lost in my egocentric meanderings–never to see the light of day in anyone else’s understanding?

Now that’s  the subject of another blog…

Just some thoughts

M.C. Piper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Fantasy gets real..

I won’t even go into how long it’s been since I’ve blogged, or the “reasons” for it…

I have continued  with  writing though, having just finished my third novella in the Kootenai Brown series: “WANTED ILLUSTRIOUS ANCESTOR: LEGACY LEGENDARY”.  With Julie Rodriguez  as writing mentor and editor,  I’m about not only to add it  to the series; but to revamp and reissue the first two Kootenai  Brown  novellas as well–offering them together as a trilogy. (…I can’t begin to express my debt to  Julie without whom I would never be able to get  these  stories into  a form  that I could put “out there”…)

This morning when I was thinking about  blogging,  I told myself: I  “should” get on my blog and talk about my upcoming “book launch”…when  I  thought: “I can’t. I’m so preoccupied with what’s happening at my  day job; I don’t have the energy.”  Feeling tired, I decided  to relax and soak  in the tub–at least I could do that…

And it didn’t take me very long–relaxing as I was– to realize one the things that I love about writing the Kootenai Brown series is that I’m writing about serious  issues that come up in my life.. in a humorous  fanciful  way. The very issues that are preoccupying this morning.

For example, right now  I’m  working within  an organization that  uses bureaucratic solutions. I’m aware that I’m not at all comfortable with this way of doing things.

And the protagonist in the first novella (WANTED: PASSIONATE HERO)  Marcy Wilkins expresses this same feeling  when in the midst of an imaginary gun fight,  she finds herself  trying to sort  through a deluge  of  random papers that threaten to overwhelm her.  She tells her childhood cowboy hero Trey Gallant  that she must: feign some interest in  these papers and the motions they contain  “…  as if I believe that intellectual statements with correct wording have anything to do with why anyone ever does anything..”  (in other words: addressing what’s really going on).  She  goes  on to admit her fear that if she doesn’t feign the proper interest in these  that  her employers  won’t employ her, not at a living wage at least…something that she’s afraid of not having.

So being a hero in her own life is much more complicated than being a hero in  the imaginary world  of ’60’s TV westerns where the hero, though challenged,  can prosper being who he is…

But it’s a good place to start. And lots of fun, too.

The second novella (WANTED NOBLE COMPANION:INTEGRITY REQUIRED) also deals with another pressing issue.  The protagonist  Connie Butt wants to have the integrity  of her imaginary hero, Xavier, a  Cyrano de Bergerac type character, who boldly attacks the corruption of those around him. But she soon discovers–it’s not as simple as that. Xavier himself  has feet of clay,  and its in her acceptance of him as he is, that allows her to discover what real integrity is.

That’s a necessary lesson for me as I’m tempted to decry  (and envy) my colleagues who seem  to fit so well in  the bureaucratic system. The truth is that I want them to think and act like me. And they don’t.

True integrity doesn’t mean that I attack them and who they are, feeling superior. It means that I get on with doing what I need to be doing in my life;  and let others get on with theirs,   however it works for them. I reminded of the saying: being selfish isn’t doing what you want; it’s trying to get others to do what you want.

The  third novella  (WANTED ILLUSTRIOUS ANCESTOR:LEGACY  LEGENDARY) begins with yet another issue that came up.  I began it  after receiving  some old hospital records  about my mother’s grandfather who had been institutionalized. I wanted to romanticize him: maybe he was some heroic French Canadian plainsman (similar to the fantasy hero in the novella) who went crazy  because he couldn’t endure  losing his freedom to the rigid restrictions  of modernity.  Of course, when I read the few pages of records, a very different picture emerged…Just as  a very different picture emerges for Amelia Butt, the protagonist of W:I  when she enters the world of her fantasy …where she  discovers  history  becoming   more human, more flawed …and   the injustice that happens when  who you are doesn’t fit into the larger  picture of what “has” to be…

Of course, good  Fantasy is a good story, with quirky characters–a good read. And it “gets real”  by  addressing the human concerns all of us face..in a deliciously fanciful way that touches us deeply–in away nothing else can…

Just some thoughts

M.C. Piper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not the new “young” writer…’cause I’m old(er)

I haven’t been on this blog for so long…9 months as a matter of fact…and part of the reason is  time–I do work a ‘day job’ and I have enough trouble getting time to work on my novella–the  third  and last– in the Kootenai  Brown  series, let alone  spending time blogging.

The other reason is  admittedly self centered. There are so many blogs about writing ‘out there’ I find myself asking: Is anybody out there reading this? The only comments I have ever received are from someone I already knew–not from someone who, inspired by what I wrote on the blog,  feel compelled to comment.  Of course, I don’t comment on other people’s blogs either–don’t have the time. So why should I expect others to comment on mine?… Definitely something missing here!

I also talked to my (excellent!) writing  consultant, Julie Rodriguez,  about blogging, and we got into the area of  what makes a blog unique–some theme/idea that  grabs a hold of  you and could be of interest to others.  Immediately I came up with: getting into writing–admittedly a life long passion –when I’m older.  I became especially conscious of this when someone would talk about the newest young writer, realizing that I could never be that as I’m hardly young. And I must admit I would wonder: “Where does that put me in the ‘writing game’?”… Maybe it really is too late to start and get anywhere.

Of course,  the question is: what do I mean by “get(ting) anywhere” ?  I’m old enough to be able to access some pension  income, but it’s not enough to live on — at least not at the moment; and so I need to supplement it.   My   ideal would be that I could supplement it with my fiction writing. And so far–I’ve completed two novellas, the final draft  of third, and written a short story.  Compared to other writers’ output –that seems to be a drop in the bucket. And Julie has told me–that I’m ahead of a lot of people who have the dream to write and never get as far as finishing one project.

Also I want to do good writing–not just rush through things–so I do take my time.

And just  having Julie as my writing consultant has meant that I’ve put my writing ‘out there’ in the way that I never have before.  I certainly feel ‘heard’ when I talk to her about my writing; and her feedback has been invaluable. Without it, there is no way I would completed the writing I have.  I certainly  wouldn’t have  put out the first  two novellas  on Kindle.

I’m also aware that I would like to  write the first novella  (WANTED PASSIONATE HERO:Experience Preferred) in play form. I believe it could make a fun musical  (with someone else doing the music!)  And there is a  Drama department in a small university in the area; and I’m going to contact them to see what help  they could provide to help me in  doing this.

And so I guess –for the time being–I need to simply put one foot in front of another. I can appreciate the ways that I’ve already put it ‘out there’, and the support that I continue to receive through that.   I can  also do foot work  around other ways/forms of putting my writing  ‘ out there’; and go with whatever ones that seem to work.

My “dream” of being able to supplement my income by my fiction writing may or may not come to be. I don’t believe I can force it. I can simply do the next right thing, and see where that takes me.

And that’s plenty for now!

Just some thoughts

M.C. Piper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The writing process…one step at a time..

I’m always saying re: my blog,  it’s been a long time…I feel embarrassed to repeat it–as it’s true that it is a choice. I could blog more regularly; and I chose to spend whatever writing time I have–working on my  novella series…With some success, I guess.  I have just  published my second novella in the Kootenai Brown series–“WANTED NOBLE CHAMPION:INTEGRITY INTACT” on Kindle. I doubt if I’ll sell  many copies.  And the process of writing/editing it–just getting it up to the stage that I felt comfortable  “putting it out there” –that in itself is important to me.

Right now, I’ve started a third novella: “WANTED ILLUSTRIOUS ANCESTOR: COURAGE REQUIRED”.  It involves a K.B. client–Amelia–who, using  the latest Kootenai Brown technology, has the opportunity to live out her fantasy–to the point of having it spill out into her real world. The whole experience teaches her to …”become all she can be…and let the world know”–the things that KB promises. (… and which the employees can also learn…depending on  how far they’re willing to go… there definitely is a very successful  ‘business’ layer to KB, and option to go deeper…which  is the client/employee’s choice…)

In fact, the Kooteani Brown Advertising is becoming a character in itself. I have all sorts of ideas about the workings of the Agency–its background and who Kootenai Brown really is. And my “goal” is to put up a “Kootenai Brown Personal Advertising Agency” website where all these details will be drawn  out…lots of fun…!

Meanwhile, it feels right for me to start the third novella. As usual, it’s based on something that has caught my attention in my  “real life” –something that wouldn’t exist in a fantasy world of my–or the protagonist, Amelia’s– choosing…And–as usual  in the world of KB–it’s  interplay between the Amelia’s fantasy world, and her  real world– that in the end  gives Amelia what she needs..

I’m becoming aware…my writing process is very much one step at time…and I do want to commit myself to be more present, blogging and being open to others’ blogs…

Just some thoughts

M.C. Piper

It’s been awhile…and the myth of the lone writer..

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It’s been a long time since I’ve been on this blog–I feel embarrassed to admit how long…And of course, I have my “reasons” –not enough time to work, write, and  blog.  By “write” I mean work on my second novella. It seems that getting time in to spend on that is enough of a challenge, let alone do any other writing…I’m sure this is  a dilemma that most writers face…and many still make the commitment to the blogging/online writing community that I obviously haven’t…

For that reason, I wouldn’t be comfortable going on and on about my new novella. Suffice to say it’s not on Kindle yet;(though edited and ready to go); that the picture on this blog is the cover; and it’s the second in what-I-hope to be a “Kootenai Brown” series, a humorous fantasy series, set in the high tech  Kootenai Brown Personal Advertising where they work towards people “..becoming all they can be…and letting the world know…”…with  humorous, often unpredictable results.

I love my writing–it is a true joy.And I’m aware of how much work it really is. And how I work in isolation. Now I need to say immediately that I don’t work alone.  I have a great  writing consultant, Julie Rodriguez; and I check in with her every other week. I am so aware that without her feedback and editing skills I would never have completed the two novellas (and a short story)–at least not in the form that I could put out there for someone to read.  I suspect that the myth of the lone writer is just that..a myth…and the online community of writers/bloggers is also an important part of the writing process…which I have, alas, only dabbled in…It’s certainly my loss…

Just some thoughts

M.C. Piper

“The plans of mice and men…(and women writers too!)…”

As usual lately, I feel I need to begin with an apology, as I haven’t  been blogging in any consistent way over the past while.  Of course, I have my reasons: a major move, job change, and “all hell broke lose” on my job recently.  What happened was something that happens every once in awhile as a matter of course.  It made me think of the expression: “the plans of mice and men (and also women writers!)…” I can’t remember if there’s any more to the actual expression…and the gist of it–is that not only do plans sometimes not work out; but that–in the scheme of things–they may even be irrelevant…

Another intriguing theme for a novella…

I’m also feeling that way about my writing. I’ve given the latest draft of my second novella to a colleague of my writing consultant to read. Julie suggested that I needed a fresh pair of eyes to read it: even she felt that she knew it too well to be able to say what someone coming to it “cold” would make of it. The truth is that when I got that leave from work in the spring, I thought: at least, I’ll be able to finish the final draft for “Agincourt” (the working title). And that hasn’t happened–not in the succinct way I wanted. I hear myself chiding: Surprise! Surprise! I know intellectually that writing is re-writing and that it takes the time that’s needed. I’m also aware that my second novella is more complex than the first; and that the fantasy hero, Xavier, needs more “flushing out” than the lovable cowboy hero, Trace Gallant of my first one. Trace and his fantasy world comes from a simpler time and the novella reflects that.
So it’s not surprising that “Agincourt” isn’t coming together as easily as it did. And I agree with Julie: a fresh pair of eyes are needed–just to get a sense of how “Agincourt” comes across to someone who hasn’t spent all this time on it. I also agree with her–maybe it’s time to let go of “Agincourt” for awhile so that I can come back to it with fresh eyes, too.

And I resist! It’s not that I don’t have other story ideas–I’m always coming up with the thought: “that would make a good story!”
And have more story ideas that I’ll ever know what to do with. But–darn it!–I want to finish “Agincourt”. I want to get it “out there”– the second in a series of novellas, etc.

And I’m sure I will get it “out there.”

But a little patience, a willingness to let of my timeline, to let go of even working on it for awhile–seems like a good idea.

Maybe I just need start working on something else…

Just some thoughts

M.C. Piper