Winter: My Favorite Writing Season

IMG_0110January: Refocus. Move within.

Holidays are as chaotic as they are blissful. December is almost a writing washout for me as days are filled with making lists, checking them twice, fulfilling the merry expectations I’ve set for myself and responding to the ones asked of me by others.

When the last party invitation is met, final batch of treats baked and eaten, when the decorations return to storage, I go to my desk and sigh.

Winter is my favorite season.

The more snowy the weather, the angrier the skies, the better I write and the longer I write.

Why not Good Weather?

In good weather, the days in my neighborhood are filled with walkers, dogs with walkers, bikers, lawn mowers, etc. Cars are off to the grocery, church, wherever. I feel that scurrying.

My best writing accomplishments come when I look up and realize hours have passed when it felt like moments.

Bright sun, dry skies, active creatures can be intrusive. I become a clock watcher, forcing the words to come, anxious for a break. Making up excuses for a break.

Siren Songs.

I’ve come to believe that what is distracting me during good weather seasons is the energy people and critters give off.

Even if I see no one. Windows closed. Blinds shut. The energy waves come through the house and over my desk. Subconsciously, maybe, these energy waves are as distracting as if two people were playing ball in my room.

Siren songs calling me away.

Why Nighttime Works for Many Artists.

During the night, most people quiet down, head for sleep. It’s a time when many writers and other artists do their best work. Undistracted. Using my theory, outside energy waves are tamped, silenced.

Solitude is easier to achieve. Focus is easier to maintain at night.

The same happens to me, but I am not a night owl. Not most of the time. But the idea is the same.

Winter is My Nighttime.

Winter sunlight is cooler, darker.

Even without snow or ice, people are more apt are to be inside, settled into quieter activities from January through early March.

In winter, from morning to noon to evening, my ideas hatch faster. My stories grow quicker. My writing time increases.

My most productive writing season is winter.

 

 

“There is an instinctive withdrawal for the sake of preservation, a closure that assumes the order of completion. Winter is a season unto itself.”                     ~Haruki Murakami

 

 

 

Where Will She Sit on the Shelf?

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I’ve sat in on enough writing sessions facilitated by writers, agents, editors and other workers in the publishing industry to know that if my book doesn’t conform to market standards, good luck on getting it published.

Today’s post is on meeting that challenge and moving forward.

Maybe a Story Really Does Tell Itself

My original intention when I began telling my mermaid story was for it to be a romance. A beautiful fishlike young woman washes ashore where a beautiful young man discovers her and along the way love arrives.

The story didn’t unfold as I’d planned.

My mermaid remains a young female but her story focuses on her journey toward the realization of who she is and where she belongs in the ocean world.

A young man is a part of her narrative, along with issues of ocean pollution and extinction and motherhood and love.

Genre Dilemma

My novel is complete. But what kind of novel is it?

Paranormal?

Romance?

Contemporary?

Women’s Fiction?

Adult Mainstream?

All of the above?

None of the above?

I can’t imagine anything worse than a story being refused because the marketing department has no idea how to advertise it and the bookstores have no idea where to shelve it.

What do I do?

Change the story?

Keep the story?

Forget the story?

Advice from Experts

I expressed my dilemma with book editor, Rebecca Heyman. Her response was a recommendation to read three novels. One is Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

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Erin Morgenstern’s story doesn’t fit a standard type; it’s fantasy, romance, maybe even steampunk.

No spoilers here: In Night Circus, two old competitive peers, artists in magic and illusion, pit their apprentices against each other for an eventual showdown.

The story itself is magic. It enchanted me with its vivid details, compelling storytelling and mystical tone.

The structure of the story is also as unique as the tale itself.

Have readers found this strange, unusual novel in their bookstores, real or digitalized?

They certainly have.

Forging Ahead

My focus now isn’t on whether or not there’s a specific shelf for my mermaid novel but on how compelling and memorable my story is for the audience who will read it one day.

 

A Convention of Rejuvenation

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Writing Panel “Don’t Ever Let Me Catch You Doing This” featuring Dayton horror writers, Brady Allen and Tim Waggoner.

I notice the excitement generated by a writing convention and how valuable it is to reigniting my own drive to keep writing and learning the publishing business.

I recently attended Context 25, one of my favorite conventions because its focus is on writers and readers of science fiction and fantasy. Many of its offerings are free with registration: one-hour panels on everything from “Children Characters in Fantasy and Horror” to “Nanotechnology.” Other sessions are more intensive and longer and cost extra. Two of the three of my choice were “World-Building” and “Revising Your Manuscript.”

I love being a student and taking notes; listening to interviews with guest of honor writers in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Editing; asking questions of the experts. I write it all down in a journal used exclusively for anything relating to writing, whether the source is a convention, workshop, online or in magazines.

My top task is connecting with other writers and those involved in publishing. Small talk isn’t my forte. How do I sidle up to strangers and just chat? Here, the Con Suite is a good beginning. It offers free food, snacks, sweets, and nonalcoholic beverages. Usually, some of the seasoned writers, singers (called filkers), boasters, thinkers, talkers come to sit around the tables and share stories. After a few minutes, I feel like I fit in.

Chatting gets easier as the weekend passes. Seeing similar faces at various activities builds camaraderie. Shared experiences lead to writing discussions.

A mere weekend is exhausting, but only physically, and mostly due to less sleep. What is accomplished is my rejuvenation of spirit. It is only with perseverance that a new writer can make inroads into professional publication. This age of e-books and self-published books is shaking up the traditional book publishing process. I can get lost in that surge of change. But if I stick with it, I will find my way.

Writing conventions like Context in Worthington, Ohio, buoy my spirit and energy level. I return home to the rather solitary life of a writer, eager to write something new and focused to submit something already written.

 

On Grandma’s Kitchen Table

I notice my grandparents’ 1930s red-topped kitchen table. The top of it is somewhat organized with a copier, laptop, lamp, pencils and notebooks as it lives its second life as my desk in my writing room.

Stephen King describes his writing space where he penned his first books Carrie and Salem’s Lot in his Memoir on the Craft: On Writing. It wasn’t pretty–an old kid’s desk sort of thing squashed in an area next to the washer and dryer of a double-wide trailer.

Today, his desk is a lot bigger and more fitting a professional writer, but his point on writing surfaces isn’t on the furniture; it’s on the writing.

King says, “The space can be humble…, it really needs only one thing: a door which you are willing to shut.”

But it’s so easy to slip into focusing on the organization of a writing space and procrastinate on the writing.

I’ve imagined my DESK. It’s wide-topped, cherry wood, drawers down one side, narrow drawer just under the topside, maybe a shelving attachment for laptop and printer. Or not. Maybe it’s the old-fashioned, just mahogany and drawers type like the guys on the TV show Mad Men use in their offices.

Oh, the glorious tales I could create if I had one of those.

In reality, my grandparents’ table has a small, segmented drawer in the front made for silverware. It’s where my grandmother stored her butcher knives. It has two hinged leaves on either side to extend the surface space as desired. Thick stainless steel legs with rotting rubber tips hold it up.

My grandmother was the best cook and kindest soul. I’d see her every Sunday along with fifteen or more other relatives. We’d eat oven-baked, breaded chicken and chicken soup. In the evening, before we’d all head home, we’d make ice cream sodas. All homemade. All delicious. All eaten at the red kitchen table.

To date, I’ve written this blog, several short stories, two biographies, a fantasy novel and more using her table.

My desk isn’t going anywhere. It’s energy is too good.