Today is one of those dreary days that just isn’t worth chewing through the restraints to experience. Everything seems wet and washed out of color, people are more idiotic than usual on the streets b/c we’re all trying to rush to get out of the rain, and even my dogs seem more bleary-eyed than usual. Of course, Nell’s being a hound makes her always bleary-eyed, but you get what I mean. Days like this really make me glad I have a room that’s Kermit green.
Writing’s been especially hard lately, too, and that just makes me cranky because there’s no excuse for that. Writing’s supposed to be one of those things you can do regardless of the weather, anytime day or night, as long as you have something to write on, be it a laptop or a dry spot in the dirt and a needle to prick your finger with. (Of course, I only use that last method on Wednesdays, for when I need to draw a pentagram to conjure Satan’s minions to help do the laundry. Wouldn’t want you to think that was an everyday sort of activity.)
But lately, my story just doesn’t want to “talk” to me. My fever for writing at it’s still there. As is the greedy eagerness for a rising word count. And, of course, the delusions of grandeur and the pre-spending of the millions I will make off it—those usuals really should go unspoken, but I like to be clear. But lately I feel like the characters are waiting for me to say something at the same time that I’m waiting on them for the same. And that, my Most Highly Respected Anonymous Readers, is frustrating.
I guess my problem is that I’m trying something new. In college, the MFA program has three categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry. And, if you’re trying to get a Creative Writing degree and you aren’t willing to write one of these three things for the majority of your 4+ yrs. there, then you’re gonna get really pissed off in your class workshops. Because, you see, universities with MFA degrees are looking for something called “mainstream,” or “literary,” writing—so your ninja zombies who ride dragons won’t get too much praise unless they also reveal something about the human condition. In the past, when I’ve been asked what the difference is between “literary” fiction and “genre” fiction, I’ve had trouble answering this. The best answer I could come up with was, “You know how genre fiction has to have certain elements to it? Like how westerns are guaranteed to have guns and cowboys and horses? And how if you write to Harlequin Publishing and say ‘I need guidelines for what a successful romance novel should have’ they’ll send you a list of stuff that you should do in your story?” Then when the other person nods, I’m like, “Well, literary fiction doesn’t have those kinds of rules.” So far, the best way I could define literary was to say what it wasn’t. But The Mighty God of Wikipedia once again saves my ass and defines it as “writing that focuses more on style, psychological depth, and character, whereas mainstream commercial fiction focuses more on narrative and plot.”
As a writer friend of mine once said, when it comes to university programs, you’ve got to play by the rules. So, for the six years that I was in school for both my B.A. and my M.F.A, I played by the rules and wrote mainstream fiction. I wrote stuff that I thought was “good” writing. Of course, while I read some fiction authors, most of my entertainment reading was Stephen King (horror), Anne McCaffrey (sci fi), Terry Goodkind (fantasy) and an ongoing list of more of the same. These were what I found interesting. So, when I got out of school, I kept writing literary stuff and sending it off to journals to try and get my name out there. And I got back the inevitable rejections. I think, to date, I have about 30 of them. And while I realize that’s par for the course and just something you’ve got to deal with when you’re trying to make it as a writer, the childish part of me doesn’t like hearing “No.” Nor do I like read rejections that include the comment, “…made me want to light my eyes on fire…” or “…I read a paragraph aloud and it made my ears bleed…”
Ok, maybe I didn’t get those comments. Alright, fine! I didn’t get back anything stronger than a form rejection, and some of the replies were even hand-written and encouraging. But to me, they might as well say “lit my eyes on fire” for how much they got me published.
So, I took a break from literary and tried a fantasy story. And lo, what angels did sing in the heavens! Hey! Look at that…I WANT to write now! I find that I can’t WAIT to get back to my computer to see where this is going to go! At least for the first 25,000 words. 🙂 My “rah-self!” goal is to write 50,000 words, in preparation for NaNoWriMo, with my ultimate objective being to top somewhere in the 85-90k word area. But it’s tough. I’ve passed the honeymoon phase of my story and now we’re at that, “But I want you to WANT to do the dishes!” phase. *sigh* I’m thinking of making my story sleep on the couch for a few nights, just to get that passion back. Maybe dress up like Twain for a little excitement? Or, if that fails, I could kill somebody.
Of course, I meant a character in my STORY, people.
*arches one eyebrow*……or did I?