Tuesday’s Thoughts on Random (But Writerly!) Things

So, I’m getting down to writerly business (Really. I am.), but I’ve got a few thoughts jumbling around in my head, banging to get out. And you know what they say, “There’s more room on the outside…”

*On Why I Don’t Journal

Someone asked me recently about journaling. The someone happened to be a non-writer, but writers often ask me if I journal. And the short answer is no, I don’t seem to be able to stick with journaling. I do write down funny things I’ve heard, or jot a story idea, and make endless Things To Do Lists, but that’s not the same as journaling. I write stories. I suspect that helps me work out the stuff I’d journal about, if I could stick with journaling.

*On Reading a Really Good Book (When You’re a Writer)

I’m reading Incarceron right now. Actually, I’m inhaling Incarceron. Before I started writing Young Adult fiction, I could read books and thoroughly enjoy the experience. But now, when I read a really good YA book, I want to bang my head on the desk, then throw my manuscript into the fireplace, light a match to it, and cry in despair because I will never, ever write something even close to that really good YA book. And then the Beneficent Mr. Hall finds me in a closet and asks, “What the heck is wrong with you?” I try to explain but it’s impossible to explain because of course, the man has such ridiculous faith in me until he really starts to worry and says, “Maybe you should try some other job?” Somehow, I manage to drag myself out of the closet and get back to work. But first, I read a really crappy book. (Coincidentally, I have a lot of stories where characters face their shortcomings.)

*On Looking for Mrs. (or Mr.) Agent

It’s a tough business, looking for an agent. Rejection is part of the game. And just for the record, I do not crawl into closets after every rejection (Mostly because I’d end up living in the closet.). But when I get a personal rejection, even if it’s just a reply with my NAME in it, I don’t feel so bad. And if an agent takes the time to say something nice, even if it’s just a couple words about the title, or liking the humor, I’m thrilled. It’s a crazy world when I’m fist-pumping over rejection.

So, I think I’ve got a little room in my head now to get back to writing. After I put a little ice on the banged-up part.

I Don’t Wanna Say Goodbye to the Summer

Technically, it’s still summer for a month or so. But I spent this week at the beach, and there’s just something about that last day, walking through the sand, that makes me think of that song, “Sealed with a Kiss.”
And yes, I know it’s not “goodbye TO the summer, but rather “FOR the summer.” But work with me here, people. I’m going with poetic license to make a writing point.

Yes, you were wondering when I’d quit whining and get to the writing. Ahem.
Have you ever considered the seasons of your writing? I work year round, almost every day, writing. But the work is not always that productive.
There are dry spells when the words and thoughts swirl by like dust motes and try as I might to catch them…swoosh, they blow right past.
Sometimes, a cold wind seeps into my writing, freezing a story in its tracks. I have to wait, then, for a crack of a bright idea to melt the sticking plot points.
And writing in the summer…well, there are days when a sudden squall pops up and the words flow, rushing from my neurons to the page. But there are more days when it’s just too hot to think up brilliant stuff, and I sit at my chair, thoughts languishing.
Then that first day of school looms on the horizon, and though I’m no longer school age, I say goodbye to the last Junior Hall, packing up and driving off for college, and I, too, am filled with promise.
I’m energized once again! So I suppose I will say goodbye for the summer after all. I just felt a couple of drops…I think a writing monsoon’s on the way!

The Karl Malden Question on Essays, Short Fiction and Poetry

So, here is the Question of the Day, writers:
If you have had an essay, short fiction, or poem published ONLINE that is no longer available, do you recycle said essay, short fiction, or poem as an unpublished piece?
Now, think a moment before answering. Perhaps you’ve had a flash fiction win a contest, and the winners were published for a couple months, then dumped to make way for the next winners?
Or maybe you’ve had an essay published in an online magazine that has sadly gone defunct? Now, no trace at all of this work remains in cyberspace.

With most online contracts, the author’s rights revert back after 6 months to a year. So it’s not a question as to whether the author owns a piece of writing. It’s a question, I suppose, of writer ethics.
After all, only the author knows the publishing history of his/her work. And maybe that author really, really loved that essay (or short fiction or poem) and hates to see it relegated to the dusty laptop files where it languishes, unread and unenjoyed.
I’m just saying. In the immortal words of that great actor, Karl Malden, “What would you do?”