I actually have a lot of writing to do these days, although alas not so much that I can make a living out of it. I want to publish a new “Nevermore and the Ravens” book in time for next Halloween. I’m also trying to post something funny/interesting to my blog at least twice a week (I’d like to post more often). I also write very short stories for an online magazine that actually has a deadline. I do not get paid for any of these things but if I want to advance my writing “career” I need to get work out there. The magazine compensates me with advertisements for my novels. The blog compensates me by getting my style of writing out to kind and interesting readers (hello readers!) who may one day wish to download and maybe even purchase futures works. And my current works are free, but one day I would like to charge a modest price for them and hopefully get a few purchases. This means I need some sort of popularity and/or name recognition. As I mentioned in a previous musing, I have a writer friend who is part of a writers’ group with some Big Names. Once one becomes a Big Name, publishing is a lot easier (of course). But becoming a Big Name requires work and no small amount of luck.
Sometimes I feel I’m not pushing myself as much as I should to get my writing out there. Unfortunately, though, I have bills to pay and an employer who expects me to you know, work. I also have family and friends who make their demands on my time. And I need to sleep. I’ve tried going without sleep and it usually doesn’t work out well. So at this point, a blog I can barely keep up with as is, an e-zine with a monthly deadline, and a new novel in process is all I can really do. I have a Facebook page but I’ll be the first to admit I don’t keep up with it very well, nor do I have enough Likes for me to move it up on my priority list. Of course, with it not being a priority, I don’t do much to get more Likes, and thus it languishes. It’s a vicious cycle.
I love writing, but writing is hard. Although Stephen King said that it all takes to write a novel is write a single page a day, every day for a year, that is a lot easier said than done. I’ve stalled on a couple of epic novels (including the sequel to A Song of Snow and Ashes) because I have that curse of all writers – writer’s block. I sit down at my computer, I re-read what I have, I review my notes, and I have vague thoughts form in my mind about what I need to do and where I need to go and then the words just aren’t there. I get annoyed at myself and think I need a break, so I go read articles at Cracked. Or play Tetris. Then I look at the page and write a sentence, maybe two. Then I erase what I wrote and stare at the screen for a few minutes. Then I read another article or two or play another game or two. Before I know it, three hours has passed and I have exactly one paragraph to show for that time that I’m not sure I’m keeping anyway. I have experienced no other frustration like it. I have the desire to produce and some ideas and yet the words stubbornly, mockingly refuse to form into coherent sentences that can be transcribed into the word processor. My Muse cruelly teases me with half-formed inspiration and ideas that will not manifest into anything intelligible.
Honestly, Necromancy for the Greater Good came out of my frustration with my epic fantasy novels. In case you haven’t read it (and you should), I call out the contributions of my crazy friends and the crazy night we came up with this idea for Nevermore and the Ravens. It was a complete joke, of course, but we came up with a couple of silly songs and I thought maybe I’d add a few more just as a writing exercise. But then as I struggled and struggled with my fantasy world and a self-imposed deadline to publish again (new stuff gets major hits), I thought about Nevermore and the Ravens. I already mentioned I had an idea for urban fantasy and the more I considered the idea, the more I thought I could make something funny and snarky out of it. I immediately decided to format the novel as a series of short stories instead of something with an overarching story arc. That was tying me up with my epic fantasy novel(s) so I didn’t want to get bogged down there again. My literature professor parent was of the opinion short stories were harder to write in many ways than longer works, which is something I’ll probably write about later, but I thought I could escape some of the pitfalls of short stories by having a series of them. I felt I was doing pretty good with my very short stories for the e-zine (less than 600 words), so I felt I could write a series of short stories of the more traditional length (typically about 10 pages, although I wasn’t going to set that as a hard and fast rule). I also wanted to include the song lyrics since I already had some of them and I thought it would be something I little different, which mean I was also setting myself up to have to write poetry (although not necessarily good poetry).
Looking back on this, my cure for the writer’s block plaguing my epic fantasy novels may have been worse than the problem – write thirteen self-contained but connected short stories and thirteen accompanying songs (poems). Surely that would be no problem at all… My Muse is a little sadistic but would not be denied. That is what I had inspiration for, so that is what I was going to write. So I sat down at my keyboard and looked at the silly songs my friends had come up with, as well as titles for other songs we hadn’t finished yet. Some of the songs made writing a story very easy. Some of the songs, although nearly finished, made writing a story to fit them actually pretty difficult. But for whatever reason, my Muse provided enough inspiration I really thought I could make a go of it. You may, if you read it, notice a lot of references to pop culture and tropes and the whole idea is not dissimilar to “Scooby Doo” (which I happen to love). Sometimes I wrote the story first and then had to figure out a song. But in the end I produced what I consider to be a funny, snarky, well-written and entertaining collection of stories.
Now I would like to produce a sequel and my Muse is not making this round so easy. I still have inspiration, but I find myself in the same situation as before – half-formed notions refusing to come to fruition and lots of back articles on Cracked and a high score to beat on Tetris. I tell you, there is nothing like the interwebs for distractions. I even used my own blog as a distraction by going back through and getting link-happy with past entries. Even trying to write for the blog is hard. Yes, I’m set up to write a fifteen-minute movie parody of The Dark Knight, but condensing a movie like that down to a few pages of snarky dialogue, combined with the fact I may have to re-watch it to make sure I cover everything, is a little daunting. That just demonstrates even with a firm format and idea, writer’s block can strike and the Muse can mock and in the end, all you get to read today is a rant expressing my frustration at trying to be creative. I’ll try to get the movie parody up soon, but have patience, dear readers, for the curse of writer’s block, as shown above, is not easily undone.