Tag Archives: newness

Gritty-Eyed Lunatic

Your correspondent is a tired creature this cold and frosty morning.

This woman is not me, but I look somewhat similar at the moment.Image: makeup.lovetoknow.com

This woman is not me, but I look somewhat similar at the moment.
Image: makeup.lovetoknow.com

This is despite the fact that fatigue drove both me and my husband to bed at a fairly early hour last night, and both of us (unusually) slept right through, dead to the world, until the alarm rang at 6:15 a.m. I suspect it may have something to do with the fact that we’re having the coldest Easter weather since 1960-something; just living, without actually even exerting yourself, is costing more energy than normal.

Maybe.

Or perhaps it has to do with the fact that I made two submissions yesterday, three if you count the ‘Wednesday Write-In’. One, to be entirely fair, was extremely short – a piece of ultra-flash fiction – but as anyone who’s tried to write a story like that will probably attest, it can be harder work than writing a full-length story. I loved doing the work, and when I was stuck into the middle of it I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else, but – sometimes – when it comes to the day after, and you feel like you’ve been hauling rocks, and your eyes feel like you’ve tipped sand into them, and your brain is weeping, you wonder why you allowed yourself to get into such a state.

I’ve been here before. I know that allowing yourself to get over-tired impacts negatively on the following day’s work. I know. But I still do it. When the siren-call hits my ears, and the words start singing to me, there’s just nothing I can do. One of my stories yesterday is about a man who has an unbearable compulsion, and who can’t control his reactions to a particular stimulus; I wonder, now, if I wrote it because that’s how I feel when it comes to writing. Sadly, the story doesn’t end too well for the character. I hope I don’t meet a similar fate, but whatever may be facing me, I have a feeling I’ll walk willingly into it.

There are at least two more submissions I want to make before the end of March, and I’m hopeful I’ll be able to come up with something suitable for the particular magazines I have in mind. That’s the beauty (as well as the terrifying thrill) of submitting your work to magazines, or indeed anywhere – not only are you taking a chance on whether the editors will like your work or not, but you’re also trying to hit the mark when it comes to the artistic vision of the magazine in question. Occasionally, it can be a bit out of your comfort zone, and you find yourself thinking in different terms to normal. This isn’t a bad thing from a creative point of view, but from a stress point of view it can sometimes be tough. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Stretching your mind creatively is a wonderful thing; getting yourself to write in genres and styles to which you’re not always accustomed is a wonderful thing. Even if the submissions don’t meet with approval, I’ll have ventured into newness, created a story out of it, and lived to tell the tale. And how could that possibly be bad?

I have a busy day ahead, not only with writing, but with other life-stuff, so I shan’t detain you much longer. I hope I manage to stay upright when I venture outside and don’t end up skidding all over the place – but it would be nice (if a little weird) to get caught out in a snowstorm again, as happened to me the other day. Here’s hoping everything I need to do today gets done, and that I break ground on these new submissions – and that I build in a little bit of ‘down-time’ for my poor old brain.

Hope your Thursday’s going well, and that you’re happily fulfilling your brain’s creative needs. Just remember to tell it to shut up once in a while.

Image: indie-visible.com

Image: indie-visible.com

Brain Training

And, as seems inevitable, Monday has rolled around once more. It’s amazing how time just keeps on keeping on, isn’t it? I hope you enjoyed your weekend, and that you managed to spend at least some of it doing something you enjoy. As well as seeing my best friend this past weekend, I also managed to fit in two long walks in the cool, clear Spring weather we’ve been having lately, and I ate some lovely food. So, life is good.

Image: donasdays.blogspot.com

Image: donasdays.blogspot.com

One of the (many) things I have on my mind this morning is the elasticity of the brain, and the suppleness of the imagination. I’ve realised this over the course of the last week. Those of you with eagle eyes will notice that this time period coincides (more or less) with my recent focus on the short story form. The changes I’ve seen in my thought processes are quite astounding, and they’ve given me hope that my aged brain isn’t beyond learning something new just yet.

I’ve always been a long-form writer. I always thought in terms of novels, or perhaps novellas. I’ve talked before on this blog about how I found it difficult, even when in school and university, to bring written work in under the required wordcount. For whatever reason, I never really thought of myself as a person who was able to write short stories, and so I never really tried to do it. There have been a few attempts at writing stories, somewhere around the 2 or 3,000 word mark, down through the years (one about post-natal depression, another about an abused woman who begs a vampire to ‘turn’ her so she’ll be powerful enough to take revenge on the man who brutalised her, among others), but I always found myself lacking in this area. So, I’ve surprised myself lately by really falling in love with the flash fiction form. I’m almost bemused by my desire to create a story which can fit into such a tiny space, and it’s the complete opposite of how I normally think and write. My brain’s a-changing, and it’s a good thing.

On Saturday, during the course of my walk, an entire short story popped into my mind. The setup, the characters, the family, the situation, the conclusion, the dramatic arc, the whole lot. I saw it play out in front of me like it was a short film. I’ve been letting it brew ever since, but – with any luck – I’ll get it down on paper today. The most amazing thing about this, though, is that it appeared fully formed in my head as a short story. There was no question in my mind that it should be written in no more than 500 words (so, really it will probably end up being a flash fiction piece). It felt different from my usual story-seeds, ones which bloom gently into my mind and might reveal a character, or a family name, or a pivotal event, or an emotional showdown, all of which will clearly seem like part of a longer story. This was an idea which made no apology for being short. It was no coquettish thought, flirting with my neurons and promising to give me more details if I’d spend several thousand words on it. Instead, it arrived like a boisterous guest at a dinner party – the type that makes straight for the drinks cabinet with a mind to livening up the place. I liked it immediately.

As I walked, examining this little story-gem from all angles, I realised ‘I can do this. I can change the way my brain works, and how it thinks and comes up with ideas. A little bit of practice is all it takes.’ It was quite the realisation. It made me understand that, sometimes, the only thing standing between a person and their ability to do something is themselves. I knew this already, in a sort of abstract sense, but it’s only when you find yourself in a situation where it becomes tangible that you really understand the truth of it. I had myself boxed off as being one particular sort of writer, and I never even allowed myself to try any other way of working; now, when I give it a go, I find I’m enjoying the freedom found in newness. I’m not the best short story writer or flash fiction writer in the world, and I know that. But I’m getting cautiously positive feedback (amid the rejections) from some of the work I’ve been sending out lately, and that’s enough. That’s good enough for me. This positivity, coupled with the fact that I’m really enjoying my experiments with these new forms, means that things are looking up on this sunny Monday morning.

I really hope you’re having a positive start to the week, and that you’ll look for the newness, and the excitement, in whatever your life presents to you today. If things seem tough, maybe stretch your brain to think about things in a different way. It might relish the challenge, and end up surprising you.

Image: breakingmuscle.com

Image: breakingmuscle.com