Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I've Lost My Way

   I really don't know where this blog post is going anymore than I know where my stories are going. I've always enjoyed character driven stories so much that the story itself wasn't all that important. I can remember characters I fell in love with, but I couldn't tell you what the story was about. So when I started writing, naturally I followed the same pattern and concentrated on my characters. Apparently that's not good enough.
   I've attempted to make sure all my characters are distinct individuals with solid personalities. Some are moody and introspective, some are innocent and naive, and some are just plain fun. My secondary characters usually stay the same to provide a stable environment for the MCs who are forced to change and grow as they navigate life.
   When I first started writing, it was fun and exciting as characters continually appeared and clamored to be part of the story. It was a challenge sometimes to make sure they all had an important part to play in the overall story line. Now that the first book in the series is complete, the characters are well established and I'm not sure there is room to add others. I've already been told there are too many characters as it is. The thrill of meeting new characters is no longer there.
   I write every scene with a specific purpose in mind and not just to fill space. The characters are there and say what they say for a reason. I try to describe the scene with just enough detail to make it easy for most readers to accurately form a vision in their mind. Based on the abundant and wonderful praise I've received over the years for individual scenes shared to various groups, I assumed I had succeeded. Unfortunately, I've had a number of folks who loved my scenes and characters, but were sorely disappointed after reading the completed story.
   I'm at a total loss on how to proceed. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I've received several wonderful 4 &5 star reviews on Amazon, but a two year old could count the number of books I've sold there. Only one person, who I respect as a successful writer, has offered suggestions. They made it about a quarter of the way through and then sent me a nice e-mail attempting to explain why they didn't like it. The problem is I didn't understand most of what they said. I am not a student of literature. I didn't start writing until my sixties, and write from the heart not the head. My heart is no longer in it.
   As I struggle to write the next book, the only thing that keeps me going is that my critique group seems to think I still write rich and compelling scenes with solid characters. I can't help the constant nagging doubt whether the second book will be any better than the first.
   My only hope is that someday I'll find my way again.
   Thanks for reading.

Picture is my little buddy who looks as lost as I am.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Writing Partners For The Win

   I feel participation in a writers critique group, especially if you're just starting your journey, is a plus for any writer. It's a great place to learn some basics and to find out where your weaknesses lie. I learn just as much from listening to the critiques of another person's work as I do my own. The group dynamics of such a diverse bunch of folks is fun to watch.
   It's no secret a number of writers are very introverted, and participating in a group can be beneficial in regards to public speaking. I've seen it time and again where a new member can barely poke their head far enough out of their shell just to introduce themselves. After months, that same person is now confidently voicing their opinion and actively participating in the group. If you're going to be a writer, you not only need to learn how to write, but also how to talk to others about your work.
   Eventually you will need something more in order to continue your growth as a writer, and that's where writing partners come in. My partners and I have very different styles, and write in different genres. We've known each other for a long time, and are familiar with each others stories. This aids in being able to see the story as a whole and not just parts. The important thing is we respect each other, not only as writers, but as individuals.
   Of course our meetings are not always a bed of roses. Sometimes the thorns get in the way, but that's okay. We have disagreements and misunderstandings, but because of our respect for each other, we can usually work those out. It's also nice to be able to brainstorm with the others when you get stuck and they can help you get your story back on track. That's something just not possible to do in a large group.
   If you've been in a critique group for awhile, my suggestion would be to pick two or three people you respect and feel comfortable around, and invite them to join a smaller, more intimate group. That's what I did, and it has been beneficial and rewarding. Remember, life is about relationships. The more positive relationships you develop, the better your life will be.
   Thanks for reading.

Picture is me and my partners many years from now. Lol

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


   Last night was the first Writers Critique Group since our previous administrator decided to step down and asked me to take over the group. The meeting went really well despite my initial reluctance in taking on that role. It was the confidence builder I needed right now though.
   The group consists of a fairly solid core of writers who have been attending for several years, but every now and then we have new folks show up interested in joining. Last night was one of those times as three new aspiring writers joined us. It was nice to hear some of the group veterans reassure the new folks that my critiques are always well thought out and constructive.
   Thinking about the submissions and critiques we discussed last night, a thought came to me that others are probably already aware of. It seems people who start out to write a book are one of two things. They are either a storyteller or a writer. What I mean by that is some start out writing beautiful prose with vivid descriptions and smooth dialogue, but there isn't any story behind it. Others have a wild imagination and an awesome story once you manage to struggle through their poor writing.
   We have both types in our group and it's a challenge sometimes trying to find the best way to help storytellers become better writers, and the writers become better storytellers. I always feel a small sense of accomplishment when one of our members submit writing that is a vast improvement over where they started. I will do my best to help continue those improvements.
   It certainly doesn't hurt when I receive several e-mails from members thanking me for stepping up to take over, and they have confidence in my leadership ability.
   Thanks for reading.

Picture; what my cat thinks about the whole writing thing.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Trying To Find My Way Back

   It feels like forever since I've felt like writing a blog, or anything else for that matter. Now that my dear friend is finally back to the point where she can do things for herself, I find myself strangely adrift with no purpose. The problem is after spending months focused on keeping someone alive, the importance of writing falls far short.
   Everyone tells me I should take time for myself, especially now that she is doing better. Honestly, I have no idea how to do that. I've never enjoyed doing things by or for myself. I enjoy life through the reactions of those around me. My children are all in their forties with families of their own, and don't have the time to spend doing the things we used to do. None of my grandchildren like the same things I do, so when we're together, they spend time on their cell phones or play games I can't get into.
   Somewhere along the path I lost confidence in my writing ability. I used to think I had some small amount of talent as a writer, but the lack of response to my stories tells me something else. My writing partners and critique group tell me I'm a pretty good writer, but they're my friends, what else would they say? Folks who I've never met tell me my stories aren't very good. Who do I believe?
   Will I continue to write? Probably. At my age and current health, I can't do much else. Plus I'm from a generation that believed you should always finish what you've started. I'll find the desire somewhere to finish the two story lines I've started and try my best to make them interesting and enjoyable to read.
   At least it looks like I'll have the critique group behind me for the foreseeable future. Our current leader wants to step down for personnel reasons, and it appears the group would like me to take over. I suppose I could fool myself into thinking they want me because they appreciate my knowledge of writing and ignore the truth that no one else wants the job.
   Sorry for the dark tone of this blog, but spending yesterday in the ER with all the signs of a heart attack must have set me off. Fortunately, everything is fine except my potassium level had dropped dangerously low for some reason and my heart was letting me know it didn't like that.
   Thanks for putting up with an old man's gripes, and hopefully the next blog will have a more positive outlook.

Pictured is my little one-eyed buddy who'd rather have me hold him than write.