I finally got my writing mojo back. It only took a week or two after my most recent acceptance. This weekend I woke up early on Saturday morning, wrote a flash fiction piece (technically, a couple hundred words over flash), and submitted it.
On Sunday I finally finished my rewrite of THE MEMORY KEEPERS and it decided it didn’t want to be flash after all; it clocked in at close to 3,000 words. I submitted it to one of those “out of my league” sorts of very competitive publications so I fully expect a rejection, but I feel really proud of it this time so I’m hopeful that aiming high will work out for me. It would be unheard of to get two acceptances in a row, but you never know until you take the risk.
I have also started working on a new idea to submit to another anthology. The theme is “Wrath” of the Seven Deadly Sins, and speculative fiction/horror. So my story is called ASH PLANET and it will be 3,000 words. It is about a crew of explorers looking for a habitable planet, and they stumble upon the only survivor of a genocide. I have a feeling it may decide it wants to be longer than 3,000 words, at which point I may just find somewhere else to submit, or perhaps this idea will turn into my novella project. I woke up early this morning and got a start on it; the piece has some fun research involved, as well. My MC is an astrobiologist. SF/F is just a joy to write some days.
So if you’re wondering where I get all my ideas, a regular writing practice helps. The more I sit down to write, the more I have ideas gestating in my head when I am not writing. In the shower, in the car, doing data entry for work, even. For this particular idea, I started with the theme of the market. I knew I wanted it to be dark psychological horror set in space. But I didn’t want it to be your typical spaceship/space station story. I thought setting it on a planet would give it more of a fantasy backdrop. Yesterday, I woke up at 6:30 A.M. as well, and I just stared at the page, and tweeted a lot. I found the market, and throughout the day, ruminated on my fledgling idea, which was struggling with clipped wings to fly free from the cobwebs of my brain. Finally, mid-morning, after chewing it around and around in my mind while I was busy with the day job, I hit upon the angle.
Now, I expect my first draft to involve a lot of backstory and exposition, as I discover what the theme will be. I’m probably going to do a lot of trimming on my second draft, but I just have to get it all out and see where it goes. I often also start with a character first, give her flaws and problems, and an opportunity for redemption, or at the very least, some sort of change or insight. Fiction about static characters, however realistic that may be, won’t sell well, even though it may be therapeutic to write.
That said, I am still getting a grasp on what sells, because I have only sold one story. My stats for the year thus far are: 18 submissions, 2 acceptances (including 1 sale), 9 rejections, 7 pending responses. All in all, not bad for my first year submitting prolifically, instead of just submitting once, and getting too crushed by rejection to ever try again.
I am happy to be writing again, because I quit for five years after I got burnt out on doing it professionally as a journalist. In that five-year span I became more involved with photography, instead. I always find a way to be creative, even when one creative path is blocked. These days, I am finding I am doing less photography as I am writing more. Seems to take two different parts of my brain and they don’t often operate together at once.
I’ve decided I’m no longer working with models, but I still want my archive of five or six years to be seen and appreciated. I shot some great work and met some good people. I can’t dismiss that, even if I am done emotionally with portraiture and boudoir. To add yet more to my works-in-progress project list, I am looking at Lulu for self publishing a photo book of my boudoir and fine art nude photography, with an essay forward reflecting on photographing women as a woman.
I enjoyed my time working with models, and I was good at it, but I don’t see the pandemic improving for me to feel safe enough to work with people for a couple of years, and I’m just tired of doing it. I have moved on to become more interested in moody still life, landscapes and my writing. We are only human if we evolve and change and acquire new dreams. Now my dream is to be published for my fiction.
In personal news, today is 10 days sober. My primary intention for the week is to wake up at 5 a.m., or at least before 7 a.m. every day. I am juggling so many creative projects, I feel as if I have bitten off more than I can chew and I am afraid of sabotaging myself, finishing none of them and feeling like a failure and an imposter. I already feel like that enough, I don’t need evidence to back up my negative thoughts. Only by making time in the morning will I ever make any headway on any of these projects. Sobriety is helping my productivity and emotional energy though. I only ever drank at night, but I always felt guilty all the time when I did. No more of that. In a way, it is liberating to free myself of that craving.
Additionally, I have been adding meditation to my evening routine. I am really enjoying my seven-day free trial of Calm, the guided meditation app. It is like having a miniature therapy session. It is also helping me with something else I have been working on, my reactivity. I am quick to anger, overreact and lose my temper easily at sometimes superficial, dumb things. It is easy to do when the world is on fire and you feel helpless. Sometimes my anger issues hurt others, but they hurt me the most. It is only five or ten minutes out of my day, but learning to depart from my racing thoughts to focus on my breath is really helpful in the long run. I can apply those lessons to moments during the day.
It’s been hard to sleep lately because it’s been so hot at night. We did manage to escape to the coast on Saturday. My partner and I went for a long walk on the beach, and when we couldn’t avoid people we wore our masks. We brought tuna salad sandwiches, soda and peanut butter pretzels from home to eat in camp chairs, facing a cliffside. We saw whales spouting. We drove around and looked at the tourists and Covidiots. There were mostly Asian tourists and older folks wearing masks. There were lots of people and traffic out and about there. Too many people vacationing and bringing the virus to Lincoln County without knowing it. We tried to do it as safely as possible. It was good to get out of the house because we’re going stir crazy, though.
I watched the first day of the Democratic National Convention and I was impressed by Michelle Obama’s speech. It was actually quite energizing. I am still pessimistic, because we are not unified enough as liberals. I am still afraid that far-left liberals and young people will stay home or vote third party, the protest vote, and we won’t get the numbers we need. I am also still worried about the post office. Suspending policy changes is not undoing the damage that was done.
My other goals for the week are to spend a couple of days off Twitter, to clean more, 30m of exercise three times this week, and to practice my guitar some more; I have been slacking on my music again. Happy Tuesday and may you all have a wonderful week with moments of calm.